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City hall may need to toss the status quo.


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City Hall

City hall seems to be disconnected from many sectors of Red Deer, even while trying to help.

Several downtown businesspeople actually do think councillors are more arrogant and condescending than ever before. I have heard similar thoughts from homeowners too.

City council is being assaulted from all sides, be it covid, downtown, homeless, declining or stagnant population growth, deteriorating infrastructure, Capstone, Westerner, and the outward migration of businesses to the county, to name but a few.

Besides the increasing partisan politics in Council, their inner circle seems to be ever shrinking and their tendency to turn to “Yes” voices may contribute to their apparent condescending persona.

Having Councilors telling long-term downtown business owners that they know more about downtown businesses is beyond comprehension. The rush to close the homeless shelter, many believe the lack of progress on Capstone facilitated the rush, only high lighted the issue and hurt downtown’s reputation.

City council had councilors and appointed members on the Westerner board, yet no one saw the failure of their business model, no one thought to alert city council, perhaps they should start appointing members who aren’t sheep, just going with the mob. Remember when council voted themselves 5 digit raises, one councilor cited the success of the Westerner for earning raises of about $10,000.

How many more million-dollar payments to the Red Deer College to pay for the new ice rink built for the winter games?

How many NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) projects will they build north of the river? Will they actually build the next aquatic-centre just down the road (30 ave.) from the last one (Collicutt Centre)?

City council has a member on the downtown business association, perhaps they should have a member on each of the neighbourhood associations?

The last municipal election had too many choices for informed decisions and the idea of a ward system came up numerous times. Should we look at this issue again?

It is a different world out there, in but a few years, perhaps we need to get back in touch, and throw status-quo out the window. After all status-quo isn’t working now, is it? Just saying.

Political editor/writer and retired oilfield supervisor

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Brownstone Institute

The Best Life Lesson for a Teen Is a Job

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From the Brownstone Institute


During the Covid debacle, kids were locked out of school or otherwise condemned to an inferior Zoom education for up to two years. What were the alternatives? Unfortunately, since the New Deal, the federal government has severely restricted teenagers’ opportunities for gainful employment. But new evidence proves that keeping kids out of work doesn’t keep them out of mental health trouble.

Yet suggesting that kids take a job has become controversial in recent years. It is easy to find expert lists on the dangers of teenage employment. Evolve Treatment Center, a California therapy chain for teenagers, recently listed the possible “cons” of work:

  • Jobs can add stress to a child’s life.
  • Jobs can expose kids to people and situations they might not be ready for.
  • A teen working a job might feel like childhood is ending too soon.

But stress is a natural part of life. Dealing with strange characters or ornery bosses can speedily teach kids far more than they learn from a droning public school teacher. And the sooner childhood ends, the sooner young adults can experience independence – one of the great propellants of personal growth.

When I came of age in the 1970s, nothing was more natural than seeking to earn a few bucks after school or during the summer. I was terminally bored in high school and jobs provided one of the few legal stimulants I found in those years.

Thanks to federal labor law, I was effectively banned from non-agricultural work before I turned 16. For two summers, I worked at a peach orchard five days a week, almost ten hours a day, pocketing $1.40 an hour and all the peach fuzz I took home on my neck and arms. Plus, there was no entertainment surcharge for the snakes I encountered in trees while a heavy metal bucket of peaches swung from my neck.

Actually, that gig was good preparation for my journalism career since I was always being cussed by the foreman. He was a retired 20-year Army drill sergeant who was always snarling, always smoking, and always coughing. The foreman never explained how to do a task since he preferred vehemently cussing you afterwards for doing it wrong. “What-da-hell’s-wrong-with-you-Red?” quickly became his standard refrain.

No one who worked in that orchard was ever voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” But one co-worker provided me with a lifetime of philosophical inspiration, more or less. Albert, a lean 35-year-old who always greased his black hair straight back, had survived plenty of whiskey-induced crashes on life’s roller coaster.

Back in those days, young folks were browbeaten to think positively about institutions that domineered their lives (such as military conscription). Albert was a novelty in my experience: a good-natured person who perpetually scoffed.  Albert’s reaction to almost everything in life consisted of two phrases: “That really burns my ass!” or “No Shit!”

