Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I Stopped Watching US News

When Trump got elected, I stopped watching US news and it confirmed to me that the US media and particularly the networks are not portraying the real state of the world.

In Virginia, news is big.  The local news starts at 4pm and runs to 6:30pm, then the national news comes on until 7pm or 7:30pm.  We used to start watching at 5pm while making dinner and continued until 7pm.  We got a pretty good sense of what the news programs were reporting and it is at least 90% negative and sensational - "if it bleeds, it leads".  Based on watching this news, you would think:

  1. Crime is increasing, particularly violent crime against innocent white people like blonde haired young women.
  2. Police are shooting black people regularly without provocation.
  3. Islamic terrorists are mounting attacks on the US regularly.
  4. Unemployment and poverty are very high.
  5. Opioid addiction is everywhere.
  6. Traffic accidents are more frequent than ever and people are dying in droves.  Cell phone usage is causing huge numbers of crashes.
  7. Infectious diseases like Ebola, Zika, Tuberculosis, and Lyme are sweeping the nation.  
  8. Governments at all levels are dysfunctional and do not serve their citizens.  The people in the government are evil.
In actual fact:
  1. Crime has decreased and violent crime particularly has decreased for the last 20 years.
  2. This does happen, but not frequently and usually the police are charged.
  3. You are more likely to be killed by lightning than an Islamic terrorist on average.  You are certainly more likely to die through medical malpractice than terrorism.
  4. Unemployment is at a very low level, the US is almost at full employment.  Poverty is quite low compared to the middle of the 20th century.
  5. This has some truth, opioid addiction is increasing and the "war on drugs" waged for 30+ years has achieved nothing.
  6. Traffic fatalities are at an all time low on a deaths per miles travelled basis.  Cell phones are a problem but not a big one yet.
  7. Nothing bad happened with Ebola despite all the hysteria, Zika is a problem that can be solved, etc.  With all the medical technology in the USA, its not a big issue.
  8. Governments are run by officials and civil servants who try to be helpful and mostly they succeed.
  9. Global warming by greenhouse gases generated by man is well supported by scientific analysis.  But in spite of the fact that this will decimate the whole world, it rarely gets reported because it is too hard to explain in 20 seconds and there is no sensational video to show in the background as the news reader intones on its gravity.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Ruminations on Trump

This post is as much therapeutic (cathartic) as informational.

Like 50% of Americans, I hate Trump and all he stands for.  No need to list the reasons why again.  We all know them and 50% of us do not think they are a problem.

So why do I continue to be worried about a Trump presidency since I just moved back to Canada?

There is some stuff that I should not care about.  He can grope all the interns he wants, any woman getting close to him knows his reputation.  He can say nasty things, why should I care, I am a well-off white male, and he is never going to say or do anything nasty about me.  I now live in Canada so he is not going to change Canadian society.

There is some stuff I care about but they can be changed again in future if the citizens elect a different government.  He can repeal Obamacare, people without insurance will still get free hospital care.  He can try to throw out the illegals, but you cannot deport 10M people, it just will not happen.  Same for the wall, it is useless and expensive, and all he will do is put up some token sections.  The Department of Education can be abolished, this just gives more of an advantage to the Chinese, Canadians and Europeans, who will get good public educations.  He can start a war directly or indirectly, just like W, and my family does not have to fight and he will never institute a draft since he dodged that himself.  Trade barriers are likely and they will fail like they did during the Great Depression, and I will not be lined up at the soup kitchen in Littlemindville USA.

There is one thing I do care about and it cannot be changed and it will affect my grandchildren.  Trump will revoke all the Global Warming reduction treaties and regulations, and this will cause the rest of the world to do the same.  In 4 or 8 years, Global Warming will be unstoppable and cities like New York, and Savannah will be well on their way to being underwater.  Once temperatures rise by 2.5 degrees Celsius or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit, most of Savannah and New York will be underwater.  This will occur in 2070 if emissions continue to increase at present rates.  I will be dead, children of my generation will likely be dead, but my grandchildren will be in their mid-50's.

