Sunday, February 8, 2009

About feral dogs, shotguns and strarving mauraders

"Strolling through the business section at Chapters the other day, I noticed that we’re all going to die. And soon.

Well, I suppose not all of us. I don’t want to be alarmist."

Holy cow Batman!


  1. Gee! He even mentioned Mr. Garth!!

    My neighbours have mutual funds at one of the big 5. They went in to discuss their portfolio. The fellow is due to retire in 4 years. Financial advisor told them they should get back what they put in by then. Can you imagine being happy about getting the principal back? Sheesh.

    Thanks for the link it was a hoot.

  2. Yes he did mention Garth didn't he? I think his opinion was clear on squirrel stew and such things. Although I did disagree with his assessment of how the price of oil has impacted this current economic situation.

    As far as Financial advisers are concerned, most offer the standard fare from the company they work for. Given the backgrounds of many of them, they are not qualified to offer much else. I expect the 4 year time frame would be popular thinking in those circles, but they are largely based on past economic cycles.

    The Obama effect is what will be the determining factor I expect. There is a lot of money out there that is waiting to see what direction Obama is going to take overall, and whether he will walk the walk that he has talked. I think the big money doesn't care for his talk very much and they will go with the best deal for them in environments they feel can be controlled effectively.

  3. Declaration of conflict of interest: I like both Dan Gardner and Garth Turner. Both write using facts and logic, and maintain solitary positions when facts and logic take them there.

    I was tempted to link to Dan's column myself when I read the Ottawa Citizen Saturday morning but didn't for the simple reason that both Dan and Garth are right. We know the alarmist “do-this-to-get-rich-or-survive” literature and know that most of it turned out to be a crock - except for the authors. Dan is right there. On the other hand, read Garth's 7 February "Here" post, and tell me that the job losses are not happening and that the consequences Garth outlines are unrealistic.

    Having read it in the '70s, I picked up a copy of Barry Broadfoot's 1973 Ten Lost Years 1929-1939: Memories of Canadians Who Survived the Depression (on a few months ago. I recommend it as an oral record of what individual Canadians suffered and how they coped.

    I do hope that the Depression cup will be averted by the only thing capable of averting it: government action, sorry to say. If it is not averted, ask yourself how Canadian society has changed since the Dirty Thirties, and how our current middle class and "me-generation" would react to such stresses.

    Hope that the "Holy cow Batman!" is not turned into "Aw shit!"

  4. Actually Herb, Garth is quoting some of the things I have written in his recent pieces. Things which are true like people can't go back home to the family farm anymore. In fact, many couldn't in past decades either, but at least while there was still a significant agricultural presence in Canada, enough could so that it helped to ease the pressures being felt in the cities.

    It's lifetime city dwellers who are going to take this on the chin most. They are not resourceful as a rule and lack the latitude to reach for other means of support other than to look for replacement employment. Recent figures are undoubtedly disconcerting, and somewhat difficult to assess, but it is my feeling at this point, that the major centres that Garth focuses on are the ones who saw things rise to totally unrealistic heights, and will be the areas that suffer the crash effect. That of course, will ripple outward. Overall, bringing a resulting decline in what governments can actually do.

    In the end, it will boil down to those who have lived a leveraged life will take the brunt and there will be an attempt to return to the Mike Harris' common sense revolution. Which of course had nothing to do with common sense. But it was a nice slogan. There will be shrinkage and deflation and it will touch everyone in some way.

    At this point I am making comparisons to the 80's and '92/'93 . Things I remember from that era. Such as Ontario's downturn while Rae was premier and the energy sector. I read an in depth assessment during these times that claimed Ontario had more vacant commercial capacity than there was Commercial capacity in the rest of Canada. That's total commercial capacity in the rest of Canada, vacant or otherwise. Again, I was astounded.

