Archive for September, 2007

When Politicians like Hilary Rodham Clinton start talking about giving ‘every child born‘ a government grant, taxpayers and voters should start scurrying for cover. This is frankly, nothing but a ‘bribe‘ to gain popularity, to make people forget her allegiance to Big Business, and to make Voters think she has a plan to help get them past the high cost of post secondary education.

“I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home,” she said. (source)

If I was a parent, or about to be Parent, I would more than likely jump at this, at first blush. However, if I cared about the future for my children, I’d start to do some number crunching, and deep thinking on this proposal. To begin with, Senator Clinton, isn’t giving out any details. Note that. She is simply thinking out loud, about how it would be nice, not that she would actually do it. No hard and firm committment.

When a Politician doesn’t at least give you that, odds of it ever happening are pretty slim.

It is similar to a program in the UK, but that wasn’t thousands of dollars but hundreds. And then too, do you really think Bill Gates needs a $5000 bond for his children, or do you think he can manage college for his children? Those Corporate Elites, earning millions of dollars, certainly don’t need Taxpayer Money to send their kids to College. So why should they get any?

Read the rest of this entry

Steep Learning Curve Ahead

Well today was an ‘education‘ day. I decided to delve deeper into the Canadian Diabetes Site, to see if I couldn’t get some helpful answers, specific answers to the many questions I have. One of which is the shopping.

Basically, the main site is a commercial site. I frankly feel pissed off about that, because you really have to hunt to find the hidden gems, and there are some there. One of them is this other ‘official site‘ that actually was able to be quite helpful in answering my ‘what to eat‘ questions.

Healthy Eating is in Store for You‘ is the site, and it is a joint venture from the Canadian Diabetes Foundation and The Dietitians of Canada Association.

An important find, was the reading of food labels, that you find on Cans, Frozen Stuff, and so on. Plus, what it all means, in sort of easy to understand language.

Read the rest of this entry

Recalls Growing

While I applaud the seeming attention to product safety, and the flurry of recalls that show that quality is seriously being compromised over the drive for increased corporate profits, I have to also wonder at a Government that obviously is ignoring this out of control issue. (see commentProtecting the Consumer)

Topps said it was recalling 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products distributed to retail grocery stores and food service institutions throughout the United States, up from the 332,000 pounds it recalled on Tuesday. (source)

Now I don’t know about all you out there, the ‘consumer‘ but it scares the hell out of me. Just look at the recalls this week, and past weeks. Baby Cribs recalled after deaths, food products recalled after illness. (see commentThey’ll Blame The Lead Toys‘) I mean what is happening to our pride in workmanship?

This isn’t just a China Issue either. I mean unless China was running and working at the Topps Meat Co. plant. It is a general break down in our society I think. And it creates fear too. I mean while a great deal of the recalls are for Chinese Made goods, there seems to be a lot of it from elsewhere too.

Dole with its packaged Spinach, Topps and others with contaminated food stuffs, then what about the lettuce, tomatoes awhile back? That isn’t a ‘China‘ thing now is it? Yet at the same time George Bush has cut back on the inspectors for hard goods and foodstuffs, and where is the outcry? (see commentMore Recalls, But Mattel Apologizes… To China)

There is a great deal of trust involved here. We, the consumer, the VOTER, place a lot of trust in our supermarkets, retailers, to provide us with safe goods. We expect them to be diligent in insuring that the goods they sell us are safe to consume, to use. Yet more and more, we are seeing that trust being abused, and ignored too.

The argument used by companies like Mattel and others, is that we, the consumer, are demanding cheaper products and goods. It is why Wal Mart became a success, or is it? Wasn’t the original claim of Wal Mart that it carried only ‘Made in America‘ goods? Yet today it is overwhelmed by goods made elsewhere. In fact, in most stores you are going to be hard pressed to find any substantial number of goods ‘Made in America‘ There are labels from Indonesia, Viet Nam, Korea, and of course, China. What has happened to the Western Industrial Nations? Where are their products?

Let’s take a look at this ‘price‘ dictates the market place crap that companies like Mattel spout, that politicians like George Bush, Charlie Rangle, Stephen Harper, keep nattering about. Go shopping, go price comparison shopping, and tell me, just how much cheaper are these ‘Foreign Made‘ products? Are Mattel toys cheaper on the shelves than comparable American toys? (assuming you can find any)

The real truth is that WE, the consumer, the VOTER, have been sold a bill of goods. We have, as usual, been lied to. The goods coming from China and elsewhere aren’t cheaper, for us. Yes, they do indeed cost the company importing them less. Nike saves huge cash by having it’s elite products made outside the United States. However, the price of its products certainly aren’t cheaper on the shelves. Neither are Mattel’s products, nor imported foods.

So why are we putting up with this?

Why do people continue to vote Democrat or Republican, instead of looking elsewhere? Such as the Green Party, Reform Party? Why does the Voter seem to accept the lies from both Democrats and Republicans?

Isn’t it time for a REAL change?

—————————————

List of Topps Meat Co. recall details Here.

Border Relations, Security

The United States is once more passing the buck, as usual.

IN a test of border security between Canada and the United States, the G.A.O. reported that it would be easy to smuggle in radioactive substances across the Canada-USA Border, and the result of the 13 page report, is that some US Senator now claims we are a bigger haven for terrorist groups than any other nation.

Mr. Salazar claims there are more international terrorist organizations in Canada than anywhere else in the world. (source)

Let us be clear here. It isn’t Canada that is responsible for ANYONE ENTERING THE UNITED STATES. So if some group of investigators find it easy to smuggle stuff into the USA, do not go pointing the blame at the country they come from, look at your own INCOMPETENT STAFFING of YOUR BORDER. The constant whining and bitching by US Lawmakers about Mexico and now Canada and how WE SHOULD DO MORE is just some bought and paid for politician covering up their own inability to do their job.

