The Village Voice: A Hudson Blog Forum

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Village Voice Hudson: Print Version

Now available:  Stories you may not have heard in the News.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Federal Politics from the Blogs: The Bill C-15 Syndrome and Power Politics.


The Sky is Falling, Chicken Little!

Since Tuesday the Blogs and Social networks have been humming - Bill C-15 passed in the house of commons. What is it? In short a Law: Mandatory sentencing (rather than staggered, or "as fits the crime" sentencing) for drug related crimes. An Amendment: 196 allowing for police to detain, Photograph, Fingerprint people with no notarization , or due processing of application, of any particular charge at all. No kidding. It's in there - it's all about all the references it doesn't make.
Imagine this: You own a house and someone next door plants a Marijuana seed over the property get the exact same sentence as the guy with 300 plants in his basement. Moreover, in the case of 196, you happen to be mistaken for someone else, and the police detain you to take your photo and fingerprints on their suspicion alone. Sure, who'd be scared of that? Worked great for the Third Reich in the 20's, after all.
Charming. And who helped this Bill Pass? The Liberal Party of Canada. The Great Hope Mike Ignatieff, who once held a post with Amnesty International. The Vote ended up 71-51 in the House of Commons, The bill is now passed. People all over the blogosphere are hanging their heads saying "I don't believe I thought he'd be different..." You could almost hear Jack Layton rubbing his hands together, because after all Gilles Ducieppe really has nothing to gain but a paycheck and a laugh.
Me: I'm left with Huh? What about C-51? (We'll get to that obscure thought, I'm being realistic.)

Anyone Got an Umbrella?

Now that Bill is on the way to the Senate: And for those of you who don't have a more than passing knowledge of the system here in Canada - the House of Commons does not have the power to unilaterally pass a Bill such as C-15. The Bill must first pass through the Senate; whose appointed members serve under the mandate, or more simply what their sole purpose of thought and existence is, to preserve the civil rights of the citizens of Canada, as first outlined by the Magna Carta of the 12th Century reformation for Britain, later defined by the BNAA (British North America Act), then most recently with our very own Constitution: The rights of Free citizens in a Free Nation as governed by elected officials (under the stewardship of a Monarch or representative Governor General). The choice of the appointees rests solely with the prime minister of the day, and is agreed by the monarch or governor general.
Yes the senate is old, but old ain't always a bad thing. Magna Carta's pretty old by now too, but it's still a law we shouldn't look at changing. If you don't know it - look it up, believe me, it will make you appreciate how hard people once fought for things like a senate much less a parliament.
Before I get too far away from the point: The senate is charged with examining every single law the House of Commons comes up with, solely from the viewpoint of how it will affect the life of common citizens under it's implementation. As such, see them as the teachers who mark the papers (laws) the MP's (namely the elected administration) write on our behalf. The have their 'mandated' checklist for civil liberties.
Given 196 this Bill is a dead duck already. The senate has no power to open the constitution: Only we the people have that - even if passed we would have to amend the constitution to allow for the dissolution of our basic rights with a general vote. That's not going to happen. It will be returned to the House of Commons for a re-write.


So what's with C-15...why would you write a Bill doomed to die?

Rewind: Bill C-51, September 2008

Introduced in September of 2008 Bill C-51 is almost a Carbon Copy of Bill C-15...and some of you may be already thinking 'is this an insult to my intelligence?' to which I shall remain silently amused with you. C-51 transferred all power of decision making about new forms of 'therapy' to the minister of health, without any hope of recourse or appeal, and at the same time promised that the police would have the power to "phone in Warrants" meaning that they could just pick a number of a house - and if they could prove you were a resident of that home they could 'legally' search your premises. Equally Draconian, and even more demented, equally offensive to both civil libertarians and constitutional activists alike. This bill, too, was a dead duck. Never even made it back to the table later. Now we know why, they just wrote a new one for the occasion.
The election came in October. The NDP made record breaking gains, te BLOC QUEBECOIS also did exceedingly well. LIB's, well, we know the story. Stephane Dion was the unfortunate victim of that last jaded political maneuver...a bill which he was forced to vote for...which he tried vainly to counter and rekindle the left vote with the carbon cap which no one understood...a double whammy...and still they ended up opposition.

