Sunday, November 30, 2008

bread and circuses

a thought for the thoughtful

We are having an economic melt-down, and a political melt-down - that seems to be leading to a societal melt-down (just read some of the comments on the boards at CBC, G&M, NP, MacLean's, etc. There is talk of Harper proroguing Parliament, illegal tape recordings, "coups d'etat" (oh please!), "bloodless coup" (I'm swooning now), internecine squabbling about who gets to be PM, separatist and socialists, Western secession, with-holding food supplies to Ontario and Quebec (they produce about 80% of their own food).

I've been meaning to write about The Five Stages of Collapse
So here are the five stages as I defined them almost a year ago. The little check-mark next to "financial collapse" is there to remind us that we are not here to quibble or equivocate, because Stage 1 is pretty far along. Stages 2 and 3 - commercial and political collapse, are driven by financial collapse, and will overlap each other. Right now, it is unclear which one is farther along. On the one hand, there are signs that global shipping is grinding to a halt, and that big box retailers are in for a very bad time, with many stores likely to close following a disastrous Christmas season. On the other hand, states are already experiencing massive budget shortfalls, laying off state workers, cutting back on programs, and are starting to beg the federal government for bail-out money
The article is worth the read. My take is that financial, commercial and political collapse are well under way, societal collapse is coming, and cultural collapse will follow thereafter (no more Internet, no more mp3s, no more movies, books, no more electricity, no more schools, hospitals,...those kinds of things).

I get this little niggling in the back of my mind of the SPP agreement Harper signed with Bush last Valentine's Day - that permits American military to enter Canada in "the case of an emergency". What could be more of an emergency for Harper than getting his butt kicked to the curb?

So how about those numbers? I was wrong about the 7000 TSX, and there is a rather bullish sucker rally on. Strangely, it took off on news of the impending "constitutional crisis" (are you scared yet?).

Mayhem in Mumbai. Catastrophe in Congo. Giant meteorites! Dogs and ponies, and bread and circii (or circuses, if you must). How's that employment security? Thinking of buying a pre-sale? How about "moving up"? There are now 3 miserable houses on miserably-sized lots for under $400K in all of East Van. You still have to pay over $400K for a full(ish)-sized lot. It's not sinking in yet.

I hear a train a-coming...


Art Vandelay said...

If there's any justice left in Canada, Alberta will turn off the energy taps to the rest of this miserable, ungrateful country.

Then we'll see how long the Commie Coalition can hold on to its ill-gotten power.

Anonymous said...

What US military?

There's only one unit deployed in the US and they're going to need them for the riots there.

Obama is only taking them out of Iraq and putting them into Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even Iran. After the nukes fall.

US deals with Canada the same way they dealt with England; Mad Cow and anthrax arm "twisting."

Harper can sign all the "back up my ass" agreements with the US he wants; they don't have the manpower or the will to back them up.

Conservatism is choking to death on its own bile.

blueskies said...

good post soli!

i would think the Americans are a little too stretched to worry about Canadian politics, they would be watching the situation in Mexico a lot closer than Canada...

solipsist said...

Come on, Art! Alberta sends 90% of its oil to the US. Eastern oil comes from Venezuela, Middle East, etc. If and when Obama says that the US does not want "dirty oil", Alberta will be looking for customers. No province is an island.

As far as "Commie Coalition", WTF is that? Do you really think that the Liberals and NDP are communist? Maybe you could explain that, qualify that.

I will remind you too, that the Bloc Quebecois was started by ex-Mulroney Progressive Conservatives - like Lucien Bouchard.

Anon - The US is bringing back 2 divisions.

Anonymous said...


We're already stock piling growing seeds, tools and a rifle with ammunition for when we squat up in the Coast Mountains with our kids.


Anonymous said...

The whole argument about Alberta being screwed if the americans don't buy their oil is the flip side of the argument that we could screw the americans if we sell the oil elsewhere.
Neither argument makes sense as oil is a comodity. It all gets used somewhere in the world. If A doesn't buy it you sell to B who in turn does not buy it from C who then has to sell it to A instead. It all gets used up and it will have no effect on the price.

