Monthly Archives: October 2009

Cracks in the Road to a Harper Majority

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Conservatives make poor public policy makers because they simply don’t believe in public policy.  Even Stephen Harper has gone on record saying that he doesn’t believe in taxes which would, of course, eliminate any funding for government.

We’re seeing how poor the Conservatives are with real genuine ‘what’s in the public interest’ public policy as we witness the rollout of the vaccination for the Swine Flu, or H1N1 virus.

Even this situation has been turned into political gamesmanship and it must end before Canadian lives are put at stake.

While Canadians have been whipped into a state of panic, the Conservatives are still spending buckets of our cash in their own ridings on roads, pipes and a few other tawdry infrastructure projects, all the while sending us ’10-percenters’ from Jay Hill who are too obsessed with Michael Ignatieff living out of Canada than creating a real action plan to protect Canadians.

ASIDE:  As a brief reminder, all of these projects are funded by ALL levels of government.  Taking full credit for this activity is akin to taking credit for a functional minority government.  Oops.  They’re doing that too.

Anyways, with the H1N1 virus, Canadians were promised that there would be enough vaccine to inoculate 100% of the population, if they wanted it.

When Dr. Sheila Bennett accused the Conservatives of playing games with this situation, the Liberals ultimately backed down and were ridiculed in the House of Commons.  RIDICULED!

Now, yesterday, we heard from the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health that the rollout of the vaccine for the general population has been suspended.

By the time it does arrive, there will be no point taking it (assuming you still want it).

The flu season will be over.

I can’t help thinking there’s something very suspicious in all of this.  Why is it that we were promised one thing and we can’t deliver according to the demand?  Is Ontario getting hit the hardest?

Why are only TWO clinics open in the city of Toronto?  Why hasn’t the Rogers Centre been converted into a giant distribution centre for people that want the vaccination?

Why is the whole country not better prepared for this situation when we knew it would be a situation 6 months ago?  Where’s the ‘Pandemic Action Plan’?

The answer is simple:  Our leader and his supporters are incapable of doing things that are genuinely good for the public.  Worse off, it looks like they’re starting to play the ‘Teflon’ game by transferring all blame as issues deepen to provincial leaders (which is, admittedly, the jurisdiction of health in Canada).  This will prove to be the same disaster for Ontario Liberals as the HST has been.

I’m optimistic though.  This situation has exposed the cracks that exist in the road to a Conservative majority.  With any luck, they will turn into potholes and the Canadian public will finally understand that they need policy managers and not political mandarins running their government.

PS:  This review by the CBC is a great resource for people who have questions about the vaccination.  If you read the comments, you’ll see that most people will not get vaccinated, including me.  So … feel free to take our place in line!

It’s Criminal What They Say About Crime

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Last week, I read about more Conservative plans to tighten up on crime.  Again.  This time, it’s white collar crime.

What is it with these guys?  Why are they so obsessed with crime?

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m OK with locking up someone who breaks the law repeatedly or even once if it’s a harsh crime, but there are more important political issues having an impact on our economy such as … the economy or the Flu virus or a thousand other concerns.

Why is it that crime always seems to trump other more important problems?

I also resent the idea that being opposed to a Conservative crime bill makes anyone ‘soft on crime’.

For the record:  it doesn’t.  And it shouldn’t.

It just means you have better ideas about the causes of crime and how to handle issues related to crime, including poverty, class and wage issues and general social concerns.  Incarceration is NOT the only solution and the creation of a mega-complex of holding cells is ultimately a poor use of public funds.  This has been proven time and time again in the US, the world’s largest prison state.

What bothers me most about crime issues is that the numbers are never used correctly.

All we ever hear is that crime is out of control.

But let’s look at some of these assertions.