Bottom line? Who is still opposition by the skins of their teeth? And why?

Power Politics

So, here we go again. Liberals forced to keep parliament going by voting something completely unethical and without any real value because they need to be assured that the stimulus package to prop up our market economy has actually “Gotten out the door”. The other two parties continuing to keep the pressure on by voting with complete abandon against anything the CPC does. Believe me reader, I'm not taking any sides: except ours. This is a loop in our parliamentary system which needs to be accounted for. CPC tables ridiculous bill, Liberals must vote yes to keep the damn shop open. Fringe parties keep throwing monkey wrenches which serve only the incumbents and themselves.
And the popular vote continues to be fractured, as a throwback to the days when the Reform and Conservative parties were both back on their heels and the Liberals ruled the roost.
Liberal vote is a funny thing. They will never drop below a certain percentage. I will say Dion managed to scrape together 13% of his own doing. Even after all the missteps. Layton was the big winner, and Ducieppe only had 'Quebec' and Margaret Atwood to work with (Perhaps we should change that, eh, and let Canada vote for the Bloc when they aren't satisfied? Is that radical?)
So now we see C-15 with further Draconian measures the Liberals are forced by circumstance to agree with. This is power politics, folks. Dividing our votes to those 'more' concerned about our immediate concerns. A vote against C-15 would have forced an immediate election.

Why they don't speak out? That is the only question that I cannot answer. This is where my knowledge of what comes next ends. The rest is up to you personally, even if I know what I really want is a government that isn't constantly broken....


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From 1,000,000,000 to 50,000,000 in 120 days

Defecit will be much Bigger than Forecast: Flaherty (CBC:May 25th, 2009)

Government on right economic track despite pessimistic reports: PM

IMF sees global economy shrinking 1.3% in '09

Opposition demands PM fire Flaherty over Ballooning deficit (CBC: May 27, 2009)

Dollar Club

This has been forecast for some time now.  I myself have seen it coming since October 2008.   I think everyone knew that when the budget was delivered - it was a lame duck.

The whole point in a recession is that the threshold of supply to demand has been crossed too far, due in large part to the huge spike in gas prices during the summer of 2008 when people had to make concessions in their spending to make room for the extra financial (it was at least %50 more expensive here in Quebec)load of fuel essential for homes and transportation.

Inflation jumped %1.2 in that time(that's $12 on every $100 in common speak- passed on to us the consumer)

As this implies, it didn't stop there with consumers, though, the knock off effect was felt in the transportation sector as well, so goods became a whole lot more expensive to transport and in some cases produce.  Prices started going up just at the time people found themselves with that much less disposable income, so they stopped buying frivolous goods - the simple truth is there were (and still are)not enough buying and too many were working to produce.  The job losses started.  The whole thing falling like a house of cards: more people lose their jobs, less people spending, more job get the picture.  In technical jargon that is referred to as an 'recessionary spiral' and the last one we had was just before the Great Depression.

And this is why there is no Tax revenues:  People still aren't spending.  

Take into account also that, according to my October 2008 numbers (gleaned from the 2006 Census numbers) between %18 and %24 of the population of this country were earning (individually) less than $25,000pa and you begin to see where that threshold was.  I myself as a seasonal worker earn roughly $9,000pa, then depend on EI for the next $3,000.  Changes to the system meant I didn't receive it this year.  My rented accommodation alone costs me $6,600pa, with increases in Hydro imminent.  Then, food.  No tax revenue there.  Matter of fact they mailed me a big fat refund I used to pay down debts incurred over the income-less winter.  I know there are many like me in Canada at the moment.

