Tag Archives: economy

The 99%

It took three days for any mainstream TV or news media outlet in Canada to even do a story on Occupy Wall Street. A friend of mine trades stocks, and monitors the business news daily. About a week into the protests, as her portfolio shrank daily, I mentioned that maybe the New York traders were getting jittery with the demonstrations outside gaining momentum. Her response: “Huh? What protests?”

It has taken weeks for the story to filter its way into into regular news cycle, and only then the corporate anchors and columnists begrudgingly report the unions joining, the Ground Zero heroes they used to lionize marching on the street. They were once the symbols of patriotism, now they are treated like children who have lost their way.

What is it that the corporate news outlets don’t want us to see? Perhaps just how terribly awry the post-war dream has gone; the failure of a meritocracy that rewards greed and consumption, that eats itself.

And, after nearly three decades of political rhetoric about “Family Values”, look at how just how little value families have left in this world:

Is it any wonder there is so much anger and frustration?


Death of the Pantages Theatre?

“They’re in the old tailor shop at 134 E Hastings tearing up the hardwood flooring, and salvaging timber. They’ve built pass-throughs from there into the old Blue Eagle at 130 E Hastings and into the building to the east, doing the same work – so basically all 3 of the low rise buildings in the land assembly. The worker I spoke to said they’re going to move east to the 2 storey building directly beside the theatre, then on to the theatre itself. Looks like only a matter of time now. I wondered since the For Sale signs dissappeared.”

From a citizen named Ron, on January 28th, 2011.

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I swear to God, if our current City Council lets this happen, they will live in shame for the rest of their lives…


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Liberal Prudence

Wherein the Liberal definition of prudence is:

1 + 1 = 100% over budget

…because being more than 100% wrong is redundant.

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“Better get a bucket, I’m going to throw up!” Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote gorges himself  until he finally explodes after eating a “wafer thin” mint. The BC Liberal’s implosion is no less disgusting.

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I was reading BC Legislative reporter Keith Baldry’s article about the unfathomable miscalculations the Liberals have made on budgets during their time in office, and the serious lack of credibility it points to for both Colin Hansen and Gordon Campbell. So I did a cursory study of a five different BC Liberal budgets, which quickly revealed an almost pathological level of financial incompetence that has cost taxpayers over 5 billion dollars (and I have not included the Olympics, Gateway, Abby Hospital, or privatization schemes like BC Rail, BC Hydro, BC Gas, or shifting tax ploys like the carbon tax, MSP premiums, corporate tax cuts, oil and gas drilling rate cuts — the list of Liberal boondoggles costing BC taxpayers goes on and on).

Mmmmmn, smells like pork!

Despite the BC Liberals freakishly cunning ability to maintain a reputation as tough and prudent financial managers who know how to do business (thanks MSM, including reporters like Baldry, for never questioning the lie all these years), as the numbers below clearly show, Colin Hansen and Gordon Campbell are by far the most bungling, inept and costly government British Columbian taxpayers have ever seen. Gee, no wonder they had to raid BC Gaming and take the hatchet to the Arts sector.

The numbers don’t lie, unlike the BC Liberals.

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B.C. Liberal Budgets Studied: 5 (see below for a breakdown of each)

Total Original Amount of the Budgets: 4.20 billion

Actual Cost to Taxpayers: 9.41 billion

Total Over Budget Cost to Taxpayers: 5.21 billion

Average Percent Over Budget: 124%

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1. BC Place Retractable Roof

Original Budget Announcement: 365 million

Actual Cost to Taxpayers: 577 million

Total Over Budget Cost to Taxpayers: 212 million

Percent Over Budget: 58%

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2. Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre

Original Budget Announcement: 495 million

Actual Cost to Taxpayers: 883 million

Total Over Budget Cost to Taxpayers: 388 million

Percent Over Budget: 78%

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3. RAV/Canada Line

Original Budget Announcement: 1.35 billion

Actual Cost to Taxpayers: 2.80 billion

Total Over Budget Cost to Taxpayers: 1.45 billion

Percent Over budget: 107%

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4. BC Liberals’ Pre-Election Budget, Feb. 2009

Original Budget Announcement: 495 million

Actual Cost to Taxpayers: 1.78 billion (last I heard–it keeps changing)

Total Over Budget Cost to Taxpayers: 1.29 billion

Percent Over budget: 260%

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5. Port Mann Bridge Twinning

Original Budget Announcement: 1.5 billion

Actual Cost to Taxpayers: 3.3 billion

Total Over Budget Cost to Taxpayers: 1.8 billion

Percent Over budget: 120%

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Frugality: The quality of being frugal; prudent economy; that careful management of anything valuable which expends nothing unnecessarily…

I was walking downtown with my son yesterday in the sweltering heat and we saw a 7-11 and decided a slurpy would hit the spot.

