Covering Your Butt 101

I just finished telling someone that in a year's time the auditor general will file a report and we'd all find out how this stimulus money was wasted, blown away, or stolen. Apparently Jim Flaherty agrees:
OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the Canadian economy is in such dire straits he is prepared to risk making mistakes and will rush stimulus spending so it can speed economic recovery.
“There will be some mistakes made, but it's worth the risk to help the majority of Canadians during what is a serious recession,” he said after meeting with the Conservative caucus.(link)

It's amazing. Flaherty has basically admitted what Obama doesn't want to. I'll give him credit for honesty, but the bottom line is that our money is being spent out of panic, fear, and complete stupidity. I don't believe for a moment that Flaherty disagrees with that assessment. He was the one who less than 6 months ago had a budget tabled with no stimulus whatsoever.

Given that, I'm convinced that all that Flaherty is really doing here is covering his butt. Not a bad political move. Not a good sign for the rest of us though.

Power Grab

The EU wants to expand financial regulations like nuts. Apparently the global financial crisis proves that the financial sector can't make decisions for itself. Big Old Benevolent Goverment has gotta step in to save us all from ourselves.

Socialists everywhere must be popping open new bottles of champagne because somewhere in that mess this little line item got slipped in to the mess of proposals:
'Other key points agreed to Sunday included adopting a “sanctions mechanism” to penalize tax havens ...'

Sanctions? Against Tax Havens?

Wow. That special treatment is usually reserved for bad guys that smell bad and have committed a genocide or two.

But I guess to those champagne socialists out there jurisdictions that decide to tax people low are the moral equivalents to Iran, North Korea, Sudan...

The way this world is going right now, I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning and snap to attention while the Internationale is played.

Grassroots Appeasement?

While I've been taking copious amounts of drugs to keep the brain aneurysm at bay over the Conservatives new budget, this little tidbit smolders out of Ottawa:
' OTTAWA — The Harper government will introduce new Senate reform legislation that would force the new raft of Conservative-appointed senators to quit their jobs after an eight-year term.
' “That will apply to the recently appointed senators as well as any future appointments,” Mr. Fletcher said. “Anyone who was appointed after the 2008 election will be subject to the eight-year terms.”
' “Right now, we must get our stimulus package passed through Parliament and we need to do that quickly,” he said. “It just has to be passed before we can deal with the Senate … it's by far and away the No. 1 priority.”
' Sources have said that the government is thinking of allowing the federal government to hold Senate elections directly, as opposed to a previous bill which would have had the provinces hold votes.'(link)

This along with the recent gun registry announcement leads me to believe that some appeasement of grassroots party members is under way.

First I appreciate any efforts in Ottawa to keep my blood pressure low.

Second this isn't good enough. All this is is words. Senate reform was also pushed in the last session of parliament without any focus. They will have to go way further to lower this young geezers blood pressure out of the "rage" range.

Right now my vision is still blurry and I keep on confusing Iggy puff with Harper at news conferences. How can you tell the difference anyways they agree on everything nowadays?

Let Them Die

GM said it needs another $16.6-billion in government loans, while Chrysler wants an additional $2-billion. Even if they get the money, the two companies between them will slash another 50,000 jobs and close several more plants.(link)

Two thing come to mind right off the bat:
1. Let them die.
2. I'm never going to buy GM or Chrysler.

Is that harsh? Yepperoo. But I doubt many other Canucks are going to be drawing different conclusions at this point.

I've been laid off. I know it's not a great feeling. Though I appreciate in every way that when a company is loosing money sometimes that means tough decisions need to be made.

To be frank that's the way the cookie crumbles. The automotive jobs in the big three are not profitable with such high labor rates.

Unions expected they could get something for nothing: high paying jobs, with high benefits and low hours yet somehow they believed it would have no effect on the industry's bottom line.

I've always argued that the only way the big three could operate under this scenario was to change their market. In Europe, the automotive industry is highly unionized yet there are some notable success stories like BMW. How is BMW doing better than GM? They focus on low volume markets such as a luxury vehicles that are higher priced.

That's the key if you want to work lower hours for higher prices. You need a market that has low volume with high margings.

I think that was what GM was attempting to do with it's move into the Hummer's and probably also the big push in the big 3 for SUV production. The only problem with those markets is they dried up as soon as gas prices went berzerk. If you add in that in all probably the luxury vehicle market is probably overcrowded to begin with it still doesn't spell "profitable."

