Saturday, January 21, 2017

Majestic Hunter No More


So sad.

A majestic bird of prey, this Red Tailed Hawk was likely a juvenile...to get so close to dangerous obstacles during his attack.
Perhaps the promise of a Quail dinner reduced his usual caution around structures that people build.
Perhaps as a juvenile he was still learning.
Perhaps his hunger was, at that moment, more important.

But it's ruined my day...my week.

(click to enlarge photos)

Magnificent, even in death.

Both wings were caught in the wrought-iron fence, with his neck likely broken.

I fervently hope his death was immediate

His body can be seen caught in the fence above the rock wall...with Quail feeding below.



No matter that the Red Tail Hawk's conservation status is listed as being of "least concern", it's a devastating occurrence at our home.



"While I fly, follow me in the shadow of my wings."
Jatayu, The Ramayana

Source:  Noble Bird of Prey


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Strength in Numbers?


Or, maybe like Saskatchewan, a better deal when going alone?

Premiers of Canada's most populous provinces fired off a letter to the Feds on health funding.

But Saskatchewan's "deal" only gives them a one year reprieve.
Their argument is that private MRI clinics do not hurt the province's health care industry.
The federal government says they do.



And we all know the private clinics--long touted as enabling a two-tier health system--does not hurt the system (with the exception of the Feds' funding stance!  Because the feds make the rules, and have been known to take their bat and ball and go home.)

Look at it this way:
If the wealthy wish to access a private in-province clinic, they can.  And will.
If the wealthy wish to access a private out-of-province clinic, they can.  And will.
If the wealthy wish to access a private out-of-country clinic, they can.  And will.

The effect?
A shorter wait list for the un-wealthy is the consequence.

The unwealthy are all the other folks.
You and me and our neighbours.
The 99 per cent.

"Anyone with elementary math can understand that," Kia would've said.

Unless the feds continue tipping the "playing field", as they're wont to do...sideline deals, the feds' ultimate coercion weapon.

So, will Saskatchewan join the populous provinces within the next year?
We'll see whether the provinces' strength in numbers prevails.



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Water Meter Readings...Part II (beginning 4th Q 2016)



The latest water meter readings--and invoicing--have been updated, and are located below.  Note that the yearly summaries, for some reason, would not allow more data to be entered --> at the bottom of this page.

Oh well, we'll just start a new blog entry page here...


Water Invoices, meters read ??? (end of first week of Dec./16)?

Residence:  Oct.1/16-Dec.31/16: base $95.00, consumption 7 m3 = $5.53, water meter renewal fee $7.00, total invoice $107.53.

Clubhouse:  Oct.1/16-Dec.31/16:  base $95.00, consumption 6 m3 = $9.48, water meter renewal fee $7.00, total invoice $111.48.

Irrigation:  Oct. 1/16-Dec.31/16:  base $95.00, consumption 0 m3, water meter renewal fee $35.00, unmetered fire main 33.00, total invoice $163.00.

         Repeating a Comment from an anonymous poster:  "
The new rates effective April 1, 2016 will actually reduce the Irrigation rate in those quarters where you have 0m3 consumption from the $208.00 minimum (which has been eliminated) to a $35.00 for your 27-39mm meter replacement fee. Saving of $173.00.

Your Clubhouse charge will be reduced from $38.00 per quarter minimum to a $7.00 per quarter meter have. A saving of $28.00 in those quarters where you have no consumption."






"Boy, oh boy, there sure are gremlins in the blog post editor tonight," Kia would've said.

Yup...if I remove the duplicate table, both of them disappear!

Impossible to just remove one of them.   Oh well.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Camille's Nightmare


To be blunt, Camille Marten's nightmare is the Regional District of North Okanagan.

A sentiment shared by many people over the years, I might add.

"The building was there when the business owner purchased it in 2009,
 and the RDNO was consulted as to its proposed use.
 It has passed all fire and health and safety inspections
 and has been cooperative with the RDNO
 throughout this exhausting two year process,
 and now, because of a minor technicality that can be fixed
 with the stroke of a pen, it faces closure."
Rolke, Morning Star                  

"Bin der, dun dat," I recall.

