Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Thursday, May 31, 2012

No need for a red carpet this time around

So, it appears that today we Albertans will be graced with a visit from the leader of the Federal NDP party, Thomas Mulcair. Tom will start his visit in Edmonton where he will meet with Alberta Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk,  Alberta Premier Alison Redford is in Virginia to attend the Bilderberg conference. Now there has been some criticism that Premier Redford herself should have been here to meet Tom, however my thoughts on this are simple. Why?

After all, Mr Mulcair is not the leader of our country, he is the leader of the official opposition, a position he was granted by his party (not the electorate) after another individual had done all the work to get the party to official opposition status. Sorry to bring it up Tom, but so far you are simply riding on Jack Layton's coat tails. My belief is that Mr. Mulcair is fully aware of his precarious status within the party (and amongst it's supporters) and as such understands better than anyone how important it is that he make his presence known amongst voters before another federal election. Where Jack Layton took the NDP in federal politics was nothing short of a miracle, unfortunately Jack has passed on, and lightning rarely strikes in the same place twice. It would appear that Tom has his work cut out for him. So whats his plan?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Enough already, time to stop playing hookey and get back to class

As a Canadian I have been watching with interest (and horror) the ongoing protests by students in the Province of Quebec over a proposed hike in university tuition. The original cause given by student groups for all of this turmoil was a near doubling of tuition fees over the next five years. Now, on its surface that idea may seem unreasonable, however Quebec's average tuition is a little more than a third of the weighted average of tuition in Canada (without including Quebec), so needless to say most students in the other provinces view Quebec with great envy. Tuition in Quebec which currently sits at $2,168 (and has been frozen at that for some time) was scheduled to increase to $3,793 over a period of five years. 

The increase amounted to $325 per year, or an additional $27.00 dollars a month each year, or $0.89 per day. To put that in perspective, $27.00 will buy you a dozen beer, lunch for two, or a night out at a movie by yourself. However it seems that as far as Quebec students are concerned, any increase is too much. So their solution is to take to the streets and attempt to bring an entire province and its economy to a grinding halt.

Now at this point, it is important to remember that the Province of Quebec is carrying a debt load of close to $184 billion and a recent report by the Desjardins groups states Quebec’s gross public debt to GDP ratio is at a whopping 94% placing the province in a similar position to countries such as Greece and Italy. Recently, The Financial Post’s Jonathan Kay coined the term “souvlaki economics” to describe the current situation in Quebec. Unfortunately this is a situation that can not continue in the long run as it is simply unsustainable. In a rare show of agreement both the ruling party and the official opposition came to the mutual conclusion that the ongoing budget deficits and the overall debt must be priorities and brought under control for the sake of future generations.

However, at present they face a major obstacle in the form of protesting students. The protests have been ongoing for about three months now and have literally cost millions of dollars in economic damage to the city of Montreal. Students have already blocked bridges, disrupted shareholder meetings for Power Corp, the National Bank and entered workplaces where mining companies are located, lord only know what these businesses have to do with tuition fees. Add to this the additional police costs incurred . Montreal police have temporarily brought on 150 officers due to the protests with the police union stating that overtime costs were expected to be between $2 million and $3 million. The Quebec provincial police overtime bill was estimated at $1.5 million.

So where does it all end?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Those of us on the right simply have to communicate better

I have never made any bones about the fact that I lean to the right in my political beliefs. Does that mean I believe that all things right are "right" (no pun intended, but it is an ironic use of words)?

Two entirely different directions take by
people often with the best of intentions
Of course not, I am not so naive as to believe the Conservative mindset can do no wrong, nor am I so ignorant to imagine that the Liberal train of thought is never right (that almost seems like an oxymoron). Although, what I do find of interest is that at times the personal commitment to a course of action by some on the Left is almost fanatical, (does the term "Occupy" come to mind?). If you have ever had the painful experience of attempting to have a rational discussion on a topic such as Health Care or Old Age Security with a committed "die-hard" Liberal or NDP voter you will know exactly what I am referring to. Unless you are willing to discuss increased public funding your opinions are generally met with disdain and any hope of your using a well thought out logical platform in an effort to get your viewpoint across is pointless. Any attempt on your part to suggest the merits of increased efficiency or private sector involvement in the health care system will almost certainly get you labeled as a heartless right wing fanatic that places profits before people.

Why? Well, what I have noticed over the years is that the Right and the Left approach political debates and discussion in completely different manners and from starting points that tend to be light years apart. The foundations that each side relies on when debating are simply put, like night and day.

The Right generally comes armed with facts, figures, statistics, examples, you name it they have done their home work and are are ready to prove their point in the harsh light of the day. Often they will turn to terms such as increased efficiency, user fees, or private sector involvement as avenues to explore with the goal of delivering a more affordable solution. No brainer, right? One would think so, but that is generally not the case.(again no pun intended, but the word "right" just makes so much sense so often, doesn't it)

The Left, in many cases will simply set the facts aside in favor of a formula that leads right (oops, did it again) to the support of the majority. So what is this magic formula?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's been a busy week... to say the least

Sorry readers, I have been up to my neck in alligators over the last few weeks, and so have neglected to post anything. Trust me, it wasn't for a lack of material, just personal time.

Tom Mulcair
Let's start with last weeks statement regarding Alberta's oil industry by the newly chosen leader of the Federal NDP party, Thomas Mulcair. Tommy who owes his parties current standing entirely to the popularity of the late Jack Layton and draws the bulk of his support (number of elected seats) from Ontario and Quebec seems to feel that the prosperity of some regions of the country, namely Alberta is detrimental to other parts, in this case, you guessed it Ontario and Quebec.

