Sunday, 23 June 2019

Pipeline politics and elections.


Pipeline politics and elections.

I am a Canadian by choice. Over fifty years ago I stood in front of a judge and swore allegiance to a country that I chose of my free will and I never regretted it. I spent my whole time as a Canadian in Alberta.

If other Canadians fear our heavy crude oil, flowing over their land I am not separating from Canada. There is danger in the solvents we use with the oil and people are simply scared. Perhaps the “war room” should check and educate people, if they have a solution.

Alberta was much smaller when I came (1967) and with the oil boom (liquid oil at the time) and new opportunities, the population increased while the economy changed. The young people from little rural centers migrated into growing cities and many new people from other parts of Canada moved in. My city, Calgary quadrupled in size completely disregarding the obvious signs that oil could not sustain us forever. Some folks tried to build other more sustainable economic developments but were crushed by governments who only pushed oil.

I remember Sprung Green Houses which supplied us with fresh vegetables winter and summer. Oil contaminated the soil underneath the greenhouses and leached into the produce. Another example was the windy ridge in Cowley. A German company offered to build wind energy generation free if only they could tie into the grid and the Provincial Government wouldn’t allow them to do it for years.

Now the big deal is “pipelines” and we have two fights on the go. One is fighting legislation for environmental protection, which most Canadians are demanding. We, supposedly want lax or no regulations but the voters say otherwise. The other fight is about forcing provinces to allow transport of bitumen through their territory, again against strong opposition.

People in other provinces are well aware of the economic benefits of the oil. I went to the trouble of listening to some. Most of us in Alberta prefer to say that other Canadians only wish to put us down and deny us prosperity. The person I talked with had another argument.

The way others see it is that what we are exporting now is not oil which you pump and sell but liquified tar which must be mined and converted into a liquid. They don’t understand why we are making such a great effort to convert the solid fuel instead of exploring and building cleaner energy sources when it’s obvious that we must do so anyway, eventually.

Now with the federal government approving the project, the only recourse of those opposed is to protest. Opposing unjust laws in a democracy is not a crime but often a duty. (Martin Luther King.) Some aboriginal nations and many young people consider disregarding nature unjust. The Alberta Premier is expecting the Federal government to use force to protect the oil companies prosperity against objections from native tribes, but will he feel the same if a whole lot of white kids show up with signs? It remains to be seen. They are not “a tiny minority of foreign founded job killing protesters,” they are our kids and grandkids. This is why Conservatives didn’t build the pipeline.

We have witnessed such a protest at Standing Rock in North Dakota two years ago. Aboriginal tribes from all over the Americas put their bodies on the line and stopped a pipeline development for a long time. Many others including a large group of veterans joined the protest supporting them. The main concern, pipelines leaking into the water. We are now at the stage in history when fresh water is a short commodity and the predicted water wars are around the corner.

While we are in the age of oil wars, water wars have begun and the new test humans face is not only for cheap energy but for life-sustaining water.

We are trying to get jobs by supporting pipelines and trying to sell our oil. If we win, it will give us a little more time but it is obvious that there is so much oil now that the prices are falling. A war may change it for a short while but many will die.

Today I see thirty million of my tax dollars invested in a “War Room” to fight against most of the world’s scientists. We will spend more fighting against two passed laws protecting the environment. Additional money will be spent to fight the Nursing Union in an effort to reduce their pay and break a signed contract. More money is removed from the budget by tax reductions to corporations who would fail if they paid taxes at the rate the rest of us pay. At the same time, we are fighting their fight against people like us who are losing homes and property to fires and floods and voting to stop the danger. I am told that we Albertans are in favor of leaving Canada to help international investors, but I am not.

I can’t afford to fly around as my Premier does and I don’t even own one expensive suit like he is wearing, but I object as loud as I can. I like to live in a Province that helps all its citizens achieve good comfortable lives by producing what people want to buy not by selling what I want to sell. I want safety, comfort, and security for me and those around me, by doing an honest day’s work.

In my humble opinion, the prosperity for all Albertans that will follow a pipeline is nothing but a pipe dream. Any gains we will make will be spent on fixing damages from floods and forest fires. Instead of paying lawyers and War Rooms, I would spend on greenhouses that produce food, on wind and solar farms and high-level energy research. For that, we need well educated, healthy population which comes from investing in education, health care, and infrastructure. 


Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Who is watching News?

Who is watching News?

One thing I do is watch the news from around the world. It is a luxury I couldn’t afford in my younger days, not that I wanted to. For a long time, I had the attitude of many and considered the news depressing. I felt that the world will do what it does if I watch it or not. It did, and I lived in my own little world attempting to worry only about my own problems. There were family issues, community, health, and payments. The prevailing attitude was why should I worry about the things I cannot change? And a whole lot of us didn’t. 

I was a teenager in the sixties when my group of people were changing the entire world and rebellion was the norm. We caused changes like never before if you exclude the major revolutions. Black people got the vote, women became equal and consumer protections arrived to mention a few. In my life, there was even a bigger change than most since my parents started a new life in faraway Canada much different from where I grew up. Just keeping up with the changes was a task and a half. Getting started, learning the language and finding my way proved to be a full-time job. 

This lasted for a long time and the world was there but I didn’t feel that I could change it. The sixties became history and my generation quieted down and settled in. Many millions of us, the Baby Boomers left our early idealism and joined the mainstream. We honestly believed that the changes which we caused would fix the world and bring a period of peace and prosperity for all. We have been wrong. Prosperity came to a few at the expense of the many. There were some improvements, but some were short-lived and quickly disappeared. 

I watch the news and see a new fight brewing not only in my community or country but all over the world. While we were dormant, a minority seeks to dominate the majority and have been working hard under many banners. There is no such thing as freedom, democracy, equality, fairness, institutionalized and enshrined forever. It is in human nature to try to win to the point where those who lose suffer, and the winners enjoy the pain of those rendered helpless. It is a sad reality. Each generation must fight for its own rights and freedoms. There is a flaw in the human’s nature which makes it impossible for all of us to enjoy a good life equally. 

I am a historian trained to notice trends and cycles of human civilization. I see a rise of one kind of mammal species called humans spreading upon a world. Those who excel in using technology are dominating all others and the gap grows. Some humans develop cultures and take over others making great achievements. The Egyptians under kings named Pharaohs enslaved neighboring nations, such as the Hebrews, harnessing their labor to build cities and pyramids. The first evidence of “freedom fighters” or “terrorists” entered history. 

The Hebrew slaves felt abused and with the help of a God whose name is “I am” terrorized the Egyptians and broke for freedom. This is the story that never ends and fills the news even today. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. One after the other great civilizations conquered weaker nations always subjugating large populations and taking advantage until others arrive. 

Today on the news I see a million people in Hong Kong demonstrating against the newest bully on the block, China. In the Middle East, the United States seems to make an effort to start a war against Iran and Great Britain is up in arms for or against leaving the European Union. The new rich Chinese surpassed the new rich Russians in buying our best real estate. In America, a president is barely hanging to his own position and Canada is trying to keep its own economy while outside forces are nibbling around the edges. In all of those prosperous countries, there are few people who are doing very well while the great majority are losing grounds and are in a fighting mode. Pharaoh and the Hebrews come back to mind. 

The world of humans has not changed. We have a longer life span, most of our physical work can be eliminated by the use of technology, but we face shortages of critical commodities such as fresh water, air and even the prospect that we will lose the land we live on because of atmospheric changes. The billions of people who are not on top of the pile are worried about losing not only their freedom but the ability to sustain their own lives. Not watching the news doesn’t help. 

Again I review my priorities, this time not from a youngster point of view, but harnessing a long life’s experience. I fought my wars, raised a family, and built up a bit of security for old age. Should I be concerned about the news or even care about a future which I may never see. Should I risk turmoil when I am expected to rest and wait for society to take care of me as my body becomes dilapidated and my mind is expected to deteriorate as many often do? Isn’t it the way of the world for the old to give way to the young and assume a supportive role? 

Those are hard questions and there is no room for error. If I give up the time for pleasure which I worked so hard to secure in favor of fighting, the rest period, retirement will not come back. I grind my teeth and watch the news, not only the canned version on my television but the less-known news available on the internet. I let my fingers dance on the computer keys and produce articles and letters intended to change things, and I don’t look back. 

Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Another bloody D Day could happen, or worst.

Another bloody D Day could happen, or worst.

I grew up with those who fought and survived the last “Great” war. The only people I knew as a child who weren't veterans were those with numbers tattooed on their arms, survivors of concentration camps. All of them told stories about their time with the partisans in every country of Europe. I remember sitting on the farm with my mom, dad was in the army, and hearing canons and explosions. I remember the next war when a new teacher came and told us that the old teacher was a hero and will not come back and a few girls cried. We the guys were too tough to cry, we talked about revenge. I remember all of us kids looking up to see planes in the sky, while waiting to go into bomb shelters and someone says, those are ours, don’t worry.

I sit with my wife in our comfortable Canadian living room watching the evening news. Its D Day 75 years later. The memories are far behind and it doesn’t look like we may have to endure what the people on D Day had to suffer, but one never knows. I am very sorry for those soldiers who reportedly “gave their lives for freedom and democracy.” A lot of them wrote their last letter back home to Canada and died a painful death on the beaches of Normandy the next day. Many young chaps were still wondering what it would have felt like to get their first kiss, which never came.

I feel the same sorrow for the other soldiers who equally gallantly faced them, in German or other uniforms and suffered the same fate. We don’t celebrate them since they lost the war. The German soldiers didn’t have a better idea of why they died then our soldiers did. They just bled and died often thinking about mommy and daddy and life on the farm. The soldiers on both sides of a conflict rarely have any idea why they “gallantly give their lives.” I took many years to find out and I am still searching.

On the TV screen, we are watching The President of the great empire of this generation, a man claiming proudly that he is German, with his first lady who is Russian, seated beside the aging Monarch of last generation’s Empire. Behind them clustered are our Prime Minister and other heads of states, including the Chancellor of today’s Germany.

That war which killed so many young people whose graves are marked by white crosses was not a fight between Germans, Brits, Canadians, and Americans as well as others, it was a war between ideologies. It could have easily been prevented and all those boys and girls could have lived good lives and contribute to human advancement.

one must remember that history is written by the victors and none of them wish to be burdened by the truth. They win so good writers produce the history we learn to love. Those who lost may have a chance next time.

If any of you wish to learn some untold histories read the book The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuźnik. Here you see strange facts, verified, which would assault your sense of right and wrong. Who would have known that American companies like GM IBM and Ford helped Germany re-arm enabling Hitler to wage the war? Does anyone know that it was against the law at the time for Germany to re-arm? Can people deny that there is a photograph of the German Führer in his office with a portrait of the famous Henry Ford above his desk? No, we can’t. In reality, American manufacturers sued their own government for bombing their factories in Germany during the war. Prescott Bush was a good friend with the German elite and later his relatives became presidents. American manufacturers largely financed and created the German war machine that the US fought against on D Day. The financiers didn’t storm the beach in Normandy, but there were some benefits.

The big industries were interested in profits, but even more, enthused over the possibility of destroying the then young Soviet Union. They didn’t care much that the Soviets were exploiting their own population horribly but were afraid that Communism would spread. After all, the Socialists of Russia were against big business and did so violently.

Germany at the time followed a popular leader (Austrian) of a Fascist persuasion and it was preferable to Communism. The war raged and the great powers of the world were all weakened and in need of American support. The timing was important and America was on the way to becoming the most powerful nation on Earth, but there was dissension within. America had to change its way with its own people or risk a revolution itself and only one leader predicted it and had a plan. That was Theodore Roosevelt. This is another interesting chapter in History.

Back to 2019, and we see the last of the very old veterans from the D Day invasion being honored by their countries and they publicly state. They miss their comrades and lament that they missed their chance to live. They observe the world and say we may be heading again towards a similar disaster.

A German American who is displaying Fascist tendencies is thanking the old veterans for their service visibly uninterested, and the pipes wail with the thin golden trumpet finishing the show. Silence follows. Our young people must wonder. Are we finished making mistakes that cost the lives of our youth? Or are we heading towards the last showdown from which no-one will come alive? Is there a new F. D. Roosevelt in the crowd?

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Is life important?

