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.

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).
...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.


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
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


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."


Friday, December 9, 2016

Navel Gazing?

Coldstream Councillor Richard Enns calls it "economic focus".
I'd refer to the idea as useless redundancy, or put simply, myopia.

The idea of Community Futures North Okanagan being able to offer Coldstream specific economic development benefits if economic development were to become part of their mandate is ludicrous.

Flat out ludicrous.

It's navel gazing...the inability to see that regional--yes, the entire area--does benefit from what currently exists.  Or not (and if that's the case, then the navel gazer needs to use a magnifying glass to see what he and his Council have implemented that keeps business away.

The City of Vernon--a five to 10 minute drive distant--has an Economic Development Officer, Kevin Poole as well as an experienced long-time bureaucrat, Craig Broderick (whose partner happens to be a realtor) working on Vernon's economic development.  Craig himself held a commercial realtor's licence.

Does anyone really believe that a business owner--looking to locate a subsidiary operation or a branch office to the Okanagan--would look only at Vernon during the search?
With Google maps--and streetview--as a resource, readily available at the business owner's fingertips, is that a likelihood?
And if the business owner visits the Okanagan, doesn't it make sense that the individual would actually drive 10 minutes east, west, north and south to see adjacent areas and what else might be available?

Does anyone really believe that giving Community Futures North Okanagan a new mandate wouldn't make Kevin Poole's job--and Craig Broderick's--redundant?  Unnecessary?

Are there so many new businesses locating in Greater Vernon that more and more people are needed in the Economic Development function?
Doubt it.

"Maybe Coun. Enns has a personal mandate to increase the bureaucratic payroll," Kia would've said.

It's Coldstream's bureaucratic payroll--in itself--the may keep a business owner from looking at Coldstream in the first place!

Focus indeed!
Considering there's probably already a Community Futures South Okanagan!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Resplendent Rotarians

It wasn't because the article was about water that I thought of the Master Water Plan Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings when I read the history of the Klamath Water Wars.
Or maybe it was.

But something other than water connected the two.
Or, more accurately, separated the two events.

Before you "x" out of here and return to TV, read the compelling story on Water Wars link.  An excellent story in the publication Rotarian, December 2016 issue, "Common Ground", healing a troubled Oregon community at odds over water.

Apart from the distance that separated the Klamath Oregon area from the North Okanagan, the glaring separation for me was what a Rotarian provided Oregon...trust.

The Rotarian organization has something called The Four-Way Test, and it goes like this:

(1)    Is it the TRUTH?
(2)    Is it FAIR to all concerned?
(3)    Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
(4)     Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

With this entrenched tenet, Rotarian Jim Root waded deeper into the human community that was his home, and he got committee members together, many of whom had become enemies during the water issues. 

Jim--at the first meeting, a breakfast meeting--set up a whiteboard that stated:

Develop trust.
Actions consider the entire community.
Balance flow of water in and out of the community.
Improve water quality considering "good ecology equals good economy."

The bureaucratic/political system (polar opposite to the Rotarian Way)

While Jim Root wasn't a miracle worker, he did get people to continue talking, and venting too.
He said they'd take a time out after venting and then start again.

All the while my mind returned to the four-way test and whether it should have been a prerequisite during the Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings. 

Would the four-way test have changed things with the "citizen review" of the master water plan? 

While reading the story, I couldn't help but think that our area's water stakeholder advisory committee meetings, (many local government meetings for that matter...yes, having attended many!) are just sedentary exercises, never resembling the potential to become kinetic...living, functional things, leave-the-meeting-feeling-good type of events.
Even on good days.

It was all bureaucratic and political machinations and manipulation of the public!

So much for "Is it the TRUTH?" and "Develop Trust".

Greater Vernon Water customers--residents--didn't believe they were hearing the truth either in the meetings or in the sparse follow-up newspaper stories.  So no-one was surprised that trust didn't develop.

So, folks, next time there's an important meeting--or an election--invite a Rotarian.

Maybe even to run as Mayor(s).
That'd be very hopeful.

As an aside (and he'll probably be angry if he learns of this...)

Yes, I receive the truth from him.

Enderby's Timing Sucks

Today's Morning Star story by Knox "Notice given to unsightly Enderby premises", about council giving three readings to a Good Neighbour Bylaw amendment is bad timing if they want to enforce it now.

Apparently there are a couple of properties in the city that are of "huge concern".
After receiving a complaint, owners are given 14 days to clean up the property.
But the "huge concern" properties--if the bylaw amendment passes--reduces the clean-up deadline by 10 days to four. 

It's -13C out there folks!
So if a property owner didn't clean up when it was, say, a balmy 15C, do you really think it's fair to get him out there when it's 28 degrees colder?

