Sunday, 1 December 2019

Mandates from the people.


Mandates from the people.

 I didn’t turn the TV on nor did I sit to watch but it caught my attention. The United Conservative Party of Alberta meeting in Calgary was on. Mr. Scheer stood blaming the Federal Government for what low world oil prices did to our economy. Outside in -20C hundreds or thousands of Albertans were demonstrating obviously not in favour. It reminded me of the hundreds of thousands who were protesting all over Canada a month ago blaming oil for climate catastrophes. Albertans are speaking, and Canadians are speaking, but not the way the Calgary unemployed oil patch workers expect them to. Oil has been a blessing for us and there is still a little to go.

What is a mandate from the people that politicians are so adamant to follow? I listen to my own Premier loudly declaring that he has the biggest mandate of the people of Alberta ever and I wonder. With the campaign still fresh in my mind, I take into consideration that he ran a well-financed campaign spending twice as much as his main opposing party. Did he receive the money from people like me or did he have some other way of receiving donations? If he did, then the mandate could be from the donors, not the people, but it is what it is.

He says that the mandate is for getting our natural resources to market, which means building pipelines for oil. He never talks about the meteorological coal mine that is held up in the Crowsnest Pass. He also maintains that we voted for fiscal responsibility which leads to cuts to most of our services which, I remember he promised not to do. I worry about our kids who must pay their student loans after becoming nurses and teachers.

Across an invisible line west of us is another premier, in British Columbia, John Horgan, who maintains just as vehemently that he has a mandate from his people not to allow a pipeline to transport Alberta bitumen across their land. BC has a minority government which seems to be concerned about the environment even while factoring in the costs. The province is doing well economically without exporting oil.

I look east and see four pipelines leading to Quebec. I search for a speech by Francois Legault, the Premier of Quebec. He also claims to have a very strong mandate by his people. Being the leader of one of the two nations who formed Confederation, he feels a very strong mandate and responsibility to shaping what Canada is. His first concern is ensuring that Quebecers will never again be subjected to religious rule and second that we will not force them to have an oil pipeline and contribute to environmental disasters. He wants natural gas but not oil. “No social acceptability for a new oil pipeline.” I take it that they could be convinced with proper guaranties. “Forcing” them equates to rape in my opinion.

 One by one, I listen to the premiers of provinces. A few sound convincing. They are concerned about the people of their provinces and the people of Canada. They show care towards humanity as a whole. If there were women premiers, I assume that there would be more show of empathy for future generations, but there are none left.

I respect provinces wanting the best deal for their own. We build our whole social system to compete and win. It is not considered bad to take what you can and disregard those left behind with less or none. If we have power people befriend us and want us to use it for their gain. That is why we have lobbyists and expensive political fundraising dinners. If the money is used to get more power by targeted political campaigns, it is a legitimate way to gain more power and money. Just about everyone I know agrees. Even the judicial system doesn’t operate without money. Thank God we have it, but we could consider more equality for the folks who can’t afford lawyers and bail.

Mandate is a word that we assume indicates that most people voted for a plan which will make their lives better. It describes what a large group of people believe will help their cause. I follow the most recent Federal elections and see a clear mandate forming. As usual, there are differences yet Greens, NDPs, and most Liberals have voted with environmental concerns in their minds. Will the minority government follow the mandate?

I get the impression that our leaders are more interested in winning power and only use the idea of having a mandate to advance their political ambitions. It becomes more obvious after elections. All of the elected officials are walking away from their election promises and begin to work on staying in power. They mostly don’t even try to do what I care about. Yet my Dear Leader is saying “the people of Alberta want,” as if we didn’t see cheating suspected in the way he got voted the leader. I voted for Brian Jean.

I wish to have a simple life maintaining what I have achieved through hard work and long periods of saving. I care about my community, my province, the country, and the world. To my sorrow, I see that I will probably have to fight to keep it until the day I die. Now there is a real threat to my pension fund, to my health care services and the Police force which guarantees my safety. Yes, you may say I am not a happy camper.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Another change in a life full of changes.


Another change in a life full of changes.

Being old is not everyone’s favourite thing, but it offers some benefits. As events happen, you have experiences that serve as reference points. Things happen and you don’t get excited. I have seen it before, you say, and you know that you did. When I was a child, for example, people still used horses where I was. Horses for farming, transportation and for sports and racing. At some point, tractors arrived and cars and trucks became common. The new technology changed our lives.

The change was overwhelming and those in favour outnumbered those who wanted to hang on to the past. An easier life with more things has its allure. New developments made a great difference, especially on the farms. One person could do the work of many, more grain was produced, easily transported and prices fell.

People had to change their way of life and many were not happy about it. The changes are too many to name, but each time fear for the future had a great effect and there were significant alterations to the economy. The problem with change is that too many happen at the same time and the reaction to change can cause more problems than the change itself. I must admit that even while enjoying the fruits of change, like the computer I am typing on, I feel like having some rest.

I was here in Alberta when it became an oil province instead of a farming center. I remember the City of Calgary before the oil boom and I see it now. I thank the Lord that I existed here mostly when times were good and witnessed the growth. It was exciting. Just when it looked as if we would enjoy prosperity forever, oil prices dropped due to new technology. Regardless of the political games, our period of rest is finished. While we are playing with new ideas about how to transport our oil another reality dawned.

Some of our brightest intellectuals have been predicting major trouble that would arise from the new lifestyle but failed to realize the catastrophic effects until it became almost too late. Humanity became addicted to the use of fossil fuels faster and in increasing numbers, more rapidly than we dreamed it could. The problems of polluting the atmosphere dwarfed the pollution from overproduction. Now I am facing another major change in my lifetime.

Being in a province that uses oil as its currency, I fear a slowdown in the economy that I learned to depend on. I look at other places that sustain and even grow economies without oil and I envy their ingenuity and creativity. I recently heard a well-known author columnist say, “the hydrocarbon economy is finished.” As much as I wish him to be wrong, he is not.

The question that remains unanswered is, will we be fighting it and suffering the consequences of war, or will we find peaceful ways to solve our problem. Judging by my experience, we will fight. People don’t solve problems by negotiating and giving in to reason. First, they ignore the problem, wishing it to go away, and later they resort to violence.

Most admit that there is a problem and we all know that there will be a transition period. Those who wish to save humanity from the catastrophic disaster awaiting us from inaction are trying hard to speed the transition while those heavily invested in the hydrocarbon economy wish us to take our time. The fossils industry people want to keep growing it while saying, calm down, we are working on it. The weapons industries don’t care who will win as long as there will be conflict.

Personally, I am most concerned with the wellbeing of those who will come after my time is done. I was born right after a great war and know well what fighting causes. I lived through some wars and I thank the Lord for where I am and for the opportunity that oil provided for me and so many others. We will never go back and the new world will be a better place than it was in my youth.

I watch the news and see the pro-oil and gas people buy political elections and press for fewer regulations and I cringe. Opposite from them there are young people and always first nation folks (not the leaders) who have a real concern over the health of the planet. My mind goes over the possible solutions. I witnessed great changes and I have the benefit of knowing how things turned out. There were always winners and losers and people had to make changes.

This time is no different. The world goes in some direction and then it is overdone and corrective action takes place. Empires grow and revolutions take them down. Plagues kill and new medications are invented. What we can hope for is that the damage caused by the change will be minimized. That is the job of a good government.

From where I see it now, with the benefit of many experiences, we should embrace the change and guide it to go with the stream, while educating people about reality unobstructed by political affiliations and business interests. Our aim should be to make the transition quick and painless. Our elected representatives should set up a course and then apply themselves to the wellbeing of the people.

The biggest problem these days is employment which provides an acceptable level of living and rewarding people for extra efforts. It is not hard to do. The older folks still remember the time after the second world war when all the soldiers came home. I and my generation are the outcomes.

I have faith in people and I know that when there is a will there is a way. We need hope and we must use our best people to run the show. There is no need for a war to teach us how.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Immigrants, the most valuable commodity on Earth.




Immigrants, the most valuable commodity on Earth.

What do we value and why? I have been asking that question for a long time trying to figure it out thinking that the answer could make me rich. I am surely not the only one. The bible gives us some hints and history provides others. The one sure bet is that we value that which is limited. Why are gold and diamonds precious?

Real estate is precious since there are always more people wanting land which doesn’t grow. Humans always fought over land and we still do. In the old days, empires came and went conquering each other. The Americans came to prominence when they raised and sold cotton. Canada did well by selling beaver pelts for Top Hats and the British empire built itself upon tea merchandising. The Dutch became rich in spices, mostly pepper and some areas did very well on salt. Saltsburg and Wieliczka in Europe are good examples.

Salt has been a major player in human history for a long time. You may remember that Roman soldiers often were paid with salt. The substance was used for preserving food and for water purification. When the Mahatma Gandhi chose a way to rebel against the British domination of India, he chose salt.

 Oil was a precious commodity in the bible used for healing and even anointing new kings. Humankind needed a lubricant and a relatively clean source of energy. Streetlights of London were powered by whale oil for some time. Oil squeezed from plants, rendered from animals, eventually was mined from oil wells and lately purified from oil sands.

Over time, people discover ways to make precious commodities common and consequently there is a transfer of wealth. Old empires fall and new are born. What will be the next valuable commodity? I would place my bet on freshwater and electricity, but we are already making strides towards making it cheap. The middle east desalinates water and new technology is going to make electric energy abundant and plentiful by the looks of things. The most valuable item in the not so far future is something that no-one today dares to guess.

I like to direct your attention to a new book by two Canadian authors, Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson called The Empty Planet. The authors challenge the centuries-old theory that the Earth will be overpopulated and run out of resources. New calculations based on existing facts indicate that far from becoming overpopulated the world has already reversed its course. At the centre of the new theory is the popular belief that migration is a curse that could be avoided. It is based on a faulty outdated model and it is failing. If we use an economy based on consumerism, which we currently do, the resource that makes us rich is not salt, tea, spices, gems or precious metals, it is people. We simply need people to produce things, sell them and buy them. We are short on consumers.

The Western, affluent countries, all bar none have dropped their birthrates to below replacement rate. Canada is at 1.6 children per woman and the rest are not far behind. This phenomenon is repeating itself not only in the advanced world but also in poorer areas. Brazil, for example, is suffering a natural loss of population. Religions that used to be a main driving force behind population growth are losing ground. The real change is from urbanization and women’s education, nothing else.

Almost 40% of humanity exists in two centres at our time, that is India and China. Both have below replacement rate births. China is losing people and India barely managing to maintain its current level. The so-called affluent or advanced nations have been struggling against reduced birth rates since before the second world war and mostly exist on immigration, but it is changing. All the hype about losing our culture and being replaced by poor migrants taking our jobs is just that. A popular political talking point which in the long run will spell the death of our culture and advanced economic standing.

Modern countries do not perform well without infusion of people. The same goes for cities. There is a very good reason why most affluent countries allow immigration and also a good reason to assume that countries like Japan or some eastern European will not do so well in the future. Politicians find it easier to sing the national song and oppose immigration even when the facts indicate the opposite.

Alberta and Saskatchewan would not be what they are today if it wasn’t for the progressive vision of Clifford Sifton at the turn of the century. He predicted the value of people and thanks to his policies Canada may yet be an international powerhouse in the future. We know how to use immigration to the benefit of newcomers and the improvement of the country, regardless of what Quebeckers say.

Now I arrive at a new question. If the world’s population is decreasing, will we be lonely? If we are motivated by greed and selfishness, I assume it will be. The answer to all my questions is the same. Regardless of the economy, science, politics and natural happenings, the solution is love, sharing, and caring. You give it and it comes back.

If we don’t destroy our world intentionally or by neglecting the signs, there is still a power greater than us guiding us towards “the promised land.” It is smarter than the smartest amongst us and it has one goal. Let love triumph over selfishness. When it does, we move forward.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Strikes: Tough Love.


Strikes: Tough Love.

