Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday musings

Ever see the movie Groundhog Day? The story where a man wakes up every day to the same day again? That seems to describe the weird feeling I get from the ongoing soap opera in Europe over the financial problems emanating from Greece. Again the politicos are meeting and creating a less than sufficient fund to backstop that beleaguered country’s economy. The banks now are hardening their aggressive response to demands that they take a financial haircut over this mess, one that they had a large part in as the lenders, of 60% rather than the 21% that was talked about before. Do you think that any loss will really be borne by the banks? Hell no, they will pass this on to their depositors in fee and interest rate increases. The average taxpayer will pay for this, just as they did in America during the great crash of ’08. You did not see anybody fired or any institution fined did you? Hell, their bonuses still flowed as if nothing has changed and the politicians did squat about it and continue to do so to this day. As a friend said to me the other day, it is hard to imagine that a country like Greece with 3% of the European economy can be the potential cause of the end of the European Union and the Euro itself. If you want to have an educational experience in the financial field, look up the derivative market meaning and see what it did in ’08 and then ask why a large US bank is quietly folding its European derivatives and transferring the money back to the homeland?
So Sunday is the official day of liberation for Libya, now that Kaddafi is dead. This country missed an enormous opportunity to move towards democracy in the way of his death and now the aftermath. As has been reported, he was shot and then his body was dragged through the streets of the city where he was captured. Then the corpse was stored in a walk in freezer and people are allowed to view it. Even though the Muslim religion requires burial to be as soon as possible after death, this has not happened. Many learned scholars have lamented this fact and that this seems to be the start of an Arab winter where old tribal conflicts reappear and democracy is left behind. If this is the case, many will have died in vain.
The first country in the Arab Spring revolution, Tunisia has announced plans for its first free, multi party elections. Proof that change can occur and be good for the people. Sadly, things appear to have changed very little in Egypt so far. Yes Mubarak is out, but little else appears to have changed. Many would argue that that is not so bad as Islamic fundamentalists have for years wanted to overturn the government there and apply their own version of Sharia Law there.
The American President, Obama, has announced that all troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. One would think that this news would be approved by all. Not apparently for those in the Republican Party. According to who you listen to, he is going too slow, going too fast, did not ask Congress. In their obvious hate for him, they say and do anything to try to discredit him to the American people. Any and all legislation that he has proposed to help restart the economy has been opposed at every step and defeated in Government. It makes you wonder what paralysis will occur in government if he is re-elected in 2012? The world cannot have an America that wanders indecisively both at home and abroad.
In Canada, there were 3 shipyards bidding on 2 contracts worth about 33 billion over 10 years for replacement icebreakers, destroyers and supply ships. Astoundingly, politics were left out of the decision and one contract worth about 25B went to Halifax and the other for 8B went to Vancouver. The loser in this was one in Quebec and at this point there has been very minimal negative feedback from various politicians in that province.
Quite unusual to say the least.
Here in Saskatchewan, the election campaign continues. A web site has been set up that tracks the $ amount the parties promise to the electorate as part of their bid to form the government. The link is I find it interesting that the Opposition Party, NDP, who boasts of their previous fiscal prudence have committed to almost 1.5 Billion so far and the governing Sask. Party, demonized as wastrels by the Opposition, are at a paltry 330 million. If polls are to be believed, the Sask. Party will return to govern with at least the same amount of seats. If so, it is hard to imagine that the leader of the Opposition would retain his position, both as a result of the vote and also the fact that he is in his 60’s and would be approaching 70 when the next election is held in 4 years. This may be just a case where he truly is and will have been, yesterdays’ man.
We had another fine late fall week and it looks like snow may be coming near the end of next week. This is still way too soon for me. But then again if it is cold, with snow on the ground, then the little tykes going door to door on Halloween will rush through the street early and quickly, which may not be such a bad thing. Funny how ones’ attitude changes from the days when you went door to door to now where you are at the door handing out the treats! Our block has undergone a shift in population over the past few years. At one time the owners were those that had purchased houses 25 years or so ago when the block was being built. Then recently age has made some downsize to apartments or the older ones have moved into assisted living facilities. The people that moved in are of course much younger and have little ones of their own and these now proudly do the door to door routine that was done so many years ago by another generation. It is moments like this that makes you start to feel the years that have added up so quietly on you. You sometimes wake up in the morning and wonder where the time went. It seemed like yesterday that words like retirement were just that – words, not something you did daily.
OK, so I told you the saga of the winter tires on my vehicle last week, now let me tell you about those of my wife’s car. Whereas mine were installed no charge, hers cost over $50! Obviously the mechanics at our BMW dealer use gold plated tools in order to do their work on vehicles. Even replacing a taillight bulb cost $35! Sheesh, you nearly have to take out a bank loan to do service work on a BMW these days. But then again, if she did not have her own vehicle, shudder, I would have to drive her every where she wanted to go!
Yup, better off having the Beamer I think.
I pulled out my winter jackets, gloves and assorted gear in anticipation of the months to come. Sure did nothing to make me feel good about winter. The nights start earlier and the sun rises later in the morning and I sure as Hell do not like that at all. I think I am starting to get into my Scrooge mode a bit earlier than normal for some unknown reason. I think it is just that I am finally facing up to the fact that I resent winter and know that there is very little that I can do to change it. I must admit to having a tough time trying to say or think of anything good about this season. Oh yes, I do – there are no mosquitoes in winter! Finally something positive for me to say!
I have a map of the world where I have stuck pins into countries that I have had the pleasure to visit over the years and occasionally think about ones that I would like to see. Two that come to mind (due probably because some of my readership is from these countries) are Singapore and Russia. Both polar opposites of the other but both have a fascination and allure for me. I doubt that the opportunity will arise for a visit, but, boy, would it be fun.
The horrific flooding in Thailand continues unabated. Long range forecasts indicated the rain and flooding will continue for another 6 weeks at a minimum. The total cost of that will be horrendous to say the least. Wonder what the world community will do in response to this disaster. Also did you know that most of the world’s computer hard drives are made in Thailand and that already shortages are being noted due to factories being shut down with no firm date to re-open?
You notice how the drought and famine stories from the Horn of Africa have dropped off the media screen? Instead we in the West are treated to more drivel about Lindsey Lohan and Kim Kardashian, two people who have done absolutely squat in the real world. Instead they feed off the media and the money that is generated from this nonsense.
In a strange story, German police have apparently arrested a couple and accused them of spying for Russia. Apparently they are accused of doing so since the Cold War era. Hmmm, that would put them in their 70’s wouldn’t it? Oh well, this should make a good movie, maybe a comedy?
So, with a fond tip of the hat to Maxwell Smart from the TV series – Get Smart, I bid you goodbye for another week.
Take care out there,

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