Sunday, 28 April 2019

Politics. You can’t live with it and can’t live without it.


Politics. You can’t live with it and can’t live without it.

We are existing in an age when the universe will not let us get away from politics or the question of how we should govern ourselves. People are trying to avoid the subject but can’t. There are so many people on the planet now and what we do or not do will make or break us. There is a little time yet, but it takes a special kind of selective blindness to ignore all that is happening. It is like hearing your brakes squealing that new brakes must be installed and choosing to save money and not going to the garage.  We know that driving over a cliff after a decline in the road will make us sorry.

Lately, the news media likes to talk about a blue wave taking over province after province. They miss the point that in Canada it was always like that. Historians have been writing about it for over a hundred years. Provincial parties are opposite from Ottawa to balance off the power of the Federal government. Canadians like it that way.

The blue wave is financed by Corporate donations (investments) which are becoming more costly each election as the people demand to enjoy more of the fruits of their labor. It is rumored that here in Alberta Jason Kenney spent more than three million dollars just on beating Brian Jean for the leadership of the United Conservative party. So far the Corporations are viewing the expense as a cost of doing business but some are ready to drop the fight. They invest in politics and receive reduced taxes. However, if the product doesn’t produce much revenue, the reduced tax doesn’t help.

Prince Edward Island had their provincial elections a week ago and for all the donations the Corporate power only won a minority government. It may be a blue wave but not big enough to surf on. The centralist Liberals are in third place after the Green (left) party but if they unite they will have the power. Already the talk is that the Carbon Tax alone doesn’t have enough power to reduce carbon emissions to needed levels. That is a “left” move in today’s jargon.

Most Canadians are joining the worldwide movement striving for a carbon-free environment. It is a bigger movement, stronger than the movement to eliminate the smog in Europe was at the beginning of the last century. When human existence is threatened humans are capable of amazing feats. In the past, it was a fight to reduce coal, and gas won. Now gas is being replaced by renewables.

PEI people are very savvy people and watch the news. They can see that the heartland, including our Capital, Ottawa floods each year. They are well aware of the fact that the forest fire season is on the way, and they know that it wasn’t always like that. They watched us losing the insects and know what it will do. Floods and fires always existed but mostly happened once in a few lifetimes, not year after year.

Here in Alberta, it is a different story. We are the people who produce oil, coal, and gas and our economy was designed to ensure that we will remain fully dependent on the fuels. We had plans to diversify but pushed them aside. Now we have again a government shored up by the fossil fuel industry.

There is no sense complaining about the results of our last elections, it’s a done deal. I, a proud Albertan, will support my democratically elected government and help them succeed with executing the plan they were elected to implement. Mr. Jason Kenney, if you are reading newspapers from Southern Alberta, which you should, here is my pledge. I will fully support you if you do what you promised.

My mother told me a story a long time ago about a farmer who had a horse and cart for extra income. He was a smart fellow and came up with an idea. He decided to feed the horse only half the oats and see if the horse will keep working, and it did. A week later again half the oats and the horse still worked. A week later on  1/8 of feed, the horse still pulled the wagon. On the next week, the horse died. I hope that “The Blue Wave” people who like austerity will remember the story. If they kill us seniors with healthcare cuts, it's OK. I see that in Nova Scotia it is working. If they disable all the kids with education cuts, we can get educated people somewhere else. But if they give corporations tax cuts to remove money from our economy, they will kill us all.

I want to see you build pipelines to market by being tough with the Federal government. I am breathlessly waiting to see how you will force BC to allow a pipeline by not selling them oil (which will force them to buy from the US instead). I want you to build a pipeline east and supply eastern Canada with oil. Forget Quebec, use your connections with the Ford government in Ontario. Mr. Ford publicly said that he is your friend. You Blue Wave guys should do more than waste money in courts on fighting the Carbon tax/Price.

My friend, and now Premier, I encourage you to cut taxes for corporations and bring business and prosperity to Alberta. Mind you don’t forget that you promised to do it without cutting jobs and reducing our services, but by creating jobs and improving my standard of living. Don’t save money like your friend Doug Ford by taking away anesthetics from colonoscopy patients. I may not like you anymore if you do that.

