Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

I’ve been reading older blog entries.
I really liked the I.O.U.S.A article from back in October on America’s national debt.
Canadian billionaire Kevin O’Leary, who knows something about money, said on Squeezeplay, the show he co-hosts with Amanda Lang,”They are going to have to tax migrating birds to pay this off.”
And, if you don’t know about Squeezeplay, it is simply the best show on tv. This is our Squeezeplay review for the start of this tv season just ending.


Hijacked by my wife into three tortuous hours of following along behind her in a shopping mall- I actually fell asleep on a mall bench at one point – I had to notice how few people there were. The sales clerks outnumbered the customers by a good 5-1 margin. The halls were empty. The stores were empty. This is in the thriving oil capital of Alberta and no one is shopping on a weekend in December with Christmas 19 days away. That is bizarre.
Not a good sign.

Michaëlle Jean, the immigrant Port-au-Prince born beauty and later tele-journalist who now holds Canada’s highest government office, has, as nature thankfully intended for her good looks and graces, no balls.
In fact, to verify such recognition of her official potential pin-up status, early on as Governor-General she declared, “I am hot!” to an Ottawa MP-press annual dinner where the government officials almost ritually make fun of themselves.
This past week the reins of government were thrust into her small hands to determine if a just-elected prime minister’s government will live or die.

One option provided her- in banana replublic style- just shut down parliament altogether to the PM can avoid a vote of non-confidence. Another option- grant a tri-party coalition of the second-best (declared so in the national election just six weeks ago) get to run things.

Not to second guess Her Excellency, but it was an opportunity to show the importance and necessity of a strong, wise and precedent-aware Governor-General.
First, no prime minister should be able to shut down parliament to avoid a vote of non-confidence. Now that it has been done, and G-G Michaëlle Jean has granted the prorogue sought by Prime Minister Harper, future prime ministers can use the same tactic citing historical precedence. Not a good thing in a parliamentary democracy.
There was, however, no doubt that Michaëlle Jean would grant his wish.
Her Exellency is hot indeed, but strong-willed she is not.

Her eyes are light as a bird, searching for safe perches of approval. In one photograph of her with Harper, she looks more nurse than Governor-General, her eyes full of compassion and concern.
Her role was to tell Steven Harper to face his music.
She should have gathered all the leaders at Rideau Hall, and read her decision sprinkled with history and precedent so future G-Gs, hot or not, will have a blue print to go by.
Her third decision to be made was whetherto grant the tri-party coalition the government benches.
That’s a tougher decision.
The sitting prime minister of Canada is a trained economist and disciplined leader who has just lead one of the longest-lived minority governments in Canadian history. Not a bad choice during a world financial crisis. The alternative is an opposition leader who has already declared he is leaving the leadership of his party, and who would lead, only for an interim period til March, two left of centre parties with the support of a third party whose sole purpose is to promote the independence of the only province it runs in. The coalition announced plans to spend millions right away as an national economic stimulus package.
The recent announcement that 71,000 jobs have been lost in Canada includes Southern Ontario’s automobile manufacturing woes and Elections Canada layoffs. Take away those elements and Canada looks like an oasis of economic stability compared to the United States. Why the hurry? Why not wait for the January budget?

The mother of all G-Gs, the aging Queen Elizabeth II, is filmed as she visits her horses, a kerchief ’round her hair and tied up under her chin. She wears a longish unflattering coat. She doesn’t look like a queen in this garb. She looks very ordinary, like a charwoman, more dressed to clean the stable than to rein it. But as a Queen, day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, she does a remarkable job at the pointy end. Her decisions are right. History will be kind.

Meanwhile, her representative in Canada, Michaëlle Jean, has reduced her Governor-General’s role to charwoman. She has declined to take a strong stand that would provide a historical corner-stone of precedent. Instead she cleaned up after Harper made his mess, an unelected official shutting down Canada’s elected parliament, following the opposition outcry to Harper’s attempt to take away millions of dollars in government grants away from federal political parties. A good idea, but the timing and lack of consultation revealed him to be a mean and petty man. It was an observation made long-ago by the opposition, now apparent to all. The actions of the opposition leaders following that decision (that was certain to provoke) has destroyed Harper’s once statue-like image of a strong, disciplined leader. He is wounded, and so is Michaëlle Jean, and in fact, so are they all.
There is a lesson here somewhere. Perhaps it is this. Never tell a socialist they can no longer have free money. You’ll damn well pay for it, and Harper has.

