Wednesday, April 20, 2016

After Seeing The Left in Power, Can We Say They Are Better Than The Right?

Yes, I know. It's been forever since I posted on this blog. But sometimes you need to take a break and accumulate some topics to write about. In this instance I'm not sure I can keep my big mouth shut.

Okay, I admit it. Full disclosure here. I live in Alberta. I'm a red Tory. Which means that for years and years I voted Progressive Conservative. Federally I was a Reform/CA/Conservative supporter for years. But in 2015 not only did I vote for Trudeau's Liberals, I voted for Notley's NDP. Both of those votes were a response to my disinclination to reward bad behaviour. In both instances the party I voted for seemed like the only possible alternative. So, there you have it. Pissed off at my brand, I punished them. But in some ways I cut off my nose to spite my face.

That's not to say that a good beating behind the woodshed won't improve Canada's conservative parties. But in 4 years a party can do a whole lot of damage. We're seeing it both in Edmonton and Ottawa.

Let's start in Edmonton. The Notley NDP seemed very reasonable during the election. But since then we've seen some unbelievably bad choices. These are deliberate choices based on blind ideology, not reason or reasonability.

Nowhere in their 2015 election platform did the NDP mention a carbon tax. This is really a just a revenue generator, and a pretty shabby one. Any economist can tell you that fuels, especially fuels in a winter climate, are inelastic. That means that increases in price do not decrease consumption to the same degree. Fuels are extremely inelastic. So we're going to pay more to run our vehicles and heat our homes, while not one bit of CO2 will be reduced.

We also have the decision to cease all coal-fired power. Yet the plan for what it will get replaced with and how that will be paid for is nonexistent. Don't tell that to the NDP, since they'll just tell you that a combination of wind and solar should do the trick. But nowhere in the world has that kind of power fuelled a place the size of Alberta. We don't have hydro power. And nuclear power creates nuclear waste, which only takes millions of years to not really environmentally friendly. The costs will be staggering. The results will be catastrophic. It simply cannot be done with current technology.

Finally, we're seeing a continuation of the lousy budgeting practises started under Allison Redford. They're posting an $8 Billion deficit this year. But that's just in their operational spending. They are also borrowing $5 Billion more for capital projects, which are conveniently separated out in the budget. That's $13 Billion in one year, not $8 Billion. In one year. They say we won't have a balanced budget until 2024! That's 8 years of deficits. That's irresponsible. Had they simply held the line on spending (not cut, just freeze) the deficits would have been much less. Once you reach balanced books you can start looking at spending again.

Increasing taxes on job creators doesn't help with economic recovery or diversification either. So how do you diversify? It's not exactly easy. If you want different kinds of industries to locate to your jurisdiction, then you have to attract them. You have to offer them a competitive business environment and the labour to match. So you have to invest in education and bribe them with tax breaks and subsidies. But where does the money for that come from? Trees? And does this sound like the NDP program?

Moving on to Ottawa and our selfie-taking Prime Minister, I just just get the feeling that grown-ups aren't in charge. Cutting defense spending while we're facing more threats from extremists and aggressive states is foolish. We have a huge arctic area that is defenseless to an aggressor like Vlad Putin. Our allies are fighting a barbaric Islamic extremist movement while we talk about...talking. Brutal. Embarrassing.

But while keeping Canada safe doesn't seem to be a spending priority, the Trudeau Liberals are spending heaps on other things. Saddling us with huge deficits while, like Notley, punishing investors and job creators is the order of the day. A puny "middle class" tax cut was the bribe we all fell for, isn't it? Meanwhile the Parliamentary budget officer has stated that the budget process under the Liberals makes transparency more difficult. So much for a more honest government.

Lastly, Trudeau's pathetic insistence that as Prime Minister it's not his job to "cheerlead" pipelines is the same thing as saying "keep it in the ground". His refusal to bring crooked Montreal mayor Coderre to task over his hypocritical comments on Energy East shows he doesn't have the nation's interest clearly in mind. He doesn't really give a shit about the west either, as evidenced in the selective EI increases that left out the Edmonton area. The fact is that even if the whole planet reduced CO2 emissions we would still have an energy sector. We're going to need oil for some fuels and for lubricants and other products. Those pipelines are essential to Canada, not just Alberta. And shipping resources through Energy East has the potential to help Europe get out from under the resource thumb of Russia. I guess Trudeau, Coderre and his cronies would rather have trains full of oil in flames.

Stephen Harper deserved to be voted out. So did the Alberta "look in the mirror" PCs.

