Category Archives: Philosophy

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.    

Corruption In North America

We’ve been lucky in North America compared to most other parts of the world. We’ve historically had less corruption and in some comparative examples – a lot less.  Canada ranks 12th and the U.S. ranks 23rd of 180 nations as of 2019. We still cringe here upon witnessing acts of corruption whereas unfortunately in other countries such as Russia, Venezuela, Somalia, or Yeman, it’s all just yawn worthy.

Corruption correlates with morale of the citizenry. If meritorious conduct is penalized through acts of corruption, the incentive to perform in alignment with just values is compromised. Good natured benevolence can be repressed while witnessing rewards bestowed upon cheats. A cycle is established and new norms arise and transfer inter generationally.

Special interests are oftentimes not congruent with the common good.

Let’s turn to the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. An uncouth pragmatic populist with a never ending zeal to insult and lie has been put forward as President and his party faithful senators have been whipped into saving this man’s presidency amidst a court assembled with jurors biased through party politics unable to distinguish their party loyalty from a cerebral interpretation of facts. These senators voting to acquit the president of “obstruction of justice” and “abuse of power” have done so in lieu of obvious facts deeming Trump to be unfit. One reading of the Gordon Sondland transcript from the impeachment investigation proceedings would ground one in Trump’s self serving motives in withholding approved Ukrainian military aid. Despite obfuscation from the White House, the eloquently presented chronology of events via the impeachment investigation soundly illustrated Trump’s deviousness in provoking a dependent nation to comply with his request for an investigation of “Biden’s son”. The evidence was so clear despite the refusal of the White House to comply with subpoenas and documents that the Republican senior ranking member Devin Nunes serving as joint chair of the intelligence committee during investigation proceedings looked simply ridiculous in his futile efforts in combating the glaring undisputable evidence summarized by Adam Schiff and supported with revealing testimony from experienced diplomats tasked with administering Ukraine policy. Then there were those that directly heard the request made by Trump of Zelensky on the July 27, 2019 call, “The other thing. There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.” Zelensky didn’t get his White House visit and military aid was held up. Diplomats couldn’t get answers as to why aid was held up. A well respected and well intentioned Ambassador of Ukraine was fired and smeared right alongside the timeline of events.    

One then asks, in the face of indisputable evidence of Trump’s abuse of power and thwarting of justice through the repression of evidence, how in good conscience could an elected representative of the government and steward of the constitution vote to acquit him of impeachment? It’s simple. I believe these people to be corrupt. That is my opinion of them. They are too intelligent having reached their high office not to be able to distinguish party loyalty from a civic duty in administering justice. Hence; they’ve been influenced in such a way that their conscience, in my opinion, has been compromised.  Yes….that’s right, corruption in North America.

Pundits will be forecasting the fallout but they will pontificate in the political instead of the streets. They’ll be dissecting the electoral college instead of commercial contracts. They’ll be retweeting Trump instead of monitoring labor relations. In other words, the needle could change when it comes to the moral strength of civil discourse as a populous grasps the condoning of corruption at the highest level of a  government in North America.                  

Denial of Witnesses Trump Trial

Today at the very top of the United States’ justice system, there was a vote taken to admit or deny relevant witnesses to Trump’s impeachment trial. Those witnesses would have been central to the case presented by the prosecution and in what can only be viewed as a partisan decision, the witnesses were denied. Procedural law is supposed to be constructed in such a way that it deploys facilitative protocol in an effort to prevent bias by either side. This high court at the pinnacle of the U.S. justice system today failed in its duty. Its jurors (senators) acted with bias and with motive to prevent evidence fearing that such evidence would work in opposition to their desired partisan position.

Lawyers and politicians are supposed to be smart, right? Then wouldn’t the admission of evidence assist a cerebral mind come to more calculated decision with respect to guilt or innocence? If evidence is denied in lieu of the prospect that better decision making is congruent with additional evidence, then might one perceive that undue pressure may have been elicited upon jurors to behave in such a way the is contrary to an oath of unbiased deliberation?  If jurors at the highest level of a justice system cannot be relied upon to behave impartially, then what confidence can one bestow at the lower levels?

This issue at stake is whether the President of the United States abused his power in withholding military aid from Ukraine in the context of a request for a Ukrainian sponsored investigation of a political rival. If a direct link is made between the withholding of aid and the denial of an investigation request, then an absolute abuse of power would have occurred. The abuse of power would be impeachable because the behavior would be contrary to the oath of office. 

Logic follows that the act of repressing evidence restricts a body’s ability to formulate strong decisions in lieu of facts. Furthermore, such an act has the supplemental effect of marginalizing the ideal of a robust civil democracy unencumbered by prejudice and / or an autocratic influence.          

Tawdry Trump At Work

Now, it’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders needing to apologize for gesticulating at Joe Biden as a stutterer. Her company with Donald Trump has apparently rubbed off. You know that Trump would be chastising that Christian outlet which opined he should be removed from office. The only question was going to the quickness of his tweet. Would he be able to contain his response until morning or would his ego driven esteem stricken compulsion have him reach for his twitter account with immediacy?

The biggest question in my mind with respect to Trump is not the result of an impeachment trial but actually the forecasted sociological effect of his broadcasted depraved behavior in the context of his a position which one would think should attract virtuous citizens. In other words, if this kind of behavior is to be rewarded with the presidency, then what message does this send in the context of how the general populous may behave in their own personal and professional lives going forward? This is what stirs me.