Somebody pushed me very hard from behind and we both fell onto the side of the road. A huge shiny blade of a grader passed inches above my face tearing my sign which said: “legal Strike, Union local #” off the stick I still held in my hand and a rough voice shouted above the diesel motor noise. You guys stay out of the way or someone will get killed. The big tire came pretty close to my foot.

I was a new employee and didn’t even fully understand why we were on strike, but we were and I just about became a victim of it. It was my first and last strike. Not long after that, I became a low-level supervisor, and we were being trained on how to treat workers as a part of the organization and our services and industries flourished. I was able to work and complete a University degree paying $100 per semester. We had a good government in Edmonton. The province was booming and saving money for later.

The first time that I have heard about “The Crowsnest Pass” was In a history lecture at U of C where they played a little film about miners' strikes. Much later I viewed a similar film at “The Interpretive Centre” and recognized that here was a place with a history of people fighting for their rights. The years went by and lately, I see a rise in strikes and demonstrations. From my knowledge, I deduct that the world is on fire for many reasons.

Anti-government demonstrations in many places are happening and people are being killed. Hong Kong, Chile, England, France, and the Middle East are only a few. Now and then the strikes and demonstrations are turning into full-blown civil wars and strikes are vicious and long. GM strike last month was seven weeks.

Not long ago we had our postal workers' strike and lately, unrest in Ontario was alarming. The provincial government did a complete turnabout and is trying to rebrand itself. Student unrest is spreading all over the place mostly around ecological issues this far. I watch around and see the potential for the unrest to spread into economic issues. There is nothing new here. We travelled this road before many times.

Here in Alberta, the young people’s rights to minimum wages were rolled back. Next, the freeze on tuition fees was taken off coupled with a reduction of learning facilities budgets and then the big crunch. A reduction through attrition of all social services, hospitals, schools, and civic services. Today’s students will graduate with high student loans debts into an economy that is being rolled back and slowed down. The graduates will have to be underemployed or move back with their parents. Combine this with a shortage of affordable housing, and the fact that a lot of students expected jobs related to the diminishing oil industry, (25% of our local economy) and you got trouble. A waitress told me, “they created thousands of jobs and I got three of them. I still can’t afford the rent.”

I predict a much-heightened level of civil unrest in the near future. We live in a land of plenty but all of our efforts are being channeled towards supporting a single industry which is doomed, not immediately but soon. Every forest fire or hundred-year flood hastens its end. While our leaders are using political pressure in an attempt to resolve the fight against the oil industry, they ignore the people who demanded the action. Already millions of people are out in the streets pressuring us to change. They are environmentalists, first nations and lately our own kids. They don’t want to be consulted, they want action.

We will find out that foreigners are financing anti-pollution movements, but the environmentalists will discover that foreigners are owning our oil and are protecting their investments. We wouldn’t care but now we are being forced to pay for the shortfall in their revenues and protests and strikes will happen. We are being conscripted to fight against our fellow Canadians but in a short while when we hurt we will discover a mystery. People take a lot of abuse before they fight but eventually resentment finds its way to the surface.

The real problem always, historically, now and in the future is that all humans, like water, strive to be equal with all others. First comes safety, we all want to live, eat, drink, reproduce, and after that we demand equality. We demand to have our space on earth and equal rights with others. We like competition but only if we have a chance to win.

In the last half a century the gap between rich and poor, be it individuals or nations, has grown wide. Modern communication exposed the fact to almost all human beings and there is a sentiment to rebel. It will not go away unless addressed by the leaders. We don’t mind rewarding hard work and detest laziness as a rule. We hate slave owners and abusers.

Governments, industry leaders, bankers and all other people in a position of power please understand. The job became more complicated. Every time you win may hasten your demise. Today its demonstrations and strikes, tomorrow it may be worst. Humans are born with a preconditioned drive to selfishly dominate and equally a need to love and be on par with each other. It is important to keep the two in balance or we will destroy all that we achieved and face extinction. That is my opinion anyway.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Now I am a mad Albertan.


Now I am a mad Albertan.

“Quit crying and start thinking,” said Dad and I took a deep breath, wiped my tears and sobered up. Now sixty-six years later Dad’s advice is still good. Allow me to share it with my fellow Albertans. It works every time.

So, our biggest oil consumer became our biggest energy competitor and we are hurting, or at least a quarter of us do. Let’s assess our situation without tantrums, name-calling, empty threats and “nobody loves me” pouting. Oil prices will remain low, public pressure against oil is growing, transporting oil will remain a problem and while investments in clean energy are growing, financial institutions and politicians are divesting. It is the reality if we believe it or not. It will change back in the US also after the next elections. No crying folks, we have more than one basket of eggs here. We have our long-neglected farmers, ranchers, tourism, industries, educated workforce, great attractive infrastructure, other natural resources, you name it. Alberta is great.

Albertans still on average have the highest income per family in Canada, that is why we pay higher Transfer Payments, and if we don’t force our economy to slow down, we are on a road to recovery. It's all in what we choose to believe. When your car goes into a skid you “look and steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go.” Don’t lock the breaks.

Albertans all around me want to blame Trudeau, forgetting that our Premier could be competing with him on a personal level. He would like Trudeau to be out of the way when he may run for PM job someday. If you were the PM and two-thirds of Canadians voted for parties fighting to reduce Climate Change would you openly reduce regulations and advocate increasing the oil production? Justin Trudeau wants the money and is doing all he can regardless of his personal beliefs. He can’t change the minds of all Canadians aside from us by waving a magic wand. Global warming is happening and only the blind are not seeing it. What we hope for is to have a fair share of the market for the transition period.

My political hero is the first Conservative Premier of Alberta. He set us up towards a bright future that we are still benefiting from. Thanks to his planning we should have had a large base of technology trained Albertans and could have been competing with Silicon Valley. We should have had modern cities and towns advanced and comfortable for workers to live and work in. Above all, he set up the Heritage Fund which properly maintained could have been enough to build a brand new economy by itself. No other province or State could compete with us.

