Government Incompetence Galore – Keystone XL

Why would the Alberta provincial government spend $ 1.1 billion of money that it doesn’t have to fund a pipeline that had a strong probability of not being finished due to the political position of the U.S. Democratic Party? Well of course there was this small matter that your federal government would have been endorsers of such a plan given that it had bailed out a private corporation to pick up an equity stake in the pipeline industry due to their mismanagement of policy in context of a private corporation’s investment.  It’s bungling. It’s a fiasco and as tax payers you should be outraged.

Governments have forgotten their role of being stewards of monies appropriate for disbursements applicable to specific services only they can be provide due to variables not deemed of interest to private for profit business. The construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, water treatment facilities, air traffic control towers, weather stations serve as examples whereby business would have no interest but society as a whole would be benefactors thereby warranting government support. 

When oil runs through a pipeline, capital interests are poised to profit. However; interested for profit parties in the pipeline industry require good faith from land owners and governments to ensure that contracts will be honoured. This of course is where things get sticky and it is precisely why no government should ever invest in pipelines given their power to expropriate and nullify contracts through statutory law. They are their own worst enemy when investing in pipelines but apparently once again needed to learn the lesson the hard way with Keystone XL. Federally, a deal was struck to appease shareholders certain that otherwise government officials would be embarrassed in court. 

Five years ago, it wasn’t fathomable to me that the U.S. electorate would have nominated a deceitful, tawdry, classless boor to lead the Republican Party. Not only did this man receive the nomination but he became the U.S President. This man’s party represented the position reflecting support of Keystone XL and it stands to reason that someone of Trump’s character should lose the office at the first opportunity. Under this guise, the $1.1 billion investment in Alberta by you the taxpayer was deployed. It’s a real head shaker.           

Medical Associations and COVID

It’s evident that there is a problem in supporting health care workers during this pandemic as reflected in the slow vaccination rate and stress reported by doctors and nurses. Quebec doctor Karine Dion has committed suicide. It’s hard to fathom that the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians is reporting that five to eight per cent of doctors have contemplated suicide in the last year alone.

I’ve always contended that professional associations have been protectionist in the way they administer their power. In Canada, it’s very challenging to obtain credentials as a doctor. When living in residence at University, I recall two pre-med students on my floor studying excessively in order to score the grades they needed in order to fulfill entry requirements. I recall a story by one of these two students lobbying a professor strenuously for the most infinitesimal amount fearful that one missed mark could break the threshold required.

Naturally, having a limited supply of doctors and refusing to acknowledge credentials from new Canadians arriving from abroad, the profession on behalf of their members casts increased negotiating power with governments. The calamity of a pandemic exposes associations to a particular shortcoming of their inward posture of protectionism.

One might reasonably ask…”how difficult can it be to administer a vaccine shot”? What kind of credentials do you think are necessary? In the very rare event of something going wrong with a vaccination, would it not be reasonable to assign a back up resource who is a professional association member?

You have a tremendous number of Canadian who have studied in the health sciences but are at home cocooning when they could be contributing toward the resolution of this big problem. I suggest that the lack of mobility of deploying more manpower quickly rests with a lack of resolve by governments and potential push back from associations.     

Impeachment Again

Here we go again. At the outset….let’s be clear. Trump should have been removed from office in 2020 due to Trump’s solicitation of an investigation into political opponent Biden’s son by a foreign power in exchange for releasing the withholding of financial aid to Ukraine. It was an abuse of power and there was clear evidence to prove the abuse. Furthermore, when subpoenas were issued and requests for documents, the White House obfuscated. The obfuscation obviously corroborated wrong doing. 

The only Republican senator voting in favour of the articles of impeachment was Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is a man of vast financial means. When you think about 51 Republican Senators all having heard testimony of overwhelming evidence with only one Republican Senator voting in favour…..you know there was more than the cerebral evaluation of evidence at play when these men and women cast their vote.

Here we are on January 9, 2021 and five people lost their lives in an assault of the Capitol building incited by Donald Trump, one must ask the question – do these Republican Senators other than Mitt Romney have blood on their hands as a result of the event played out in Washington on January 6, 2021? Would Trump have continued his infantile “tweets” inciting violence had he been removed from office? Would Twitter have come to its senses earlier by banning Trump permanently had he been convicted during the impeachment proceedings thereby preventing the January 6th incident? They are all reasonable questions. I suggest that Trump was as successful at intimidating people in the halls of the Capitol just as he was at extorting money from contractors in business or bribing women of whom he had salacious sexual liaisons. I was not unique in assessing this man of being very weak in character and my regard for the citizenry of our neighbour to the south has been lessened for bestowing upon him a role to administer public policy never mind the Presidency. 