This will only hurt in the sense that both customer and supplier have to pay for unnecessary transportation costs.

Besides I think the price of crude these days makes this argument silly as only suncor and syncrude on prexisting sites can afford to mine tar sands at a profit.


solipsist said...

pbell - make sure you pick a valley, longer growing season, and better soil.

ted - the point is not whether there are customers for Alberta's oil, but that Alberta cannot "turn off the energy taps to the rest of this miserable, ungrateful country", because Eastern Canada uses very little of Alberta's oil.

China would buy Alberta's oil if the US wouldn't.

kabloona said...

Alberta has another problem: how much of the tar sands is economically recoverable if oil keeps sliding below $50 a bbl? Right now it's at $49....and their cheap conventional reserves are in decline, that's why Stelmach needed to jack royalties on the heavy stuff....not enough light crude anymore.

Coco said...

Did you hear about those back room coalition deals on the news yet?

The Bloc to get six senate seats. Elizabeth May of the green party to get one too.

The Bloc to approve two coalitions budgets without even looking them over.

Quebec to get much higher equalization payments.

Coalition with a separatist party whose ultimate goal is to break up Canada. I wonder how constitutional that is? I guess the GG will let us know.

So do we get a stimulus package followed by higher taxes in the future to pay for it all? Carbon tax, higher GST, etc.? Interesting times....

solipsist said...

coco - all the talk about Bloc members getting Senate seats is rumour put forth by Lawrence Cannon (Conservative). Maybe May will get a (temporary)Senate seat so as to be Environment Minister.

The Green Shift is a no-go (unfortunately). Were you aware that the Green Shift was priced at $30/tonne of CO2, with rebates, and investment in "green" technologies? That Harper's carbon tax would be $60/tonne with none of the sweeteners of the Green Shift? Of course not - the propaganda was too effective.

Back room coalition deals...much like the alliance that Harper tried to pull together with the Bloc and NDP in 2004.

Just to remind you, Bloc members, and supporters, are still Canadians, and have a right to representation. As far as the Bloc passing two budgets, one thing at a time. One budget per year.

None of this is unconstitutional, illegal, or otherwise. Do not be subject to the Conservative propaganda that is gearing up, we had enough of that during the last 2.5 years, and especially during the election. Harper is gone. Period. For that, I am ecstatic. I hope that the Conservatives rid themselves of the Reform elements, and Mike Harris freaks (Baird, Clement, Flaherty), and get back to Progressive Conservatism. They might even get my vote if they do that.

Do not fall for the fear-mongering that will inundate us until Harper concedes. Harper is a sociopath by definition, and we will be a better country without him. His own party has the knives out for him - with some calling for Baird as new leader, and others calling for Prentice. He went too far with his bullying, and now he is toast.

I hope that the GST goes back to at least 7%. 10% would be better.

Coco said...

Duceppe said today the coalition deal was good for Quebec sovereignty.

Nuf said!


You must be rich if you wish to pay higher taxes. Did you calculate how much more you will pay for a house if the GST goes up or do you already own and don't care?

Coco said...

Coalition will be fighting with each other in no time.

Three very different viewpoints, won't work.

solipsist said...

coco - I am not rich (or own a house), but I recognize that my taxes pay for health care, education, etc. Those two institutions alone have suffered particularly over the last couple of decades.

A house would cost 2% more if the GST went back to 7%, and 5% more if it went to 10% (but that would just be on a new house, and is meaningless when we are looking at a 40%-60% correction). But then, my children and grandchildren would not be stuck paying for the deficits that we will be running up. The government foregoes $12 billion per year with the cuts to 5%, and in case you have not noticed, we are headed to a minimum of a $13.9 billion deficit. You do the math. Deficits also have compounding interest tacked on to them. We spend billions a day on interest on the national debt.

