Christmas Wish

poinsetta

Expendable

That’s you. That’s me. Our previous government thought we were expendable. Do you know what that means? We don’t matter. We can be sacrificed at no cost to anyone important. Our young family members were expendable during WW2. Fifty thousand killed in an attack? A hundred thousand killed in an attack? Didn’tmatter. They didn’t matter. Their families didn’t matter.

Expendable. It’s an ugly word. It separates the necessary, the important, the valuable people from the rest of us peasants. The old stock and the new stock. Remember that? We were told that gee whillikers, it just meant some people’s families were here longer than others. No, it didn’t. It made it clear that the government divided us into the important and unimportant. I hate to say it, but most of us are unimportant. If we suffer, if we get ill, if we lose our house, if someone we loves die, if we die, it doesn’t matter because we are expendable. When I say we, I mean you, your kids, your grandkids, your parents, your relatives, your friends. Mine, too.

Hopefully, that has changed with the election of the new government. I pray that it has. I don’t want our government thinking my kids and grandkids are expendable.

A large test is coming. Most people don’t understand the implications of the fall in the price in oil. They don’t understand the fact that the US is going to raise interest rates. They don’t understand what the Canadian dollar falling to seventy cents US means for their daily lives. They don’t understand why their lives are going to be changed by the fall in the price of iron ore, copper, oil, natural gas, nickle, and grain.

That is, they won’t understand until they get a pink slip. But, but, but I don’t work in mining, or the oil business or farming. No, but it is those industries that provide the profits and the taxes that mean you get your pension cheque. It’s not magic. Pension funds get their money from profit and interest payments. In a year of bad crops and bad prices for crops look and see how every business in a farming community gets hurt. Not just the businesses selling farm equipment. The café, the coffee shop, the furniture store, the bar, the hotel. The list is endless. The people running those businesses say business is down, we’re sorry but we’ve got to lay you off. But, but, you can’t do that, my kids have braces, I’ve got a mortgage and a car payment. Sorry, we don’t have the money to pay you. You will have to apply for EI.

There are people ranting, raving, being absurd about how Notley and the NDP are ruining Alberta. North Dakota is going into to a recession. The ND Governor, just like Notley, didn’t bring oil down to 27$ American. Some people in Alberta have been threatening to murder Notley. I wonder if they’re going to want to murder the Governor of North Dakota? Whatever you do, don’t tar all Conservatives with this brush. I have a lot of Conservative friends. I like them. I admire them. They’re smart. They’re good people. They’re not going on the internet and saying that the way to fix Alberta’s problems is to put a pitch fork through Notley’s neck.

I’m sure the ND Governor, Jack Dalrymple, just like Notely, is doing the best he can but the price of oil isn’t partisan. What the Saudis are doing is going to hurt people all across North America, in cities and in small towns, Republican, Democrat, LIberal, Conservative, NDP.

Canada is going to get hurt twice. The drop in the price of oil has done serious damage to Russia and Putin says they are going to compensate by growing more grain. Just what our farmers don’t need.

Low interest rates have not, as classical economics would predict, helped our exports. Instead, low interest rates have removed our large retired community from purchasing groceries, clothes, holidays, vehicles, everything that retired people buy. They didn’t help create a diversified manufacturing structure. An economic principle that is outdated being applied by people who don’t understand the economics of today.

Low interest rates have resulted in insane house prices, massive mortgage debt that the banks convinced the Conservative government to unload on CMHC. What has that got to do with you? Everything. You see, CMHC is you. You are guaranteeing to pay the banks all the money that will be owed when people default on their mortgages. There is no such thing as government money. It’s your money. Money that the government has collected from you in taxes and fees. Every time someone defaults on a mortgage, your tax money is going to be paid to a bank. That money won’t be available for health care, or paving roads, or building schools, or outfitting the military, or anything else.

