Monthly Archives: August 2014

This Just In: World At War

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According to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), there are just 11 countries in the world that are NOT at war.

The IEP has identified that there are more countries in a state of martial confusion that any time since World War II, where nearly every country in the world was engaged in this conflict.

I found this figure staggering, and yet I’m not truly surprised.

The only ones to achieve the lowest score for all forms of conflict were Switzerland, Japan, Qatar, Mauritius, Uruguay, Chile, Botswana, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Panama and Brazil.

Of course, I’m going to play ‘pile on’ with this figure and suggest that even the 11 ‘neutral’ countries are at war or are funding the global crisis.

The Independent article points out that there are issues with even those countries that are in a state of ‘peace’ are in conflict.  In Brazil and Costa Rica, the level of internal conflict may be the lowest possible – but civilian access to small arms and the likelihood of violent demonstrations are worryingly high.

And Switzerland pretends it’s innocent, but they fuel the fight with massive volumes of arms exports.

And let’s not forget that even the US is in a state of its second Civil War.  Pretend it doesn’t exist, but when the Nazis come in the form of publicly-funded police forces, abusing and beating the public that pays their bills, it’s not long before the plug gets pulled.

Ferguson, Missouri, is the first to descend, but failed cities like Detroit and the hundreds of other small towns that are teetering on bankruptcy will push the world to realize that things are about to get very, very ugly.

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Beware: 1-2-3 Attack of the Cons

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The pattern is now recognizable to a point of being a joke.

Unfortunately, Canadians continue to fall for it.

Attack Point 1:  The Federal Finance Minister gleefully announces that the Conservatives – the stewards of the economy, the only suitable managers of Canada’s finances, the voice of fiscal reason – will be steering the Canadian budget towards a balanced budget within the year.  It’s likely that we’ll even see a surplus.

Let’s ignore the facts that the deficit was created by Flaherty and his crones, that the sources of funds have been attacked ruthlessly over the last 10 years and spending has skyrocketed on much-loathed items like an unnecessarily bloated defense industry in Canada.

Let’s ignore that all kinds of ‘pockets’ of cash have been stashed by the Finance Minister (past and present) to create the mirage of deficit and then surplus.  Funds have been ‘recalled’ and programs have been cancelled so that the Finance Minister can boast about their prudent fiscal management when all they’re engaging in is a creative shell game.

Attack Point 2:  A third-party, conservative ‘think tank’ (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) releases a discussion document that whips the non-thinking Canadian into a blind rage of libertarian frothing demand for justice.

I don’t know when the Fraser Institute took a turn towards tabloid research, but they’ve proven again that their organization is nothing but a puppet to be controlled by conservative managers and lobbyists across the country.

The quality of their research reports are just a touch more professional than that of a Grade 3 research project into Ancient Greece, being superficial at best.

The recent report from the Fraser Institute that claims we pay more tax compared to any other expense today is specious at best, but more embarrassing for all than any other report they’ve issued.

When you actually look at the basic documentation concerning this report, it’s easy to see that the biggest jump has been under the watch of the Conservatives who have tirelessly slashed taxes to appeal to their libertarian friends:

Canadian Taxes Rise Most Under ConservativesA KEY point about all of this is related to the following quote:

Canada’s booming oil and gas industry over the past 50 years is also a factor. “Included in those government revenues are royalties on oil and gas, which were not nearly as high then,” said Dungan. He added that in addition to taking inflation into consideration, analysts must also consider the relative price of oil and gas as well as the sheer amount that Canada exports today. “The Fraser Institute counts those as taxes.”

Really?  How can any organization worth its salt come out with such inflammatory comments and not account at all for the rapid rise in oil revenues from all governments over the last 50 years?

They also shouldn’t be comparing aggregate tax rates (and oil revenues) to personal income.  In order to compare ‘apples-to-apples’, they need to compare an aggregate to another aggregate, like the national GDP.

Finally, they completely fail to acknowledge that a growing part of our economy has become a hodge-podge of part-time jobs, where people on the lower levels suffer more from punitive non-progressive ‘taxes’.  Like oil revenues.

