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About Down But Not Out, its beginnings, why it came to be and where it is heading

addiction is rampant in Canada. The primary contributing factor is disaffection with  a social system that has placed the accumulation of wealth ahead of any moral integrity.

best is a random selection of my best photography & art that can be viewed as a slide show

contact Ronzig by email or visit Ronzig's other web pages or explore related websites.

contribute Do you have a story about poverty, homelessness or addiction that you would like to share? This is the place to get it off your chest.

economics The financial cost of ignoring moral integrity is reflected in the precarious state of the world economic system.

environment Global environmental issues, Climate Disruption, Right to Water, extraction methods used by the Mining and Oil  Industries.

events Rallies, protests, symposiums public forums and training sessions that you may wish to attend.

health  homelessness is synonymous with disease and premature death. Denial of the right to housing is a death sentence.

homelessness a view from our perspective

internet   The internet is our best hope to take back control from the power brokers.

media coverage by mainstream and independent media sources of current events & issues that are of concern as we enter the 2nd decade of the new millennium.

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news Ronzig in the news

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politics How the government is addressing the issues we must deal with to move towards a more just and sustainable society.

portfolio Ronzig's portfolio site where you will find a large selection of photography and art created by Ronzig.

poverty is the main cause of most of the problems that our society struggles with, including homelessness.

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speaking Ronzig will speak to your group about social issues, art or photography

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war  Canada's role in promoting Imperialism

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On this page, Ronzig discusses economic issues which directly or indirectly effect all Canadians. Capitalism is a system which if tempered with social justice could and should provide a bounteous life for all Canadians, but left unrestrained, it is nothing more than a barbaric system that allows the powerful to trample the weaker members of our society. We are fortunate to have the means of production that would enable us to ensure a wonderful life with decent housing and ample food for all, so why are people across Canada needlessly dying every day on the streets? You can comment on content seen on this page by going to the bottom of the page. Every page on the site will have a comment section at the bottom.

added Dec 27

Understanding Economics

Here`s a link that should be helpful to anyone wishing to understand economics. It gives the urls for several blogs that endeavour to explain how our economic system works and the relevance of current developments in the world of finance with an explanation of why the event is significant and what to expect as a result. Just remember that these blogs are written by some of the top minds in the field, the same people who brought us to the current mess we are in.

Capitalism has not failed. It's Democracy that has failed.

I notice that the Right Wing rhetoric has picked up the pace since the OCCUPY MOVEMENT has met with such widespread support. It seems the elitists and their middle class dupes; (yes there are still a few who have not shown the intelligence to recognize when they are being used,) are getting worried and rightfully so.

They usually speak of protesters wanting to take hard earned money from the rich. I suppose they’re talking about bankers and corporate CEO’s who grabbed million dollar bonuses immediately after their failing businesses were given billions of dollars in bailouts. Since when are multimillion dollar salaries and bonuses to leaders of failing businesses defined as hard earned? Or what for that matter makes the wealth of children and grandchildren of robber barons who inherit fortunes made illegally or immorally hard earned?

Capitalism is merely an economic system designed to facilitate the exchange of goods and services in a large and complex society. Too much wealth accumulated in the hands of too few people is the primary cause of the economic woes of the capitalist system. Is it any wonder that so many would like to rip capitalism asunder? The reality is that capitalism is here to stay. It isn’t broken and it doesn’t need fixing as so many of the protesters believe. Capitalism is doing exactly what it was designed to do and what society needs it to do and doing it extremely effectively.

What really needs to be done is to make the checks and balances that were designed to prevent the accumulation of too much wealth in the hands of too few people more effective. The tax system needs a major overhaul to eliminate loopholes that allow people and corporations that earn huge annual incomes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Off shore tax havens must be eliminated. Outrageous incomes of corporate leaders that have no bearing on any kind of real contribution to either the employer or society as a whole should be held to realistic levels with a tax on excessive incomes. Inheritance taxes need to be structured to prevent perpetual growth of family dynasties based solely on the concept of wealth generating ever more wealth regardless of what the owners of the wealth do or don’t do. Corporate law must be improved upon to prevent corporate leaders from paying themselves excessive salaries and bonuses and to protect employees’ pensions when a company fails. We need to make it abundantly clear that real people have the primary rights in society and corporations should be placed in a secondary position rather than the present situation where corporations and their shareholders have more protection under the law than the general population. Corporate control of the political system and the politicians and bureaucrats who run it through lobbying, payoffs and other incentives including financing of campaigns and blatant corporate owned media support of candidates who can be controlled must be stamped out.

None of these measures have anything to do with whether capitalism has failed or not. They are political in nature and it is our political system which has been co-opted by the corporate elite that requires radical emergency surgery if our society is to survive and not evolve into a two class system of masters and slaves.

added Aug 29

http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/08/26/taxes-and-the-job-creation-myth/

Tax cuts, grants and low interest loans that government agencies give to corporations have never worked in their much touted purpose of creating jobs for Canadian workers. This is a fact that any thinking taxpayer or politician has been aware of since their onset. This article merely brings a glimmer of light on the subject. What is not mentioned here is where the money actually goes and the real reason why these giveaways exist.

