Friday, February 28, 2014

Bang Bang! You're bread

Seems everyone has heard about the sale of arms to the now "fugitive" Ukraine government. The NDP is asking "why?". Jesus fucking Christ, seriously? Why? Oh I don't know, "growth"?

Canada planning to sell guns and military equipment to developing countries to maintain domestic arms industry
The end of Canadian combat operations in Afghanistan and deep cuts to defence budgets in the United States and other allied nations are driving the federal government to look to developing countries as potential buyers of Canadian-made guns and military equipment.

The past few years have seen the government add Colombia to a list of countries to which Canadian defence companies and others can sell military weapons and equipment, and look to add a number of others such as India, Kuwait, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea as well.

Yet while many have believed the move towards selling military goods to developing countries, some with questionable human rights records, was intended to expand Canada’s share of the global arms trade, it appears the actual reason is to help the $12-billion industry through tough times.
A secret briefing note presented to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in June says the plan to add Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List was a direct response to reduced demand for Canadian-made weapons in “traditional markets” such as the U.S. and Britain.
Tough times for the banks, tough times for the defense industry, tough times for the archaic automotive industry. Tough times.

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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 CenturyLink

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.

American soldiers training for civil unrest?

"Get back!" "Get back!"

Get it yet folks?

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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 CenturyLink

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, February 25, 2014

Dictating freedom and prosperity

I really, really, don't like Justin Trudeau. I fear that "Harper" has become an excuse for recklessness. The "Anything But Conservative" voting "strategy" has failed time and time again, and is in fact so vulnerable that it's been capitalized upon and manipulated by using seemingly trustworthy organizations that claim to estimate the party that's most likely to defeat the conservatives and basically tell everyone to vote that way to defeat them. But how do you know these organizations are not actually run by the conservatives, perhaps instead feeding information about the party least likely to win? How much do you really know about those organizations?

But this post isn't about that, not voting or the corruption there, specifically. It's about Justin Trudeau, the left vs right smokescreen, and our deteriorating situation.

What I see in Justin Trudeau is an elite, carefully groomed from birth to believe things are a certain way. I don't know if he is deliberately deceiving the people, or if he's just so brainwashed that his mind truly resides within the state of cognitive dissonance he displays particularly in his lofty, meaningless, speeches on the middle class. My focus is turning to him as I see "the war" stage being setup for his victory in the 2015 election. The great left vs. right smokescreen to hide that on the matters important to the global elite both parties are nearly identical. Everything else is window dressing. A political sports telecast.

Perhaps the "sportyness" of politics couldn't be expressed better than Trudeau's latest comment regarding Russia being upset because they lost at hockey. I'm not "offended" so I don't really give a shit if he apologized. Apology or no apology it shows how disconnected he is. Sports... to lighten the mood, about serious issues, of course. Sports are a time honored opiate of the masses and hockey is Canada's modern gladiator. But what's more, the game that's being played, amongst the elite between Russia and the Western trading blocks is very much a game. Speaking of ZBig, he's been tweeting up a storm about the Ukraine. Both sides' constant insistence it's not an "east-vs-west' issue just makes the fact that it clearly is that much more obvious

Anyway, it doesn't matter if we get "Harper out". It really doesn't matter who gets in unless the person going in is going to address the problems, the real problems, not the symptoms and Trudeau's pledge to "growth" tells me all I need to know about his sincerity regarding his middle class message. His support of "free trade" and the use of temporary foreign workers is again contrary to his middle class message. From this perspective I can not help but think that he must be purposely deceiving, either that or so willfully ignorant and ideological he can't see the forest for the trees. "Growth", give me a break.

Canada's middle-class too broke to spur economic recovery: government report

Growth is dead. A theory I use quite often when I'm trying to forecast the medium or long term destination of oil price is that there is now a clear ceiling of affordability on the price of oil at about $100 / barrel. I've described this concept in more detail on another post. This concept is important because it's not really that the middle class is too poor to spur growth, it's that things have become too expensive, namely oil, to spur growth. The "middle class" simply can't afford it. This isn't to say that things like "stagnating wages" aren't happening and aren't a major contributor in fact just the opposite.

Step back, don't look at any individual problem, just step back and look at growth. What is it? Demand for more, production of more, and more profit (for who?). More stuff, ever cheaper (in theory) right? So what are stagnating wages? why do they occur? Profit growth? What's commonly said by the "job creators" is that the employees are simply too expensive, so they've outsourced to foreign countries with free trade and the new found "global wage competition" they point to at every chance.

It is the need for growth to service an impossible system that is destroying us. I can not stress this enough, because it's the first domino in a whole series of subsequent issues and Justin Trudeau, the savior from Harper's "growth" policies - and they have been growth policies at your expense - is leading you towards more "growth" and that "growth", too, will be at your expense. "Growth" today is just cooked books as the snake eats it's own tail just like the conservatives claimed "balanced budget".

Our very, very, expensive new reality hasn't hit us yet in full though I think that the costs, especially due to extreme weather, are starting to mount, but it will hit us in full. Incoming data ever since the Fed's "taper" has been horrific and Canada is stuck in a severe liquidity trap. It's already hit numerous other nations and Canada's turn is coming. We are no different than they are and our economic system is no more stable or sustainable.

If you're wondering why Justin Trudeau supports the pipeline, its because they are essential for "growth" which is essential if we're to prevent "evil deflation" and an eventual housing and banking collapse and that's just in the near term. All I see on the "fair" voting ballot is growth. That's it. It'll take many forms of course, managed in different ways providing an epic political war to play on your home TVs and for media to fawn over, but at the end of the day it's growth, growth, growth, economic growth, in service to the banks and nothing else. Whatever the solution is it isn't going to come from the system's designated hero. It really can only come from you, us,  together.

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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 CenturyLink

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, February 20, 2014

The natural evolution of de-growth

I read an excellent story today, which as some of the commenters pointed out probably suffers from confirmation bias, but I don't really care. What's important is it's becoming a trend, a (seemingly) voluntary one, and one I've been talking about ever since I began blogging on my previous blog Hellberta.

Gen Y is redefining home ownership - and the B.C. real estate market

Now the whole thing is very interesting, and we'll get to some larger deriving trends that come from the economic trends described within the article but there's one line that really spoke to me, perhaps because I feel the same way.
They might have grown up in a bedroom community, such as the west side, or a suburb. But they are a more urban group, no longer dependent on a car, partly because of cost, and partly because they genuinely care about sustainability. They don’t see the cachet of owning a car, as did their parents’ generation.

“They didn’t get their driver’s licence the day they turned 16,” says Ms. Reuter.

“For the younger generation, it’s almost a badge of pride they wear, not needing a vehicle.”
Now, for a guy like me in Edmonton to accomplish it's a little bit harder. Transit infrastructure here doesn't even come close to that within Vancouver, the weather is a factor, and we're just generally more sprawled. If it wasn't for my job in software I probably would have to drive simply due to the nature of business in Alberta and the favoritism shown towards automobiles. But it does exist here, and I imagine much more so in Vancouver and similar locations.

So why is this degrowth? and why is it seemingly voluntary?

You can pretty well sum it up with a comment one interviewee stated.
Jens Ourom can divide his demographic into three categories. There is the group that sees home ownership has an “unrealistic sacrifice from both a financial and lifestyle perspective.” There is the group that is “raging mad, resistant to retiring as renters – a potential powder keg whenever affordability, housing prices, mortgages, and anything related to the white picket fence … are broached as conversation topics.” And then there is the “What’s the big deal about affordability?” group. Members of that group are counting on a trust fund or big inheritance to get them into the homeowner income bracket.