I wish we didn’t have to do politics and that we would be guaranteed a bright healthy future. Maybe someday.

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

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Resurrections and elections.


Resurrections and elections.

One week finished and another started, as it does, but life has changed. For Christians, it was Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Around the world, people celebrated the fact that Yeshua (Jesus) the Christ was resurrected from death. Of course, one can’t be resurrected without dying first and nothing is as evil as an unjust execution. A Jewish rabbi who preached the values of being humble, loving and speaking truth to power was killed by power but resurrected. A good lesson, if you care for my opinion.

Jews believe that he was just another Rabbi who preached the teachings of the prophets from the Bible, Muslims see him as a great prophet and Christians call him the son of God or even God, depending on their denomination. Other people look on and say, you who believe in him control most of the world’s wealth, let's see what you do with it. We celebrate Easter, eat our chocolate eggs and build walls to protect ourselves from those who threaten our wealth. Even the most miserable amongst us are protecting the wealth, just in case we will get our hands on some of it. One never knows.

In the beginning, Christianity was a grassroots movement challenging the established official powers by peaceful resistance. The Roman Empire ruling the world with its local loyal regimes could not squelch the movement which advocated taking care of the poor, helping the orphans and even suggested what we now call the feminist movement. There was also the Easter promise showing that you can kill the resisters just to find their ideas resurrected shortly after. The message got lost.

Smart Roman leaders made a political decision to convert the Empire to Christianity and shaped it to their liking. Negotiations took place, a compromise was achieved and we entered a new period in history believing in Christ while retaining serfs and lords monarchial system. Care of the poor, sharing and loving was left for the poor themselves to deal with. Hoarding wealth and fighting for power was a separate domain in the hands of a few. For a thousand years, the rulers controlled the armies and wealth while the peasants groaned and starved. There were many rebellions and revolutions but the majority of the world's population remained economically far below those in power. 

Over time Our society defined the main streams of politics as Left, and Right. The Right believes that if society is left to its own resources a natural law will force us to make things good. The wisest and strongest will prosper but will have to use those below them to achieve their goals so the wealth will spread around. The left is in favor of imposing laws and taxes and spreading the wealth. To them, this is necessary in order to avoid a rebellion by the disadvantaged.

 

Last week was also elections week in our Canadian Province of Alberta. The two central ideologies of our political system butted heads. Alberta is a landlocked province rich in oil but surrounded by people who object to the oil being delivered in pipelines over their territory. The oil that Alberta does sell is subjected to taxes called Transfer payments benefitting the rest of Canada. If Alberta will sell more oil Canada will have more money, but Canadians on both sides elect governments who oppose oil pipelines. The opposition disregards the economic benefits and is mostly concerned with the environmental impact of the use of oil. In their opinion, it is better to be poorer than risk damage to the home planet. Strangely the provinces who have no oil are economically as successful as Alberta. They manage to have some social programs that leave those in Alberta behind.

Alberta voted for a right-wing government which promised to force the other Canadians to allow the building of additional pipelines by restricting how much oil we will sell BC and by withholding transfer payments to Quebec and the other eastern provinces. Also, Alberta will collect less tax from the devalued oil we do manage to sell supposedly to encourage, more development of…oil. This will take money away from what is available for social programs for the average Albertans while oil companies will keep a bigger share of the pie, but remain unable to take more oil to markets.

The Godly person who initiated Christianity never wanted people to worship him, only preached that sharing and loving others is the way to salvation of humans. He was obedient to the rulers and wanted his followers to take care of the least amongst them. In his teachings, there is a strong sentiment against hoarding wealth and abusing the weak and the meek, saying that they will inherit the earth.

I look at last week and wonder how is that possible. The Christian society is the one most comfortable on earth and we are seriously divided amongst ourselves. There are a huge number of people who believe that we took their share of the earth’s wealth and are waiting for us to fail. Some are trying to move in with us and serve us but most are gaining strength somewhere else. In our own domain, only a few are doing very well while so many are scraping by, often glad to be out of extreme poverty.  Most of us know that our way of living, dependent on oil cannot last. Where are we going?

