Category Archives: Philosophy

Macklem’s Word On Over-Leveraged Canadians

Canadians really do face some challenges with their debt. I see it in my practice. There’s plenty of blame to go around and I find the headline today over at BNN quite interesting – “Macklem Puts Dangerously Over-Leveraged Canadians on Notice”.

During the “pandemic” (let’s not be reticent in using the term despite your interpretation of COVID-19) governments have intervened to restrict commerce. There have been consequences and responses. Bankers have been forced to the table with an accommodating disposition. However; they have not been burdened by any new government regulation to restrict interest charged on debt through usury legislation. The federal liberal government has been slap happy at burdening industry with regulation but when it comes to the banking industry they’ve been absent. I should not be processing credit card transactions for my clients right now which have listed interest rates of 19.90 per cent when the Bank of Canada rate is 0.25 per cent irrespective of the credit rating of such taxpayer. Your federal liberal government has been burdening your grandchildren with excessive poorly managed public debt through this pandemic. Canadians want to pay their debt and expect banking sector shareholders to share in the financial pain elicited through economic contraction.   

Governments and Gambling

So it used to be the case that gambling was considered sinful , aberrant, immoral, and an affront to family values. It was something done by the low lifes (degenerates) of society with an addiction. However; in the context of today’s new world order – for one – you can’t make a reference to a “low life” because you would be condemned via political correctness as being prejudicial in one way shape or form or simply insensitive to  another’s presumed plight as opposed to their self inflicted harmful behaviour. Secondly, in Alberta and in other jurisdictions in North America…resource royalty revenues have fallen so low that the gambling stream of revenue is now considered essential for sustaining exorbitant social programs and government budgets. Hence; it’s more culturally accepted than ever that we don’t condemn the gamblers for their devious ways in the context of keeping society afloat. Nowadays, what you’ll find in casinos are flowery programs for the addicted installed through regulation in order to soothe the cognitive impairment of the addicted. Governments apparently need them so we might as well placate them with niceties.

The question goes begging “who are we as a people if we must rely on people’s weak character exhibited through gambling in order to sustain government finances”? I suggest that it didn’t have to be this way if governments weren’t so weak with their fiscal discipline over decades. When one looks at the behaviour of governments over decades in absolute terms pertaining to the handling of your taxes….it didn’t have to be this way.  Alberta’s online gambling site was apparently just launched yesterday.       

The Wake Up Call

Bob Woodward exclaimed to MSNBC on Thursday before revelations from the NY Times regarding Trump’s tax returns, “I don’t know Where (when) the wake-up call comes to the country” in response to Trump’s notion of not committing to a peaceful transfer of power.

It’s quite astonishing but as Woodward insinuates through his words, this pitiful man, Donald Trump, could still in fact be awarded the White House via the electorate despite his contemptuous, deceitful, patronizing, and immoral behaviour. I’m aghast and have refrained from writing on the Trump indiscretions as they regularly occur just because it’s become so banal and disheartening.

Among the latest news, we have the New York Times representing “years of tax avoidance” when characterizing Trump’s tax returns. It’s hard to imagine a man who flaunts such wealth as one who wouldn’t be left with some net income to pay tax but this is what’s been revealed by the Times.

At this point, the only nugget of conscionable defence one could muster in casting a vote for Trump would be the “either/ or” argument that the opposing political ideology is so unpalatable that Trump’s behaviour as characterized is tolerable in context.

If the United States of America returns this man to power in spite of everything they’ve learned about him through his words, his manner, his questionable relationships with Russians, his treatment of decorated military officers, his revolving door of staffers, his midnight tweets, his mocking of the disabled, his withholding of aid to Ukraine in exchange for political dirt, his payoffs of women, his bungling of COVID-19 while lying about it, his disrespectful reference to war captured veterans (McCain), his associations with the criminally indicted….all within the backdrop of a national debt advancing, race relations abysmal, and a quality of life in decline then the plight of man in the first world is deserving of whatever fate comes hither.      

Opportunity Cost of Ignoring Instinct

The questions is….how succinctly do you trust your instinct in that you’re willing to make material life decisions based on your gut? Most people can’t do it. Most people are overwhelmed by others’ expectations. For most, the rational mind applies an oversized attribution of past experience, education, and child rearing to their decision making thereby limiting opportunity.

Then there are some who are irrational risk takers and don’t necessarily lack basic risk / reward assessment capacity but seemingly want to put themselves in danger for the simple sake of a hedonist adrenaline rush. 

The profile oriented around life success lies somewhere in the middle but it’s safe to say that the general populous is way too restrictive by not acting on instinct. 

