Thursday, April 28, 2011

NDP riding high. I'm scared spitless.

Who'd of thought? Now in the back of my mind, this is all just a Probe Research /Decima poll that means nothing really, but then again, what if this is really a finger on the pulse?
The markets took a hit when news of the NDP's surge in popularity became news, and why wouldn't they?

Imagine the NDP as that auntie you loved as a kid... you know, the one who lived far away. She sent you a birthday card with $10 in it every year... $20 at Christmas, and a chocolate bunny with another ten spot at Easter. When you saw her in person, she'd tell you how tall you were growing, what a good looking young man (woman... you pick the tense that suits you best, and there will be no transgendered people included in this blog post)you were as she pressed a twenty into your hand telling you not to spend it all in one place.

It's not real. The aunt doesn't have a "real" relationship with you, she's telling you what you want, plying you with cash, and she's really cool... but substance is lacking. She's not really "there", rather she's what YOU think a great aunt really is.

Your other aunt, the one who comes to your school play, makes you Easter dinner, buys you something you need for Christmas, and phones on your birthday... she's not as cool.

The aunt you really like, she's the NDP aunt.

Ask yourself, "Do the NDP have ANY credibility running anything?" In Manitoba, we've seen the balanced budget law fudged with accounting practices so far from typical that it's hardly recognizable as bookkeeping, let alone real number crunching. In Ontario, the Bob Rae years could be blamed on the recession, but boy did that province pay for the chance to elect an NDP government. They still haven't dug out of that hole... and Manitoba, well really, I'm not sure we'll ever really dig out of the mess the NDP has created here, simply because Rosanne Wowchuck couldn't possibly figure out how bad the numbers really are. And BC? Does anyone remember Glen Clarke and how well his scandal plagued provincial government did?

The NDP embraces ideas that the rest of the world has discarded. Socialism.

"More Doctors! Better Pensions! Tax the corporations! Feed the poor! Hug a Thug!, More Social programs! "

Who doesn't think these are laudable goals (aside from the hug a thug thing... no one whos' not a Liberal or an NDP cabinet Minister knows that's wrong)? But...

I'd love to give money to Silom Mission to feed people. I'd be tickled to drop groceries off at an ailing neighbours home. I'd like to buy formula for the single Mom in the dirty apartment block a few blocks away. It would be great to make sure everyone is healthy and getting the medical attention they need.

Problem is, it takes a lot of cash to carry out this ideology, and I'm a little short. And so is the NDP. In Manitoba we have a deficit that just keeps on growing, with no end in sight. Cash for their friends at the CMHR, stadium holes dug by clowns, more unaccountable dollars for bloated bureaucracies at the WRHA and other health regions, allowing poor management at our "jewel in the" crown corporation, including run away spending on towers and dams, transmission lines dictated with no regard to the real experts, and so on.

Imagine the pain we could have inflicted upon our nation if the federal NDP kept only HALF of the promises they've made! Sure, each of us might get something, but what would we LOOSE in the process? Do the lefties REALLY believe that a tax on corporations would raise all that cash?

Face it, the middle, and upper middle class has ALWAYS been the group that ended up paying, even in NDP ruled Manitoba, where the "people's party" continues to RAISE taxes by virtue of bracket creep.

No... don't do it... not even as a protest vote. ESPECIALLY not as a protest vote. Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to officially decline a ballot in a federal election, so choose a party, but don't protest by voting for a scary party.

Jack Layton... he's scary... not as a man, not as the leader of a minority party typically in third place, but as a Prime Minister... positively terrifying. And the other people who would make up "the team"? Pat Martin as Finance Minister? (Since Judy is gone, and Blakie isn't there anymore). People who are running for a third rate party aren't all that qualified... it's like thinking the Conservatives have a great candidate running in Churchill... why waste the effort?

Oh no... I can't imagine things going well federally. I can imagine a dark rider on a black horse holding a set of scales in his hand... a horseman of the Apocalypse representing economic disaster, and as his hood moves slightly to the side, we see his smiling face, his moustache, and recognize him as Jack.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Could a coalition really be that bad?