Mr. Ourom, 27, says he belongs in the first camp, that Millennial who sees pricey property as just too big a sacrifice when there’s so much else that the world has to offer. He is debt free because he worked hard to get scholarships to pay for his degree. He lives car-free and pays a premium in rent to live centrally.

“I really think the concept of saving for a home is maybe overblown and what you should be doing is saving for a future,” says Mr. Ourom. “If your goal is to have a home and work on a home and invest in that, then great, but this generation is already finding different ways they want to save for the future, whether it’s investing in education, or starting a business. I think people are getting more creative with it.”
The future. Likely without a family, children, population growth. The insecurity and fear this generation faces on top of being priced out of traditional living is causing a natural adjustment to their expectations, their goals, their survival. Insecurity for yourself means insecurity for your children. This isn't to say Gen-Y isn't having children, but it is to say that for most it is such a financially daunting reality when faced with the uncertainty of renting, or dealing with mortgage payments, student loans, or whatever other bullshit the previous generation has decided was a good idea to put on the shoulders of their children that the very thought of bringing more children is simply seemingly ridiculous.

The influences shaping this thought and adaptation is instinctive to survival. To a generation that sees OAS simply raised on them to 67 there is little faith in retirement and I'm sure the "it takes effect in the future" spin really comforts those who realize that it doesn't matter when it takes effect what matters is whether its in effect when you turn 65. To a generation seeing that today the uncertainty of what new changes await them in the future as cost cutting and austerity are exchanged for production growth, fear is prevelant.

The results of this aren't going to be pretty for the growth economy, but being that Gen-Y is largely priced out of the growth economy and it's very likely we're going to see a depopulation trend where fewer and fewer Gen-Y and millennial are even having children due to their new status as subprime debt slaves one then has to ask what's the point of having a growth economy? The natural response to our condition, those already feeling our condition that is, is becoming de-growth.

This generation alone already can't afford to support the baby boomers rapid growth record where now as the article describes most Gen-Y's to even consider home ownership must get their baby boomer parents to sign, and people are questioning whether this housing bubble is going to pop? Seriously? But it doesn't stop there as the pride of not using cars eats into large portions of automotive profit. I wonder if the Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is considering that in his growth projections while he begs the Canadian people for more government backed loans to support their growth. Yep, the "job creators" just can't seem to "create jobs" without the employee's paying them for the job in the first place. That's a sure path to wealth right?

De-Growth is already happening, and it's going to happen naturally. What's worrying is a system that doesn't want it to happen, a system that understands that this de-growth will lead to a severe and much needed change to the status quo. It's going to happen in many ways, some good, as in this example of Gen-Y taking an involuntary situation and turning it into an involuntary opportunity, and also the many bad examples which is going to lead to decaying infrastructure, a loss of productive jobs, and ultimately a loss of lives.

De-growth is here, it's how we handle it that is the question. We can kick and scream and light our country on fire as you see happening all around the world on an ever more frequent basis; you think that's coincidence? or we can smile, square our shoulders for the task ahead, and take it in stride.

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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 CenturyLink

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, February 18, 2014

I guess it's too bad everything we have's inflating away...

Growth. That's the solution. To what you might ask? The growth policy of the past. Seriously. Just ask Justin Trudeau:

It's a clever piece of propaganda. It really pulls at the harp strings of the "middle class". Growth... *sigh*... it's not the answer, folks. It's just not, it's an impossible equation which can not be solved because it's not just growth today, or tomorrow, it's forever. It's infinite growth. It's impossible. I was reading some article the other day on how too big to fail is "worse now" (seriously, be more creative) and I thought it was great, detailed, until I got to the end...
Most important as we address TBTF, is having a clear vision with Hamiltonian thoughtfulness that describes the banking system best suited to a democratic, capitalistic, free-market United States that will function, survive, and grow for the next few hundred years. Once done, whether through the reinstitution of Glass-Steagall or some other legislation, our economic and fiscal house will rest again on solid ground and be prepared to flourish. It is imperative that we address the issue.
Just think about that.. grow for the next few hundred years. We have no fucking clue what we're going to do after oil runs out which most estimates put out somewhere around 2050. No fucking idea, and we're not too worried about it either. But growth? Economic growth? Loan growth? Currency growth? We're fucking on it. "What're we gunna do?"

We're big, folks, really.. really big. We dominate the planet and the space around it. We're having to look in the arctic for resources. We're here, we're all grown up, now. Growth is no longer a service, but rather a hindrance. It is the pursuit of growth that is going to take everything we've built and slowly destroy it. Cancer grows until the host's ability to sustain it and usually itself is destroyed. That's our decision, right now, do we grow or do we stop and reorganize our society to focus on something different.

It's not really a choice, as we've been covering here lately. De-Growth is already happening, the economic growth of today is largely one giant magic trick balanced on debt and future leverage, promises on promises on over-priced property and future wealth we don't yet know actually exists.

Trudeau's video is one giant promotion of a continuation of this system. A debt based economic system that is entirely predicated on infinite exponential growth and where low EROEI energy sources like the oil sands and fracking and the prosperity they are supposed to bring are vastly overrated while the people's wealth is slowly transferred to the oligarchs in control as they borrow themselves into oblivion.

It will not result in more equality. It will not result in a "healthier middle class". It is exactly what we are doing right now. Or claiming we're doing, anyway. It's exactly what we've been doing. More growth. Ha. I've covered here before how Trudeau just candidly admits the middle class missed out on that first run of growth following NAFTA and currency privatization and of course my favorite quote of his more or less reducing the struggles of women and working to cogs on the economic wheel of growth.

Personal income for middle-class Canadians has stagnated for more than a generation. This deeply troubling development is masked by a rise in family income, due to the entry of a new generation of well-educated, hard-working women into the workforce. While this phenomenon is overwhelmingly positive, we must be clear-eyed in understanding that it is a one-time benefit
Seriously, the guy basically chops up the destruction of single-family incomes as overwhelmingly positive and a big "phew" that women just happened to be there to make up for the stagnation of an infinite growth Ponzi-conomy.

Which is interesting, isn't it? That in his video he would say that "Canadian families are wondering why they should support a "growth agenda".". The whole world is on a "growth agenda", I've had enough let me off this ride. It doesn't work, and "the working poor" and "middle-class" families are footing the bill. Yes, remember folks, we have a "working poor". People that work hard and full time and get fucked. Everyone is getting fucked. No pennies around anymore? Yea, that's your cents, in your account, devaluing. You're getting fucked and Trudeau over there is cheering the system doing the fucking while crying a sad song and sorrow for the middle class.

Growth and balanced budgets? Not bloody likely, in a debt based system any balancing of the budget is just a transfer of the debt off the books and into reality. Decaying infrastructure. Alberta is learning all about that while they put on their happy faces and try to keep quiet the burning questions regarding the process and methods of the extreme energy extraction they so cherish.
The well bores are separated by several kilometres, which calls into question why four would fail at the same time. A more frightening theory that’s gaining currency suggests CNRL may have overpressurized the underground formation causing the caprock closer to the surface to fracture, which is allowing the bitumen to seep upwards.

Primrose is a so-called in situ oil sands play, which means it uses a process that involves heating bitumen in the ground to a point where its viscosity allows it to be pumped to the surface. It doesn’t create the moonscapes and toxic tailings ponds that have become the signature features of oil sands mining projects, but it’s also not without its environmental footmarks. At Primrose, CNRL, for instance, has been ordered to pump more than 400,000 cubic metres of contaminated water from a small lake contaminated by the bitumen seepage. On a broader scale, the enormous amount of steam needed to extract bitumen from in situ plays, makes the undertaking more carbon intensive than even the mining projects that begin by stripping all traces of the original boreal forest from the landscape.