And RDNO/GVAC elected officials--goaded into adhering to the tomes of paperwork by bureaucrats--are mildly fussing that Camille's Rhythmic Gymnastics facility "may not be allowed to use a building on East Vernon Road because of zoning issues," as reported by the Morning Star in a couple of recent articles.

Or it should be stated to continue using it.

As Rolke reported:  "
"Although the business has worked diligently with the district and has met all health and safety conditions set out by the district, a new issue has arisen because the size of the building is slightly too large for its permitted use within the Agricultural Land Reserve," said Vernon councillor Scott Anderson.

"The building was there when the business owner purchased it in 2009, and the RDNO was consulted as to its proposed use. It has passed all fire and health and safety inspections and has been cooperative with the RDNO throughout this exhausting two year process, and now, because of a minor technicality that can be fixed with the stroke of a pen, it faces closure."

So the building is slightly too large?
Huh?
The Gymnastics club has used the building for years.
 
I'm thinking that some bored bureaucrat decided to whittle away an otherwise unproductive afternoon by reading the size rules for non-farm use of buildings on ALR land.

Hoping to score merit points with his superior, he had an "aha" moment and the bureaucrat felt it made sense to not allow Vernon's Olympic champion, Camille, to continue using it.


Canadian--as well as American--bureaucracy.
 Martens says "it's been a two-year nightmare."

She's wrong.
Dead wrong.
The nightmare never ends.

No matter that most of the area's elected officials appear to support Camille's facility.
And one or two of them are concerned "at how RDNO has been portrayed by the media and some residents," according to BX-Silver Star director Mike Macnabb.

Concerned how RDNO has been portrayed?
Jeez!
Who cares how RDNO has been portrayed!

Because it's the truth.

We are over-governed.
We are over-regulated.
Over-everything-ed, yup, that's the lot of residents in the North Okanagan.

Bureaucracy's foibles--and the elected officials who allow bureaucratic misfits to create such mayhem--are a lifelong nightmare.

"Camille may need a sleeping pill," Kia would've said, "to get through the rest of the process of 'legitimizing' the business she's been running for many years."

Yup.
Took me a few years to finally overcome/wake up from the Highlands Golf zoning nightmare too.



...and elected officials openly wonder why business avoids locating in the North Okanagan!
Duh!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Way to Go, Bob


and thank you for what you do!

Bob Spiers, city of Vernon Councillor is at it again.
And we should all be grateful for his efforts.

Efforts...plural.
Because he's done it before.

The present Tax on a Tax petition already has 444 signatures from British Columbia alone (we in British Columbia have had the dubious pleasure of paying carbon taxes since 2008 when Premier Clark enacted the law.)

Canadians appear to have forgotten that they have something called "choice"



Rather than steal Bob's thunder, we'll send you to Bob's blog to click on the petition link and add your name.  And please send the story/link to ALL your email contacts in Canada!

Petition to the Government of Canada
Whereas:
The Government of British Columbia instituted a carbon tax in 2008 and the federal government GST (currently at 5%) is still being charged on this carbon tax.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to eliminate the GST being charged on this or any other future carbon tax enacted by the provinces or territories.
 



"Once government gets a taste of a new tax," Kia would've mused "its appetite isn't easily sent back to the diet table."


Remember to send the petition link (from Bob's blog, provided above) to all your Canadian email contacts.

Do it now.

Not sure why you're signing?
Well, in case you've spent the last number of years under a rock...click for explanations:
 
What is carbon tax?  
By the way, carbon tax failed in Australia.  Maybe we can hope for the same here in Canada...eventually.
What is GST?

Then...crawl out from under the rock.
 

Bureaucrats "Misappropriating" Data?


Fudging.
Flat out lying.
That's probably more accurate.

Yup, that's what bureaucrats do.
The end justifies the means.

Anyone with half a brain who was involved in the year-long Stakeholders' Advisory Committee meetings at RDNO regarding the Master Water Plan will know.

Remember when all the Technical Memoranda (1 through 9) and bureaucrat/consultant submissions and publications stated that agricultural water use wasn't expected to increase beyond reported (current) levels?

The bureaucratic requisite...


The Rolke story entitled "Regional growth strategy on track" (January 4/17) kinda disputes that and confirms what most people have suspected/known all along.

Judge for yourself:

"...The growth strategy is also focused on supporting farming and there has been an increase in the agricultural land base."