If you are a reader of this newspaper, you have been exposed to opposing opinions about possible solutions to our problems. I encourage you to take some time to talk about the most important issues that we face in the near future or even start debating through letters to the editor. Consider the old teachings and the latest conflicts. Make the last week useful instead of ignoring reality in favor of little pleasures that will not last if we don’t deal with big problems.

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


resurrection15[1] bing images.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Culture, body types, and personal identity.


Culture, body types, and personal identity.

I was watching news from Sudan. A very slim, small pretty young woman was being interviewed explaining the reasons for the massive uprising and demonstrations which are taking place right now. She could have been a very big woman from a different Sudanese tribe and probably would have not received as much attention here in the west, even if both spoke about the same topic. A few years ago we didn’t see women from that part of the world making political comments at all. Thank God for small victories.

Most of us never take time to think about physical appearances as a determining factor affecting our opinions and dismiss cultural differences or gender issues as unimportant. We pride ourselves on being impartial, especially in Canada. The world uses us as an example of where multiculturalism works, but the world is wrong. We have a great divide which we simply refuse to admit.

 I remember school days when I was a little kid. I was very tall and skinny. Teachers at the beginning of the year used to send me to sit in the back of the class for that reason. I was not allowed to play physical games since I had health issues requiring surgeries and my mom believed that I would die if I chased a ball or did any strenuous physical activity. Teenage came and the lack of physical activity and muscles became a critical issue. Unknown to me, life was setting me up for the mating period of my life. Physical appearance also was an important aspect of how life would be, what kind of jobs I would be able to do and more. The way I talked and dressed unjustly classified me as a candidate for future success or failure.

Now I am considered old and I look back at what happened. One blessing I thank the Lord for is my somewhat unusual ability to remember things that happened at a very early age. I am surprised to learn that I was building myself up every step of the way. I remember choosing to arch my back and slouch since the teacher placed me at the back of the class. I remember considering how I should walk and an adult telling me not to “eyeball him”. For the rest of my life, I have been avoiding staring into someone's eyes which in our culture is considered avoiding eye contact. So much of who we are is based on the way we accumulate information and assimilate it into who we are.

Being born human determines our overall shape and characteristics. Our race gives us other major features and genetics do more refinement. However, a very strong force is exerted by the environment. Evolution is at work to make us adapt to factors like the weather, working conditions, available food supply, or even likes and dislikes and what we may consider attractive. It all leaves a mark on us. Our overall economic situation determines our reaction time, feelings about what is just or unjust, the strength of family commitment and a lot of aspects which may be interpreted as racial or cultural characteristics.

A human being accumulates information from the moment of birth till the last moment of life. The information is translated into both physical appearance and mental capacity. You may say, who would want to be deformed in some way or possibly suffer a mental disorder, but we some times do. You figure out what you think people want from you and do it. Rare are the conditions that happen without your choice. I like to say that God is always watching and listening, more than we think. Some people call it the subconscious brain.

Some of us have or had jobs where we had to go into meeting rooms, often to talk to a crowd of people. If you are like me you will remember stopping just before the door and deciding who you will be today. We do it since we are aware that we project an image which will have consequences on getting what we want. Just observe the behavior of teens meeting other teens they are attracted to and take notes.  

When we reach the age of about six or seven, most of our life long decisions are made and the basic person that we will project to the world is formed. By the time I went to school the major decisions had been made and later I was reacting and making adjustments. My basic form and most of my ideas were modeled on my parents and a few other influential people in my life.

I often think, who am I? It's not easy but I dismiss the notion that I am the form I see in the mirror. It is a construct which was formed by nature and shaped by what I collected and assimilated. Did you ever notice that many big families have an individual who is less strong and everyone takes care of him/her? Remember Tim in the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?

 

Slowly but surely humankind is beginning to change from jungle animals to something else. Body types and racial features matter less and even gender is less of an issue. Physical strength is diminishing in importance and the species is transforming to a higher state. We see it when a Sudanese little woman is on the news commenting about politics.

 I once watched a movie that was a true piece of art. The story was about a young man who struggled to discover who he was and express it in a poem. In the end, he manages to come up with one true sentence. “We are the stories we tell ourselves.”