The opposition Parties are pushing for the EI reforms to try to create spending stimulus for the market economy, and hopefully curb lay offs - which the current administration still shows no signs of relenting to.  The way they have done their books they expected %75 of the population to spend like %100 of it would.  $49 Billion is a big gap and a big mistake, especially when you will not apply the remedy. 

This is Grade 11 Economics with a failing grade folks, and it will push this country deep into a depression that will probably make the last one look tame because of a lot more mouths to feed in this era. - no matter how big your bank balance may be, no matter how much tax you save, it's money not in the hands of those who need it to create jobs - those who produce goods that no one can buy right now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Opinion: 'Yoyo Economics and the Big Three'


-The falling prices of oil deflate the CPI index, it drops almost 1% in October from September. Alberta is out $6,000,000,000 to their projected profit on the oil sands, but CPI prices are still rising.

-there is a 40% increased demand for salvation army assistance in Ontario.

-According to the release of November 21, 2008 1 in 6 Canadian children are now being raised in poverty (2007 numbers, aboriginal families: 1 in 4)
DEFINITION: Campaign 2000.

-according to a study done by the Canadian Council of Social development, during the years of 1990-1995, poverty increased in Quebec a full 4%, from 19% to 23%. There has been no more recent study to quote from, yet.

Then; "The Big Three (I'll take the middle one!)"

Car companies (The Big Three) asking for $25, 000, 000, 000 in support. Divide this by 33,000,000 and you would get $757 per citizen of Canada. So, those of you who bought a car - obviously the price tag wasn't high enough already, those of you who don't have a car...too bad. How many jobs are linked to this industry? 3,000,000 in North America. How many in Canada? At least 17,000 concentrated in Windsor alone. Unemployment is %9.1 in Windsor now, there's just no other jobs to go to so you can count it already. Picture a big red stain over the place where Windsor is on an Economic map, one in ten workers unemployed. The timetable on the plant closure is even ahead of schedule, and there is a forced week off for all employees at new year they'll probably have to file for from EI. At least the Canadian workers have that option.

They're talking May for this closure, pushed back from July 2009. I wonder now if that date might arrive sooner now that congress has denied them their full package, probably still scratching their heads over the Financial Sector bail out. Latest estimates put the possible employment casualties at 400, 000, lost or in peril in Ontario alone because of the threat of bankruptcy in these companies.

So, maybe we need to invest in some oil drilling platforms while we're at it; because in about ten years they won't have any revenue from that either. Our foresight continues to be astounding, pandering to a system that makes children poor as it's collateral failure; even when so little in it's present company structuring can be done about it, it's still a shame to take away a livelihood you gave. Money is required to buy milk and bread, and pay for employees. Hope floats, debt doesn't. The option has always been open to market the technology they already have for 'Green Cars'. The one who introduces it at an affordable price in the industry is going to clean up the floor with the other companies. I'm not sure where the real decisions ahead lie, because we're all on a timetable anyway, but I think it's time to throw the marketing books out the window and write a few new ones.

Lets put this in it stands...the companies who build gasoline driven cars want private government funds to bail out their ailing, in-efficient and so far doomed emissions creating market. While taking this money, they will also trim the wages fat around their bellies. Their Revolution: 'Let's slow down our consumption of fossil fuel with Hybrids', thus doubling our valuable time in a high, choking CPI spiral, not to mention still polluting just more slowly. This is not healthier, this is not green. It's a cop out. These car companies need to reach into the next generation of vehicles and be forward looking. If there's one thing the Canadian consumer knows nowadays it's that Change in the Auto Industry is coming, one way or the other.

I wonder if someone couldn't think of it first, before it just lands on them...

