Saturday, November 15, 2014

Questions for Danielle Smith and the #WRP

The Wildrose party of Alberta wants to better define their image, so I have a few questions for Danielle Smith or any other representative of the Wildrose. I've posted this comment here and emailed them as well.



Hi Danielle,

I would definitely consider myself one of those who has no idea what the Wildrose stands for. I used to think you were an ultra-right wing extremist party masquerading as Libertarian, particularly during the media circus around Allan Hunsperger (which I wrote about here http://www.canadiantrendsblog.ca/2012/04/youre-welcome-to-your-conscious-but.html ) though your more recent views and policy announcements have me less convinced of that. I don't know what label to apply to the Wildrose currently, and I'm perfectly ok with that, maybe you're just a "people" party, lord knows it's about time. So instead of attempting to figure out what label you are I'm simply going to ask some direct questions and if you'll answer them and I like your answer you can consider me a supporter and voter in the next provincial election. First I need to provide some context for them so you can see where my concerns are deriving from.

I personally am a political atheist. I don't believe in taking partisan sides, or even the phony "left" and "right" wing labels. In fact I am one of a younger generation that's quickly losing faith in a political and economic system that routinely puts their children, grand children, and unborn children on the chopping block for supposed "prosperity" today. It's clear that while politicians talk a good game about the concerns of a disenfranchised youth and the world they will be inheriting, actions always seem geared to maintain the status-quo and ensure any unaffordable or unforeseen costs of this great prosperity the older generations have enjoyed is promptly shifted onto the backs of their children.

From low interest rates which prevent those with little in assets to be able to save, to massive cost inflation that's routinely just excluded from government CPI calculations so subsequent costs don't increase with it, to public services at all 3 levels of government being routinely cutback or simply not expanded at the proper rate to account for population growth ( http://www.canadiantrendsblog.ca/2014/01/mp-brian-jean-resigns-to-concentrate-on.html ), to the addition of numerous "fees" for everything and red tape, the cumulative effects are continually and increasingly squeezing everyone, but especially those who are attempting to build a life, pay off student debt, pay off a mortgage, a car loan, and also save for retirement. It's so unrealistic it's laughable and yet it continues. The fact that Canada's central banker Stephen Poloz just recently told those being squeezed to just "wait for the recovery to take hold and take a job for free in the meantime" I think highlights what I'm saying here ( http://www.canadiantrendsblog.ca/2014/11/poloz-advocates-adult-children-take.html ).

I find the skewed reality of what's really going on to be especially bad in Alberta where a relatively small number of high paying oil jobs unbalance the cost-of-living for everyone else, further drive up the cost of housing beyond the bubble already created by low-interest rates, and pigeon-hole Alberta into a one-industry economy. The fact that this is occurring is seemingly ignored by the PC government (and the Federal government for that matter) with an attitude of "well just go get an oil job" which is hardly going to encourage industry diversification and economically suppresses those who choose not to or can't work in the oil industry. Which brings me to my first question: What would you do to help mitigate and raise awareness of this discrepancy and loss of opportunity?

QUESTION #1) What would you do to help mitigate and raise awareness of the skewed economic discrepancy and loss of opportunity Albertans not in the oil industry experience?

The problem, I fear, is that Alberta in general just doesn't have a very good grasp on what the future global economic situation looks like. We're constantly stuck in and trying to revive the past.

For instance, much of Alberta's current expectations on what economic growth and returns from oilsands development are supposed to look like are based on our experience from the run on oil prices leading up to 2007. The era of "The Alberta Advantage" and even though that time is long gone now in the rear view mirror of time it doesn't seem that Alberta's politicians are any closer to understanding why.

Even at $80, the price of oil compared to just 10 years ago is extremely high and yet now we talk as though this is a "low oil price". What I never see acknowledged though is the climate of the market at the time. Alberta's prosperity didn't come from the price of oil, it came from the fact the price of oil was always going up. If the price of oil hadn't continually gone up and levelled off for any significant amount of time (as it has done for the last 5 years) we would have hit these economic problems sooner. If you remember when oil was $40 the government went ahead and declared they needed a target of $70. When $70 was hit the target changed to $90. And so on. But the oil market has now reached the upper limit of affordability where a move from $80 to $110 causes a rash of frontpage articles about "pain at the pump". Given the rest of the economic environment and the stagnation of wealth natural market forces will not be pushing the price of oil beyond $110 barring the exception of some sort of supply disrupting geopolitical event - but if Alberta's future economic hopes are based on geopolitical destabilization (as the many news articles that come out around war declaring "such and such military action could be good for Alberta") then we're truly up s**t creek.