The carbon trail from in situ projects isn’t the only worry. The extraction method may also be having more of an impact on the earth itself than was previously thought. Geologists have found that injecting massive amounts of steam into bitumen deposits can actually lift the ground cover by more than a foot a month. If this upheaval fractures the caprock then that’s one less barrier left to stop the uncontrolled flow of bitumen to the surface.

The proliferation of such unconventional extraction methods, as the U.S. experience with fracturing shale rock shows, can also have unintended seismic effects. In Oklahoma and other places, for instance, fracking has been linked to earthquake activity.

So far, the Alberta Energy Regulator has yet to deliver a final verdict on the Primrose leak, although it did recently move to limit the amount of steam that CNRL can inject into its wells. While the provincial energy regulator – led by a former EnCana executive and president of the oil industry’s lobby group – does seem to be suspicious of CNRL’s proffered explanation for the seepage, it has yet to order the company to stop injecting steam at its Primrose operations. The longer bitumen keeps seeping to the surface, though, the more pressure the regulator will face to do so.
I like Jeff Rubin. He gets it. He wrote a book, and did a whole bunch of videos, do you know what he called it? The end of growth. A lot of my reasoning is influenced by his work, such as "why high oil prices stop growth". It makes sense. Nothing grows forever, and nothing has grown forever. Humanity has, but within that history societies have fallen many times over each reaching their own internal carrying capacity or what could be considered the carrying capacity at the time.

But that was then. Everyone seems to like to say, it's no different now. But it is different now. We inhabit pretty well every square foot of this place. We're having to drill for oil in the arctic, other hazardous offshore, and utilize other forms of extreme energy such as oilsands and fracking. If "growth" is really what you want you support this. You support oilsands expansion, whether you believe you do, or not. This is where we're at now, folks. Growth is going to need more and more energy, at lower and lower returns, forever, and ever. All the while we will be cost-cutting, haircutting, laying off, "finding efficiencies" to greater and greater extents. We'll be rationalizing increasing levels of pollution and a gradually lowering standard of living.

Just take Obama visiting California to relieve them with federal aide. Sure he can reimburse them but he can't spend the water into existence. Growth isn't an option, folks. As a society we're going to need to find a new way to organize ourselves that does not measure success on infinite growth. There is no guarantee the surplus energy to fuel what we would consider normal growth actually exists. All of these low interest policies, stimulus policies, is to try to spend this growth into existence on the backs of us, and our descendants. This, ultimately, is what Trudeau is advocating. Jobs don't lead to prosperity, wealth does, jobs historically have always been the primary way to accomplish production but now automation is taking over.

The gift of automation is the ticket needed to move away from a primarily growth based debt economy where today the "growth and jobs" they are pushing is merely to keep the house-of-cards and status-quo going. Distorted market concepts like defective by design and the focus on automobiles for transit at the expense of more sensible long term investment in public transport. That's the "growth" of today. Marketing on the ceiling, on the floors, every fucking landmark owned by such and such a bank. That's growth and it's only going to get worse until one day a balanced budget means you spend nothing, and service everything, and there's nowhere left to go.

Trudeau doesn't mention savings once in his video on the middle class, the people that "only spend their incomes". The savers, the thing that makes a middle class able to be middle class. Because saving policy, isn't growth policy, now is it? But I guess what we need is more "growth" and it's too bad everything you have is inflating away.

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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 CenturyLink

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, February 13, 2014

Talking About Canadians #1: Capture of wild horses necessary, premier says (Also redefines "land")

Oddly I've noticed that when I make short rants they on average tend to be more popular than my lengthier somewhat detailed posts. So as a follow up to my post 'Talking to Canadians" and in honor of all the short post lovers out there I've decided to spontaneously create a new sub-series 'talking about Canadians'. As an added twist I've decided to run it through Gizoogle as well  so that you can feel the authenticity as though the official spokesperson of 'Murica: Hollywood, is talking about Canadians.

Capture of wild horses necessary, premier says
Premier Alison Redford defended her posse's controversial decision ta allow fo' wild horses ta be captured up in southern Alberta, sayin Wednesdizzle tha issue is "emotional" but warnin dat feral muthafuckas is damagin tha land.

Yo, bustin lyrics ta hustlas up in Lethbridge, Redford holla'd she understandz there is opposizzle ta a wild cow capture yo, but noted smart-ass muthafuckas up in Alberta Environment & Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) have made similar decisions up in tha past.

"These is feral muthafuckas. They is impactin productivitizzle on tha land, they is impactin livestock, they is impactin fencin n' dat sort of thang," Redford holla'd.

"I KNOW dat playas do have concerns n' can git like wack bout dis yo, but all up in tha end of tha day, tha decisions ... gotta be made up in tha context of tha dopest possible use of our resources."

Da Tory posse has faced tha wrath of conservationists upset wit tha decision dis year ta round up a shitload of tha province's wild cow population, a action they view as a unnecessary cull of a heritage animal.

Last month, Alberta Environment issued a licence ta allow fo' tha capture by tha end of March of up ta 196 wild horses along tha foothills, from Kananaskis Ghetto ta Sundre.

Da licence holda can trap tha horses fo' underground use or bust dem ta slaughter n' shit. It's tha last time a license has been issued since 2011.

Nikki Booth, a spokeswoman fo' Alberta Environment, holla'd tha department conducted a aerial count of tha feral horses last March n' identified 980, up from 778 tha previous year.

Yo, she holla'd tha higher numbers indicate tha muthafuckas is smokin grass n' damagin tha land, competin wit other wildlife n' grazin livestock fo' chicken n' you know I be eatin up dat shizzle all muthafuckin day, biatch.

"If you have dat feral cow population dat is growin 20 ta 30 per cent every last muthafuckin year, dat do put some heat on tha land fo' chicken sources yo, but it also puts heat on dem natizzle plants," Booth holla'd.

"Yo ass don't want any of dem animal crews starvin on tha land. Y'all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! Yo ass gotta be able ta manage all of tha populations."

But shizzle of a cold-ass lil cull hustled gangbangers ta stage a rally outside a gangbangin' finger-lickin' dinner tha premier attended Wednesdizzle evenin up in Calgary.

Bob Henderson, prez of tha Wild Horses Posse of Alberta, called tha premier's sickest fuckin comments bout tha cull disappointing.

Henderson n' tha society believe there be mo' betta ways ta manage wild horses, includin constipation or adoption.

"It be a wack issue fo' a shitload of playas but we've been representin facts n' providin scientistical data that's been straight-up ignored," da perved-out muthafucka holla'd.

Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin holla'd tha province has no proof tha population is too high or dat wild horses is beatin tha livin shiznit outta Alberta's grasslands.

Wild horses is "a proud as a muthafucka symbol of Alberta's frontier heritage" n' tha province hasn't produced a scientistical report ta justify restartin tha cull, holla'd Anglin, MLA fo' Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.

"What tha premier holla'd is without basis. Right back up in yo muthafuckin ass. Show me tha study," da perved-out muthafucka holla'd up in a rap battle.

"Do we need a cold-ass lil cull, biatch? Well, if we need one let's make shizzle we're bustin it right. What (the department) is bustin is guessing."
Yep, only in Alberta are animals that have grazed the land for centuries now "damaging it" while the oilsands are apparently having "no impact". Of course by land she means economic productivity, but you know: whatevs.

