Friday, December 22, 2017

What Not To Like About Canada

Canada is having one of those satisfying moments when it can look at its big brother, the USA, and say "Canada is Better!".  A good economy, a benevolent immigration system, health care for everyone, much less violent gun crime, a leader who is not a narcissistic know-nothing blowhard - Canada is doing well, right?  Well not so fast, not everything is great in the land of mooses, hockey, doughnut shops, and snow.  Let's look at a few Canadian negatives:

  1. The weather - there is no where in Canada with good weather year round, and there are a few places that never get good weather.
  2. Things drop off drastically after the big weather negative, but let me continue with a few much smaller knocks on Canada............
  3. Winter bicyclists - who got the crazy idea that bicycling works in a snowy frozen -20 degree country?  The laws of physics and gravity say that balancing on two skinny wheels in the Winter will not work and it is damn uncomfortable as well.  Yet we have bicycle lanes on our roads year round that are cleared so the snow bicycle lunatics can have at it.  I see about 3 of these morons each day, but it probably costs us millions to keep their bicycle lanes up and running year round.
  4. Solar energy - some idiots decided that Ontario should go green and have renewable solar energy, so they funded and built tons of solar panel fields in this far northern country.  They did it quickly and kept most of the old electricity plants so now we generate too much electricity and our electricity bills are too high.  And who thought that solar panel fields next to the foggy St Lawrence River made sense?
  5. Senior citizens with tattoos, piercings, and orange hair.  Who convinced our seniors that looking like a 20 year old was a good idea?  If you scan the sale flyers for deals on Depends and Tylenol Arthritis pills, stay away from mythical butterfly tattoos and orange or green hair.
  6. Plastic currency.  The plastic 5-10-20-50 dollar bills do not fold well, and it looks like you are paying for your purchase with a Pokemon card.
  7. Cirque de Soleil.  I don't know about you, but I am tired of shows called "Skooza" with weird looking people twirling from the ceilings while lousy music plays.  I think their next show should be tailored to the gun lovers in the USA and called Glock.
  8. Bugs.  Canada has world class insects.  They won't give you malaria or river blindness, but the black flies, mosquitoes, and horse flies will make you miserable during the two weeks of Summer each year.
  9. Well that's all I can think of for now.  Let's keep our Canadian humbleness and not be too critical of our American friends and their nasty, racist, know-nothing, blowhard, narcissistic, lying, ugly President.

Photo credit: Flickr

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Why The Rich of the USA Should Reduce Wealth Inequality

Inequality in the USA has doubled over the past 20 years according to the Congressional Budget Office (see graph below).  The richest 10% have doubled their share of wealth since 1995.  Good for them, why should they care about the other 90% and their reducing share of the nation's wealth?  The big losers are the middle class, who are sinking towards lower middle class or poverty.  

The middle class has a strong interest in the rule of law, reducing crime, a clean environment, functioning roads and other infrastructure, a strong military, and a generally orderly society.  They own good homes, want their children to go to good schools, want to feel safe, and take pride in their country and community.

The poor do not have as strong an interest as they are too busy surviving and they don't need some of these orderly society characteristics.  They may also need to break the law to survive and may resort to drugs to tolerate their situation.

Now let's look south for what happens in a country with a small and poor middle class.  Some examples are Mexico, El Salvador, Peru, and other central and South American countries.  Their middle class is expanding, but is nowhere near as big and wealthy as the American middle class of the 80's and 90's.

What is it like to be rich and live in Mexico or these other countries?  You must live in a walled fenced house with alarms and maybe armed guards, as crime is high and you are an obvious target.  You must pay off the local police and government to get protection and to ensure you are not hassled or shaken down, because the government is corrupt and their employees are poorly paid.  You cannot wear expensive watches or other items when you go out as you will be a target.  When you are forced to travel outside your home, you are at risk of being kidnapped or robbed, so you keep travel to a minimum.  Your kids cannot go to the park or easily participate in sports, other than at their private school.  You cannot count on clean drinking water, garbage removal, sewer service, or clean air as these are luxuries that the government will not provide as the majority of people cannot afford them.  You should be careful to have your family vaccinated against most known communicable diseases as the population around you lives poorly and is prone to hepatitis, cholera, parasites, dengue fever, etc. 

Not a great place to be rich, right?  This is why the rich of the US should be working to ensure a strong American middle class.  The trend is in the wrong direction.