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.

Up, up and away: Superman? no, your taxes

February 07 F1203003 $1,334,200 $0 0%
April 18 F1203003 $1,100,000 $-234,200 -18%
August 13 F1203003 removed
August 17 F1220933 $950,000 $-384,200 -29%

 

This property in White Rock, BC has dropped in asking price from 1,334,200.00 to 950,000. Why should that concern  you? You don’t live in White Rock and you don’t own a house you thought was worth over a million dollars. The assessment is 1,050,000.00. The price may keep falling.

The reason that it concerns you, me and everybody else is that taxes are based on assessments. If assessments go down, taxes have to go up to pay for all those things that municipalities have to pay for. Ya know.

Yesterday, there was a report that a house that was being offered at over 5,000,000.00 went into receivership. That kicks those rich people where it hurts. Except, the people who are likely to be hurt are the tradespeople who did the work, the companies who supplied the materials. You see, the house isn’t finished yet. Imagine if you own a company that does drywall and now you aren’t going to get paid. Or does paving, or roofs, or provides plumbing materials, or…. So, there are even fewer people to pay those taxes for roads, schools, garbage pickup, recycling, etc.

Our property taxes are going up, up, up. Either that or our services are going down, down, down. Those community centres may be going dark. Those community golf courses may be locking the gate. Unless, of course, we pay more property taxes.

There’s a recession. If you’ve got a steady, secure job, you won’t have felt it but people who own businesses, particularly people with small businesses have been and are struggling to stay afloat. There’s lots of unemployment and, a lot of the employment that exists, is part-time, poorly paid. How do you know retired people are hurting financially? Take a look at the greeters in places like WalMart or Home Hardware or some of the people cleaning tables in Tim Horton’s. On my trip back to BC, I stopped at a Tim Horton’s and the lady cleaning the tables was older than me. I’m 73.

There are a lot of things in life that are like icebergs. You just see the tip but underneath, there are sharp edges ready to tear your life apart. Mortgages are like that. You can get a mortgage at 3.5% so you go for the granite counter tops, the Jacuzzi and the sauna, the extra bedroom, the double garage, the I want to have this so when my friends come to visit, they’ll envy me. Except the mortgage is based on both of you working, is based on interest rates staying at 3.5%, is based on the house going up in price or, at least, not going down. Ahah! One of you loses a job, interest rates start to go up, both bad but then a neighbour has to take 100,000 or 200,000 less than they paid three years ago and you realize that you’ve got an upside down mortgage.

An upside down mortgage? What’s that? Never heard of it. Really? In the good old USA, upside down mortgages are everywhere. That is, a mortgage is 300,000 and the current value of the house is 150,000. Come renewal time, the holder of this “investment” needs to come up with 150,000 dollars because no banker in his right mind is going to lend 300,000 on a house worth half that. Any chance you’ve got 150,000 floating around somewhere, anywhere? No? You just joined the homeless. Welcome to the WalMart parking lot.

Oh, did I mention that if you put 20% down, it’s gone.

House prices are sticky. People who don’t have to sell put their homes up for sale. They don’t get the price they want so the owners take them off the market. That makes prices sticky.

At the moment, there isn’t any panic, except among some real estate agents who have been buying assignments on pre-built condos. You know, getting an option on a condo early, then as the building nears completion, flipping it for quick bucks. Real estate agents are nothing if not greedy and some, in spite of past lessons, have a whole bunch of these assignments. They need to get out. The prices for these units are not sticky. The sweat from desperate real estate agents makes them slippery.

The other not sticky, that will drive prices down, are divorces (court ordered sale), deaths, job moves you can’t refuse, job losses, builders who can’t borrow any more money to finish projects. These are situations where a house has to be sold. They’ll lead the way.

If prices fall by 40%, then so will revenues based on property taxes.

If you are thinking of buying, don’t. If you have found someone who just is desperate to buy your place, sell. If you know someone who is desperate to buy my place, let me know. No, that’s not my property at the beginning of this article. I’m not in that league. Thank goodness -40% of less is less. I’m thankful for small mercies.