Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Government Dishonesty


They lie to their citizens.
They create unparalleled debt that burdens us today.

"...a debt tsunami of global proportions".

"...the right to create the nation's money was usurped by the publicly owned but privately controlled Bank of Canada in 1935 that our debts started their meteoric rise." 


Debt cripples successive generations.
It'll never be paid off.
Never.

Are we talking about a third-world government?  Yes, but...
First-world nations and provincial governments are no better.


This letter to the editor by Dennis Milligan, published today in the Morning Star, is excellent and deserves to be widely distributed.

"...lending at usury was considered a heinous crime..."


Entitled Debt Clock Points to Bigger Problem, Dennis tells it very well:

"Your July 5th edition showed a photo of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's mobile debt cock.

It indicated that British Columbia's provincial government debt stood at $57.5 billion.  Confusingly, the photo's caption refers to it as the federal debt clock.

I'd like to clarify a few issues that arise from that error.

B.C.'s debt is indeed $57.5 billion and it costs B.C. taxpayers well over $2 billion to service that debt every year, even at today's record-low interest rates.

The federal government's debt is now $616 billion and, according to StatsCan, costs Canadian taxpayers $160 million a day.

Add the $600 billion owed collectively by the provinces and the $1.6 trillion of domestic debt -- mortgages, business loans, credit card debt, student loans, etc. and you will see that it's nearly three times Canada's $1.3 trillion GDP -- the value of our entire economy.

And we still haven't accounted for municipal government debt or $1 trillion in unfunded liabilities like CPP, EU and Medicare for which no funding has been set aside.

We are in deep trouble and the subject should be top of every government agenda.  Governments are not telling us the truth about the seriousness of our debt problem and are doing taxpayers a great disservice when they suggest that what we are facing is merely a slow-down in the world economy.

We are in fact facing a debt tsunami of global proportions and harsh solutions like raising taxes even further, cutting social programs or selling off public assets are but Band-Aid attempts to delay the inevitable bankruptcy that stems from a debt curve now going ballistic, largely because of compounding interest.

How do we ever get out of such a mess?  Well, in biblical times, when lending at usury was considered a heinous crime, the simple solution to un-repayable debt caused by money-lenders' interest lay in declaring a Jubilee.  Every 50 years, all debt was forgiven.  Leviticus: 25 spells it out pretty clearly.

The constitutionally based policies that guided Canada from the time of Confederation in 1867 to 1934 kept the nation on a virtual flat-line of debt.

It was only after the right to create the nation's money was usurped by the publicly owned but privately controlled Bank of Canada in 1935 that our debts started their meteoric rise.

The answer looks pretty simple -- return to government-created money administered and controlled by an accountable Minister of Finance and thus recover from the international banks the sovereign right bestowed upon our elected government by Section 91 of the Constitution Act.

It's time to face the simple fact that government debts are now absolutely unrepayable under our presently fatally flawed debt money system and that our debt clock is somebody's profit clock.

With all 122 nations of the world in debt who do we owe it all to if not a faceless and flawed private banking system?  It would be totally unconscionable to pass this burden on to our children unaddressed."
Dennis Milligan
 

"Dennis has my vote for Premier, or Prime Minister...heck, how about Mayor?" offers Kia.

And for our friends south of the border, here are some numbers based on who was in power.
Frightening indeed. 

"I see the demise of the 'middle class'," predicts Kia. 

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Attaboy, Richard!


Rolke, not Enns.

Or maybe the heading should've read:  You Just Can't Fix Stupid.

Richard Rolke, reporter with The Morning Star addressed the dangerous activity of cliff diving in his Editorial published July 24th, 2013.

The other Richard--Councillor Enns with the District of Coldstream--wants Search and Rescue to use a different boat launch, one approximately 3 km further from the cliff diving accident, because the Kalavista boat launch was so...(wait for this gem)...busy.  He prattled:  "It seems emergency services chose the wrong boat launch to use -- the busiest boat launch on one of the busiest weekends."

So?

We all know cliff diving is stupid.
We all know you can't legislate intelligence, and some people will continue to make bad choices.

But Coldstream Council discussing which boat launch an emergency crew should use? 
That Council excels at logistics and training versus emergency crews?

Sheesh!

What ticked off Richard the reporter was the District of Coldstream's response(s) during the Council meeting as councillors to-and-fro'd about Search and Rescue's decision of which boat launch was used to effect the rescue of the victim.


The reporter continued:  "Obviously Search and Rescue can (and does) take measures to ensure the flow of vehicle traffic, especially for ambulances, but did this really warrant debate at Coldstream council?  What's next -- slamming the fire department for blocking off busy Kalamalka Road because of a blaze or pointing fingers at RCMP officers when an accident slows traffic down?"