Close analysis of the flow of these funds will reveal that in the vast majority of cases, these funds are almost entirely directed towards salary, benefits and bonuses to upper management while the next highest beneficiaries are the shareholders who receive windfall increases in share prices and dividends. Retooling with automated equipment that actually replaces jobs with machines is next on the list while research and development that would have been done in any case if the company wishes to remain competitive gets most of what’s left if any. There is seldom any of these windfall cash injections directed to the declared purpose of job creation, for let’s face it folks, the jobs are being exported at an alarming rate to countries where wages are as low as ONE POINT FIVE PERCENT of Canadian wage rates. The trickle-down theory of economics has long been proven to be an absolute farce designed to dupe the taxpaying public into believing that our governments give a damn about the Canadian worker while they line the pockets of their bosses, the corporate elite, primarily to ensure funding for future election campaigns and to provide secure job opportunities when they fail to get re-elected which is the ONLY job creating that these cynical politicians are interested in.

added Oct 31

Stalemate economy

Janet Whitman, Financial Post · Friday, Oct. 29, 2010

New York -- It is a worst-case scenario that could result from the political tug of war expected to grip Washington after Tuesday’s mid-term elections: Democrats and Republicans bicker until the end of the year, allowing the hefty, multibillion-dollar Bush-era tax cuts to expire and plunging the United States into a double-dip recession.

The Dec. 31 expiration of the cuts would effectively be a massive tax hike for Americans already grappling with unemployment nearing 10%. It is likely to be the first real test of how U.S. lawmakers cope amid growing political gridlock. With U.S. voters unhappy over the dismal job market and struggling economy, Republicans are forecast to recapture the House of Representatives and also make big gains in the Democrat-controlled Senate, splitting control in Washington.

While most observers predict some sort of compromise will be worked out to extend most or all of the tax cuts for a year or two, it’s by no means a done deal. And the decision is only one of many contentious issues facing U.S. politicians as the country continues to emerge from its worst economic downturn in decades.

Also on the agenda: expiring unemployment insurance benefits, how to revive the sputtering economy, balancing an unsustainable budget shortfall, reining in spiraling costs for social security and healthcare, tackling a ballooning trade deficit and international trade.

“Gridlock is good if it keeps bad policy from being enacted, but when things need to be fixed, like now, gridlock is bad,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist with Mizuho Securities USA. “Intense bickering and intense partisanship means not much is going to get done. And herein lies the problem — there’s a lot that needs to get done and we’re going to have two more years of politicians not doing it.”

Even with gridlock, most political pundits and other observers are betting the Bush-era tax cuts will be extended for a year or two, either in part or whole. Failing to do so would mean nearly three-quarters of Americans would pay more tax in 2011 and beyond, a scary proposition given the tough times already facing U.S. consumers.

An agreement between Republicans and Democrats will have to come during the “lame-duck” session before the new Congress is sworn in in January.

“We’re all assuming they’re going to thrash this out, but it’s a potential problem that they simply won’t be able to come to an agreement,” said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics. “The Democrats are pretty staunchly in favour of not extending the cuts to high-income earners and the Republicans are insistent that those cuts are continued.”

Some economists have warned that allowing all of the tax cuts to expire could send the U.S. economy slumping into another recession by the first half of 2011. Among them is Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Economy.com, who recommends keeping the cuts in place until the economy mends.

Plenty of other major issues are facing the United States — including a deficit that’s running at nearly US$1.3-trillion, a whopping 9% of U.S. economic output. But the most Americans can probably hope for is temporary fixes as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle already have shown they’re in no mood to bargain.

“Certain issues need to be tackled, such as a Medicare fix and the debt ceiling,” said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist with IHS Global Insight. “[But] the best-case scenario is that lawmakers will ... just keep kicking the can down the road.”

The danger is the problems will only be exacerbated if politicians put off adequately addressing them, he added.

One of the biggest reasons for the inaction over the country’s fiscal woes may be that much of the U.S. public and many politicians don’t recognize what’s at stake.

“In politics you need a crisis to get a solution,” said Philippa Malmgren, a politics and policy expert who served as a financial markets advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush and was a member of the U.S. government’s so-called Plunge Protection Team.

“Many Americans have no concept that Americans owe anybody else...and the sense of that debt among leadership is not very strong,” Ms. Malmgren said during a panel discussion on government debt at a Manhattan conference this week hosted by The Economist. “They believe that because of the country’s strength it will always be able to navigate a way out.”

Policymakers have “confidence that somewhere there’s a tool in the tool kit” to deal with the problems, but eventually there may not be if the country’s woes reach a certain magnitude, she added.

As lawmakers squabble over possible solutions ahead of what’s likely to be an early campaign for the 2012 presidential election, U.S. fiscal policy could effectively be shut down for two years. Beyond that political stalemate, a bigger worry is that the next wave of lawmakers elected in 2012 also may lack the will to grapple with the woes facing the country.

“Hopefully by then we get an election that gets things right,” said Mr. Ricchiuto with Mizuho Securities. “If we don’t … we could wind up with a Europe-type scenario here. Greece, Ireland, the U.K., France — they’re all warning signs of what can happen.”

Bush-era tax cuts: To keep or not to keep?

Unless U.S. lawmakers agree to renew some or all the Bush-era tax cuts by the end of this year, the tax rate on dividends could jump to nearly 40% on Jan. 1 from the current 15%, while the rate on capital gains would increase to 20% from 15%. Americans also will pay increased income taxes and the estate tax will return.

President Barack Obama wants the dividend rate raised to 20% and other tax cuts extended for all Americans except for the wealthiest 2% with household income of US$250,000 or US$200,000

for individuals.

Most likely scenario is a bipartisan agreement that extends some or all of the tax cuts for a year or two.

Cost of extending the tax cuts over the next decade: US$3-trillion. Savings if breaks for the richest 2% of Americans aren’t extended: US$700-billion.