    I likened this to what has happened now in so much as Bob Rae was an unknown quantity and seen as a leftie, kind of like Obama. I figured much of that pain in Ontario was as a result of the money peoples reaction to this. What better way to get rid of a political movement seen by the Conservative business community as Red? And they are still milking that investment. Not for long though.

    The major difference of course is that this time we are not just dealing with Canada's largest economy and a cyclical US recession.

    If you watched the youtube video I posted a little while ago, then you will understand my greatest level of concern. Buddy generally says, we don't know what we are doing.

    That has been the fear nagging me for many years. Lawyers as finance ministers, lawyers as health ministers, Carney as head of B of C, Premiers who are wet behind the ears and go up the ladder based on political criterias (best BSer) and overall, governments eagerness to tie us to the US economy. ETC. Then there is the social degradation. That is costing a fortune, but no one talks about it because it's not PC.

    I have said it before, we will be ok if we reassess many of the things we do, make adjustments, and redirect ourselves away from big corporate mentality. A lot of people will have to learn to make do with a lot less, but in the end they will find some control of their lives again, and perhaps some peace of mind.

    Promoting more self sufficiency should be a government priority as should cutting fat as we have discussed. As we grow lean, and more efficient the resulting benefits will emerge as will a healthier economy.

  5. As for us old hillbillies, we have more choices than just squirrel. There's smelts, tommy cod (Herring), flat fish, and mackerel that few bother with these days. Plus fiddle heads and sanfire greens and a abundance of berries of different kinds. We have a brook 50 ft. away and the woods come with a variety of leaves to suit even the fussy bums. If one happens to be a fleet of foot hillbilly, one might try chasing down a pheasant or two.

  6. 'Carney as head of B of C'

    Former senator of Vermont called them 'Morgan Stanley mafia'. Thought that was hoot.

    Did you read that NYtimes article Mr.Garth mentioned? It's still up on the site. It's one of the most emailed articles. Really easy to find. It's so sad.

    Can you see my email comrade? Can you pass it along to Linda?

  7. Hi Dee, I can't see your email address but you could email me at

    I don't have Linda's email either, but can act as go between if both are sent.

    I saw the reference to the NY times piece, but didn't read it until now. As expected it told a tale similar to what I have been reading about Detroit. I was perusing real estate sites recently and found some interesting things. In Detroit houses can be had from $1,000 to $20,000 depending on the damage done since they became vacant.

    You've heard the saying they took everything but the kitchen sink? Well in some of these homes, they took that too. For $20,000 a nice brick home can be had in the Dearborn area and I was curious what all the circumstances might be. This site answered many of the questions I had as it provided a lot of info on the neighborhoods. One of the charts dealt with crime and the national average was shown then the area. The first item was murders. National average was shown as a 1. This area was 7.1 There was less mystery after seeing that. The rest of the story is the Big 3 of course.

    To add a bit more, I have also looked at prices in Maine and New Hampshire. Although the cost of living is listed as 20% higher than Detroit, the asking prices of property in Maine hasn't gone down much. I attribute that to a more self sufficient economy there. It is a relatively small economy but it is almost totally based on small business ventures. I love it there. Lot's of space, an independent spirit and they are realistic people. They are very big on freedoms there, and very outspoken when they think government is over stepping it's boundaries.

    I've also checked Boston area which has been subject to some large fluctuations in past recessions and found they are down about 20%. That's not huge given the past. So, a lot of what is being seen is relative to specific areas and their circumstances.

  8. Former senator of Vermont called them 'Morgan Stanley mafia'. Thought that was hoot.

    Sorry that should be 'Goldman Sachs mafia' because that's where they all come from isn't it.

    Going to email you a blurb. You shouldn't have posted that one ebots are going to spam you.

  9. Ebots, yes probably so. The good thing is that email addy has very small storage so if they get too rambunctious most of the emails will just bounce back to them.

  10. Life is a bitch, and then you die!

    What we are contemplating is the sudden essential insecurity of civilization. We gathered in villages, towns and cities for security and to bring home the bacon (in economic terms). The division of labour with a lot of others meant that one could be a master of one trade rather than having to be a jack of all, and that there was time left for leisure at the end of the day. And since there was leisure, the envelope of culture and civilization kept on being pushed. Instead of shamans, we wound up with medical specialists and hospitals.

    Much as it might seem advisable right now, we can't revert to earlier ways of living. Subsistence hunting and gathering is out, even for most "First Nations": too many people, not enough suitable real estate. Subsistence farming might be all right if you have the land and if you can coincide your production with the time you need to eat it. Except for a few fortunates who might not be considered to be fortunate under other circumstances, we are stuck where we are with what we have or can do.

    When you consider where the majority of Canadians live, individual solutions are out anyway. There are not enough accessible woods three million residents of Toronto could shit in in time of need, even if bushes were in leaf to supply "paper". Cut Toronto off from hydro for several days and see what kind of a city you have left, especially in the depth of winter. Water does not flow up buildings without a lot of extra pumping that won't happen without juice, and no water, no waste flushed. How many heatless days would it take for water pipes to freeze and burst throughout the city? And try to evacuate three million people if you had to, especially in winter. Where would you find the reception areas, even if you could coordinate the traffic and transport?

    Don’t like TO? Ok, take any city in Canada, and face the same problems, except that I hear it doesn’t freeze in Vancouver, so there wouldn’t be masses of frozen pipes to ravage the infrastructure when they thaw.

    A few of us can prepare and protect ourselves individually in minor emergencies. The large-scale crash of civilization is something else. I would not put too much stock in "community" efforts, since those presuppose a level of cooperation that is no longer given in our selfish society. The majority of us frankly will be buggered, unless the levels of government get together and manage to avoid the worst, as well as look after minor emergencies.

  11. Herbie, you seem to be seeing the darkest side of things suddenly. Was it garth's declaration of having reached the tipping point that brought this about? You know I was mostly kidding about the smelts, sanfire greens and chasing down pheasants right? I doubt if Donovan Bailey could catch a pheasant. Just some country boy humor there bud. But with a touch of seriousness, as those of us who still remember how, could provide a lot more than people think. Not me mind you, I can't do those things anymore, but I still remember how. Except the pheasants. lol No. 7 shot is the only way to chase them down.

    My thoughts are reflected by posts such as the one higher up on this thread, and I try to stay as positive as possible. I've also said before that people are going to need their sense of humor as we go along here. Like the Mary Ellen Carter Rise Again. This is what many people are going to have to make themselves think. I won't go into long personal revelations, but I have had to Rise Again. More than once, and many are going to have to do the same. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

    You know Comrade, life is a strange journey, and no matter how careful you plan, and how much you do right, success at the end of it all isn't guaranteed. Too many variables.

    This is the beginning of a good conversation, but I have to go night night shortly, so what say we all have our say during the next few days. Last thoughts for this eve are, I believe in tackling all the little things, that are evident and attainable. Collectively they add up, and set examples. Many of these things can be accomplished individually, some require community and others co-operation of governments. I agree there is a problem with community, and I think an even bigger problem with government. Not that there is no hope, but as is, there are very large problems. So, for now, much of the burden does in fact come back to the individuals. Their attitudes, will and motivations. Dealing with greed and what's in it for me is a root cause of much that is wrong, and a great challenge.

    I listened to Obama's talk this evening, and although there was uncertainty and unpleasant realities in his words, there was some light. It was like listening to a real person, not a bot. That was nice. He is articulate, speaks rationally and isn't promising miracles. Overall he seemed realistic, hopeful and avoided being unnecessarily pessimistic. What more could anyone ask at this moment in time?

    As for us, I get the feeling our fed Gov is a bit like Brian Wilson, trying to catch the right wave.