Let's begin with this. These are my PERCEPTIONS. There is little empirical evidence to much of the things I'll write. I purposefully chose NOT to dig up stories and quotes. There will be my own bias in the following, and for those who have read in the past, it's right leaning.

Yes, it can, (is the answer to the question posted in the title).

I think that's the first time I've used bold in a post, so let me explain why my perceptions lead me to that conclusion.

I'm not going to get into leader names, because they all have persona which me may simply choose to like, or dislike. It's intangible... and here we are, getting more tecnical than I wanted, because SOME of our choice revolves around who we CHOOSE to trust, (or who scares us the least).

The Liberals are unabashedly saying that they'll raise taxes to pay for "things" we all want, or at least we're told we all want. It doesn't matter where the taxes come from, they are monies taken OUT of the economy and redistributed. This is the potential government telling us (again) that they know better to spend our money than we do. Make no mistake, a corporate tax is OUR money. Mutual funds are driven my corporate dividends and profits... any seniors out there with any money in mutual funds, (or did everyone bail?) Corporation will simply pass on the increased costs, or decreased profits to the end user, increasing our personal cost of living. There aren't too many economists out there who subscribe to the idea that raising taxes is "good".

The NDP... now here's a scary group. For my lifetime, this has been a party that called itself the "social conscience" of Canada. They've never been in a position to wield much of anything, including real influence. Could you imagine a party with such grandiose social ideas being partially responsible for setting the direction of spending and taxation? Suddenly, a party with NO responsibility to have any reasonable ideology insofar as the economy goes is thrust into a position where it could do tremendous harm. Consider the NDP as the son who stayed in the basement bedroom of his Mom's house, suddenly able to spend the money that runs the household as he saw fit, while never having to had been responsible for any tangible finances before.


The Bolc? Well here we have a group that's stated purpose to to divide the country, and "will work with any party that works in the best interests of Quebec". Treason... look it up.

Clearly this country needs to reform it's parliamentary system. The vote splitting continues to divide the country, and it doesn't look like things are getting better.

The Tories. This is the FIRST time I ever remember hearing anyone in politics speak plain and simple, "taxes are bad for economic growth". Since high school economics, and later in University, I've believed that taxes are a necessary evil, designed to do the things the private sector simply cannot, or will not do. It's OK... there is a place for taxes and governments, but to continue to take... to continue to fund "new" programs... to continue to redistribute wealth is (imho) wrong.

The Liberals have stated that if the Tories don't form a majority, and they don't have the confidence of the House, the Governor General will have to approach the leader to see if there is a possibility of forming a government. The NDP has said they will no longer support the Tory government... so all I can infer from that is that is the Tories don't get a clear majority, we are going to be looking a bit like Italy insofar as our political "mess" goes, and that is NOT a good thing.

Coalitions might work where you have common ground, with no party able to do anything without the other, (and even these scenarios don't work everywhere). We have no such situation here. Here we have parties desperate to WIN, not to SERVE, and that is where my perception takes me to the final question I ask myself.

Which party will SERVE me?

I'm off to order a lawn sign. In my riding, it will be a wasted sign, a wasted vote... yet not. It depends on how you look at it all I suppose. Here I am voting as much against the existing as I am voting for something else. The current scenario has not SERVED me well, (or at all).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The RCMP and Robert Dziekanski

So this is what being an RCMP officer has come to. Find a guy who can't speak the language, hugely frustrated and agitated, and armed with a stapler, (not a construction sheathing stapler... an office stapler), and diffuse nothing. Just taser the guy, and when he dies... lie. The full tasering is found here.  The guy is armed with a folding table... marginally better than the tables we'd eat on when there were too many people over for Sunday lunch at Grandma's house. I'm not sure that's a "weapon" really. OK... smashing the computers was stupid, but he did comply when the security officers arrived, in spite of not speaking English.

What happens when the "officers" arrive is incredible. It's appalling really. You really have to watch it for your self. If you miss it... they taser him twice.

Assuming you watched the video... Aside from the "officer of colour" who tasered him, WTH is the "officer of non colour" doing at 8:28 into the video, after he was tasered and cuffed? About 9 minutes in, it looks like they're starting to do the, "What have we done here?" thinking, followed by our "officer of colour" retrieving his taser wires from "the victim".