Change in the Auto Industry

The Manufacturing Rallies

Debt vs. GDP

Third paper: The Quebec National Assembly passes a Resolution on Poverty in Queb├ęc...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Second Paper - Of People and Dollars

Part 2 – Of People and Dollars

"Note that using the CPI to update the low income cut-offs takes inflation into account, but does not reflect any changes that might occur over time in the average spending on necessities." - Catalogue no. 75F0002MIE ― No. 004, LICO 2006

Canada (federally) has no official means to calculate poverty line for it's citizens. There are two standardized measures for measuring 'low income bands'. The reasoning is that the Dollar will buy you more in some parts of Canada than others. What these measures look for is the percentage of that Dollar that you are spending on essentials, approximately 61% (or $6.10 out of every $10.00) The first measure is the LICO (Low Income Cut Off) and the second is the LIM (Low Income Mean) which averages out households with a system of percentages for children and other dependents. A household with two parents and two children is considered to be as 2.0 people by LIM measurement; I quote;

"In order to calculate the LIMs, first determine the “adjusted size” of each family. The first person is counted as 1.0 and the second person is counted as 0.4, regardless of age. Additional adults count as 0.4 and additional children count as 0.3 (where a child is defined as being under age 16). See the following section on adjustment for family size for more information. Next, calculate “adjusted family income” for each family by dividing family income by “adjusted family size”. Then determine the median of this “adjusted family income”, such that half of all families will be above it and half below. The LIM for a family of one person with no children is 50% of this median “adjusted family income”, and the LIMs for other kinds of family are equal to this value multiplied by their adjusted family size."

I wonder who in Canada spends less on their children than they do on themselves, and am seriously skeptical of LIM figures. The Onus is not on the government to create household environments when considering the trends in our economy and finance, their Onus should be on ensuring that every citizen is capable of self sufficiency in the economic environment. I have disregarded the LIM in the course of this investigation. Averaging singular population tables will have the same, if not a more exacting effect on the figures I present here. Poverty goes all the way from desperation up to frustration - having no resources to challenge your circumstances is a central theme to poverty of all kinds, reflecting upon the people and the society infected.

-So, Who Are These People Involved?

Population of Canada Sept. '08 = 33,185,549 according to Statistics Canada, September 20th, 2008.

We'll start here, with those who are in the workforce.

1 in 25 workers in the Canadian work force work for minimum wage ($7.50 - $8.75 by province) - Statistics Canada, 2007. This figure is before taxes.

1 in 25 workers = 1,327,422 people, or 4% of population, it is stated by Statscan that 31% of these minimum wage workers (411,501 people) are between the ages of 25-54.

Another segment of population this above percentage does not tally is the income of 5.9% Unemployed Nationally. = 1,957,947 people capped at between 22 to 25k/pa.
Remember that these people are consumers, too. So then nationally, a 40 hour work week at minimum wage= $15,600 up to $18,200 pa (varied by province - before taxations and deductions). This excludes British Colombia which has recently sanctioned a training wage lower than their actual Minimum Wage. So we are adjusted to 9.9% , and that is almost 1 in 10 people you might see on your street. EI, a fixed income, being at reduced income rates up to 55% and capped at $22.620pa for single persons to $25,921pa for lower income families, in the policy of recently revamped federal EI measures.
this above percentage also does not tally those retired persons living on federal and provincial pensions. Another form of fixed income. OAS = $6,203.52pa (at Maximum Benefit), average payment $5,748.84pa, GIS = $7,830.12pa (Maximum Benefit) and $5,212.80pa (Canadian Average). This is an additional 4,687,100 people, or 14.1% of the population.

We now stand, readjusted, at between 18.1% up to 24%± of Canadian citizens. Getting pretty close to 1 in 4 here, and still not done yet.

this above percentage also does not tally the incomes of self-employed workers. Or 15.5% of the population (a further 4,977,832 people).

-So what exactly does this mean?

This means that if our economy were a boat on the water it would be listing to one side very badly; a huge segment of people are unable to make significant contributions into this market economy.