Signs that you have difficulty not acting on instinct:

  1. You still care about what other people think
  2. You think you “can’t afford it”
  3. You have always only failed in acting on what you want
  4. You believe that the past equals the future
  5. You lack consistent / persistent drive
  6. You can’t imagine putting your employer / family second in your drive to succeed
  7. You can’t imagine quitting your job / sacrificing comfort
  8. You’re highly intelligent (counter intuitive I know)
  9. You’re not willing to risk a relationship or be bothered by coaching significant other
  10. You know you lack discipline and feel powerless to change

Technology, the internet, and civil bureaucracies are increasingly imposing themselves on you in such a way that your instinct could be becoming even more repressed. Think very hard about this the next time you sit in the queue of an automated phone attendant or a web based customer service form or a law enforcement agency indifferent to your just concerns. You may be subconsciously affected if you’re not attuned to the artificial influence of society’s tools.

One thing is for certain. If you play it safe and continue to repress your instinct….you can still live a good life but the chance of being enthusiastic and excited by your work every day is less probable.      

Gutless Law Enforcement In Canada

If you want to create some legislation, then you’d best be prepared to enforce it. Otherwise, you have no credibility. This seems to be the case in Canada right now. New pandemic regulations are exemplary of a society wanting to “do good” and then balking when it comes to following through. Doug Ford wants to “throw the book” at the “yahoos” in Brampton, Ontario who flouted regulations by convening a party with two hundred some guests in the face of our pandemic. I’ll be interested to know the fine for the property owner and guests.

Why is there this complacency in heeding new regulation? Is it because our politicians have lost their credibility through morally bankrupt behaviour in the context of managing the public purse and immunizing themselves from conflicts of interest? I suspect this plays a role. There is also simple immaturity at work unfortunately. Factor in an erosion of values in recent years due to a segment of society being raised in single family homes stationed behind computer games apt to be influenced by aberrant opinion online ….and we see minds being led astray. You know it. I know it. 

Finally, apply liberal policies of correction whereby any deviant is exempted of fault due to their sob story and society learns that the coast is clear when it comes to personal conduct in Canada, almost.

A Place Still For Satire

I muse about what witty comedians of yesteryear would make of our “new world order”. I’m thinking that they’d be stupefied by the abundance of new material right at their fingertips. Without question, there’s an introversion going on with the internet playing a role which is restricting folks from escaping their rational mind. Twitter is the platform right now which most readily exemplifies the overblown pragmatism facing mankind. My new coined phrase is “intangible tolerance” when comparing today to pre-internet. There used to be something healthy about not knowing and not having google at our fingertips. We could just let it all be and since we didn’t know…we could count on our friends and family not knowing either. Therefore we need not have judged or be judged – so much. Of course this is an oversimplification but I digress further.

Mind space pre-internet had more plasticity because neural receptors weren’t so fatigued with stimuli. Cognitive freshness was easier to access and within such a state would be acute to satirists stirring the social landscape for fun. You’ve all seen your good jokes fly overhead more because of the receiver distracted by reactionary thoughts compounded through a bombardment of stimuli. Receivers have simply not been in the ready position and you witness it every day. 

A whole industry has evolved around assisting those stuck in the reactive mind. Ekhart Tolle comes to mind as an author who eloquently portrayed the phenomenon is his book “The Power of Now”. There are others more attuned at helping those transfixed by thought obsession. However; I might suggest diagnostic tests you can perform on yourself. Do you feel “heavy” or “light” in reacting to stimuli? Another test is whether you believe your level of concentration meets a standard set by yourself. Thirdly, you want to know how readily you can enter a place of creativity in absorbing and expressing.          

Protecting People From Themselves

Are civil liberties infringed upon when a non-physical discipline of therapy whether sanctioned by a professional body or not is restricted by a government? Is thought being regulated? These are the questions I have with respect to “conversion therapy” for those potentially confused by their sexuality who seek out a third party for consultation / therapy. What is a municipality doing in the minds of its citizens? Has psychological harm been perpetrated on an individual who has voluntarily sought conversion therapy sessions and has evidence of such harm been the motive for implementing a regulated restriction? Or, is it a repulsiveness in the minds of sexual minorities which is the motivating factor in leading authorities to take this matter up as an order of business?

Personally, I believe in peoples’ free will. If someone wants to seek out someone who he or she thinks can help them…then I believe they should be able to conduct their affairs in concert with their conscience so long as they are not hurting anybody. Here is the thing…..with this pending law, a government is telling an individual that the government thinks a person would be hurting oneself upon under-going the “therapy”. This puts the government in a position of thinking that it knows what’s best for an individual as opposed to the individual deciding what’s best for oneself.    

When I drive to work in the morning, I am encountering potholes. Next to my office is a fire station hosting firemen whose trucks travel this same road but fail to take up the pothole matter with their fellow civil servants in order to facilitate repair. This is why I pay taxes. I pay taxes for roads to be fixed and not to have politicians who serve me debate philosophy, witchcraft, sexual orientation, or the merits of conversion therapy. I don’t pay my civil servants to be my moral guide or the moral guide of someone who may be lacking in self esteem. Governmental over reach is going to cost me a trip to my auto repair shop to get my car’s front end fixed from unsuccessfully dodging potholes. Now that concerns me and should concern my city council. 

