Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Killer Klein

Too little too Late Ralph.

Ralph's dad Phillip Klein used to be a pro-wrestler known in the ring as Killer Klein, now his son gets to use the monicker............
The Klein Government not only squashes and ignores criticism, now it kills those who oppose it.

Alberta senior who staged protest dies
Canadian Press

CAMROSE, Alta. - An 86-year-old diabetic woman who staged a hunger strike to protest staff shortages in long-term care homes around Alberta died Monday morning, CBC-TV reported.

Back in April, Marie Geddes went 96 hours without food - just water and ginger ale - in support of staff at the Bethany Long Term Care Centre. Fatigue forced her to abandon her action.

She was admitted to hospital three times after her hunger strike. Officials said Monday they didn't believe the hunger strike was responsible for her death, but it may have contributed to her failing health.

"We have a beautiful facility, but there's nobody to work," Geddes said at the time of her protest. "It's terrible. And (Premier Ralph) Klein says this is good care?"

Last updated May 10 2005 07:56 AM MDT

CBC News
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents practical care attendants and some licensed practical nurses, says none of the findings in the report are a surprise, but that Dunn left some concerns out.

D'Arcy Lanovaz says there are cases where one staff person is left to care for 25 patients overnight, and calls the situation unacceptable.

"What hasn't been highlighted is working alone. A number of the staff in these long-term care facilities work alone on the night shift and that wasn't highlighted in here and I was a little disappointed not to see something on that issue," Lanovaz said.

May 12, 2005
The Report of the Auditor General on Senior’s Care and Programs is a
compelling and frightening read and should help push a neglectful Alberta
government into meaningful action.
Although the report focuses on four caregiver groups providing nursing and
personal care in long-term care facilities, allied health professions which are
represented by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta are also involved in the
care of seniors.
We have known for some time that understaffing of physical therapists,
occupational therapists, recreational therapists, nutritionists, pharmacists,
pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists and other allied health professions
has had an effect on the quality of life of Alberta seniors who are in long-term
care settings.
Thanks to opposition parties who have kept the heat on the government and
thanks to public health care and seniors advocacy organizations and passionate
individuals, the Ministers of Health and Wellness and Seniors and Community
Supports have promptly moved to accept every one of Auditor General Fred
Dunn’s recommendations.
Basically, the recommendations are about accountability. Without proper
standards and means to evaluate compliance and make it happen, things go off the
rails. It’s not a train wreck yet, but senior’s care in Alberta has come perilously
Elisabeth Ballermann
HSAA President
HSAA represents more than 13,000 professional, technical, and support workers in Alberta’s health care system.

And if the failure to provide for seniors in long term care isn't callous enough Alberta also has the most regressive policies for residental requirements for out of province seniors who move here. Ironically you only have to reside in Alberta for six months to be considered an "Albertan", but if you are a senior moving here for long term care you have to wait a year. Talk about ageism. But of course you can pay for privatized care....if you can afford it. Perhaps the PC policy is one of those immigration schemes to only bring millionares into the province, you know the folks that the Alberta Government really serves.

Seniors care system under fire for resident policy
Alberta's residency requirement for out-of-province seniors trying to get into long-term care facilities here is causing undue hardships to families, critics of the system charge.Seniors have to be living in the province for a year to be eligible for placement in a publicly funded long-term care centre in Alberta. There are private facilities which accept seniors in the interim but they can cost up to $5,000 a month.

And true to form the PC's attack the messanger, not the problem.

Last updated May 12 2005
CBC News

EDMONTON – Premier Ralph Klein backed the auditor general's critical report on the province's long-term care facilities Wednesday, distancing himself from comments made by one of his cabinet ministers.

Infrastructure Minister Lyle Oberg, who is also a doctor, called auditor Fred Dunn an accountant who wasn't qualified to evaluate the care provided by the facilities.

"It's very difficult for an accountant to go in and make a comment on patient care anecdotally," Oberg said.

Dunn's report, released earlier this week, found that one-third of facilities in the province fail to meet the basic standards of care, and that problems included providing medication to residents and applying and recording physical and chemical restraints.

His team used medical professionals to help them evaluate the facilities.

Oberg said Dunn was right to comment on documentation and procedures, but that he shouldn't have ventured into medical territory.

"The only point that I'm making, as a medical professional, is that the level of documentation does not always equate to the level of patient care," Oberg said.

Klein, who has said his government will act on Dunn's report, said the work is beyond reproach.

"I have no problem with him examining the so-called hot spots or areas of concerns, because that's what makes government whole and that's what makes us better, is to abide by his recommendations," Klein said. "So I discount what the minister said."

Klein said he will discuss with Oberg the critical comments made about Dunn.

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft says Dunn had a qualified team reviewing the long-term care facilities.

"They did a good and credible job and Fred Dunn deserves marks for that," Taft, who in the past has implied Dunn is too tied to the Conservative government, said. "I think Oberg is looking pretty defensive when he puts up those kinds of comments."

Lyle Oberg the PC's right wing cannus deus, shows that social conservatives in the Party of Calgary, don't care about the impact of their policies as long as the neo-liberal agenda is allowed to roll on.........and over the rest of us.

Oberg of course may be speaking out in order to position himself for his run for Ralph's job.

And he defends this governments lack of planning or responsibility for social services because as a right wing social conservative and Mormon he believes that the Church not the State should provide social services.

You know like they used to with workhouses, poorhouses and orphanages/residential schools. Those authoritarian institutions that abuse their victims.

Of course like daycare, which the right wing opposes on principle; the principle that says a womans place is in the home, elder care is seen as being the responsibility of the family.

The Klein government has abandoned the children and seniors in this province, those who built this province, and those who will inherit it.

This is the real face of social conservatism. A government whose purpose is not to regulate business, not to provide for its citizens, not to do anything except make the province open for business. And let the community and the churches take care of the rest.

Talk about Dickensian logic. But its alive and well here in Alberta.

Even Social Credit, in its right wing hey day realised that the role of the State was to protect and serve it's citizens. Such is not the case of the neo-liberal state of the social conservatives who make up the Party of Calgary.

But Oberg and the right wing social conservatives have little support even from the usual Right Wing Ralph boosters:

By PAUL STANWAY -- For the Edmonton Sun

Old folks' homes were not on the agenda at last week's glitzy medicare meeting in Calgary, which is a pity considering the dismal review of long-term care released by Alberta's auditor general.

Almost one-third of the homes reviewed by Fred Dunn and his troops either failed to meet basic standards of care or had serious shortcomings. In North America's wealthiest jurisdiction, apparently we don't look after our elderly very well at all.

"We found numerous examples of facilities not meeting the basic standards," reported the AG, "which could result in reduced levels of care and increased risk to residents."

What he's talking about are seniors being hauled out of bed at 3 a.m., the use of physical or chemical restraints without documentation or proper medical authorization, improper administration of drugs, staff shortages, and a widespread failure to give seniors regular medical checkups.

In a province that spends $9 billion a year on public health care, and which just announced new, high-end medical facilities in Edmonton and Calgary costing hundreds of millions, only seven of the 25 facilities reviewed actually passed muster.

"On the basis of what he has written, there isn't much that's good in some of these places," admitted a very glum Iris Evans, Alberta's health minister. Like many baby boomers, Evans is facing the prospect of her own mother entering long-term care, and according to one staffer she was "steaming mad" when she read Dunn's report.