He concludes "...some perspective was brought to the entire discussion...Councillor Kiss dismissed the need to develop boat launch protocols, as these events are fortunately rare."

Greatly enamored of their broad powers, this mayor and council are keen to "fix" everything.

"Except their own stupidity," offers Kia.

That's something that's up to residents to fix.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Code for America


...could easily translate into Code for Canada.
Simply because of need.

"Revenues are down, costs are up -- if we don't change how cities work, they're going to fail."
Andrew Greenhill, City of Tucson mayor's office


Started in 2009 by Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America is described by Wikipedia as:  “...Code for America helps city governments become more transparent, connected and efficient by connecting the talents of cutting-edge web developers with people who deliver city services and want to embrace the transformative power of the web to achieve more impact with less money. Inspired in part by Teach for America, CfA works with city officials and leading web development talent to identify and then develop web solutions that can then be shared and rolled out more broadly to cities across America.” 

Jennifer states its programmers--"nerds"--bridge the gap between governments and the taxpaying public so that resources (tax revenue) can be spent wisely, and transparently, often saving considerable time and money because project timelines are substantially reduced.  Code for America provides local governments with tools to monitor project effectiveness and evaluate the allocation of resources...in other words, is your local government doing what the public wants -- efficiently and effectively.

An offshoot that showed tangible results was Ben Berkowitz' ClickFix in 2008:  What if reporting graffiti or a broken traffic light or a clogged storm drain was as easy as snapping a photo with your mobile phone? What if that report was sent directly to all the groups that might give a damn, including city hall, the police department, the local utility company, and the neighborhood watch?  Even better, what if all your neighbors could see those nearby reports and lend their own voices to apply pressure and get problems fixed?

But does it work?  Not only was Ben's initial graffiti problem solved, to date 2,700 other user-submitted community problems have been dealt with as well on the "open 311" program that can be used for anything from reporting potholes to the public works department to reporting unauthorized activity around a commercial activity to police at night.

It can indeed be called Government 2.0.

Authors Tapscott and Williams co-wrote a book "Macrowikinomics" which opens government up to the public in a way government would never have considered.
Especially by bureaucrats who frankly don't seek that high level of public "interaction". 

Mayors need to know it's not bureaucrats who decide that.
Mayors need to know the system is not only effective but that communities will save money.
So what if bureaucrats begin to feel they're not nearly as important as they--or the Mayor and Council--thought.

Mr. Tapscott cited a recent conversation with the chief executive of Melbourne. He suggested to her that one way to apply his open-government approach would be to make public all of the city’s information on bicycle accidents and where they happen.
“I said to her, ‘If you release all that data, within 24 hours someone will do a mash-up and you will be saving lives within weeks, and it won’t cost you a penny,”’ Mr. Tapscott said.

Jennier Pahlka concludes:  "it is also about the government being useful to you in your daily life and engaging you in your daily life."  

All that bureaucracy everyone chides has had a wonderful byproduct — it's collected a lot of data over the years.

While civic technology might not be the sexiest sector, it's an area that's ripe for innovation. All that bureaucracy everyone chides has had a wonderful byproduct — it's collected a lot of data over the years. Were that data to be digitized and made actionable through APIs and innovative apps, our cities could reach a new level of efficiency, saving millions or billions of taxpayer dollars in the process — a welcome break in the face of budget cuts.  The Open311 system description is here.

The bottom line is that taxpayers have the ideas--albeit often too many ideas/solutions with little access to all the facts to which council and bureaucracy are privy--which Code for America...Canada...could innovate.

"There is something very big starting to happen at the intersection of the consumerization of the enterprise and government."
Abhi Nemani, CfA's director of strategy and communications. 


Plus...as Pahlka says:  government can (then) speak "nerd" and nerds can (then) speak "gov".

"I see the demise of traditional consulting work," offers Kia.

No loss there, Kia.
Many of Urban Systems' (of Kelowna) consulting projects for the District of Coldstream didn't produce what taxpayers wanted anyway.  Why?  Because bureaucrats decided for taxpayers what the project parameters would be.

See what Toronto has done with their Open 311 system that includes mobile apps:  here


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pooh-Poohing Artisan Displays


A few years ago, the District of Coldstream pooh-poohed an individual's desire to sell sunglasses in a small and unobtrusive tented booth (or was is to rent surfboards?) at Kalamalka Beach.

Whichever it was, our Mayor and Council said NO then.

No support for an individual's initiative.
No support for things that other communities have done well.

Coldstream's done it again.

This time they said NO to the Regional District of North Okanagan, who contacted Coldstream to ascertain support for a pilot program where artisans could display their works for the 2014 summer season.

