#181 – Deferring to Stupidity

Cakers don’t like to maintain infrastructure. When given the chance to spend money to keep infrastructure standing, Canada generally opts to not bother. That this often results in more costly repairs down the line is a trivial consideration for a country that is so scared of spending its own money that it would rather screw itself over. Deferring critical maintenance is like ignoring your power bill in hopes that it’ll go away. Silly Canadians – your bills are expected on-time even if you’re increasingly not getting paid on time.

There’s a nifty metric in commercial real estate called the Facility Condition Index, or FCI. It goes from 1-100, with 1 being a practically new building to 100 being a piece of shit that has no business standing anymore. Generally, buildings want to hover around 2-5 on the FCI to avoid snowballing repair problems. Canada’s hospitals average at 11.3. It has been estimated that Canada’s hospitals need $160B in repairs; the report I cited the FCI from suggests that Canadian hospitals need $3.2B a year just to keep up with current disrepair.

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(s) Take two rolls of duct tape and don’t call me in the morning because that costs money

This means that at current Canadian hospitals there are literally billions of dollars of needed repairs in Canada’s hospitals that just aren’t done because spending money on the facility means we can’t have more administrative bloat. As everyone knows, more MBAs and people with undefined “real world experience” (as opposed to those of us who have only worked on holodecks, presumably) means better healthcare. What’s this? One Ontario hospital (the government won’t say which) needs $287m. There’s a $3.2B deficit in 148 healthcare facilities just in Ontario.

But don’t you worry! The fun continues! Know what else Canada sucks Satan’s salty bunghole at keeping up to snuff? Schools! Feels great dropping Timmy off at your local elementary school. Hope he’s not in Calgary, where there’s $1B in work to do that just hasn’t been done. Or Edmonton, which has a similar fate looming over its schools in the next decade. And don’t think this is just a Western thing – here’s Southern Ontario choking on repairs it can’t afford. Nothing shows children the value of education quite like not being able to keep their school from falling apart. Reach for the stars, Timmy!

Some problems come from dumping heavy fiscal loads on crippled municipalities. This is the case with water pipe repairs – because voters literally can’t see the pipe there is a perverse incentive to instead spend limited funds on flashy projects that in turn need maintenance which is of course deferred. Municipalities carry $123B in needed work and on average that number grows by $2B every year. Looking at the piece I just cited we see some classic Canada in the causes and influencing factors segment. Just look at this clusterfuck:

i) poor maintenance of infrastructure; ii) lack of life cycle costing and incorrect pricing (e.g., difference between cost, price, and value); iii) inadequate management approaches; iv) short term focus; v) a lack of integrated planning; vi) a disconnect between planning and implementation; vii) a need for accountability and innovation; viii) a lack of use of best practices.
– Source above

Not giving a shit? Not pricing properly? Not planning? Using guesswork instead of accepted practices? These are the great Canadian attitudes that ensure that new projects will quickly fall to shit and old standbys will grind themselves to dust in the name of making sure that the balance sheets don’t look scary to the kinds of people who focus solely on balance sheets. You know what is scary? This chart, which shows that we’re barely investing enough to maintain basically nothing.

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(s)

Investing half of the low end of the replacement funding needed for roads and sidewalks can’t possibly go wrong, right? Just like how Canada’s hospitals are run on politeness and Tim Hortons and will just stand up forever without needing to address their problems. Cakers will scream up and down about the very real costs of infrastructure only to demand more of it through sprawl and tract suburbs. Rather than fixing what they have cakers would rather build mindlessly and endlessly without the slightest regard for the future.

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#175 – Sinking Like a Rock

So Newfoundland and Labrador is totally fucked. In the caker media’s reporting of the oil market in Canada Alberta is really the only province that gets coverage. It’s easy to forget that Newfoundland also produces oil, also allowed itself to become dangerous dependent on oil revenues, and is finding itself in a pitiful position because of it. At one point one-third of the Rock’s budget came from oil revenues – that’s totally reasonable, right? And now that the government of Newfoundland is scoring one-fifth of the revenue it once did from oil, the resulting fiscal beatdown is forcing the newly-elected Liberal government of Dwight Ball to already break promises from his election this year. Yeah, because a guy having to make major policy shifts on the fly is a clear demonstration of that person’s merit.