And that's been "talking about Canadians".

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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 CenturyLink

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.

Spin: How your desires are used against you

Spin can truly be amazing, and it's usually so convoluted that to point it out is a wasted effort. However, once in awhile you get a rare gem that just stands out like a sore thumb and can provide a perfect example for those who better want to understand what propaganda and misinformation is.

I had wanted to do this post directly after Obama's state of the union and originally I was going to address the whole thing, but it was this one statement that really drew my ire. I've been mulling what to do with this post, but the relevance window is quickly going away so this is what you get. From his state of the union address of 2014:
Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.
Alright, now before you look at what I'm about to point out I want you to see if you can spot the problem on your own. Call it a thought exercise.

(jeopardy music)


Ok. Now, there is one part in particular that is true, but within the context he's using it is a complete lie: "Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth."

It's true, they have, want to see that in a chart form?

So if you answered "Obama basically took credit for millions of Americans becoming 'used-to-haves' and the resulting reduction in fuel consumption and pinned it on a fictional green technology revolution to appeal to his voting base": You'd be correct.

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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 CenturyLink

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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

NDP grounds Commons committees over lack of hearings on Fair Elections Act
In response to the government’s refusal to hold cross country hearings on the Fair Elections Act, the New Democrats denied consent to approve the travel budget for House of Commons committees.

“It’s the first time in Canadian history, it’s unprecedented that a government would use its majority to shut down debate on fundamental changes to Canada’s election law,” said NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair Wednesday.

“We’re not going to allow any other travel by any committee on any subject until they agree and they accept to listen to Canadians on the changes to the electoral act.”

The unexpected move comes after Conservatives killed an opposition motion that would hold two months of coast-to-coast hearings on the Fair Elections Act, legislation introduced last week that would introduce
sweeping changes to how federal elections are conducted.
It's not amazing or really even that much, but it's a start or at least a sign there is some sort of "opposition". I'm not big on Muclair, I think he's way off base when it comes to understanding Canada's economy but I certainly support this, and more actions like it - though I still think that to truly have this entire situation regarding the legitimacy of Canadian elections specifically somewhat resolved the opposition will have to pull a complete halt to the operations of the government through a strike to show their resolve that they themselves do not believe in the legitimacy. Whether you like the NDP or not I'd ask you put your partisan bickering aside for just one minute and really think about what's happening to this country, because it's not good, and it's not conservative.

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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 CenturyLink

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.

Update-1: Rise of the Yuan: Mainstream media finally reports on the possibility of gold-backed internationalization

Is the world ready for a gold backed Yuan? With the state of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet and a USD devalued to shit one would certainly think so. It's been a long time in the making but finally the mainstream media (in the west) is catching on.

Does China plan to use gold to internationalize the Yuan?
Concerns about high debt and an overvalued currency are sucking gold imports into China, according to a new report from Lombard Street Research.

It adds that the authorities may possibly be moving in the direction of using gold in a plan to make the
yuan an international currency.

Beijing has said that it does not view gold as a useful asset for diversifying the country's $3.8 trillion worth of foreign exchange reserves, according to media reports.

(Read more:
China posts blowout trade data, exports jump 10.6%)

China's official reserves of gold stand at 1,054 metric tons, that's worth about $45 billion. This figure has not been updated since 2009 and Lombard says the number may not be accurate because since that last update imports of gold and domestic production amount to over 4,500 metric tons.

"The massive flow of gold into the country does make it seem plausible that they [China's authorities] could be moving in the direction of using gold in the effort to internationalize the currency and escape what is seen as a domineering dollar," Lombard economist Freya Beamish said in a note published late Wednesday.

(Read more:
Yuan now one of the world's most tradable currencies)

In fact, latest official data shows that China imported and produced more gold last year than its consumers bought, fueling speculation that the authorities took last year's dive in the price of gold to build up holdings of the precious metal. Gold prices fell 28 percent last year.

"I wouldn't be surprised if import numbers hold up as there was some evidence that that Chinese were buying a lot of metals near their lows last year," Sean Darby, chief global equity strategist at Jefferies, told CNBC. He was referring to data on Wednesday that showed China's imports rose 10 percent in January, from the year-ago period, while exports jumped an annual 10.6 percent.

The yuan traded around 6.0657 per dollar early on Thursday. It has steadily been appreciating since it was unpegged from the greenback in 2005 and had strengthened about 25 percent since then.

In recent years, the yuan has gained ground as a global currency as Beijing eases its control of the yuan – also known as the renminbi – and opens up China's financial markets to foreign investors.
I've been saying this day would be coming, it's been a core aspect in my forecasts ever since oh I don't know, this one? I can not state how important this event is, and how stupid media "experts" are going to look as all of their old hat forecasts based on Canada's old relationship with the USD blow up in their faces. You heard it here first, folks.

Of course, it's not like China is going to just come out and announce it - opposing the USD is next to sin - but they do indicate it with "code language" in their media reports. We've been covering these reports for the last year on this blog.

Think you've seen "financial crisis"? Just wait, you ain't seen nothing yet.


China Cuts Treasury Holdings Most Since 2011 Amid Taper
China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.

The nation pared its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday. At the same time, international investors increased holdings by 1.4 percent, or by $78 billion, in December, pushing foreign holdings to a record $5.79 trillion.

China Daily: Replace dollar with super currency: economist


Nigeria Central Bank to Move More Currency Reserves in Yuan

See a growing trend here?

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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 CenturyLink

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.

Talking to Canadians

Remember "Talking to Americans"? I do. I remember it fondly but more so I remember a time where Canadians were proud of their knowledge. Those Americans, I laughed to myself, what will they think up next?

"Talking to Americans" may have been a bit egocentric on our part, but not nearly as bad as the corporation of Canada's view of itself today where every talking-point on how great Canada is, is a lie. From our "economic leadership" of the G7, to this most recent budget, to our "world-class" environmental monitoring systems and the "Canada Jobs Plan", everything - and I mean everything - about Canada that we tell ourselves or is propagandized to us is a lie.

We love our lies though, it's what gives us confidence in the economy, and faith in the system. It's lies like claiming a "budget is balanced" when noted needed spending is "deferred" and it includes a 24% tobacco tax hike on those pesky smokers adding an additional projected $3.3B to "general revenue" while Canadians bitch about what a burden they're told those smokers are on the underfunded healthcare system. Next time you see one thank them for providing the single largest increase to government "revenue". Also thank the retired public workers on fixed incomes for taking another cut. That's "prudent fiscal management", you know, putting a huge cost increase on the backs of people to pull-off a politically motivated balanced budget.

Yes, it is a politically motivated balanced budget as is evident by these types of articles coming out:

With Ottawa on track to balance the budget, what comes next?

That's right, it was so important to "balance the budget" that now that we supposedly have (in reality we haven't, we've simply moved the debt off the books) everyone's asking well, what's next? Well if there was no plan, or rhyme, or reason to having to balance the budget then why are we burdening so much of the population with the associated costs and lack of service to accomplish it in this election year to fulfill their election promise? Of course as we've been discussing at length for years on this blog simply ignoring growth requirements and infrastructure spending doesn't make those costs go away.

I'm guessing what will "come next" is paying double or triple in the future on those deferred costs, or the resulting disasters.

Ottawa lifts ceiling on funds for Lac-Megantic decontamination and rebuilding
Ottawa has agreed to lift the ceiling on the amount of money it will allocate to the decontamination and rebuilding of Lac-Megantic, the Quebec government announced Tuesday.

