Monday, February 27, 2012

Robocall scam provided Canada!!!

Canadians upset over the RoboCall scandal need to look at this another way.  With our sputtering economy and record high levels of debt, a strategy like this provides jobs.  Sure, call centre jobs aren't the highest paying or most secure....but at least the CPC didn't hire a company that make calls out of India or  something.

Its now being reported that in addition to Racknine Inc out of Edmonton, the Tories employed the services of Responsive Marketing Group out of Thunder Bay.  And interviews with employees in big Thunder indicate the callers were actual people, not a digital voice as was the case with Racknine. 

So this is good news.  In Ontario, where unemployment is higher, more jobs were created.  Alberta on the other hand, they got a bit of money flowing their way, but I'm sure using a machine was a more cost effective way to subvert democracy and besides...Alberta is swimming in oil money so jobs aren't as sorely needed.

Call centres aren't that bad of a place to work.  Making calls on behalf of the CPC requires only basic literacy skills and there's no heavy lifting.  And with the direction Canada is moving, we're going to have lots of people heading into retirement needing extra income.     

  • Those forty year no money down mortgages are starting to come due, with many experts calling for a US style cratering of real estate in this country. 
  • Income trusts are no longer tax exempt, never mind that our Prime Minister said he would never go after seniors' retirement nest eggs.
  • And Canadians are looking at having to work longer to qualify for a government pension. 

Call it the Action Plan part II, getting Canadians working and ensuring that we have a Conservative majority in Ottawa to steer us through these difficult times.

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Canadians don't care about the 'Robocall' scam....

When is a scandal not a scandal?  When nobody gives a rip. 

Sorry for the trailer park answer to that question, but I'm thinking some conservatives might read this...and well, I like to pander.  If I tossed in a word like dichotomy their eyes would glaze over and their heads would tilt to one side.

Better to keep things simple.

Its like the so called in and out scandal, sure it smells but we live in a win at all costs society now.  Call it a hybrid between pro wrestling and MMA, in keeping with the white trash theme.  Elections still have a veneer of respectability, so what if the rules get bent a little, or even a lot.

We won, you lost....stop whining.  Besides, you evil coalition types probably did some bad things too.  Snipe snipe snipe between Canada's political camps, while ordinary Canadians try to get extensions on their lines of credit to fill up their broken down cars so they can get to Timmy's in hopes of rolling up a Camry.

Hell, around 40% of Canadians didn't even bother to vote last time around.  We've got bigger worries.

Jobs are disappearing, Canadians are up to the eyeballs in debt and worried about warnings of higher interest rates.  We're going to be working longer to qualify for a piddly government pension.  Corporate welfare is alive and well in the Great White North, the rest of us are on our own. 

Who has time to worry about attempts to swipe ballot boxes and fraudulent phone calls being made to steal a lousy election? 

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Is the U.S. conservative movement on drugs?

I realize very well that the conservative movement in the U.S. has gone and basically co-opted the fundamentalist, born again, bible thumping, man walked with dinosaurs Christian crowd.  Fair enough, they're a great constituency to have.  They're used to doing as they're told, and they don't worry about obvious contradictions or warped logic. 

And that's a good thing for Rick Santorum, the new golden boy of the religious right. 

President Obama wants higher college enrollment in the United States.  Sounds good right?  You know, the globally competitive marketplace we now live in requires an intelligent and adaptable work force.  Unless of course you just want burger flippers and Wal-Mart greeters tossing their 10% tithes into the minimum wage collection plate. 

Ahhhhhh but wait.  Its all part of a huge left wing conspiracy.  Mr. Santorum was recently quoted saying that 62% of students who enter college and university with a faith commitment, leave without it.  Students learn to think critically, they gain knowledge, and they begin to question the religious teachings about the invisible man in the sky.  You know....God.  They become less malleable, more independent in their judgement and less easy to manipulate.  Heavens, they learn that they don't have to listen to Rush Limbaugh and some conclude that the bombastic radio host is really nothing more than a trailer park blow hard.

Conservative leaders sure don't want that. 

Thank heavens things haven't gone that far north of the border, at least not yet.  I wonder if our Prime Minister still holds to views he had back in 1997, when he said to an ultra conservative U.S. think tank:

"....your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world".

Seems to me that "light" is running seriously low on juice. 