And perhaps one more lesson. If we continue to have a Governor-General, and it is an old post, older than the presidency of the United States by more than a 130 years- going back to Augustin de Mesy who began his term as Governor General of New France in 1663- it should be an elected position if the powers include shutting down an elected House of Commons. Ten years before the term of de Mesy began, the original House of Commons in England was shut down by a man named Oliver Cromwell, whose ambition included replacing even the monarch. The shutdown in that instance lasted seven years. The shutdown in this case will last seven weeks. You’d think parliamentary democracy would have evolved somewhat more in 355 years.

Haven’t posted for a while due to dilemma interuptions.

After evicting a tenant who hadn’t paid rent for three months, I discovered upon return to the house, by unexpectedly splashing through water going downstairs, that a metre of water in the drywalled basement meant I had an unexpected indoor swimming pool.

I hadn’t re-rented the place right away as the deadbeat tenants left the house a disasterous mess. I expected to do some serious cleaning up, but nothing on this level. It’s freakin’ serious. It is absolutely unbelievable.

This follows on the heels of another bad renter- another house- that I am still doing repairs on a year and a half later. Just when I was beginning to see the end of this, I am pushed back tens of thousands of dollars and lucky to save the house.

I’ll tell you. If you are a landlord, act like Mike Holmes looking for a contractor. References, references, references. Include a clause they can be evicted with 72 hours notice for any reason. Unreasonable? Ha! No pets of any sort. Not even goldfish. When you rent a place you own out, you’ll learn fast tenants can put you in the poorhouse. Tenant rights? I’m learning landlord rights should be seriously beefed up.

And I was so nice! Ten days free to get moved in. Late with rent? You know it can’t happen again. You know, it can’t happen again. (Are you listening?) Excuse me, your cheque has bounced. (There’s more but you wouldn’t believe it.) Best advice from my vantage point? Be cruel, severe, and no nonsense. One strike, you’re gone. No exceptions. Before all this, it would be seemed unreasonable to me. No longer.

I’m at the end of my freakin’ teather with people who want to rent and treat my houses, including the home I have lived in like it was a doghouse or worse.

What could be causing intentional damage would get you in trouble in some countries. I’m still determining if this was intentional. The evidence is pointing to likely. The thought briefly crossed my mind (ugly thought) that maybe the Taliban have a better justice system than Canada, in spite of all the fighting we are doing in Afghanistan so they adopt fair justice methods or something close to it. (Erase that thought.)

I wish I had Mike Holmes phone number. I just absolutely am flabbergasted by the damage, and this was a family of four. It is just unbelievable. It’s like a nightmare you never wake from.

Blogging on politics, ours and American, will be a pleasure once all this is straightened out.

If ever.

Meanwhile, feel free to read back posts. Thanks, and may you never rent to deadbeats. I am getting out of the business of renting to people for good.

If you have property you rent out, your risk is huge, the returns mediocre.

Know something that further amazes me? I’m amazed I didn’t swear even once in this entire post. And now, back to work.

There is fear now in world financial markets.

American president George Bush has addressed his nation 20 times in the last month, providing reassurance. The stock market responds by going into free fall.

A “crash” on the markets is a 20 per cent loss in value of the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Index is down 22 per cent over eight days. The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is down 16 per cent this past week. Mary Pillon writes, Whats a Market Crash? defining the stock markets having experienced a crash or near-crash this past week. In Japan the Nikkei index was down 16 per cent in a week.

The national debt of the United States is so big the Durst national debt clock has run out of enough zeros to post the $10 trillion owing.

Leftover debt of former investment giant Lehman Brothers have been auctioned off today, going for less than nine per cent of its former value.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are about to become a crash test dummy as the companies face serious financial trouble, including possible bankruptcy.

The finance ministers of the G7 are meeting in Washington to deal with the unravelling of the economy of the world. Their collective statement: “The current sutuation calls for urgent and exeptional action.”

The American version of the RRSP, the 401K, the relied-upon investment vehicle for many, is being reduced in value as stock markets decline. That follows the housing price plummet. Middle America has become much poorer and less secure very quickly.

No wonder there is fear in the air.

The mark of a good writer is one who can put you there, in the scene they are witnessing.

Diane Francis can do that. It’s good she is a business writer, likely the best known business writer in Canada. Good business writers are needed now.

Francis wrote this story, October 3, Wall Street Melting.

Diane Francis writes for the National Post. Her work can also be read on the Huffington Post. Another  worth reading is Dont touch the stock market, on HuffPo, published October 1.

Ben Hunt from Scratch Media has given his opinion on what are the world’s 10 best designed websites.

Apple leads the pack. He likes the boldness and the use of white space. To find out which are the ohter nine, here’s the link.

For more, here is a link to thebestdesigns.com


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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence