Excited Delirium

Stories about Excited Delirium, the Shock Economy and a little fiction here and there.

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The High Cost of the Truth …

In a World Filled With Deceit

The Conservatives and their well-oiled, well-bought media machine have latched on to Thomas Mulcair’s telling of the economic truth about the Tar Sands and, like true parasites, they are not about to let go until they’ve bled him to death.

Last week, Thomas Mulcair correctly reminded Canadians that we are suffering from what’s known as ‘Dutch Elm Disease’, a loose economic term that refers to how demand for a popular commodity will destroy other parts of the economy that rely on a competitive or more balanced exchange rate between trading partners.

A thorough Wikipedia article has been created over time and numerous articles are available online.  If you’re in the media, go and educate yourself and read up a little before tearing more strips off those who tell the truth.

Despite the intellectual precedent and discussion about the problem, the absolute tyrannic and sycophantic response from the Conservatives and the media prove how far they’ve gone to the ‘dark side’ of the Tar Sands and oil reliance in this country.

In fact, the Conservatives, especially Stephen Harper who pretends to be an economist, should be well aware of this economic condition and yet continue to play dumb.

It’s safe to say that TRUTH in this country is no longer allowed to exist.

Of course, the best to react:  change the rules.  The NDP should make sure that the Wikipedia post is properly updated to reflect Thomas Mulcair’s comments for a start.  They should also start a contest to create a new ‘Canadianized’ name for the problem.

You Can’t Nationalize Carbon Costs

Whether you’re in the carbon credit market or the car or you’re simply looking for ways to generate revenue, it’s not a good idea to think of a carbon tax as a solution, even though some Canadians think it might be the only way to go.

Why?

It’s morally absurd to nationalize (or localize) carbon costs when the local government might be hosting the producers of carbon, but they’re not reaping all of the benefits.

Allow me to explain …

Say you’re a big country with a whole pile of natural resources.  Let’s remind everyone that very few of these natural resources are actually currently owned by the people of that country.

And let’s say that in order to produce, export and consume those products, people already pay an excise tax that is designed to simply extract cash from the pockets of those people to pay for things that they may or may not want, like crappy jets and useless prisons.

And let’s finally agree that the corporations that extract these resources are already getting a free ride because they pay a minimal amount of royalties, all of which are deductible against absurdly low corporate income taxes, most of which are negative because of the vast array of ridiculous writeoffs that we create for these welfare slobs.

And now … we introduce a carbon tax on the people that might use the carbon-based products that non-Canadian companies overcharge us for.

What an insult.

It’s time we got the formula straight.

I will pay carbon taxes when I know that the companies like Shell, BP and Exxon pay a flat tax to the people of Canada for the privilege of extracting our resources.

Until then, adding another tax to Canadian citizens is just another insult to our pocket books and will do nothing – I repeat nothing – to solve the environmental tragedy known as the Tar Sands.

Feeding Our Cars

You know we’re at a crossroads in our future when more is spent to feed our cars than the people on this planet.

The Gazette shares this update recently and discloses that more corn is now used to create ethanol than to feed livestock.

Now, this might be because more livestock is being grass-fed (ie. naturally) as opposed to being stuffed with a product that they aren’t naturally supposed to eat, but the more realistic prospect is that we’ve pushed demand for hybrid fuels to stupid levels because of bad planning and design on behalf of our auto manufacturers.

This is the first time since the dawn of the use of domesticated animals that we’ve allowed this change to happen.

Which brings me back to a term that I created a while ago:  euthanol.  Definition:  the generation of a product that effectively starves most of the planet for the benefit of a select few.

MayDay 2011: The Last 24 Hours

I doubt I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

There’s still so much that I would love to expose about the lies Stephen Harper has been telling over the last 6 weeks (and decade or so as well), but I won’t.  There are so many projections, ideas, concepts and so on that I’d love to explore, but I’ve run out of time … and energy.

As the last 24 hours tick down, I’d like to thank all of the readers that have put up with my rants and who have contributed to the blog over the course of the election (and prior to this as well as those who might even continue to hang on).

I also want to beg everyone that has the slightest desire to push Canada into a sustainable future to VOTE.  Progressives outweigh conservatives in this country by a margin of at least 2 to 1, and it’s critical that you vote, vote strategically and vote early on because it’s going to be crowded!

Finally, I’d like to apologize to Stephen Harper for many direct and personal attacks and for insinuations that the Conservative Party of Canada is not a viable option in this election.  But hey … as long as you remain the lying politician that you are and members of your cabinet and other MPs remain suspect in their dealings with Canadian funds and the trust of voters, I’ll keep it up and completely retract anything I’ve said if I’m proven wrong.

Until then, I’ll remind all readers why we’re having this election:  YOU CAN’T BE TRUSTED.

In time, I’ll recover from this election and return to writing fiction and discussing my preferences, which are trashing mainstream media and crapping on poor economic policies that we take.

My expectation is that after tomorrow night, the latter will take a backseat because WE WILL WIN.

We will win this election.

We will win Canada back.

We will win the democracy and leadership that we expect from our politicians.

We will win back what we as citizens, taxpayers, children, grandparents, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts and all other relations deserve to win.

We will win our future.

We will win our internationally credibility.

We will win a clean and safe environment.

WE WILL WIN.

P.S.  My prediction for the election outcome is that we will elect an NDP minority government that’s a coalition with the Liberal Party.  My guess is that we’ll have about 110 NDP seats with 40 Liberal seats.  The Conservatives will be left with about 120 seats, most of which will come from Ontario and Alberta.  30 or so seats will be up for grabs.  The Bloc will be devastated, but might squeak out 15-20 seats.

As the fallout from the election sinks in, Gilles Duceppe, Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff will announce their retirement from their parties.

Elizabeth May will retire if she doesn’t win, but I am confident that the good people in Saanich-Gulf Islands will make the right decision for all of Canada and elect someone that will push for Proportional Representation and democratic reform in Canada.

MayDay 2011: Tar Sands, Energy & Oil Subsidies

Canada wastes several billion PER YEAR subsidizing the creation, expansion and mechanization of the Tar Sands in Alberta, all so that we can export billions more in Dirty Oil to the United States.

It’s a failed strategy when it comes to energy development, storage and transfer in this country.

It must change.

Any government other than a Stephen Harper Government (TM) would eliminate these subsidies.

I’m not alone with this opinion on this industry.  The New York Times Editorial ran a post on how Americans need to say “No” to the Tar Sands.  The original text of this article is pasted below.

So far, only the Green Party and the NDP have come out swinging against the Tar Sands, while the Liberals show luke-warm support for change in this area.

The dreaded ‘Carbon Tax’ policy announcement will never be made before May 2 by anyone, with the exception of Stephen Harper, who will bitch endlessly about how the Liberals and the NDP will bring about a tax on oil in the future if you vote for them.

While Stephen Harper continues with his platform of FEAR FOR CANADA, we need to elect a government that will put an end to the shame that Canadians feel when it comes to this outdated mode of energy production.

Later this year, the State Department will decide whether to approve construction of a 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast called Keystone XL. The underground 36-inch pipeline, built by TransCanada, would link the tar sands fields of northern Alberta to Texas refineries and begin operating in 2013. The department should say no.

State is involved because the pipeline would cross an international boundary. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton first said she was “inclined” to support it, but has lately sounded more neutral. An environmental assessment carried out by her department last year was sharply criticized by the Environmental Protection Agency for understating the project’s many risks. The department has since undertaken another environmental review that will soon be released for public comment. It needs to be thorough and impartial.

Advocates of the Keystone XL, which include the Canadian government, the oil industry and its allies in Congress, argue that a steady supply of oil from a friendly neighbor is the answer to rising oil prices and turmoil in the Middle East. But the Energy Department says the pipeline would have a minimal effect on prices, and there is already sufficient pipeline capacity to double United States imports from Canada.

The environmental risks, for both countries, are enormous. The first step in the process is to strip-mine huge chunks of Alberta’s boreal forest. The oil, a tar-like substance called bitumen, is then extracted with steam or hot water, which in turn is produced by burning natural gas. The E.P.A. estimates that the greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil — even without counting the destruction of forests that sequester carbon — are 82 percent greater than those produced by conventional crude oil.

The project poses a major threat to water supplies on both sides of the border. Turning two tons of tar sand into a barrel of oil requires four times as much water as producing a barrel of conventional oil. Operations in Alberta have already created 65 square miles of toxic holding ponds, which kill migrating birds and pollute downstream watersheds, a serious matter for native communities.

