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Today’s topics: fake hockey jerseys; afflicting the afflicted; language goalposts; a prophetic parrot ... and more (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)
Today’s topics: fake hockey jerseys; afflicting the afflicted; language goalposts; a prophetic parrot ... and more (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

What readers think

Nov. 7: Letters to the editor Add to ...

No shame?

Your article on fake hockey jerseys made in China and illegally imported into Canada quotes a spokesman for the National Hockey League saying that counterfeiters “have no shame” (One Of These Jerseys Costs $375 And The Other Costs $40 – Sports, Nov. 5). Genuine NHL jerseys cost up to $400, we’re told.

It’s no secret that tickets for NHL games are beyond the means of many middle-class families, that the league celebrates gratuitous violence, its de facto spokesman on television is a buffoon, and its values (such as they are) are increasingly divorced from ordinary Canadians. It’s just big business, after all.

Remind us again: Who has no shame?

Anders I. Ourom, Vancouver


All in the families

Eighteen years ago, my lesbian partner and I consulted our family doctor about our desire to have children (The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Lesbian Families – Nov. 5). Addressing our concerns about the challenges our potential kids might face, she responded, “99.9 per cent of families are dysfunctional and no one can find the other .1 per cent, so go ahead and have your children.”

Our daughter, 16, and son, 12, are happy and thriving. Neither has been bullied or socially excluded from the myriad of activities kids do, from sports teams to birthday parties and sleepovers.

Having our children has taught me that straight and gay families are, in the most important ways, the same. As parents, we’re all doing our best to raise well-adjusted, healthy, responsible kids.

Susan King, Ottawa


The wrong people

Not everyone has Margaret Wente’s courage to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable (Occupiers Are Blaming The Wrong People – Nov. 5). Blame not the greedy Wall Street bankers, but the unemployed sociology majors with two kids who got an education, hoping they could improve the world. What were they thinking?

Larry Kazdan, Vancouver


I do not deride the 1 per cent; I am motivated to join their ranks.

When did personal responsibility fall so much out of style? When did deriding someone for whining become “blaming the victim”? Why are people so willing to abdicate their freedom to become lackeys of this or that union, government aid program or other assorted safety net? What begat this horrible culture of entitlement? We’re in turbulent times to be sure, but I’d rather we all took turns at the tiller. Far too many of us prefer to be ballast, ensconced below decks, tweeting on our smartphones about the injustice of it all.

Tell Margaret Wente to keep slaughtering those sacred cows.

Jonathan Hare, Stouffville, Ont.


While I agree with the suspicion that not all the protesters may have been bloodied victims of greedy bankers, to single out a single mother who is struggling to support her children while pursuing an education as an example of “what’s wrong” with the protesters seems to me an egregious miscalculation on Margaret Wente’s part.

Rob Puchniak, Winnipeg


Language goalposts

The federal government has been on the receiving end of well-deserved criticism for its appointment of a unilingual auditor-general (Opposition Scolds Tories For Unilingual Appointments – Nov. 4). The grounds on which the criticism is based, however, are mostly wrong.

There are many ways senior civil servants who speak only French or English can perform their duties. A senior deputy who is fluent in the other language is one option, simultaneous translation is another tool. Promising to learn the other language within a reasonable period of time, however, is not realistic.

The really valid criticism, however, is that no one knows whether, language proficiency aside, the new auditor-general is the best qualified person to hold such an important position. By prescribing bilingualism in the job description, it is reasonable to conclude that many highly qualified unilingual Canadians, recognizing their own language limitations, ruled themselves out and never applied or allowed their name to go forward.

The net result of the process followed in making this appointment therefore represents a significant violation of the merit principle.

Tony Manera, Ottawa


Greece’s past

Life under the military dictatorship in Greece certainly wasn’t “beneficial” for Greeks who, in defending human rights, were jailed and tortured for their opposition to the junta (Don’t Buy The Bonds – letters, Nov. 4). What’s next? Defending Nazi Germany for its road construction, or Fascist Italy for making the trains run on time?

Carl Rosenberg, Vancouver


A box of chocolates

Your panel (Our Own Giller Jury: Who Should Win Canada’s Most Prestigious Literary Prize – And Who Will – Arts, Nov. 5) gave short shrift to Zsuzsi Gartner’s Better Living Through Plastic Explosives. A book of short fiction is not meant to be consumed all in one sitting like a bag of candy so that you make yourself feel sick. Instead, treat a collection of short fiction as a box of good chocolates – eat them in any order you wish, taking the time to savour and appreciate each one for its unique shape, texture, flavour and filling.

Chris Masterman, Calgary


Just wondering

At least three questions are worth putting to Mark Carney, winner of the top-job competition at the Financial Stability Board (New Bank Sheriff Gets More Firepower – Report on Business, Nov. 5).

Does a focus on capital requirements at the largest banks mean that the more complex systemic risks (e.g. those illustrated by the 1974 collapse of Herstatt Bank, a small financial institution) will be overlooked?

Does an increase in capital requirements result in a commensurate increase in moral hazard? Was the repealed Glass-Steagall act, which separated investment banking and commercial banking, a useful act? And, if so, should it, or something like it, be reintroduced? (Okay, call it four questions.)

Fact is, the financial services industry must resist to its very core the idea of “stability” because it makes a ton of money identifying, measuring and pricing risk. The market thrives on instability. In which case, the blunt stick of capital adequacy might be all that one can wield. Go figure!

David Smith, Toronto


Prophetic parrots

On one level, author Daniel Kahneman (Excerpt: Thinking, Fast And Slow – Focus, Nov. 5) is quite right about the futility of predicting the future. Prophets from Nostradamus to take-your-pick have demonstrated the silliness of the exercise. If I took up prophecy, I’d train a parrot to sit on my shoulder and screech: “War! Famine! Disease! We’re all going to die!”

I suspect my success rate would be rather good.

Hugh K. M. Macdonald, Tsawwassen, B.C.

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