Peter Lougheed knew that oil was “a temporary boon” based on non-renewable resources. It turned out that we have more oil and gas than we can use, but we must not use it if we wish to go on living. The results are the same. We and our neighbours may fight to keep Hydro Carbon going but will lose.

We can’t reasonably demand that the Federal government will commit political suicide and send the army to force millions of people to agree to take a chance on their future when they are already suffering from the changing climate. It is time for Plan B. The temporary irresponsible behaviour of Mr. Trump isn’t going to last.

I hope that a wise Prime Minister will find a way to stop Canada from importing oil and use our own. This will not materialize unless we work together forgetting politics for a while. All parties concerned must figure out a strategy, plan implementation and a lot of public education is needed.

So far in the last six months, a significant reduction in corporate taxes has made no change. A pipeline is being built and the statistics are the same. I think now we can understand all the Canadian fishing industry people who lost their livelihood a while back. We have to make changes and we may need the help of the rest of Canada someday, but I hope not.  

If I had a say I would recommend that we get help to build a robust, clean energy sector. I would make higher education free for all who can prove proper aptitude, scrap student debts and properly reward graduates. I would make our health care and tourism industries the best in the world so people will see what we have and wish to live and work here. If Alberta is open for business, I would make it the best place to open and operate small businesses and sing the glory of those who do it right so others will see.

We should have the money to do it all in our savings account, the Heritage Fund. If the money is not there, instead of hating the rest of Canada enough to separate, we should investigate who got rid of it and why. We had a workable plan, and if we didn’t follow it I, an Albertan, want to know what replaced it and how it will be fixed now. If I sound upset, I am. It is time to quit crying and start thinking.

Every week head offices are moving out and our suicide rates are growing. BC without oil is surpassing us in growth and others soon will. What we need is not more political heroes but smart hard-working Albertans in a leadership capacity. Is there someone like Lougheed and if you know him or her, bring them forward.

 

Calgary Sun

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Canada 2019 version.


Canada 2019 version.

 

I have an internet friend in Norway and he is always curious about Canada and specifically Alberta. We have a lot of similarities. Now he is puzzled by our election results. “We drove a hard bargain with our oil companies,” he says, and we have a Heritage fund of $1.3 trillion while you guys don’t even have one representative in your country’s government. Your provincial government is going to increase your taxes, cut services and make you all upset, he predicts. Fewer people will afford education, Health care and infrastructure will be reduced and people will run away to other provinces. I had no idea the Bloc Quebecois has so many members in Parliament. It’s bigger than the NDP! That’s very interesting!

I try to defend my country by describing our political history.

 

Canadians often vote by region. The feeling is that Ontario is taking advantage of other areas as colonial powers used to do. Quebec is always afraid that the English will force them to assimilate and disappear as a distinctive society. After all, we did it to First Nations. Very often people will vote a party to Ottawa that is opposite to the Provincial Party, to balance each other. Regions are worried that the “others” will take more than they give. They are suspicious that the others will share what “we have” but will keep what they have. Overall, most Canadians are the same on the lower levels. The more affluent, often from outside are competing with each other for domination and the poor are lead by envy and protectionism. That is why it is rare for most Canadians to vote for any single aspect that should be important to all of them.

 

This time it’s a little different. The greatest number of Canadians voted to prevent Global Warming, leaving the centre-west who has oil alienated. That oil is produced now with less pollution than it used to be, but oil from other countries is giving it a bad reputation. The West is alienated and by voting ourselves out of the halls of power has no-one to argue our case where it counts. I would much prefer if the Federal Government would cut oil imports to Canada and leave Canadians to use our own oil for as long as we still use oil. It will provide the means to build clean energy infrastructure.

 

It will be easy to keep Quebecers in since most of them want the same as the rest of us plus guarantees that we will not anglicize them. Their other major concern is to remain secular. At one time they were oppressed by the rich and powerful including the church and they fear religion. We must show them that we can have religious people living happily with secular people and not pressuring anyone to join them. It’s difficult when most religions have a mission to evangelize. Perhaps instead of going after religious symbols, we should legislate a stop to evangelization efforts. Live your life within the law but believe in the God of your own choice.

In the seventies, I purchased a book about Federalism by a little-known professor named Pier Trudeau. It is on the shelf, there… If you break the country up into ever small components you are doomed, he said. You must work from the inside and he did. The West hated Pierre Trudeau first for bilingualism and later for forcing us to share our oil revenues with the rest of Canada. That hate was transferred to his son, our present Prime Minister.

 

What the world is short of are good leaders. Canada is no exception. The good leaders are tempted to work for themselves. Those who enter politics often do so expecting power to benefit them and their friends in high places.

I don’t care about oil going through Quebec only about Quebec and Ontario using our oil for as long as we need oil. We should use what we need while aggressively tapering it down. Alberta will still be a very good place even without oil.

Also, l don’t buy secularism being a good excuse to discriminate against minorities.

The arguments for separatism by Quebec and the West are lame. We would gain nothing from separation. Our best bet for the future is to develop all of Canada and make it as self-sufficient as we can. The world needs to see that working together is possible and beneficial.

Our predecessors built a good base. We have a much better system than our neighbours and our people are miles ahead in terms of living together peacefully. We may not be the best place to invest or make fortunes, but we have all that we need to keep our population healthy, well-fed and warm.

Our problem is that we are convinced that we need smart and rich people from business to organize since governments will not do the smartest or most efficient job. I don’t even know if we have any money left in our Heritage Fund. I would venture that where we should expand efforts is to investigate corruption and legislate ways to control it.

We could learn from countries like India what not to do and from countries like Norway what we should do. If I was a leader, I would set up a task force to study that problem. India is not all corrupt, Norway is not perfect but Canada can learn from both.

The first step is to convince enough people that the market is not always right, that extreme socialism doesn’t work, that dictatorships and absolute monarchies fail people, and that there should be a Canadian way that can and would. As separated as we look outwards now, we have never been more united.

It doesn’t matter how we slice the pie, the last elections clearly show that we have a united goal with large support from every region of this huge country. Canadians at large are less concerned about immediate comfort and more about the future of our children.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

We need a new Economics Theory.