The US Government is always quick to point a finger, but it would be a miracle if they ever stopped bitching, and took responsibility for their own actions. The border is not monitored, and you have to love the response they give. To say that it is illegal to cross a border without going through an authorized entry point.

It is illegal to cross the border at any place other than an official port of entry. (source)

Hello Stupid! Any dolt knows that anyone determined to smuggle is NOT GOING to cross at a manned border crossing. They are called CRIMINALS for a reason, something that it seems escape most USA Officials. The job of any Border Agency is to protect that country from those ENTERING, not leaving. If you truly want to keep your border secure, then I don’t know, how about patrolling it?

Run drone aircraft across the line, have a satellite or two doing real time monitoring, have troops patrolling hot spots. I mean there a thousand and one ways you can increase your protection, however the one sure fire way NOT TO DO SO, is to blame others for your inabilities to do YOUR job.

I suppose one reason why the US Congress and Government tend to point at others, is that the US Agencies in charge, simply cannot do the job they are required to. Whether it is to hand out Passports, or Protect the Borders. (see commentSecuring The Border, But Whose?‘)

Certainly we have our own obligation, to insure those entering our Country aren’t criminals, aren’t terrorists. However we still need to follow OUR laws, and insure that we adhere to them. It is what makes us a Democracy, and unlike the United States, I think we take it more seriously. Our Privacy Laws, our Search & Seizure laws mean more, and so far, even the Harper Regime isn’t able to dent that will. Granted they would like to, but while some slackening of our rules, of our standards is happening, the fact remains, it is the obligation of the United States to Secure & Protect it’s own borders. It is why they insisted on requiring Passports for US Citizens returning to the US, even when coming from Canada. Fact that the State Department couldn’t process the requests, is NOT our problem.

There are procedures, there are means, to secure a border. The simple truth is, the United States doesn’t want to employ those methods. This is frankly, an issue that is nothing more than Political Cover. It is a way for some to seek re-election, for others to topple an incumbent. None of the players out there seriously wish to do a damn thing about Border Security, because they are bought and paid for by Corporate Interests. (see commentSecurity & Prosperity – At What Cost?‘)

Border Security would also mean more checks, more inspections. Again, it isn’t in the Corporate Interest to have that, so really, until that Interest is muted, the United States will not seek Border Security. So Senator Salazar, SHUT UP or Put Up. If you want to secure your countries borders, cut out the Special Interests that bought and paid for your seat on the US Senate. End the hypocrisy, accept your own culpability in this, and do your damn job. Tell the Homeland Security moron, Chertoff, to get off his little rump, and do what he was hired to do, Protect Your Country. Don’t blame Canada for your inability to do the right thing, don’t blame us for your inaction, due to following the wishes of your Corporate Masters.

It will be interesting to hear Stockwell Day’s reply to these charges (if he bothers). I wonder who will write his speech? George Bush’s speech writer or Dick Cheney’s?

For the first time in 31 years, the Loonie closed on World Markets above parity with the United States Dollar. WOOHOO!  Or is it really a time to celebrate?

The Canadian dollar closed above parity Friday for the first time in almost 31 years, as the U.S. greenback continued its dramatic fall against major world currencies. (source)

Frankly, the rising Loonie and Euro scare me a little. One reason is that so much of the world trade is done in US Currency, that it can only mean a higher cost for goods imported from abroad. After all, as the USD drops in value, those countries are going to have to up the price, in order to just keep pace with inflation, and costs. Don’t forget, fuel is just at under $83 a barrel.

Then too, there is the concern that some nations would switch from using the US Dollar as its trading currency, and move towards the Euro perhaps. That currency is rather high now, so again, how will that impact ImportsAnd there I think is the rub.

We seem to Import a lot more than we should. Not frills either, but things like Food, Clothing, etc. If all those goods are priced based on the US Dollar, and the prices rise, to compensate for a low dollar, then so too does our cost. That means another round of Inflation. That is never good for an economy as Labor attempts to play catch up. That naturally leads to strikes, or to business closures.  Like that isn’t going to make thing good, now is it?

Then too, our EXPORTS become more expensive, because see, we too have to compensate for a low US Dollar. That means we Sell Less, and that widens the gap between Imports vs Exports. That means a Trade Deficit, which is also a costly thing to have hanging over our heads.

So, how does it effect us? I mean like its complicated math, and I am not good at that stuff, but bottom line is this:

  • I write custom stories for other webmasters at $30 USD.
  • With a Loonie at about 5% less, that actually meant I had about $31.50 CDN to spend on groceries and housing.
  • The High Loonie, now means I have about $29.50 to spend for the same stuff I was buying last week.

I just took $2 out of my available budget because of the high loonie. It means that I can’t spend as much, and you can bet that the cost of food isn’t going to drop either.

I don’t know what your weekly budget is, or costs are, but a High Loonie, means simply that you won’t be able to buy as much, not just because the income drops, but because the costs are going to go up. Maybe if you work for a local outfit it won’t be so bad, but think of the big manufacturing firms, or your local utility that sells power to the USA.  They just lost a lot of money because of the Loonie rise. Who do you think is going to pick up that loss? The USA Citizen buying it, or the poor Canuck schmuck?

We sell a lot of eggs, pork, beef, to the USA.  Those sales will drop because oh, it now sells for much more, and if it is based on a contract price, then the farmer is about to get dinged for the rising cost differential between the USD and the Loonie.  Who do you think is going to foot that bill? The Importing USA Firm, or our Farmers?

And where is our Government?  Oh right, still on Vacation because Stephen Harper feels he’s accomplished all of his last election promises..