The Cost of the Stimulus Package

Good old Stephen Harper, Mr. “I will never run a deficit,” is now proposing that Canada run up a $30,000,000,000 (thirty billion dollar) deficit to tackle the economic problem. The truth is that nothing Canada can do will really help things until the USA wrestles their problems to the ground. Our economies are so interconnected anything Canada does is for naught without an American recovery.

So what are they doing?

American President Elect Obama says it may take $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars) for the country to spend their way out of the economic crisis. That figure is astonishing. Just to put it in perspective consider the following:

One trillion dollars laid end to end would stretch nearly from the earth to the sun. It would take a modern military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills.

If you had gone into business the year Hadrian’s Wall was completed, near the end of 128 AD, and your business lost a million dollars a day, day in and day out, 365 days a year, it would take until the end of the year in 2865 to lose a trillion dollars.

One trillion seconds equals 1,688 years.

Scary Stuff

Antonia Zerbisias Worth a Read

I got to know Antonia Zerbisias a little bit when she was writing an entertainment column for the Toronto Star. At the time we both spent hours hanging out in exciting places like CRTC hearings listening to broadcasters lie about their commitment to local Canadian programming. I always liked her perspective.

She is still at the Star but covering lifestyle issues. She has a great piece about the fact that it take some courage to criticize Israel's actions in Gaza. Particularly in some circles. It is worth a read. You can find it here.


Israelis 10 – Palestinians 700

The death toll in this latest the Gaza Strip dust-up is Israelis 10 – Palestinians 700, if anyone is counting. I am not going to belabour that fact. The numbers speak for themselves. I try to be objective. It continues to be a struggle.

Today it is reported by the United Nations that Israel fired on UN installations and an ambulance convoy during the cease fire. There were UN fatalities. Don’t expect much reaction from our Department of Foreign Affairs. During the invasion of Lebanon the Israeli Air force bombed a UN observation post killing a Canadian soldier and the Prime Minister barely blinked.

So far the Canadian government has given Israel unqualified support, blaming Hamas for the civilian deaths. Our newly elected Junior Foreign Minister is the Scud Stud’s older brother and a former TV pretty face, Peter Kent. He seems to have taken over for the real Foreign Minister Laurence Cannon these days, particularly when it come to this conflict. He is quoted by Mcleans magazine as saying that despite very scant details that "Hamas bears the full responsibility for the deepening humanitarian tragedy.

“We really don’t have complete details yet, other than the fact that we know that Hamas has made a habit of using civilians and civilian infrastructure as shields for their terrorist activities, and that would seem to be the case again today. In many ways, Hamas behaves as if they are trying to have more of their people killed to make a terrible terrorist point.”

As a former journalist, it seems odd that he would come to such a conclusion without any read proof. He actually admits that he lacks credible information. What would not have been acceptable for his news editors seems to be fine for Harper and the boys. They have always played a bit free and easy with the truth.

It should be no surprise that Kent belongs to he Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) which is a Canadian political action organization that advocates greater support for Israel. The CCD has placed particular emphasis on calling for the Canadian Government to adopt an unabashedly pro-Israel stance, and rejects providing Palestinians with any development or humanitarian assistance and has been very critical of the Muslim world. It has done so with op-ed contributions to Canadian newspapers; through press releases; and in its public message forum. (All of these are available on the group's website).

After thinking about how skewed our foreign policy is, I don't feel so bad about my failing objectivity.


Gaza Conflict Tests my Resolve to Stay Objective

Try as I might I find it hard to maintain my objectivity when it come to this latest conflict in Gaza. The issues are so complex it almost would take a Masters in Middle Eastern History for someone to get their head around the issues.

Over the centuries Gaza City has been occupied by Persia, Egypt, Babylonia, Israel, The Romans, The Ottomans, the Hellenic State and the British.

In more recent times it has been controlled by Egypt that theoretically held it in trust for the Palestinians, the Israelis who occupied it a couple of times and currently it is governed by the Palestinian Authority.

Having said all that, Israel controls all imports, exports and the flow of people, by sea, air or land, in and out of Gaza.

I am not sure there has ever been peace in the region but in recent months, after the expiry of a ceace fire agreement, regular rocket attacks have been launched from Gaza into Israel. Although the rockets are for the most part home made devices with no real guidance system, they have become not really a threat, but a nuisance.

To attempt to stop these attacks Israel has launched an all out attack on Gaza. Although I have some sympathy for the Israeli need to protect itself, their responses are seldom measured. As the death tool rises in Gaza what we are seeing is for the most part the killing of civilians, women and children.

The Israeli military public relations machine is cranking out nice soft messages about their need to protect themselves and all the while they are preventing any journalists from entering Gaza so they can report on the war. What are they afraid of? What don't they want the world to see and hear about, one might ask.

I think the last straw for me was the Israeli bombing of the United Nations school yesterday. An act that killed dozens of innocents. It seems that Hamas militants launched another of its ineffectual rocket attacks from a position close to the school. That was a stupid and unconscionable act, there is no question of that. But what I have been asking myself is, what kind military targets a school? What kind of soldier gives the order to bomb children. That is unforgivable.

I also have to say that I am embarrassed, as a Canadian to see our government, lock step behind Bush supporting Israel's right to do what they have done. It is a very sad day.


Leaders of Industry at the Trough

I thought one of the most interesting year end reports was in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) analysis that shows that, by 9:04 AM January 2, the first day of work in this New Year, Canada's top 100 CEOs earned as much as an average Canadian wage earner will make in a year, $40,237. They note that the CEO's made that much money in less time than it took for the average worker to boot up his/her computer.

This in a year where these leaders of industry have to shoulder the brunt the responsibility for their mismanagement of the global economy. I wonder how many of these bandits are advising our illustrious government about what direction they should take with the economy.

And we thought hockey players made a lot. Remember when greed was a bad thing.

You can find the report on the CCPA website


Suffering Through a Saskatchewan Deep Freeze

It was -37 this morning, -45 with the windchill. That is just too cold if you ask me.

I understand why people came here, cheap land, a new life etc, but why did they stay? Desperation I assume. No where to go. I just can't imagine how anyone survived the winters in a sod hut or how the First Nations peoples managed to deal with weather like this.

How did the birds ever manage without feeders?

Just the walk from the car, through the Co-op parking lot to the store seems like too much. Given the choice, I'm not going out. In weather like this, it seems I am always rummaging around the freezer looking for alternative choices for supper.

So I guess I'll dig out those woolly socks, make do with what is in the fridge, go to Home Depot tomorrow and hunker down for another lovely day at home.