"Are Enderby's councillors working outdoors in their gardens during this cold?" Kia would've said, adding "bet they aren't."

Enderby council would be wise to show a warm heart and order bylaw clean-up only during three seasons.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Humps, Bumps or Tables

What's next...a concrete ant hill with a ladder?
Either way you cut it, traffic calming devices are a pain.
The only benefit is they indicate when your vehicle needs shock replacement.

The new humps, bumps, or tables on Kalamalka Lake Road adjacent to Coldstream Elementary School are irritating more than a few residents, not just drivers.

As reported by Smith in today's Morning Star:  "If it's not cars bottoming out, it's grabbing gears," said Dan Paterson, who wants rubber speed bumps installed at the school area.  (Dan's idea is that school custodians could put them out before and after school...as though that would fly!)

Apart from the fact that many roads adjacent to schools have no such barriers, there are specifications for speed barriers.  Do Coldstream's speed barriers meet those specs?

Some examples of traffic calming devices are pictured below.

These fellows are probably not school custodians...

oops...not this!


A three-inch high speed table would certainly have been sufficient for Kal Lake Road, but I'm not getting out of the car to measure their height.

And being made of materials different than the road surface may draw attention to them, as is explained in the first page of this website

Read a little further on that page, and you'll learn that a disadvantage is "increased noise", which was entirely Mr. Paterson's point.

"He omitted one thing", Kia would've said, "the sign pollution that Coldstream has created."

Good point.
Now if we could just convince a few of the SUV-Moms, as they are affectionately called, to not do U-turns in front of the school...

Bumpy ideas get a bumpy ride in Coldstream.

Money is Always "the Carrot"

Monetary coercion.
The dollar carrot.
Or mucho dollars as in this push for sewer hook-ups adjacent to a 10-year old line.

Coldstream municipality's soon-to-be compulsory requirement for sewer hookup for residents whose properties have a sewer line going past their home is meeting with some opposition from residents on Kalamalka, Giles, Pine and Mackie Roads.

Coldstream is planning an "educational" component for residents.
Good idea, as the municipality hasn't even announced how many residences are involved.

The muni's pressure equates to intimidation, as some residents have hinted.
So where's the intimidation?

Change the text to "Local Government Act", and you've got it!

...seems there's a pending bylaw (how convenient for the muni...) that the current $2,000 connection fee (I was under the impression sewer connection was $2,500) would climb 150 per cent (or 100 per cent) to $5,000.  (oops...you can tell I was thinking like a retailer here, and considering the "wholesale" price!   $2,000 to $5,000 is a 250 per cent increase!)

Holy Bylaw!
When was the last time your wages, or your pension cheque, saw a 150 (or 100) per cent increase?


Plus...then you'll receive sewer "consumption" on quarterly water invoices.
Oh goody.
Are you sitting down?

Don't forget that your suddenly-new sewer bill (based on water consumption) will include your household's Christmas visitors (which "sets" your sewer rates on that period's consumption for the entire year).  Coldstream muni's water meters are historically read around the first week of December...but that is your 4th Q water consumption.

So for Coldstream residents, the 1st Q water consumption starts at the early-December meter reading! 
Yes, it does. 

Perhaps in a thinly-veiled effort to dilute their intimidating tactic, Coldstream advises the new hook-up to sewer cost would be effective two years after the bylaw's adoption.
Plus CAO Seibel (who easily earns $140,000 annually provided by residents' property tax dollars) says there's financing available for up to 15 years to pay off the debt, with residents advised to "just pay quarterly on the utility bill").

Just pay quarterly!
It's still debt, Mr. Chief Administrative Officer!

But with Coldstream residents' generally large lots whose homes are set quite far back from the property line, there are huge costs involved in bringing the line from the house to the road's sewer connection.  One upset resident stated the costs for him could approach $25,000...with a $15,000 minimum cost.
And in two years, those costs won't have stood still either!  

The Kalamalka Lake Road sewer line was installed in 2006 by Coldstream Meadows as a condition of their Development Permit.  Affected properties run along Giles Drive, Pine Drive, Coldstream Creek Road and Mackie Drive to Coldstream Meadows.

"Maybe Coldstream muni is hiding its head in the sand," Kia would've suggested "because old septic tanks throughout  Coldstream Estates have been leaking for many years."

...and yucky water is actually coming out of the ground onto numerous acreages south of Buchanan Road near Grey Road.
Yup...from Coldstream Estates.

Yessirreebob, Coldstream Municipality supports farming.
Especially carrots.

And tell your Christmas visitors to pee anywhere but at your house.