Now check out the news report, with the "p-r" guy commenting on the situation. Total bullshit... gleaned from the video, which the RCMP DIDN'T want released.

Court was another joke. "That's not how I remember it" and "I was mistaken, but I was telling the truth" were lines heard. In attempts to justify their initial statements, (arrived at by collusion), they had to defend their fabricated stories in light of the video we all got to watch.

Sure, the RCMP findings today didn't say they "lied", it said their account wasn't "credible". They also met (the four RCMP officers) inappropriately before making their statements. Their statements and their accounts were all the same. The guy was combative, throwing chairs, smashing windows.... That would have been a good move, except that some fool caught the entire altercation on a video. Oops. Busted.

These four guys aren't RCMP officers. If the force think the public will respect the uniform in the future, they had better figure out something to do with these clowns, and a desk job doesn't cut it. Notes are key to any trial... even a speeding ticket, "Your honour, could I refer to my notes?" is probably the most repeated line in any courtroom. Why refer to notes? So you can keep your story straight?

Even after being pressed, after viewing the video they didn't budge. They made excuses, held to their story, because the word "perjury" is understood by these four guys, even if the word "truth" isn't.

My folks raised me to believe that the Police were honest, and forthright. I taught my kids that the Police are fallible, and human, prone to their own biased nature. Maybe I should have taught them that they can't be trusted, because if these four clowns are any indication of what is considered "policing", I think I'm better off being shaken down by the local cop in Tijuana than running afoul of the guys at the Vancouver airport.

Sorry officer... I don't believe you, or you, or you, or you. Listen to the lies this guy tells, after swearing to tell the truth.
In a just society, charges would be laid. Manslaughter. I'm no longer sure we live in a just society.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Highway 6. Are improvements needed?

I travel the first stretch of this highway a lot, so my curiosity was piqued when I watched the CTV news at 6 tonight. There was a woman interviewed who said, "No one killed on the Highway was inattentive... the accidents were all unavoidable" (paraphrased, but not by much)
What balderdash.
Are improvements needed? Absolutely! Given the amount of truck traffic up that road, the fact that it's in the condition it is should be a major embarrassment for ANY government. The areas north, (approaching Thompson), can be brutal. My son worked at Waskwatum and got to drive that road fairly often. Considering the votes for the NDP up that way, you'd think they'd have something resembling a decent roadway...but then, as the Orange Rod says, "Most voters are stupid" (paraphrased, but not by much).
Back to the news report, the focus was supposed to be between the Perimeter and Warren. It's true that the areas in question are, (or can be), treacherous at times. Just a few weeks ago my 1/2 tons rear end "wiggled" around a corner. That means I was going TOO FAST. Had I lost control, and met the on coming semi, that would NOT have been unavoidable. I should have been doing less than the speed limit... but I wasn't.
That said, the fact that we have few (if any) highways with paved shoulders of any consequence doesn't help. There are a few that have an extra 18"-2' which provide that extra cushion you may need at times, and frankly, those highways are less stressful to drive. Highways in other jurisdictions will sometimes have completely paved shoulders, allowing drivers, (who know how), to pass slower vehicles by virtue of having both the passed vehicle and the oncoming vehicle both being able to move to the right. This would be a big boon on Hwy 6. Again, the drivers have to know how to use the extra width, and I don't have too much faith in a lot of other drivers.
Twinning the highway? Ya... right.
The highway suffers from the same old problem. It's an old road, built next to a rail line and originally went through a number of towns along the way. Some of the "remnants" of the original road are just plain silly. In Woodlands, the road winds around the train station, which is identical to the set up in Lake Francis. Both share the same style station... a ghost. The stations have been long removed, only the sweep west and then back east remain, totally unnecessarily.
The original highway was never planned for 100 km/hr, but no one has really done too much planning to straighten it too much. We've seen some work in Grosse Isle where about $6 million was spent to make the curves around the town more gentle, and really, it's a much nicer drive through there now. In Warren, they added a turn lane where the highway goes off to Westburn (227?) and changed the entry to the town. Dedicated turn lanes are a nice touch, but as a start, people realizing that they are able to travel in the oncoming lane to slow down and negotiate a left turn (providing traffic permits) would help a lot too.
Stupid drivers are the biggest problem... and improving the road continues to play to the lowest common denominator.
Last weekend, an old man with a hat in a Ford 3/4 ton with "FT" plates doing 60 km/h was a hazard... farm trailers, or any other trailer travelling below the speed limit, with drivers never even considering pulling over to allow the long line of vehicles to pass them leads to frustrated drivers passing, there by frustrating the other drivers...
Given the amount of traffic, dedicated passing zones, well signed to keep ALL trailer traffic right would allow passing to be much safer.
The highway needs SO much up grading, all the Dept of Highways can do is throw money at a few kilometers here, and a few kilometers there, just to keep it going. This winter, a few culverts were installed, pushed under the roadway, (it still sunk badly), and this spring in St. Laurent culverts were installed to ensure we didn't have to pump water over the roadway as a result of the overland flooding in that area. (I guess this was a "surprise" job, since it was done in haste with large lights illuminating the area, and a road cut. Good planning... Id' have thought that pumping water through 6" pipes over the road last time we had overland flooding might have sparked an idea in someones head...)
I know that land has been expropriated at the Clarkleigh Rd. intersection, (((about km 90)speaking of kilometer signs... how hard would that be? To set up signs every kilometer to assist in reporting things like livestock on the highway, or a burning car) both of which I've reported, trying to make my position known to the 911 operator), where the curves to make the highway cross the (now missing) rail line, but I'm not hopeful that we'll see that happen anytime soon.
Between the needed drainage for the Shoal Lakes which have inundated Highway 415 and 518 pretty much every year now, and Highway 6 improvements, I bet the entire highway budget could be swallowed up, as well as whatever department drainage ditches are under, (water stewardship?) The Interlake has been long neglected... like everything else.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Minneapolis restaurant reviews