Financial Post

jwhitman@nationalpost.com

My Comment

Re-introduction of the estate tax is absolutely necessary. As we approach the end of the Baby Boom Era an inordinate proportion of wealth has been accumulated unjustly in the hands of this group. as they approach their end, it is an opportunity to level the social playing field by taxation of this wealth as it is transferred to the next generation.

A modest increase in capital gains would not harm anyone and would definitely help to alleviate the deficit situation.

Exempting the top 2% from any renewal of tax cuts would Save $700 Billion. That's a lot of of money that wouldn't even be missed from the vast fortunes of this elite group.

Seems a no brainer to me. As the American economy faces a flush down the toilet, I wonder why there is any hesitation to take these simple steps to help save the nation.

Of course, withdrawing from the costly military activities that are going nowhere would save the economy all on its own.

added Oct 29

Capitalism: Fix it or Lose it

As more and more of the so called experts begin to say what I’ve been saying for the past 2 years, “The Recession is NOT over, it is merely taking a rest while it builds itself for an even worse comeback” it is clearly evident that we need to rethink the nature of Capitalism itself.

Capitalism as we know it can not and will not survive. Tinkering with various aspects of the system such as bail outs for some companies while others are allowed to perish is no solution. Juggling the money supply only creates conflict as each country strives to gain the upper hand. Reducing interest rates to encourage consumers to buy, buy, buy, has failed to achieve the desired results.

Bailing out the biggest offenders in each crisis on the principle that they are too large or too important to be allowed to fail only encourages them to be more irresponsible with the knowledge that the taxpayer will ALWAYS foot the bill for their avarice and incompetence. By declaring that some corporations are exempt from the natural penalties of mismanagement while others are allowed to perish defeats the whole concept of Capitalism, for by protecting the largest offenders who are in fact the very corporations that cause the economic collapse in the first place, we GUARANTEE  more of the same on an even larger scale, until finally even the government will not be financially capable of bailing them out with the ultimate result of the mighty United States of America facing bankruptcy itself. The necessary result of such a bankruptcy would be the collapse of all of the major economies on the planet followed by  world wide depression, the likes of which humanity has never experienced in all of history.

Increasing the money supply is a fool’s game. Its only possible purpose is to shift the burden of fiscal irresponsibility onto other nations and force them to pay for our mistakes. Anyone with even a substandard level of intelligence can see that printing more paper that has no backing in any tangible way must result in the value of that money being diluted. This dilution of the value of the dollar is called inflation and is the necessary result of this procedure. What inflation means is that everything we purchase costs more money. But you say we’re not experiencing inflation. I disagree. We have only offset the results of inflation by exporting tens of thousands of good jobs to offshore underdeveloped nations where the cost of labour and other factors of production are a small fraction of domestic expenditures. This has resulted in holding prices of goods down, but there Is a price to pay for this policy and we are paying it with ever increasing unemployment levels. The net effect of increasing the money supply is massive unemployment that can never be reversed. As unemployment rises, we experience an overall decrease in buying power in the general population that in turn reduces retail sales on a massive scale causing the collapse of large and small retailers alike. As these retailers collapse there is a domino effect of even more unemployment and a further reduction in the consumer’s buying power and thus even lower retail sales numbers.

In order to increase buying power and encourage more conspicuous consumerism, interest rates have been reduced to the lowest levels in half a century and still retail sales are dropping through the floor. We are now seeing a new and even more dangerous trend.  Consumers are being paid to buy. There are multitudes of cash back and other incentives that actually put money in our pockets for being foolish enough to increase our indebtedness which is already far beyond our ability to pay, effectively creating net interest rates on purchases that approaches negative levels. Governments instead of encouraging the population to increase savings and pay down debt are suggesting that we plunge even further into indebtedness. There can be only one result to this fool’s paradise; defaults in payments, personal bankruptcies followed by even more corporate bankruptcies and eventually national bankruptcy.

All of these and all of the rest of the quick fix solutions are merely panic induced irrational responses to the various symptoms of the disease that threatens to kill the patient. They never have had any permanent solution as evidenced by the fact that the world consistently and periodically falls into recession and each recession is more severe than the preceding one. The second stage of the recent recession when it materializes will most certainly be the worst that the industrial age has ever encountered and unless a radical shift in the very nature of Capitalism is implemented immediately, the world faces a Depression that will make the 30’s seem like boom times.

What can be done to avoid this crisis?

First and foremost, it is imperative to understand that there is plenty of money and more than adequate resources available to prevent a cataclysmic collapse of the global socio/economic system. What is required is a redistribution of these resources eliminating the current situation where less than 5% of the world population holds 95% of the wealth. With this concentration of wealth, it is inevitable that there just isn’t enough to go around for the rest of the population and people no longer have the means to purchase the goods that make the current system stay afloat.

Redistribution of wealth in itself will not prevent the collapse. It will only postpone it unless strong rules to the Capitalism Game are put in place to ensure that never again will such an imbalance be possible. A reassessment of how we value each person’s contribution to society must be made. No economic system can survive with the inequities that we currently encourage. A system where someone who merely entertains us can earn millions of dollars annually while a person who provides crucial services such as transportation or construction workers for instance barely earns enough to survive can never survive itself. An equitable earning scale for all occupations is the key to creating a system that can endure.

These recommendations may sound utopian and impossible to achieve, but the alternative is the complete and irrevocable collapse of the entire socio/economic system that we live under. It behooves us to do the impossible if we are to survive.

The greatest strength of humanity is its ability to adapt when threatened. Adaptation is no longer a luxury that we can afford to ignore.