  12. To go on;

    "Except for a few fortunates who might not be considered to be fortunate under other circumstances, we are stuck where we are with what we have or can do.

    When you consider where the majority of Canadians live, individual solutions are out anyway."

    Some things to consider. In the video I posted of the "we don't know what we are doing" guy, I got the sense of a child telling Mom he had done a boo boo and hoping Mom wouldn't be too angry. Then Obama speaks about leveraging one dollar to thirty last evening and I'm sitting here this a.m. thinking, you see?

    Herb, you write about gathering together etc. and those not seen as fortunate now being different, and maybe we see the same things, maybe not. Where I grew up, picking a skill and sticking to it was a luxury both because of the place and the fact that society was in flux. Out with the old kind of thing. It seemed every time a person got their wind, everything changed. Again.

    You and I have different backgrounds, and I have been around, and I've seen a lot of stuff. I'm also the jack of all trades guy, master of none. In many ways this has served me well over the years, as I could often incorporate skills I had learned to move ahead on a given project. It also gave me a different insight than most in our country. And I have no illusions about governments and how they function.

    I saw this economic situation coming, actually more like I smelled it. Like a blind person, life and it's experiences can make you hyper sensitive to things that others don't pick up on. I have also retained bits and pieces of the wisdom's of others as I went along, that have been helpful. I got out of Ontario last April because I sensed this coming. I was going to leave a year earlier but circumstances prevented it.

    I took steps, and I talked to friends and neighbors. Most gave me that blank look or thought I was simple. Most of the wisdom btw came from ordinary people. Things like it took two years for the depression to hit the Maritimes, and "I don't fly too high; it's not as far to fall".

    I also know that government will simply take money from you, if you have some, when times get bad. Without going into the multiple times that government has negatively affected my world, I will simply say that it is a necessary part of our collective, albeit that it runs at about a 30% efficiency rate. Between the hogs gathered at the trough, the excess number of staffers and the luxuries, there is much room for improvement. Those are generalized statements, but I can be specific. I can talk about bribes, and patronage and lies, but to what end? Like the Mary Ellen Carter, Rise Again.

    If it weren't for all the Empire building that has gone on, we might not have such a maze to try to navigate.

    As this wave builds, I see many similarities to the things I have experienced and I do not believe that we are heading to Mad Max beyond Thunderdrome. There will be power in the cities, and the toilets will work and governments will survive. There will be changes, and there will most definitely be hardships. There will also be the doom sayers. Those who perpetually voice anguish and negativity. They are not part of the solutions. The solutions lay in freeing up the money again, and a good deal of rethinking what we do.

    In that video the guy refers to the day the US upped the guarantee on bank deposits. He said there was 5.3 trillion dollars that was at stake, and could have been withdrawn from bank accounts within a matter of hours. Yikes! There's the liquidity. Sitting idle for the most part, as I've said many times before, money doesn't just disappear. It goes someplace.

    So restoring confidence is necessary, and so is being positive and realizing that there are things we can do. Better if one started a year ago, but still we can push toward real projects that people can see and feel good about. A great deal of what is wrong is that people lack confidence and feel powerless. That is what has to change. They have to become involved in whatever ways they can, and not just wait for others to make it all better.

    Remember that all of this is a scenario of percentages. 5% here, 10% there, and that's all it takes for dramatic shifts to occur. So, we move ahead picking at the edges to make improvements. That will encompass many things, including our social direction. A good deal of our expenses as a society are as a result of poor social planning, or as some say, a reactive society. We have tinkered with too many things in too short a time frame without actually thinking the possible consequences through thoroughly.

    Further to that, we have become complacent and allowed governments to be complicit with corporations owned by the world's wealthiest. Generally speaking, these people have no loyalty to a country. As in the example of Mr. Rogers and other misc. opportunists.

    The Whores of Babylon?

  13. About First Nations;

    See what you did Herb? Now I won't shut up.