Good. Somebody needs to get steaming mad.

In this centennial year we're already knee-deep in homilies about how much the present generation owes those who turned Alberta from a remote outpost of an empire into a thriving and prosperous society. But what are those sentiments worth if, as Dunn's report indicates, we conspire to send the old-timers off to bed by 7 p.m., suitably medicated and ignored? Where's the respect and thanks in that?

Dunn, who is polite to a fault, placed the responsibility for the dismal state of long-term care where it belongs: with the government. "I hope you won't take this as too blunt, but it is the ministries that are supposed to ensure that (regional health authorities) execute their responsibilities."

Don't apologize, Fred. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the AG's report is that few in government seem particularly surprised or upset by that stinging rebuke. Seniors' groups, opposition politicians and even government MLAs have been complaining for years about the shortcomings of long-term care, and MLAs discovered during the 2004 provincial vote that it was an issue on the doorstep.

A pair of concerned Albertans recently did their own review of 100 long-term care facilities and found similar problems. An 86-year-old Camrose woman went on hunger strike to protest conditions at her nursing home. And we had the sad case of an elderly Edmontonian who died because no one checked the scalding temperature of her bath water.

Dunn discovered that some nursing homes spend as much as $10,000 per resident more than others, which seems decidedly fishy. Although it would not be surprising to find that, as in all walks of life, some people involved in long-term care are more concerned and efficient than others.

But it would be too easy to bash the operators and staff as the lone culprits here. In fact, the Alberta Long-Term Care Association, the nursing home lobby group, has been campaigning for more funding and improved regulation.

Last year being an election year, the association optimistically argued that the Klein government ought to boost long-term-care spending by $85 million, to bring staffing up to par and meet basic standards. They got $15 million - for Canada's wealthiest government, that's the equivalent of the finger.

Alberta's seniors deserve better, from nursing home operators and from their government. Yet in the Legislature yesterday, Ralph offered only a lacklustre defence of the system. "We're working on it," he said of the shortcomings identified by the AG. That seems to be the motto of this government as it dithers into a fourth mandate.

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft served on the old Hospital Visitors Committee for almost a decade and sees a good public monitoring system gone bad through politics and incompetence. "It's shameful." And that's putting it mildly.
Next Column: What happened to us?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Stephen Harper "The Right Man"

Is Tory Leader justifiably hot at Liberals, or just too angry?
Harper's recent outbursts threaten to alienate him from Canadian voters
For the past few weeks, ever since Prime Minister Paul Martin appeared on television begging for a delayed election, and Mr. Harper immediately denounced it as a "sad spectacle," the Conservative Leader seems to have been simmering. Experts say it is important for politicians to be able to show indignation at the appropriate times, but Mr. Harper risks alienating the public with his anger. "If somebody only operates in one gear, which is the angry mode, it can be wearying," said Paul Nesbitt-Larking, who chairs the political science department at the University of Western Ontario in London. Canadians, he said, have shown their distaste for anger in their repeated rejection of political attack ads. Mr. Harper's ill humour got worse this week when he learned about a Liberal move to delay a confidence vote until Thursday. That would push the decision to a day when a Conservative MP with cancer was recuperating from a trip to the operating table, thus reducing the opposition's numbers. Mr. Harper is angry that the government has the audacity to carry on even as the stain of the sponsorship scandal widens. He is angry that the Liberals refuse to give up power after losing what he believes was a confidence motion. Mr. Harper -- a man who began his political life as an unassuming policy wonk -- has seemed miffed many times since becoming Conservative Leader last year. He stopped talking to reporters when a plan to paint Mr. Martin as being soft on child pornography soured during last year's election campaign. There was a backstage chair-kicking incident at a Conservative convention in Montreal. And there was a reported outburst at a Liberal photographer who tried to take his picture on the plane back from V-E Day celebrations in Europe.

If humour, ridicule, and satire are the weapons of joyful disobedience to authority in our culture, as George Orwell says, than anger is the reaction of the authoritarian to a sense of powerlessness. Anger occurs when things don't "go as planned". Anger and hate are the emotions of authoritarianism when dominance is challenged.

The Canadian born Sci-Fi Author A.E.van Vogt writes about the angry man type of fascist Authoritarian personality in his 1962 prescient book; The Violent Man. He predicts the white American male authoritatian personality will develop into the white middle class rage that became so well publicized in the 1980's and 1990's. In his book vanVogt refrered to this kind of dominant male as "The Violent or Right Man", as in he is always right.

"He returned to full-scale writing in 1962, with the publication of The Violent Man, a book that is not science fiction but was of crucial importance in the development of his career. It was meant to expose the psychogenesis of violence, a subject he felt to be of such importance that the book would necessarily become a best-seller. But, though the book was carefully constructed and undoubtedly his most serious piece of writing, his hopes for it were not realized."The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt

Long out of print the book has been re-released with a new introduction by Colin Wilson; A Report on the Violent Male by AE van Vogt. Wilson used van Vogt's ideas extensively in his book A Criminal History of Mankind.

One such angry Right Man in the House of Commons this week was Stephen Harper. And for that reason he has failed his party and failed Canadians, he has failed to be a Prime Minister in waiting. Harpers anger reflects the "Violent Man or Right Man" personality that van Vogt wrote of.

"Looking around for examples, it struck Van Vogt that male authoritarian behaviour is far too commonplace to be regarded as insanity. .. 'the violent man' or the 'Right Man' [...] is a man driven by a manic need for self-esteem -- to feel he is a 'somebody'. He is obsessed by the question of 'losing face', so will never, under any circumstances, admit that he might be in the wrong. The Right Man hates losing face; if he suspects that his threats are not being taken seriously, he is capable of carrying them out, purely for the sake of appearances. He feels he [is] justified in exploding, like an angry god. [...] he feels he is inflicting just punishment. What causes 'right mannishness'? Van Vogt suggest that it is because the world has always been dominated by males." The Right Man And The Fear Of Losing Face.

Harpers outbursts and secretive personality which was shown during last election when he all but hid from the media for the last week of the election because they peeved him off, well it fits the Right Man personality.

And this past month Harper has been angry and only angry when it has come to the Liberals and their continuing to rule inspite of all his efforts. Harper is a Right Man, and believes he is the Right Man for the PM's job.

Certainly for leader of Canada's most right wing party ever, the Reform/Alliance/Conservatives, being the Right Man is perfect for the job of being Leader of the Right. However it is clear that this type of psychopathic personality is NOT fit to be Prime Minister.

In his Alberta doppleganger; Ralph Klein, Canada already has a Right Man ruling in at least one province. And Ralph is another one quick to anger when challenged. To have this personality type ruling the whole country, woe is us.

PM should call election now, Klein says
Premier is first provincial leader to back opposition demands for Martin to quit

And Canadians sense this about Harper. It is not the Conservatives who have failed to increase in the polls at the Liberals expense it is Harper. His personality dominates HIS party, and thus Canadians are rightly suspicious of this authoritarian Right Man. Even in what will be the election battleground; Ontario, they show no confidence in a government led by Harper. But Harper will play out his game to bring down the government and be our Leader cause he is the Right Man for the job, he thinks.