A few years ago "The minute" interviewed you and asked about Peak Oil ( http://itstheminute.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/the-minute%e2%80%94danielle-smith/ - Unfortunately it seems the video of the interview itself is gone, Jason Lamarche quit his 'The Minute' project awhile ago). However, suffice to say I wasn't very impressed with your answer.
But that said, it's nearly 4 years later and the effects of peak oil are becoming a lot more noticeable. There's been a lot of articles lately that declare the fracking boom in the U.S. and the oilsands are evidence against peak oil but in reality, with a proper understanding of peak oil, they are proof of it. Conventional, cheap oil is on the decline, and it's being increasingly replaced with expensive to produce oil such as fracking and the oilsands. Peak oil theory isn't about oil depletion, and it's only those who didn't take the time to understand the supply downside who were saying the price of oil will be going to $200 due to supply constraints. Few theorists considered that perhaps it would not be the oil supply that would be constrained but rather the ability for economic growth to truly ramp up.

The oilsands are encountering serious issues in financing, and these are only going to become progressively worse. Keep in mind that we are in an unprecedented low interest rate environment, credit has never been cheaper, and yet even still financing for these projects is a problem (and the U.S. fracking companies are experiencing the same issues - I've written more extensively about this here: http://www.canadiantrendsblog.ca/2014/11/oil-price-and-economic-recovery-pendulum.html ).

I very much appreciate your environmental outlook on oilsands development, and you're absolutely right in that something needs to be done before Alberta's image (which frankly has been rightfully earned due to the deception and propaganda the government has used to try to convince people otherwise instead of addressing the issue) deteriorates further and also, you know, the environmental situation there gets worse, but I think you're underestimating the challenges ahead.

With conventional 'cheap' energy declining (which inherently subsidizes aspects of more extreme energy extraction) projects like the oilsands are only going to become more difficult to maintain even at current environmental levels but what's more likely to happen to reduce costs is more and more corners will be cut as we continually lower the bar on what's acceptable to maintain profits. It's great that you believe that some "technology which doesn't exist yet" is going to save the day, but my second question is: what your contingency plan is if one doesn't materialize as I don't believe one is going to be forthcoming any time soon?

QUESTION #2) what's your contingency plan if "some new technology" doesn't materialize which can viably reduce the ever increasing environmental destruction of oilsand development if not eliminate it entirely?

QUESTION #3)  Likewise given what I've described above in terms of an accommodative financial sector which still barely keeps production's head above water and the understanding that peak oil doesn't necessarily describe diminishing supply but rather diminishing energy returned on energy investment (EROEI) what is your opinion on peak oil now and do you believe your policies are compatible with a future in which peak oil is a reality? If not, what gives you the confidence that the old normal in terms of growth can resume to the point the risk need not be considered?

On infrastructure and debt: You're definitely on to something here in regards to the ever-increasing overhead of Alberta's growth. This problem has been compounded by a government that has ridden on the illusion that they paid off the debt when in reality all they did was deter the costs and overhead of growth into the future where the investment now required to catch-up, let alone prepare for the future has risen multiple times over.

I've seen a few commenters on here mention that we shouldn't be afraid of taking on new debt to catch up our infrastructure because "interest rates are favourable". I believe this is an incorrect assessment, it's based on living in the past when the capacity to even have higher interest rates was possible. We've entered a new normal where low interest rates will likely be perpetual (the recovery is always right around the corner, right?) and as a result while the interest on new debt may be cheap such low rates of growth and rapidly growing costs will mean less resources available to pay it down in the future. The assumption that growth will resume is not a certainty and taking on large amounts of debt on the backs of the youth in hopes one day soon the economy will pick up is paramount to gambling, especially since most of Alberta's income is projected based on market moves. Not even day-traders would be so careless.