    You remember previous thoughts right? K, so let's start with where things are briefly. Some months back while looking over a list of government grant monies, I was amazed at the amounts being awarded to First Nations groups in addition to other more entrenched funds already directed that way. I'm thinking, well, more of the same. We still think that money is the fix, end all and be all, or the bandaid.

    That doesn't address the differences in the nature of the peoples. We have to remember they are not of European descent and don't equate to the deeded land, fenced pastures and lawns concepts the way that European descendants do.

    Some have adapted, many have not. Most perhaps. According to what I have read from some FN people, and others, our funding concepts have created an issue of corruption as well. White man's world.

    So how does one effectively address this? More of the same, or from outside this box? There are a lot of FN people and no one scheme is going to change the landscape in a couple of decades, but a view to enabling some to return to a life that is in keeping with their instincts and traditions is worth pursuing in my view. I believe it is worth a shot to offer a return to a more traditional lifestyle and that there would be takers among the young and adventurous. Not so much those entrenched in the current system. But if it got a foothold, it would build. More working those percentages.

    There is no shortage of land to work with, but we fuss over the mineral rights etc., so are reluctant to move in that direction. Our alternatives are what we now have. Caledonia stand offs, rail lines and highways blocked, more demands for funding on top of existing funding, autonomy of fiscal decision making, less and less monitoring which affords for more corruption. Issues over cigarettes and liquor and borders and who is going to police who, plus growing friction between the cultures. This is working well.

    I see it as an avenue to further self respect, compromise, and of choices.

    What would you suggest?

  14. Hey, Okie, one topic at a time!

    to try to catch up with your accelerating posts, I don’t necessarily see things in the darkest way possible, but try keeping an eye on the ball of reality. I advertised my views on on 12.27.08 (comment #23 at 9:49 am) after I read his Xurbia site while it was under construction. Garth’s tipping point is no more than a statement of fact. How far we slide depends - gulp - on the federal government.

    The point is that we have to face being more than a little bit pregnant. It is possible for urban electric power to be lost for a number of days - the blackout we had in eastern North America around five years ago in an August would have been something else in a January. And the breakdown of the economic order would be followed by a breakdown of the civil order, so the economic order better be preserved. Only the federal government can do that, but only if it is prepared to perceive and act in the national interest. Sadly, I am not sure that Mrs. Harper’s little boy and the federal government have been struck by lightning and converted to clear vision and competence.

    Having seen enough pheasants on the hoof, I would not try running one down. Now, arctic ptarmigan are something else – you could just pick one up and wring its little neck if you happen to come across a flock when you’re starving.

    Saw Obama’s press conference too. My initial reaction was that a man who could address the nation like that and actually make his intentions fact could be the greatest POTUS since Lincoln. And then I saw that OBAMA was far less fluent answering questions, spouted the neocon line on Iran, said nothing remarkable on Afghanistan, and tap-danced around Israel and nuclear weapons for good measure. I guess that demanding realism in foreign as well economic policy would be asking too much. Maybe next term. The economy will be a fulltime job for now, and Obama will have enough resistance there, without turning America’s self-image upside down too.

    Any idea on what would happen to Canada if we all decided to get out of Ontario? It no doubt was a great idea for you personally, but it would leave something to be desired if we all left troubled provinces, especially should the most populous ones be in trouble at the same time. Agree that we have to get a grip on government, but we know that or we would not have met on a political blog and become comrades in The Revolution (and don’t even think what CISIS will make of that term when it’s swept up by the cyberspace vacuum cleaner!)

    I raised the First Nations as the non-workable example of the back to-the-land idea. Yea, they may have hunting and fishing in their blood, but the White Man's large-scale logging and mining and dams has spoiled their hunting and fishing grounds. If I knew what the answer was, I'd be appointed GG by a grateful government and nation, but I do know that what we've done so far has not worked. And I do detest in-your-face aboriginals as much as I detest in-your-face anyone else.