In his tirade against the Liberals on Friday the 13 (sic), he refered to them as "Monsters". Misquoting Nietzsche, "Conservative Leader Stephen Harper decried what he called seedy Liberal tactics, saying his father once told him: "Be careful when you fight a monster, lest you yourself become a monster." Canadian Press

The real quote from Nietzche, the original Right Man, is:
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."
- - -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche "Beyond Good and Evil

Harper would do well to ponder the whole quote, for if he takes us into the abyss of another election he may not come out the winner. Then he will have to face the Monster which is Stephen Harper the Right Man. The Leader who would be PM but failed.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The End of the Oil Age

Not with a bang but a whimper.

What those that deny there is a Peak Oil crisis mistakenly believe is that those who proclaim the end of the Oil Age are catastrophic hysterics. The facts which oil geolgists continue to point out is that Peak Oil is here, and its impact will change the world, not with a bang but with increasingly repetitive crisises.

The Age of Oil, which has lasted for 150 years has seen the greatest environmental change caused by humans.

J.R. McNeil in his book on the Environmental History of the 2oth Centruy; Something New Under the Sun, Norton, 2000, calculates that "humans in the 20th Century used TEN TIMES as much energy then our forebearers have over the last one thousand years."

Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century
by J.R. McNeill, Penguin Books Ltd., London 2000.
How will the twentieth century be remembered? For world wars and politics? The spread of literacy and sexual equality? This ground-breaking work shows us that its most enduring legacy will in fact be the physical changes we have wrought on the planet. Humanity has undertaken a gigantic experiment on the earth, refashioning it with an intensity unprecedented in history—now there really is something new under the sun. In this landmark and award-winning book John McNeil uses a refreshing mixture of history, anecdote and science, avoiding blame or sermon, to explain how and why humans have altered their world. He takes us from London smog to dust bowls of Oklahoma, introducing fascinating characters such as conservationist Rachel Carson, pirate whaler Aristotle Onassis and the little-known scientist who invented CFCs and put lead in petrol. Above all this compelling account shows that the damage can be reversed. It is up to us to decide how long our gamble can continue. WWF review

The impact of the Age of Oil can be seen in the Climate Change Crisis we face,as the two coincide. So is it any wonder that those who benefit from the current capitalist system that created the Oil Age deny that there is any crisis? They deny there is a Climate Change Crisis and they deny there is a Peak Oil crisis, and this denial is a very real threat to our continued existance.

Peak Oil is coming for most producing countries, and so is global Climate Change which coincides with the oil crisis. These two crisises will create an even greater synergetic phenomena, that industrialized capitalism and finance capitalism will NOT be able to deal with.

The old adage; Socialism of Barbarism, will be as relevant tommorow as it was yesterday.

Today we need to take seriously the crisis the capitalist system is in globally, while it may not appear to the average consumer in the Industrialized world it is in a crisis of global and historic proportions. It is in a period of economic, geological, and environmental decadence. Capitalism cannot deal with these two major crisis because of the anarchy of the market. No matter what proponents of sustainable or "Natural Capitalism" say. Capitalism is antiethical to human and other species survival.

A planned economy under the direct control of the individuals and their communities is the historical and ONLY solution to this crisis and even then it may not be enough. Where technocracy and socialism agree is that a planned economy based on labour and energy credits not on money is the only way out of this coming calamity. And while technocracy offers a North American planning model it lacks the community council/workers councils inputs required to make this work.

Only a Libertarian socialist society based on planned economy models where communities are based on self sufficieny, free associations and mutual aid, and throught the confederated sharing of excess energy, can provide the basis for really dealing with both of these pending world shaking events.

These were and are the revolutionary ideas of the 20th century and the model espoused by Kropotkin,
Thorstien Vebelen, the IWW, Howard Scott, Jane Jacobs, E.F. Schumaker and Buckminister Fuller, - OPERATING MANUAL FOR SPACESHIP EARTH

"You must choose between making money and making sense. The two are mutually exclusive."
R. Buckminster Fuller

Nope no catasrophic hysteria here, just the facts mam.

And the facts are Capitalism has hit its decline, its decadent period, where it may make technological breakthroughs, but these cannot be used because they are restricted to creating a profit for the sole reproduction of capital itself. This is antiethical to the creation of a human society and a sustainable environment.

This is the barbarism of capital; not merely a melt down in profits, nor a Great Depression, but an ecological disaster based on the reliance on oil which will lead to a renewed authoritarian state; fascism, as people sacrifice freedom for security.

The 20th century will stand out as a peculiar century because of the breath-taking acceleration of so many processes that bring ecological change. That idea permeates environmental historian J. R. McNeil's recent book Something New Under the Sun. McNeil points first to the change in scale in the practice of our traditional technologies in industry, transportation, and agriculture. At the end of the 20th century human activities had contributed to an increase of around 30% in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Our level of nitrogen fixation now matches what nature herself provides. The direct transformation of land for human use now affects 39-50% of the earth's dry surface. What this will ultimately mean ecologically, we don't fully know. McNeil further argues that the 20th century has also seen a growing and radically different range of technologies of largely unknown consequence.

For example:

In 1930 the American Nobel Prize winner for physics said that there was no risk that humanity could do real harm to anything so gigantic as the earth. In the same year the American chemical engineer Thomas Midgley invented chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs -- which we now know can destroy the earth's protective ozone layer).

The 20th century has thus seen the modern landscape become an uncontrolled experiment of grand scale.

McNeil concludes: What Machiavelli said of affairs of state is doubly true of affairs of global ecology and society. It is nearly impossible to see what is happening until it is inconveniently late to do much about it. Introductory Remarks: Natural Resource Stewardship Mike Soukup, Associate Director, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science

When will we reach Peak Oil?
2008? 2010? 2020?

Coming oil crisis feared

John Vidal
Guardian Weekly
April 29 2005

One of the world's leading energy analysts called this week for an independent assessment of global oil reserves because he believes that Middle Eastern countries may have far less than officially stated and that oil prices could double to more than $100 a barrel within three years, triggering economic collapse. Matthew Simmons, an adviser to President George Bush and chairman of the Wall Street energy investment company Simmons, said that "peak oil" -- when global oil production rises to its highest point before declining irreversibly -- was rapidly approaching even as demand was increasing. "This is a new era," Mr Simmons told a conference of oil industry analysts, government officials and academics in Edinburgh. "There is a big chance that Saudi Arabia actually peaked production in 1981. We have no reliable data. Our data collection system for oil is rubbish. I suspect that if we had, we would find that we are over-producing in most of our major fields and that we should be throttling back. We may have passed that point." Mr Simmons told the meeting that it was inevitable that the price of oil would soar above $100 as supplies failed to meet demand. "Demand is pulling away from supply . . . and we have to ask whether we have the resources that we think we do. It could be catastrophic if we do not anticipate when peak oil comes." The precise arrival of peak oil is hotly debated by academics and geologists, but analysts increasingly say that official US Geological Survey estimates that it will not happen for 35 years are over-optimistic. According to the International Energy Agency, which collates data from all oil-producing countries, peak oil will arrive "sometime between 2013 and 2037", with production thereafter expected to decline by about 3% a year.

The end of oil is closer than you think

Oil production could peak next year, reports John Vidal. Just kiss your lifestyle goodbye

John Vidal
Thursday April 21, 2005
The Guardian

The one thing that international bankers don't want to hear is that the second Great Depression may be round the corner. But last week, a group of ultra-conservative Swiss financiers asked a retired English petroleum geologist living in Ireland to tell them about the beginning of the end of the oil age.