In the United States, the biggest potential problem is pipeline leaks. The Keystone XL would carry bitumen — which is more corrosive than crude oil — thinned with other petroleum condensates and then pumped at high pressure and at a temperature of more than 150 degrees through the pipeline.

Last July, an older bitumen pipeline in Michigan spilled 800,000 gallons of the stuff into the Kalamazoo River. A new TransCanada pipeline that began carrying diluted bitumen last year has already had nine spills.

The Keystone XL would cut diagonally across Montana and the Nebraska Sand Hills — a delicate region of porous, sandy soils — to northern Kansas before heading south to the Gulf. It would also cross the Ogallala Aquifer, a shallow underground reservoir of enormous importance for agriculture that also provides drinking water for two million people. A pipeline leaking diluted bitumen into groundwater could have disastrous consequences.

For this reason, Senators Mike Johanns and Ben Nelson of Nebraska have vigorously opposed the planned route of the Keystone XL. Still, political pressure to win swift approval has been building in Congress. Moving ahead would be a huge error. From all of the evidence, Keystone XL is not only environmentally risky, it is unnecessary.

MayDay 2011: Alice Klein of NOW Toronto Encourages Us to Shake Off Cliches

Alice Klein wrote a piece in NOW Toronto this past week encouraging all of us to accept the fact that in this election, the stakes are extremely high and that the game has definitely changed.

She reminds us that it’s not about voting your passion, but voting for that party that will unseat the Conservative government and push them out of as many ridings as possible.

She’s behind Project Democracy, but there are other projects as well (copied from the Project Democracy site):

  • Avaaz The campaigning community bringing people-powered politics to decision-making worldwide
  • Lead Now Brings generations of Canadians together to take action for our future and hold politicians accountable.
  • Swing 33 Donate strategically in 33 ridings to defeat Harper.
  • Pair Vote – Vote Swapping Support your preferred party while also stopping Harper
  • Catch 22 Campaign A grassroots effort to help defeat the Conservative government in 22 key ridings.
  • The Environment is my Voting Issue Facebook Group An action-oriented Facebook group aimed at holding politicians accountable for their votes on environment issues.
  • Department of Culture A community of Canadian artists, arts professionals and cultural workers concerned about ensuring the social and cultural health and prosperity of our nation in the face of a Federal Government that is aggressively undermining Canadian values.
  • Fair Vote Canada – On August 1, 2000, a group of concerned citizens formed Fair Vote Canada (FVC) with the aim of building a nationwide campaign for voting system reform. We envisioned FVC as a multi-partisan, citizen-based campaign bringing together people from all parts of the country, all walks of life and all points on the political spectrum. Today FVC has members in all provinces and approximately 20 local and regional chapters.

Project Democracy is exciting because it focuses on helping voters get up to date polling data related to their riding.  In many ‘strategic voting’ ridings, the past favours the Liberals, but since the Liberals are sliding in the polls, should we really be electing someone from the past or someone from the future?  I’ve signed up for their email to get riding updates, so I’ll post more information as it comes to my in-basket.

Finally, I can’t repeat this often enough:  you can contact pretty much any riding and help them with calls, even if you’re not from that area.  Human voices are substantially more valuable to campaigners as opposed to those awful ‘robo-calls’ and they remind voters that this is an election about the future of all people in Canada.  Of course, consider your riding and the ridings that are immediately around you as opposed to those that are across the continent!

MayDay 2011: Iraq, Libya and Oil

Memos that are no longer secret expose a link between oil firms and the invasion of Iraq, according to the Independent in the UK.  They’re just stating what most people feel is obvious:  taxpayers in the UK, the US, Canada and elsewhere are funding massive military operations through debt expansion so that we can protect and collect crude resources around the world.

What does this have to do with the Canadian election?  Everything.

Most Canadians did NOT want Canada to be involved with the invasion of or continued military presence in Iraq, but two people stood out in the days preceding the invasion:

  • Stephen Harper
  • Michael Ignatieff

The NDP and the Green Party have been opposed to the invasion of Iraq.

If you’re a pacifist and you’re sick of the gradual expansion of the US throughout the world, the choice in the election should be obvious, but there’s one catch:  Libya.