  15. The First Nations issues are certainly complex, and broad in scope as they have degraded into such a social quagmire that there is no easy or quick fix that anyone can offer. I tend to lean toward restoration of the spirit and hope as a path toward some progress. Environmental damage is certainly real and significant, but our views on the hinterland differ, perhaps because of my rural roots and exposure. So we will leave that subject to rest for now. Better to hear from FN's people themselves anyway. We haven't done so well with White Man's solutions.

    Obama is treading lightly on the World stage it appears. Although he has offered some positive feelers toward Russia for example and the Middle Eastern countries. I wouldn't want to be shaking the ground too hard in some of the other areas if I were him. In Afghan it appears he wants to do what Bush should have done at the beginning.Too late maybe, but their are only 2 options I can see. Neither one particularly appealing.

    For sure we could see interruptions to power and services, especially considering the grid is getting old but I think these things will be temporary and it's not a bad thing for people to prepare for 3,4, or 5 day shut downs. That can be done without going zerkoid and buying in $12 per ration military staples and thousands of dollars worth of generators etc.

    What would happen to Canada if everyone left Ontario you ask? Jaysus, the rest of us would have to close our borders to keep all the damn lawyers out.

    I left a province that was still fairly healthy to return to one that has too much reliance on equalization dollars. So it wasn't that I was seeking a financially stable province as such. Receiving provinces need to take a real good look around, but again the influence of unrealistic government programs and brain trust gets firmly in the way. Push come to shove though, a person can hunker down here much better than southern Ontario or any other urban type environment. Much cheaper too.

    Quick thought on Cons vs. Libs. Ignatieff doesn't inspire me, and isn't being innovative. He's just waiting to ascend.

    I will look for your piece at Garth's place, or you could just repost here and take your chances with CSIS.

    A bit on ar Garth. Take today's offering for example, I caught three majors; Nissan cuts 20,000, GM cuts 10,000 and layoffs in Sudbury. The Nissan and GM numbers are worldwide, not N Amer. On doing a bit of checking, the GM numbers may not affect Canada at all. Don't know about Nissan, maybe some of it. The only part that was truly ours, was Sudbury. Which I checked on CBC and there was no mention. Odd that. Had to google it and found the story in the Sudbury Star. 688 layoffs. Point being, it was a bit of the Sun Journalist coming out again me thinks. There's also his own personal tipping point to promote, so I take a lot of what I read there now with a grain of salt. Actually I have for quite some time. I'm not bashing Garth, but I'm being realistic. He is trying to make some money and for some people who live in some areas and listened to his real estate predictions, and sold early, they should cut him a cheque. Me, I already knew this was coming, only I didn't figure it would happen this way. I figured it would be the old hike the interest rates and watch real estate values sink like a rock. Some on the other hand, I think will lose money in the long run by getting all into the doom. Depends on individual circumstances. Take your Ottawa for example. There will likely be some real estate deflation but I expect that will cycle. And as some folks say, a house isn't just an investment, it's a home too.

  16. Have not posted much on "Greater Fool", just a few links and short comments. Real estate is of less interest and impact than politics, and I had my say on chaos and preparations back in December. I do read the site nearly every day because I can see it happening and find some of the comments and links useful. Participation by other comrades also has dropped considerably.

    Restoration of spirit and hope among First Nations would be essential, but it is not obvious how it can be done. Drumming and dancing in semi-native costume won't do it, and I don't see how we can arrange a parallel existence alongside our Western civilization without drawing them into assimilation. As our various points of conflict show, we have never stopped trying to push them aside and exploiting their land. They seem to have done well only where they were able to turn tables on us, as in gambling and smuggling. How do we protect them from us as well as from themselves? We cn't push them back into the 17th Century, and have not found a place for them in the 21st.

    The conclusion of Garth's "First Step" post yesterday fits here too:

    "The first step towards recovery must be honesty.

    We’ve yet to see it taken."