They called Colin Campbell, who helped to found the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre because he is an industry man through and through, has no financial agenda and has spent most of a lifetime on the front line of oil exploration on three continents. He was chief geologist for Amoco, a vice-president of Fina, and has worked for BP, Texaco, Shell, ChevronTexaco and Exxon in a dozen different countries.

"Don't worry about oil running out; it won't for very many years," the Oxford PhD told the bankers in a message that he will repeat to businessmen, academics and investment analysts at a conference in Edinburgh next week. "The issue is the long downward slope that opens on the other side of peak production. Oil and gas dominate our lives, and their decline will change the world in radical and unpredictable ways," he says.

Campbell reckons global peak production of conventional oil - the kind associated with gushing oil wells - is approaching fast, perhaps even next year. His calculations are based on historical and present production data, published reserves and discoveries of companies and governments, estimates of reserves lodged with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, speeches by oil chiefs and a deep knowledge of how the industry works.

"About 944bn barrels of oil has so far been extracted, some 764bn remains extractable in known fields, or reserves, and a further 142bn of reserves are classed as 'yet-to-find', meaning what oil is expected to be discovered. If this is so, then the overall oil peak arrives next year," he says.

If he is correct, then global oil production can be expected to decline steadily at about 2-3% a year, the cost of everything from travel, heating, agriculture, trade, and anything made of plastic rises. And the scramble to control oil resources intensifies. As one US analyst said this week: "Just kiss your lifestyle goodbye."

"The first half of the oil age now closes," says Campbell. "It lasted 150 years and saw the rapid expansion of industry, transport, trade, agriculture and financial capital, allowing the population to expand six-fold. The second half now dawns, and will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depends on it, including financial capital."

So did the Swiss bankers comprehend the seriousness of the situation when he talked to them? "There is no company on the stock exchange that doesn't make a tacit assumption about the availability of energy," says Campbell. "It is almost impossible for bankers to accept it. It is so out of their mindset."

The Long Emergency
What's going to happen as we start running out of cheap gas to guzzle?

Rolling Stone Magazine Feature

The term "global oil-production peak" means that a turning point will come when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce in a given year and, after that, yearly production will inexorably decline. It is usually represented graphically in a bell curve. The peak is the top of the curve, the halfway point of the world's all-time total endowment, meaning half the world's oil will be left. That seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but there's a big catch: It's the half that is much more difficult to extract, far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and located mostly in places where the people hate us. A substantial amount of it will never be extracted.

The United States passed its own oil peak -- about 11 million barrels a day -- in 1970, and since then production has dropped steadily. In 2004 it ran just above 5 million barrels a day (we get a tad more from natural-gas condensates). Yet we consume roughly 20 million barrels a day now. That means we have to import about two-thirds of our oil, and the ratio will continue to worsen.

The U.S. peak in 1970 brought on a portentous change in geoeconomic power. Within a few years, foreign producers, chiefly OPEC, were setting the price of oil, and this in turn led to the oil crises of the 1970s. In response, frantic development of non-OPEC oil, especially the North Sea fields of England and Norway, essentially saved the West's ass for about two decades. Since 1999, these fields have entered depletion. Meanwhile, worldwide discovery of new oil has steadily declined to insignificant levels in 2003 and 2004.

Some "cornucopians" claim that the Earth has something like a creamy nougat center of "abiotic" oil that will naturally replenish the great oil fields of the world. The facts speak differently. There has been no replacement whatsoever of oil already extracted from the fields of America or any other place.

Now we are faced with the global oil-production peak. The best estimates of when this will actually happen have been somewhere between now and 2010. In 2004, however, after demand from burgeoning China and India shot up, and revelations that Shell Oil wildly misstated its reserves, and Saudi Arabia proved incapable of goosing up its production despite promises to do so, the most knowledgeable experts revised their predictions and now concur that 2005 is apt to be the year of all-time global peak production.

It will change everything about how we live.

The End of Cheap Oil
Implications of Global Peak Oil

by Mark Anielski

In a technical paper to the US Association of Petroleum Geologists in 1956, a senior scientist at Shell Oil Company, Dr. M. King Hubbert, made a controversial prediction that US oil production would peak in the early 1970s. Shell encouraged him to quietly bury this paper, but Hubbert refused.

According to Hubbert, the US would eventually face a critical tipping point in energy security: Peak Oil — the point in time when extraction of oil from the earth reaches its highest point and then begins to decline. ‘Hubbert’s peak theory’ predicted that, with Peak Oil, prices would fluctuate wildly, resulting in economic seismic shocks, even as demand for oil and gas continued to rise. He did not say that the US was going to run out of oil, per se, but that a peak in domestic production would result in economic tremors felt around the world.

The consequences of global Peak Oil would indeed be catastrophic. It would herald the end of cheap oil at a time when global demand for oil is growing, driven by the voracious energy appetite of China and other developing countries. Unfortunately, most people, especially our politicians, seem oblivious to this looming crisis or are extremely reluctant to talk about it.

All signs seem to suggest that this issue will soon demand a greater degree of public attention. A group of oil analysts led by petroleum geologist Colin Campbell — the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) — has predicted that global oil production will peak in 2005. Important oil producers like UK and Norway have already experienced Peak Oil - in 1999 and 2001 respectively. Saudi Arabia’s production is expected to peak in 2008 followed by Kuwait in 2015 and Iraq in 2017. Canada’s own Peak Oil event occurred in 1973, and our natural gas production peaked in 2001,without much notice.

Of course, because there will always be disagreement among geologists on petroleum statistics, no one knows precisely when global oil and gas production will peak. Even if you are a technological optimist, there is no getting around the basic problem of rising demand and lagging production capacity. Based on the figures I have researched, global oil production in 2001, at 76 million barrels per day (bbd), outstripped global production of 74 million bbd in 2004. And in 2004, global oil consumption reached 80 million bbd, growing by 2.2 million bbd over 2003 levels, the highest growth in demand since 1978. Of this amount, the US alone consumed 25% of the world’s total oil production

Oil industry executives are also worried. Harry L. Longwell, executive Vice-President of Exxon-Mobil warned: “The catch is that while [global] demand increases, existing production declines… we expect that by 2010 about half the daily volume needed to meet projected demand is not on production today.” In a speech in the autumn of 1999, Vice-President Dick Cheney warned that, "By 2010, we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. Exxon-Mobil will have to secure over a billion and a half barrels of new oil equivalent reserves every year just to replace existing production.” Putting this in the context of Alberta, oilsands production is predicted to reach a maximum of 1.56 million bbd by 2012, which is only 3% of the additional global daily demand predicted by Cheney.

According to Colin Campbell, the world is running at full production capacity. With global Peak Oil looming, he predicts that global oil and gas prices will fluctuate wildly, fall back once or twice and then reach sustained price highs.

What about Alberta? Why should we care, living in debt-free and oil-rich province? First, few people noticed that Alberta’s peak in conventional crude oil occurred in 1973 and natural gas production peaked in 2001. Fortunately, in the oilsands, Alberta has arguably the world’s largest reserves of non-conventional oil, with an estimated 300 billion barrels of proven reserves (although official international statistics report 174 billion barrels). This means that Alberta’s official reserves exceed Saudi Arabia’s.

While Alberta’s impressive reserves would last 500 years at a predicted maximum production of 2.0 million bbd (a volume quadruple today’s production), they would only supply the entire projected world 2012 oil consumption demands (95 million bbd) for less than 9 years or supply 10% of current US consumption of 20 million bbd.