From my perspective Alberta has a serious problem on it's hands due to how far behind infrastructure already is. A more austere approach isn't going to provide what people need as Alberta pissed it's 30 years of decent oil profits down the drain rather than keeping up (Highway 63 is a perfect example: http://www.canadiantrendsblog.ca/2013/11/lack-of-foresight-dangerous-like.html ), but catching up with debt is also very risky and if the government's lofty hopes for growth and revenue don't pan out (which they likely won't as their projections and beliefs are still based on pre-2007 growth and I don't know if anyone has noticed this lately: always wrong - http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/23/jim-prentice_n_5379875.html ) then we will simply once again be deferring the problem into the future where costs are once again sure to be a multiple of what they are now and available resources much less. I don't see an easy way out of this conundrum for us  so I'd like to hear a lot more from your party on how it can be addressed.

I really have a lot more concerns regarding Alberta's future and the path we're on but I've written a lot already and as is these aren't easy questions. I'm happy to see your party is embracing new media and directness as it's method of communication and perhaps you might consider incentives for citizen media as a policy initiative.

Thank you for your time.

Richard Fantin



I'll update should I get a response.

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oil price and the economic recovery pendulum

Something I've been noticing ever since oil (WTI) entered it's rubber band like pattern with constant support at $80 (to support lower EROEI extreme energy development) and it's upper resistance of $110 (because once it hits $100 affordability and gas prices become an issue causing demand to decline and usually reaching a downward turning point at around $110) is that symbiotic economies such as the U.S. and Canada keep going through opposing boom/bust cycles. In the last 5 years, generally, when Canada's prospects have been looking up (which usually corresponds to when oil is relatively higher) the U.S. prospects have been looking down, and vice versa. We see this also today, with a very depressed oil price (which has breached the $80 extreme energy support level - more on this later), Canada's prospects are looking down and our hopes are resting on the (new) U.S. recovery (it seems hopes for higher oil prices have been dashed in the near-term).

Of course currency valuations, and a whole host of other factors come into play but on a very basic level there has been a recurring pattern of boom in one country and bust in the other and they tend to follow the swings in oil. The reasoning is simple:
  • In the case of the America's, which relies heavily on consumption and spending to boost economic growth, cheaper energy means more spending power. This has suddenly become cheered by mainstream economists everywhere (most of whom were also cheering for oil prices to continue to rise as a sign of economic health, oddly) which has lead to headlines such as "America's Consumers Are Basically Getting An $80 Billion Tax Cut". It's interesting that you rarely see articles on expensive oil calling it an $80 billion tax increase though, isn't it? But I digress...
  • Canada however, does better when asset prices are high (or at least Canadian businesses do, not necessarily Canadians) as much of Canada's industry is in the business of selling raw resources. Asset prices tend to rise and fall together and I'd say are largely dictated by the price of crude oil as any change in oil price will usually have a direct effect on the operating costs of other asset driven business.
$80 is a significant support level particularly when it comes to the investment aspect of extreme oil projects. Projects that are already operational and funded can still squeeze profit out of these relatively low oil prices however when it comes to the investment side, particularly regarding startups, the situation becomes quite a bit more bleak.
That’s not the case for many small oil sands producers. Sunshine Oilsands Ltd., for instance, suspended construction at its West Ells oil sands project and signalled its intention to raise U.S. $325-million through a debt offering.
Another part of the problem is that some smaller oil sands companies have not produced bitumen as advertised.

“There’s a chill that’s been put on the ability to raise capital because of the performance of some of the assets,” Mr. Bloomer said of the junior oil sands industry. “There’s a number of them that have not performed very well at all.”

As Ms. Dathorne said, junior oil sands companies need to demonstrate their ability to generate cash flow from their operations above their breakeven costs. Many haven’t been able to do so.

Mr. Bloomer said that Connacher intends to grow its production steadily, by adding new wells to its two existing steam-assisted oil sands projects – rather than raising large amounts of capital and trying to build new projects from scratch.
But something strange is happening in the oil markets; WTI recently breached that $80 support and breached $75 today. Largely the narrative around this phenomenon is that it's a fracking boom energy miracle, that there is a glut in supply and thus prices are low. This narrative is likely playing a large part in the (new) anticipated U.S. recovery everyone seems to think is right around the corner.

