Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Saturday, April 29, 2006



The trouble is that, when liars who figger are caught lying, they don’t stop lying.

Instead they hire high priced research outfits, or some university research chair, to do more figgering and submit a report designed to prove they weren’t really lying. It’s just, they always conclude, that people generally aren’t smart enough to understand their figures.

Few things are easier to do than manipulate numbers for the purpose of creating an illusion.

In fourth grade I went to school one morning and reported that fifty percent of the calves on our family farm had died during the night.

The effect was as intended. Even the teacher was briefly filled with shock and sympathy. To lose fully half of the calves on a farm during the great depression was a serious matter.

But the illusion was quickly blown apart when she asked how many calves there were in our herd. The truth, I told her, was that there were actually only two.

Whenever it’s “show and tell” time in Alberta , whether in the Legislature or in front of the media cameras, our present Premier pontificates that fifty percent of the provincial budget will soon be taken up by healthcare costs.

His Minister of Health, sounding like the premier’s echo chamber, keeps turning up the volume and increasing the forebodingness of the illusion.

Every time she has the chance to do so, Iris Evans repeats the “unsustainability” mantra claiming that we can’t afford one of the most affordable and most widely publicly supported health care insurances in the world today.

When challenged to expose the figures on which these threatening illusions are based, neither Klein nor Evans is ever heard to mention the more than half a billion public dollars they took out of the system or the buildings and training facilities they impoverished. (Lisac; Alberta Politics Uncovered p. 51)

Instead, they hired a Mulroney vintage politician whose mathematical qualifications, so far as the public knew, consisted of laying out some numbers to convince a car-buyer that the customer was going to get a good deal.

Naturally, from this hired hand, they heard some of what they wanted to hear about the rising costs of medical services. Qualified researchers soon found serious false assumptions in his methodology. (see, especially ‘THE BOTTOM LINE’)

Then they convened a very costly conference of healthcare experts from all over the world who didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear about the wonders of market place medicine.

More recently they used huge amounts of public money to hire a corporate outfit called AON that was, not only already in the insurance business, but also had a highly questionable record of ethical dealings.

Now AON says what qualified researchers like Dr. Colleen Flood of the University of Toronto have been telling people in Alberta for months i.e. that private insurance costs more and serves the public less well than public health insurance wherever else it has been adopted.

BUT, for thousands of public dollars, like a demolition company hired to tell a landlord how bad a building is, Klein and Evans have another voice shouting THE STRUCTURE'S GOING TO FALL APART.

The figures on which AON is basing it’s projections will never be made public,

The Klein government has been manipulating numbers and purposefully creating false illusions from the minute the image of our present Premier was projected onto the public screen as a man of integrity who listens and cares.

If the word integrity could even vaguely be associated with the political party still desperately hanging on to power in this province, then citizens would be shown the figures. Since honestly gathered numbers don’t lie there could be a sensible public response.

As it now stands, the only logical conclusion to draw is that the present government is guided and directed by a bunch of liars who figger in secret and then manipulate numbers in public for the purpose of creating threatening illusions.

Blair McPherson.

Saturday, April 22, 2006



“Tories bury third way” Edmonton Journal April 21/06

Understandably, no citizens in Canada today are more entitled to a victory celebration than the people who have given so much of themselves to opposing Ralph Klein’s ‘third way.’

Thousands of pamphlets, skillfully written and distributed. Hundreds and hundreds of hours spent outdoors demonstrating in all kinds of weather. Probably half a million dollars, or more, raised for media advertising.

Even though Stephen Harper and his PR people will claim to have saved the Canada Health Act something far more important has taken place at the intellectual, emotional and social levels within Alberta itself.

For the first time since Ralph Klein became the mouth piece for a cold, calculating, money-driven conservatism a significant number of Alberta’s people have made it clear that conservative values are both dehumanizing and dishonest.

More citizens than ever before mentally dispute the bombastic claims of an irresponsible premier and challenge him with more accurate numbers. For 13 years he has gotten away with frightening the public into submission.

Many who identified emotionally with the illusion of a man of the people who performed on the media stage as a strict but well intentioned father who controlled his children through the power of money, no longer fear his power.

Others, who once allowed themselves to believe the dishonest claim that our province faced bankruptcy because we had selfishly indulged ourselves in education for our children, benefits for seniors, help for the downtrodden and medicine for the sick can now see the social evil in that claim.

Yet there are at least two dangers in rejoicing too loudly or celebrating too noisily.