See: The recovery illusion            Bank regulators have learned nothing   Carney says headwinds will slow recovery            The great inequality debate Canadian companies put machines before jobs

added Oct 29

The recovery illusion

Jonathan Ratner, Financial Post · Friday, Oct. 29, 2010

Brian Trenholm, managing director at Salida Capital, strongly believes that the developed world is heading back into recession and this will happen as the illusion of recovery fades.

"This illusion was really driven by the unsustainable effects of government money and inventory restocking," he says.

The hedge fund manager believes the United States, Japan, most of Europe, and potentially even Canada will go back into recession in the next three to six months. However, he thinks the best leading indicator of the markets in this type of environment is not so much the economy, but rather money supply.

"With quantitative easing programs likely to be pursued by all the major central banks in the coming months -- not just the Fed, but the Bank of Japan, Bank of England and probably the ECB as well -- I think we're probably setting up for a pretty decent 2011 for the market, despite the economy," Trenholm says.

"I don't think the quantitative easing programs will fix the economy, but that money will have to go somewhere and I think it finds its way into the stock market."

Since the market has come a long way in recent weeks on hopes of a QE2 announcement from the Fed, he thinks equities could be ripe for a pullback in the near term. However, the manager would use this weakness as a buying opportunity.

The Salida Wealth Preservation Fund aims to be a lower volatility play on hard assets and other macro themes. The portfolio has a mix of small, medium and large-cap companies with an average size of about $750-million.

The fund is focused on liquidity and is currently positioned around 70% long and 50% short. It also emphasizes hedging, uses minimal leverage and focuses on the resource space, targeting large underdeveloped assets in the hands of juniors that may be of interest to larger acquirers.

"As long as borders remain relatively open, money should continue to flow into China and other emerging economies," Trenholm says. "A lot of that money will end up going into infrastructure building, which is very base metals-intensive, very steel-intensive, and very energy-intensive. In addition, these countries are relatively energy-inefficient."

The manager continues to think commodities will be the biggest beneficiaries of the macro-economic environment, but expects to shift his focus from gold in 2010 to more economically sensitive commodities in 2011.

Trenholm believes energy and base metals are poised to outperform. He suspects there will be talk of greenshoots in the developed world around the middle of next year, but views commodities largely as an emerging markets play based on strong demand.

"I think the market will be looking ahead and hoping that the quantitative easing programs will fix the economy. I don't think it will, but I think the hopes will be enough to help out the economically-sensitive commodities."

jratner@nationalpost.com

added Oct 10

There are many thousands of very good people permanently out of work only because they had the misfortune of working at a company that has retooled and replaced them with machines, or because the company has moved its operation off shore to a cheaper labour market. It's only a matter of time before most of the ones still employed will meet the same end. Lucky for them it hasn't happened yet.

The interesting aspect is that it's not just factory workers that are experiencing this. Highly skilled technical workers are facing the same problem. Ever call a large software company for tech support? Odds are you'll be speaking to someone in Pakistan of some other remote jurisdiction. Ever call any large corporation or government agency and try to speak with a live body. Not likely to succeed. You'll get to listen to a computer telling you to press 1 or 2 or 3 a half dozen times before you get to the right answer, which usually comes from the same computerized voice which will direct you to a web page. How many receptionists and support personnel do you think that system replaces? If a person in one of those fields is still employed it is only a matter of time before a computer takes over his/her job.

Throughout this so called recovery, there has been a consistently high level of job loss in the areas of decent full time jobs with legislated benefit packages. Instead of replacing those jobs with equal quality employment, the vast majority of new jobs that have been created are part time, casual, contract or minimum wage service jobs with extremely low wages and in most cases no benefit packages whatsoever. Even when these ridiculous new jobs are taken into account the net job figures each month are in large negative numbers. As a result, the actual earning level of Canadians has decreased in double digit percentages and will continue to do so, while the corporate elite continue to double and triple their compensation packages annually.

added Oct 9

In the following story we are introduced to one of the two factors which are causing most of the social upheaval we are experiencing. Machines are replacing people in the job market and there has been no effort to restore a balance to the system that would allow the people to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Back when this trend began some 50 years ago, we were promised a new era of prosperity for everyone. Life would be easier, the work week would be shorter and everyone would have all the necessities and most of the toys that were available.

Nobody mentioned that this would require a shift in the way wealth was distributed and this shift has not occurred. Instead of a higher standard of living for everyone, we are experiencing a steady decrease in this standard for the vast majority. The benefits of mechanization have been hoarded in the pockets of the corporate elite, leaving the rest of society out in the cold, literally for many if you look at the escalating instance of homelessness in today’s society.

Our political leaders have failed us in their job of ensuring a reasonable distribution of the wealth of our nation and have allowed the very rich to escalate in their riches while the middle class and the lower income classes have been left in the dust.

The second factor that is at the root of our declining standard of living is the exportation of jobs to countries that have a workforce willing to work for 5% of the norm in Canada, but that is a topic for another discussion.

Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that that jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate, never to return, there remains a pervasive attitude amongst those lucky enough to still have a job and amongst politicians that a person who is jobless is somehow to blame for his predicament. The phrase “Get a job”, is far too common a reply when a person in desperation asks for assistance. This attitude MUST be overcome if we are ever to rebuild a Just Society.

Canadian companies put machines before jobs

Paul Vieira, Financial Post · Friday, Oct. 8, 2010

OTTAWA — Canadian companies plan to ease off on hiring and squeeze more production through the acquisition of machinery and equipment, according to the latest quarterly outlook survey done for the Bank of Canada.