The problem for Alberta is not only the limited reserves of oilsands, but the growing scarcity of natural gas needed to power its extraction. Most importantly, Alberta’s natural gas production peaked in 2001, without anyone noticing. Oilsands production is highly energy intensive and relies mostly on natural gas. It takes the energy of about one barrel of oil (from natural gas) to produce 4 barrels of synthetic crude oil. At current production volumes and remaining gas reserves, Canada has less than 10 years of natural production remaining.

Another serious problem for Alberta is water. Oilsands production requires huge amounts of water: each barrel of oil produced from oilsands requires about six barrels of water. For each barrel of oil produced, about one barrel of water is permanently lost from the hydrological cycle. Alberta’s oilsands producers are currently licensed to use 26% of the province’s groundwater, in addition to surface water from rivers and lakes.

Combining the impacts of dwindling natural gas supplies in the face of growing domestic and US demand and growing demand for surface and groundwater supplies, Alberta’s oil paradise may not be as rosy as it first appears.

  1. But what about the consequences of global peak oil in 2005 for Alberta? I predict the following:
  2. Dramatic oil and natural price shocks resulting in budgeting challenges for Alberta;
  3. Greater pressure by US (in competitive conflict with China) to secure even more oil from the oilsands and natural gas;
  4. Growing demand from China for Alberta’s oil and gas, including Canadian resource companies;
  5. US and industry pressure to maintain an already favorable royalty regime for oilsands; and
  6. Greater global conflict for each remaining barrel of oil, especially in areas such as the Middle East.

In spite of this gloomy global peak oil scenario there is an opportunity for Alberta to take a leadership role by investing today in greater energy efficiency and conservation, and by promoting the transition to a renewable energy future in our homes, businesses and communities. At stake is nothing less than the economic well-being of the world.

In a post-debt, we have a responsibility to the children of Alberta and the world to show leadership by investing prudently in the frugal use of our resources and gushing resource revenues.

Author: Mark Anielski is a well-being economist and Adjunct Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship at the School of Business, University of Alberta and Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Economics at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington. Part of this paper is from his presentation to the Council of Canadians on Energy and Canada-US Relations on November 30, 2004 at the University of Calgary.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Lesson in Mutual Aid

"The war of each against all is not the law of nature. Mutual aid is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle"
Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid

"She reckoned it was a young animal and possibly wanted to bring it up," Gilchrist said. "It is something to do with the canine-human bond." "Other dogs might have just left her there to die. ... She's obviously a very special dog," Gilchrist added. "She is a very street-wise dog, that is for sure. The other dogs in the compound did not look very well, but she is the fattest of them all — she obviously knows how to look after herself."

"The importance of the Mutual Aid factor -- "if its generality could only be demonstrated" -- did not escape the naturalist's genius so manifest in Goethe. When Eckermann told once to Goethe -- it was in 1827 -- that two little wren-fledglings, which had run away from him, were found by him next day in the nest of robin redbreasts (Rothkehlchen), which fed the little ones, together with their own youngsters, Goethe grew quite excited about this fact. He saw in it a confirmation of his pantheistic views, and said: -- "If it be true that this feeding of a stranger goes through all Nature as something having the character of a general law -- then many an enigma would be solved. "He returned to this matter on the next day, and most earnestly entreated Eckermann (who was, as is known, a zoologist) to make a special study of the subject, adding that he would surely come "to quite invaluable treasuries of results" (Gespräche, edition of 1848, vol. iii. pp. 219, 221). Unfortunately, this study was never made, although it is very possible that Brehm, who has accumulated in his works such rich materials relative to mutual aid among animals, might have been inspired by Goethe's remark. " Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution by Peter Kropotkin 1902

It's the feel good story of the day, of the week, of the month. It has gained world wide news coverage and resulted in the saving of both the dog and the baby. Both were abandoned, but thanks to the the natural instinct of soldiarity between species, which libertarian communists call Mutual Aid, a stray dog in Kenya saves a starving baby. It is not just a canine human bond, it is a bond between members of a speicies as well as an interspecies bond, which Peter Kropotkin shows in his ground breaking work on the sociology of evolution: Mutual Aid

This much overlooked work, which has won praise from such modern biologists as Stephen Jay Gould, immediately came to mind when I read this story about dog saves human.

Besides being a tale of morality that ellicits our sympathy and empathy, it is also a story about how the struggle of all against all, the survival of the fitist is not the morality of nature, but of capitalism as Kropotkin exposes in his work. He calls it a study of evolution and sociology, and it is a counter theory to the social Darwinism of the capitalist apologists such as Malthus and Spencer.

Kropotkin was not the originator of the idea of Mutual Aid, nor of its basic theory, he was its greatest defender and adaptor, but unfortunately like many Russian science theories it was not accepted in the West.

It still is not taught as an evolutionary theory or as part of the theories of evolution in schools or universities. You will probably come across references to Lamarck before you come across references to Mutual Aid.

"Consequently, when my attention was drawn, later on, to the relations between Darwinism and Sociology, I could agree with none of the works and pamphlets that had been written upon this important subject. They all endeavoured to prove that Man, owing to his higher intelligence and knowledge, may mitigate the harshness of the struggle for life between men; but they all recognized at the same time that the struggle for the means of existence, of every animal against all its congeners, and of every man against all other men, was "a law of Nature." This view, however, I could not accept, because I was persuaded that to admit a pitiless inner war for life within each species, and to see in that war a condition of progress, was to admit something which not only had not yet been proved, but also lacked confirmation from direct observation.

On the contrary, a lecture "On the Law of Mutual Aid," which was delivered at a Russian Congress of Naturalists, in January 1880, by the well-known zoologist, Professor Kessler, the then Dean of the St. Petersburg University, struck me as throwing a new light on the whole subject. Kessler's idea was, that besides the law of Mutual Struggle there is in Nature the law of Mutual Aid, which, for the success of the struggle for life, and especially for the progressive evolution of the species, is far more important than the law of mutual contest. This suggestion -- which was, in reality, nothing but a further development of the ideas expressed by Darwin himself in The Descent of Man -- seemed to me so correct and of so great an importance, that since I became acquainted with it (in 1883) I began to collect materials for further developing the idea, which Kessler had only cursorily sketched in his lecture, but had not lived to develop. He died in 1881.

In one point only I could not entirely endorse Kessler's views. Kessler alluded to "parental feeling" and care for progeny (see below, Chapter I) as to the source of mutual inclinations in animals. However, to determine how far these two feelings have really been at work in the evolution of sociable instincts, and how far other instincts have been at work in the same direction, seems to me a quite distinct and a very wide question, which we hardly can discuss yet. It will be only after we have well established the facts of mutual aid in different classes of animals, and their importance for evolution, that we shall be able to study what belongs in the evolution of sociable feelings, to parental feelings, and what to sociability proper -- the latter having evidently its origin at the earliest stages of the evolution of the animal world, perhaps even at the "colony-stages." I consequently directed my chief attention to establishing first of all, the importance of the Mutual Aid factor of evolution, leaving to ulterior research the task of discovering the origin of the Mutual Aid instinct in Nature."
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution by Peter Kropotkin 1902

The tale of the dog and the baby in Kenya illustrates this point well. Kroptokin asserts that all species are social species, and that the individual is supported in their individuality through the socialism/social construction of the species. It is a radical idea, one that says evolution occurs through species cooperation not competition. And that such species Mutual Aid occurs also between species, including those such as herbavores and carnivores which may normally prey on each other.