After I turned 16, I worked one summer with the Virginia Highway Department. As a flag man, I held up traffic while highway employees idled away the hours. On hot days in the back part of the county, drivers sometimes tossed me a cold beer as they passed by. Nowadays, such acts of mercy might spark an indictment. The best part of the job was wielding a chainsaw—another experience that came in handy for my future career.

I did “roadkill ride-alongs” with Bud, an amiable, jelly-bellied truck driver who was always chewing the cheapest, nastiest ceegar ever made—Swisher Sweets. The cigars I smoked cost a nickel more than Bud’s, but I tried not to put on airs around him.

We were supposed to dig a hole to bury any dead animal along the road. This could take half an hour or longer. Bud’s approach was more efficient. We would get our shovels firmly under the animal—wait until no cars were passing by—and then heave the carcass into the bushes. It was important not to let the job crowd the time available for smoking.

I was assigned to a crew that might have been the biggest slackers south of the Potomac and east of the Alleghenies. Working slowly to slipshod standards was their code of honor. Anyone who worked harder was viewed as a nuisance, if not a menace.

The most important thing I learned from that crew was how not to shovel. Any Yuk-a-Puk can grunt and heave material from Spot A to Spot B. It takes practice and savvy to turn a mule-like activity into an art.

To not shovel right, the shovel handle should rest above the belt buckle while one leans slightly forward. It’s important not to have both hands in your pockets while leaning, since that could prevent onlookers from recognizing “Work-in-Progress.” The key is to appear to be studiously calculating where your next burst of effort will provide maximum returns for the task.

One of this crew’s tasks that summer was to build a new road. The assistant crew foreman was indignant: “Why does the state government have us do this? Private businesses could build the road much more efficiently, and cheaper, too.” I was puzzled by his comment, but by the end of the summer I heartily agreed. The Highway Department could not competently organize anything more complex than painting stripes in the middle of a road. Even the placement of highway direction signs was routinely botched.

While I easily acclimated to government work lethargy, I was pure hustle on Friday nights unloading trucks full of boxes of old books at a local bindery. That gig paid a flat rate, in cash, that usually worked out to double or triple the Highway Department wage.

The goal with the Highway Department was to conserve energy, while the goal at the book bindery was to conserve time—to finish as quickly as possible and move on to weekend mischief. With government work, time routinely acquired a negative value—something to be killed.

The key thing kids must learn from their first jobs is to produce enough value that someone will voluntarily pay them a wage. I worked plenty of jobs in my teen years – baling hay, cutting lawns, and hustling on construction sites. I knew I’d need to pay my own way in life and those jobs got me in the habit of saving early and often.

But according to today’s conventional wisdom, teenagers should not be put at risk in any situation where they might harm themselves. The enemies of teenage employment rarely admit how the government’s “fixes” routinely do more harm than good. My experience with the highway department helped me quickly recognize the perils of government employment and training programs.

Those programs have been spectacularly failing for more than half a century. In 1969, the General Accounting Office (GAO) condemned federal summer jobs programs because youth “regressed in their conception of what should reasonably be required in return for wages paid.”

In 1979, GAO reported that the vast majority of urban teens in the program “were exposed to a worksite where good work habits were not learned or reinforced, or realistic ideas on expectations in the real world of work were not fostered.” In 1980, Vice President Mondale’s Task Force on Youth Unemployment reported, “Private employment experience is deemed far more attractive to prospective employers than public work” because of the bad habits and attitudes spurred by government programs.

“Make work” and “fake work” are a grave disservice to young people. But the same problems permeated programs in the Obama era. In Boston, federally-subsidized summer job workers donned puppets to greet visitors to an aquarium. In Laurel, Maryland, “Mayor’s Summer Jobs” participants put in time serving as a “building escort.” In Washington, D.C., kids were paid to diddle with “schoolyard butterfly habitats” and littered the streets with leaflets about the Green Summer Job Corps. In Florida, subsidized summer job participants “practiced firm handshakes to ensure that employers quickly understand their serious intent to work,” the Orlando Sentinel reported. And folks wonder why so many young people cannot comprehend the meaning of “work.”