In fact, the intention to accelerate the pace of equipment purchases over the next 12 months shot to levels never seen in the history of the central bank survey. Meanwhile, only 40% of firms said that employment levels would be higher over the next 12 months, the lowest reading since the second quarter of 2009.

This would reinforce recent forecasts from Canadian economists that job creation is set to slow to a crawl on weakening U.S. growth prospects. Friday, Statistics Canada reported the economy shed a net 6,600 jobs in September.

“Some firms had recently increased employment to a level sufficient to meet expected demand, while others were focusing on achieving productivity gains from new equipment or new processes,” the Bank of Canada said in its latest business outlook survey, released Friday.

Financing to purchase new equipment is likely attainable, as a separate central bank survey of loan officers indicated an overall easing in business lending conditions in the third quarter. However, lending conditions appeared to be “largely unchanged” for the small-business sector, and overall business demand for credit remained “modest.”

The survey's attempt to measure the balance of opinions among businesses and lenders, and determine the speed at which conditions are improving or declining. The business outlook survey, which sought the views of senior managers, was conducted between mid-August and mid-September. Senior loan officers were surveyed in early to mid-September.

The central bank reported business executives believe the economy is “progressing,” although they, like Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, indicate growth over the next 12 months to be “modest.”

The survey said 55% of companies indicated that sales growth would improve at a faster pace over the next year, compared to a 53% result in the previous survey. The bulk of those firms anticipated a pickup in sales is concentrated in the goods-producing sector, which “still await a recovery in sales” or have experienced only “modest” improvement during the recent recovery.

Further, companies are becoming more cautious, and as such would be eyeing further efficiencies from their operations and new growth markets over the next 12 months as the economy in the United States — Canada’s main trading partner — struggles. Just yesterday, U.S. non-farms payrolls data indicated a net 95,000 jobs were eliminated, with the private sector adding 64,000 to payrolls, which was less than forecast.

“Supported by the recovery to date and recognizing the challenges that lie ahead, firms are increasingly focusing on ways to enhance productivity and create new growth opportunities,” the survey said.

Just under 40% of firms said that employment levels would be higher over the next 12 months, the lowest reading since the bank’s survey for the second quarter of 2009. In the previous survey, half of firms indicated plans to increase the pace of hirings over the next year.

Nearly half of companies, or 46%, said their investment in machinery and equipment would increase at a faster pace over the coming year, compared to just 10% who said equipment acquisition would slow. On this category, the so-called balance of opinion -- or the difference between those who reported faster and slower pace of investment -- reached a record high in the survey’s history, to 36, compared to 12 in the previous quarterly survey.

Mr. Carney has repeatedly said that businesses would have to pick up the pace of machinery investment in order to give the recovery some momentum after government stimulus is removed and the Bank of Canada tightens policy. On the latter, however, analysts now believe the central bank could be on the sidelines for a while as the U.S. economy slows and the Federal Reserve contemplates another round of massive liquidity injections, through asset purchases or quantitative easing.

Meanwhile, in other findings from the Bank of Canada survey:

• 26% of firms said they would face “some difficulty” meeting unexpected demand while 9% warned of “significant” difficulty, compared to 35% and 4%, respectively, in the previous survey.

• 43% of companies said input prices would increase at a faster pace over the next year, compared to a 48% finding in the previous survey. Over a third expected input prices to remain the same.

• Expectations for headline inflation over the next two years have eased, although the large majority of firms — 85% — expect inflation to be within the central bank’s preferred 1% to 3% target.

Financial Post
Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/news/Canadian+companies+machines+before+jobs/3644117/story.html#ixzz11s5mZmt5

Bank regulators have learned nothing | FP Comment | Financial Post

By Mark Calabria Financial Post Staff  September 30, 2010 – 7:14 pm

In marketing Basel II to policymakers and the general public in 2004, bank regulators described the then proposal as “a three-legged stool” — offering a vision of stability where the financial system would be supported by three pillars.

Those pillars were minimum capital standards, an improved supervisory review process and increased market discipline. The financial crisis revealed serious faults in all three pillars.

Market discipline was jettisoned first. In fact, there is probably no characteristic that better defines the recent financial crisis and the government response to it than a rejection of market discipline. Companies could not be allowed to fail; creditors could not take losses.

The fundamental flaw of this third pillar was that it lacked an enforcement mechanism. Disclosure of risk is meaningless if market participants come to believe they will be protected from that risk by government. Nothing in either Basel II or III establishes a mechanism where creditors know with certainty that they will take losses. The “resolution” mechanism in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has so many holes as to lack any creditability.

In fact, both the Dodd-Frank Act and bank regulators have made it very clear that creditors will be protected. For instance, Dodd-Frank codifies the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s guarantee of bank non-deposit debt. The Federal Reserve’s 13-3 powers remain largely untouched. There is no reason for creditors today to expect anything other than being bailed out.

If creditors were a small part of our financial markets, then perhaps their protection would only present minimal distortions. Yet even under Basel III, creditors will still be more than 90% of the funding for the typical financial institution. To insulate the vast majority of funding from any market discipline is to invite financial crises.

Recently attention has focused almost exclusively on the first pillar: increased capital. Unfortunately, this pillar is as damaged as the third. The increased capital requirements under Basel III are still nowhere near what the market would demand on its own.

When the next panic hits, market participants will again ignore “regulatory capital” and focus on common equity. We would be better off abandoning the facade of minimum capital standards and letting the market decide. It is hard to see the market demanding any less than what Basel III requires.