Few Canadians either know or care about Newfoundland, meaning that it’s gone to total shit. A 19th century prison, Newfoundland’s largest, is crumbling; prisoners are regularly hiding shanks amongst exposed rebar. Their version of Ontario’s Liquor Control Board is somehow even worse than the LCBO’s price gouging ways. The province ate a lawsuit because moose are involved in 800 car crashes a year. The province stands accused of doing jack shit about the problem, which sight unseen I’m inclined to believe given that their advice is basically the same as the advice for how not to drive like a moron in general. Tee-hee! It’s being close to wildlife you guys! Never mind that a moose can easily weigh 1000lbs and can wreck your car like fucking Zangief. And don’t think your problems are over when they assemble what’s left of you post moose-smash and take you to the hospital – sterlization of medical tools is apparently a bridge too far for Newfoundland.

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(s) Pictured: less dangerous than the hospital, probably

But this year saw some of the most pathetic cuts in Newfoundland’s post-Canadian history. Like a book tax. Or dictating when diabetics should check their blood sugars. Or stopping 24-hour plowing of the major highway in the province. When cakers make cuts to mindless driving you know something went wrong. And while it’s pretty easy for cakers to ignore higher education the state of St. John’s Memorial University but that’s in pretty pathetic shape too. Oh, and did I mention that Newfoundland still has a crippling deficit – and that the government is banking on $74 oil to return the province to solvency? If Canada is like the Soviet Union Newfoundland and Labrador is the fucking Turkmenistan of the caker family of provinces. And why has the place been reduced to a cruel joke? Why, because Newfoundland and Labrador can’t think outside of digging shit out of the ground of course!

There’s a lot to dig into with Newfoundland’s history and we’ll be getting into it as I get into it. The Rock’s history in Canada though is one of rampant and constant failure. An overdependence on extraction was Newfoundland’s bread and butter just as it is in Canada, except that Newfoundland got one hell of a wake-up call as to why that isn’t a good idea when the Canadian government lied about the state of the cod fishery and thus oversaw its collapse. Unemployment in the province rocketed to near 17% and the population of the Rock actually declined as people fled what they felt was a hopeless situation. Leaning on extractive industry leaves the province deeply prone to unemployment (currently the stated figure is about 15%) and thus means that income increasingly comes from welfare and social assistance. The results of this in turn are the sort of shit that brings out the Canada-beating bastard brigade in full regalia.

But for now we stick to the present and the sagacity of the caker’s economic mindset. Having learned from the last time that Newfoundland and Labrador collapsed for want of extractive industry, the government at St. John’s immediately turned about to oversee a provincial economy dependent on yet another extractive industry. And we’re supposed to be *shocked* as to why the Rock is feeling the pain. Why diversify when you can leap right back into the pit that sank the province the first time, right?

 

#169 – Isbestos Country, Comrade!

Canada still imports asbestos-laden products.

Yup. That asbestos. Having worked in commercial real estate I can tell you that few words strike fear into the hearts of hilarious Quebecois contractors faster than the phrase “asbestos handling training”, because handling asbestos is a bitch. Originally a fire-retardant, asbestos became known for its life-retardant properties, namely that breathing in the fine particles that come off of disturbed asbestos gives people hell-cancer called mesothelioma (warning – nasty cancer picture associated with the link). Generally, hell-cancer is a bad thing that we ought to avoid.

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(s) By our forces combined, we are the Fuck Your Shit Up Squad!