Cosseting kids has been a jobs program for social workers but a disaster for the supposed beneficiaries. Teen labor force participation (for ages 16 to 19) declined from 58 percent in 1979 to 42 percent in 2004 and roughly 35 percent in 2018. It’s not like, instead of finding a job, kids stay home and read Shakespeare, master Algebra, or learn to code.

As teens became less engaged in society via work, mental health problems became far more prevalent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in “the 10 years leading up to the pandemic, feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness—as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors—increased by about 40 percent among young people.”

The troubled teen years are producing dark harvests on campus.  Between 2008 and 2019, the number of undergraduate students diagnosed with anxiety increased by 134 percent, 106 percent for depression, 57 percent for bipolar disorder, 72 percent for ADHD, 67 percent for schizophrenia, and 100 percent for anorexia, according to the National College Health Assessment.

Those rates are much worse post-pandemic. As psychiatrist Thomas Szasz observed, “The greatest analgesic, soporific, stimulant, tranquilizer, narcotic, and to some extent even antibiotic – in short, the closest thing to a genuine panacea – known to medical science is work.”

Those who fret about the dangers that teens face on the job need to recognize the “opportunity cost” of young adults perpetuating their childhood and their dependence. Sure, there are perils in the workplace. But as Thoreau wisely observed, “A man sits as many risks as he runs.”


  • James Bovard

    James Bovard, 2023 Brownstone Fellow, is author and lecturer whose commentary targets examples of waste, failures, corruption, cronyism and abuses of power in government. He is a USA Today columnist and is a frequent contributor to The Hill. He is the author of ten books.

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Bjorn Lomborg

How to save 4 million lives every year

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Bjorn Lomborg

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to do good. With his think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus, he has worked with hundreds of the world’s top economists and seven Nobel Laureates to find and promote the most effective solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, from disease and hunger to climate and education.

Best Things First – The top 12 solutions for the world

The Sustainable Development Goals are supposed to be delivered by 2030. World leaders have promised everything, like eradicating poverty, hunger and disease; stopping war and climate change, ending corruption, fixing education along with countless other things. But they are failing to deliver on their 169 promises at halftime.If we can’t do everything, let’s do the best things first — this is the message of Bjorn Lomborg’s brand new book.* Together with more than a hundred of the world’s top economists, he has worked for years to identify the best solutions to make the world a better place.

The book details how the 12 most cost-effective policies for the world can save 4.2 million lives and generate $1.1 trillion additional income for the world’s poorer half. Each dollar spent delivers an astounding 52 times the benefits.

It is strongly endorsed (”remarkable,” ”insightful,” ”incredible,” ”amazing,” ”spectacular,”  “thought-provoking,’ “Best Things First is the book to read”) by eminent voices in the global development conversation including Larry Summers, Bill Gates, the Chief Economist of the World Bank, a Nobel laureate and the Indian Prime Minister’s Chief Economic Advisor.

In a glowing review of the research project the book is based on, Canadian newspaper Financial Post writes:

Priorities, priorities, priorities. Results, results, results. Bjorn Lomborg (…) certainly understands the economic approach to problems. Choose. Don’t attempt everything. Put your resources where they will do the most good. (…) If calling his approach “economic” sours you on it, how about “evidence- not aspiration-based”?

You can also learn more about the “Doable Dozen” in a 3-hour podcast Prof. Jordan Peterson recorded with Dr. Lomborg, watched by close to half a million people already on YouTube alone.

*As an Amazon Associate, the Copenhagen Consensus Center earns from qualifying purchases.

Proven methods that will radically improve learning

One thing that taxpayers and politicians agree on practically everywhere is that more money should be spent on children’s education. But we need to be careful. Many popular educational investments deliver little or no learning, while we rarely hear about the most effective investments.

New research for Copenhagen Consensus highlights two cheap and efficient ways to increase learning. Tablets with educational software used just one hour a day over a year cost only $20 per student and result in learning that normally would take three years. Semi-structured teaching plans can make teachers teach more efficiently, doubling learning outcomes each year for just $10 per student.