What do you expect Duceppe to say? He has to have his constituency on side. He has signed an 18 month binding agreement to set aside sovereignty. The Liberals set aside the carbon tax, and the NDP set aside corporate taxes. Sovereignty is dead for now, and was not even mentioned by the Bloc in the last federal election.

Tune out the fear-mongering!

Coco said...

GST is not just paid on new homes, it is paid on real estate commissions, lawyers fees, etc.

As far as politics is concerned it is dirty business no matter what players are involved. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence until you get there and discover it has weeds and thistles too. The coalition will be no exception.

sidelines said...


Having the Bloc in the House is actually a powerful argument against seperation. With them in, or with that option there, why seperate? Nationalists have their voice in Ottawa with the Bloc. Seems like a sweet deal - why leave that?

Anyway, getting all worked up over a coalition, I don't get it. The fact is, most Canadians didn't vote for a conservative MP. Let them (the coalition) have a go at it, I say. And let them increase my taxes, too, if it'll mean bringing in decent and needed programs, such as universal daycare.

Anonymous said...

Solip. Yup, in a deep valley beside a nice creek with southern exposure, up against a concrete wall I erect to provide the perfect micro climatic growing conditions. Hey, when things get real ugly you and your family are welcome to join our commune :-) We have young children too...they all can grow up together living the simple life with lots of love and attention. Bring lots of books with ya as our fun with the internet will be done :(


After reading about Vancouver's chief financial officer's resignation and quarter million dollar severance package, I've obviously chosen the wrong career. She doesn't even have to speak about it to boot...take the tax payer's money with zero accountability and hit the road. Sounds like a ticket to happiness to me until the masses lose their jobs and come knocking on your door :-(


Coco said...


I'm not worked up over the coalition, but a lot of people who voted for Liberals,NDP and Bloc are because they didn't vote for a coalition. You should read some of the comments on the TV stations, newspaper articles, etc. People are actually vowing to vote Conservative out of spite.

If the economy tanks further and we go into huge deficits under a coalition leadership they will pay the price in the next election.

The three amigos are not too smart. They should of let Harper rule, let the economy falter further, it would of been easier to get elected that way then just taking over in a coalition.

Turkey said...

Canadians don't vote for a government, we vote for a parliament. The parliament forms the government out of the ingredients we provide.

And as for the mythical spite voter, how many Americans threatened to move north should Bush be re-elected four years ago? How many of them are here today? I find it hard to believe that people would so easily overcome their dislike for Harper.

All four parties are behaving like children. That said, Harper takes the blame for starting it, and the booby prize for being a sanctimonious hypocrite when his own strategies are used against him.

Coco said...

If the coalition takes power and then there is an election in the future what platform do they run on? Vote for the coalition, vote for each party separately, do they start fighting with each other in a debate, etc.

kabloona said...

I think the coalition has a shelf life of 18 months as sepcified in their accord. Doesn't mean they couldn't lose a confidence vote at any time and have us head to the polls before 2010...

Anonymous said...

I think the Canadian constitution needs an overhaul.

Don't ask me specifically how, but I think its a mess the way it is...


Anonymous said...

Can we at least ask specifically how it's a mess before we start overhauling randomly?

solipsist said...

A good start to constitutional tweaking would be to introduce Property Rights. (if you need constitutional tweaking)

patriotz said...

GST is not just paid on new homes, it is paid on real estate commissions, lawyers fees, etc.

Selling prices for houses (both new and used) are determined by how much the buyer is willing and able to pay.

If the GST goes up, the selling price before taxes has to go down.

solipsist said...

Thanks (again) for the clarity patriotz.

QoS said...

>If the GST goes up, the selling >price before taxes has to go down.
What if the quality of life just goes down a little bit for everyone? If your salary is 100K paying 100$ in GST on a new TV is not the same as if you earned 60K. Of course people will try to buy in US to avoid taxes but why force them to break the law???

solipsist said...

QoS - huh?

QoS said...

I'm just trying to say that GST hurts more those with smaller income.