'Farm diversity is up,' said Marnie Skobalski, planner.

'The range of farm commodities being produced is on the rise'."


Not just "the range"...the sheer number of farm properties is wayyyyyy up.
Get in your car and drive around.
See for yourself.
See the formerly fallow land (from previous drive-arounds) that are now planted to new orchards, for example.

Is agricultural water use increasing?
You bet your socks it is!
But the numbers won't be released by RDNO/GVW for at least a few more years, as is typical.

"Maybe they're watering with IOUs," Kia would've said, "for their water arrears."

In addition to increased crop plantings, there's also a huge increase in the number of Rent-a-Cow farmers.  (Renting part of your land gives you--the homeowner--the farm rate for property taxes...plus of course the dirt-cheap water rate).




What we all learn from bureaucrats at GVW and RDNO



  Priceless.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tax It Until Government Owns It


Holy Toledo!

B.C. Assessment has mailed out 2017 notices of property value changes.

According to KISS-FM news website, here's the teaser:


Jurisdiction -- 2016 Assessment Roll --  2017 Assessment Roll --  Typical % change in value

Penticton    $ 404,400     $ 434,100    +7.3%
Penticton (Strata)    $ 228,800     $ 247,800     +8.3%
Summerland    $ 452,000     $ 505,600    +11.9%
Keremeos    $ 233,300     $ 256,000    +9.7%
Oliver    $ 312,800     $ 330,400    +5.6%
Osoyoos    $ 371,200     $ 406,700    +9.6%
Princeton    $ 197,200     $ 203,600    +3.2%
Kelowna    $ 561,600     $ 624,000    +11.1%
Kelowna (Strata)    $ 285,400     $ 325,900    +14.2%
Peachland    $ 475,900     $ 527,500    +10.8%
Lake Country    $ 545,200     $ 634,000    +16.3%
West Kelowna    $ 535,800     $ 593,000    +10.7%
Armstrong    $ 312,000     $ 330,500    +5.9%
Enderby    $ 242,300     $ 262,300    +8.3%
Vernon    $ 412,800     $ 444,100    +7.6%
Vernon (Strata)    $ 219,100     $ 230,900    +5.4%
Coldstream    $ 543,600    $ 581,300    +6.9%
Salmon Arm    $ 350,500    $ 375,900    +7.2%
Spallumcheen    $ 360,900    $ 374,000    +3.6%
Sicamous    $ 298,500    $ 317,700    +6.4%
Lumby    $ 265,500    $ 280,800    +5.8%


Teaser?
Before we even receive them in the mail?

"More like being beaten prior to a scheduled poisoning," Kia would've said.


And local government says they're "holding" tax increases to--approximately--the cost of living (~about 2%).

So we'll be at a property tax increase that approaches 10 per cent.

If local government DOES NOT increase the mill rate...

 

Happy New Year....sort of


Sheesh, are we ever missing el Nino!
Weather and other stuff...
'Coz la Nina is turning out to be a very bad girl, with -17C mornings.
And daytime temps barely rising by 5 or 6 degrees.

Feels like a new Little Ice Age right now...


And my Mom's in hospital; chiefly with age related symptoms as she's 93.
She had frequently been losing her balance, and with the fear of falling, she adopted more sedentary days.
That led to other things.
But she's receiving excellent care at the new hospital tower, in a private room with her own bathroom.

A wonderful walk-in shower; note the designer wallpaper above the tiles.

Why don't our homes have bathrooms like this?
People would be able to age in place...longer.

Back to Mom's situation. 
There'll be a discussion with Interior Health in the next day or two about the urgency for Mom's assisted living need, despite the purported "6-8 month wait" list.


Yes, the New Year.
As widely reported, it's the time for price increases to take effect.
Hydro, insurance, water, medical premiums, property taxes etc. etc.; the list goes on.

No wonder people drink.

But wait until you see your property tax increases!
Remember that assessments each year are based on the previous July's assessed value!
And we all know what happened to property values in B.C. last summer.

For that reason, don't feel placated by your City's reported "2-something percent" increases.
As the euphemism goes "cost of living increase...my arse".
Sounds like assessments are going up by almost 8 per cent...(some as high as 30 per cent)...without any announced increase in your community's mill rates.  Yet.