 

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

https://cdn-prod.opendemocracy.net/media/images/Sudan_1.max-760x504.png

Woman at a street protest in Khartoum, Sudan 2019.

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Photo courtesy of Noor Ali.

 

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Elections, never ending.


Elections, never ending.

 

Alberta, my home for more than fifty years, is nearing elections. Signs show up, and advertising is wasting more money than I lived on for the last fifty years, but the people are not very concerned. Life will not change regardless of the outcome. Most of those I ask have stock answers. Most people have a party that they proclaim loyalty to just as they do for a favorite professional sports team which they will support even if all the players and coaching staff were changed. They will do so even while admitting that it's illogical. Many more say that they do not vote since all the politicians lie and a change in government will make no difference to their lives.

There are 22 countries, including Australia, where voting in elections is mandated by law and I am not sure that they are wrong.

There are some people who vote because they “like” or “dislike” a politician and every now and then will vote for a change, regardless of what is happening. The reasons often are trivial.

Quebec recently voted out a government that brought them the most prosperity ever and replaced it with a party that promised to force a few Muslim women not to wear a religious headdress in government-controlled areas. One or two women teachers will lose their jobs. Ontario is a different story.

Ontario picked Doug Ford who ran without a real platform and promised anything that people wanted to hear without any idea if it could be achieved. His most potent attack on the government was criticizing the sale of half of the power company to private interest which hiked prices.

In less than a year he managed to achieve the lowest ratings of any premier ever and the province is witnessing protests and job losses such as no one remembers.  According to the Globe and Mail, hundreds of renewable Energy projects were scrapped, programs for school maintenance discarded, Green Ontario program for insulating older homes discontinued, the 19 year Drive Clean program gone, finance to help disabled and autistic kids slashed, help for low-income students gone, the building of a new Francophone University scrapped, and more. Class sizes increased, fewer jobs for new teachers, Health Care became less accountable to the people but “The buck a Beer” came through only benefitting out of Province breweries.

Ford’s attempt to hire his friend ex-policeman Ron Taverner as the Top Cop failed and the tax cuts for Corporations failed to produce the expected jobs. As a matter of fact, last December Moody’s Investor Services downgraded its rating for Ontario to its lowest level in 16 years.

The fight to scrap the Federal Carbon Price “Carbon Tax” proved to be costly. The Ontario Government budgeted 30 million to fight in court, which they will probably lose and 40 million dollars was granted to major polluting industries to find ways to reduce pollution. So far Ontario is on the news a lot, but not the way that Ontarians want to be.

I watched the Alberta leaders debate and came out empty handed. I already knew that Premier Rachel Notley is a fighter and knew that Jason Kenney, who avoided the subject of Pipelines while he was in Ottawa, will promise one without any ability to build it. His promise to hold transfer payments is completely impossible and there was nothing in the debate to change my views. If I was in power I would do my best to work with Ottawa to get our oil out which is already being done. We must keep in mind that the mood in the rest of Canada (or the world) is not in favor of building more oil infrastructure. With oil prices sustained so low, it is hard to convince people to invest for such low returns.

Personally, I think that if there is a change in the Alberta government we can kiss the new pipeline goodbye.  

I don’t believe for a moment that the fight against Carbon Tax is going to get us anywhere. We shut down oil production because of low crude prices and we are paying over a $1.20 at the pump. The oil companies are going to charge the maximum they can and, yes, prices of everything are going to rise. If we subsidize them, and we do, cut their taxes and even name our children after them, they will pocket the money. Our only hope, at this time, is to build enough alternative energy to compete with their monopoly on energy which we are addicted to.

I don’t think that I can change anyone’s mind about who to vote for. Most people are set in their ways. I think that is important that all the people in the province will attempt to find out what the political parties stand for, and vote. I think that people should give strong consideration to what will or not work for their communities, towns, cities and take into account which government will be best for their locals. I am over the old feeling that I used to have that if big business does well the average people also do. Now I am old and I demand cash on the barrel.

You want my vote, politicians, I want to see what you are doing for my community. Build something, help the less fortunate, improve living conditions, or convince me with more than promises that you may not keep. Even more, I want you, my elected representative, to do your job efficiently, honestly and without any backroom deals with rich corporate friends. I don’t consider corporations as people and I don’t feel sorry for them.