Sure, I know... a week later than I said I'd write this, but I'm guessing not too many people delayed their trip to the Mini Apple on account of my foot dragging on this.
We didn't go out too often, but we did visit the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, and had a drink (or two) and a small pizza. It was good, and a part of the skywalk system, so we didn't have to bundle up. It was easy to walk there from the theater, (inside and about 200'), and a popular spot with the after theater crowd. A bit noisy, but still good value. The service was acceptable.
Breakfast was at the hotel,  The Residence Inn Marriot . Had they figured out how to keep the food warm, it would have been very good. Unfortunately, only the "do it yourself" waffles were hot.
Lunch was at the Bubba Gumps at the Mall of America. In typical Bubba Gump fashion... it was shrimp, and was good. That said, I've been to a number of Bubba Gump Restaurants, and this one isn't memorable. Perhaps that's because it's not on the Santa Monica Pier, or looking over Monterrey Bay, but I remember those visits as being "better" than the Mall of America.
Supper... where to eat? I used the internet and found a place close. It sounded very interesting, (Brazilian Steakhouse), and I used their on-line reservation function to make our impending visit known. We arrived late, about 10pm, and were greeted promptly, and our coats were taken with a complimentary coat check. We were taken to our table and the Maitre De asked if we had been there before. Since we answered "no", he gave us the run down. Two courses, the first at the "self serve" area.
This was no Bonanza salad bar. Pretty much everything was excellent from the cheese to the sun dried tomatoes, smoked salmon, prosciutto, asparagus, salad... it was tough to not over do it here, because the second course was why we were really here.
We were given a small button, similar to our lunch stop. If you've never been to Bubba Gumps, there is a license plate at every table, (actually two). One says "Run Forest Run" (which indicates everything is fine at your table) and the other is "Stop Forest Stop", (which indicates that you want your server to attend to you). At our evening stop, the "button" was the size of a coaster. One side is green, the other red. The obvious meanings apply. When the green side is up, servers come by with various meat dishes, which were cooked to perfection on a skewer. An incredible assortment of to and bottom sirloin, bacon wrapped tenderloin, chicken, lamb chops, rack of lamb... for a true meat eater, this place had no comparison, at least no in Winnipeg. I kept my green button showing as long as I could, but eventually had to flip to the red side. At any time you can decline a type of meat, waiting for a different cut, or even making requests (as we did with the lamb).
We have nothing that comes close to this type of eating experience, at least not that I've tried. The service was beyond excellent, the food was mouth watering, and prepared superbly.
It was price, at $150 for the two of us (including a 1/2 bottle of wine), but no more than our last rather disappointing visit to 529, where the cuts were "chewey" and under cooked.
If you have the time, and enjoy meat cooked in a unique manner, visit Fogo De Chao Churrascaria the next time you get to visit the Twin Cities... you won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Manitoba NDP playing fast and loose with the rules