Here are some facts about crime:

  • Crime rates are lower than they were 20 years ago.
  • Violent crimes have been dropping and were lower in 2007 than at any time in two decades.  The same goes for property crimes:  the recent rate is nearly 40% below that reported in 1991.
  • Violent crimes are an extremely small percent of all crimes.  The most common criminal charge (24%) is for breach of court order and probation conditions, followed by impaired driving (8.9%), common assault (7.9%), and theft (7.5%).  Charges for drug trafficking represented about 2.5% of the  total last year, sex offences just over 1% and homicide barely 0.04% of the total.
  • More than 2 out of 3 crimes are committed by white Caucasians (67.5%), 60% of whom are either Catholic or Protestant.  African-Canadians represent about 6% and Muslims about 3%.  Unfortunately, these two groups tend to get singled out as the greatest perpetrators of crime in Canada.
  • Critics claim that most crimes occur in urban areas, but the stats show that the West and North represent our ‘hot spots’ on a per-capita basis.  This is because there is no social infrastructure to support people.
  • Threatening people with longer, more harsh sentences doesn’t work.  The US has used this approach for decades and all they have is a massive tax bill that pays for private management of criminal incarceration.

Given that the average annual cost of keeping someone in jail is about $93,000, throwing more people behind bars will simply add to our tax bills as well.

Instead of ‘getting tough on crime’, Canadian politicians should be looking for ways to ‘get tough on crime causes’:  unemployment, social and class issues, prohibition on ‘soft’ drugs like marijuana, education, lack of opportunity, guns, low wages and child support.

Data Source:  London Free Press (with apologies, I couldn’t find the original article that outlined the original data and information.  If someone has a link, please post it in the comments and I’ll update the article).

The New “F” Word

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Growing up, I hardly assumed that the word ‘Flu’ would become the ‘F’ word of the new millennium.

Of course, as crowds grow more irrational, driven by an unprecedented fear-mongering campaign from our beloved media, the word ‘flu’ will translate to other words:  ‘anti-social’, ‘quarantine’, ‘stay away’ and ‘if you cough, get off’.

I read through the news and headlines and none have grabbed me more than that of Obama announcing that the US has entered a state of emergency because of the H1N1 virus.

Based on what?  I read through this article provided by Mercola and was astounded at the level of dis-information that’s being circulated in the media and by our governments.  It’s hit a point where people actually think that there are two strains of vaccine available and that the better ones are being reserved for government officials in a two-tier delivery plan.

The good news is that one story leaked through the tight grip of our national story tellers and I discovered that more than half the population will refuse to get the vaccination.  I no longer feel alone in my concern about the vaccine and my distrust of the hype surrounding the issue.

Where are your thoughts on this?  Do you think we’ve been whipped into a frenzy or is this important to the bigger potential health issues?  I know I won’t be shot, but are you going to change your mind when you hear about kids in the neighbourhood keeling over from what we’ll be told is H1N1?

Would your opinion about the flu vaccine be different if you knew that the pharma companies were going to provide the vaccine at no cost or at cost price to our governments, rather than spin this story into an unprecedented profit opportunity?

Economic Instability = Ticket to Privatization

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For the record:  I’m opposed to the massive wave of stimulus that’s been running across the planet.

  1. It’s misdirected.
  2. It’s poorly planned.
  3. It fails to invest in the future.
  4. It fails to invest in things that make sense.  Example:  we don’t need more roads, we need more geo-thermal infrastructure.
  5. It fails to acknowledge that consumption is the problem and not the solution.
  6. It’s elitist.  Most of the money is drifting straight up to the top (or the mob).

Our grand kids, assuming our planet is able to support life within the next 20 years or so, will look back at these times and wonder how we were able to tie our own shoes, let alone be stewards for the future of this planet.

Anyways, it’s not really the rant I wanted to get into, but I needed to set the tone for what follows.