The other thing about asbestos is that while encased it’s fairly harmless. The problem comes from the particles that come off of disturbed asbestos. If you ever renovate, rewire, suffer from any sort of damage to the building, bump into it, take out pipes or ductwork with latent asbestos particles inside, or indeed even damage the external casing you’re far past fucked. This means that you can choose to roll the dice with asbestos. Will another caker cut-corner contractor campus fail today in such a way that gives employees a neat case of the cancer-flakes? To find out if your friendly civil servant is eligble to play Am I Potentially Doomed to a Painful, Cancerous End, just look at this map of asbestos-laden federal buildings! Thankfully, Public Procurement saw the obvious danger and put a stop to building federal projects with asbestos…this year.

Forgive me a moment here. We’ve known that asbestos are a bad time for decades, and we’ve just gotten to the point where we’re not building with the shit anymore? And if it’s not safe for government workers why the hell are we importing the stuff? It’s one of the more common killers in the Canadian workforce and casualties, with 2000 deaths by asbestos exposure yearly. Canada’s labor unions are pushing for the substance to be outright banned. The Nords figured this out decades ago, banning this shit back in the early 1980s. It’s pretty apparent that anyone who values human life can find alternatives; we’ve grown past the fireproof cancer-fibre, thanks.

Except, not in Canada. Why is this? Part of it has to do with Quebec’s powerful asbestos industry, another example of idiotic resource extraction with no thought to other economic modes or ideas. I mean, there’s a fucking town called Asbestos in Quebec. You know who else opted to name a town after cancer? Russia. That’s not good company, guys. The Parti Quebecois stopped an attempted restart of the Jeffrey mines in 2012 because the Quebecois are a decent people when they aren’t deluded by Liberal fucks, and that was that. Someone valued human life over profits in Canada, and it shockingly wasn’t the Quebec Liberals.

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(s) Shocking.

As for other reasons why Canada tolerates asbestos and has for so long, I’m at a loss besides typical cynicism about cakers and their business practices. On that note – why are we fumbling about importing asbestos-laden brake pads when ceramic ones are made in Canada? It took me literally 4 seconds of typing to find this company. Why are we allowing for the importing of millions of dollars worth of deadly products when we make safer products here? It’s not like we don’t already have a problem with asbestos in our old buildings. 152,000 Canadian are still exposed to asbestos in buildings. The University of Windsor had to close a biology lab because of the stuff. We spend millions of dollars clearing this crap – why the fuck are we importing more of this shit, shit that we’ll inevitably have to deal with at massive cost and great risk?

And why did Health Canada claim that one kind of asbestos was healthier than another in 2012? What kind of public health body can deny the findings of the rest of the world (which rightly doesn’t think keenly of having to then pay for aggressive hell-cancer treatment and thus turfed asbestos wholesale) until last year? If they were covering for fucking asbestos who knows if they’re covering or apologizing for other dangerous materials? This is akin to having a health agency say that smoking isn’t that bad – it’s insanity to even pretend that asbestos is safe.

Pretending otherwise doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

#167 – The Cost of Caker Business

Caker businessmen hid $270B from the taxman last year while crowing about Canada’s social services and supposed liveability as a reason to come to this country and work. Think about that for a minute. Canada sells itself as a place where social services are strong and liveability is high while the businesses and people benefitting the most from politicians embarrassingly hawking Canada like a $2 whore stash money in tax havens and thus contribute to the decay and failure of those services. It’s almost as if infrastructure requires upkeep and that the primary way to keep systems going is to fund them. If we’re missing that part of the equation in caker business land I shudder to think what future awaits the pox of shoddy condos in Toronto.

Taxes suck. I get it. But they’re also kind of important to maintaining the government, and us broke bastards in sweatpants can’t make a healthcare system work on minimum wage and price hikes. Too bad the dangerously-unsafe CRA has been kneecapped and can’t prosecute cases properly anymore. After seeing nearly a quarter of #RealChange’s deficit ($6-7.8B) fleeing the country every year the CBC valiantly shit the bed on the Panama Papers story and the issue has disappeared from the caker media. Recall that the CBC also relies on tax money and you’ll see why this is so amusing and awful. It’s hard to close the $3B Indigenous education funding gap when at least double that amount is effectively removed from play every year. Moral quandry that contravenes the national identity and narrative? Ah, fuck it – more yachts please! Not like the CRA is going to do anything about it even if they do nail you.