How stupid do they really think they are?

Well …

Attack Point 3:  An all-out media blitz that will drown Canadians in superficial commentary about how ‘over-taxed’ we all are.

OK.

What goes first?  Roads for trucking companies?

Health care?  Education?  Hospitals?  Retirement benefits?

Should we have our parents eat out of cans and get their clothing from Goodwill?

OR … maybe we should jump on this opportunity to look at how PROPER income taxes are increasingly going towards the following:

  • Defense
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Oil subsidies

Hopefully, Canadians come to appreciate that we’re being duped and that the whole barrage of media related to how ‘over-taxed’ we are is a GREAT BIG LIE.

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Thoughts on Robin Williams

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I was blown away with the news of Robin Williams.  I knew of his struggle with depression and other issues, but only in a tabloid kind of way.

My thoughts?  He was like a sun going supernova:  with us through what seemed all our lives, brilliant and bright any time we looked at him, with an unfortunate darkness to follow his demise.

To quote The National, with their song ‘Slipped’:

I’m having trouble inside my skin
I try to keep my skeletons in
I’ll be a friend and a fuck-up
And everything

But I’ll never be
Anything you ever want me to be

The song reference is probably out of context, but it creates the same emotion about hearing about how even Robin Williams can ‘slip’.

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Our Future Lies With Tailings Ponds

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The Mount Polley disaster is a glimpse of the future that we’ve carved for ourselves.

At best, tailings ponds represent negligence and casual treatment of the environment.  The worse case scenario was just witnessed a few days ago:  Massive floods into clean lakes and rivers, destruction of complete, vast ecosystems in the blink of an eye, and (what I predict) the ultimate bankruptcy of Imperial Metals because they won’t be able to afford the litany of lawsuits that will follow.

‘I told you so’ is a painful phrase that we can all mouth silently as we look in horror at what’s happened this week in BC, but we must prove that action ultimately speaks louder than words.

Mount Polley is a tiny glimpse of what’s wrong in our world, as we’re lead by corporate fear-mongers and greed instead of practical, common sense.

The company might – might – face a MILLION dollar fine.

Oooh.  Ouch.

That’s a couple of month’s work for the President, who made at least $3 million in salary, bonuses and options in 2010.

We need to look at ALL of this mess in a fresh light.  We need to begin a process of carving away at the notion of ‘limited liability’ because it’s killing our planet.  Disasters are occurring all the time, right under our noses and because of the way corporations are structured, no one is held accountable.

And we need to start thinking of our environment like sly landlords do when it comes to students:  we know you’re coming, we know you’re going to wreck the place, but we know we can also impose a few billion worth of bonds and deposits to ensure you don’t get too carried away.

In other words, we need to force any company in extractive industries to post a bond secured by a third-party that would clean up and COMPLETELY restore a site every 3-5 years of production.  Failure to restore = loss of deposit.

Mandatory sentences would also be a good reminder to the world’s corporate elite that we’re sick of this crap.

Suncor is ‘proud’ owner to the world’s largest dam – dam, not just tailings dam – second only to the Three Gorges Dam in China.  What’s the plan for Suncor when the tailings ‘pond’ breaks or leaks there (if it’s not already)?

Life-ending phenols, arsenic, mercury; cancer-makers such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fish-killing naphthenic acids all pollute the grounds of Alberta.

Hundreds of BILLIONS of GALLONS of toxic sludge are being held back by packed dirt.

That’s like burying spent uranium rods behind sand piles made on the beach by 10-year olds.

In addition to ending limited liability, mandatory sentences for senior executives and secured bonds, maybe a simple renaming of ‘Tailings Ponds’ for what they truly are:  ‘Massive Toxic Waste Dumps’ and ‘Gross Negligence at the Profit of Stockholders and Cost of Taxpayers’.

Waste Dumps are the biggest environmental issue that most people have never heard of.  If it’s remotely possible that something good can come of the Mount Polley disaster, perhaps it’s the fact that they’re are now on the radar of the general public and things will change.

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