My grandchildren who I love will suffer through catastrophic storms, floods, food shortages, and wars brought on by climate change.  Trump will be long dead and his towers in New York will be underwater, if the locals have not torn them down in a rage by then.

That is the only thing that I do and should really care about in a Trump presidency.

Savannah Underwater in 2070

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How to Move to Canada from the USA

We recently moved from the USA back to Canada, and given the Trump election, there seems to be a lot of interest in immigration to Canada by Americans.  So how do you do it?

You can check out my previous posts on lessons learned and differences between the USA and Canada for some info, but I will try to make this more of a step by step description.

  1. Canada welcomes immigrants, so you will not find a lot of ridiculous barriers like the USA puts up for legal immigrants.  However, this is Canada and there are rules to be followed.
    1. You may have a family connection that entitles you to Canadian citizenship.  If so, go for it.
    2. You may qualify for a NAFTA visa if you can get a job in Canada.  Check out this link.
    3. You can apply for immigration and you may get special status if you have particular skills.  Check out this Government of Canada link. 271,660 people moved to Canada legally in 2015 by applying, the information is here.
    4. You could get your company to transfer you to Canada and they will handle the paperwork - this is an ideal solution.
    5. You could try it out by living in Canada for under 6 months as a tourist.
  2. Once you have status to immigrate, you need to do all the usual things that you would do in the USA if you were moving, except there will be some more paperwork and some differences.
  3. Finding a house is easy.  Get a realtor in the Canadian location of your choice.  Alternately, search for a rental.  Put your US house up for sale.
  4. Canada uses lawyers to do property paperwork, not title companies.  Your realtor will be able to refer you to a real estate lawyer.
  5. Visit a Canadian bank during one of your visits before you buy your house or rent.  Talk to the branch manager.  Explain that you are an immigrant.  You will be surprised at the reception because they deal with immigrants all the time, they will probably offer you special incentives to bank with them.  Talk to them about getting a mortgage, the process is similar to the USA except you do not have a credit score in Canada, so you need the bank to help you out and get your US credit rating, check out your assets, then pre-approve a mortgage.
  6. Talk to the bank about getting a good exchange rate for the large amount of money you will be transferring from the USA to Canada after your US house sells.  If you pay the standard exchange rate, you will lose 3%, which could be a lot of money if you have equity in your US house.  Most banks can offer a lower exchange rate through their brokerage department or through a special arrangement.
  7. Get a US credit card that does not charge for foreign transactions, like the Capital One World Mastercard.  You will need it until you get a Canadian credit card, which might take a while.  Don't close your US bank accounts right away, you can close them later over the phone.
  8. Call some Canadian moving companies and book your move (see previous blog post here).  Most are part of an international group like Allied and they will get the local Allied affiliate to do the estimates in the US.
  9. You will not be covered under the government health plan in Canada for 3 months so you need to buy travel insurance in the USA for the first three months you live in Canada.  It is not too expensive.
  10. You can bring your cars with you when you move to Canada, but it is not easy or useful in all cases.  See this blog post and this post.
    1. If you have an older US car, bring it, you will likely pay a nominal amount at the border
    2. If not, you will likely get a better trade-in in the USA and you can then buy whatever car(s) you need in Canada.  
  11. Call a Canadian insurance company before your move to get car and home insurance.  Canadians love insurance, there are lots of options.
  12. When you arrive in Canada with your furniture, there will be a few unusual activities:
    1. You will have to go to the local Canada Customs office with your moving truck driver to clear your furniture.  It costs nothing but takes a little time (an hour or so).
    2. There could be a wait if the border gets backed up so you may have to adjust your move-in date
  13. You will need to transfer your drivers license to Canada, similar to the USA.
  14. Go to your provincial services office to sign up for health care (there is a 3 month wait, see above).
  15. Go to the federal government service office or call them to get a Social Insurance Number (equivalent to the US Social Security Number).  You will notice that the office is much nicer than the equivalent US SS office and the employees are smarter and happier - welcome to Canada, where we love our government and want it to function well.
  16. By the way, none of Canada's prime ministers or premiers are narcissistic, mysoginist, racist, ignorant, nasty frauds.  But you already know that...

Photo credits: Flickr and Flickr