We could dramatically improve education for almost half a billion primary school students in the world’s poorer half for less than $10 billion annually. This investment would generate long-term productivity increases worth $65 for each dollar spent.

Each week, Bjorn Lomborg is writing about the 12 most phenomenal solutions for global development in 35+ newspapers worldwide. You can read his article on education in publications including National Post(Canada), The Australian, The Nation (Kenya), Business Day (South Africa), Daily Graphic (Ghana), Addis Fortune(Ethiopia), New Times (Rwanda), Daily Mail (Zambia, print only), The Nation (Malawi, print only), Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh), Bangkok Post (Thailand), DC Journal (USA), Tempi (Italy), Portfolio (Hungary), Finmag (Czech Republic), Milenio(Mexico), La Prensa (Nicaragua), El Universal(Venezuela), Jordan Times, Al-Ahram (Egypt) and An-Nahar (Lebanon, in Arabic).

Skilled migration can address inequality

Smart migration policies can reduce inequality. Enabling more skilled migration to countries that need more skilled labor could achieve both higher productivity and less inequality.

Surprisingly, our new studyfinds that even the countries where migrants originate will see more benefits than costs.

Each dollar spent on increasing skilled migration by 10% will deliver a substantial $18 of social benefits globally.

Read Bjorn Lomborg’s column on this research in newspapers around the world, including Jakarta Post(Indonesia), The Star (Malaysia), Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh), The Nation(Kenya), Business Day (South Africa), Addis Fortune(Ethiopia), Daily Mail (Zambia, print only), Daily Graphic(Ghana), The Nation (Malawi, print only), Milenio(Mexico), La Prensa (Nicaragua), El Universal(Venezuela), La Prensa Grafica (El Salvador), Jordan Times, An-Nahar (Lebanon), Al-Ahram (Egypt), National Post (Canada), DC Journal (USA), Tempi (Italy), Portfolio(Hungary), Standard (Slovakia) and Finmag (Czech Republic).

How India can use its G20 leadership to prioritize the best solutions for the world

Bjorn Lomborg recently traveled to New Delhi to speak at India’s biggest news event, the Republic Summit, sharing the stage with many of the federal ministers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Discussing both climate policy and global development, he pointed out that India has made the fastest progress on the Sustainable Development Goals of any G20 nation, and argued that India should use its G20 leadership to prioritize the best solutions for the world.

As a voice for the Global South, India should insist on most efficient solutions for health, education, nutrition and other areas in which smart investments can create a huge impact to improve people’s lives.

While in New Delhi, Lomborg also appeared on one of the largest political talk shows of the country, Nation Wants To Know, to discuss smart solutions to climate change and how to turn the SDGs into a success story.

Bednets can save more than a million lives

We think of malaria as a problem faced only by humid, hot countries. But just over a century ago, the disease thrived as far north as Siberia and the Arctic Circle, and was endemic in 36 states of the U.S. Today, much of the malaria problem has stubbornly remained in Africa, where it kills more than half a million people every year.

Our new research proposes a 10 percent point scale-up and use of bednets in the 29 highest-burden countries in Africa alongside insecticide resistance management strategies, between now and the end of the UN’s 2030 promises. This investment will save 30,000 lives even in 2023. By the end of the decade, the number of malaria deaths will be halved, saving some 1.3 million lives in total. Every dollar spent on this campaign would yield societal benefits worth $48—a phenomenal return on investment.

Bjorn Lomborg writes about this study in his column for newspapers around the world, including The Nation(Kenya), Business Day (South Africa), Daily Graphic(Ghana), Addis Fortune (Ethiopia), Daily Mail (Zambia, print only), The Nation (Malawi, print only), National Post (Canada), Navbharat Times (India, in Hindi), Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh), Jakarta Post (Indonesia), Philippine Daily Inquirer, DC Journal (USA), Tempi(Italy), Portfolio (Hungary), Standard (Slovakia), Finmag(Czech Republic), Morgunbladid (Iceland), El Periodico(Guatemala), La Prensa (Nicaragua), El Universal(Venezuela), An-Nahar (Lebanon), Al-Ahram (Egypt) and Jordan Times.

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