I'll end this entry with a YouTube clip of the late great George Carlin.  If you've had post secondary schooling you might find it amusing.  Warning, it has the (gasp) Eff word in it, but that's  Carlin :-)

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Monday, February 20, 2012

MSM slowly waking up to Canada's real estate bubble

We all know the anatomy of a recession, right?  For those who don't, recessions tend to follow this general pattern.  Insert government and market 'experts' where you see the word 'we'.

Stage 1 -  Denial
The fundamentals of the economy are strong and 'we' anticipate continued growth.

Stage 2 - Limited Recognition
While there appears to be some stress in certain sectors of the economy overall the fundamentals are sound and while growth may moderate 'we' continue to project growth.

Stage 3 - Predictions of a soft landing
It has become evident that the economy is showing signs of weakening, however because the underlying fundamentals remain strong 'we' do anticipate the possibility of a recession but anticipate it will be strictly technical and very short in duration.

Stage 3 - Capitulation
Uhm, 'we'...meaning you...are f###ed.

Now wherever you see the word economy, replace it with housing market.  And where you see the word 'we', replace it with government types, mortgage professionals, real estate agents and anyone whose income is bolstered by a surging real estate market. 

I'm sure some will continue to disagree, predictions of a bubble bursting have been around for at least a couple of years now...same as they were in the U.S. before their market imploded.  Someone who just took on a massive mortgage on a Toronto condo isn't going to like hearing that their biggest asset is going to crater over the coming years. 

And who knows, maybe they can pump some more air into the balloon before it pops.  Maybe we'll see mortgage rates drop to 2% with a return to the sub-prime lending practices we had before...40 year mortgages with zero money down. 

But I doubt it.

Recognition is starting to seep into mainstream media.  Just google Canada Real Estate Bubble and you can read all about it, click on the bulleted links if you dare:
 For those in the minority camp who don't own a home....when might be the time to dive into the market?  When everyone is saying that real estate is the last place to invest. 

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Progressive and supporting Ron Paul? How can that be?!?!

A recent post of mine, supportive of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, elicited a comment from Laura, the author of We Move to Canada.  An excellent blog about her experiences as an American moving to, and now living in Canada.

She directed me to a post she had written on the Texas congressman entitled: 

Laura takes exception to Mr. Paul's extreme Libertarian politics, and many of his stances would certainly appear to be 'anti-progressive'.  Ending affirmative action being a case in point. 

I feel compelled to explain my rationale for being supportive of Ron Paul.  Before concluding that he would be the best candidate (in my seldom humble opinion) I was already aware of his big L libertarian views. 

So, how is it that someone who considers himself to be both progressive and very liberal minded...How can I support a candidate like Ron Paul? 

Allow me to explain:

Firstly, while I absolutely and without reservation embrace the term Liberal when describing my views...there is a caveat.  Fiscally speaking I am very much a conservative.  For me fiscal conservatism is the only way to ensure progressive and liberal minded government policies and programs. 

Its hard to be progressive and liberal when you're broke.  And sadly, looking at the level of debt in the U.S.  there is a strong argument to be made that they have basically reached that point.  Sure the U.S. is able to add to its Biblical debt load, much the way Homer Simpson continues to find financing for things like an RV, but that doesn't mean they're not broke.

And many Americans realize this, they know they're pooched, and they're looking for answers.  You can't turn on a U.S. newscast these days without hearing about the one percent versus the ninety nine percent, about raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and whether or not it would help, about severe cuts to social programs. 

Missing from much of this debate is the massive amount of corporate welfare that exists, not just in the U.S. but in Canada too.  Forget about the billions thrown at poorly managed and possibly criminal financial companies in the wake of the global financial crisis.  Instead just look at the number of government departments and agencies that are set up to help the business sector.

The typical right wing conservative argument is that government has to support the corporate sector, because they're the ones creating jobs, wealth and prosperity.  I have two words for that argument, and given that I keep profanity off this blog whenever I can, they rhyme with Gull Spit.

Business in my view doesn't give a rat's posterior about the general welfare, not of their communities and not for their workers.  Business is concerned with the bottom line, that's it and that's all.  If such weren't the case we wouldn't hear stories about billion dollar companies farming out work to overseas businesses that use child labour.  We wouldn't be constantly reading about employees being exploited, hired as contract workers to avoid having to pay out any benefits....and on and on and on and on.