We need a new Economics Theory.

A few times a year I have the opportunity to talk with a friend who makes his living on finance. This is my chance to talk with a Calgary businessman who perhaps is the most typical Albertan. He really believes that there are people out there who make it their lifelong mission to destroy the Alberta economy. To him, anyone who is concerned with the ecology, the environment or even the wellbeing of low pay workers is a leftist job-killing terrorist who will plunge us into debt which will destroy the future of our kids. Sam, that his name, means well and fights to maintain our so-called economy the way it is. I disagree with his theory.

To me, our goal is the long-term survival of the human species first, and the wellbeing of people second. Sam doesn’t believe in God, never opened the bible and thinks “reality” is geared towards the survival of the fittest. I think we humans have a world to sustain us and that our mission is to fit into creation harmoniously while sustaining it. We shouldn’t go into war against nature which brought us to where we are. The only way that it can work is if we all strive together to make it happen.

I think that we fulfilled the commandment to fill up the Earth and we have enough sons of Abraham if we consider all the Jews, Christians and Muslims put together. We are done and now we must work the final touches. The world can and will sustain us if we use its resources with the right goal in mind. The evolutionist’s idea of “survival of the fittest” should be replaced with the “love your neighbour as yourself” or the end is near and, “see you all in heaven.”

To me, the economy is our way of doing what it takes to keep on living. We can experiment with who does what or how much, but we don’t have the resources to supply the wants of the most greedy amongst us. They believe in eternally expanding economic growth which is simply not available on a finite globe. If we let them, they will destroy the Earth and have us dig our own graves and lay down to die. I am sure that it was not part of God’s plan when he created the world and fashioned humans out of mud.

Personally, I don’t view myself as “political” left or right up or down. I don’t care what religious symbols you wear, or which Bible you follow. My marching orders are the same in all cases and translations. One commandment above all, love one another and feed my sheep. End of story.

To me, an economy is not created to enhance the chances of one rich human over top of another or fight for some corporations to make more profits than others. I want an economy that is concerned with making this world better than what it is for its inhabitants. Notice that I didn’t even say, humans.

In my story, all of us should be working towards improving living conditions. We can use money as a means of exchange, or we can invent another way. Our way should eliminate the ability of a few of us to buy and sell our resources including labour for huge profits. No, we will not work for starving wages to make someone else travel in private jets and live in showy mansions. It is not the goal we wish to pursue.

My great grandparents toiled the soil of Austria Hungary and my grandfather died fighting for some Habsburg Emperor. They worked hard and got to keep very little. I know enough about economics to say, we should not overtax work and under tax capital or we will be back in the same place.

I listened to a speech by a billionaire Tom Steyer who is financing a campaign against the Keystone pipeline. He is fighting all methods of energy production which pollutes the earth. I can’t deny that I too strongly support clean water and air. I likewise don’t wish to destroy any economy. I wish for people to do all of what we must so all will benefit now, in a hundred years and a thousand years. It will create all the jobs we need and no need to ask who will pay for it. Our work will pay and be paid by other people’s work.

We work for money. It is printed by the Bank of Canada and backed by the US money that is created by the privately owned Federal Reserve. Most existing money is never even printed. It is a promise of work or resources. A huge amount of it is in offshore tax havens where it doesn’t produce anything but more money, not for those who work or own resources but for those who own the money. They are the “investors” who we are trying to attract by reducing taxes that benefit us, and regulations that protect us and the planet.

Personally, I have worked for many years at a job that took years to learn. I paid my taxes, paid for my education, saved for my pension and now I am comfortable in a simple way. I appreciate what I have and above all the fact that the country and the world are here for me. I wish the same for my children, grandchildren and all future generations. I don’t want them to have to fight nature for their lives to fight others for survival or live under siege by multitudes of starving people. The truth is, I wish for a world that provides all the needs for all its creatures. That is what it was made for.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

A Dreamer in Democratic pain.


 

A Dreamer in Democratic pain.

Another Thanksgiving is here and the turkeys and pigs have been sacrificed. The world reflects nothing close to thanksgiving. In this age when news travels very fast, I see the opposite from what used to be happy faces rejoicing thankfully for God’s gifts. I drive out of town and view fields of crops under a blanket of snow. Looking at the news for something good depresses me.

A summer that began with stories of floods continued with devastating storms is finished with pictures of fires. It is happening all the time, and no longer looks like news. Politically motivated embargoes on food exports devastate the economy and great industries close down or are heading towards troubled times. Our main local staple, oil, is selling at below-cost prices and it will never make a comeback.

I feel like a goat that was placed in a lion’s den to provide “live feed.” The lions are fighting about who is going to kill and eat me. There is a gnawing feeling at the pit of my stomach that political leaders, big businesses and even religious leaders have failed me. I am not uncomfortable, thanks to many years of work and saving, but the more powerful are fighting to take away my hard-earned security.

I am told that we live in a democratic country and that we the people call the shots. Looking hard at my situation I am unable to see evidence of it. I live in the best province in the best country and what I need for survival is being threatened. A quick scan of a major newspaper reveals three articles trying to convince us that we would benefit from privatizing some aspects of health care. I know where that will lead. Next to us is a much bigger economy where the majority of personal bankruptcies are generated by healthcare issues.

The news is the only TV program that I watch and it is never good. I don’t want to shut it off and pretend that it’s not happening. That may be dangerous. Last week protests around the world dominated it. Most noticeable and close to home were millions of people, including vast numbers of youths trying to draw attention to the predicted extinction of our civilization. It was taught at University long ago when I was a youth and now people are finally taking action. Extinction Rebellion they are calling the movement. I feel shame that we didn’t do enough, but it’s too late. Possibly I can help them by arguing against others of my generation who invested in keeping things as they are and refuse to accept change.

This week any news not related to the upcoming elections is dominated by the greatest betrayal in recent history. When the West was facing ISIS in the middle east, the landless Kurds provided the much needed “boots on the ground.” Often they were teenage girls with guns. Now the “greatest President of the USA” faced with impeachment is trying to focus the Media away from his trouble by letting Turkey exterminate the Kurds on the border.