And it applies to those species who are territorial in giving up territory to those who need it. It would be interesting to note how this may have occured recently in Indonesia where the Tsunami drove animals into the mountains not their usual territory.

Kropotkin contends Mutual Aid between species is evidence of social morality appearing in nature.

Moreover, it is evident that life in societies would be utterly impossible without a corresponding development of social feelings, and, especially, of a certain collective sense of justice growing to become a habit. If every individual were constantly abusing its personal advantages without the others interfering in favour of the wronged, no society -- life would be possible. And feelings of justice develop, more or less, with all gregarious animals. Whatever the distance from which the swallows or the cranes come, each one returns to the nest it has built or repaired last year. If a lazy sparrow intends appropriating the nest which a comrade is building, or even steals from it a few sprays of straw, the group interferes against the lazy comrade; and it is evident that without such interference being the rule, no nesting associations of birds could exist. Separate groups of penguins have separate resting-places and separate fishing abodes, and do not fight for them. The droves of cattle in Australia have particular spots to which each group repairs to rest, and from which it never deviates; and so on.(30*) We have any numbers of direct observations of the peace that prevails in the nesting associations of birds, the villages of the rodents, and the herds of grass-eaters; while, on the other side, we know of few sociable animals which so continually quarrel as the rats in our cellars do, or as the morses, which fight for the possession of a sunny place on the shore. Sociability thus puts a limit to physical struggle, and leaves room for the development of better moral feelings. The high development of parental love in all classes of animals, even with lions and tigers, is generally known. As to the young birds and mammals whom we continually see associating, sympathy -- not love -- attains a further development in their associations. Leaving aside the really touching facts of mutual attachment and compassion which have been recorded as regards domesticated animals and with animals kept in captivity, we have a number of well certified facts of compassion between wild animals at liberty. Max Perty and L. Büchner have given a number of such facts.(31*) J.C. Wood's narrative of a weasel which came to pick up and to carry away an injured comrade enjoys a well-merited popularity.(32*) So also the observation of Captain Stansbury on his journey to Utah which is quoted by Darwin; he saw a blind pelican which was fed, and well fed, by other pelicans upon fishes which had to be brought from a distance of thirty miles.(33*) And when a herd of vicunas was hotly pursued by hunters, H.A. Weddell saw more than once during his journey to Bolivia and Peru, the strong males covering the retreat of the herd and lagging behind in order to protect the retreat. As to facts of compassion with wounded comrades, they are continually mentioned by all field zoologists. Such facts are quite natural. Compassion is a necessary outcome of social life. But compassion also means a considerable advance in general intelligence and sensibility. It is the first step towards the development of higher moral sentiments. It is, in its turn, a powerful factor of further evolution.
Chapter 2 Mutual Aid Among Animals
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution by Peter Kropotkin 1902

Such is the case with our stray bitch in Kenya who rescues an abandoned baby to suckle with her pups. She went to great efforts to save a puppy of a different species. But as the story says she was also suckling two other stray puppies. Unfortunately only the baby survived. Such effort to drag a baby back to her nest, and to feed and protect it is beyond the so called maternal instinct, or even the domestication bond between humans and dogs. If ever there was a clear cut case of evidence for Mutal Aid this is it.

"When the dog picked up the baby in a dirty bag, it came and dropped her behind the wooden building where the dog has its puppies," Mwalimu told The Associated Press Monday.

The dog reportedly dragged the baby across a busy road and through some barbed wire to the shed in the poor Nairobi neighbourhood where puppies from two stray dogs were sheltering.

The infant was discovered after two children alerted elders that they heard the sound of a baby crying near their wooden and corrugated-iron shack. Residents found the baby lying next to the mixed-breed dog and a own pup.

Unwanted infants are often abandoned in Kenya, with poverty and failed relationships frequently to blame. Kenya's weak law enforcement and poor social security system mean most people who forsake their babies are never caught.

The stray dog that saved the child also was being cared for Tuesday, a day after its last surviving puppy died for unknown reasons, said Jean Gilchrist of the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals.

Animal welfare officials named the dog Mkombozi, or "Saviour," and gave the dog its first bath and de-worming.

"She looks a bit depressed, so we'd like to examine her to see if she has a temperature or any other problem," Gilchrist said. "She wasn't happy when we all poured into the compound. She decided to leave, but kids in the compound brought her back for the bath because she was full of ticks."

Felix Omondi, an 11-year-old student with his dog now named Mkombozi (Saviour) in a compound on the outskirts of Nairobi, Tuesday, May 10, 2005, after She was treated and washed by medics from Kenya Society for the Protection and care for Animals. The nursing dog foraging for food retrieved an abandoned baby girl in a forest.

So much for the individualist ideology of Herbert Spencer, Ayn Rand and the egoists, that say its a dog eat dog world,that the individual only does what feels good for them. It is a fallacious theory, with little empirical evidence other than philosophical assurances that it is the way things are aka; "There is No Alternative", as Maggie Thatcher said.

Such is not anarchist morality, as Kropotkin takes pains to prove over an over again in Mutual Aid.
A stray dog in Kenya shows more anarchist morality than one will ever find in the pages of Reason magazine or the novels of Ayn Rand. Now that's irony.

Anarchist morality is the cooperative communalism of humans as social beings which allows us to express our individuality through Anarchist Communism.

"Communism is capable of assuming all forms of freedom or of oppression which other institutions are unable to do. It may produce a monastery where all implicitly obey the orders of their superior, and it may produce an absolutely free organisation, leaving his full freedom to the individual, existing only as long as the associates wish to remain together, imposing nothing on anybody, being anxious rather to defend, enlarge, extend in all directions the liberty of the individual. Communism may be authoritarian (in which case the community will soon decay) or it may be Anarchist. The State, on the contrary, cannot be this. It is authoritarian or it ceases to be the State.

Communism guarantees economic freedom better than any other form of association, because it can guarantee wellbeing, even luxury, in return for a few hours of work instead of a day's work. Now, to give ten or eleven hours of leisure per day out of the sixteen during which we lead a conscious life (sleeping eight hours), means to enlarge individual liberty to a point which for thousands of years has been one of the ideals of humanity.

This can be done today in a Communist society man can dispose of at least ten hours of leisure. This means emancipation from one of the heaviest burdens of slavery on man. It is an increase of liberty.

To recognise all men as equal and to renounce government of man by man is another increase of individual liberty in a degree which no other form of association has ever admitted even as a dream. It becomes possible only after the first step has been taken: when man has his means of existence guaranteed and is not forced to sell his muscle and his brain to those who condescend to exploit him.

Lastly, to recognise a variety of occupations as the basis of all progress and to organise in such a way that man may be absolutely free during his leisure time, whilst he may also vary his work, a change for which his early education and instruction will have prepared him - this can easily be put in practice in a Communist society - this, again, means the emancipation of the individual, who will find doors open in every direction for his complete development.