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(s) But it’s a progressive yacht with maple syrup on it so it’s better than AmeriKKKa

The combination of weak punishment for tax-related crimes and the ease with which offshore accounts and other tax avoidance tactics can be opened and maintained is a perfect storm for scummy activity. Are we surprised that we attract scummy wealth when it’s so easy to get around paying taxes? When wealth parking is displacing the kind of people you actually want to live in a community (i.e.: those that pay taxes and participate in civic life) and the people who do park leave the country as soon as citizenship papers appear it’s hard to feel any less than taken advantage of.

Why would Canada leave open loopholes to bring in wealth that clearly doesn’t care about Canada outside of its ability to park money and hide? Why are Canadian firms able to effectively stonewall the government for over two years? How is it acceptable to have a de-facto two-tiered tax system wherein only the absolute richest get to pay far less and are treated much more kindly than the rest of us? Is it fair that reporters can’t even attend scheduled meetings with bankers in tax havens? Oh, and did I mention that #RealChange’s Finance Minister is one of those ultra-rich folks, with a personal value of around $30 million and a portfolio of who-knows what?

When Canadian wealth uses tax havens and the like as a way to avoid being sued to their last pair of boxer shorts, you know something is very wrong. Typically lawsuits are the result of someone feeling so aggrieved or wronged that they’re willing to try their hands at caker-law. If you’re that scared of losing money from lawsuits, you might want to consider how tenable your business is in the long run. And it’s not just business that doesn’t buy into Canada; the list of fuckup shitlords includes relatives of Canadian senators, lawyers who once worked for the CRA, former MPs, the pension plan for civil servants, and the fucking Irvings. You know, the sort of people who are intimately and profoundly connected to both caker mythology and to the levers of power. What does it say when people taking public money for doing a job encourage others to avoid putting money into the public pot? It tells me that caker aristocrats don’t see any value in Canada outside of using it as a personal piggy bank, that to them even Canadian citizens – the people these fucks hire to run their businesses and the folks who can’t run to AmeriKKKa whenever they have the sniffles – just aren’t worth caring about.

And if the people spouting caker mythology and Canada-wank won’t put their money where their mouths are, why should we believe in them or this country?

 

 

 

 

 

#166 – Greenwashing²

One must pity the wealthy in Ontario. From Hydro One’s CEO only making a mere $4m last year to Wynne’s Chief of Staff Tom Teahen making more than Obama’s, how can we expect Ontario’s 111,400 people on the Sunshine List, which measures public employees making more than $100,000 a year, to possibly go green? Sure, we’ve paid Samsung $7B to brutalize Southern Ontario in the name of being green, but that doesn’t give those poor rich people any particular symbol of their excellence and wealth. We need a personalized, flashy way to wash the polluted consciences of Ontario’s wealthiest. What to do, what to do…

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(s) Almost. Could you make this as a hockeymans jersey?

I know! Help ’em out with buying a green Porsche! That should dry those monied eyes. There there, rich people. Can’t quite justify buying a vehicle that’s totally inappropriate for Ontario’s salty winter roads at Porsche prices? Why not get a Tesla? If you do, you’re special – fewer than half of a percentage point of car purchases are electrics, and the subsidy scales up with the price of the car to make sure that the government is doing its part to make you feel like you’re doing good in the world. Never mind that you’re going to need another, probably gas-powered vehicle or risk either running your sports car into a salted, slippery grave or getting kneecapped with shit range and no heat. Forget how toxic and eco-unfriendly lithium-ion battery production is. Pay no mind to the myriad problems associated with the technology and how it interfaces with utility companies. Consumption is green, and consumption by rich people is the most greenest of all! Were you idly considering buying another car that you might not need? C’mon and buy one, fucker!