Now what will these Republican Senators do should this second impeachment vote come to pass prior to his scheduled exit? I’ll be watching with interest.       

Capitol Hill Incursion

In the fall of 2013, yours truly was in Washington D.C. and was surprised to get in for a tour of the Capitol building in lieu of a government shut-down at the time. I was standing across the fountain and thought….why not just ask around to see if the tours are still on. I was in luck. I strolled around the back (photo) and entered. There was no line up because everyone else may have been also presuming that tours were off because of the shut down.

I was certainly impressed by the architecture. We were seated in a min-theatre to watch a movie of the construction. There was the “rotunda” which is a picturesque dome of immaculate design and within the circular landing the perimeter is decorated in statues of historic political figures. Although, the House of Representatives was not sitting, the guide still offered us an opportunity to sit in the gallery to stare at the emptiness. I took her up on the offer unlike most of who declined. This required an extra security measure. I had thoughts of my mother (school teacher) who put much attention on things of civility and justice. You’ve all seen the exterior in pictures. Much work has been put into restoring the exterior in recent years. I came away thinking that much care had been placed in developing this material beacon of democracy unlike the care recently displayed by protagonists within its halls to serve its purpose.   

So….as I watched the course of events on ABC news yesterday when Trump loyalist stormed the Capitol building, I was obviously dismayed. I wasn’t outraged because I admit to having grown somewhat impervious to incidents tied to Trump. Even my shock regarding friends / acquaintances support of Trump over the years is wearing off. Is there a final chapter of irony to the Trump debacle to be played out via impeachment at the last hour when Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to vote their conscience on impeachment during the first go ‘round. It will be interesting to see. 

Trump should be everything that America should not stand for and he became their President. It’s embarrassing to have watched this fiasco unfold. Those idiots who stormed the capitol will still be snivelling about how in their minds life has cheated them and potentially how to execute their next pathetic display of victimhood.         

Wishful Thinking Versus Accountable Action

Words matter but action speaks volumes. There is enough apathy circulating with respect to the conduct of public officials that we could soon be reaching a point in time in first world countries when behavioural patterns lose respect for the public good. That my friends would not be good.    

In the U.S. federal game of politics, the public has become simple pawn in a game of power. Special interest groups of wealth rule the halls of congress. Within the era of the Trump administration, I deduct from four years of conduct that should a sitting senator / congressman (woman) have dared step out of line to vote with conscience, retribution would be in order. The political climate was not always like this. There was an era of progress in the U.S whereby respectful negotiation resulted in well crafted legislation. Trump was an overt liar with a warped sense of political strategy in feeding the public a mirage to suit his purpose. Oftentimes it worked. His ploy counted on naivety and ignorance of the U.S. populous and its orchestration hadn’t even ended with the casting of the last ballot in the 2020 election. It was pathetic demonstration of demagogy and the consequences have been real and deathly     

In Canada, Canadians elected a left leaning liberal. There’s no disguising the fact the Justin Trudeau is implementing his ideology of social policy which has much to do with spending money that his government doesn’t have. As I write this article, Canada is on a spending binge and financing it’s spending by printing money. They don’t like to tell it like it is over at the Bank of Canada. They like to tell you that they are “purchasing bonds” in order to stimulate the economy. Of course they print money to purchase the bonds thereby risking inflation.

So, if a politician is “whipped” into voting the party line instead of conscience, would this not represent a modified version of democracy? Whipping votes is nothing new. It’s been around for decades but the difference now versus then was that retribution was not necessarily assumed should a vote not fall in line.

What kind of damage has been inflicted on the moral compass of North America due to the Trump era? Canadians after all have watched it all unfold. Public finance is in shambles on both sides of the border. The question now is whether the debt burden is sustainable or whether there’s going to be collapses in currencies. Will the U.S. dollar lose its reserve currency status and if it does, how does the financial landscape unfold? Will precious metals and / or crypto currencies emerge as the only viable units of monetary value? Oh yes….it’s only once per year that the Bank of Canada does its assessment of the stability of our financial system. Perhaps, they should meet more often in the context of the meteoric rise in crypto.     

Ideal X Country Skiing in Calgary

While churning out the loops today within the city limits, my thoughts were on those bound by C19 protocols up on the mountains and the inevitable line ups. Today I came upon a skier thankful that I had done the heavy lifting nine days ago in order to set the track. If you had the right wax on today – you were flying with plus 3 degrees and old snow. I think the party of snow shoers I stumbled upon today were thinking today that they had taken up the wrong sport. Their snow shoes of course are nicely suited to nature’s wonders in the outback.