Is life important?

You can’t listen to people talk today, on the Media or amongst friends, without hearing the phrase “Saving Lives” mentioned. It is the generation’s obsession. Safety is first. A few years ago when someone was going somewhere people used to say, “have fun” and now they state, “drive safe.” I always think, what is wrong with you, do I look like someone who endangers himself or others? Instead, I say the stock phrase, “Thank you.” There aren’t too many people like me who value the quality of life more than quantity. Most have invested money in life and wish to see a payback. Time is money, isn’t it?

A short item on CBC news (May 28th) caught my eye. “Lessons Canada can learn from Sweden's long-term care facilities.” The program compared senior’s care in Calgary and Sweden, interviewing real people. 

I have been a Canadian now for over fifty years, working and contributing; at times more than average. I love Canada and all its people. I love the fact that this country is a mosaic and that we are almost a democracy. We are unique amongst nations and admired around the world. I love the way we do things and I am very proud that I can truly make my voice heard and try to improve upon what we have.

I went to investigate some other nations who also have very happy people. Surprisingly, the other people who are happy and say so are also in cold areas like ours. Finland is number one and Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Netherland and Norway are all high up on the list. Funny that people in a harsh climate score high on happiness. Now, let's compare from my point of view.

I have been with my wife for close to fifty years now and if we are separated I don’t want life. Some years before I said “I do,” I became a part of a couple and I will not go back to being a singularity. I envy the Swedes who make it possible for aging couples to stay together and I wish that the leaders in my country/Province would attend to it. 

My leader is not working on the one item that is most important to me. After my wife, the most important people for me now are my grandchildren. The oldest is working part-time to ease the burden on his family. My Premier is actively working to reduce my grandchild’s income by $2 an hour so a restaurant chain will pocket the money. He also is removing overtime regulations which will ensure that a good young person will not get over 25 hours a week. I guess that will make people believe that the government’s actions created more jobs. 

Sweden (another Hockey nation) is most similar to Canada but without most of the rich resources. They are providing old people like me with accommodations to stay together and they are not bankrupted. As a matter of fact, their people are on average doing better than us. They have better working conditions, a very good education and health care, longer holidays plus more that I can’t mention in this short article. I will mention that they build one of the best jet fighters (The Gripen) in the world and that they have absorbed more refugees per capita than all other industrial countries.

Sweden came out of the last President Bush created recession worse than Canada did. Yet when I checked the statistics, I discovered that in 2014 to 2017 their GDP grew and their economy surged twice as fast as the US economy. Bloomberg reported: “High taxes, strong unions and equal distribution of wealth. that's the recipe for success in a globalized world, according to Magdalena Andersson, the Social Democratic economist who’s also Sweden’s Finance Minister.” 

The difference is in their politics. We elect politicians who can’t be trusted by the majority in our countries. Our leaders increase taxes and do not ensure that the benefit from the tax will help most people and improve the economy. In Sweden, and a few other north nations, the people pay taxes to improve their way of life or someone else is elected fast. There is no way for some joker to get in and say, oops, I promised to improve the economy without reducing services but sorry; I am cutting billions of dollars from your medical care, your education or seniors’ benefits, to name a few. 

Our problem here in Canada is that we are following the Americans instead of learning from the Swedes who enjoy a better system. You can check every aspect of life and see that the Social Democratic system is working better. Examine upwards mobility, business Startup or even the number of incarcerations or crime rates. The other northern people are enjoying a better life than those who fight to deregulate giant international corporations waiting for the crumbs to fall upon us. 

I say to my leaders, forget about wishing me safety and saving my life, and let me keep the gift from God who is my wife. You Christian people told me to keep my wife in sickness and in health until death do us apart, then don’t separate us to save money when one of us is down. You who lead wars for “freedom and democracy” refrain from impoverishing working youths to benefit shareholders of corporations. 

Above all, dear leaders, quit destroying our world pretending it's not happening. This world was created, as wonderful as it is, for all its creatures not just for those who hoarded the most wealth. Don’t do it for me but look at history and learn. Look at your own holy books where it says, the last shall be first, the meek will inherit the earth and more. Do it for your own safety, if you believe any of it. 


Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

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