I try hard to keep up with the pre-election politics. I see one leader singing praise for what he did in the last four years, but he could have done a lot more. He points out the lack of performance of the opposing party that was in power for ten years and did less. Things were so messed up that they delayed retirement age by two years as if that would have helped. The leader of the opposition gets on and wastes all his public exposure on calling the present Prime Minister names. I would much prefer a plan and a declaration that if they fail to implement, they would penalize themselves. No go.

The local candidates come to my area for public debate and I faithfully attend. I watch the sitting MP follow his leader and spend most of his time knocking the Prime Minister. He will leave more money in my pocket. Ha Ha. I wish he would send me the Carbon Tax refund but I was supposed to save money at the gas pump which never showed a decrease in prices. A $1.07 per litter just like before provincial elections. The other available candidate is wasting time trying to tell me that we should burn our way into extinction since he and a few others don’t “believe” the world’s scientists. The next candidate (Green) is offering to retrain people who will lose jobs when we change our major energy production methods. She is speaking to folks who want to fight the unavoidable change. She is on the stage ahead of her time. What should I do?

Let’s face it. I am OK right now. If they try to privatize health care, I will fight and probably die. My life has been good, but I am concerned about my grandkids who will still be fighting when I am gone. Overall, my generation improved the well being around the world, won some equality for the oppressed and created miracles like the internet. Now we are voting and may force some good changes to happen.

I will probably choose to vote for a “Mother” since I trust mother’s instincts to prevail against male egotism. Mothers always fight for the kids. That is just me. You make your own choice.

See the source image

 

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/sharmin-omar-of-the-2nd-battalion-24-years-old-and-4-months-news-photo/453592234

The Kurdish youth sacrificed for power and greed. Are our youth next?

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Economics, politics and morality change.


Economics, politics and morality change.

If there is one thing that I can guarantee in this life it is that things will change. There is nothing wrong with change as long as we realize that it's good and bad.  Very often the same change is viewed in opposite ways by different people.

I was a child right after a great war and most of the people I knew were survivors of the war. They were a different crowd from what we are today. People who survived the hardships and the fighting, who lost their families and all that they had were not the type to demand protection from governments. They were self-reliant risk-takers who accepted whatever came and regularly prepared for whatever may come. Another mark of hard times was the ability to help each other even by risking themselves. My mother told stories of Nazis coming through the front door and Jewish children hiding in the basement. My ancestors risked themselves and their families for people they didn’t know.

As I got older, the future changed into the past. Taking risks became a bad thing where it used to be admired. In our attempt to spread the risk around and make everyone share in it, we became very conscious of safety. First, it was good as we gained socialized medicine, police, fire protection, and even unemployment insurance and crop insurance. We are fighting for more and it is a good idea. However, we lose some freedom in the process and we should consider if it is important. Often the elimination of risk makes us less concerned with the price of doing so, in which we give up freedom to do “our thing.”.

Two examples come to mind immediately. Take the Canadian tobacco industry. In the 1950s and sixties, tobacco was a major industry in Ontario. In the Niagara Region, we had the thriving Ontario Tobacco belt famous around the world. In came the fight against smoking and devastated the region.

Another example is the thriving Asbestos mining in Quebec. Again in the sixties, Canada was supplying 40% of the world’s need for that “miracle Fibre.” I remember asbestos everywhere including at the bus stop where I was waiting for the bus to take me to school. We all had asbestos sheets behind the wood stoves to prevent fires and all the heating plumbing was insulated with the substance. It provided jobs for many thousands of Quebecers and was a very good investment opportunity.

In came safety concerns, about smoking and about asbestos both being cancer-causing. Politicians and governments fought fiercely to keep it on the markets but lost. The need for safety convinced the public to ignore economics and champion safety and safety won. The mines and tobacco farms went bankrupt, and the world carried on as if nothing happened. In many cases, the fight went overboard but when change gains momentum, there is no way to break it.

Now, we the people of Alberta find ourselves in the same fight in a big way. We have around a third of the world’s oil reserves buried in our backyard and we developed ways to mine it. In our minds, we were all rich, but the change was faster. First, our greatest competitor and market, the USA, found cheaper oil that costs less than what we produce. They flooded the market leaving us with having to sell to China. While we were working on that, we were handed the biggest Trump Card. Studies that began a long time ago brought safety against us. We are not risk-takers.

This time we are not talking about the workers and consumers getting cancer, but about the earth itself sustaining irreparable damage. We tried all we could to minimize the concerns, but the risk is too consuming. If the mother earth is hurt none of us will be left untouched. Critics try their best to deny the facts but the younger people are not willing to take the risk. These youngsters will soon be voting and they are saying “we will not forget.”

It hurts to give in or lose an important game, especially for proud men. I know the feeling. We will scream and go down kicking, but we will not win against “safety” in this reality. We will have to cut down our carbon emissions, give up on exporting solid liquefied oil and find new ways to make a living. Oil and gas are needed for plastics, for heating until new ways are found, and for lubrication. This is a time of big changes and the more we resist the harder we will hurt ourselves. My advice is, let’s innovate and roll with the punches. We can be a leading force in the new world if we focus on innovation instead of fighting what we can’t beat. The young people we are chastising are our ticket for a bright future, so let’s invest in them.

I prefer to spend whatever is left in oil revenues on building a future than on trying to fight to make us great again in impossible ways, if anyone cares about my opinion. There is always change and we choose how we deal with it.
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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/734086807982991571/

Looking at this poster that was published in the fifties shows how far we have changed as a society.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Make America (Canada) great AGAIN?


Make America (Canada) great AGAIN?

My favourite outing in the summer is Waterton Park. I get to be surrounded by beauty and meet people from all over the world. Last Sunday I observed two young men eating ice-cream wearing red hats one saying Make America Great Again and the other Make Canada Great Again. Dare I ask which America or Canada they want back? I don’t know. Possibly they don’t know when it was great but they know that it was better before their time without knowing why. We are both enjoying a main street lined by little shops and places to eat. 