In our pursuits, there’s no denying the effectiveness of good planning. My bases stripped and replaced with good glide wax prior to the onset of snow. Youtube instructional videos of course work perfect for getting in tune for the season.

My first X country ski season was 1975 in a place called “Cantung”. You wouldn’t have heard of it. I fact, it’s now a ghost town in the North West Territories. I had attended school with about 25 total students all in the grades one to seven and believe it or not there were X country skis a plenty for all of us. We all went out together in colder conditions than you are used to. Big kids buddied with the smaller kids and the technology wasn’t what we have today. There was excitement as we clamoured for our gear.

Fast forward to today and it appears that motivation is lacking for affordable sport. Oh sure….on New Year’s day…people are out skating in masses in the C19 context but what about on a weekday evening where there’s good light and good weather when our day to day responsibilities are in force? Folks are too troubled or too addicted to their X box with spare time unfortunately.  It could prove costly iwth respect to longevity.   

X Country Skiing within Calgary’s City Limits

Rolling Out a Vaccine in 2020

Imagine the look on the face of Moderna’s most senior research scientist when learning that a military commander in Canada is suggesting one vaccine dose instead of two. First there’s the eyebrow raise. Then comes the slight back and forth head motion. Then a back of the neck clasp. Finally….an utterance.

Of course every Canadian will have pondered the notion by now…”will the effectiveness of this vaccine be compromised by the laziness of the army to comply with strict instructions from the manufacturer on how to deliver and store? How many doses already have failed the freezing minimum storage temperature?

When you combine the aforementioned with the vaccination rate in Alberta at less than one third of the target so far, the competence of those serving in logistics is not leaving me with much confidence of those in charge.    

Leadership Values Gone Rotten

When I headed for an institution of higher learning (University of Alberta) in 1982, I did so with strong values bread from mom and dad along with some confidence derived from scholastic and athletic successes. It was a time of great anticipation having never lived in a big city such as Edmonton which would become the home of my Alma Mater. There was uncertainty in my discipline of choice but I knew that school was the best place for me during a difficult economic era. There were no jobs in Kamloops. I was lucky to acquire door to door sales work between 10th and 11th grade along with a carpenter’s helper post in the summer of 1981 to fill my summers. I knew the economic landscape even at that age.

We were taught the hard work and merit synonymous with success. We believed that everyone had an equal shot. We believed that that law looked upon everyone equally and fairly.  However; we hadn’t been taught free enterprise because the capitalist system wasn’t laid out in an educational system biased with educators whom had for the most part not participated in commerce. Yet still there was a lurking sense that we’d come to know what teachers didn’t know. 

With youth comes a naivety that evil mustn’t lurk readily. It shouldn’t hide right out in the open. Youth brings a healthy sense of hope that what’s right can be actualized. There is a sense that the newness of perspective can impactfully infiltrate evil and excoriate its effect. Never in my wildest nightmare would I have imagined while sitting in Anthropology class in 1985 that the likes of a Donald Trump would become President of the United States of America. I would have believed that the good people of the U.S. would be able to see through his self centred deviousness. I would expect that void from the kinds of “values” which were taught to me by my mother (school teacher) and father (metallurgist) would be vetted. I would have thought that my first world neighbour would have been savvy enough through a well rounded education system to be able to comprehend through its people the importance of “values” when appointing a political leader.

It’s been four years of witnessing unsurprisingly abysmal leadership in the context of this values void. There was the intransigence of congress, the withholding of aid to Ukraine for a political favour, there was the governing by tweet, the criminal indictments of insider associates, the denial of COVID-19 and the delay in implementing protocols and grounding of planes. There was the revolving door of political appointees, and the outright lying. There was insincerity in challenging problems vigorously. Despite claims by women of sexual assault and contractors representing unpaid work, business bankruptcies, and apparent tax fraud….Americans put it all aside in the nomination of Trump. It’s simply mind blowing. 

We’re now nearing the final hours and there is this last item of business for Donald Trump. This is his “pardon list”. You see….you have this system of justice where lawyers go to school for seven years post secondary in order to sharpen their minds for “judgment day” in order to be positioned to deliver justice. Their $500 / hr fee in their minds justifies such esteemed training. Then comes along a deceitful boor with a sordid track record in advance of departing the “White House” (it’s still not certain if he won’t be dragged out kicking and screaming) signing his name to “pardoning” criminal records from those deemed law breakers with past associations to he himself thereby undoing a crafty justice system and whatever credibility it purports. 