Furthermore, what does it say about a democracy when elected representatives are so bound by the navel gazing machinations of a political system producing blind loyalty that they compromise their conscience in casting votes on behalf of constituents? 

Then there are the ramifications of a legal system tested at the very pinnacle. If faith in a legal system becomes imperiled due to a process obfuscated by partisan bias, how would any litigant in a civil action trust an investment in justice that has been compromised at the very top?   

Ron MacLean Bestowed U of A Honorary Degree

The University of Alberta is actually a pretty good school but continues to bestow honorary degrees. Despite Ron MacLean being a “good guy”, in my estimation he should not be awarded a “degree” from my Alma Mater if he has not earned it. Nor should have David Suzuki or any other recipient be awarded an “Honorary Degree”.

You see, the process of earning a degree requires work and sacrifice. One undertakes course work as an adult in pursuit of career knowledge. Course work may also entail studies of the humanities as supplemental to ones’ core discipline. In fact, at the end of a bachelor’s program, one is positioned to advance a discipline through post graduate studies and research. Those who make it through a Bachelor’s program have sacrificed finance in achieving a “parchment”, likely have undertaken debt, and have consequently have made a personal investment in their profession.  Awarding “honorary degrees” to individuals for accomplishments outside the realm of academic endeavour having not completed prescribed curriculum simply debases the degree and frankly offends those who sacrificed in actualizing the requirements set forth from day one. I speak for myself and obviously others but not all.

Do specific citizens deserve recognition aside from that obtained from community, family, and career compensation? Yes. I do not object to governments, charities, communities, and sports and arts associations from awarding its contributors. However; university honorary degrees are simply wrong.

The U of A will once again call me this year looking for a “donation”. Unfortunately, the first year student volunteering his / her time to make the call will be confronted with my indignant response. This individual in his / her youth and inexperience to much monetary and absolute in opinion will be perplexed that such a defined position will be taken.         

Twenty Election Ideas – None including Giving Our Money Away

  1. Eliminate public funding to First Nations reserves.
  2. Prosecute corrupt political activity
  3. Ensure all Canadians are treated equally. Taxed equally. Served by justice system equally.
  4. Evaluation of federal transfers to municipalities deemed irresponsible in their spending.
  5. Suspension of defined benefit pension program for public servants
  6. Increased law enforcement measures for online cyber crime and telephone extortion
  7. Increased fines for distracted driving and tinted front seat windows
  8. Expedited processing of natural resource development initiatives with potential amendment to Constitution in context of interprovincial trade related barriers.
  9. Improved civil curriculum for those acquiring citizenship with restored approach to “multiculturalism and pluralism”
  10. Regulated service minimums for taxpayers requiring CRA access.
  11. Reduced taxes for first income tax bracket to start.
  12. Beefed up protections for whistleblowers who address corruption and public spending leaks
  13. Common sense reduction of tax complexity
  14.  Modest user fees for doctor visits
  15. Actual enforcement of criminal sentences with new facilities if required
  16. Home schooling support for parents inclined. Testing and curriculum.
  17. Year over year deficit reductions with goal of tackling the debt.
  18. Elimination of “Canada Child Benefit” and restoration of “child non-refundable tax credits”.
  19. Evaluation of administrative pay to public health care professionals and efficiency of public health care system.
  20. Cross the board budget reductions.  

Perturbations Arising From Technology

It’s happening. Behavioral patterns are being negatively impacted by technology and perturbations are arising. The full deployment of Artificial Intelligence is rapidly approaching and there is relatively little push back in the context of understanding consequences. Few have read any study regarding the impact technology will have on relationships as we delve mercilessly into the AI age. Decorum, etiquette, empathetic response, expressions of subtlety and anxiety are all variables of communication which possess linear paths to a non-digital centre of human sentient which no computer should be expected to calculate.  Yet, objectives will be programmed mechanically in a stale environment free from considerations of nuance. The machine will be granted credit instead of crafty hands gifted in experience. Time made available to under employed workers non-resilient to economic change will choose causes detrimental to the health of humankind. The moral compass will be eroded with citizens’ sense of power through work and contribution eroded.

As we speak, legislators have proven to be indifferent to mass murder. The suicide rate in the U.S. has increased 24 percent from 1999 to 2014. Metro cultural zeal has waned in place of commercial real estate interests. Inner cities are being routed in favor of profitable single family dwellings in suburbia where few know their neighbors. Police departments regularly turn a blind eye to civic infractions. The western hemisphere now also identifies matters of corruption specifically. Intransigence between special interests and the common good is alarming. Personal insults by politicians are apparently deemed positive for the campaign trail. Tailgating is now epidemic with zero appetite for enforcement. Drivers spurn distracted driving laws with tinted windows all around. Bullied kids still have no advocate to affect justice.  Hockey parents lose their mind over a bad call. Politicians grant subsidies to millionaire athletes and billionaire owners in lieu of a populous apparently charmed by idolatry instead of their own creative pursuit. 

I remember Canada differently than the aforementioned prior to the new millennium. I contend that the evolution and deployment of technology in our lives without the capacity of the person to restrict its usefulness is one variable among others which have contributed to civic decline. Oh yes….I did not use “Grammarly” to write this piece. In fact, I’ve come to learn through my relationships that kids are now no longer taught how to hand write in school.