It's not exactly a false narrative, as it is misleading. The basic facts are true, yes there is an oil glut, yes the fracking "boom" contributed to it, but the way these facts are being presented omits some parts of the puzzle that just don't add up.

Both Brent and WTI have fallen roughly $20 in the last 2 months. This of course has been largely driven by Saudi Arabia which has, despite the oil glut, kept right on chugging and even lowered their prices which gave the final push needed to break the psychological barrier of $80. This action is largely being chalked up to Saudi Arabia "battling for market share" which I believe is incorrect. Or again, perhaps, rather misleading in terms of what "market share" really means.



However, simply battling for market share isn't really their style. Certainly not to this extreme. You're probably seeing a lot of comparisons to oil price in 2010 right about now as that is the last time the price of oil was at these levels but let me remind you that that was on an upswing after demand had been destroyed by the 2008 economic collapse and the IEA's own data shows that while production overall has increased, so has consumption, and OECD oil stocks have remained relatively flat certainly nothing to warrant such a rapid decrease in price. Yes there was a drop in global demand but that in the last 5 years has never been enough to break the $80 barrier on price as that barrier is a required support to keep production at pace. Which maybe explains why the IEA is warning that these lower oil prices are actually going to lead to a supply crunch, and price spikes.
The challenges lie across the energy spectrum but are particularly acute in the global oil market, where the recent plunge in prices will deter capital expenditures that are needed to offset declining production from aging fields, even as lower pump prices spur demand growth.
That decline in supply and increase in demand would drive prices higher in the coming years than they would be under a stable price scenario.

“The short-term picture of a well-supplied oil market should not disguise the challenges that lie ahead as reliance grows on a relatively small number of producers,” primarily in the Middle East, it said.

In an interview from Paris, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said Canada’s oil sands are an important source of secure supply as other major producing regions – from Russia and the Middle East – face political upheaval.

“We expect Canadian production will be a very important cornerstone of the security of global oil markets,” Mr. Birol said. The IEA forecasts that Canadian production will grow from four million barrels a day currently to 7.4 million by 2030, with virtually all of that growth coming from the oil sands.
Unfortunately the IEA, as an economically-political institution that is itself vested in the continuation of infinite growth, has to put hope somewhere. I expect that "deterred capital expenditures" in oilsands development are going to damper their Canadian outlook.

So, given this information and the supposed supply glut, isn't it interesting that everyone all of a sudden is drilling unabated to the point where it nearly becomes unprofitable? The Saudi's with their vast reserves of conventional oil and established networks can produce oil much more cheaply than the U.S. and many competitors, the Saudi's need for oil revenue largely comes from how much they fund with it to quell their population. However, when it comes to the U.S. or Canada we need that revenue simply to cover the added overhead the industry depends on and even then it isn't enough. Yet despite all this the drilling continues unabated. It's to the point where the in the U.S. they are fielding risky, and largely untested technology just to "keep the boom going".
Companies experimenting with downspacing, including ConocoPhillips (COP), Continental Resources Inc. (CLR) and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC), are still trying to figure out how quickly wells will become depleted when they’re so crowded together, said Leo Mariani, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in Austin. If that happens too fast, those initial extra profits might eventually become losses.

It may take as long as five years before the industry has a solid understanding of how much oil they’re leaving in the ground by crowding wells so closely together, Mariani said.

“It definitely works, but you might end up with 80 percent of the recoverable oil,” he said. “The question is whether the economics will be as good. It’s certainly not without risk.”

In the short-term, most tightly spaced South Texas wells so far are yielding more oil, not less, the Drillinginfo analysis shows. Technological advances including spacing and higher per-well productivity have been “important to maintaining production” amid falling prices, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said in an Oct. 14 report.

In 2013, Marathon’s Eagle Ford wells that were tested at the closest spacing levels were 34 percent more prolific after six months compared to wells spaced further apart in 2011.