One of them simply has to do with appearing to be as punitive and revengeful as the government against whom we have been contending. Among the social values we dare to hope are coming through in this battle against corporatization is that people generally are against unfairly pitting the weak against the strong.

While the premier and his supporters on health care are temporally down it is unwise to think they are more than slightly weakened.

The second danger follows from the fact that it is almost certainly a mistake to think that, because Klein is going, the drive by commercial interests to take over health care has been stopped.

To put it rather grossly: conservatism in it’s desire to undermine all social programs by turning them into sources of income for massive corporations is like the proverbial snake.

This non-biblical snake is said to be self rejuvenating. If you cut it in half, it will simply become two snakes each of whom are going to bite you.

As Ralph Klein faces defeat on this ‘third way’ he snarls “It’s being postponed but someone is going to have to deal with it . . . Good luck” (Globe and Mail April 21/06)

The real challenge, for those who hold social values, is to propose and support those now in political leadership who hold progressively positive rather than conservatively negative human and social values.

Blair McPherson

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Towel Guys and Fat Cats 

"I go to the club and I work out, and you get some of the fat cats – you know, the rich guys – saying, 'You know you should spend it on education. You should do this and you should do that,' "But the guy who handles the towels says 'Right on, right on.'"

With these words, Premier Ralph Klein, the guy who claims to stand up for the little guy against those “fat cat” oilmen, justifies his preference for handing out more prosperity cheques to Albertans. Read all about it by clicking here.

Here's some questions all you little guys out there who vote for Mr. Klein and his PC party should ask yourself. See if you can figure out if he is on your side of the side of those he calls the “fat cats”.

Question 1. Is Mr. Klein a member of the posh Glencoe where he works out or does he work there along with the towel guys?

Question 2. When Mr. Klein sits down for lunch after his workout who joins him at his table to have a bite and talk about things; - to have a few laughs? The towel guy or the fat cats?

Question 3. Do you believe that Mr. Klein spends more of his time with fat cats or with towel guys? How many towel guys do you think Mr. Klein invites along to his home or to his fishing lodge? How many towel guys have a heart-to-heart with the Premier in his office discussing things like what's best for Albertans?

Get my point?

The reason the fat cats want to spend the surplus on things like education is because Mr. Klein has given them so much over the years that their personal wealth is secure. That's how come they're members at the Glencoe and how come their $400 prosperity cheques would likely get lost in the stack of dividend cheques from Imperial Oil, Encana and the like. That's also why these guys give wads of cash to the PC party. They want to make sure the wealth keeps flowing their way.

Question 4. Mr. Little Guy, how much do you receive in dividends from Imperial Oil, Encana and the like?

Question 5. Do you grasp the significance of the following equation?
Tiny royalties==>Big Oil Company Profits===>Big Dividends===>Glencoe Club Membership===>Lunch with Premier Klein===>Tiny royalties . . . . . . . etc.

Question 6. Do you think Mr. Klein's policies of having one of the lowest minimum wage rates in Canada as well as toxic anti-union legislation has helped your wages or do you think it has helped feed company profits?

Mr. Klein once was one of the little guys and he still knows how to put on the act. But all the little guy gets these days is a free pancake if you show up at a PC fundraiser and maybe; just maybe, another $400 prosperity cheque.

Saturday, April 15, 2006



NEIGHBOR: I’ve got to set you right.

ME: Oh! how come?

NEIGHBOR: You’ve been praising up those Liberals.

ME: I don’t recall doing that.

N: You’ve been writing in the paper in favor of universal health care.

ME: Oh! that. Just trying to keep Ralph Klein from ruining our health care system.

N: That’s where you’re wrong; everything should just be turned over to private insurance companies.

ME: Are you saying that it’s all right with you if I have more money than you (which I doubt) and I buy an operating room space ahead of you to have my knee replaced while you wait in line like everybody else?

NEIGHBOR: Well no, I don’t mean that. What I’m saying is that everyone should have private insurance and then we’d all be equal. Everybody knows governments can’t run anything without making a mess of it. Just look at what they are doing to our city.

ME: So you really believe in equal opportunity and you think private insurance companies would make sure that everybody is treated equally?

N: Well, no, it’s not that I think insurance companies are more fair than the government it’s just that I believe in free enterprise and letting the market place set the standards. Competition always improves service and brings down costs.

ME: But we already have in Canada the least expensive insurance and the widest coverage of health care that it is possible to obtain. Are your saying you’d rather purchase health care coverage from a huge American insurance corporation?

N: Well, then I’d have a choice of which insurance company to deal with. The way it is now the government is just a great big monopoly.