As for the rest, all depends upon the ideas on which the community is founded. We know a religious community in which members who felt unhappy, and showed signs of this on their faces, used to be addressed by a "brother": "You are sad. Nevertheless, put on a happy look, otherwise you will afflict our brethren and sisters." And we know of communities of seven members, one of whom moved the nomination of four committees: gardening, ways and means, housekeeping, and exportation, with absolute rights for the chairman of each committee. There certainly existed communities founded or invaded by "criminals of authority" (a special type recommended to the attention of Mr. Lombrose) and quite a number of communities were founded by mad upholders of the absorption of the individual by society. But these men were not the product of Communism, but of Christianity (eminently authoritarian in its essence) and of Roman law, the State.

The fundamental idea of these men who hold that society cannot exist without police and judges, the idea of the State, is a permanent danger to all liberty, and not the fundamental idea of Communism - which consists in consuming and producing without calculating the exact share of each individual. This idea, on the contrary, is an idea of freedom, of emancipation."

Communism and Anarchy
by Peter Kropotkin

Saturday, May 07, 2005

We Need a Living Wage


Public Policy wonks, both from the left and right, the soul of capitalism; the TD Bank, and Stats Canada all agree that for twenty boom years of capitalism in North America, Canadian workers still have yet to benefit.

The famous trinkle down effect of tax cuts, (royalty rebates, outsourcing, privatization, acquisition and mergers, end of inheritence taxes,ETC.) all that stuff about allowing the market to determine its own future, ends up with that old cliche being true; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

It is quite apparent from the empirical data that despite the bluff and bluster of the free market hacks like the Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies etc.to the contrary, the working class has suffered a drought waiting for the trinkle down effect for over twenty years.


Tax cuts have produced no measurable effect for the average Canadian family for twenty years. And in fact have contributed to the continuing immizeration of Canadian workers. When Jim Stanford of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Chief Economist for the TD.Bank agree on this empirical fact, when will the Conservative right wing admit that their policies do nothing for us but lots for our bosses.

Directly tied to the rights Neo-liberal agenda has been its relentless class war against the working class as a whole and specifically against the weapon of the working class; unions. Cooresponding to the low pay regime of neo-liberalism is also the decline in unionization as another Stats Canada study for this same time period shows.

The battle field of class war has been the introduction of just in time production techniques, team management, flexible working conditions, into the social fabric of all workplaces, private and public. The result of this was an successful campaign to reduce wages even in the unionized sectors as Safeway workers can attest to. Capitalism created a new part time low waged workforce to replace its permanent workers with in the 1980's. Since then it has been full out class war.

This resulted in the broader right wing campaign of contracting out, outsourcing, privatization, as well as the layoff of thousands of public sector workers during the 1993-1996 deficit hysteria, have resulted in a low waged economy.

This combined with technological innovations and mass layoffs, the dumbing down of work and skills, has not resulted in the decline of the falling rate of profit.
It has only temporarily allowed for extensions of the boom in the boom and bust economy of the business cycle.

In order to maintain its high rates of profit the capitalist class war has been to keep wages low, reduce the workforce and create a new culture of piece work or contract work. The result has been that while profits are made, and obscene profits at that, and worker productivity has increased, wages have not.

When you have less workers you have increased productivity. When you have low wages you have increased productivity. If there is a productivity decline in Canada its not because of the low waged work force, it is because the capitalists have failed to re-invest their record profits in their business and in its technology, resulting in decline productivity.

There is lots of cash flowing, usually into someones pocket like Enron, Worldcom, Nortel, Hollinger, Tyco, etc. etc. ad nauseum, but
of course not in wages and benefits for workers.

Stanford and the TD Bank are joined by the right wing business think tank the CD.Howe Institute in their criticism that the tax breaks and priming of the pump by the state in its money give aways to Corporate Canada have not resulted in investments in R&D, technology or even improving working conditions. Thus Corporate Canada is directly to blame, as are the various levels of simpering compradour governments provincial and federal, for Canada's lack of competitiveness in the marketplace.


This should be screaming tombstone 72 pt headlines across the nations print media, it should be featured as the lead newsstory on the electronic media. And it isn't. Here is empirical evidence that the twenty year campaign of neo-liberalism has failed Canadians and benefited the wealthy few. Despite all the rhetoric and propaganda to the contrary. The facts show that the business boom in Canada is a direct result of a low wage policy. That tax cuts have increased profit but not productivity. That this is a NATIONAL SCANDAL of Adscam proportions.

But no, the story is buried in the business and back pages of the papers. And no direct link is drawn by the reporters to how these stories all say the same thing; the Neo Conservatives are Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

They were wrong when Von Mises was in charge of the Post WWI Austrian Economy. They were wrong when Milton Friedman inflated the Pinochet Chilean Economy. They have been wrong since theier policies were applied by Thatcher, Reagan and Mulroney. They have been wrong when applied by Klein, Harris and now Campbell.

And yet the right wing has not abandoned its predicatable cry for more and more tax breaks as the CD Howe Institute article shows. Never let the facts get in the way of ideology. The CD Howe report shows that investment is the problem not corporate incentives. But they still fall back to the old neo-con mantra; tax cuts.

We don't need tax cuts for corporations we need a Social Wage for all Canadians!

One of the social democratic reforms called for forty years ago was the Guaranteed National Income, which has been recently revived by European Socialists like Andre Gorz and other reformists as the Social Wage.

With the boom in profits that has occured over the past twenty years such a social wage should come directly out of businesses before tax profit. And it could easily be done when you consider most workers in Canada produce at least twice their total salary and benefits in profit.

We need a social wage in Canada of a minimum $10 an hour with a full benefits, and a portable pension plan for all workers. Whether part time, full time and those employed hourly, those on social assistance and EI, and those doing unwaged work.

Corporate Taxes Already Cut, With Few Benefits

According to the TD Bank report, which was released on April 28, Canadian corporations are showing record profits, which they aren't reinvesting. The report attributed the lack of reinvestment to uncertainty due to a volatile global political situation, but warned that “corporations cannot simply build up savings in perpetuity,” but need to invest to “maintain competitiveness”.

"Corporations cannot simply build up savings in perpetuity," the report said, warning that businesses need to invest to maintain their competitiveness.

"In all probability, merger and acquisition will remain a top priority for many Canadian companies in 2005," it said. "But we may also begin to see more in the way of dividend payouts and productivity-enhancing investment initiatives, which, so far, have underperformed profit growth."

Mr. Drummond cautioned, however, that profits will not continue to grow at the unprecedented pace they have been in recent years.

"We're certainly not going to sustain that pace of profit growth through 2005 and 2006, never mind out as far as 2008 when the tax cuts were to have kicked in," Mr. Drummond said.

In fact, a slowdown in profit growth has already started.

Canadian Labour Congress economist Andrew Jackson said that the report shows that past corporate tax cuts are responsible for the profits that aren’t being reinvested. “One is struck by the discrepancy between extremely solid corporate profitability... and the fact that real investment by corporate Canada... has not increased by anywhere near as much,” Jackson was quoted as saying.


Eric Beauchesne
The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, May 06, 2005

Canada invests less than its competitors, particularly the United States, in ensuring its workers have the latest tools to make them productive, the C.D. Howe Institute said yesterday.

This year, it appears the amount invested in productivity-enhancing machinery and equipment in Canada will be about $1,150 less than the average in all industrial countries, and $2,690, or 23 per cent, less than the U.S.

The report from the business-backed think-tank was issued the same day the United States reported another surge in business productivity in the first quarter, bringing output per hour worked up 2.4 per cent from a year earlier. The U.S. news wasn't all good: labour costs also soared.

