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).

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.

First and foremost this is not the 60's!
News Flash Tommy...The economy has undergone some MAJOR changes in the last decade alone (never mind the last 50 years), becoming far more global and the key players having been shuffled considerably. I realize that in most issues Tom's line of sight stops at the Western border of Ontario, but Tom if you cast your eyes East, I mean really far East you will see a new player that has taken control of a large segment of the manufacturing sector, a "little" country called China. China's incredible growth in the manufacturing sector has displaced manufacturing in many countries, Canada just being one. What's driving this? Is it a Chinese plot to take over the world, or to give Mr Mulcair a talking point, something to bash the west with? No, not either actually, what is driving this is simply consumer demand. Consumers as a group have spoken with their wallets and they seem to prefer paying $1.00 for a "widget" built in a Chinese sweat shop, than paying $10.00 for an equivalent "widget" built in a Ontario factory where union employees are paid a fair wage and receive all the entitlements expected by Canadian workers. Funny thing Tom, is that some of these very consumers are employed by Canadian factories that are in fact struggling to compete with overseas manufacturing. Don't believe me, take a drive by the Ford assembly plant in Ontario and count the Honda's, Nissans, and Toyotas, in the employee parking lot. Talk about a group shooting themselves in the foot, lordy....

Secondly, the relative increase in strength of the Canadian dollar in relationship to the US greenback is a global issue, not entirely a result of Alberta's current prosperity. I am not denying that to some degree Alberta has an affect on the strength of the loonie, but don't give us too much credit. The guy you need to point the finger at lives south of the border in a big White House in Washington, DC. That's right, President Obama. Let's face it, this man has single handedly done more to drive down the global value of the American dollar than any other president in history. So the current strength of the Canadian dollar relative to the US greenback is really to a large degree a reflection of how weak their dollar has become on the world market under his leadership, not how strong ours is.

Last, but certainly not least. Both Ontario and Quebec are economic disaster zones from a provincial government standpoint. Both governments are spending far beyond their means, have massive debt, impose a myriad of regulations on industry and business, and  load ridiculous tax burdens on both individuals and businesses within their borders. It would be a miracle if any business could survive under such conditions, my hat is off to those that do. Add to this that both are provincial "charity cases" receiving regular injections of cash from the federal government under the guise of equalization payments. Although this is a relatively new condition for Ontario, Quebec has been on the "federal dole" virtually since Confederation (they tend to view it as a birth-rite). Interestingly enough, a good chunk of the money for this "federal handout" is derived from what is taking place in Alberta. So Tom, you are literally biting the hand that feeds you when you blame Alberta for all of the economic woes of Ontario and Quebec. 

On a last note, Tom my advice to you as the national leader of a party that one day hopes to form the government of Canada (heaven forbid that day ever comes). It's one country! Don't play the regions against each other, there is enough of that being done already by individuals like Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty. A national leaders job is to unite a country, and promote it strengths (i.e. Alberta's energy industry) not fuel the fires of discontent, and encourage "sibling rivalry" amongst provinces.The good news is that in general Canadians are too smart to buy this nonsense, and I believe you will discover that the next time you go to the polls. In fact the lone elected MP you have in Alberta, Linda Duncan, was quick to to put some distance between Mulcair's remarks and herself by stating (in a nutshell), that what Mr Mulcair really was addressing was the fact that we are not retaining jobs here by doing the refining ourselves.

I guess that either Mr Mulcair has such difficulty communicating to the west that Linda needs to translate, Or maybe Linda feels that out west here we are so naive as to believe her line. But that's all I have to say for now about Mr Mulcair, but I will leave you with a comment from Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, (another province sitting on vast oil sand reserves) who asked, if Mulcair thinks the oilsands are a disease, Wall wants to know what the NDP thinks the cure is.

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