What else is new?

Oh yes, received a note that my submission to Hydro's request for public comment on their tiered rate for electricity was accepted before the end of November deadline.  After a bit of digging, discovered my submission here.
If you're ever suffering from insomnia, here's the list of all the submissions....scroll down to the very bottom and click on “E Exhibits – Letters of Comment”.

And the threat of huge water increases deserves a mention.
Same ole, same ole in many ways, with Greater Vernon Water saying that rates will go up by about 2 per cent.

"...all they have been doing
 over the last several years
 is taking our money
 without spending any of it."
 Coldstream Councillor Pat Cochrane                   

Highlands Golf--and the other much larger irrigation users--will be hit especially hard in 2017.
The proposal is for ICI customers (industrial, commercial, institutional) to pay residential water rates for the first 1,000 cubic metres.

That proposal is one segment of the recommended 2017 Water Rate Pricing submitted to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (some of whom have residences that are on well water and, frankly, probably don't give a damn what water rates are!)

The 40-page proposal is worth a read, folks!
The proposal is for rates to increase almost 4 per cent annually for each of the next three years.

One very interesting comment from Coldstream councillor Pat Cochrane was reported in the newspaper:  "At some point it gets a little silly to keep increasing the rates when you have money in the bank."  He concluded "...all they have been doing over the last several years is taking our money without spending any of it."  It took a long, long time but Councillor Gyula Kiss has a new ally in Councillor Cochrane. 


But don't believe that as it's with the typical condition that GVW imposes:  that they don't lose the revenue from large water users.  (Large water users doesn't include agricultural...'coz they don't pay bugger all to begin with, so the utility will NEVER lose those customers.  On the contrary, agriculture water use is increasing like mad, although it'll take the water utility a couple of years to report that).

A recent quote from letter-writer Jim Miles--whose sentiments mirror even the Occupy movement's meme--concluded a letter he submitted on another topic.  It went thus:

"...also know that the elites, the governments, the media and the powers continually lie to the populace, manufacturing consent for aggression, to serve their own interests, not the interests of the farmers, factory workers, labourers and the every day citizens of the world."
    Jim Miles...............
Jim Miles obviously isn't fooled.
Speaking of serving their own interests, have a look at this report of executive compensation.

"Feeling alone, despite being part of the 99 per cent," Kia would've said.

Ain't that the truth!

Is it 5 o'clock somewhere?
Probably in the boardrooms of the nation.

Thankfully, there's one very good thing: 

Grandson was loving the weather...

Thank God for grandchildren!

A lot of topics dumped into this one post...a catch-up.

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Longing for a Made in Canada Label


That's it!
I'm done buying stuff made overseas...at least from Pakistan.

I should use a weigh scale to record just how much lint came out of these new towels!  And that was just one small load (of three) that went into the dryer today.  I always wash newly-purchased textiles, even before labels advised it should be done!

Look at the lint screen from one small load:


And, yes, the lint screen was clean when I began the load.
I clean the lint screen, routinely, after each load!



There are other towel purchases--intended as Christmas presents--that are going back to Walmart for a refund.
Pronto.

And I'll show the customer service clerk the photo of the dryer lint screen.

"As though they'll care," Kia would've said.

Good point.

Bye-Bye, Made in Pakistan.
Never again!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Government: "To Hire and Retain Good Employees"


Bob Spiers' blog featured an interesting story on the disparity--which continues unabated, I might add--between public and private sector employees, from the 56-page tome by the Fraser Institute

Following my last blog post (and its sad attempt at humour in detailing various taxes), it's only fair (tongue set firmly in cheek) to be reminded just how much better (not just more dollars) the bureaucratic life is when compared to those in the private sector.

"...government workers retire earlier than their private sector counterparts—about 2.3 years earlier on average—and are much less likely to lose their jobs
 (3.8 percent in the private sector versus 0.5 percent in the public sector).
(and)
...Full-time workers in the government sector lost more work time in 2015 for personal reasons (12.7 days on average) than their private sector counterparts (7.8 days)





Disparities even exist among the comparisons!
But one thing is certain.
The public trough is a resplendent vessel.

"...the country needs a new institutional framework
 that is fair to both taxpayers
 and public sector workers"
                the Fraser Institute                     


An undated (probably 2015?) Fraser Institute chart.