The business of big business is to make $$$$, nothing more and nothing less.  Wealth doesn't trickle down as has been constantly proven, it consolidates at the top.  And business knows how to lobby. They pour millions, probably billions every year into ensuring that government looks after their interests.  Politicians?  Their job is to keep the great unwashed happy while playing the shell game with us to convince us they have our best interests at heart...They don't.

And into this mess steps Ron Paul.  And while I don't like everything about him, there is one quality I admire, consistency.  Yes he's a big L libertarian who would end social programs and try to kill initiatives like affirmative action.  But he'd also endeavour to end the corporate welfare state that many would argue the U.S. has evolved into. 

You can't make the payments on your mortgage?  So sad for you.  Your billion dollar corporation is about to fail and you're looking for a taxpayer funded bailout?  Tough noogies.

Canada and the U.S. are two different countries.  Thanks to the Chr├ętien/Martin Liberals getting our financial house in order, we've been better able to weather the financial storms of the past few years.  But thanks to the massive deficits of the past few years, it might not be long before we're in the same shape as our American friends.

In this country we can still somewhat afford to fund both Corporate Welfare and the social safety net.  But with all the talk about spending cuts and belt tightening....How many cuts are pointed at business interests who pour billions into lobbying efforts and right wing think tanks? 

Ron Paul probably won't win, but he's definitely a man worth listening to. 

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Is the Mormon faith racist?

Ron Paul has come under some fire for newsletters bearing his name that contained racist remarks some 20 odd years ago.  The Texas congressman and Presidential hopeful has said he didn't write them or read them, and thankfully he disavows them.  Good on him.

All is fair in love and war, and certainly in politics.  Which brings me to Mitt Romney and the Mormon faith. 

Perhaps CNN  will grill Romney over the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon or LDS) did not allow Americans of black African descent to be ordained into the all male priesthood until 1978. 

Let's hear what Mr. Romney has to say about LDS beliefs on race and about what is written in the Book of Mormon:

And God had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities."

With Obama in the White House maybe the GOP has written off the African-American vote entirely.  But I can't see dogma like this being a vote getter except with guys in white robes. 

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why the media is afraid of Ron Paul

There are four candidates vying for the nomination of the Republican Party for a run at the U.S. presidency this coming November.  However, based on media coverage, some might think its a race between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. 

Maine just conducted a straw poll.  And while Mitt Romney won, he only beat Ron Paul by a reported 200 votes.  Though he came in second, with Maine's convoluted system of voting in stages and then appointing delegates to the GOP convention, Ron Paul might end up winning that state. 

Big news?  Are network newscasts and CNN suddenly reporting on a surging Ron Paul campaign?

Don't count on it. 

Media ownership in the U.S. (and in many countries) is basically corporate.  And Ron Paul is not about to win rave reviews from corporate media outlets.  The man wants to audit the Federal Reserve system in the United States.  Imagine that!!!  Many Americans operate under the assumption that the Fed is government run and controlled.  They aren't aware that the Federal Reserve system is privately owned, and the owners don't want the government poking their noses into the books.

Worse still, Congressman Paul is campaigning on ending the Fed and returning to something akin to the gold standard.

I've always pulled for the underdog, and that is Ron Paul in spades.  An added benefit is that he scares the bejeeebers out of the establishment.  While Wall Street was swimming in cash in the run up to the financial crisis, this Texas congressman was warning anyone who would listen about the catastrophe to come. 

Well, some people are starting to listen now.  You'd think that kind of prophetic insight would have earned Ron Paul some kudos and media coverage, but don't hold your breath.  Corporate welfare and the cozy relationship between Wall St. and Government St. have kept this former U.S. serviceman from garnering the attention he deserves.

U.S. troops love him because he wants the military to defend the United States, and to stop acting as the world police.  Of course with our global economy, business loves U.S. foreign and military policy protecting their interests.  Meanwhile back on the home front unemployment and under-employment have become a way of life for many people.

As a Canadian on the outside looking in, its great theatre.  The United States as a country started out as the underdog, defeating the British, the world's reigning super power of the time.  I do think the U.S. can recapture its prominence and position in the world by siding with the underdog in this race, one who will return them to the constitutional ideals upon which their republic was founded.

Here's a link to the Harvard Independent and their endorsement:  CLICK HERE

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Visions of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed walking hand in hand

Just for clarification I would like it known that I chose the order in the title of this post based on the age of these respective faiths, with Judaism being the oldest and Islam the youngest....and Christianity in the middle.

Personally I don't believe in religious visions, frankly I think they're the product of over active imaginations and other factors like lack of sleep or even narcotics.  

But for the sake of argument, let's say visions are real, and that people all around the world start seeing images of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed walking hand in hand. 

What would it mean?

Let's look at the Jewish faith.  My understanding of Judaism is that at its core, adherents believe that the Jewish people are God's chosen, a lineage destined to be masters of basically the entire region often referred to as the 'Holy Land'.   I hesitate to use the term 'master race' for obvious reasons, but that does seem an apt description.

The writers of the Torah or Old Testament have God giving the Hebrew people sanction to commit all manner of atrocities in their efforts to subdue their enemies.  Its not much different when you look at Christianity and Islam when you consider the wars that have been waged in so called Holy Crusades and Jihads.

Imagine religion being removed from the equation as a justification for armed conflict.  If Moses, Jesus and Mohammed can join hands...why not the rest of the human race?

While the separation of Church and State is an often cited ideal of western democracies, religion and politics were joined at the hip when these three faiths started.  The political leaders in ancient times were also religious leaders.  Very convenient when waging war and seeking to control illiterate and ignorant populations.

Imagine if all Christians started believing that Jesus isn't the ONLY path to God.  If Jews started believing that all human beings are equal in the eyes of the Lord.  If Muslims started believing that Mohammed wasn't the most accurate prophet, just one of many.

Imagine humanity coming together.  Others have suggested it, Gandhi, John Lennon...even John Denver.  I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs by John Denver, no its not 'Thank God I'm a Country Boy' its called "Its About Time".

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heading east out of the GTA? Gas up cheap in Shannonville

I've been back in Kingston the past few weeks, and driving to the GTA on weekends to see family and friends.  I had heard that cigarettes were cheap on a Mohawk nation reserve called Tyendinaga, which was true.  But that wasn't all, the gas prices there are around 10 cents cheaper than what's being charged in the Toronto area.     

It occurred to me that there are probably many people who drive that stretch of the 401 who aren't aware that a quick 10 minute jog off the 401 can  save a motorist $5 or more on a 50 litre fill up....and more for those driving larger tanked vehicles.

Gas in the GTA right now, from what I've seen, is somewhere around $1.22 to $1.27 for a litre of regular unleaded.  At Free Flow Gas in Shannonville the price is on $1.11 and 9/10ths...I'll add the tenth of a penny and call it $1.12 per litre.   Free Flow is where I stop, but all the other stations I've seen in the area are charging the same. 

Now, for those who insist on patronizing one of the major brands like Shell, Petro-Can or Esso...I haven't seen any of those stations.  I will tell you though that's I've filled up 4 or 5 times now with no issues at all.  Of course my vehicle is over 10 years old, and I know there are many people with new or newer cars who are afraid to buy gas from unknown branded stations. 

My understanding though is that stations like Free Flow have to buy their gas from the major refiners anyway, and as I've said, it hasn't affected my car's performance one iota.  A guy I know with a 2011 Mustang also fills up there when passing by.

And the smokes are cheap, a carton of Putters is just $30 and you get a $1.00 coupon for your next purchase at the store next to the station I stop at.  They also sell baggies for much less.

If you know of other places for a cheap fill up, feel free to share it by posting a comment. 

Here's a link to a map for the place I go:  CLICK HERE FOR GOOGLE MAP

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Economic turnaround, all it takes is innovation

Wall and Bay Streets have been recovering nicely over the past few years in the wake of the global financial meltdown, Main Streets haven't been doing nearly as well.  Many corporations are sitting on massive balance sheets, while workers like those at Caterpillar have seen their jobs disappear. 
What will it take to turn the North American economy around?  One word, innovation.

All one need do is look back to the incredible economic growth of the nineties when everything was going digital.  Computers, switches, routers, fibre optic cable, business let the dollars fly and the rising economic tide lifted almost all boats. 

Now, the cash is there, what we need is a better mousetrap, an electric or hydrogen car, something that will get business investing again. 

