Category Archives: Politics

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. 

Editorials In Lock Down

Whenever I click an editorial on line and am prompted for a news subscription trial I come away thinking, “fat chance you’re going to get me to pay for this second rate opinion”. I harbour no ill will toward editorials in lock down and news outlets needing to fund their reason for being. I’ve just taken the opinion that since the internet company is taking a material payment from me monthly and I expose myself to the deluge of advertisements, I simply will not subscribe to one news outlet. Have you ever been frustrated by having cancelled a memberships with precise administrative protocol but then see the charge show up the following month? Exactly.

At the same time, it’s important to underscore the contribution which journalists make to society. Journalists ask questions which you don’t have time for because you are at work and tending to kids. Journalists serve you in that they isolate problems with government decision making which impact you. Journalists also expose injustices of humanity which would go otherwise unnoticed by those who can intervene.

There has been a new phrase coined recently – “fake news”. While there are degrees in quality of journalism largely because of the profit motive and stakeholder’s potential for bias, standards in journalism still exist and are being executed. To subjectively paint all journalists as compromised is simply irresponsible.

In fact, there has never been a larger role for journalists during this time in history when democracies are being administered more like “elected dictatorships” with ultra party partisanship and fear of voting ones’ conscience in elected houses as the new norm. Under these conditions in particular, the diligent reporter’s industrious efforts should be emboldened. In this light, I suggest to the journalism industry to lift your lock down of editorials for those of us suspicious of monthly credit card auto charges and appeal to us differently for your funding.   

Globe Reporting Of Flynn’s Exoneration

In spite of the bit being brief, it was balance reporting. The Globe however neglects to mention that Michael Flynn was in the business of deploying his experience and contacts and an ex-military officer to consult / lobby foreign diplomats. Trump hired him during Trump’s campaign for the White House. What did Trump want from this man when he was campaigning for President? Kind of nice to know the context from which he confessed to lying to the American people. Of course, while this investigation of election meddling was going on, you had not only Flynn on the radar of investigators but Paul Mannafort, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, and Michael Cohen – all indicted. Here you have Trump claiming some kind of witch hunt when this was the company he was keeping.

The matter of deliberation specific to the lie as described by the Globe and Mail was in my opinion unrelated to the investigation of election meddling but must also be put in the context of Flynn pleading the fifth prior to a deal being struck for his cooperation. 

I suspect that Mr. Flynn was leveraging his experience as a decorated military man and didn’t quite know the character of the man who had retained him during a presidential campaign.  Flynn wasn’t doing himself any favours by apparently flirting with Russian women while on assignment and he apparently was administratively deficient in filing paper work associated with receiving pay from foreigners.    

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.     

Still A Trump Fan? – Here’s One For You

So, you’re still a Trump fan? You’ve now heard of the $2 Trillion COVID-19 U.S. stimulus package – right. You recall that there was a bit of a delay in getting it through in spite of general bipartisan support. Well, it’s 880 pages apparently and room was needed to help along the one percent club during this health crisis. Yes. While health professionals scrambled without sufficient PPE ( you will know the acronym now) to care for the overwhelming caseload, while  masses digested news of job loss, and while families hunkered down in self-isolation,  legislators were hard at work fine tuning an earmark to grant a new tax benefit for the richest one per cent of Americans.

You see, the way you grant benefits to the one per cent club is you change a tax provision.  Those earning this kind of money have “multiple streams of income”. Tax rules typically have restrictions when it comes to amortization (depreciation). The U.S. tax code up until the corona virus stimulus package had a limit on the ability to deduct excess losses generated from amortization (depreciation) from real estate (buildings) against other forms of income. The limit was $500,000. This limit has been removed. Let’s think this through. For those real estate developers who are now going to encounter serious drops in market valuation, the probability of experiencing “recapture” on written down buildings in the future during an ultimate disposal is reduced (lesser capital gain or loss), but today they’ll get the benefit of reducing aggregate taxable income by utilizing unlimited excess losses. Actually, not only today but they’ve been granted retroactive treatment back to 2018 by amending their 2018 returns. 