The first pillar of capital standards is also flawed in its management of relative risk weights. The favouring, if not actual subsidizing, of sovereign and mortgage debt not only remains, but is expanded, under Basel III.

It is no coincidence that these are also the markets that have suffered the most disruptions and required the largest bailouts. Any framework that treats debt issued by entities such as Fannie Mae and Greece as essentially risk-free is a framework that cannot be taken seriously. The current risk weighting, along with increased liquidity requirements, further insulates both governments and the mortgage market from much-needed market discipline.

The second pillar, supervisory review, has revealed itself as fatally unsound. It would be an understatement to say the world’s bank regulators were asleep at the wheel. Yet bank regulators appear, for the moment, to have awoken from their slumber.

It remains to be seen whether their attentiveness will last, particularly when the public and politicians demand that the next bubble be allowed to grow. We could greatly improve supervision if regulators themselves were subjected to accountability by, say, losing their jobs when the institutions under their care fail.

The Basel III process so far has indicated that bank regulators have learned almost nothing from the crisis. Many of the contributors to the crisis, including Basel II, are being expanded instead of being scrapped. At least this time around we’ll know that the stool we’re being asked to sit on doesn’t have any legs.

Financial Post
Mark A. Calabria is director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute and a former senior staff member of the U.S. Senate committee on banking, housing and u
rban affairs.

Read more: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/09/30/bank-regulators-have-learned-nothing/#ixzz116a9XhhZ

 

Carney says headwinds will slow recovery

It never ceases to amaze me that the so called "Experts" expect to use the devises that caused the problems to solve the same problems. We live in a time of historically low interest rates and meanwhile the public is maxing out credit card debt and paying usurious interest rates that bear no relationship to the real cost of money. The public is forced into frugality because savings are exhausted and the cost of servicing the record indebtedness is beyond the capability of existing income.
Meanwhile these idiots who call themselves experts are forced to admit what any fool can see. We ARE heading into a double dip recession and this phase will make the first phase seem like boom times.
 

Paul Vieira, Financial Post · Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010

OTTAWA -- Interest rate hikes appear to be on the backburner for the foreseeable future after Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said Thursday overstretched households and weak U.S. demand would crimp growth in the coming months.

In Windsor, Ont., Mr. Carney said Canadians should brace for months of “modest” economic growth, acknowledging this will be reflected in the bank’s revised forecast to be released Oct. 20, in which third- and fourth-quarter estimates would be lowered. Any additional increases to interest rates in this uncertain environment would warrant “caution,” he added.

The remarks reinforced a growing belief among Bay Street traders that the odds of another rate hike this year were dwindling to nearly zero. Plus, data released Thursday indicated the economy contracted in July by 0.1% from June levels, the first such monthly decline in nearly a year.

Economists said the speech, peppered with new dovish commentary, and the GDP drop point to a central bank that’s done, for now, with rate hikes.

“Mr. Carney is saying he’s willing to keep interest rates low for a while,” said Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, adding the central bank is likely to stay on the sidelines until mid-2011. “Rates at these levels are stimulative — but perhaps we need that.”

In remarks to a Windsor business luncheon, Mr. Carney painted a portrait of a recovery that has lost momentum, and for the first time suggested the slowdown could be attributed to domestic factors — namely, consumers dragged down by their bloated balance sheets.

“Investment in housing has outstripped their total savings for over nine straight years. … This cannot continue,” Mr. Carney said.

The recovery’s early spurt, highlighted by annualized quarterly growth in the 5%-plus range, leaned heavily on people capitalizing on low rates to buy homes and consumer goods. “The limitations of this reliance are becoming evident,” the governor said, warning it appeared “unlikely” private consumption would be bolstered by further gains in housing prices.

Statistics indicate the ratio of household debt to disposable income hit a record high of 146% in the first quarter of 2010. But recent soft data on retail sales and housing activity suggest consumers have run out of steam.

Michael Gregory, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the implications from household debt on growth represent the newest wrinkle in the bank’s outlook.

When it last raised rates on Sept. 8, the central bank cited “exceptionally stimulative” financial conditions. But Mr. Gregory said the bank believes those conditions may be offset by an “inability or the lack of desire of consumers” to take on more debt.

Yet Mr. Carney also called on federal policymakers to “remain vigilant” about keeping household debt in check. Earlier this year, the federal government tightened rules to make it tougher for new homebuyers to get a mortgage following a series of warnings about the possibility of a housing bubble.

“Carney does not want Canada to experience a housing mess like the U.S.,” said Sébastien Lavoie, economist at Laurentian Bank Securities, in reference to the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown that critics suggest was fuelled by lax rules governing credit coupled with low borrowing costs.

Meanwhile, in a related report, Mr. Shenfeld said slowing Canadian growth shouldn’t derail the federal government from pursuing its deficit-reduction plan — especially now that Mr. Carney has signalled rate hikes may be on hold.

“It simply makes no sense to be stepping on the monetary policy brake while at the same time extending the timeframe for stimulus,” he said. “Delay further rate hikes until growth picks up again. But Ottawa should take the first step towards fiscal balance.”

The federal plan envisages returning to a balanced budget by mid-decade, through restraining program spending growth and higher Employment Insurance premiums. But on the latter point, Ottawa moved Thursday to restrain future increases in EI premiums for fear of crimping job creation in a slow-growth economic environment.

Financial Post

pvieira@Nationalpost.com

Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/news/Carney%20delivers%20reality%20check/3603448/story.html#ixzz116PGDyjh

The great inequality debate, part 1: Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks | FP Comment | Financial Post

Extreme ­inequality is on the rise. Is Alex Rodriguez really 30 times better than Hank Aaron?

By Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks

Billionaires are on the rise. While workers’ wages have stagnated over the past 30 years, the rich have gotten richer, and the very rich have gotten wildly richer.

We’re no longer amazed to hear that Tiger Woods is making US$100-million a year, or that Oprah Winfrey ranks among the billionaires. Thirty years ago, CEOs of large corporations were content to make 20 or 30 times the average income; now they feel hard done by if they only make 200 to 300 times as much. Things are even more out of whack in the financial world. In 2009, the 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers earned an average over US$1-billion each — about 24,000 times the average income.

These anecdotal reports of rising inequality have been confirmed in countless empirical studies. Perhaps the most widely cited have been a series of studies led by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics. Using income tax data, the Saez-Piketty studies show that the share of market income captured by the top 1% in the United States rose dramatically from 8.9% in 1978 to a staggering 23.5% in 2007. But even that understates the windfall at the very top. Those in the top 0.01%, for instance, increased their share more than sevenfold, from 0.86% in 1978 to 6.04% in 2007. This is the largest share of national income this very top group has received since the introduction of the U.S. income tax in 1913.

There has been no serious academic dispute over these findings. The American Economic Association awarded Emmanuel Saez the John Bates Clark Medal, given to “that American economist under the age of 40 who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge,” largely for his work on income distribution.

This data is the basis of our recently released book, The Trouble with Billionaires, which documents the negative consequences of the rise of extreme inequality in Canada, the United States and Britain.

So we were surprised to discover Terence Corcoran’s article in the Post purporting to expose the “myth” of rising inequality (Sept. 16).

Corcoran asserts that “the economic literature is full of debate, most of it in rejection of the basic premise that inequality has been dramatically on the rise.” While there is some dispute over the size of the increase in income inequality among the bottom 90%, there’s been no dispute that inequality has risen, and risen particularly dramatically at the very top.

Corcoran supports his case by referring to a working paper by Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon entitled “Has the Rise in American Inequality Been Exaggerated?” The paper suggests that some analysts may have overstated the increase in inequality, and notes that it has not been a “steady, ­ongoing process.”

But Gordon doesn’t take issue at all with the finding that there’s been a dramatic increase in income share going to the top earners, as noted by Saez and Piketty. In the very first sentence of the paper Corcoran cites, Gordon states: “The evidence is incontrovertible that income inequality has increased in the United States since the 1960s.” In fact, Gordon has documented this trend in his own studies, speculated about its causes, and even shown serious concern about its consequences. As he wrote in a published version of his working paper:

There is a simple solution to growing inequality at the top.… Let the top 1% earn its millions, but then let the government substantially boost the taxation of those rewards, not just in the form of much higher (not just 39%, how about 50%?) top-bracket tax rates, but also a reversal of all the reductions in tax rates on dividends and capital gains of the past 30 years.

So not only does Gordon clearly acknowledge the rise in inequality, he considers it a significant problem that should be addressed through major tax increases at the upper end — a position we heartily endorse. Gordon even goes on to say that “the policy proposals of the Obama administration are, at least so far, meek in contrast to the more radical needed increases in top-income tax rates.”

Corcoran also refers to a critique of the Saaez-Piketty studies by Alan Reynolds of the libertarian Cato Institute. A key assertion by Reynolds is that Saez and Piketty use pretax numbers, and that, once taxes and transfers are added in, there’s been no increase in inequality. This suggests that government redistribution is adequately compensating for increasing market inequality, effectively cancelling its impact. Sadly, however, this simply is not true.

Virtually every study on after-tax income in the United States shows there is little redistribution done by government, and that rising inequality is clearly evident in after-tax income, as well as in pretax income. For example, the Congressional Budget Office reports that from 1979 to 2006, the average after-tax income of the lowest fifth of tax-filers increased only 11%, while for the top 1%, it increased 256%. So much for redistribution.

Similarly, the 2008 OECD report “Growing Unequal?” notes that: “Redistribution of income by government plays a relatively minor role in the United States. Only in Korea is the effect smaller…. The effectiveness of taxes and transfers in reducing inequality has fallen still further in the past 10 years.”

There’s room for serious debate around the issue of extreme inequality. For instance, some commentators justify today’s huge pay packages at the top on the grounds that enormous incentives are necessary to encourage top performances. But this does little to explain why Alex Rodriguez, today’s top-earning baseball player, earns 30 times more (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than Hank Aaron, the top-earning player in the early 1970s, whose performance on the field was as good or better (without the benefit of steroids).

Even more dramatic examples of the disconnect between today’s pay packages and performance are found throughout the world of business and finance. Let’s not forget that Merrill Lynch paid its “top people” some US$4-billion in bonuses in 2009 — right after that same group of overachievers had steered the company to a US$27-billion loss, and in the process helped trigger the global economic meltdown.

Many commentators will object that higher taxes on the rich would lead to stunted economic growth. But as Gordon himself notes, “rapid economic growth from 1947 to 1973 took place in an era of top-bracket tax rates ranging from 78% to 90%. High top-bracket tax rates are not incompatible with healthy growth.”

There are fascinating questions about income inequality that cry out for serious public debate, and we look forward to debating them with Corcoran and others. But let’s not get caught up in a sideshow dispute over whether billionaires are just figments of our imaginations.