Yup, life is good for bureaucrats.
One of the best benefits is the Defined Benefit pension plan, a gold-plated pension that less than half of private employers can today afford to offer their employees.  Others have gone "contributory", if a pension exists at all.

Bob's blog quotes research:
"Using data on individual workers from January to December 2015, this report estimates the wage differential between the government and private sectors in Canada. It also evaluates four available non-wage benefits in an attempt to quantify compensation differences between the two sectors.

After controlling for such factors as gender, age, marital status, education, tenure, size of firm, type of job, industry, and occupation, Canada’s government sector workers (from the federal, provincial, and local governments) were found to enjoy a 10.6 percent wage premium, on average, over their private sector counterparts in 2015. When unionization status is factored into the analysis, the wage premium for the government sector declines to 7.2 percent.


The available data on non-wage benefits suggest that the government sector enjoys an advantage over the private sector. For example, 89.3 percent of government workers in Canada are covered by a registered pension plan, compared to 23.8 percent of private sector workers. Of those covered by a registered pension plan, 93.7 percent of government workers enjoyed a defined benefit pension compared to just under half (45.0 percent) of private sector workers.


In addition, government workers retire earlier than their private sector counterparts—about 2.3 years earlier on average—and are much less likely to lose their jobs (3.8 percent in the private sector versus 0.5 percent in the public sector).
Moreover, full-time workers in the government sector lost more work time in 2015 for personal reasons (12.7 days on average) than their private sector counterparts (7.8 days)" 



Is there a solution to disparities?
The Fraser Report states "...the country needs a new institutional framework that is fair to both taxpayers and public sector workers" (on page 38 of 56).

Canada and the U.S. differ vastly in remuneration and benefits for the two categories.
While no comparable charts (comparing chickens to chickens) exist, the disparity in the U.S. is not as large as in Canada.

There's a move afoot in the U.S. to reduce the costs of federal worker pay and benefits.  Wonder what'll happen to that plan under the new administration in 2017!

But there is certainly no shortage of charts:



U.S.A. chart

And there are certainly differences among private and government benefits for those with higher education:


So how can private sector employers compete for workers?


U.S.A. (any Canadian comparison wouldn't have $90K as the ceiling!)

Benefit increases in Canada


"The government's yadda yadda is an excuse for their inability to keep wages in line with the private sector," Kia would've said, "and is the reason the private sector cannot attract and retain the best employees."

A resplendent vessel it is...that government job.

The resplendent vessel is a government job.
 

“The government is merely a servant – merely a temporary servant. It cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.” – Mark Twain

A Billion is a Big Number


I'm certainly not going to get the calculator out to check any of these "facts", but what an interesting email that landed in my Inbox recently.

Its origin was obviously in the British Isles as some of the taxes (Council tax, for example) are synonymous with their governments...and some point to the United States, so perhaps some B.C./Canadian taxes have been omitted.
However, this blog entry is chiefly for amusement/interest (lest readers break into fits of tears).

The oohs and aahs of taxes...

You'll no doubt find an interesting read at Wiki on Pigovian tax.
Here we go...



"If I give you $1 billion and you stand on a street corner handing out $1 per
second, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, you would still not have
handed out $1 billion after 31 years!!

Now read on.





A VERY BIG NUMBER

This is too true to be funny.
The next time you hear a politician use the word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

A.     A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

B.      A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C.      A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

D.     A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

E.     A billion Dollars ago was only 13 hours and 12 minutes, at the rate
our  present government is spending it.
Inheritance Tax
(tax on top of tax)
Alcohol Tax
G.S.T.
Property Tax
Real Estate transfer tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Vehicle Licence / Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Provincial Sales Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY?

Not one of these taxes existed 60 years ago and our nation was one of the
most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt.

We had the largest middle class in the world.

Mum stayed home to raise the kids.

Dad and teachers were allowed to discipline kids.

A criminal’s life was uncomfortable.



What the h!!!!  Happened?

'Political Correctness', ‘Politicians or both?'

I hope this goes around CANADA and beyond at least 100 times!"






"Nothing amusing about taxes," Kia would've said, "but it does lead into the next blog entry on the growing disparity between private and public wage sectors."

Yup.