“What we see is that we are getting better over time,” Robertson said in an April interview. “We have a very small body of knowledge about this kind of spacing so far in the industry, but this is our single greatest opportunity to create greater value.”
Seems a little odd, ya? To chase lower prices and create an even larger glut? Also keep in mind that all of this financing that's being talked about here is financing under central banking emergency measures. Ultra-low interest rates. If it's difficult for these projects to show they can break even now, or that the depletion rates of the wells are largely unknown due to the experimental technology being fielded then what would financing be like once interest rates rise? What will profitability look like?

It's often said in Canada that Big Oil runs the Harper government, but what's often left out is that the Big Banks run Big Oil as they are the ones that finance it and as oil is largely what provides for the excessive consumption we've become accustomed to, hence the tight correlation between oil consumption and GDP, which happens to be a direct requirement needed for the banks to operate the monetary system Ponzi-conomy. Banks by far have the single largest stake in oil production as aside from the loans given directly to the energy sector, virtually every other loan's probability of repayment rests heavily on an uninterrupted, stable, and affordable oil supply. For this reason I find it unlikely central banks will ever be able to raise interest rates (they may try but will likely be forced to re-lower them once again) as a full uninterrupted supply of a core component of GDP growth pretty well demands emergency low interest rates just to remain viable.

What you are seeing here is not normal, it is an oil price war, and one which I believe is largely targeted at the United States. The week put out a good article on how Saudi Arabia hopes to reduce U.S. output however I don't think market share is the true answer as to why. Here is an interview with an analyst from October of 2013:
Q. How worried Is Saudi Arabia about the U.S. shale oil and gas revolution?

A. They are worried more about the politics than shale oil and gas. Saudi exports to the U.S. have continued at previous levels — in fact they have increased slightly. The primary reason for that is Saudi Arabia is in a joint-venture partnership with Royal Shell Dutch (Plc) in the Motiva refinery operation [in Port Arthur, Tex.], which has throughput capacity of just over a million barrels per day. They are exporting around 1.2 million barrels per day to the U.S.

As far as gas is concerned, Saudis don’t export natural gas, so they are not worried about the shale gas revolution.

What they are worried about is the rapport between the U.S. and Iran with new president Hassan Rouhani extending his hand in friendship, and the discussion that followed in Geneva looking for a way around Tehran’s nuclear-enrichment problem.

Q. Do you expect the Saudis to embark on a bold move to express their unhappiness — such as a production cut?

A. No, no, I don’t think they will go that far. But they are indicating their unhappiness with U.S. [Middle East] policy, and also its non-policy regarding Syria.

Q. What about shale oil and gas potential in Saudi Arabia — they have been drilling offshore and north of the country?

A. I think that’s marginal. Experimentally they probably want to find out what kind of reserves they might have. But they are not concerned with so much oil and gas.

Regarding U.S. shale, I have a quote by Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, [an adviser to Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi]. His direct quote is as follows:

“The shale oil and gas revolutions are adding greater depth to the petroleum market. Diversification of energy supplies in terms of type location and sources.”

And he added, later on, “it is creating a floor around oil prices of around $80 per barrel.”

So, he is reflecting the views of the royal family and the government, that they are not bothered too much.

Q. What’s CGES’s own view on the U.S. shale revolution?
A. The North Dakota experience is that that you have to drill a lot of wells to keep production going because the depletion rates are rapid. Once you drill the well, the pressures drops, and they have to drill and go further out into the field. So this is costly, around US$50 per barrel.

If the Saudis were to increase their output with the intention of dropping the price to US$60, quite a lot of shale drilling would stop in the U.S. I am not saying the Saudis would do it, but they have the ability to stop fracking.
 Over at Zero Hedge they believe Saudi Arabia is colluding with the U.S. to essentially do the same sort of economic attack but on Russia further damaging the Russian economy in exchange for finally bombing Syria but I find it hard to believe they would be so reckless when they've recently been so suave at manipulating the world populations into supporting what they want. Too many vital dependencies of U.S. hegemony are at risk in such a collusion and so I'm more inclined to believe that the manipulated downward price is aimed at the United States as a geopolitical weapon.

One possible reason may be that Saudi Arabia is worried that if the U.S.'s lofty predictions for output work out that the incentive to remain in the pact with Saudi Arabia forged after the 70's oil shocks which provide them military equipment and international protection of their brutal archaic regime may evaporate.