The agreement provides for Ottawa to assume 50 per cent of admissible expenses, with Quebec paying for the other half.

The total costs incurred in last summer’s train derailment, which killed 47 people, have yet to be determined but Quebec’s Public Security Department said it could top $400 million.

Quebec said the deal stipulates Ottawa will give Quebec $25 million within 30 days of it being signed. The agreement is in the process of being ratified.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed up to $95 million in federal funds last November to help clean up the contamination.

When the train derailed, the crude oil it was carrying exploded, devastating much of Lac-Megantic’s downtown.

A federal government spokesman said the sum of $400 million put forth by Quebec still has not been detailed.

“Quebec won’t get any reimbursement if they can’t give us detailed expenses,” said the spokesman who did not want to be identified.

He said Quebec will have to supply the necessary information by 2018.
So it started with no taxpayer dollars. then it was some taxpayer dollars with a "ceiling". and now it's going to be unlimited taxpayer dollars. See how the costs of doing business in our new normal snowballs? All to be paid by you, via service cuts and inflating away your wealth, while the money goes out to Ottawa's corporate pals.

Chrysler's Ontario plants could depend on government money [Pre-Budget]
Canada signals may help Chrysler on Ontario plant investment [Post-Budget]

Yep, ask and you shall receive, so long as your a major corporation pushing a dying breed of technology that requires hidden fuel subsidies to continue to make it appear to be affordable operating on infrastructure in which the input costs due to the requirement for diminishing fossil fuels continues to skyrocket. We can barely afford to maintain our sprawling asphalt transportation network and cars are going to be the future? Yea, right.

The auto industry is dying because the operation of cars and the required infrastructure is already beyond affordable. I don't drive, but I pay with my tax dollars towards every tank of gas you purchase so that you can feel like you're still part of the "middle class" and so you feel your "dollar" has more purchasing power than it really does.

It makes me sick how incredibly fucking clueless most Canadians seem to be regarding our situation. I just can't express how angry and frustrated I am, especially with Canadians. Don't you get it folks? It's just lie after lie after lie. secrecy and slight of hand while they silently steal your wealth to pay interest to private banks with no plan of prosperity for the future. Everything is the next quarter, the next election year, little blips of time that are meaningless on the grand scale of human existence.

It makes me so fucking angry to look at my daughter and know that our solution to an impossible monetary equation of infinite growth is to put all the resulting problems on her back while we pat ourselves on the back for deferring costs, endangering lives, and having a "balanced budget". It is incredibly angering to know that when she is my age the standard of living I've enjoyed will seem as distant and impossible to her as the standard of living my parents enjoyed seems to me. We've already entered our period of real deflation and de-growth but yet we still lie and convince ourselves that somehow the future will be larger than the past even as constant cost-cutting demonstrates it won't be larger at all. Our standard of living is already declining and we can't even admit that to ourselves.

The truly sad part though is that when the lies finally do blow up in our face those responsible won't be blamed. Ralph Klein today is still hailed by uninformed Albertans as a "fiscally prudent manager of finances" and not a big fat fucking liar who simply deferred the debt into the future. Now pro-Klein Albertans blame Alison Redford for the debt and while she's a liar too trying to keep the house of cards Klein built together the debt is not really her fault, it's his for not spending the money that needed to be spent to support the growth he was cheerleading the whole way. The oilsands, too, are cheered as one of the "saviors" of the Canadian economy when in reality they are a direct cause of our major economic problems in Alberta. We are so fucking stupid in Alberta that we actually think "capital intensive" energy production is a good thing and that expensive low-return energy somehow leads to more prosperity, not less. Fucking idiots.

Perhaps what is most frustrating which I find incredibly hard to properly express my emotions regarding, is that due to the state and quality of information available to Canadians and their complete lack of interest in trying to understand the complex and unique position of the Canadian economy we are willfully choosing to make the real problems worse than they need to be all so that we can lie to ourselves on paper and pretend as though a system that requires infinite growth is working A'Ok.

Our understanding of our economic position is so flawed and uninformed that when the value of the Canadian dollar goes down, we tell ourselves the value of our oil actually went up. No, you fucking idiot, the price of the oil went up, the value stayed the same, and your purchasing power has diminished. We actually cheer when our cost of living becomes more expensive but that's just par for the course when you're 'talking with Canadians'.

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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 CenturyLink

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, February 11, 2014

Choo Choo Train Wrecks: A tale of cost cutting and de-growth

I'm not even going to bother trying to cover this budget this year, I've failed to cover it front-to-back two years in a row and I don't like leaving things half finished but to go into every detail and write out the mappings as I read and see them due to the fact I only blog when I have a chance pushes the postings far outside their window of relevance. Many posts die because I can not complete them within the time frame in which they appear relevant and those budget posts are by far the worst.

Heading into 2015 though I don't even need to read that junk. Everything I needed to know about this year's budget can be found within this news article.
OTTAWA -- The badly needed new equipment on the Canadian military's shopping list may end up becoming a wish list over the next three years after Tuesday's federal budget pushed $3.1 billion in planned capital spending off into the distant future.

The reallocation and delay outlined in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's fiscal plan puts in writing a contraction in military spending that has been evident in defence circles for a number of years -- and which the Conservatives have been keen to play down.

It's partly a reflection of the government's failure so far to deliver long-promised new ships, search planes, helicopters and trucks, but it's also a significant part of a concerted Conservative campaign to outflank the deficit in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Defence sets aside a certain amount each year to buy new gear, but the new budget kicks that planned spending -- originally scheduled to take place between 2014 and 2017 -- down the road to "future years," putting many programs in doubt.
Oh yes, Canada is going to have a "surplus" all right; just as Klein gave Alberta a "surplus" back in the 90s which Alberta is paying for dearly now in all sorts of new "capital spending" debt (remember when he made it illegal to run a deficit? LOL!). If defence spending is being "deferred" you can pretty well bet anything that gets in the way of a shiny "balanced budget" will be deferred as well. Apparently at some point "in the future" interest rates and the cost of currency will be even cheaper I guess and growth will have restored?

I actually started writing this post before the budget came out but I just couldn't complete it. It was missing something, the right article on cost-cutting portrayed in just the right way. This post wasn't even about budgets initially, at least not directly, but it fits in beautifully. Current events and trends dictated this budget would be exactly the way it is...

Why "balanced budgets" don't make any sense in a debt based monetary system

As we're now discovering - or at least as now some people are discovering - the Alberta "balanced budget" was all a big scam which serves as an excellent poster child of "debt-ridding" success stories.

In a debt based economy a "balanced" budget is a "do nothing" budget. Cutting costs isn't just about doing things better, in reality what it translates to is either overworking some people or more commonly if no people are available to overwhelm with their workload is to simply not do it. In the case of Alberta people have actually died as a direct result on the infamous Highway 63 in which one of the first responders reassigned to work there compares the carnage to narrow immovable mountain passes. The power of money.

