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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Tuesday, January 15, 2002

"My nationwide editorial explains why you shouldn't be able to run nationwide editorials." Imagine that a businessman, after buying ownership of several regional fast food chains, then allowed these chains to continue operating as before except that their hamburger buns would have to be purchased centrally. Imagine that, in response, the CEO of McDonalds launched a bitter ad campaign denouncing this businessman for diminishing regional autonomy and fostering conformism. Pretty ludicrous, eh? Well, that's essentially what's going on in the Canadian newspaper industry this week. William Thorsell's marginally-coherent editorial today slams the Asper family, which is the controlling interest in a number of regional and local Canadian newspapers, for "decree[ing] that the editorial policy of all Southam newspapers on significant matters of national and global interest be determined from a central office in Winnipeg..." Thorsell goes on to lament the fact that the Canadian Competition Bureau (Canada's federal antitrust bureau) "has always confined itself to economic measures of the public interest in judging newspaper mergers." Who is William Thorsell? He happens to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Globe and Mail, which is one of two national newspapers in Canada, and which (surprise!) publishes the same editorials, determined in the Globe and Mail's central office, throughout all of Canada. Apparently there's no lack of competition associated with that.

But Mr. Thorsell's talents are not limited to such nuanced understanding of the public interest. He is also a keen student of economics. Take for example his editorial from three weeks ago, where he provides an insightful Yogi Berra-esque analysis of the woes afflicting the airline industry: the reason nobody's flying is because planes are too crowded. And while demand will revive, it will be "low cost" demand that is unaccompanied by frills, which -- apparently -- will lead to a lack of revival of demand. I *think* he was trying to be humorous at certain points in this editorial and serious in others, but it reads like way too many essays my MBA students write -- you know, that kid in the back row who hopes his occasional witticisms (which seem awfully sly to him, if to nobody else) will generate sufficient goodwill to gain him a B- instead of the D he so richly deserves.

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