Sunday, 27 January 2019

Mary Poppins in politics.


Mary Poppins in politics.

We went to see the new version of Mary Poppins movie, where there were more adults viewers than kids. The Disney Corporation obviously made the movie for kids since it is full of magic and only kids believe
in magic, or do they?

My daughter and her three kids visited us over Christmas, and the conversation veered off to the subject of magic. She sat there by the Christmas tree and said that when she was small she believed in magic and in a fair, kind world, but then she grew up. She saw that the world was a mean place in which everyone and everything is competing for domination over each other and only the shrewd and strong survive while others suffer. In our world, she said, you have to fight for a place and fight to keep it. She is right I must sorrowfully admit.

Many years ago, I left a country which was divided between Judaism and Islam, both Abrahamic religions just like Christianity is. My mother told me that if you live in a Christian country, you will notice a difference. Christians idolize a philosophy of sharing and helping the poor amongst them, she said. It's in their nature, and they learn it from the New Testament. We moved to the Christian world and lived and learned.

There was a striking difference between what was being preached in church on Sundays and what was going on in our lives on other days. Soon after I was promoted to a low-level supervisory position, and told by my boss to make business decisions. That’s the lingo for heartless choices based on profit.

Mary Poppins is a nanny that comes to families in great need and takes care of the children. Yes, as all fairy tales go, she uses magic, but not without people doing the right thing first. Here on the silver screen, we were watching a family in disarray devastated by the passing away of mom. Dad overwhelmed by his wife’s death neglected to make a few mortgage payments and the bank, which he incidentally worked for, demanded that the full mortgage will be paid in less than a week. He had shares in the bank, but without his wife, he couldn’t find the papers.

As the plot developed, the kids got absorbed by the stories that Mary Poppins told them, and I saw what my daughter realized. There are bad people around, who take advantage of people’s weakest moments, strip them of their rights and property and leave them destitute while absorbing all they have into an empire of riches. They do it with a kind smile and playing by rules that they set, convincing the victims that their way is the only way.

I look at the political game played in the world around me, and I see clearly how the game of power is shaping human destiny. Some years ago, when I arrived in Alberta, there were many opportunities and jobs. People like me were motivated to study and work hard, and those who did received good rewards. My dad was the sole breadwinner, and we lived a satisfactory life purchasing a house in the first five years. My mom had poor health but didn’t have to depend on private clinics for treatment but was treated by Medicare that had no incentive to prolong any conditions or medication for possible additional income. I was able to finish high school by evening courses, free of charge, and continue to University that I could pay out of my regular wages. I graduated debt free. The Province was debt free and helping other less fortunate areas of the country. Other people who were in my economic class started many little businesses and did just as well if not better.

Compare this to the world today. Just about all that I just described is gone. Many people work hard and lose their good jobs, lose their homes and often can’t even afford the medications they need. Kids can no longer afford higher education, and hardly a few manage to have little businesses. The newspaper in your hands at this moment is barely able to stay in business while just a few years ago this community supported two.

 

In the movie Mary Poppins stories changed the outcome. The children saved the day by rescuing the Bank share certificate that the family owned, and sticking it on a kite. The aunt, who was a Union organizer got the working men from the streets to turn time back by five minutes and an old man who owned the bank but was shoved aside took his business back and reversed the predatory decision to steal the family home from its rightful owners, the family.

 

I am not a child, and I don’t believe in magic, but I do reserve some room for miracles. I have seen too much evidence that miracles can and will happen. I believe that the good times can return and that the American and Canadian dream is not yet dead. If people realize that they can’t just vote for a political party which appropriated a name of a long-gone party that made us prosper, they will change the future.

 

We don’t vote for a name; we vote for a leadership that stirs us towards a better life. It is up to us to find out who is doing it and use our democracy and our numbers to make things right. We must take the time to discover who is lying and who is telling the truth and use the power that wise people gave us through a Constitution.

The young people are right, and we must fight for what we get. We fight like Mary Poppins, by telling ourselves the right stories. We are, after all, the stories we tell ourselves.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

What will eradicate poverty and make towns prosper?