But can we really say that what we got instead is any better? There's no evidence showing that.

But that's just way I see it.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Beware The Dangers Of Over-Socialism

There seems to be a movement, especially here in Canada, to turn away from conservative political movements. In Ontario it didn't matter how awful the Dalton McGuinty Liberals were that party was re-elected with a new leader. In Alberta the NDP has won power and the Progressive Conservatives now sit in the wilderness. In fact, there isn't a real conservative government in a Province in Canada. Federally the Harper Conservatives can't seem to get ahead of the left-wing competition. What's telling is that Stephen Harper should be kicking the crap out of the Justin Trudeaus and Tom Mulcairs of the world, but he's not. In the US they are gearing up for election season with Hillary Clinton the front-runner. The Republicans are struggling to put forth a candidate that might beat her. So after 7 years of Barak Obama's directionless leadership the Democrats look poised to retain the White House.

So while we lurch to the left and leave conservatives to re-invent themselves as something that isn't anti-gay, patriarchal, or parental, let's remind ourselves of the dangers of embracing the left too much, shall we? Yes, we shall.

There was, for a little while, a political mode in North America that prescribed that deficits were bad, raising taxes was verboten, and free trade was advantageous. That fashion seems to have passed. That's really too bad. Just take a look at what's happening in Europe and you can get an idea of how bad overspending and borrowing can get. Those of us trying to save for retirement are seeing our savings stagnate thanks to what this European crisis is doing to the market. Overspending and debt has had a disastrous effect on the global economy. While the Europeans strutted with their noses in the air claiming that they cared so much about the working class and the poor, they were, in fact, helping to destroy the global middle class.

The current crisis involving the Greeks is a despicable mess. Greece's debt is now over $378 Billion USD, which is approaching 200% of their GDP. In Canada, where debt to GDP sits just short of 40%, we panicked in the early 1990's when it was approaching 80%. The Chretien/Martin Liberals managed to sort that out by cutting spending. In Europe, citizens riot when governments talk about austerity measures. They want their cake and to eat it too. Here in Canada we should learn the lessons and not be like that (are you listening Quebec students???).

What huge amounts of government debt can do is put extreme pressure on central banking agencies to keep interest rates low. In the USA, where debt to GDP is now well over 100%, they pay 7% of their budget ($224 Billion) in interest payments. In Canada we will pay over $25 Billion in debt charges this fiscal year. To their credit, the Harper government has stopped the bleeding and presented a balanced budget. To do so that had to cut spending. But the austerity measures in the early 1990s combined with the low tax policies of both Chretien and Harper have put Canada in an enviable position. No other G7 country has a balanced budget. Within Canada, Ontario is a sore point. Ontario's debt is approaching $300 billion! That's almost $12 Billion in interest payments per year. Even a 1% increase in interest rates would have major budgetary implications for governments. In Europe an interest rate hike could cause insolvency for some governments.

So before you go praising the left's "big heart" take a look at the ramifications of policies that have high taxes and high spending as their central principles. Low interest rates have inflated housing costs, pushing many young people either out of the housing market or into unsustainable levels of debt. Those low rates have made saving for retirement much more difficult. High debt rates have caused huge amounts of government spending that might otherwise go towards education or health instead being spent on debt servicing costs. Then, to try to pay for unsustainable levels of spending governments borrow even more (and then the banks get vilified) or they raise taxes on "the rich". You know what? I never got a job from a poor guy. Rich people aren't evil. They invest and that creates jobs. Corporations also create jobs. And the idea that corporations don't leave anything behind is nonsense. 60% of Canadians work for what can be classified as a corporation. That's a lot of wages left behind. That's a lot of infrastructure. That's jobs. And a majority of Canadians have investments. It's not just the "rich".

Let's think twice about what kind of country and world we want. There are some things that people can bloody well do for themselves. Countries like Greece, France, The USA ad others will have to learn that they can't have it all on the credit card forever. The sooner this correction happens, the better. There is no possibility of this happening under a left-wing regime. When it comes to socialism, moderation is a wise policy.

But that's just the way I see it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

6 Things You Should Know About Your Facebook Posts

Most people I know are on Facebook. But not everyone I know is on my Facebook friends list. Some people I don't have on Facebook because I don't think it's smart for me to have them. Others I don't have because I only know them in a professional way, so I keep them on LinkedIn instead. Finally, there are some whom I am not friends with on Facebook because I unfriended them either because I didn't converse with them ever, or because they simply annoyed the shit out of me. This leads me to the 6 things you should know about your Facebook posts.