Unfortunately, it looks like ALL of the parties (except the Greens since they didn’t have any MPs when this decision was made) have failed Canadians as they fueled up the jets for the ‘no-fly zone’ protection of Libya.

When you have a chance, ask your candidate and the leaders of each party where they stand on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even Iran.  All are part of the expansionist plans of the US and peace-seeking Canadians do not want to be a part of it.

Canada needs leadership that will steer us off this disastrous course.  We need to take a back seat with NATO and we need to show true leadership with the UN and organizations that are committed to peace throughout the world.

Canadian & International Price Issues: The US Dollar Did It

Analysts everywhere are reminding us that the US dollar is collapsing, both because of exploding debt in the US, but also because of substantial instability in this country.  Political uprisings in Libya have less to do with instability than rallies like this.

I’ve been warning about the prospect of a collapse in the US dollar for some time and have even invented my own term for the impact that this will have on anyone living outside the US:  interflation.  The US will continue to export its inflation to other countries, punishing us in prices for their inability to control their spending.  It’s the internationalization of inflation that none of us can afford.

The ponzi scheme has to stop.  Gerald Calente has described that food and oil prices will continue to skyrocket in the US and that resulting increases in interest rates will crush any opportunity for growth in the American economy.

This situation is what Jeremy Rifkin calls ‘Economic Endgame’, where the US economy (and the global economy by dependency) ping-pongs between states of uncontrollable and unpredictable deflation and growth hitting a wall because any growth translates to rapid expansion in oil prices (which then results in rapid price increases in most other commodities).

Canada, the EU and other countries around the world can avoid this instability by uncoupling themselves and their economies from the influence of pricing everything in US dollars.  Once they do, appreciation will translate to real price decreases in their own economies, fueling real and natural rates of growth and consumption without inflation.  These growth rates will then translate to real demand for US goods and services, presuming they are willing to make anything any more and not survive on the ‘hand in someone else’s pocket’ economy.

Once again, any politician in Canada would be wise to recommend and run on a platform of price equality and stabilization for Canadians, but that’s very unlikely to happen with our current slate of Harper clones.

Another solution for the US will be to eliminate their outrageous level of defense spending, but right now, it’s the only thing keeping this economy alive.

Was Egypt’s Gentle Coup an American Takeover?

Gee … I can’t imagine what life under a dictator would be like (maybe Canada could do with a little regime change?), but I know this:  life under the military will likely be harder for Egyptians.

The “Walk Like an Egyptian” campaign staged by hundreds of thousands of people seems to be subsiding, but let’s repeat who’s in charge now:  The military.

In most circles, a transition of power from the leader (regardless of how he or she got there) is called a coup d’etat.  As defined by Wikipedia:

A coup d’etat is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military — to replace the deposed government with another body; either civil or military. A coup d’état succeeds if the usurpers establish their dominance when the seated government fails to disallow their consolidation of power.

In the case of Egypt, I would call it a gentle coup.  The military waited and they seemed to get what they wanted.  Not to sound cold, but few people died in the transition and right now, it actually seems like a responsible host of military leaders will help Egypt emerge from dictatorship.

Or will they?

In Egypt, we need to know to whom the military is beholden.  Are they representatives of Egyptians or an extension of the American military?

Don’t forget that Egypt is America’s second largest recipient of financial and military support – after Israel.  That kind of funding has to generate some kind of internal connections.

Did the turnover in Egypt occur because Hosni Mubarak wasn’t buying billions in new hardware?  In December, Wikileaks showed that the US made repeated attempts to encourage Mubarak’s regime to upgrade their military.  Substantial investments didn’t occur, resulting in Council of Foreign Relations expert Steven Cook to say this:

The cables reveal a military deeply reluctant to take part in regional counterterrorism efforts, and the focus on weapons necessary for desert battle is a reflection of that.  The Egyptian military is not good at or interested in, quite frankly, projecting power. It is there to ensure the survival of the regime and protect the country’s borders.

Not to defend Mubarak, but shouldn’t that be the priority of any government?