What is a generation of high school graduates in 2021 to think? Can they in good conscience believe that the values of hard work and merit will serve them well in the context of witnessing such deviousness? When a government can’t balance its budget, what should a student care about paying his / her student loan? If a countries currency is at the breaking point of collapse through irresponsible spending, why should a student save? If a people can’t elect competence, why should a student aspire toward serving his neighbour? If the year 2020 hasn’t spawned a conversation around “value” – what’s it going to take?        

Cardiopulmonary Physiology and The Year 2020

We’ve all heard the stats. It’s the old people dying of COVID-19 and not the young ones. In particular it’s old people with underlying health conditions which make them more susceptible.

The medical profession has been mute with respect to prevention other than recommending measures to prevent contact with the virus. In fairness, the WHO has come out and said inexactly “keep exercising”. Given the statistics which indicate young and healthy individual do better, I ask myself…in the context of COVID-19 attacking the lungs mostly….what is it that a person can do to improve their pulmonary health? You guessed it – exercise.

Edward L. Fox and Donald K. Mathews have written on the subject of exercise physiology in their book “The Physiological Basis of Physical Education and Athletics”. The 2020 question becomes, will physically trained individuals handle the COVID-19  virus better than sedentary individuals. Relevant topics covered by Fox and Mathews are “anatomical dead space and alveolar ventilation”, and “lung volume”. The authors proclaim that trained individuals possess higher lung volumes. We are left in 2020 to derive a correlation between increased lung volumes and better oxygenation upon viral threat. The alveoli becomes a key term in the context of oxygenation given that this anatomical structure has been described as an exchange port for transmitting oxygen to capillaries. Authors stop short of proclaiming an increase in oxygen transport efficiency from expanded alveolar capacity due to any training effect in spite of showcasing positively correlated statistics. This has been the question which has “plagued” me since the onset of COVID-19 harkening back to my coursework in exercising physiology as a university student.

In summary, I encourage readers to exercise. If you are a swimmer in Calgary right now you may not be aware that you are treated to your own lap lane at the Respol Centre with an advanced booking even in the context of the new November 23rd regulations. Cross country skiing season is right around the corner and I’ve prepped my skis in anticipation. 

If you work at your health, you’re most likely to be rewarded. If you are not among the risk groups and you regress into a protective cocoon through COVID-19 fear…..instead of being a “sitting duck” you could become a “sitting couch potato”.    

COVID Conundrum

There are all these opinions, some credible action but then a lack of leadership. The puzzle pieces aren’t quite connecting. Governments have more power than they are really willing to deploy in the context of the problem. The underlying premise is not to overwhelm the health care system with patients who may come to need a respirator and hospital bed for survival. This seems like a worthy goal to me. New York experienced acute stress on their system in the early going and Governor Cuomo reacted with strong leadership with his lockdown. He sought federal help and did receive it. The matter was overt, vivid, and humbling for New Yorkers.  

In the state of Ohio today, there are 541 seriously ill patients from COVID-19 in intensive care as reported by the New York Times. The population of Alberta is about 37% that of Ohio. If you are in intensive care it means that you are poised to die without the intervention of continual care. People are dying of the virus and deaths are preventable in absence of transmission. It’s difficult to be argumentative with these facts. 

The economy needs to function and governments have power. Governments communicate with you and they are doing so regularly on the topic of COVID-19. Medical officers speaking on behalf of governments may not offer a powerful voice when communicating facts and therefore not drive a message with force. Medical people have intellect but not necessarily a powerful communication style to help reinforce words. This is certainly the case in Alberta.

If resources become very thin, doctors will make decisions with respect to who gets a ventilator. It will be their ethical duty. You may not be one of the lucky ones if you are gasping for a breath because of COVID-19. Therefore, you should do what’s asked of you. It’s not difficult and it will be temporary if we all comply. There is no conspiracy to strip you of your livelihood. There is no socialist agenda  – but there will be if the political pendulum keeps moving leftward (Canada).

What if things get really bad? You could lose your autonomy. The government could conclude that you lack the moral authority to make good decisions with your behaviour and consequently if you are tested positive for the virus be extracted from your family and warehoused with other COVID-19 positive people until you become symptom free. Your government actually does have this kind of power over you but has never during your lifetime needed to proclaim it.

Responsible citizens are quietly complying with ordinances and going about their business with a duty to their fellow man in the context of being part of a large solution.  I bet you are one of these people and I acknowledge you.      

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