1. Not all of your friends will see your post.
You may not realize this, but some of your friends have your posts blocked from their news feed. You simply don't show up. It's their way of unfriending you without risking you noticing and getting offended. What? you thought that friend with 780 other friends is paying attention?

2. Nobody gives a shit about your workout.
Posting about how awesome your workout was will lead to people doing what they do in #1, above. In the end, nobody is impressed with how long your run was, how many reps you did with how many pounds or how sore you are now.

3. When you send game requests your friends hate you.
Sending out requests to play Candy Crush Sage, Farmville or any other game on Facebook is as good as saying "please unfriend me…please!" It is annoying. You are annoying.

4. When people say "Aw! That's so cute" they don't mean it.
Your friends really don't want to see pictures of your kid puking on the floor, torturing your cat, or slopping food all over a high chair. But in order to stay in your good graces they post that it's cute and then hide it from their news feed forever. It's true.

5. People roll their eyes when you post sentimental bullshit.
Posting pictures of clouds with some pseudo-intellectual semi-inspirational saying on it makes people throw up in their mouths just a little bit. Posting things like "A friend is…." makes people ditch you on Facebook.

6. You look stupid when you post superstitious nonsense.
"Re-post this 20 times and good luck with come to you" is so obviously ridiculous that your friends think, "Jeebus, he/she must be desperate/stupid to resort to doing that". Yes, they really think that about you.

You can call me negative if you want, but somebody had to say it.

But that's just the way I see it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bill 10 Has Made People Examine Faith's Justification of Bigotry

Christopher Hitchens once said that of all the so-called virtues the most over-rated is faith. I couldn't agree more. Faith is always painted as synonymous with goodness. It is praised. It brings tears to people's eyes. When someone dies people will proclaim that that person is with God now regardless of whether that person was faithful to any religion. Faith is also used to make bigotry seem acceptable. The ruckus over Bill 10 has made many in Alberta question this "safe zone" for homophobia. It's about time.

Catholic school boards want to be able to ban Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in catholic schools, as it doesn't fit with their faith. This has given the average taxpayer the perfect opportunity to question whether public funds ought to go to a school system that uses faith to discriminate against a segment of the population.

Make no mistake, people are born homosexual. Period.

Since people are born homosexual no religion should get away with discrimination against those people. It's morally wrong. It's unethical. It's flat out disgusting. Yet the idea that it's okay as long as it's justified by faith still seems to sit well with some people. That kind of thinking needs to be fought tooth and nail.

The Government of Alberta spends $6 billion supporting school boards, in addition to the education portion of property taxes. People can choose which system their property taxes go to, but not the provincial funding. So what we have is a school system that takes public funding yet discriminates against homosexuals. This is wrong on every level. It shouldn't be happening. If you take public money you need to adhere to public standards.

If people want to have Catholic schools or other religious schools they should be allowed to have them. But if they are taking public money then they should not be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals.

But that's just the way I see it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The 5 Lobbying Commandments

In the beginning, there was anarchy. And then humans said "let there be government". They then said "let there be revenue and expenditures" and politics was born. And from politics' rib lobbying was created. And it was good.

Then the powerful humans saw that among the multiplying masses there were some who were inadequate at lobbying. So they sent their 5 commandments, which read:

1. Thou shall not substitute regular personal meetings, phone calls, letters and social functions for shouting cheap slogans at rallies.

2. Thou shall hire a lobbyist if you want to do lobbying. Like surgery, thou shall not do-it-yourself.

3. Thou shall praise as well as complain. If thou only complaineth ye shall sow the seeds of drought.

4. Thou shall act like a grown-up. The holders of power need not pay you any heed if thou ignoreth. A photo with a politician does not maketh you important.

5. Thou shall understand budgeting restrictions. If thou shall reacheth understanding, thou shall find fairness.

And it was good.

But that's just the way I see it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Racist Sports Team Names or Political Correctness Run Amok?

Yesterday the US Patent Office cancelled the trademark of the Washington Redskins. The battle over the Redskins name is not a new one and is sure to stir the pot regarding what is appropriate to name a team. Well, for those of you who are bored, here are my thoughts on the matter….

The idea, in my mind, that naming a team after a group of people is inappropriate is not well thought out. Many sports teams are named after groups or kinds of people. That doesn't make the name disparaging. I don't think that the Vancouver Canucks name is disparaging of Canadians. Neither is the Montreal Canadiens (les habitants).