Above all, I will not support ANYONE who cheats their way to the top. I am loyal, to the people I live with and no one else. I want to see more money circulating in my community and that’s the end of the story.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Where would we have been if…




Where would we have been if…

Often in life, we look at our situation and complain. We remember a better time or see others enjoying things we don’t have, and we lament. I wish I was healthier, younger, richer or whatever else could have given me more joy, but I am not. Human nature is unique that way. People don’t often go through an exercise of counting their blessings and being grateful for what they have

Our political system is built to force us to reflect every four years or so on the way we are doing things. There is a gambler in our nature whispering, “bet another time and maybe you will win.” We can bet or make informed choices. We have been so often lied to, that most of us choose to boycott elections, leaving the choice to others.

I’d like to advocate fully informed participation, based on knowledge of what is important to us and those we care about. Let's look at the most important aspects. Regardless of party names, which are misleading, there are only a few options for governing a country or a province which is like a country within a country.

If we wish to have a government, we must give it the power to set up rules or laws, control economic conditions, provide services and keep it all going by taxing us. Since we are participating, we must have ways to dictate how our taxes will be used, in legislating, setting programs, and we need to enforce the laws. It costs money.  Now we have a problem deciding what is the role that we wish our government to play, and how much. I can tell you what I like, but you must decide on your own what you believe is important and vote to make it happen.

I am not a big spender and I always pay my bills. Nevertheless, my first concern is not to have a government which champions austerity. I have seen it many times. In times of need, a government comes in and reduces services, social programs, and public projects. All the people who depend on such are thrown out to compete for unavailable jobs, they reduce their expenditures causing others also to have no income, and the economy grinds to a halt. People try to escape by migrating to other places, and long-lasting damage occurs. The government tries to bring in business by reducing business taxes but the businesses pocket the money and find other locations where the economy is more lucrative.

I look at the little towns and imagine how would we fare if hospitals and schools reduced staff, if government offices cut costs, senior centers were not built and road construction would be delayed. I look at the nearest city and consider how we would be affected if new public projects were not built and people who receive help from government programs would be impoverished. I consider where the extra money from higher minimum wages is spent. I try to figure out how my community would be if seniors benefits were reduced and people with disabilities would depend on philanthropy to exist.

There is a possibility that a new government would be better equipped to build a new oil pipeline to export to oversupplied markets, but jobs for building it would not last long. I could benefit from the removal of “the hated Carbon Tax,” and save two or three hundred dollars a year, but it is designed to reduce pollution which is causing other big problems.

I am not a farmer but I am concerned about the level of moisture in the ground, more than about quick profit from oil. I want us to sell oil while people are still using it, but I don’t want to build pipelines to markets (China) that will not pay our price. China is getting oil from Venezuela, Iran, and Russia. I am very concerned about local money staying in the community to circulate and do its work. I see our kids leaving the rural communities so I hope that they will be replaced by new pioneers who are willing to work hard and keep our communities going into the future.

I try to guess which political party is better equipped to guide us into the future with the least damage to the Province and my community. We’ve known since the sixties that this day would come. Automation and overproduction were going to produce a situation where jobs would be scarce and people would still have to be fed. Service industries would become number one and manufacturing would decline. We began to plan for more recreational opportunities, shorter work weeks and longer periods of education and training which were supposed to be free or reasonable. The idea of earlier retirement took hold. Now the future we were predicting is here, and we must deal with it.

I am not an economic expert, just a regular guy. All I know is that if I don’t vote I have no right to complain. Right at this moment, I am not very happy with our Prime minister, but I can’t vote him out in a Provincial election.

My available choices are to cut taxes, mostly for international corporations, or to keep investing in all aspects of our daily lives and build a more diversified economy that will depend on our work, not only on exports of natural resources. We should have done it a long time ago.

Wishing that big business will save us is like wishing that I will be young again. They don’t have a reason to care, and they will not. I vote to help ourselves, pay our bills and be ready for a future without steam power, horsepower or oil. It's on the way.

Life is Change.

Life is Change. The only constant in our universe is change. There is nothing that we can point at that doesn’t change, either fast o...