What will eradicate poverty and make towns prosper?
Let's start with some statistics. I will give the numbers, and you will guess the country. 70% of the population is rural. 52% of the average income is spent on food. Infant mortality is 176 per thousand. 10% of households have electricity. 10% of the people have secondary education, and the life expectancy is 45. You may take as many guesses as you like but keep in mind that this is an example of how to go about eradicating poverty. If you have some possible answers here is the truth. These statistics are from the USA at the turn of the century, the end of the 1800 and beginning of the 1900. Canada wasn't much different as the grandparents told us.
What made the continent that was so much like the most backward countries today advance the way it did? We didn’t receive aid from rich countries and didn’t find huge reserves of diamonds and gold. According to a study at a reputable university whose name escapes me, the important factor was innovation. The author of the study, Efosa Ojomo, believes that it was the contribution of Henry Ford that sparked our forefathers into becoming what we are today.
Henry Ford had a dream that a motorcar could become common and affordable for most people. It was not a very popular vision, and investors pulled away from him. The prototype didn’t meet his expectation, and he built another. There were no factories that could build the model T and definitely he couldn’t afford to hire a huge number of highly paid tradesmen to build the revolutionary machine. They didn’t exist. No roads, gas stations, or any other infrastructure existed, and the engine, transmission, body, etc. had to be developed.
Henry Ford embarked on a project for one main reason. It was something he could do because it was needed. The time was right to get away from the horse and steam economy and utilize newly available internal combustion technology. In 1908 Henry began work on a car that would be simple, affordable and useful for farmers and common people. He had to design the vehicle and a way to produce it. Adopting the assembly line idea from the food industry he built a factory which revolutionized the way people did things. He used a human quality that is available to all, called innovation.
The car became a “must have” item and manufacturing it provided many thousands of jobs. Roads and bridges were built, extraction and distribution of fuel developed and supply of raw materials as well as making parts changed America forever making the continent the home of innovation. The US became the example of how Capitalism can enrich a nation. Soon farms were able to produce more; cities grew as suburbs were built and our way of life was set up for success.
Innovation is the tool that will bring humanity out of poverty and will rescue places like the towns we live in here in the southwest of Canada, if its used right. First people must give up the notion that what existed in the past and did well can be brought back. Coal for heating and powering industry is not returning; industry is not coming back to remote little towns, and even forestry and oil is coming to an end. It may provide us with the means to build new innovative economies but the past is gone, and the future is going to be something new.
Little towns that are fortunate enough to be located in scenic areas or next to newly established natural parks will prosper. Huge urban centers will provide a steady stream of people who will seek refuge in unmolested nature and urbanites will be looking for places to spend retirement. With automation and improvements in health care, people no longer will be a wasted shells waiting for death to arrive, but a vibrant crowd.
Towns in proximity to cities that have senior services, recreation, and cheaper real estate will be in high demand. Those same towns will be able to provide or even export clean energy and perhaps become home for a cottage internet based industry. Places that are fortunate enough to have some useful resources as we have here in the form of meteorological coal are double lucky.
Innovation can be stimulated with education. If a society invests in its young people the next generation excel. Germany for example have removed all tuition fees for higher education from colleges and universities. That move covers not only German citizens but all people who are in Germany and will make the labor force of the future. The Chinese are building new universities every two or three months. Peter Lougheed took similar steps here in Alberta in the seventies setting us up for the prosperity that followed.
China, the fastest growing economy in the world is doing more than just enhancing education. They regulate all investments that come into the country or made by the country. It is welcomed only if it is good for the majority.
Overall there is a huge potential for hope in the future. Poverty can be eradicated and little rural towns can prosper if we take the right steps. We must govern ourselves to make sure that we do what is good for the country not for a few people in the country. We have to invest in our young and our future. “Don’t ask what the country can do for me but ask what can I do for my country,” said John F. Kennedy, and he was right.
This is the time to change from the sad mistakes we have made. Making huge corporations and banks too large to fail and bailing them out never worked and never will. Look at Oshawa and the GM plant. Instead we must look after our people and feed innovation. Henry Ford succeeded when he doubled the workforce wages and trained them how to do a good job.