We also see that Israel was worried about Egypt’s commitments in the Middle East:

Meanwhile, Israel remains worried about Egypt’s current appetite for weapons. A July 2009 cable from Tel Aviv paraphrased political military chief Amos Gilad as saying “the Egyptian military led by Defense Minister [Mohamed] Tantawi continues to train and exercise as if ‘Israel was its only enemy.’ He added that … [Egypt’s] peace with Israel ‘is too thin, too superficial.’ ”

Looking at this information, one can’t help but wonder what was behind the activities for the last three weeks.  Was it a a pissed off Egyptian populace or an even more irate US industrial-military machine that was no longer getting support in Egypt’s upper echelons?  If bills weren’t being paid and hardware wasn’t being upgraded, could this have provided enough of a spark to overthrow Mubarak?

Other issues are at stake here, particularly the Suez Canal and the Gaza Strip.  The Suez is the most important oil asset to Europe and Gaza represents some of the most important real estate for Israel.  What happens next with these two locations will also reveal clues to why things happened the way they did in Egypt.

To sum up, as the military takes control, who they report to – the US or Egypt – will tell the full story.  Big, gluttonous upgrades and changes in real estate ownership will be the first sign to everyone that this had nothing to do with the will of the people.

Are you unhappy with your mega-corporation?

It seems 62% of Americans are not impressed with big corporations in the US.  Does anyone know of a similar poll / survey being recorded in Canada?  I know I want less Bell and Rogers in my life …

According to the survey, a large majority of Americans (62%) want major corporations to have less influence in the United States. While this is down from a peak of 68% in 2008, it remains well above the 52% recorded in 2001. Relatively few Americans would prefer to see corporations gain influence, but the 12% recorded this year is the highest to date.

The American people are becoming increasingly angry about the extraordinary amount of power and influence that corporations have in the United States today.  Also, the most recent Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index found that only 26 percent of Americans trust our financial system at this point.

What’s interesting is that distrust of large entities – including corporations – goes back to the origins of the US.  The origins of the corporation go back to the East India Trading Company, the very same company that Americans (at the time, colonists) rebelled against during the original Boston Tea Party.

In his book entitled “Unequal Protection”, Thom Hartman mentions the East India Trading Company….

“Trade-dominance by the East India Company aroused the greatest passions of America’s Founders – every schoolboy knows how they dumped the Company’s tea into Boston harbour. At the time in Britain virtually all members of parliament were stockholders, a tenth had made their fortunes through the Company, and the Company funded parliamentary elections generously.”

Giant international corporations are not synonymous with “capitalism”.  In fact, they are the anti-thesis of competition, fair trade and market value.

However, I challenge any ‘capitalist’ today to show me where these basic principles exist in the US or Canada.  They don’t and as consumers, we’ve all made the mistake of letting it happen.

It’s easy to reverse this issue.  We need to start taking power from those that control our lives.  Starting with the Usage-Based Billing debate, we need to respond to Bell and Rogers and Canada’s other media monsters with a big F-U and start canceling their services, terminating newspaper subscriptions and boycotting their media and their message.

Americans are showing this distrust towards the corporations that shape their lives and this will come to a head in the US:

As you can see, the gap between those in favor of the size and influence of major corporations and those not in favor has been significantly widening over the past decade.

Not only that, but the latest Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index shows that Americans have very little trust in the financial system at this point.
The following are some of the key findings from their most recent report….

  • Only 26 percent of Americans trust the nation’s financial system.
  • Only 13 percent of Americans trust big corporations.
  • Only 16 percent of Americans trust the stock market.
  • Only 43 percent of Americans trust the banks.

We shouldn’t be surprised by these numbers.  American resentment of the Big Bank bailouts is growing and more of these people are seen as cry-baby capitalists, wanting socialism for them and capitalism for the rest of us.  Most people are still looking for their own bailouts, but they aren’t coming.  The party’s on and you’re not invited.

Continuing to reduce corporate tax rates, give bailouts and focus on big business will only increase the level of resentment that all North Americans have concerning the companies that interact with them on a daily basis.  Those parties that distance themselves from this noise will do best in the polls in coming months because Canadians and Americans are sick of the disequilibrium.

A final thought:  price increases and more economic instability are right around the corner.  As the US dollar collapses, food and oil prices will start to rise drastically and ‘the average Joe and Jane’ will suffer for it.  Our current slate of politicians can feign ignorance once again (as they did before), but for the record, we see it coming.  There’s an economic shit storm on the way and more bailouts, interest-free loans and other handouts to the biggest in this country will be met with the greatest resistance.