So they're left with this conundrum: the Unions don't care about the bottom line, you can't change your market, but you're still loosing money.

It's time to let them die.  It's harsh.  It's unpleasant.  It's the truth.

Space Debris Overblown

You just can't make this up:
"...the debris was big: a piece of an unmanned Russian rocket, 10 square metres in size."


"The rocket had blasted off from Kazakhstan on Tuesday and carried materials for the International Space Station. And when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, things got a little scary for the province of Alberta."

"NORAD called the federal government at 10:15 a.m. on Friday morning to let them know about the falling debris, and by 10:30 a.m. the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) had been notified. The time of impact was estimated to be 10:46 a.m."(link)

The government of Alberta was given 16 minutes total of warning. Wait! Where's the premier of Alberta jumping up and down in hysterics over his oil getting bombarded like Danny Millions did in 2005?

Because it's simple: the chances of a 10 meter^2 sized piece of debris firstly making it through the atmosphere without breaking up, and then secondly to hit a sensitive area are so remote you would be better on betting on lotto 649.

Let's do some extremely rough math here (statisticians please hold your nose):

The province of Alberta has a land area of over 600,000 km^2. Assuming that 10 m^2 piece of debris makes it to the ground intact that works out to a 1 in 60 billion chance that any one 10 m^2 location will be hit. If you assume that they knew for sure that the city of Calgary would be hit the chances of any one spot getting hit increases to something like 1 in 70 million.

If you assume that every square kilometer of Albertan land area has a 250000 meter squared zone that is vulnerable that works to odds of 1 in 2.4 million that a sensitive zone in Alberta will be struck.

I admit these are "rough" numbers but they illustrate my point. The odds are incredibly low.

If you don't believe these numbers see for yourself what the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Research has to say:
"Reportedly, only one person has been struck by debris from a reentering satellite in the history of our use of space. Fortunately, this person was hit by a lightweight object and was not injured."

"The risk that an individual will be hit and injured is estimated to be less than one in one trillion. To put this into context, the risk that an individual in the U.S. will be struck by lightning is about one in 1.4 million."(link)

It seems that my earlier estimate was (gulp!) fairly liberal.

Stimulate This

Apparently some Quebec economists are more conservative than our Conservative government:
"We economists would like to alert our fellow citizens to the inefficiency involved in increasing public expenditures in order to counter the on-going recession."(link)

Meanwhile Harper seem to be on a tour of the country to spend all this money.


"Ottawa – Saskatchewan M.P. Garry Breitkreuz has introduced a Private Members’ Bill to scrap the decade-old Canadian long-gun registry..."(link)

It's about time.

Global Warming Causes Everything

The death toll from bush fires in southern Australia has reached at least 84, the worst in the country's history.
The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney said police suspect that in at least one case fires have been restarted by arsonists after being extinguished by firefighters.
"Some of these fires have started in localities that could only be by hand, it could not be natural causes," Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe was quoted as saying by AFP. (link)

An guess who's jumped all over this crisis? The Enviro-Facist movement of course:
The leader of the Green party, Bob Brown said summer fires would get worse unless Australia and other nations showed more leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's a sobering reminder of the need for this nation and the whole world to act and put at a priority our need to tackle climate change," he said.

Let me get this straight:
1. Fires in Australia are believed to be caused by arsonists.
2. The Green Party believes global warming is to blame.

If a fire is caused by idiots, I think the best solution is to deal with the idiots. It isn't the time to start thinking about raising more taxes on people or increasing regulation.

Feels Good Not To Be Alone

Apparently I'm not the only one that feels depressed about the federal budget:
"I do think there is a problem among Conservative core supporters...I think many of them they don't like the budget and I guess I would believe that Mr. Harper has to do some things to reassure these people that his direction is still fundamentally Conservative."

Though flanagan has an interesting suggestion:

"I think this is a done deal, it can't be undone," he said, referring to the contentious budget.

"So that's why I'm suggesting Mr. Harper has to move on to other policies, perhaps outside the budget, things like criminal justice where he can make some accomplishments that the Conservative core supporters will appreciate."

Like senate reform? Same sex marriage? Choice in healthcare?

The path to power seems to have lead to a lot of compromises.