So what does this all mean for you? It means in the near term if Saudi Arabia is successful you can probably expect oil to reach $60 / barrel. The perceived plentifulness and cheapness of energy will likely contribute to a new consumption trend which may actually end up being the longest leg of supposed growth in the recovery as oil price will have a fair amount of runway before affordability becomes a major issue again.

But don't get too comfortable, this glut is artificial and unsustainable, even if demand did meet supply at these price levels as the longer this goes on the less incentive there will be to continue. Should the Saudi's fail at their goal I anticipate oil price will return to it's previous pattern it's been following for the last 5 years at least until other factors start to interfere with the perfect storm of low interest rates and junk debt. However, if the Saudi's succeed in their goal I'd expect then an oil price spike shortly after and some pretty big fireworks in western financial markets.

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#C36

An anonymous woman offers sexual services
on the popular application Whisper
I hadn't really been paying attention to C36 throughout the year, generally bills of this nature fall outside the scope of what this blog is looking at in the sense the issue is too divisive, emotionally charged, politicalized, and I find to also fall under the aspects of human nature that a consensus will probably never be reached on.

However, given recent economic events and the Jian Ghomeshi scandal and it's highlighting of violence against women and abuse by those with some form of power along with the royal ascent of C36 I've decided now is an ideal time to comment, if I'm going to comment at all.

To state my position clearly I oppose it completely; it doesn't in my opinion even come close to respecting the Canadian Charter, or even the spirit of the Supreme Court decision it's in response to.

Being I'm not a sex worker, or an expert in law, I felt compelled to examine some various sources, and the House of Commons readings on the subject as well as going through various parts of the bill itself, it's unfortunately a very big subject and I have a lot of catching up to do, however I feel confident in my position enough now to at least make a preliminary statement on the matter.

Perhaps what I find most egregious about this bill is it victimizes all sex workers, and villainizes all Johns supposedly with the intent of "ending demand", a lofty unrealistic goal that defies human nature. Sex is always, and will always, be in demand.

Reading through the House of Commons debates on C36 I noticed supporters of the bill repeatedly refer to protecting children, those unwilling or non-consenting, and human trafficking. None of the arguments made really showed how anything within bill C36 addresses those issues though, and I frankly don't believe C36 is meant to. I also don't believe it's meant to abolish sex work either as it claims to.

There is a reason criminal cartels prefer to engage in illegal activities, and why they prefer those activities remain illegal: by relegating them to the black market their rarity and risk increase their value. Prohibition doesn't work, and you can witness this now as a few tweaks to some U.S. State's drug laws are doing what years of bloody, brutal, endless "war on drug cartels" never could, perhaps to the disdain of Wall Street and the associated Federal agencies they control. So in the process of my research for this topic I came across an interesting statement by 'Sex Trafficking Survivors United', who support the C36 bill.
We urge Canadian Parliament to take a stand against the exploitation of the young, poor, and vulnerable by the richer, older and more powerful. Pass Bill C36. As all survivors know, the vast majority of people end up in prostitution because they have no other choices, and/or are the victims of coercion, fraud, abuse and violence. The untruth that “prostitution is a choice” only serves to stigmatize and further trap most of the sexually exploited. This empowers their traffickers and abusers, while erasing the truth that the exploited are the victims of multiple crimes.
The richer, older, and more powerful. This clicked with me as the bombardment of reports on Jian Ghomeshi, while not related to sex work or human trafficking, did have a recurring theme of women not willing to go to police for fear of reprisal, personally or professionally, stemming from Ghomeshi's power. I certainly don't want to get into Ghomeshi here as that definitely is beyond the scope of this blog however the Ghomeshi event then clicked when I remembered reading something else about an internal debate amongst sex workers about releasing a list of MPs who themselves seek sexual services. Of course the existence of this list is hearsay currently but I really have no reason to doubt it's existence, it's not like the idea of richer, older, and more powerful politicians paying for sex is really "out there".