My favorite justification for this comes from the pollution angle – that is, the negative externalities of the motorcar are no longer because pollution is bad. Certainly, pollution is one of the personal motorcar’s externalities. But it’s not as if electric cars don’t contribute to congestion, encourage low-density sprawl that requires more consumption to get around (versus, say, being able to walk from place to place as is the case in civilized, bearable built environments), or require choking amounts of parking. It’s a typical greenwashing attitude to focus on the tailpipe and ignore the car’s role in prohibiting or otherwise damaging walkabilty. Walking, once again, neither requires consumption nor is restricted to wealth. Even I got legs when I started life.

Oh, and for the record – wheelchair and access for folks who have trouble walking is important too, and that doesn’t have to default to the motorcar either so long as you plan with all parts of a society in mind rather than making sweeping and untrue assumptions. Har-har, it’s the bad word so it won’t happen in Canada because planning is for heathens.

Those negatives are conveniently ignored in favor of helping the rich buy toys on the government dime. Obviously ensuring that the rich can drive with a clean conscience (but not in New England where electrics are actually more pollutive than gas-powered cars because of how power is generated there) is more environmentally-friendly than actually designing cities with far superior transit that avoids these other externalities – walking, biking, mass transit. The hated AmeriKKKans are even thinking that way! But we can’t not sprawl when developers are funding our municipal elections and those poor wealthy developers need to squander farmland en masse if they’re going to get the funds to buy an electric car!

The problem of regressive subsidy is a known quantity in the world of greenwashing. The fact is that rich people are more likely to be able to afford expensive, cutting-edge products while the poor aren’t. If you’re driving a `96 Corolla to your warehousing job you probably have more pressing demands on your funds than buying a Volt. Like, say, paying your power bill. But fuck those poor people, right? I bet they aren’t working hard enough to earn a green environment.

 

#164 – Paid in Feels

The federal government has been doing a shit job of dealing with paying employees for a hilarious number of reasons. Federal prison guards braced for failure as their pay system shifts onto a government office in New Brunswick that has already pled for mercy. Members of the Coast Guard have found themselves coming home to cut utilities and urgent fuck-you-pay-us notices as their pay became a veritable Nor’easter of bullshit. Reliable pay? Fuck no – you’re paid in feels, you useless cretins!

Bitching about bureaucracy is easy, but the sheer magnitude of stupidity associated with pay can’t be making their lives any easier. Workers have a right to expect that the pay they agreed to will arrive at a regular time and in an easily-accessed form. We all make financial decisions with future income in mind; indeed, we’re punished with overdraft fees, bad credit scores, and all sorts of frustrations if we aren’t able to keep up with our expenses. So how fair is it that someone working for the government finds themselves on the sharp end of the Canadian banks’ bullshit stick.

Consider this readily-plausible scenario: a single-income family makes its required income through the Coast Guard. The breadwinner gets sent to a posting and writes out checks for the family’s utility and other bills. There’s not enough in the account now to do job, but with incoming paychecks this arrangement is doable. All is well, all is good.

And then the checks don’t come in. Panicked calls become emergency loans with high interest rates and other debt traps; bounced checks add even more financial strain on the family. Word gets around the posting that others aren’t getting paid. Can you imagine what that would do to your mental health and to the cohesion of the workplace? It doesn’t matter if you think bureaucrats are poopieheads – there is a basic obligation which was not met by the Canadian government and its consequences are fucking with the fundamentals of peoples’ lives. The irony of Canada’s civil service making the mental health of employees a stated priority while it continues forward with a system that so obviously causes harm is somewhere between predictable and obscene.

The story here is very simple – for once the government found a problem and made a plan to fix it. The only problem there was the tiny point where they caused exactly the failure in the pay system that they warned about. Oh, and pro-tip: when the people you’re trusting with paying a crucial part of your government have a website that looks like it came straight from 2004 it might be a bit of a red flag.

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Bad website design you can believe in

At any rate, Canadians are suffering at the hands of our government and the way that our social order is structured means that a loss of pay entirely unrelated to their performance compounds suffering and stress during the reign of a government that says that it really cares about civil servants. The workers in Miramichi are stressed, the employees not getting paid are stressed, and inevitably quality of service (such as it is) will plummet even further.