What about teams named after races or ethnicities? Again, it matters if the name is disparaging. The Cleveland Indians isn't a name that is disparaging of aboriginals. Neither is the Edmonton Eskimos or the Chicago Blackhawks. Is calling a football team the Vikings disparaging of Scandinavians? Certainly not and those who think so simply have too much time on their hands and should find something more useful to do than looking for cheap ways to be offended. Neither the Eskimos, Indians, Vikings or Blackhawks names make a negative reference or call attention to any negative stereotype.

There is only one example I can think of of a sports team name that is actually a racist or negative term and that is the Washington Redskins. The term "Redskin" is offensive because it mentions skin colour in a negative (and inaccurate) way. It is a negative term. So while the NFL team from Washington DC may end up having to change their name in time (and likely should) using one team's inappropriate name to justify open season on any team named after people is silly. That is political correctness run amok.

In the meantime, Go Eskimos!

But that's just the way I see it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Approving Northern Gateway The Right Choice

Once again I'll take the opportunity to use the best blog on the internet to tell my friends in the environmental hysteria industry that they are wrong. I rather enjoy doing so, to be frank. On the Northern Gateway pipeline the Government of Canada has made the right choice in approving the project.  Hopefully Keystone XL is next. Both pipelines need to become reality. Here's why:

Pipelines Are Safer

If the pipeline doesn't get built, it doesn't mean that Alberta oil won't reach the coast of British Columbia. It will, only it will arrive via rail or vehicle. As the tragedy at Lac Megantic showed last year, this method is not without significant risks. Pipelines can be built with significant safety features that make shipping oil via rail look like an irresponsible choice. Opposing the pipeline is the least environmentally friendly position.

The Resource Sector Is Essential to Canada

The idea that governments can just snap their fingers and create economic diversification is naive. I find it humorous that many of the same left-wing people who oppose pipelines also oppose the kinds of corporate welfare that usually attract new industries to any given jurisdiction. Tax incentives, tax breaks, subsidies and cost sharing will attract new industries. All of these measures are uniformly opposed by the usual environmentalists. Canada NEEDS the oil industry. Think that Canada would have fared so well during the 2008 meltdown and aftermath without it's resource sector? Without it Canada would have sunk much further into recession. Without the resource sector Canada's unemployment would be significantly higher than it is now and governments would have much less revenue to spend on programs. The oil and gas sector in Western Canada contributes more than $40 billion in economic benefit to all of Canada and provides almost half a million jobs. These companies spend over $500 billion a year in Canada. We simply can't do without it.

Alberta Oil Is Not A Threat To The Planet

I hate to let facts get in the way of the usual environmental hysteria, but I will. If Alberta never produced another drop of oil the effect on global warming would be nil, zilch, zero, nada. Canada produced less than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Within Canada, the oilsands contributes just 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The oilsands produce 0.15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Considering that the oil and gas sector nationally contributes 25% of Canada's emissions, the oilsands' 8% hardly justifies it's pariah status. 24% of Canadian emissions come from transportation, and another 12% come from the production of electricity. Perhaps here are easier ways to reduce emissions without costing jobs. Maybe the time has come for stricter emissions standards on vehicles.

Global Warming Can Only Be Stopped By Population Reduction

Unless we're all willing to give up fossil fuels tomorrow (and by all I mean the entire planet) stopping global warming is impossible unless major reductions happen in every part of the world. That includes China (26% of global emissions), the USA (14%, including a large portion generated by coal-fired plants), the EU (13%), India (6%), and Russia (5%). Everyone will have to reduce emissions without exemptions or exceptions. Think China is going to go for that? Me neither. And if they aren't then there's no stopping global warming. Killing the oilsands would be an empty gesture that would seriously damage our economy and eliminate jobs while doing absolutely nothing to stop global warming.

Empowering Women: The Best Way To Fight Global Warming

The best way to fight global warming is by globally empowering women. When women have access to education, jobs and birth control humans make fewer babies. And fewer humans is the best way to beat global warming. There are 7 billion people on the planet right now. That's easily 3 billion too many. That is true with respect to pollution, food supplies and water. At 4 billion global warming ceases to become an issue. The only way to get there is by empowering women. Doing that means the planet needs to grow up and get over it's ancient superstitions and patriarchal traditions. If that's not going to happen then there's no use in cutting off our noses to spite our faces. We should keep producing oil, find new and better ways to ship it to market and start planning for the consequences of global warming.

But that's just the way I see it