So I started thinking about this bill then from the perspective of a cartel, or a group of individuals vested in keeping certain activities underground. Generally the richer, older, and more powerful are not prosecuted unless some sort of campaign the size of Jian Ghomeshi is waged against them. The conclusion I draw from looking at C36 is that the likely result will be that women in the sex trade that either choose to remain in it or can't get out of it are being further isolated.

The "protections" being offered to them are supposedly more resources to help them get out of the trade, and nothing else. The criminalization of Johns and the purchase of sex does nothing more than ensure that sex worker's must stay even further out of the lime light of the police, to protect their clients and their business (the exact reason that POWER will not release the list of MP's names), which is inherently less secure along with the added disadvantage that private third party security can not be employed.

In the speech on C36 by MP Joy Smith (Conservative) one paragraph particularly stood out to me.
I had one case very recently where a boyfriend said to this young girl, “We'll get married. I love you”. He was her knight in shining armour. What she did not know was that behind the scenes he was part of a little gang that were targeting young girls, getting their confidence, taking away all their support systems through their families, their schools, their churches, all their supports, my beloved colleagues, and he sold her. She serviced up to 40 men a night before we got her out of that ring.

This is something we cannot be silent about. This kind of crime has been below the radar screen for so many years here in Canada. Everybody talks about every other country but Canada. In Canada, predators are making between $250,000 to $280,000 a year off their victims. That is tax-free money. That is why they do it. Mostly, it is because they follow the cash.
Taking away all their support systems.

C36 takes away what little legal support systems sex worker's have and replaces them with a shaming and "I told you so" take on victimization, equivalent to promoting abstinence as sex education, "You won't get pregnant if you don't have sex.".

The current government, over the years, has demonstrated that it is a government of and for the rich and powerful, read into that what you may.

Now, before I continue, what I'm saying here is not analogous to being pro-prostitution in the sense that I'm now thinking due to the passing of C36, "oh no now I can't legally utilize prostitutes". It's really not something I spend a lot of time thinking about actually. I've never utilized the services of a sex worker, I'm barely comfortable in strip clubs and I've never had a lap dance. While I do understand that many enjoy their work (for the work, not just the currency), I personally would feel both degraded in the situation, as I prefer knowing that my sexual partner actually wants to be with me, and uncomfortable, as if it took currency to get them to be intimate with me then I'm probably not exactly what they desire. I think it would be difficult even to be in a relationship with a sex worker.  But that aside, these are my personal feelings on the matter, it's not an activity I ever intend to engage in (though you never know my opinion on that might change in 30 years) but I can recognize that it's existence, and it's continued existence, are inevitable.

Perhaps Poloz's recent statement that adult children that can't find jobs, are saddled with student debt, and can't afford to move out of their parents should start taking internships for free to keep their resumes updated best shows the detachment between the crusade for the vulnerable, and the reality of the vulnerable. A deteriorating condition as collectively the world borrows more and more from future generations to prop up asset bubbles and other illusions of wealth. With the flexibility of the internet and the ease of access for providing sexual services along with their potential to provide a living wage and endless demand from a protected upper class it will remain or perhaps become even more so an appealing way to make quick cash, especially as further inter-generational inequality takes hold.

Criminalizing the Johns, preventing advertisements, are not going to end demand for sexual services. Human trafficking rings are already illegal, and the smaller ones actively prosecuted all the time. The sexual exploitation of underage children is of course already illegal as well. The idea the criminalization of Johns somehow makes it easier for "the victims" to approach the police is laughable at best, founded in the belief that now because the burden of proof is no longer on the women they can feel more comfortable coming forward. But the removal of the burden of proof of being "victimized" does not help with the stigma that currently comes with being a sex worker or the way police treat them. It does not provide confidence in the police in general, especially after high profile events like the G20 protests where multiple women reported sexual assaults and humiliation by the police which were subsequently whitewashed and covered up.

Sexual exploitation is an institutionalized, profit driven, part of our society. From the girls being exploited by the Tilted Kilt working there because of the tips, to the perfect sexualized beauties marching out of Hollywood. The continued criminalization of sex work ensures those who are in a position to capitalize on and exploit it will be free to do so while the sex workers themselves are placed in a more vulnerable and submissive position to accommodate for the newly added risk their clients are taking on by continuing to do business with them.