ME: So you think, if everybody bought insurance from private outfits then everybody would get good healthcare services on an equal footing with everyone else? But aren’t there some conditions that no private profit-making insurance company would insure you for?

NEIGHBOR: Well then, of course, there would be the government to fall back on. Like in one of the states in the US where the government will pay for those who are so poor they simply can’t afford insurance - Massachusetts I think.

ME: Sounds to me like your mind’s really made up and you’d vote for Klein’s Third Way just because he’s a Conservative and you think anyone who disagrees with him must be a Liberal.

N: Yep that just about sums it up. Conservative is good: Liberal is bad.

ME: Well good neighbor, you and I both have a democratic right to be wrong; but I hope my belief in universal medicare, paid for by the whole of society, proves to be better grounded in reality and more humane than your faith in the good will and fair mindedness of the market place.

Blair McPherson

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Who Sucks Best at the Public Teat? 

I don't know which Tory I admire more when it comes to extracting taxpayer money for their own personal use. There are so many worthy candidates to choose from.

Admittedly the Klein government has set things up so it is pretty easy for Tories to get at our money. Performing government contracts where the deliverables are strictly oral in nature ala Rod Love and Kelly Charlebois is but one example of this. (Hmmm. What exactly is an oral deliverable; - but I digress).

Tory leadership contender Mark "It's deductible!" Norris has also dreamed up a fine scheme. His boys set up a company called GLG Consulting Ltd., that pays Mark $10,000 a month for, - you guessed it, consulting. The company's major customers are well-heeled Tories who ponied up $10,000 to GLC. (These big shooters like to work in nice round $10,000 chunks.) They then claim these contributions as a business expense which means they get a tax deduction. Neat eh! The taxpayer doesn't pay for this directly, just indirectly. This makes it nicer.

Good as these schemes are, they don't top my favorite which was implemented by the old master himself, our beloved Ralph Klein. In the recent cabinet shuffle, Ralph appointed a few of his long time loyal Tory MLAs to cabinet positions. Two guys named Denis, a George and a Barry somebody. As cabinet ministers they get $58,000 above and beyond the $71,000 they earn as an MLAs. But the real genius in this scheme is that this gift from their leader is one that keeps on giving. These guys are all long time MLAs and the pension plan is based on years of service plus the best two years of salary. If they can hang around for a couple of years that extra $58,000 a year is going to pay off in spades in their pension plans.

If you ever wonder why the Tories call the health care system unsustainable it just might be because they have to spend too much sustaining themselves.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Alberta Health Care and Unlucky #13 

For those Ralph's World readers interested in "Third Way" discussions have a look at this article by Terilyn Paulgaard.

Unlucky #13 refers to Iris & Ralph's private health insurance initiatives. This is what the Tories, including the new leadership contenders, think will make health care sustainable in this province of ours.

Read the article and you be the judge.

Saturday, April 08, 2006




The first foundation , EMPATHY, is the basis of all civilization, society and community. Empathy is simply our name for allowing ourselves to feel, in imagination if not in reality, at least something of what another person is experiencing.

Persons without the decency to be moved by the joys and sorrows of fellow mortals become less than human. All humans have some capacity for empathy and some of those with a genuine ability to empathize with others enter the helping professions.

RESPONSIBILITY, follows from empathy. It is the behavior seen every day among the people in our societies who care, not only about themselves and their needs, but who also work to share burdens and ease the pains of others.

It is at least arguably true that no other health care system (our Canadain system) in the world came into being more directly founded on empathy for those who suffer from economic depression and an acceptance of responsibility by all of society to provide care for each other.

The stream of conservatism now sweeping through North American society and being fed into Canada by political leaders pretends to be human and socially concerned but conservative behavior is that of cold calculating commercialism.

Ralph's World boasts of money and power exercised with heartless disregard for the experience of any segment of society except those already healthy, getting rich and adding to government coffers.

In so many ways those who care about real democracy are asking the biblical question, “What does it profit a man (province) to gain the whole world and lose his (its) own soul?”

Empathy and responsibility have been notably absent from Ralph’s World and the Ralph who was sold on the pretext of listening and caring, still clings to power as if his world weren’t exploding like the hospitals he destroyed.

The “SAVE HEALTHCARE” drive is our greatest hope of holding off more conservatism at this time and in the immediate future. It's the best hope of preventing an extension of Ralph's World into a society more and more under the control of morally bereft corporations rather than governed by socially responsible servants of the people.

Work toward instilling a greater sense of empathy and responsibility into government will still have to go on after Ralph's World is a memory. But nothing in democracy is more worth working for.

Blair McPherson

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