Sigh.

Kelowna City Park has an artisans program, and it certainly adds to the ambiance of families and tourists strolling through City Park along the waterfront.

Back to Kalamalka Lake Beach.
A Coldstream Committee of the Whole meeting reported that Councillor Enns moved--and Councillor Kiss seconded--that the "The District of Coldstream does not support the proposal to issue Artisan Vendor Permits on Kal Beach."

"Heaven forbid there'd be something interesting and stimulating to attract people to the beach," snorts Kia.

Food vendors/concession contractors are present both at Kin Beach and Kal Beach.
None had any objections to an Artisans program.

Heaven forbid that Kalamalka Lake beach would draw as much interest as Kelowna's beachfront.
Heaven forbid that this area would actually draw economic activity.

And who knew that Kal Beach is actually zoned residential ?

Pooh-poohers are running the District of Coldstream.



Friday, July 12, 2013

Highlands Golf Water Allocation and Usage


Water allocations "run with the land".
They can't be sold back to the water utility, nor can they "go with you" when you sell and move.

Water allocations are paid (up front) and determine the allowable annual usage of water.

We bought the property in 1975 (ouch...long ago...).

In the ensuing years (mostly farming ~1,100 apple trees, 600 Christmas trees), and then the golf course, we continued to purchase additional water allocation.

Husband often said:  "This place is worthless without water on it."

Now and then one hears statements from a misinformed public complaining that golf courses waste/use too much water, so the purpose of this entry is to show how much water my golf course uses for irrigation and compare it to our allowable use (paid-for) allocation.

Note:  the very small water usage by the residence and clubhouse (on 2 separate water meters) is not included.

HIGHLANDS GOLF ALLOCATION:

10.0035 acres of water = 22,275 cubic metres of water allowed for annual use.  (Source: RDNO, Becky Johnstone, July 12,2013)



IRRIGATION USAGE:

2011                                   =  2,986 cubic metres  (13.4%)

2012                                   =  2,953 cubic metres  (13.2%)

2013                                   =  3,162 cubic metres   (14.9%)



"A pat on the back is what this facility deserves," suggests Kia, adding "but who gets YOUR UNUSED 86 per cent of water every year?"


No idea how to answer that, but we obviously bought too much water all those years ago.


Professor Plimer versus the Prius


...and Professor Plimer wins with this compelling summation on Carbon Dioxide's presence in our atmosphere.

Plimer:  "...here's the bombshell.  The volcanic eruption in Iceland.  Since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just four days, negated every single effort you have made in the past 5 years to control CO2 emissions on our planet...all of you.

Of course, you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress -- it's that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans and all animal life.

I know...it's very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kids "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cent light bulbs with $10 light bulbs...well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tube in just four days.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days -- yes, FOUR DAYS -- by that volcano in Iceland (Eyjafjallaj√∂kull) has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon.  And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud at any one time -- every day.

I don't really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in all its years on earth.

Yes folks, Mt. Pinatubo was active for over one year -- think about it.

Of course, I shouldn't spoil this 'touchy-feely tree-hugging' moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keeps happening despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.  

And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud, but the fact of the matter is that the bush fire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years.  And it happens every year.

Just remember that your government just tried to (or has) impose(d) a whopping carbon tax on you, on the basis of the bogus 'human-caused' climate-change scenario.

Hey, isn't it interesting how they sometimes don't mention 'Global Warming' anymore, but just 'Climate Change' - you know why?  

It's because the planet has cooled by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bull artists got caught with their pants down.

And, just keep in mind that you might yet have an Emissions Trading Scheme -- that whopping new tax -- imposed on you that will achieve absolutely NOTHING except make you poorer.  

It won't stop any volcanoes from erupting, that's for sure.
And your 'leaders' and 'experts' will NOT care for you to tell them any of this."

Ian Rutherford Plimer is an Australian geologist, professor emeritus of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne, professor of mining technology at the University of Adelaide, and the director of multiple mineral exploration and mining companies.  He has published 130 scientific papers, six books and edited the Encyclopedia of Geology.  Notable awards:  Eureka Prize (1995, 2002); Centenary Medal (2003), Clarke Medal (2004).

"He didn't even mention Mt. St. Helens," offers Kia, "or the Kelowna fires."

...wonder what the BC Government is doing with the Carbon Tax payments.  Never mind...we know...just more gouging of residents.  And wasting the money.  




Friday, July 5, 2013

Government Debt = Our Debt


Debt.  Debt.  Debt.

In British Columbia, the DAILY interest payment is $6.84 million.
Interest only!
Per day.