Still, the latest figures for Canada suggest there has been virtually no productivity growth here for the past two years. The institute argues increased investment is the key to higher productivity.

In Central Canada, however, capital investment per worker is low and declining, it said, projecting that this year the level in Ontario will be 39 per cent less per worker than in the U.S., while Quebec will 44 per cent less, and Manitoba 36 per cent less.

Pasta Paycheques
- The service industry in Alberta is becoming more competitive in this hot economy. Witness the wage list published on Joey Tomato's website, and listed in an ad for a recent job fair: line cook, $7 to $10 an hour; dishwasher, $7 to $9 an hour; hostess, $7 to $14 an hour. The real payoff is in being a manager, or shift leader: $30,000 to $150,000 a year. Aspiring restaurateurs, note: your eatery needs to dish up a lot of pasta to earn that top figure.


Proportion of low-paid workers unchanged since 1981
Those earning under $10 an hour make up one of every six full-time workers: study

Norma Greenaway, CanWest News Service

May 6, 2005

The share of Canadian jobs paying low wages has not shrunk since 1981, leaving one in every six full-time workers earning less than $10 an hour, says a new study by Canadian Policy Research Networks Inc. "Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Low-paid Workers in Canada "

The study, being released today, also says that contrary to popular opinion, many low-paid workers -- defined as earning less than $10 an hour -- do not graduate to higher-paid jobs over time.

"There is a tendency to say we know people earn $7 or $8 an hour, but these are teenagers flipping hamburgers, or selling jackets or jeans, and in a few years they will be out earning decent wages and we don't need to worry about them," said Ron Saunders, author of the report.

"What the data show is that -- although teenagers are very disproportionately low-paid -- the rate of low pay is actually high among all age groups."

Saunders said he's surprised the proportion of low-paid workers, about 16 per cent, has not changed since 1981, considering the economic and job gains the Canadian economy has experienced. On top of that, he said, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of the workforce with post-secondary education.

The study says that of the 1.7 million full-time workers being paid under $10 an hour, 30 per cent -- or more than 500,000 -- live in households where the collective income falls below the Statistics Canada low-income cutoff.

"These are full-time workers," Saunders said. "So we're not meeting a very basic societal objective (that) if you're working full time, you ought not to be poor."

Saunders traced the problem to the competitive pressures of globalization, which he says has prompted employers to scramble to cut costs by doing such things as hiring temporary help and outsourcing jobs, the decline in unionization in the private sector and an erosion in social support systems.

Among the study's findings:

- Of those working for low pay of less than $10 an hour, half will not graduate to better wages within five years. Most of them are women and have low education.

- Low pay is four times as prevalent among those who did not complete high school. Among university graduates, about one in 17 earns less than $10 an hour.

- One-quarter of recent immigrants were low-paid in 2000, compared with one-sixth of Canadian-born workers.

- Visible minorities are the most vulnerable among recent immigrants, with almost one-third getting low pay, compared to their counterparts who were not visible minorities.

- At least one in five lone parents, unattached individuals under the age of 40, and persons with a disability also fell into the low-pay category.

Growth in workers' wages dismal since '81, TD Bank says

OTTAWA -- The wage growth of Canadian workers over the past two decades has been even more dismal than suspected, the TD Bank says.

All that prevented inflation-adjusted, after-tax earnings from actually falling was that today's workforce is better educated, more experienced and includes more women, it said in an analysis Wednesday.

"Having a better-educated workforce with more experienced workers, more women, and a narrower male-female earnings gap are all achievements to be applauded," it says. "These are the only factors that prevented an outright and substantial real decline in Canadian hourly wages between 1981 and 2004."

In a report earlier this year, the bank estimated that the real after-tax incomes of workers rose by only 3.6 per cent over the last 15 years, markedly less than the 25.5 per cent growth in the economy over that time.

Further, it noted that Statistics Canada has reported that median wages in Canada have changed little over the last two decades despite the growing experience and educational attainment of the workforce.

However, if one takes into account that wages normally rise with experience and education, the bank now says: "The result is an even more pessimistic picture of Canadian wage growth than past estimations."

The real hourly wages of men did fall more than two per cent between 1981 and 2004, it says. However, those of women, who now account for a greater share of the workforce, rose by more than eight per cent over that time, although their wages remain lower than men's, it says.

Meanwhile, the average age of workers has increased over the two decades to 39 years from 34 years, it says, adding that because older workers tend to be more experienced, they tend to earn more.

As such, the aging of the workforce should have boosted wages, it says. Adjusting the changes in wages to take that into account, the bank calculates that men's real hourly wages have fallen by more than 10 per cent, while women's wages have increased by only 4.1 per cent.

"Just as changes in gender and age composition can skew the true rate of wage growth, so too can changes in education," it adds.

The proportion of adult Canadians with a university education has increased to more than 25 per cent from 16 per cent in 1981, it notes.

"This means that part of the reason personal income rose at all over the past few decades was that more people were graduating with university degrees, and as a result, getting better-paid jobs," it says.

However, the increase in workers' wages over that time was less than the increase in education would suggest it should have been, it adds.

"In fact, holding age and education constant, Canadians of both genders saw outright declines in their wages," it said. "Astonishingly, for all levels of education and for both sexes, workers earned less in 2004 than in 1981."

© The Vancouver Sun 2005



Sutton Eaves
Ottawa Citizen; CanWest News Service

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

OTTAWA - Despite popular theory, statistics show that getting an education is no guarantee a well-paying job will follow.

A Statistics Canada study-Escaping low earnings- of low-paid labour trends indicates that while adult workers are better educated than ever, they are no better paid than they were 20 years ago.

"You have two movements: on one hand, a better-educated workforce, but on the other hand, for some groups, you have falling pay rates," said government researcher Rene Morissette.

Typically, a well-educated employee will earn more money quicker than those with lower education levels, especially as they gain experience and aspire towards higher-paid positions.

The new study pops a hole in this theory, showing that despite rising levels of education among adult workers, many still toil in low-paying jobs.

The proportion of adult workers with a university degree rose about 10 per cent between 1981 and 2004, making them better educated than their predecessors.

Still, the number of adult employees earning less than $10 an hour dropped just one per cent in that time.

All prices have been adjusted to reflect changing inflation rates.

For young, less-educated males, the findings were more stark. Comparing workers whose level of education -- a high school diploma -- did not change since 1981, Morissette found their wages have actually declined by 20 per cent since then. This category is dominated by men aged 25-34.

Morissette offered a couple of theories for the slide backwards. One correlates to the decline of wages across the globe, which forces firms to stay competitive by reducing labour costs.

"Another explanation is that the technological changes we have witnessed over the past 20 years, like the computer-based revolution, may have tended to reduce the demand for low-educated workers," he said.

Overall, wages for workers aged 16-74 rose modestly since 1981 by about six per cent.

For part-time workers, the trend was reversed so the average wage fell 14 per cent from $14.53 an hour to $12.47.

Despite the decline or plateau in worker's wages, the number of employees living in low-income households has not changed since 1981.

This is attributed to the growing number of dual-income families that, with the help of two or more employed members, keep the income level above the low-income cutoff line.

The study says the most economically vulnerable groups are people living alone, single female parents, individuals with only a high school education and recent immigrants to Canada. Twenty-five per cent of working females under the age of 40 were employed in low paying jobs in 2000. For men, that number is 17 per cent.
© The Edmonton Journal 2005