And in the face of the complaints, the difficulties, the clear and obvious failure of Public Works to properly staff with trained people (I suspect that a lot of new folks are at the helm; it would cost a hell of a lot to convince me to live in a tiny shit-shack town in the middle of buttfuck nowhere) – with all that on board, what’s the plan? Why, expanding the program that workers are begging you not to! Because Canada’s government stands with its employees, at least until they demand their pay.

And as for civil servants, well, they can get fucked. Who needs a paycheck – isn’t the joy and satisfaction of living in Canada enough?

 

#163 – Prime Memeister, Part Two: Dear Leader Visits Much Science Center for Make Good

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(s) The equation is a desperate try to prove that Canada doesn’t mathematically exist.

Dear Lead-I mean #RealChange took to his usual gloating form in Waterloo, being fawned over like a North Korean dictator after providing an explanation for quantum mechanics that I could do after reading a relevant piece in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. There are so many shitty angles to take this – as a random example, there is the obvious fact that rote memory skills aren’t the same as intelligence even if the words memorized seem big and scary. But because this is a Prime Memeister piece we’re going to look at this scene in its entirety. And therein we discover something deeply alarming – the media working with the Prime Minister for the sake of dropping some dank new memes. This is, of course, exactly what Kim Jong-Un does to take heat off of his brutal regime and to demonstrate “progress”.

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(s) “Oh, please ask me what I put down as my Facebook status!”

Let’s take a look at the transcript, shall we? I actually went right to YouTube and wrote this down – the mush-mouth flaps his gums to this tune at 13:46 on the YouTube link provided. If you’d rather not feel an unterminating desire to punch your monitor I’ll give you the skinny:

You don’t have to be a geek like me to appreciate how important this work is. Although I have to tell you, when we get to the media questions later I’m really hoping people ask me how quantum computing works because I was excited to deepen my knowledge of that this morning.

And golly, what a punchable paragraph that is. If that paragraph were a person it would be making macaroni art at daycare and asking for icey-creams after dinner in an annoying voice. Just look at it! “Tee hee, I’m such a geek how novel and unique” is exactly the kind of thing a marketing department tells someone to say. It’s very clear that he’s basically asking the media to ask him what he learned today, which is totally not something an 8-year old does.

And the media obliged, putting the ball on the tee and lining Justin and his wiffle-brain up so they could get a picture of the big boy taking a swing at the ball. The Toronto Star delivers a spectacularly fawning piece that speaks to “astonished” physicists and scholars. Hey, that’s what Kim Jong Un apparently did! And everyone knows how reliable and steady North Korea’s media is. Here’s the National Post, a meanie-poopieheaded right-wing Harper-loving buttfaced news institution calling Trudeau out. But they Literally Harper you guys so don’t listen to them.

Time to change gears. Right now a Canadian is being held hostage in the Philippines. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, #RealChange – where’s the talk about helping this guy out? Not even a peep from #RealChange, but that’s okay he’s cute and he can stand in front of a chalkboard and call himself a nerd. Tee hee! The Liberals also lied to us about the Saudi arms deal by claiming that it was a “done deal” despite $11B in approvals having been signed by Stephane Dion. Lying about sending death machines to a hellish, brutal regime governed by subhuman filth? Never mind that Trudeau lied to us when he said that we’re exporting “jeeps” and that we’re actually sending better equipment than the stuff Canada uses to people even less interested in the preservation of life and liberty than Canada – memes and hashtags hooray!

The wanton blindness of the Canadian media to obvious failures in the Trudeau regime is one thing, but it’s even worse that they’re willing to play wiffle-ball with Justin in exchange for producing dank memes and clicks on webpages. Justin has long and righly been accused of being an intellectual lightweight; his ability to recite fewer lines than I did when I was assigned the role of Polonius for an English assignment in high school proves nothing and wouldn’t be touted as such if it wasn’t about a topic that can easily go over the average Canadian’s head. The whole thing is a combination of the clickbait tactics used by shitty groups like “I Fucking Love Science” and a Canadian public too stupid to read into this nonsense and see it for the fluff that it is.