Debt continues to grow at a rate of $215 per second!
$12,854 per minute, $771,233 per hour.
$18.5 million per day.


British Columbia's debt by the year 2016 was forecasted by our provincial government to increase to $69.7 billion.

That's the provincial government.

The Federal government of Canada?
The fed spends $31 billion per year just paying the annual interest on the debt.

The Canadian Taxpayers' Association stated:  "Between 1997 and 2008 the federal government was running surplus budgets and paying down our debt. Every cent and more of that $105 billion paid-off during the decade has now been re-borrowed and spent. Canada’s federal debt has risen from $457 billion in 2008 to over $600 billion."

Un-bloody-believable, huh?

And our cities and municipalities aren't doing taxpayers any favors either. 
No debt transparency exists in the District of Coldstream or City of Vernon.
Good luck looking for a line "Total Debt" on their requisite annual Financial Statement.
You won't find it.

It brings to mind a response from Coldstream's Councillor Kiss--after the District was berated by residents several years ago for their burgeoning debt--"we can be $19 million in debt."   (Coldstream was $3 million in debt at that time).
$3 million then for a population of approximately 10,000 people.
But $19 million debt is allowed by provincial legislation.
How nice!
That legislation was written by the same government that wrote the provincial legislation are the ones who are paying almost $7 million in interest payments.

The District of Coldstream's 2012 Annual Report is a 72-page document-- the Financial section begins on page 30 -- good luck finding what Coldstream's total debt is.

And, lest a reader thinks this article is sour grapes for the NDP losing the May provincial election, let me assure you it is not.
Vehemently assure you it is not!

Back to debt.

Trying to access British Columbia's "debt clock", as suggested by today's Morning Star on the topic, resulted in this prompt:

Secure Connection Failed
An error occurred during a connection to www.debtclock.ca..
SSL received a record that exceeded the maximum permissible length.
(Error code: ssl_error_rx_record_too_long)  The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity of the received data could not be verified.
  Please contact the website owners to inform them of this problem. Alternatively, use the command found in the help menu to report this broken site.


How convenient.

Probably crashed from 4.4 million B.C. residents trying to access the clock.

Yet everybody--and I mean everybody--hears government agencies warning consumers to lower their household/family debtload. 
What a crock!

Still a fervent believer in what levels of government are telling you?
Place this book on your Must Read list:  Anatomy of a Con Job, by John T. Wolfe.
 
A quotation to pique interest...er....ah...learning:
“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” —George Orwell


"I'm uncharacteristically speechless," sighs Kia.



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Divergent Views


Letters to the Editor--lately anyway--epitomize such divergent views!

A letter in today's Morning Star, entitled Fuel Tax, is pretty darn interesting.
Taken together, the letter by Ms. Lissau, to which he refers--(but we have not reprinted)--gives an entire new meaning to drawing apart from a common point.

"Fuel Tax"
I feel like I need to respond to Julia Lissau's letter, "Think of it as a polluter-pay fee." 
What a pile of rubbish.

Once you take out all of the filler and rhetoric from this letter, you are left with the basic fats.  Ms. Lissau is ignoring the fact that not everyone "drives because they can."  Many people drive because they have to.  What about the aged, disabled and infirm?

"...start requiring bike licenses of $150 per bike per year and toll booths on bike paths of $1.50 each use."  W.Brunsdon

What about people who live a long distance from work, family and amenities?

What about people who commute between cities for work?  What about people who drive for a living?  What about mechanics, car salespeople and all of those whose employment is linked to vehicles?

If it is so important to build even more bike paths that will be used six or seven months out of the year, instead of repairing and maintaining the infrastructure we already have, then let bicycle riders pay for it.

Let's start requiring bike licenses of $150 per bike per year and toll booths on bike paths of $1.50 each use.  We could fine those without helmets and put the money toward a true bike utopia.

I know, let's tax spandex shorts.

A fine for all those riding a bike anywhere other than a designated bike path.

All of the above funds to be returned once the global average temperature drops 0.75 degrees over a 20-year span if that drop can be attributed to people riding their bikes.

Clearly the above is over the top, but so is asking people who drive to pay for your hobby.

I think bike paths are fine but not one dime should be spent on them from public funds until all of the roads in Vernon are returned to a reasonable safe state of repair.

Potholes ruin tires and the tires then need to be recycled.  Swerving to avoid potholes crates danger.

As to raising the gas tax, think about the big picture and everyone, not just yourself, before you start to pontificate about how you, as a bike rider, somehow hold the moral high ground."

        Ward Brunsdon



"I'm all for taxing spandex shorts," attests Kia, and adds, "that's what creates the real divergent views, especially from the rear!"