So to figure out the LICO I will refer back to the first part of this paper; 1992 will become the Zero year for income, and 100% for purposes of the CPI index, the only difference is that I will simply be adding the CPI index to the LICO measurement, or those dollars that you have spent just to keep food, shelter and clothing for one single person the year of 1992. The formula will look like LICO 1992 x 29.9%(CPI 2006) + LICO 1992 = LICO 2006.

-A Hidden Rise?

First I will add the five subsections that the Statscan provide against population ratio, Statscan has divided LICO into five different cross sections – from Rural to 500,000+ with different values for each. So I will add the five together, then divide the sum by 5 to gain their average. This number (LICO 1992) is $11,047.
(LICO 2006) then is $14,350, by adding 29.9%(CPI 2006) to (LICO 1992).
When I average Statscan's 2006 figures with the same equation I come up with this as well; $14,350.20. Remembering to add back 38.9% because the LICO is measured against spending 61.1% of your income on essentials. $11,047 (LICO 1992) then is actually a $15,344pa wage (1992 Dollars) to give you the ability to make those purchases at 61.1%. This is $7.37 per hour (clear of taxes) for a 40 hour work week, in 1992 Dollars. This wage (LICO 2006) is $19,932.42pa, or $9.58h (clear of taxes) in 2006 dollars. Note: 34% must be added to this because of the depreciation in the purchasing power of that dollar against income increases as I analyzed in the first paper. Added in this case because of the loss of purchase value in the consumer Dollar at the hands of the CPI since 1992. This $19,932.42pa as such becomes $26,709.44. with this readjustment the LICO 2006 is $16,319.47

We have already established that 18% - 24% of the population is either below or very close to this line, income wise. How can they spend? How high is this disposable income line, really, and how much can demand slip?

In 2008?

The CPI has risen another 5.4% since 2006, totaling 35.3%, as of November.
(LICO 2008) = $14,946.59, it's parent wage, readjusted with 38.9% is $20,760.81. or $9.98h (clear of taxes) for a 40 hour week. This is how quick it can climb the ladder, a rise of .40cents on the dollar in two years. And adding back the 34% loss in purchasing power that affected an income of $20,000 I arrive at $27,818.40pa 2008 dollars.

61.1% (LICO 2008) $16,997.04, it's parent wage is $27,818.40pa, $534.96 per week or $13.37h clear of taxes. As stated in the Abstract of Part One, if you spent every cent of this at a cash register, you would need to spend $16,997.04 just on essential items, and this has increased $677.57 in only two years, against however much your income has increased.

These are Real terms.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Paper - The Dollar as a Dollar

Part 1 - The Dollar As A Dollar


With this paper I am presenting evidence about the Canadian Economy currently not accounted for in the Statistics Canada Figures concerning the Consumer Price Index, Low Income Cut Off and will be further exploring the effects of this on the average sectors of consumers, and the market economy that depends on them. By reversing the progress of the inflation back to the Federally established 1992 "100%" dollar, This paper will also assume that the prices of 1992 are frozen with this dollar point: and as such by factoring average salary increases, average Inflation (CPI) information with the 2006 figures available, then reverting the 2006 sum back to 1992 levels, it should be clear how much the dollar has actually devalued in real spending power within our present economic situation.

I will also be factoring this sum straight back into the economy, as though income had to go through a cash register in 1992, something we still all do every day. This is a full measure, it takes no footnotes and does not try to account for family situations or households. This factoring is per individual, and discounts dependents only as having no income whatsoever. This paper concentrates on average consumers and their average purchasing power.

The Problems, Involved

Understanding Inflation-The Dollar as "One Dollar".

(Wiktonary) Inflation = Defined as a general increase in the cost of living or A devaluation of money.

Inflation is generally set against a "basket" of items, think of it as a grocery cart for the purpose here. The average increase in the cost of your basket on a year to year basis is considered to be Inflation, known as the CPI (Consumer Price Index). Inflation, for the purpose of measure, is set against a standard year chosen to be "100%" you should think of as 0. In Canadian Federal policy this 0 year is 1992. For the sake of this paper, the 1992 dollar is the 0 dollar versus the "100%" CPI prices, without the effects of current inflation rates, the Dollar is "One Dollar" in 1992.