Now, do you want to cut Trump a little slack with his incoherent COVID-19  bafflegab when behind the scenes he was distracted on how to potentially profit from misery with an earmarked addendum to a stimulus package?  

What would an honourable leader do if he wanted to grant such a benefit? He would float the topic to the public, debate it openly in parliament and grant it a vote within its own piece of legislation. 

Credits to CNN and NY Times.

Cavalier Trump And COVID-19

Has cavalier Trump posturing as Chief Medical Man having made irresponsible initial remarks during outbreak tempted New Yorkers to ignore social distancing guidelines? Governor Cuomo was appropriately eloquent and stern yesterday when bringing attention to the non-compliant social distancing behaviour of New Yorkers

One might ask…what role must the U.S. federal government play in back stopping a “for profit” medical system with idle inventory of medical supplies in the case of a pandemic? Well….when you look at some the spending decisions made by Congress…one might suggest that this has been one hugely over looked budget line item.

Given the character of Donald Trump and his propensity for vindictiveness, it was easy to predict his “blame” on China for not communicating effectively with his administration. Oh yes, he couldn’t help himself from labelling the virus the “Chinese virus” as a reference to where he thinks the blames lies never mind the racist overtone. You’ll recall the remark pertaining to the white supremacists marching against the removal of confederate statues. “There are good people on both sides.”

Instead of deferring to medical professionals and heeding their counsel, he’s compelled to stand at the microphone and spew defensive rhetoric when faced with legitimate questions at his gong show of a daily briefing. After pointing Pence as the front man, his unwavering ego of course demands the spotlight.

As one procurer of medical supplies has pointed out “it’s the wild west”. Perhaps, a phrase which aptly characterizes the White House operations tainted with nepotism, oppression evident by personnel turnover, and skulduggery exemplified by Ukraine / Biden scandal. America, you had your chance to oust him but were denied due to gutless senators holding the party line. 

Era of Non-Confidence

If you feel like you’re being hosed. You are. We’re in an era of non-confidence and nobody wants to own it because the exclamation lacks personal power. You hate ceding your power and I don’t blame you.  Ideally, you pick your choice worthy battles. You fight them thereby appeasing your conscience while incidentally assuming that bigger fights with more moving parts will be handled effectively by those in higher power structures. Here’s the thing…..the credibility of those higher power structures has been eroded. The affect is a not necessarily apparent on the surface but once you get behind the doors of a broke household or board room…..the scene may look more vivid.

Whether it be a deceitful president of the United States, a government authority overstepping its jurisdiction, a tepid minded Prime Minister, protesters impeding commercial activity, a police department being indifferent, a legal system operating atrociously slow, a tax system redistributing wealth, or an electoral system exercising regional disparity, people in my opinion are feeling more powerless now than in the past. This is my sense. What are the implications of this? Not much happens in the beginning. Fringe movements rise up and energies fade. It’s not until groups in large numbers feeling similarly aggrieved amass that any traction takes hold.

Insular leaders living in a vacuum clueless of what’s being discussed at the supper table is a phenomenon of the day. The election of Donald Trump should not have been a surprise for elitist liberals but indeed this pompous bunch had their worst nightmare come true. The wide swath of political blue painted across the map of the Canadian prairies in 2019 should not have come as a surprise. Elitists again were caught off guard. 

People expect competent leadership with commercial interest playing a vital part in decision making. People expect merit based pay. People expect entrepreneurial risk to be rewarded. People expect their tax dollars to be spent wisely. People expect the responsible development of resources within environmental guidelines along with the permitting process to be reasonable. These are not difficult concepts but the intransigence at every turn by figures of authority mixed with a political landscape of deceit and unreasonable demands by First Nations people are more than just getting on the nerves of ambitious Canadians. 

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.                  

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?