Canada was celebrating its one hundred birthday when I arrived. I could see it through the airplane window when I felt the landing gear touch ground, lift, touch again, and I was here in North America. I never left it for a moment since. It was great. Not so much for me at the time, but the people here had a good life. I still had to climb to get it but I knew I could do it.

Now I sit across from my seventeen-year-old grandson and it upset him that he is too young to vote. The news is showing hundreds of thousands of young people striking and demanding political action aimed at climate change. He feels that the adults who can, are not addressing his concerns, yet he will have to deal with the consequences of their votes. I was his age when I arrived in the “Canada” that they wish to go back to. I remember how great it was.

Let’s go back a bit. I was a young guy, and I used to do all the shopping for the family. I took the cloth bags that mom made and walked to a nearby grocery store. The owner was a proud business owner. From there I went to another little business, a vegetable store and once a week to the butcher shop. Now and then I would go on my bike with friends to a movie in a local theatre. I had a friend who’s dad was the shoemaker in town and there were lots of other little businesses, too many to mention. One can still see the empty stores in our towns. Canada and America were great.

At seventeen I had many jobs to choose from. There were no teen gangs in the streets, all the kids had part-time jobs mostly in the service industries. Most mothers didn’t work and nobody complained about their place in society. All our friends had jobs, a lot in transportation and manufacturing, and we considered teachers or nurses a higher class because of their education. Doctors were even higher yet, but they didn’t hesitate to make house calls.

It was not even that long ago when there were many people employed as a postman, milkman, postmaster, and even a waiter was well paid. We didn’t yet believe that we were saving money and becoming more efficient by firing people, closing family businesses and training the public to live without services. If the government shored up a corporation, it was expected that they will pay back their debt to society and not take the money elsewhere.  

Sadly, at about the same time that I arrived in North America, the picture began to change. It took a long time and was done in small increments so we didn’t notice. Instead of reusable cloth bags that mother sowed, we have one use plastic bags that are choking the oceans. There are no stores in neighbourhoods and we must use vehicles to shop and shopping we do. We shop online, in other cities or even the orient. There are no jobs so we make statistics look as if there are, and we dare not criticize the government since we are spied on every move we make. Instead of questioning actions that harm us or reduce our potential of well being, giant media corporations shy away from reporting anything which will make us question our way of life.

I happen to think that we must build upon our strengths instead of trying to protect what we have accumulated. To me saving money is important but only if I save it from being wasted or taken away by someone who is not willing to give anything in return. If I pay for the work of my neighbour, I don’t feel bad. He or she will return it for what I do if they are honest. What I hate is when someone rips me off. That includes politicians.

I want to see our children well educated able to compete with children from other countries, regardless of parents' income, so I don’t support cuts to education. I want our aging parents and those of us who are sick and injured well cared for so I don’t support cuts to health care. We only spend half of what our neighbours to the south do per person. I would like to support small family businesses instead of those owned by outsiders. That is why I write for a small locally owned newspaper, not for a large media chain.

When I hear that we must tighten our belts to attract investments I get confused. There are no investors who give us money because they care about us. They invest to make money promising jobs. We could have all the jobs we need, as we used to, if we invest in ourselves. If we run out of jobs, people would not come here as they do but it wouldn’t happen. All we have to do is make it popular to provide jobs instead of to eliminate them.

First I wish to be sure that there will be a Canada for my grandchildren. Secondly, I like to make Canada great again, by sharing and cooperating not by depending upon outsiders to save us. All we need is to know that it’s possible and do it.

In the words of a very famous US Congresswoman: We can be whatever we have the courage to see.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

My “friends” the politicians.


My “friends” the politicians.

Again it is the season of elections and charismatic individuals stand before me calling me their friend. If I have anything to say to those “friends” I have to wait since they don’t have time to listen. They are too busy this time of the year, securing votes. I understand. It is difficult to figure out which promises will convince me and other “friends” to hand them power over us. It is burdensome to persuade so many people to vote when they know that you will lord over them for four years looking important but have no capacity to improve their lives even slightly. At best you have one vote. My “friends” in the halls of power will be entitled to use a fancy wooden bench and vote as they are told, or they can be replaced. Even the most influential amongst them must remember not to stand in the way of the party leaders at all times.

Party leaders are more powerful “friends” but only one of them has the ability to make a difference in my life. It is the leader of the ruling party. By virtue of controlling the majority of wooden seats occupied by well-spoken individuals who obey their wishes, he or she rules. 

Each chair is a vote dedicated to a “leader” who owes his power to those who give him money to rent airplanes, big busses with lots of beautiful stickers and to finance brochures, ads, billboards, and payments to sympathetic popular media outlets. The big media corporations influence a large number of voters and the little ones play nice to representatives hoping for crumbs. The whole “machine” is feeding upon itself giving me the illusion that I have an influence. After all the candidates call us their “friends” before elections. I always vote and never tell others how to vote.

I would like any and all Albertans in Ottawa to actively promote selling our oil east and possibly they are trying.

I replay in my mind the important items from the first week of the political campaign. There is a lot of talk about the Prime Minister masquerading eighteen years ago as the cartoon character Aladdin. To me he looks more like a coal miner before a shower but apparently, he insulted minority groups. I welcome the discussion about racial discrimination in our society. I suffered from it. I remember graffiti on an old building in Calgary saying “keep Canada clean, paint a Pa- - i.” Many of my friends have been prejudiced towards French people, Muslims, and native people, it is a good time to get rid of the behavior, but we are not doing that.

The people who abhor the prime minister’s insult to minorities also want to cut transfer payments from Canadian oil revenues to the French and demand that we should force the First Nations to accept oil pipelines through the land, which we “graciously” allowed them to keep as Reserves. I guess wearing a costume is more insulting than forcing people to obey our wishes. I fear that I am becoming cynical.

I take a pamphlet that came in the mail advocating to “re-elect” someone who’s been representing me in the halls of government. He doesn’t give an example of anything serious that was achieved. I don’t blame him. The benefits usually go to swing areas that the party in power hope to win in the next elections. My representative can promise but can’t grant money. If his party wins, my riding may receive some benefit but probably not. We are what they call a “safe seat.”