If balanced budgets really mattered, or were even possible for that matter, we wouldn't measure economic health as Debt-to-GDP. Debt-to-GDP implicitly declares that there will always be a debt to pay. There has to be, if there were no debts to pay there would be no currency to pay it with. Sure governments can temporarily "defer" new spending but the budget is never truly balanced but rather the debt - which is a claim on future wealth - is simply transferred to another part of society. The same thing goes for taxes as that is directly transferring the debt back to the people. We've covered before how 11 cents from every tax dollar as of 2010-2011 goes to paying the public debt. That's 11% - for comparison of how large is: that it is all of  the tax dollar's allocated for Canada's defence and Canada Revenue Agency combined. Defence is 8cents. Payments on the debt is 11cents. See what I'm getting at here? The needed spending for those other sectors is financed through the public debt. A promise of balanced budgets is a promise of at least an 11cent on the dollar payment to private banks on every tax dollar received until that debt is paid off. Going back to that old post here's what I said then:

If you treat Canada as an economic island, the charts presented by the author look great. however, we are not an economic island, we are a country trying to balance it's budget in a global ponzi scheme. This ponzi scheme (as all ponzi schemes) will end. Canada's position in the global economy and our large deposit of resources and land in comparison to our population hide how bad our financial situation can quickly become.

While I agree with the author that the sorts of austerity being proposed in Canada are not required I don't agree there isn't a significant problem with Canadian governmental debt.

As you can see, as soon as the 2008 crisis hit, the United States has quickly doubled their M1 money supply and you can sure bet the Canadian economy benefited from this significantly. This increase is unprecedented. The U.S. can't keep it up forever though, and when it can't go on any longer due to a loss of confidence in the USD (short an economic miracle) - only then will Canada have a clear view of exactly how bad our economic circumstance really is.
I know, sounded crazy then right? But now?
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's trade deficit in December jumped to the highest level since November 2012, C$1.66 billion ($1.49 billion), almost C$1 billion more than expected, with imports hitting a record level despite a drop in import volumes.

Statistics Canada on Thursday also made a major revision of the November gap to C$1.53 billion from an originally reported C$940 million. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had, on average, expected the deficit to fall to C$700 million in December.

Higher prices, partly due to a weaker currency, accounted for all of the 1.2 percent increase in the import level to C$41.38 billion, eclipsing the previous record set in August. The volume actually fell by 0.4 percent while prices rose 1.6 percent. Many imports are priced in U.S. dollars, making them cost more if the Canadian dollar falls.

Exports were up 0.9 percent to C$39.72 billion, with the volumes of exports rising by an encouraging 0.8 percent.

The climb in imports was led by crude oil, largely from Norway. A decline in exports of energy, food and cars and car parts partly offset increased exports in most other areas.
A "balanced budget" when Canada can't look forward to "housing growth" and has "low inflation" is simply going to further hamper attempts to jump-start inflation which in a debt-based economy requires inflation or you get a credit crunch like what China has been going through lately. Hmm. (See: Frugal or Feudal? Taper terrors and the costs that bind us)

In any case any debt we don't pay for on paper today will be paid in destruction, malfunction, and maybe even lives in the future. We've already invested in our lifestyle you can't just not maintain it and expect it to keep glued together. For instance, maybe we end up paying for "the debt" we're not willing to put down on paper by a few more towns exploding due to cut-backs on pipeline inspections or rail inspections by regulators?
A series of fiery train crashes has spurred regulators to take a closer look at the booming movement of crude oil by rail. But documents obtained by NBC News show regulators have known about issues like overloading and mislabeling that may increase the risk of shipping the oil since as far back as the fall of 2011, a year and a half before the first of the crashes, which killed 47 people in Lac Megantic, Quebec.
But just like the debt of climate change and more direct environmental damage we will be paying it in one way or another. Not just us, the generations that come after us. That is what a "public" debt is. As I said, a balanced budget is a do-nothing budget when your entire monetary base is debt and saving is "bad" and "deflationary" as if you could find a "savings" rate on your "deposit" (really a loan to the bank) that even comes close to "inflation" on top of the ludicrous banking fees you're charged for them to gamble with your money instead of holding it for you in trust meanwhile consumer debt has hit a record 1.4T! Congratulations Canadians on "living large" on your over-leveraged houses! Good work. E for effort easing.

It's not just the government, it's the people, and it's the companies. As purchasing power diminishes companies are going to be cutting costs in many different ways such as abusing the temporary foreign worker program gracefully provided to them by a government heavily invested in keeping the illusion of our house of cards going. People will cut more and more expenses from their budget as slowly acceptance of being a "used-to-have" takes hold and begins to lead to anger and eventually organized resistance. In it's wake will be a litter of crumbled infrastructure as the sun sets on the prosperity a 200:1 energy return on energy investment ratio brought us and reminds us of the waste, junk, and quarterly reports we spent the bounty on. Now it's debt payments and austerity for the lot of you.

The nuclear question

Now I wasn't originally going to cover this but a discussion on The Disaffected Lib had me give a quick position with no justification and being that it bugs me just arbitrarily stating a position with no rhyme or reason behind it I've decided to include my justification here as it does fit into the overall theme.

Please watch this documentary on nuclear waste storage and a development currently under construction to hold nuclear waste before we continue. Don't mind the production quality, it's foreign and independent. It's the content that is important.

Now, also please watch this documentary on the events that lead to the unit one meltdown at Fukushima:

So I hope you watched them both but in regards to the second one I will sum it up thusly: It wasn't the natural disaster that caused the meltdown, it was a known flaw in the plants. A flaw that TEPCO had known about, there was a fix for, and simply failed to fix. Human error, and cost cutting. Now, you might be saying this sounds like an argument in support of nuclear energy, no human error, no disasters right? We'll.. just.. build the perfect system!

Chernobyl, too, same thing. Human Error and cost cutting. A skeleton crew was performing maintenance a full crew should have been doing.

Japan has 40 years at best to fully decommission the Fukushima disaster as radioactive water continues to pile up by the day, and they reach ever higher levels of debt importing the replacement energy in the form of fossil fuels, currency that would be highly valuable for building their "ice wall" or whatever the hell they think they can do now to fix this mortal wound bleeding radiation all over my delicious seafood.

What do you think the odds are of Japan going 40 years without another disaster? Or more human error? In the first video you see them planning for and investing (presumably with debt) for a 100 year nuclear storage super bunker that in the event of the apocalypse any future civilizations that were sent back to the stone age could stumble upon it and not be tempted to or even be aware of the fact they may be able to enter it. That's some expensive shit, and requires long-long-long term planning. It's a fools errand, a massive waste of energy and resources. But even further it represents another type of debt against future generations.

Ultimately my objection to nuclear power is that it is selfish of us to utilize the advantage of plentiful nuclear sources and the stability and infrastructure levels required to operate and ultimately decommission one. Their maintenance will be subject to the same "balanced budget" impossibility that is demanded of all of us which is of course going to result in some dangerous decisions.

What if our children don't have the money to pay for their maintenance, or decommission, or god-forbid cleanup should our old rickety power infrastructure blow up in their faces? Nuclear generation is a multi-generational investment and we should be thinking very carefully before committing our children to the operation and decommission of such machinery especially as we starve them of their resources, their wealth, and put them into public and personal debt. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

The story of de-growth

Balancing the budget by starving society of the funding it needs is simply de-growth which is being enforced on us by our natural environment, peak oil, etc, manifesting itself in the cost of doing business by another name. The stock market might be going up but all our children are going to see is the legacy of ruin and dreams of what was as they go about their involuntary task of paying for your way and cleaning up what was left for them.

De-growth is coming, whether we like it or not. The Occupy encampments: that was what voluntary de-growth looks like and most of the people volunteering had no idea that's what it was going to be. It happened, naturally, because it does happen naturally and no amount of economic tricks can hide it it will just show up in different, often destructive, areas. It's coming, and I would suggest embracing it as simply the way things are now instead of going down kicking and screaming the whole way, as the system and status-quo hopes you will. Take control of it, it's yours to control.

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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 CenturyLink

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.