In 2006 the CPI was at 129.9%.

$100 spent (1992) = $129.90 spent (2006).

NOTE; this CPI base year has been changed to 2002 for new studies as the 0 year. There remains enough record of the original 0 year 1992 to 2006, for me to continue. There also is information available to allow me to continue on until 2008.

Why does Normal Inflation Happen?

Base production costs, driven up by rises in commodities (Yes, and Oil is predictably at the forefront). What becomes consumer items goes through a series of stops on it's way to the shop; worker wages, transport and storage, packaging, in some cases advertising. In general, the inflation rate is the offset of this increase in production cost passed on through the prices of items sent into our consumer market for purchase. We pay more because it costs more for producers to produce goods.

Income Realities

It is to be remembered also that there are people out there living on benefits who have not seen a discernable increase to those benefits through this time, indeed they have seen losses, and for the purposes these people on fixed incomes will be the first sector I examen.

A Quebec last resort social benefit cheque (a.k.a.Welfare) at $600/month (in 2006 dollars) gives you only $420.60/month in 1992 dollars (the formula; 1992 Dollars = (2006) $600 minus (2006)29.9% CPI = $420.60 remaining in purchasing power, vs. 1992 prices). This is a loss of 7%.against the 0 year figure

How does that work? I have taken the 2006 figure ($600) and subtracted the 2006 CPI (29.9%, or $179.40), and by doing this I have returned the sum of $420.60 as a 1992 figure to compare against the neutral or "100%" 1992 CPI. Not only is the %33 increase unaccounted for, but the sum has eroded a further 7% even from it's 1992 starting point of $450. Why? That's what we want to find out.

This is a good indicator of the trouble, because Welfare is a set, unvariable income, well representing any deterioration happening through every income sector. This shift is seeing people's spending money dwindling, it's climbing up the income ladder.

Here was a snapshot of those not only unable to spend more, but challenged even harder than in 1992 to keep their simple necessities. Not helping the economy.
So What is Happening Here? What's the problem?

wage increases 1992-2006? In question.

The problem I'm outlining here is one of unbalance, and spending money steadily being swallowed by CPI and unknown compounding factors. The percentages I am working with here will eventually lead to how much of average income is falling behind this exponentially growing band, and how quickly.

For example: if your income in 1992 was $20,000 then in 2007 ideally to be 'on par (ie. not gaining or losing, any purchasing power)' with the increase in the real CPI from 1992 to 2006 you would need to be earning $25,980 a year now, or an average yearly increase of $427.14 over 14 years, to be at exactly the same point as a consumer as you were in 1992.

Average wages in Canada rose as follows (Canada Averages):

2004= %1.02 ($688.11 to $702.61week)
2005= %1.03 ($702.61 to $725.26week)
2006= %1.02 ($725.26 to $746.89week)

if this trend of %1.02 goes all the way back to 1992, so far this information is unavailable, then on average wages have increased %14.35 since 1992, and your wage has increased to $22,870(2006). So again, if you were to spend every cent of this income in a store, would be equal only to $16,031.87 (1992 dollars vs 1992 CPI). Like the Welfare, these increases go largely unoticed. So you will have noticed a definite drop in your purchasing power; to the tune of $3,968.94 or a %19 loss in buying power. Yes, you heard right, by making $2,870 more you are actually able to spend $6,894.94 less anually because of the adjusted 2006 CPI . These are cautionary figures, I do not know the figures from 1992-2002.

(In Part Two of this paper will take the LICO (Low Income Cut Off) and compare figures from 1992 to 2006, more well known as a measure of poverty level income in Canada, from these two levels give them this same simplifying process I should be able to approximate the movement of this LICO scale since 1992.)


Methodology, CPI sampling

Earnings, Average weekly - 2003 to 2007