Sunday, 13 January 2019

A new page in my Day-Timer.


A new page in my Day-Timer.

It happens every year at this time. The weather is cool and the days are short. I close last years appointment book, all dirty and page corners curled, and open a brand new book clean and smooth. Somehow this is the moment that I realize the passage of time and the newness of life. Some memories from the last year are receding, perhaps to never reappear while I begin a journey on a new road. I think I know where I am going, as I judge what my long life experience dictates, but I never really do. I can set goals, work towards them, save money or build foundations, but the end of the year will reveal that life went its own way and my wishes were only a single contributor to the chain of events that took place.

What should be the main concerns in the coming year, I ask myself. In my judgment, we should devote most efforts to improving justice and reducing fears. Huge goals, amongst many other critical objectives, but we will do what we try the hardest to do. We are humans, and we routinely do the impossible.

Justice often is greatly affected by fear or by people facing fear and taking the right actions. First, we must realize the very real danger of “group think” that we are all subject to. We are scared of making our own decisions, just in case we are wrong, so we join a group, being political, religious, economic, professional or whatever is popular at the time and we let the group dictate our opinions, affiliations, conversations and all else. I can say this since that was my prime directive most of my life.

“ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Said Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here is a statement by a real true leader, not just of the American people but the world. During his time, because he didn’t give in to fear and made some real social changes, America was great. Canada closely followed suit. FDR didn’t rule by fear. Instead, he gave the people a dream of how to achieve prosperity, and by following it, they did. From his time to a third of a century ago, America, including Canada, was great. I saw it and lived in it.

FDR took office during the Great Depression, fought the Second World War, all while being confined to a wheelchair. He created the Middle Class, caused a balance of power between “love” and “selfishness” and left his fourth term in office knowing that his country will be the leader of the new world, which it was. The fear at that time was fear of Communism on the one side and Fascism on the other. The brave invalid FDR, found a way. He made as many people as possible happy, and the West prospered. The majority of people lived in comfort, security, and satisfactory conditions, but a small minority of superachievers found themselves under too much restriction.

While the generation who fought wars and lived through the depression were disappearing a new generation became powerful. We see the Korean war fought to a standstill, the Vietnam war fought and lost, and the rise of power of financial institutions, weapons industries and above all oil becoming king. In 1989 the new power hired an actor (Ronald Reagan, who used to be a Union organizer) hired to break the FDR New Deal, and he does. Instead of justice and equality, we got Trickle Down that doesn’t work. A few prosper and most diminish. Under Trickle Down all power concentrates in few hands, and manufactured false fears keep people in line.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office in 1945 America was at its best, and was home to the happiest people in the world, when the sun rose on the first days of the new millennium a different world greeted humankind. Gone were the one breadwinner suburban families, infrastructure was crumbling, unemployment loomed, and most people were in debt like never before. Public services were privatized, and the main loss was the feeling of security that working people used to have. Jobs were leaving faster than being created, and education suffered.

The effectiveness of fear is diminished by knowledge. Education is becoming rare for average people as fear is used to manipulate political opinions. Now we have next door a president wanting to declare immigration, a practice that has been going on forever, as a national emergency, even while it is only a fraction of what it used to be. The great USA is paralyzed since the “golfing President” wants a wall to stop migrants. Fear of those poor workers is keeping him in power.

We humans are enslaved by imaginary fears and when it enters our group think we are left as helpless victims. We should make 2019 the year in which all people will say “be not afraid” instead of “drive safe,” or “safe journey” or any other statements that make people always afraid. We should remind people to think for themselves and avoid “group think.”

I had enough of political groups, religious organizations, or corporations with big marketing budgets dictating what I should think and scaring me into submission. I had enough with people telling me to make them rich or they will harm the economy and hurt all the people around me. In 2019 I am going to look at the facts and do what's good for me and those like me. This new white page in front of me has only one word written by my hand. HOPE.

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 kne...