Favre Speech Money And Lessons Learned

It’s a talking point I trumpet often with my clients. Your money is yours and you must know what you are doing with it and where it comes from. Somebody apparently forgot to share the message with Brett Favre.  He will now return 1.1 million dollars to the U.S. welfare system for money received for speeches that he did not give.

Investment advisors have been wrong often. Bankers are not investment professionals and typically don’t deploy investment analytics as they should in recommending investments. Nor, do they necessarily have a feel for the economic pulse.  Yes, they did not anticipate a “Black Swan” event in the context of a risky political environment. Portfolios have lost money and investors are assuaged with the mantra that they are in for the long term. 

It may be unfathomable to you that somebody can receive 1.1 million dollars and not know that it hit their account. I can actually believe it when the numbers get big and individuals don’t have the right financial professionals in place to question financial transactions. In fact, the accounting profession had lost its way ten years ago in the context of derivative books getting out of control while off balance sheet obligations went unscrutinized. When internal controls get loose during times such as these, temptations of the morally weak are incited. The environment right now is really interesting and I’m paying special attention. Governments are spending money like drunken sailors. The U.S. federal government just fired a watch dog responsible for overseeing disbursements from the federal treasury in the context of pandemic relief. There’s never been a more acute time in your living history to be educated in finance.     

The Cyber Medium of Control

This is what’s on my mind today as I receive emails pertaining to COVID-19 from those compelled to exhibit their interpretation of this virus in the context of their platform / agenda / business relationship with you / notion of how think you now need to operate in the context of their interpretation of the public health message. 

Everybody’s got an opinion and they have needed to learn how to type in order to convey it through the internet. Thanks god I took typing class in grade 9 with all the girls while my friends took shop as their elective. What were they thinking?

Anyway….I’m amused by superfluous posts and reposts of value driven dogma which percolates occasionally on internet threads. Suddenly an audience is illuminated through a key stroke when the more difficult gesture would be a letter to a member of parliament (yes, I have written them in case you wonder).

Then there’s the internet companies who literally dictate terms and then await the fall out. I guess Apple app developers receive automated bots for feedback on why their apps disqualify for hosting. I’ve had a copyright claim on youtube within the first 30 seconds of upload. They couldn’t have possible got through the full 1:58 in order to fully digest the material.  I’ll be at their mercy with my 28 subscribers having uploaded to “private” never intending to monetize the video.

 Then there’s the government with its tax collection and system of correspondence now pretty much dictating communication through the internet as opposed to a live person. If you really want to talk to somebody, you’ll have to navigate the phone auto attendant just to find the queue to wait in for 30 minutes. Your music will certainly be interrupted frequently with messages of education hoping you’ll  find some nugget of information thereby reducing the probability of being redundant when you finally get through to talk to that agent. This agent will need to provide you their agent ID number. Have your pen handy for those 30 minutes ‘cause they spout it off quickly hoping you’ll not catch it thereby potentially not being liable for the conversation.

You get the drift. We have all these phones now but folks don’t want to talk on them for anything relevant to their business or professional life. Email or text only please – I’m now conversation inept having been raised behind a computer screen. 

One must ask, are we now more efficient? I suggest yes at times and no oftentimes. Nobody wants to be controlled but they do want balanced reciprocation. People know when they are being controlled and they will resent it. When communication is compromised – so is the relationship.

Passenger Rights For Ocean Cruisers Next?

I’ve thought much of the passengers stranded on cruise liners in the Orient over the past couple of weeks. I was definitely suspicious of the quarantine protocol thinking that these cruise vessels would not afford the degree of isolation required in order to prevent the transmission of a virus. Not that I’m an epidemiologist but in every piece that I’ve read since the threat of the coronavirus, it seemed that the health professionals didn’t have strong confidence in how exactly the virus spreads and they didn’t provide much assurance that healthy passengers on a quarantined cruise liner would be protected. It seems now that the rights of health cruisers were superseded by an overzealous quarantine effort and an obvious void in protocol perpetrated by an international lapse in cooperation.

When we elect leaders who lack a moral compass or who are irrationally swayed by ideology over practicality, we should expect the occasional debacle to arise. We should expect intransigence, indifference, and ambivalence. Great leaders have a knack for anticipating problems and establishing control mechanisms. Great leaders do not patronize administrative bodies designed for international cooperation (United Nations, World Health Organization). They seek ways to strengthen the foundation. Great leaders do not find themselves distracted by issues of personal accountability thereby compromising their attention toward matters of international importance. Great leaders do not find themselves isolated due to pettiness in their bargaining or vindictive with opponents. Great leaders do not find themselves enthralled in meetings over the mundane.     

Health workers fighting disease and treating patients on the front line need administrative competence as a pillar of their support. They need courageous leaders cognizant that the proliferation of international travel and trade has made nation to nation cooperation paramount in protecting lives and potentially fostering higher living standards.