Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday musings

Well, this year is to all extent and purposes, done.
So many events occurred both worldly and locally that it is sometimes hard to process.
I am not the type to review the year month by month, there are many better read paid professionals that can and do do that. So I will leave the reading of the tea leaves to them.
I did have some of my heroes' leave us this year and that saddens me. To my good friend in Calgary, to the cartoonist Jim Unger, who once I had the honour to talk with to many years ago to Lincoln Alexander and Neil Armstrong, you will be missed and remembered.
I do celebrate the continued friendship of three young ladies that I refer to as my trio of “daughters. They continue to bring joy and humour into my life. Their friendship brightens and enriches me.
May the New Year be a good one for the author, the realtor and the entrepreneur!
I look back at our year and the transition from living in the Canadian Prairies to life here on an Island on the West Coast and the adventures in between.
To say that the year was interesting would be an understatement!
Well, America, the fiscal cliff nightmare is now underway.
Interesting how some “experts” are now saying that it is not a “cliff” but rather a “gentle slope”.
Say what?
Because of the cowardice of politicians of all stripes in the capital city, the average taxpayer is going to pay more income taxes, the elderly will have medical costs go up, the military budget will be chopped and those impacts will roll throughout the industrial economy and that is just the start and this is just a “slope?
I guess if you are wealthy or a politician that can raise your salary with impunity, probably so.
One of the things that puzzles me is the wording of the statement that previous era tax cuts will be reversed. Is it not spin doctoring to say this? Actually does it not mean that lawmakers are installing a new tax rate that compares to ones in previous years? And that they are responsible for these increases?
And while many might find fault with the Republican Party on its position on the economy, some things that they say do make sense. A country cannot continue to expand services without revenue to fund these increases. That is impossible and criminal. To borrow and borrow and “fudge” the books only delays the reckoning and increases the final bill.
Spending has to be stopped, curtailed or reduced as well as increasing some taxes.
Also it is so wrong to assume that to increase taxes on a minority – the 1% will pay all the debts and eliminates the deficit in one fell swoop.
First off the 1% - BTW, who is the genius that figured out that there was 1% instead of 2-4-10 or whatever % anyway? Catchy phrase but is it factually correct or does anyone really care as long as they can blame someone else for their problems? Anyway, the wealthy pay a lot of money in taxes – look at the total they pay and not just the percentage. Secondly,there seems to be a lot of subsidy programs in the States that are baffling to people in other countries. For one example, how about the money given to the dairy industry to subsidize their products? Milk at just over $2.50 a gallon in Washington State while in Canada it is almost $7.00. And forget the quaint notion of the American milk industry being run by small families struggling to survive, the majority of the industry is corporate based but with a damn fine political lobby that ensures money flows to them all the time. How about a system where you can get unemployment benefits for up to 2 years? In many other countries such as Canada, 15 to 45 weeks maximum plus you have to prove that you are actively looking for employment. Indeed items such as deductions for interest on mortgages is the envy of other countries – but who actually pays this cost in the end?
America could also look companies that park money offshore to avoid taxes pay their share. Sadly it takes a rare brand of courage to stop the gravy train and there seems to be a shortage of these politicians around the world, not just only in America. And it seems that the problems continue to be punted down the road and the next generation will be stuck with the bill.
In France the new law imposing a tax rate of 75% on the wealthy has been struck down.
It is so fashionable to blame the wealthy for all of societies ills. At one time, it was honourable to strive to get ahead in the world and that if the result of hard work, innovation and daring was wealth, then good for you. You took the risks and should reap the rewards. For I have to tell you, that as a former business owner, no one ever tried to help you if things did not work out and for what ever reasons the business failed. Instead the common reaction was that of scorn and ridicule. No one ever recalled the times when you missed a pay cheque in order to pay the wages of the employees and the bills of the suppliers.
No, no one did.
India is in turmoil over the vicious, violent, animalistic rape and eventual death of a woman by the hands of 6 men including the driver of the transit bus where she and her date had been on. The rape figures are staggering. Once again this shows the horrible way women are treated like possessions or objects and not as equals in these lands.
And yet India had Indira Ghandi as Prime Minister, how can this be?
Child brides, rapes, beatings, dressed like sacks of flour, denied education – this is the lot of life of women in so much of the world these days. And people from the Middle East, India, Pakistan and the Far East wonder why the so called Western world views their society and religions with feelings ranging from despair to anger to befuddlement to contempt?
They do not seem to want to help their cause it seems.
One wishes this perspective is wrong, but it just does not seem to be.
Nelson Mandela is out of hospital and home as is ex-President Bush Sr., good news on both fronts.
A Canadian Indian Chief is on a three week hunger strike demanding to have the Prime Minister come and meet her to help set up a timetable for righting all the wrongs that she deems exist in the relationship between the government and First Nations.
Many non First Nations would say that that would be wrong to have such a meeting. They will point to the massive amount of money that has flowed from the Canadian Government over decades and decades into First Nations with little or no accountability required. And they would point out that since accountability is now being sought, that the Leaders of the First Nations are more concerned about the money flowing to them and their families than the wellbeing of their reserves.
Interesting times ahead.
The next year will bring the events in Syria to a head. One way or another, regime change will occur and one has to wonder how the whole region will be impacted as a result. Status quo will not happen, we have seen the emergence of Hamas – fuelled by weapons from Iran and its hostility towards Israel. This situation will evolve and probably not in a positive way.
North Korea will apparently test a third atomic weapon soon.
How wonderful is that?
But you know, there is still plenty of good to look forward to these days.
There is a concept/philosophy called "pay forward" and we participate in  it. It is a small thing but I believe that if more and more people followed this path, good things for many will follow. Look it up and give it a try - it does not hurt and can do so much good.
You look back in history and things were bleaker many times. The main thing these days is that communication is world wide and 24 hours a day. That did not exist even 20 years ago. So while it is easy to get the impression that the world is falling apart with calamity and disasters everywhere, well, maybe so but then again maybe not. This has happened before and will happen again but the world will continue and babies will be born and crops will be fine.
It is a matter of balance and perspective and sometimes the obsessed agenda (both right and left driven are at fault) of the media forgets this.
These are amazing times we live in and hopefully the new year will be full of wondrous things and events.
Take care out there,
flatlander 52

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