I may as well look at what the parties offer all of us if elected. All of them promise whatever surveys show that Canadians want. I want what will help my community which is not being offered. Here are miners, farmers, ranchers, and many seniors. We are being baited with a promise to scrap a Carbon Tax. I see on the news millions of kids demonstrating all over the world wanting governments to cut carbon emissions.

I investigate on Google and the picture is clear. The majority is demanding taking action to protect the environment with my province being somewhat an exception. Our vote may be a protest vote. The party in power may end up being a minority government but there are smaller parties who most likely will support them. What should I do? Should I vote for the most friendly candidate in my area? I have done that before.

Being a writer I sit down and try to come up with a statement that I could ask all the candidates who are on my ballot. They all claim to be my “friends” and they all promise nice things. There is a possibility to improve. Here it is:

“Will you promise to propose and pass a law that will allow voters to file a complaint about false promises or false statements by politicians and government officials, with high fines as penalties for misleading the voters?”

I don’t know anyone who likes to be held accountable for the promises they make. On the other hand, I know most people like to know that a deal is a deal and all sides will live up to their word. Life could be so simple.  

The leader’s job is to give a good example and improve the lives of those they lead. Their vote may not count for much but their commitment is valuable and can restore people’s faith in our democratic system.

If we had a law forcing honesty in the halls of power, it would affect all those who we pay to lead, from backbenchers to party leaders, including the Prime Minister. I don’t have enough money to buy elections but I would love to know that I invest my vote in people who will keep their word.

At least that’s the way I see it.

 

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

 https://thedcontinuum.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/disney-without-magic-aladdin/

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Predictions and disagreements. (About Artificial Intelligence.)


 

Predictions and disagreements. (About Artificial Intelligence.)


A California couple approached me about The Simple Raven’s Posts. Surprisingly, there are readers of The Pass Herald in faraway California. They wanted to know if I am familiar with the famous Israeli professor and author Yuval Harari. He has been on the number one bestsellers list for a while and is giving lectures all over the world. I had heard his name but didn’t know a thing about him so I decided to investigate. The California readers were right. Both Yuval and I believe that “we are the stories we tell ourselves.” The more I listened I realized that we have a lot in common.

I listen to a few talks Yuval held with famous people on the best world stages and he intrigues my imagination. This article is too short for me to outline all his ideas. During the last Google Talk I listened to, he deals with major threats to humanity and the world. Number one and two I mentioned in my articles often. Nuclear war is guaranteed to end life as we know it and Climate Change will destroy human civilization if unchecked. The next danger is much more subtle since it is yet not fully understood, but first lets deal with some smaller dangers.

Most of our historical effort was invested in getting people together to work on common projects. People existed in caves and forests competing for food. Family groups joined and eventually formed communities. From that point communities began to form tribes, agriculture was born, land ownership developed and human civilization arrived. In recent history we witness small nations forming into the countries we know today and Nationalism becomes a common term.

I grew up knowing that Nationalism is most important. I was born in a country that just became a new nation and the flag, national anthem, language, and other symbols were most important. I moved to a country (Canada) in which two dominating nations were trying to express themselves independently but uniting for mutual gain. According to Yuval, that era will soon come to an end. Together we are facing mortal dangers which can’t be solved by any one nation alone and some form of Globalism will happen. We have global ecology, global economy, and we are trying to manage it with national politics.

Yuval’s third potential danger for human existence is less known but exists nevertheless. It is related to Artificial Intelligence and its relationship with biological human brains. The first aspect to consider is the amalgamation of humans with machines. I have a pacemaker which has been keeping me alive beyond the natural cycle. This is just the beginning. We are developing ways to replace human organs. Soon we will be able to expand human life, but not for everyone.

With the improvements in artificial intelligence, we are facing a huge problem which is global, not national. Computers and robots are able to do most of what low-skill workers used to do. Driving, manufacturing, agriculture and lately service industries are mechanized. A I and communication devices will replace even Family Physicians. When politicians talk about immigrants, they ignore the fact that billions of people in other countries are becoming useless. 3D printing could replace all the cheap labor products we import from poorer countries.

We are already in the era of developing a “useless class” and soon that class will lose its political clout because they are useless. Yuval is agonizing over how to solve the problem while I see us already working on it. I see government after government coming to power implementing steps when people are not seeing. Reduction of funds to public education make future generations unable to understand what is happening to them.

The class that can afford it is pushing for savings on public health or fighting against implementing it where it does not yet exist. The war cry is, we can’t afford public health, but the outcome is shorter lives for the useless class. This endangers World peace.

Poor countries now possess huge firepower and can see what is happening. Poor people in affluent countries realize that corruption and modernization will eliminate their means of existence. In my opinion, we must accelerate our efforts to avoid catastrophe by implementing Christian “Love” and degrading evil “Selfishness,” immediately. The solution is not in solving the abortion issues but in figuring out a story that will ensure a good future for all of mankind. There is one commandment above all and it is: “Love one another as I have loved you.” It involves voluntary self-sacrifice.

Yuval Harari predicts the possibility of humans becoming more machines and less organic human beings.  Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk agree.  He said that we will become Gods. His is one option. The option I choose is to fight peacefully but relentlessly for our humanity. I also believe that we will become Gods, if we are not already, but by studying our spirituality. We ignored it at our own peril for too long.  

In my story of the future of humankind, we will use the creative power that God placed within us and invest in propagating Love and shaming Selfishness. The country people have been like that for generations and they are not gone yet. Their descendants now live in cities but remember their humble past and believe in decency. They are the patient people who always trusted God and nature and it never failed them for long.

Soon we will face a choice that we have never faced before. Are a few humans going to live forever in mechanized bodies or will we use technology to enable all of us to go forth as one body? I believe that we will not destroy those made useless, but lovingly caringly holding children and bringing the injured and elderly will step over the threshold and be in the promised kingdom.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

 

Seniors “just” rant.

  Seniors “just” rant. Safety is very important to seniors and so are leisure activities. I am sitting at my window watching my pond. In...