A crisis of parliamentary de-mock-racy

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
                                                        - Edmund Burke

Well here we are Canadians with the "fair election fraud" act enshrined in law. Were you really expecting anything different?

When I wrote about election fraud back in 2012 my suggestion of a possible action by the people of Canada may have seemed extreme but here we are in 2014 and what's changed? What confidence has been restored in the election? Can anyone give me one good reason why any Canadian should even bother voting now? If you knowingly know the game is rigged against you, and now even enshrined in law against you, you're an idiot if you still play. We're beyond a crisis of accountability into a full blown crisis of parliamentary democracy (or what's left of it).

Is it time to riot yet? Or should we wait for our housing bubble to collapse on us first? Is it time to riot yet? Or should we wait until every job is replaced by temporary foreign workers? Is it time to riot yet? Or should we wait until whatever cause you believe in is aligned with "the terrorists"? Where a new immigration law says your citizenship can now be revoked? Hmm? Which law is going to be the last straw for you? Which freedom that you cherish will have to be taken before you act?

I know what you're thinking: "he's gone crazy!", "he's calling for riots", "he's an extremist", but we've already had anti-protest laws. We have a "mask ban". We've had a preview of crowd control to come and foreign military snipers targeting our First Nations.

Petitions? Really? Like "oh, if the government knew I didn't like this bill then maybe they won't pass it?". Get over yourselves. Your currency is constantly deployed against you in military grade propaganda campaigns to convince you your concerns don't matter. All I see of a population holding out for 2015 to engage in their fair election fraud is good men doing nothing.

There is no Canada, only Zuul.

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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 CenturyLink

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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The 'so what should I do?' post

I don't like this question, 'what should I do?' though I understand why some folks have been asking me. It's too absolute, and from what perspective are you asking? To achieve what goals? My goals? A new government? A reparation to a specific corrupted portion of the system? A new system altogether? Or perhaps one of many other things. I'm not an expert in anything but programming, and pattern analysis. I don't like the term "expert" either. It's disingenuous in it's common usage.

I understand why some folks have been asking me though. Direction is comforting. It's comforting to know that somewhere, someone, has a plan. Even it's a shitty plan, still, it's a plan. Plenty of people throughout history have followed dudes with a shitty plan simply because there seemed to be nothing better at the time, nothing confronting the corruption or problems or perhaps even admitting that they existed. The rise of many dictators.

If you really want to break it down, the only thing in life you should do, or more accurately have to do, is die. That's it. Everything else that is along the way is an option. The real question being asked is what should you do to have the outcome you desire?

Mound of Sound, over at the Disaffected Lib, has asked his take on the question in general and the responses have been very diverse. I weighed in as well. Some commenters believe very strongly in the current system where change can be boiled down to increased taxes and new laws, for instance. For some it's about who to vote for, or a lesser of three evils. One guy even attacked Mound's post as a voter suppression tactic. Of course these are just my quick takes on them please go read the comments and views for yourself, it's important to absorb views from all places even those that may be seemingly negative. All very diverse views, along with mine which to further my points along this post I will have to delve into a bit.

While everyone has differing views, I think mostly everyone has similar wants such as peace, happiness, wealth, and prosperity. In general our views are an avenue to those wants, some may believe a certain "right wing" arrangement of laws and the system will provide it, and some may take a more "left wing" approach. Some perhaps blend the two as a "center approach".

I bill this blog as non-partisan because it has no bias towards any political party. None of them have publicly shown me that they understand the situation we're in well enough, or if they do understand it as I believe is the case with Stephen Harper have publicly indicated they are not acting with the best interests of Canadians and the longevity of a sovereign Canada at heart.

Non-partisan goes beyond political parties, because the pressing issues of the day go beyond political parties. They are issues in everyone's interest. It doesn't matter what political jersey you wear you should be extremely concerned of the events that took place at G20 and the billion dollars of tax money wasted while the G20 dignitaries privately and "Securely" exclude the public while taking advice from the B20 twin crony convention. As a Canadian, whether a "Liberal" or a "Conservative" you should be outraged at the surrender of Canadian sovereignty in the name of capital markets and the damage the corruption within them may do. As a Canadian you should be concerned about peak oil whether for the economic or environmental consequences. None of these are partisan issues. They are people issues and they are also complex issues and just some of many that I cover here and view as the main drivers of events that are either currently affecting Canada or will be at some point and which the powers driving events would rather you not think about.

Complex issues require complex solutions. Not easy solutions, and solutions which are collaborative, not lead. No single person has the capacity to address everything all at once. You'll notice my posts don't follow the atypical article structure where a simplistic solution is then offered at the end within a narrow box to fix an overly complex issue. Everyone loves a happy ending but a few paragraph solution to be sold isn't going to fix or even begin to address the deeply rooted problems within the core of our societal design.

I focus on the issues I do because I believe they are key events and comprise a larger picture in which disparity, environmental destruction, financial corruption, inequality, divisions, and many other issues, each significant in their own right, fit within. Everything is connected, all of us are connected, no issue is independent from another everything coexists and effects everything else. I try best as I can to convey this in a meaningful way.

There is one common theme amongst all of our politicians. "Restoring growth". They all want to "restore growth". Bigger growth, better growth, maybe green growth, or rapid growth and cancer growth which means inevitably health care growth. In the end it doesn't matter growth is growth is growth. Fuck growth. We're not going to be growing enough for the dangling carrot of "better times", whatever it is you think that looks like, to ever materialize.

The reality of our situation is that whether we voluntarily want to, or not, a big change in the way we do business is coming purely due to environmental constraints and much of the problems we're facing now, and will be facing soon in the future are a direct symptom of the status-quo's attempt to fight, and deny that these constraints exist. The question actually facing all of us, whether that person may be aware, or not, is 'What are you going to do when that time comes?' because it is coming and the signs of cracks in the system foundation are already showing.

I don't see any point in lobbying the government at this point for crumbs and to fix the problems. I personally, and I want to stress personally, no longer believe in voting (as in the implementation currently, not the general practice of voting). All I see from the political class in service to the banking sector is 1 option: more attempts at infinite growth.

Any real change in direction of the scope and scale needed is also a serious risk. A financial risk. The way banks keep Government's on a leash though in our fiat currency system is through ratings agencies. It's not a "conspiracy", it's done right in the open, right in front of you and while yielding control of our currency to private banks provides the banking and "pro-growth" sector (which is needed to finance their global loan fractional reserve Ponzi-scheme) some control over policy direction in the name of more growth to pay the debt and interest on that debt free trade deals yield sovereignty over the people's resources to mega corporations and also help destroy localized business with globalized prices. Free trade deals are not about jobs, they are about surrendering control. The status-quo is only interested in one method of economic organization: growth.

As I've written before, the closest thing to real change we've experienced in a long time was Occupy, I won't go into why here but if you're curious here is my explanation. I don't believe an event and path towards voluntary de-growth will emerge following Occupy and the coordinated nationwide crackdown on the tent cities by police forces putting all that great anti-terrorist inter-departmental policy to good use. Voluntary change will only come from people who acknowledge a sacrifice needs to be made to make that change. A sacrifice of the conveniences offered by the system is the biggest threat to the system.  The real threat lies in not demanding, but simply doing, because we have to do it. Empires collapse, people survive.

Ugh. It's frustrating, I know. I feel like the trends coming at us are a freight train and we're stuck in the head lights. They are so obvious and all I can really do is protect myself, my family, and watch this incredibly slow moving train wreck. Each train wrecks' series of events is different but they largely end the same way. Keep that in mind.