We've already seen the flashy ads the NDP got Manitoba Hydro to pay for... you know the ones where they "educate" us about how BiPole III needs to go west to preserve the wonderful boreal forest most of us will never see. (I'd also like to know who pays for the "Land that gives life" spiel. I don't think the Winnipeg Foundation is footing that one on their own) They are silent on the cost over runs... allowing Brennen and his crew of estimators to take the "heat", not that the MSM is really putting the flame thrower to their incompetence.
Really... what's a 40% over run in costs? I know what it is in my business. A reason to be fired by my client, and frankly, I'd deserve it. If I know so little about my field of expertise that I'm out by THAT much, it's time for some re training. Maybe an envelope stuffer?
Now we have Andy Swan announcing the MPI rebate.
The entire rebate issue aside, (for now),  Andy had no place making any announcement, rather the PUB was supposed to be doing that. Andy saw an opportunity to try to make it sound like he and his group of fiscally prudent orange placard waving cronies, were behind the huge refund... like it was the Minister of Justice getting justice for the rate payers! (Is he the Minister of Justice? I thought he was, but try these links. and then try )

Just in case someone updates the pages without changing the addresses, the first page has Andy, the second has our old fried Dave "I'm going to fix hallway medicine" Chomiak.

While I know Andy is the Minister responsible for MPI, he had no place making any announcement as the PUB hadn't reached a decision, thus we can infer that their authority had been usurped. Manitobans won't be upset at his "toe stepping", because for many, there will be a substantial cheque in the mail. Andy is taking the PUB review, spinning it, AND using it as a camapign plug.

On to the idea of MPI "gouging" the rate payers, they're not.

Yup... you read me right. MPI is not gouging motorists for the rates they pay. What they are doing is badly screwing over people who are no longer able to sue for damages from being involved in a motor vehicle accident through their "no fault" insurance policy. No fault, doesn't mean no fault... what it means is that there is a prescriptive method of calculating a payment for a particular injury.

Consider. MPI will calculate an impairment based on a percentage amount then multiplied by a base amount (which reflects a total impairment) to calculate the "compensation" you receive as a one time payment. So a Doctors hands are as valuable as anyone elses... or in my case, a carpenter. The loss of my hand has some pretty extreme implications for me, I'd say more so than the average person, but let's hope we'll make that up in the income replacement.

Nope. MPI takes my last income tax statement, and uses the net income amount. As a self employed person, the game is to have the lowest possible amount show up in that line, not the highest possible amount...

I know a guy. He was broad sided in a small car. This guy was a self employed craftsman, but he can't work anymore. It's not that he doesn't want to and is happy riding the gravy train... he CAN'T lift the weight, be as mobile, and do the physically demanding exercises he once could. He's older than I am, and I can already imagine the retraining possibilities... he has little ability to use the language as he's your stereo typical eastern European immigrant. ("What you mean, 'puter? No drink from pewter... bad for blood. Use glass. Now pass wodka bottle")When you talk to him, he hangs his head. "My life is ruined".

What value do we put on a "ruined life"? MPI can tell you. They have some pencil necked geek who has a shirt buttoned to the collar and a pocket saver for his pens in a room somewhere without windows who can crunch the numbers, and he'll tell you exactly what his ruined life is worth, and frankly.... no one would even consider being happy with the number if it happened to them.

The moral of the story? Let me spin you a comparable. People say living in the US isn't as good as Canada because we have "universal health care" and in the US you have to buy expensive insurance. The US might be better, unless you're sick, or have a sick child or parent. Well, MPI is a cheaper way to insure a vehicle until you're needing to be looked after as a result of an accident that disables you. If you're unlucky enough to be in that situation, the system fails you, and there's NOTHING you can do about it.