Right Here, Right Now

Right Here, Right Now

Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption

Book - 2018
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"The world is in flux. Disruptive technologies, ideas, and politicians are challenging business models, norms, and political conventions everywhere. How we, as leaders in business and politics, choose to respond matters greatly. Some voices refuse to concede the need for any change, while others advocate for radical realignment. But neither of these positions can sustainably address the legitimate concerns of disaffected citizens. Right Here, Right Now sets out a pragmatic, forward-looking vision for leaders in business and politics by analyzing how economic, social, and public policy trends--including globalized movements of capital, goods and services, and labour--have affected our economies, communities, and governments." --
Publisher: Toronto :, Signal/McClelland & Stewart,, 2018
Description: 232 pages ; 24 cm
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780771038624
Branch Call Number: 320.52 Har


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May 29, 2019

You don’t need an Economics degree to follow the narrative but you have to pay attention and no, snowflakes, there is no prejudiced hatred anywhere in this book and the dust jacket doesn’t make Right Here Right Now sound like another book on Trump.

As Harper says on page 5: “This book is, in a sense, a manual for conservative statecraft in a populist age.” He gives his opinions and clearly makes his case for each topic. If you’re looking for insight on the “Incremental” Prime Minister’s thinking you'll enjoy this book.

Jan 24, 2019

I read this book hoping for some insight into the world economic and political situation, and in some cases the book delivered. Perhaps I shouldn't have expected a lifetime politician to be a little more measured and insightful in his critique of the "other side", but I did. For the blindness and prejudiced hatred is spewed towards those that don't share conservative view of the world, I was disappointed with the book. It is degrading and thoughtless to suppose that all Trumps supporters were dumb bigots - with this I agree. But then, to Harper, all the supporters of anyone left of the Conservative party are nihilists, bent on the destruction of country and family. Instead of spending time wondering how Trump won, which was not a great secret, he should have considered why it is that he lost.

Dec 28, 2018

Harper accepts “sound money”, which he identifies as part of the Reagan agenda, as one of the “essential ingredients of economic policy in the twenty-first century.” Revealingly, the closely related term “price stability”, which the Progressive Conservative Mulroney government declared the goal of monetary policy, is never used in the book. Volcker, in his own memoir, writes of the US Fed’s 2% inflation target: “I puzzle at the rationale. A 2 percent target, or limit, was not in my textbook years ago.” There is no rationale. Central banks around the world borrowed the 2% target from the Bank of Canada, and it is only our indeterminate rate because in 1993, Governor Crow was unwilling to accept a rate as high as 1.75%, and Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin was unwilling to accept a rate as low as 1.5%. Harper makes no mention of the Bank of Canada research agenda that his Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, agreed to in 2006 to look at lowering the inflation target rate with the 2011 renewal agreement. In fact, a lowering of the target rate to around 1.75% was pretty much required in 2016 to keep the ‘true’ rate of inflation targeted from rising over the next five years due to improvements in inflation measurement. Nevertheless, the 2011 renewal agreement retained the 2% target, without even an acknowledgement that the true rate of inflation targeted was bound to rise. Unfortunately, when it comes to sound money, Harper’s instincts are liberal, in fact Liberal.
In his frequently sneering comments about Trump’s tax reform package, Harper makes no mention that it included a provision to adjust income tax brackets using a chained CPI, which corrects for upward bias in inflation found in the US CPI-U or CPI-W. While limited in scope, the reform still saves the US Treasury billions of dollars. A similar reform is not possible in Canada because we have no chained CPI. Even the crudest of chained CPIs, a move to annual basket updates, which seemed likely to happen while Harper was in office, never did, and we are still waiting on it under his Liberal successor. (The earliest it can happen now is February 2020, when there is again the possibility of a Conservative government in power.)
So complete was the cave-in by the Trudeau Liberals to Trump in the final days of the NAFTA negotiations, little attention was paid to Chapter 33 of the USMCA, which established a trinational Macroeconomic Committee to guard against currency warfare by member countries. Unfortunately, Harper’s book was published just after the signing of the USMCA, and the book speaks of the deal as still being negotiated. However he does hint that the Americans could be headed in this direction in his chapter on trade agreements: “The current U.S. trade remedy model does require some reform. For instance, there have been various congressional attempts to strengthen the regime around undervalued currencies.” No government likes to see its own policy independence compromised in trade agreements. On the other hand, Chapter 33 may be a positive for Canadians who believe in price stability. Faced with a Bank of Canada that is making noises about raising the target inflation rate of 3% or 4% in 2021, our best defence may lie with the Americans, who would certainly view such a move through a currency-warfare lens.

