Monthly Archives: September 2008

Stephen Harper: Permanently Our of Touch

Stephen Harper constantly attacks schemes that are being made up on the fly, but is he really that much better?

Think about it.  His last two promises from our pocket books:

  1. Baby bonuses for breeders
  2. Housing bonuses to increase the number of suburbanites

These policies show that Harper is consistently out of touch with the general trends related to urban intensification, single or no-child families and a general dislike of the constant expansion of cities into good, arable farmland.

People don’t want more houses.  They want urban infrastructure.

People are concerned about population and are only have one child, if couples have one at all.  Breeders are a thing of the past.

People don’t want to level good farmland for more McMansions.  They want a reliable source of food and produce to feed themselves and those they love.

People want commitment to stability brought on by tough regulation and monitoring of what’s happening in the marketplace.  They don’t want to die because of bad meat and they don’t want to lose their homes because of deregulation.

In summary, I believe the people of Canada want commitment to green action.  Period.  It’s the dominant plank of all other parties in Canada and not with the Conservatives.  Local.  Prudent.  A helping hand rather than the invisible hand.

I guess it comes with mindset.  Republicans Conservatives are rooted in a belief structure that is centred around the notion of "what is here belongs to us and all resources should be used today to our benefit.  Today."  Go forth and multiply.  Etc etc.

What do you think?

I believe this weakness of the Republicans Conservatives (the fact that they’re out of touch) will be their downfall, but only if people stop falling for Steve’s sacharine ‘sacrifices’.

International Price Hikes Coming?

In the past, I’ve tried to assess the impact that the declining US dollar has on international commodity prices.  Link 1Link 2Link 3 .

At the core, I believe that we (as global citizens) are making a mistake by tying our commodity prices and products to the US dollar.  To quote the old adage "you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket".

As the US dollar depreciates, which is inevitable given the level of debt that the government has issued in order to finance wars across the globe, commodity prices rise because there is a basic and simple inverse relationship.  As the dollar drops further compared to more stable currencies like the Euro, the increase in prices actually becomes exponential.

In recent months, price increases have also been tied to speculation and manipulation, something that should be investigated a little further given the calamity that has resulted from these actions.

Now, over the last few days, the Chinese government has declared that they may start to cut their US dollar holdings.  Full story here .  China currently holds nearly $2 trillion in US currency and this, according to many of their advisors, is just a little too much.  No kidding.

Once a sell-off starts, we should expect the dollar to start to plummet again, resulting in a sharp increase in commodity prices (again).  The recent drops in oil and other commodities should be appreciated while they last.

Of course, I’m going to tie this all back to the Canadian election:  what are we doing to protect us from these gyrations, none of which we can control?  Do we price oil in Canadian dollars or even Euros, like other resource-rich countries have?  What do you think?

Sarah Palin: She’s not a mini-van … she’s an Escalady!!

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A few months ago, I wrote this little piece about ‘the Escalady’ .

Now, it seems, this piece was fairly timely in that it is a much more accurate description of the new Vice-President nominee, Sarah Palin.  In fact, so many Republicans (and Conservatives) seem to want to latch on to this ‘demographic’ like they’re all friends and they have so much in common.

Yeah.  Like water and cement have a lot in common.

I suppose it has worked in the past, trying to create empathy with a class of people that aren’t just driving a minivan, they’re driving a 1992 Chrysler minivan that’s at risk of losing the floor.

What do you think?  Do you agree that Sarah Palin is more like the Escalady than the minivan mom?  How do we make it stick?

Stephen Harper Promises: Death to Canada by 1000 Cuts

Stephen Harper is making a lot of costly promises in an effort to get re-elected.

DON’T FALL FOR IT.

What Stephen Harper is proposing is the death of Canada by 1,000 cuts.  The most recent is the exceptionally poorly thought out, last-minute promise to cut the Federal excise tax on diesel fuel from $0.04 to $0.02 per litre.

Just like with the GST, consumers will not benefit from these cuts, as promised by the Conservatives.

With the GST, the Republicans Conservatives cut the 7% tax to 5% over the course of 2 years.  With most retail establishments, this cut was absorbed into the bottom line of companies and not redistributed to consumers.

In fact, it was simply another corporate tax cut.

More research is needed into these kind of cuts that last decades and never make it to the consumer’s wallet.  There’s at least one MA study out there that looks into the impact of spending promises on the political fate of parties:  it was written by Stephen Harper at the University of Calgary.

The promise to cut diesel fuel over 4 years, or half a cent a year, should be realized for what it is:  a promise to transfer $150 million per year from the government of Canada to producers of oil.

Be wary of similar promises from any politician, particularly when they promise that it will be done over decades and not now.  If it’s $0.04 per litre, eliminate the tax.  Cut it completely and eliminate the bureaucracy that supports it.  This kind of cut will be felt positively and immediately.  By consumers.

Wall Street in Financial Ruin

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Please be advised that any commentary on financial markets does not constitute advise.  It is opinion only and any actions you take should be based on consultation with a registered financial planner.

Lehman Brothers was barely able to get a bid from Bank of America yesterday as it crumbled into financial ruin.  At the root of this financial disaster is a situation that we’re all too familiar with:  the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Here are a number of stories:

Derivative terrorism being driven by robber barons:
http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_10446996?source=email

Derivatives traders given preferential market access during off hours:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080914/bs_nm/lehman_specialsession_dc_3

US government next on the default list?
http://sify.com/finance/fullstory.php?id=14757636

Wall Street has become fundamentally corrupt:
http://www.kansascity.com/business/moneywise/story/795353.html

Record bailouts show bankruptcy of American capitalism:
http://wsws.org/articles/2008/sep2008/fafr-s10_prn.shtml

OK … so what does it all mean?

At the core, we are seeing the rationale for losing faith in the markets as the ‘cure all’ of all of our woes.  The market is a disaster, mainly because of the ‘laissez-faire’ approach of regulators over the last two decades.  In Canada, we’ve been sheltered from this storm, but the reality is that we’re always close to getting sucked in because so much of our fate is intertwined with that of the US.

The connection to the Canadian election:  Harper wants to deepen those relationships.  He wants to tie Canada to a sinking ship, given his support for more privatization, more foreign access to Canadian companies, tying us to the SPP and connecting us irreversably to the North American Union.

While his foundation made of sand is washing away, he wants Canadians to take a big gulp and stand in the financial and economic hurricane with an umbrella.

What we need instead is someone who is committed to the strength of Canada, the future of Canada and the institutions that have made Canada resolute against this kind of macho bullshit.