I believe that these stimulus programs are only designed to do these things:  massively over-inflate our level of debt, ‘socialize’ the cost of stupidity at the big banks and auto manufacturers and ultimately, push all public authorities into a position where they only have three options:

  1. Drastically reduce spending
  2. Massively increase the level of taxes
  3. Declare bankruptcy.

It’s unlikely that option 3 is a real option, unless you live in California or Iceland.  The powers that be simply won’t let it happen.

And for nearly a decade (for some, much longer) we’ve all heard about the ‘evils’ of taxes and how, if it were up to some people like  Steve, we wouldn’t have taxes at all (meanwhile we’d be living in a state of anarchy with no roads, fire departments, police forces, judiciary or legal system, but those are a whole other discussion).

So … as a result of questionable book-keeping, even more questionable objectives with the various ‘Action Plans’ across Canada and the globe, we’ll all hear about the need to tighten belts in the very near term.

Expect cuts to come at a trickle at first.  Little things like arts programs and day care initiatives will be eliminated, but never in a way that would create a state of mass irritation.  It’ll be the death by 1000 cuts.

And then one day:  the big bath.  We’ll be sliced, hacked, chopped and cut to ribbons before we can say ‘mother’ and projects that were once full steam ahead will stop dead in their tracks as the Cons decide the gig is up.  That will likely fall shortly after they win a majority (which will probably be next spring).

All public utilities, institutions and corporations will hit the chopping block, raising millions when they’re worth billions.  Real estate will enter the market again, depressing our housing values and depressing what cities will tax in as property tax revenue.  All public services will be privatized or greatly modified to be ‘market friendly’, despite the fact that the market can be pretty cruel to most humans.

And for what?  Because we couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  We couldn’t decide on where to spend the money best, so we just bought a patchwork quilt of roads that will need repair again in 5 years.

So what are we to do?  I honestly don’t have the answers because I don’t think we should have let our deficit balloon the way it did.  Of course, what’s frustrating about that is that it leaves me (and millions of other Canadians, I’m sure) without someone to point the finger at.

We all seemed to want it, so sooner or later, we’re all going to have to pay the price.

H1N1 Swine Flu: 2009’s Y2K

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I am exhausted with media hyperbole (and insanity) surrounding the Swine Flu or H1N1, as the pork industry would have us call it.

The hug is dead.  People no longer kiss (at least in public).  People that cough in public do so at the risk of being burned faster than Salem witches (or at least being kicked off buses).

In fact, I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to predict that Swine Flu is 2009’s Y2K.

As we all may remember a decade ago, we all heard about Y2K for months on end to the point where there was an obscene level of panic that swirled around the famous ‘resetting’ of clocks that would occur as we entered the new millennium, and what happened?

Jack shit.

Life went on.

Yes, there were probably a few glitches, but subways didn’t come to halting stops between stations.  Planes didn’t drop from the sky.  Computers didn’t eat up all of the world’s knowledge as they reverted back to the knowledge base of the BEGINNING OF TIME.  Professional programmers saved the day, assuming they had to.  Common sense also finally kicked in (maybe).

We’ll see the same thing with any flu (pneumonia, cold or other viral disease) that runs through our social fabric over the next few weeks and months:  professionals will treat the sick, send them home, let them recover and all should be well.  This would have happened, swine flu or not.

Now … I don’t want to appear insensitive to those families who have received their body bags and who will likely suffer disproportionately from this or other flu viruses simply because our government won’t arrange for running water.  I think you know who I’m talking about.

And I definitely don’t want to show callousnous towards people and their families who have actually been affected by deaths as a result of ‘swine flu-like symptoms’.  However, every single time a story comes up on the radio or ‘net (I don’t watch TV) about spreading disease or concerned hosts ask listeners if they should stay at home from work if they’re coughing, I don’t just tune it out.  I shut it off.

I’m done.  I’m going to live my life obliviously ignorant of the ‘pandemic’ that I predict will not happen, either because it’s an over-inflated issue designed to sell Tamiflu or other untested vaccinations or because our professional, public medical community actually have things under control.