Dec 28, 2018

OPL Book review of Right Here, Right Now
The dustjacket of the book makes it sound like another book on Donald Trump, this one from our last Prime Minister. In fact, it is more of a blueprint for Western conservative parties on how they can frame policies to achieve political success and improve their home countries, illustrated by Harper’s own experience in office. (By the way, Harper errs in saying his was the longest-serving Conservative government since 1891. The Conservative-Unionist government of Borden and Meighen was in office for almost 10 years and three months. He is the longest-serving Conservative PM after Macdonald.)
Given that Harper self-identifies as both an economist and a conservative, Chapter 2’s analysis of postwar economic developments in the West is disconcerting. Harper admires Reagan and Thatcher, but oddly doesn’t connect either of them with monetarism, although they both held monetarist views. US Fed Chair Paul Volcker’s tight money policies squeezed double-digit inflation out of the American and set the stage for the Great Moderation that followed. Although appointed by Carter, he was stoutly supported by Reagan. (Volcker’s memoir, published the same month as Harper’s, reports that Reagan did put him under heavy pressure not to raise rates in 1984, when he wasn’t planning to anyway.) In the UK, monetarist policies were actually introduced by the Labour government of Jim Callaghan in 1976, but were imposed on it by the IMF. However Thatcher actually believed in fighting inflation using monetarist policies, and her government never really renounced them. When she left office, the UK had entered the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, really a policy of “exchange rate monetarism”, which saw a big drop in the British inflation rate. In fact, when under her successor, John Major, the UK dropped out of the ERM and moved the Bank of England to an inflation targeting regime, the significance of the change was underappreciated, as a monetary target, dropped from all subsequent budgets, was announced along with the inflation target.
Although he mentions a “sub-prime mortgage bubble” in connection with the US financial crisis, Harper takes the liberal-leftist view that the Great Recession was due to a failure of private markets, not public institutions. He ignores the evidence of Thomas Sowell’s “The Housing Boom and Bust” that the federal government was pressuring banks to expand sub-prime mortgage lending to promote its own policy goals or my own evidence in my 2011 paper “A Better Inflation Indicator” that the US Fed was, and is, poorly equipped to fight housing bubbles since housing prices are excluded from all of the inflation measures it references.

Nov 22, 2018

Challenging book to read unless you have an economic degree. His analysis of economic trade agreements makes sense after a lot of thought. Obviously he is a very intelligent man who has thought seriously about the ramifications of some of the trade agreements made by the Canadian government including his own party. His views and rational thinking are refreshing after 4 years with Prime Minister Trudeau.

Nov 20, 2018

It must be hard to be the man who was punked by the worst PM in Canadian history, Justin Trudeau, the alienist, anti-national, anti-Canada, uneducated, unaccomplished offspring of PET, the man who gave us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a document neither of his idiotic sons has ever bothered to read. It must be especially galling when Harper is also the man who put Canada on the international trade map after years of Liberal indifference.

Worse still, without Stephen Harper at the helm, there is no one in Opposition today to bring monstrous Justin or his cabinet of Islamic and climate terrorist thugs to heel or at least to within the bounds of Canadian law.

But we are not without hope. Harper's book provides a blueprint for Andrew Scheer - if he can read - can he? - it's not at all clear - to navigate a sensible, practical path, including a renewed emphasis on legal immigration, amid an international minefield of extreme leftism that would make poor Karl Marx blush like a schoolgirl.

On a negative note: It's pretty nervy of Harper to take pot shots at Donald Trump however modest when POTUS has the US economy booming like pre-bailout days. Such petty criticisms are no doubt prompted by jealousy after realizing by comparison how much more he could have done as leader but didn't.

Think of Harper's own town halls - non-existent.

Happily, premiers like Doug Ford are taking the Trump wisdom and using it to win.

Another particularly sour note in his book is Harper's apparent wish to redirect post-secondary training toward physical labor rather than the academic learning the author himself enjoyed and profited by as do his offspring today. Notice how those who promote dangerous occupations - occupations facing obsolescence by virtue of automation, btw - never actually do that kind of work themselves nor do they encourage their own kids in that direction however ill suited to academia those kids might be.

No. Nor are we who actually lived in Metro Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics on fire about such an overpriced sporting event. While I'm glad the author enjoyed it, it's not as if locals were ever offered any special access or prices or perks in return for the months of inconvenience we put up with. Happily, Calgary wisely voted recently against such an unnecessary, unwelcome expense. Canada gets it even if our politicians do not.

Readers looking for Harper's post mortem on Canada's disastrous election 2015 won't find it here, but Harper does shed some light without naming names on Trudeau Jr.'s weird, anti-Canada, alienist political philosophy shared by a small, disconnected elite, who probably don't like him any more than we do. A spoiled brat among a bunch of other spoiled brats, in other words.

Harper's mission with this book seems to be a warning that if conservatives don't offer sensible, rational policies that appeal to Joe Public, we may be doomed to the kind of left extremism Justin Trudeau brought to the now illiberal Liberal Party of Canada.

A very well-written account of credible observations made after years of public service and then advising other leaders in matters of international commerce and diplomacy.

How many of us, one wonders, hopes for The Return of the King? ...

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