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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 CenturyLink

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, February 4, 2014

Frugal or Feudal? Taper terrors and the costs that bind us

For many in my generation, and the up and coming generations, home ownership is a dream that is perpetually getting further and further out of reach even for those making decent currency. The baby boomer generation, along with foreign speculators, eyeing "profits", "pensions" and "home equity" the entire way has in exchange for their perceived wealth ensured their descendants live a life of uncertainty and servitude. There is a clear cut off line: those who pay less today for more, and those who will be paying more for less. The government has symbolically defined this line as those who will now be eligible for OAS at 67, instead of 65.

But this line defines much more than just when you will be eligible for OAS, it defines a whole new class of people that are plagued by low interest rates and can't save a penny due to the supposed need for more inflation. It defines a class of person that between student loans and mortgages are leveraged up to their eyeballs before you even consider the impossible task of trying to estimate how badly central banks will have devalued their savings and investments before a retirement which already many are grouping into the "dream" of home ownership.

Baby boomers who have benefited from their speculated self-fulfilled profit prophecy of house flipping and money for nothing now have some advice for the generation priced out of the market: you'll just have to rent.
If Canadians have a preoccupation these days, apart from the winter weather, it seems to be real estate. Specifically: the ever-rising prices in most of our big cities.

Is this a bubble? Will there be a crash, or a so-called soft landing? No one really knows.

For generations, we've cultivated the home-ownership dream — the idea that rising house prices are a measure of the country's overall prosperity and one's own financial security.

Buying a home is what you do as an adult — it is how you settle down and raise a family.

It's also a good investment, and often a ticket to a secure retirement. Social pressure, government policy and, recently, historically low interest rates have encouraged all of that.

But maybe those are now outdated notions. Many young Canadians are already looking at them with skepticism. And perhaps we should all rethink the dream for a number of reasons.

First, affordability. In little more than a decade and a half, the average house price in Canada has more than doubled, outpacing inflation and incomes.

In Toronto's super-heated condo market, for example, what's called a micro-condo — 300 square feet — can go for a cool quarter of a million dollars.

Realistically, for the average Canadian, the dream of owning a home is beyond reach in cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Some Canadians are spending as much as 50 per cent of their income on mortgage payments, and as consumers we've never been more indebted. Mortgage debt is a big part of that.
And so it begins: the decent into modern feudalism. "Sorry Gen-Y that we priced you out of the market, you're just going to have to put your stagnant incomes into rent payments to us". Gee! Thanks baby-boomers!

Gen Y’s biggest financial decision: Buy a home or save for retirement
Gen Y, you need to choose: Get a good start on retirement saving, or buy a house.

A lot of 20- and 30-somethings can’t have both. They need to accept it, and start thinking about what really matters to them as a financial goal.

Home ownership vs. retirement saving: Now, there’s a topic you don’t hear talked about much in registered retirement savings season. Maybe it’s because the people selling investments and advice for retirement also make a lot of money from mortgages. It’s in their interest to keep up the fiction that it’s no problem to do it all.
Yea, that's right Gen-Y: home ownership or retirement, your choice. Of course without the home ownership portion your success at "retirement" is going to depend heavily on what unknown amount will be charged for rent in our speculation inflation Ponzi-conomy. What ever amount you think you're going to need, quadruple it and maybe you'll have enough. Maybe.

As the author in the first article says "And perhaps we should all rethink the dream for a number of reasons.", but we shouldn't just be rethinking the dream of home ownership or retirement we should be rethinking the dream that is our economy. We should be rethinking the incredibly lopsided debt burden being placed on future generations as we rush to plunder the resources they will need to pay it off. We should be rethinking the very concept of "wealth" and "first world" to account for the hardships our instant gratification culture will be imposing. If home ownership isn't affordable, then neither is retirement, and both of these are fundamental values associated with the "wealth" of the "first world".

There is no more middle class, there is just a class of people with alright credit that continue to believe they are middle class and can afford middle class items because of cheap loans and credit. If many in the supposed "middle class" actually had to live within there means as in only paying for things with the currency and wealth they currently own (as I do) they would likely find themselves in the "lower middle class".

It's time those who have benefited from the wealth of their descendants pay it back. If we won't do away with our Ponzi-conomy entirely then at the very least it's time to raise interest rates, allow the significant housing correction that everyone knows needs to happen, and for the first time in their lives allow an entire generation to actually save and earn interest on their savings. OAS needs to be returned to 65 ,and current recipients need to receive less if there isn't enough currency to support them. It is time we stopped stealing wealth from the future to pay for the a present we collectively can not afford and it's time for those benefiting from this time travelling wealth transfer to take a haircut.

Of course, for Canada to do that it would have to admit to Canadians that the entire "recovery" has been a lie fuelled by cheap currency, "consumer spending", and housing bubbles.

UPDATE 1-IMF sees limited room for Bank of Canada rate cut
Feb 3 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday Canada's central bank is likely to hold its main interest rate steady until early 2015, and the bank has limited room to cut rates because of overvalued housing prices and record household debt.

After consultations with Canadian officials on the state of the economy, completed in late January, the IMF concluded the Canadian economy will pick up speed in 2014 as exports get a lift from stronger U.S. growth.

It highlighted concerns that growth remains too reliant on consumer spending and homebuilding, but it sees exports and business investment gradually taking over as the main drivers of growth over the next couple of years.

"Monetary policy should remain accommodative until there are firmer signs that growth is picking up above potential, with a sustainable transition from household spending to exports and business investment," the Washington, D.C.-based lender said in its report.
Of course the U.S. "growth" we're relying on was completely fuelled by the Federal Reserve's easy currency too which is tanking now that the easy currency is drying up. The DOW has already lost 1000 points since tapering began which "coincidently" marked it's peak. The IMF is pointing to exactly the conundrum I've been saying Canada would be facing. We're already feeling the inflationary pressures of not reversing our interest rates - just the other day at the grocery store I noticed many food items marked up significantly from previous months - and so are other nations.

The unaffordability faced by the new "low-wealth" generation is causing new trends to emerge as "millennials" move back in with their parents; trends which will further hamper attempts by the easy-currency kingpins to keep the house of economic cards standing: multi-generational homes.
The Urban Green Cohousing Society — formed in 2009 — has already put a down payment of $270,000 on three properties and is in the process of acquiring a fourth at 101st Street and 88th Avenue. The six member households who invested contributed what they could, between $30,000 and $75,000, said member Carolyn Nutter.

She said they are hoping to break ground in 2016, though the plan is still in preliminary stages and no design has been rendered.

The idea is to construct an apartment building of three to four storeys that contains 25 private units. The units would likely range in size from one-bedroom to three-bedrooms and there would be about 4,000 square feet of common area.

The co-housing movement, which was first established in Denmark in the 1960s and spread to North America in the 1980s, emphasizes intergenerational living in which each household owns its own private suite, but is part of a planned community that shares common resources and space. For instance, the community may decide to share a play room, workshop, common room with kitchen, guest rooms or an exercise room. Units tend to be smaller than normal because of the communal space and all owners must be members of the society.

For Steve Grubich, 43, who grew up in a suburb of Windsor, Ont. and later lived in a suburb of Edmonton, developing a sense of community appeals to him because he didn’t experience it in those places.
Ironically our hyper-speculated consumption based culture may actually be driving people away from that style of living towards a longer-term low-consumption community based model. Or at least for some people who's families collectively recognize their responsibility and culprit-ability of their contributions to the current situation leaving some Gen-Y's with the option to not live feudally, but rather frugally.

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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 CenturyLink

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.