Speaking on the CBC Radio show, The House (sadly, probably the best air time he can get) Mulcair stated "It's by definition the 'Dutch disease'. The Canadian dollar's being held artificially high, which is fine if you're going to Walt Disney World, (but) not so good if you want to sell your manufactured product because the American clients, most of the time, can no longer afford to buy it."

Now for those of you who are not familiar with the term "Dutch Disease", Tom is making reference to what occurred in the Netherlands in the 1960s after vast deposits of natural gas were discovered in the nearby North Sea. The resulting rise in its currency was thought to have caused the collapse of the Dutch manufacturing sector. So Tommy feels that Alberta is the cause of the strong Canadian buck and the diminishing Ontario and Quebec manufacturing sectors.

Unfortunately like with most issues of any importance Tom's party still has it's head in the 60's, actually I suspect many of their heads are stuck someplace else (hint, a place where the sun never shines). Although this train of thought makes for good sound clips and certainly garners support and cheers from Tom's traditional base of voters (unions, radicals, the self entitled) it does leave out some key facts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

They certainly make a fine pair......

As the American Presidential election gets closer we can expect hear a lot more about the candidates, both the incumbent President Obama and his opponent Republican Mitt Romney. I have a suspicion that this race is going to get down and dirty and will be very "in your face" as both parties have access to large amounts of cash for media buys.

Obama will undoubtedly take credit for real and perceived success during his first term in office and will play every card available to him to avoid too much attention being focused on his real legacy and less than desirable achievements that will linger for decades.

Already we are seeing this with the best example being the recent one year anniversary of Bin Laden's death. In retelling this story the only thing that Obummer and his spin doctors haven't claimed is that the President led the charge himself on Bin Ladens compound all the while fighting side by side with Chuck Norris! Undoubtedly that will come to light next week,  or maybe Mr Norris has more common sense than to be associated with a sinking ship. Hey, even Chucks worst movie made more sense than what is taking place in the White House.

In the meantime this election is shaping up to be one of mud slinging and accusations that will certainly lower the bar even further for American politics. Is that even possible?

obama, biden,
One thing for sure is it will be interesting in a comical kind of way, just last week VP Biden while speaking on "Meet The Press" referred to President Romney on a number of occasions ( does this guy know something the rest of us don't?) and addressed his own boss , President Obemmer as President Clinton (maybe something is taking place in the privacy of the oval office that causes him to confuse the two? Interns take cover!). Mind you it is not surprising that Biden has a problem remembering who he reports to, after all his boss Sir Obummer forgot that he reports to the American taxpayer one day after he stepped into the Oval Office. Whatever the case, its too bad that Biden isn't the one spending all of his time on the golf course, at least that might keep him out of the public eye. On the other hand for those of us who would like this to be Obummers one and only term, the VP is "the gift that just keeps on giving", even the Republicans couldn't make up some of the stuff that comes out of Joe's mouth, yes it really is a "BFD". But the reality is the two (Biden and Obummer) seem perfectly suited for one another, you know like Stan and Ollie, or Abbot and Costello.

What amazes me is that America is past the point of heading for the cliff financially, they are standing on the precipice and yet no one in power seems to be able to realize this or take a position to resolve the situation. At every level of government they all seem far too busy and focused on bashing the other guy to actually get to work and fix the problem.

On the other hand maybe the problem is so big that what America really needs is a little slapstick humor from it's leaders, in that case they are certainly being well served.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Now, if Ottawa really wants to get serious about this

So according to a story in the Globe and Mail, Ottawa is apparently going to start having telemarketers underwrite the cost of enforcing the national Do Not Call List. It seems that our  federal government plans to consult with the telemarketing industry in the coming months and implement a permanent funding mechanism to take effect April 1 of next year.

Junk Calls, an endless stream
Great concept, making the offender responsible for the cost of policing themselves. After all, why should the taxpayer continuously be expected to foot the bill to police industry. I understand the reasoning behind society having to cover the cost to police criminals, plain and simple they are criminals and its not like we can expect them to fund efforts to arrest, convict, and imprison themselves ( try collecting those dues.....). However, legitimate industry and business is another matter. When there is talk of impending government regulation for a specific sector of business we often hear from that particular group that they would much prefer self regulation over the government imposed version. Typically the argument will be made that the vast majority of the group is not the problem, that generally members respect and abide by the rules and common sense, and that excessive regulations will add to the costs of doing business. All good arguments, and for the most case very true. However, on occasion the government has no choice but to step in when an industry proves incapable of regulating itself  (yes, I said it, more government regulation), however why should the taxpayer be expected to shoulder the financial burden. After all, the industry itself is responsible for the problem and even if it were to effectively self regulate there would be an associated cost to its members.

So, maybe, just maybe this latest tact will help eliminate some of the dozens, if not hundreds of junk calls the average Canadian is subjected to.

Now while it is a good start, it simply does not go far enough. The current Do Not Call legislation effectively exempts a number of groups from the rules, charities, newspapers, pollsters and survey companies, and you guessed it, politicians and political parties. All of these groups will tell you that these calls are absolutely essential to fund raising, information gathering for their group or organization, or simply staying in business. Again probably true, however the same argument could be made for virtually any operation performing outgoing calls, yet none of them are blessed with exemption from the rules. It appears from the exempt list that the government covered itself (politicians and pollsters) and any allies that they felt might cause a backlash if not exempted (charities and newspapers), but does that really surprise anyone, its par for the course.

So if our government really wants to get serious about providing Canadians some relief from constant phone ring during their personal time at home, the regulations should blanket ALL call, no exceptions.