Well, a small slurpy last summer — and for many years before that — cost 99 cents + GST of 5 cents = $1.04.

But just before the Olympics, 7-11 bumped the price a nickel, to $1.04 + GST of 5 cents = $1.09.

Then, less than a month ago, just like Colin Hansen predicted (because he’s soooo good with predictions), 7-11 passed on the savings of the new HST to consumers by bumping up the price of a small slurpy yet another nickel, to $1.09.

With the HST, the tax is now 13 cents, and the total for a small slurpy is $1.22.

That’s almost an 18% increase in the cost of this simple, mass-produced item in eight months! To extrapolate that level of inflation across even a small sector of the economy could have disastrous ripple effects….

To wit, my son is now asking me for a raise in his allowance.

And, to avoid taking yet another hit to my own disposal income, I have decided to freeze my son’s allowance for the next decade.

To be sure, neither of us will be setting foot in 7-11, or any other overpriced chain convenience store, for a very long time, especially given the fact that they are part of the Western Convenience Stores Association, one of the six business groups who have launched the legal challenge to the NO HST petition.

Now, it would seem to me that, in a consumer-driven economy based on convenience and mass production, it can’t be a very good thing for the captains of industry to have parents all across North America teaching their kids about FRUGALITY for the first time in 50 years…

Just saying.


Octogenarian Architect Speaks Out Against City Planning

Roger Kemble, aka Urbanismo, is a mariner, but he’s all about the land. At 82, he appears to be having the time of his life. He clearly doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks about him, nor does he like bullshitters — he challenges people all the time to be truthful. But where other commentators like old Gassy might come off as fucking hacks or partisan wonks, Urbanismo has literary gusto, writing wildly punctuated fragments in a high modernist style. And he frequently drops cultural references into his blog comments that would make Douglas Coupland’s head spin.

After a long career as an architect in Vancouver and educator at UBC that stretches back to the 1960s, Urbie isn’t afraid to call out the current Vancouver Planning Department as dimwitted and drunk on power. He strongly believes the current direction of City policy — and the public consultation process — is badly in need of a new planning paradigm. In my own isolated experience with the Historic Area Height Review, I found myself agreeing with Urbanismo more and more.

While his take on Vancouver being a failed city? may lead some to scratch their heads, there’s no doubt a lot of truth to what he says. And while I and others dither over the details, Urbanismo just went ahead and plotted a new planning paradigm over the course of a couple of rainy afternoons. If you like cities and urbanism, and non-pedantic writing, it’s worth taking a look at the pages.

Bread and Circuses (Another Liberal Budget)

It’s that time before a paycheck when the bread heels in the back of the fridge are savoured, toasted with a sliver of butter and served with a glass of cold water, to be eaten in small bites.

It’s that time between circuses when the routine becomes drudgery, the job seems pointless, and the reward too little. Coworkers are all schmoozing and mooching, cruising some angle that only makes money, willfully distracted by a moment in time that answers, “Yes.”

This other little city in North Cascadia crafts perfect endings, sundowners that make jaws drop, cycles of ecstasy that lead to nightmares entwined in sleep. The fear rides momentum to the brink of another fantastic hope, but the sweet smell of waking up is so comforting it keeps lulling back unconsciousness, where the nightmare is relived.

The expectation is that the memory of the circus will make the old bread heels taste better. But the circus is soon forgotten, easily separated from the memory of just who raided the cupboard again. The circus succeeds despite the soul-sucking shills eating cake all around, not because of them. It is sure sign of an empire in deep decline.

For it is hunger, only hunger, that makes stale bread palatable.

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Canada’s Shame: Harper at the Copenhagen Summit

Here are a few video primers for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, where we already know that no binding agreement will be reached, thanks, in large part, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s unrelenting undermining of the process. He’s from Calgary, right?

A quick recipe for a successful Copenhagen.


Listening to David Suzuki, as candid man on the street, turns out to be a whole lot more interesting than listening to David Suzuki, the slick media pundit. Wow.


Does saving the environment really mean massive job losses? This umbrella thinks so.


Greenpeace still likes Canada, even if our recent environmental record is abysmal. (The link to the CBC video report is at the bottom of the page).


So maybe it’s time to call Prime Minister Harper on his bullshit.  His phone number is posted in this video. So go ahead, make that call.


Remember this old song? Kofi Annan does! The music industry tries to inspire change.


Australian who wrote the above song, sings a new one for his prime minister leading up to Copenhagen.


And finally, a tragically funny one about how not to go green. Premier Campbell, is that you?