Think of what would happen if hydrogen fueled or electric cars really took off.  If businesses were able  to  gain a competitive advantage by greatly reducing fuel costs, the investment dollars would flow. 

There's a lot of doom and gloom out there, and while the mantra "they'll think of something" may be of little comfort to people who have lost a job that pays well, hope still beats despair. 

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Monday, February 6, 2012

The real Stephen Harper is slowly emerging

Ever since his speech in Switzerland  many have been talking about the real Stephen Harper and his so called 'hidden agenda'.  Rarely though are things ever black and white, and even more rare in the political realm. 

Talk of reducing public pensions, capping transfers for health care, opening up new avenues for the financial sector to provide private pensions...Are these just trial balloons or is Stephen Harper looking to move Canada sharply to the right?

Let's take a step back, because I don't think our current Prime Minister has changed, only his circumstances.  He has successfully started nudging Canada to the right over the past 5 or so years, anyone who refuses to acknowledge that is blind. 

Stephen Harper is both a Libertarian and a politician, and politics has to come first.  There are many fiscal  Conservatives who have been justifiably upset with the proliferate spending of the past few years.  But in reality Harper had no choice, not going into  major deficit after the last election but one would have meant losing power because he'd failed to garner a majority.  The only option was to push real reform onto the back burner in order to maintain power. 

Now he doesn't have that concern, but acting too radically could still have repercussions.  Imagine the uproar if the Canada Health Act were declared null and void, if OAS were wiped out completely, if the CPP was sold off to the private sector.  Obviously that would be political suicide, even for a Prime Minister with a majority mandate and four plus years to run.

Now to be clear, I'm not suggesting that this is what is on the agenda.  But at the same I don't discount the possibility.  With lower taxation leading to lower revenues, services  have to be reduced, that's simple economics.  There are arguments to be made for both bigger and smaller government, debate is a good thing.

Harper was both Vice President and President of the National Citizens Coalition, an organization founded to fight against the imposition of state run health care in this country.  If the Conservatives under Stephen Harper want to eventually eliminate government funded health care, then capping the amount they will pay just when costs are set to explode is a good plan. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with believing that health care would be better delivered by the private sector, differing opinions are the hallmark of a healthy democracy.  But suggesting as much during an election campaign, or as a matter of party policy, would be suicidal in today's environment.   But in another ten years, perhaps not.

Citizens expected to look after themselves without big brother government interfering and running everything, that's the debate I can see coming.  And at this point its hard to say which argument will hold sway with the electorate in another five to ten years. 

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Cup size confusion in Canada

Sorry guys, I'm not writing about A, B, C or DD...this is about Tim Hortons and the new sizes for their coffee cups. 

If you're a Timmies customer you've probably already found out that your large or medium coffee is bigger than it was before.  I'm in Kingston where they've been test marketing this change for the past few months, and now its been rolled out Canada wide. 

Tims has added a new bigger cup, and rather than calling it something appropriate like the bladder buster, they've changed the names of all their cup sizes.

The old small is now extra small, the medium is now small, the large is now medium, extra large is now just large and the bladder buster is the new extra large.

Confused yet? 

Like seriously, do you think anyone wants a couple of 'extra small' DDs?  Some might like small, but extra small?  Prices haven't changed, but you just know people who used to order the old mediums are now going to be buying the old large size until they get used to saying small....But who wants to order small, go big or go home. 

Any thoughts?

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CMA editorial advocates restricting reproductive choices

For those who missed it, ( I did) an editorial in the CMA Journal by that publication's editor in chief has caused quite a stir lately, as one  might well expect.  Any suggestion which advocates limiting or restricting choice on reproductive matters...well its just asking for trouble.

Dr. Kale, the author of the article, is advocating a ban on gender results from ultra sounds until 30 weeks to preclude gender based abortions. 

Run for cover Dr. Kale.  In Canada there are zero laws on the books concerning abortion, and if this nation's 'Pro-Choice' advocates have any say in the matter, that's exactly how things will remain. 

If a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy because the sex of the fetus isn't what is desired, in this country, that is her right.  Banning gender results until after 30 weeks would only serve to put women in peril, because abortions performed in the third trimester carry significant risks.  If the decision for an abortion is made, be it related to gender or any other factor, it is best that the procedure be performed earlier and not later.

You can read about the story:

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