The Harper Political Party has left you in a terrible mess. It’s left your parents and your kids and grandkids in a terrible mess. But we’re all adults, right? Nobody gets to say, give me back my money. It’s gone. Your money was expendable. Where did it go? I don’t know. It certainly didn’t go to buy new equipment for the military. Our navy is falling apart. Our airforce is flying old planes. Bombs nowadays are very expensive. Don’t think of them as explosives, think of them, when they explode as a million of your tax dollars blowing up.

Will JT make things right? I hope so but I have no idea.I don’t know what has to be done. I don’t know what is possible. I know I want health care, I want education, I want infrastructure, I want security, I want compassion and caring. I don’t want to be expendable. I want the government to think I matter.

I want the government to think you matter. I guess that’s my Christmas wish.

Does it hurt, yet?

It doesn’t matter what political party is in power, the rule is the same, savage those least organized, most unrepresented, least able to provide donations to a political party or to provide high-paying directorships or jobs to politicians out of office.

That’s us, folks. You and me.

You made reasonable assumptions about the income you would receive on your savings or for an annuity. Reasonable assumptions don’t take into account the venality of the political class.

I just came across a copy of The Financial Post, January 26, 1980. Here are part of the tables provided.

“Five-year GICs and term deposits

At the banks:

Bank of B.C.        11%

Bank of Montreal 11.25%

Bank of Nova Scotia 11.25%

At the trust & loan companies

Canada Permanent         10.75

Canada Trustco                 11.25

Fidelity                                                11.25

Etc.

The government(s) lowered the interest rates, and lowered the interest rates, and lowered the interest rates to keep the economy moving. Except it didn’t. All it did was create a housing bubble that has threatened to destroy the American economy, robbed people of homes as the bubble collapsed, allowed lenders to make liar loans, sell worthless bundled mortgages in a frenzy of greed.

In the meantime, retirees were having their financial feet cut out from under them. That’s not the banks money that is being leant out at 2.99%, that’s the depositors’ money. And, because the loan rate is so low, the interest paid to the depositor is next to nothing.

Interest rates have not been set by the market. There has been no free market. Interest rates have been set by government(s) for all the wrong reasons. The very people who railed against government interference in the free market, capitalist system have been the first to privatize profits and socialize losses. The bankers who have, once again, created a terrible financial mess, get massive loans of our tax money and give themselves outrageous bonuses because they’re still in business.

Vancouver and Toronto are the centers of real estate madness with no price too high because no matter how high a price, the buyer knows that someone will pay even more. The music will never end and no one will be left without a chair. The music is stopping and more and more reports are of real estate “investments” going bad. The real estate industry plays games with the numbers but sales are down, prices are down and indications are that they’re going to keep going down.

The problem is that a lot of people in their sixties and early seventies have a simple retirement plan. Sell the house. Live off the avails. That’s fine, except a lot of people are retiring and how many younger people can afford houses of one million plus? I’m a bit ahead of the curve. A war baby, I retired eight years ago, sold my house and down sized three years ago. Right now, I wish I’d downsized into a rental.

When I downsized and bought my current house, the market was crazy. There was little for sale and what there was was mostly garbage. Tatted  up junk going for unbelievable prices. The atmosphere was that of a carnival with people certain they were going to win a prize.

The housing crash in the USA didn’t have to happen. It wasn’t a natural disaster like a tornado. It was created by a toxic combination of bankers and real estate companies abetted by governments. You’ve heard of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac in the USA and the disaster they became. We’ve got our own CMHC. Those guaranteed mortgages? You and I are doing the guaranteeing. The bankers take the commissions and you and I take the losses.

In the meantime, to keep the housing bubble from collapsing, interest rates are kept at artificial levels. Retirees like you and me are being robbed. We thought we were in a market economy, we thought free enterprise was what existed in Canada. Not anymore.

Doesn’t matter whether the government if Conservative, Liberal, NDP, marijuana party, they all feed the same hogs with food off our plates. Check out what you get for your savings. Check out your grocery bill. It ain’t us whose being fed.