Special thanks to @kwetoday for her insight and research on this matter.

ADDENDUM

If the government really wanted to help with the exploitation of youth they'd be funding armies of guys like Mark Cherrington.

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Poloz advocates "adult children" take "unpaid work" and "wait for the recovery to take hold"

Having trouble finding a job, especially one that can pay for the exorbitant and ever-increasing cost-of-living in Canada? Well Stephen Poloz has some advice for you: simply take some unpaid work, it'll look great on your resume.
How bad are things in Canada’s job market? Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says bad enough for young people to consider working for free.

Adult children stuck in their parents’ basements because they can’t find adequate employment should take unpaid work to bolster résumés as they wait for the recovery to take hold, Poloz said Monday in Toronto.
Of course I'm not exactly sure how it's lost on Poloz, who is Canada's central banker and one of the people directly responsible for the low interest policy (along with Mark Carnage) that has put speculative ever-rising housing costs as one of the primary drivers of Canada's domestic consumption economy, that perhaps alongside wages that haven't budged in 30 years and certainly haven't kept up with real price inflation that the other primary reason these people are still living at home with their parents is they can't afford to move out because excessive low interest rates have now made housing in Canada nearly the most expensive in the world.
Canadians are struggling with steep housing costs, according to a large global survey which found that high mortgage, rent and utility payments are leaving little for saving and investing. 
The global investor pulse survey, released Thursday by money manager BlackRock Inc., found that “many Canadians feel that they are in a financial squeeze – hard pressed to save amid what they perceive as a high cost of living, including devoting much of their income to paying for their homes.”
Somehow I highly doubt that even finding "adequate employment" is going to result in an "adequate paycheque" that even comes close to matching the highly speculative and rising cost of housing, or that will protect these people from the losses when (not if) this massive bubble in housing we mistakenly call a "recovery" finally collapses like it should of in 2008. Canada may not have been as over-leveraged as the U.S. back then but we sure as hell are now and the consumer trends currently at play simply don't signal that it has any support beyond continued low interest rates and immense foreign investment.

On top of driving up the cost of assets the low-interest rate policy (being set by the man warning about low interest rate policies and their effects) also has the nice little side-effect of ensuring this generation he claims to be oh-so-concerned about never gets any returns on their savings. As the entire purpose behind stimulus is admittedly "to drive savers into riskier assets and get capital flowing" of course that's assuming you have any capital to flow in the first place though now isn't it? Most of those reasonably well off today accumulated that wealth not by trading on the market, or investing in companies, but by putting a little bit of cash away in a savings account which returned enough in interest to either meet or exceed inflation. The current generations of "adult children" as Poloz likes to call them is being robbed of this opportunity in the name of ensuring those who have already accumulated the wealth believe they still have it (by transferring what little wealth those younger have into their hands).

For those not well off enough to benefit from the new "income splitting tax credit" (which oddly seems only to help families which mirror that of Stephen Harper's) Canada has another solution for you, it's called the food bank, and plenty of Canadians are already taking advantage of it!
Food Bank Canada report: Number of Canadians in need of help 'alarmingly' high

Food bank use in Canada increased slightly this year in comparison to 2013, and it remains significantly higher than it was before the economic recession, according to a report released Tuesday by Food Bank Canada.

In the month of March 2014, more than 840,000 people received food bank assistance, one per cent higher than the same snapshot period last year. More than a third of them were children, and nearly half of households helped were families with children.
So don't worry, "adult children", you can live with your folks rent free (I'm sure they won't mind) and if you need to eat? Well there is always the food bank. What's important is that you take some unpaid work and get your resume up to speed until "the recovery takes hold" (and I'm guessing you'll have to wait until employers stop complaining about how much labour costs in Canada and they stop pushing for TFWs as well too).

Of course I'm struggling to see how generation(s) that can't afford anything and isn't to be paid for their contributions in employment is going to help drive an economy that's based entirely on over-leveraged consumption and help it "recover". This is what it looks like when an unsustainable Ponzi-conomy reaches the end of the road: something has got to (and will) give, it's only a matter of time, and it's not going to be pretty when it happens.

Click here to recommend this post on progressivebloggers.ca and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.