Financial Post

Linda McQuaig is a journalist and Neil Brooks is a ­professor of tax law at Osgoode Hall Law School. Their book, The Trouble with Billionaires, is published this month by Penguin Books Canada. A Toronto launch event is scheduled for Tuesday at the Ryerson Student Centre and on Sunday in Calgary at the Plaza Theatre.
Read more: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/09/27/the-great-inequality-debate-linda-mcquaig-and-neil-brooks/#ixzz10wy7a0dU

Hank's Tale

Anonymous May 10/09 (Later known as Hank)

Hello Ronzig:
Your writing is an inspiration and has been a great help to me.
I am not too far from being homeless myself, and your positive attitude and honesty and hope are a real challenge for me.
I saw the title "from businessman to homeless" and I realized I was almost in the same situation. I lost my job as a corporate executive a year ago and my wife is gone now. I admit I have become depressed by the lack of response to my job hunting.
Your site is a wake up call. Few people wuld recognize me as the impeccably dressed corporate exec in the pinstriped suit, the silk tie and the polished Ferragamo shoes that I used to be.
I have gained 50 pounds - food is my thing - so my suits don't fit at all anymore - and have grown a beard. I spend too much time watching TV and go barefoot most of the time. If anyone had told me - who used to be so dapper - that I would go barefoot I would never have believed it.
I realize now I have been feeling sorry for myself and I have to get myself together. You have come through a lot more than me.
I may never put those Ferragamos back on my feet but I can apply for a job as a handyman or as deliveryman to keep my house. Pinstriped suit not needed! But at least it will pay, if I get it.
I've really been humbled. Jobs for excutives are hard to come by right now. I never thought I would be laid off or divorced - but I am not going to let it destroy me.
thanks for the inspiration.

Thank you so much for your comment. Far too many people still think, “It could never happen to me.” Perhaps as they read your story, they will realize that in this current economic meltdown, no-one is immune. If so, your story may save them a great deal of suffering.

I hope you won’t mind a little advice to help you survive this crisis. People don’t seem yet to realize the magnitude of the predicament. I believe that the world wide economy will continue to flounder for many years to come. This is just the beginning and things will get far worse before they improve. Therefore, if you are to survive and avoid homelessness, NOW is the time to take drastic steps to that end. You are right on track when you say you will seek any employment that will help you to maintain, but more will be required. If you are carrying a large mortgage, it would be better to let the house go now rather than deplete your resources in an attempt to keep it. Believe me, it will be easy enough to replace it when the emergency has passed and you will be far better off during the crisis if you ration your resources wisely. I made the mistake of depleting my reserves in a vain attempt to maintain my property and other possessions. I may not have become homeless if I had downscaled my lifestyle radically at the outset. You should divest yourself of all the fancy trappings of the lifestyle you have become accustomed to and make survival your only priority. Find an inexpensive room to rent and sell everything you can for whatever you can get for it. Stop making payments on ALL your debts and allow the creditors to repossess everything that is encumbered. Don’t worry about the consequences of this. Millions of people worldwide will be in the same boat at the end of this and debt forgiveness will be one of the first things that will occur if the system is to come out of it at all.

On a personal level, activity is the key to avoiding the depression that will destroy many people in these hard times. If you don’t find steady employment, take whatever you can get even if it is delivering flyers on a day to day basis, and Volunteer. You will be amazed how much better you will feel about yourself when you are actively helping others in need and volunteerism often leads to paid employment. If you need someone to talk to, I am always happy to do what I can. Just email me at ronzig@rogers.com  and we’ll take it from there. Good luck.

Hank Jan 1/10

Hello Ronzig:
It has been about six months since I posted here, as the former executive who took your advice and became a part time janitor. You were kind enough to ask me to send an update at times so here it is.
Much has happened. The job I had as dishwasher/janitor ended in late July. By the end of September I had also lost the room I had, as rent went up just as I had almost run out of money. I was forced to move into my pickup. So for two months I was without a home. I still had enough money for food and for gas, but not enough for the rent for an apartment as well. The money from selling my possessions was enough to keep me going for a while, but I had to make choices. I had bought the pickup with some of the money and had to be very careful with what I had left.
It was a tough blow but I would not give up. I often thought: how did I come to th is? How did I fall from success and privilege to sleeping in a pickup? I had no one to blame but myself. I had lived above my salary for years and had false values. It was a dark time. I am not yet ready to think about it too much. A man I had worked with in the restaurant allowed me to use his shower at times. I am very grateful to him for his generosity.
I didn’t know what the future would bring. I accidentally slammed my mouth into the back of the truck one cold morning – and managed to lose two of my front teeth. I am in Chicago and there is no dental coverage for someone without a job or home. That day I just wandered the streets and ended up spending money on tattoos – yes, it was a dumb decision – and now have two on my neck.
Finally at the end of November I found a very small trailer in a trailer park. I now have a roof over my head again. She is a real gift to me. A few days later the restaurant hired me back as a janitor. The same week I met a woman in the same park – a woman, for the first time since the divorce. She is a waitress. So things have turned around for now, again.
I didn’t tell her any of my story at first; I didn’t know how she would react. One day she came across a photo I had forgot to throw out with a pile of my old stuff:
It is a 9 x 12 inch framed photograph taken at a formal banquet in 2003. I am standing next to my ex-wife and my ex-boss and holding an award given for my ex-job: Financial Executive of the Year. Yes – it’s ironic. I was once named Financial Executive of the Year!
She stared at the photo and asked who the people were and why I would keep a farmed photo of strangers. I told her. And she didn’t believe me. She really didn’t believe me!
I couldn’t blame her. We looked at the former ‘me’, the man who no longer exists: – fifty pounds thinner, a dazzling, confident smile with all of my nice white teeth intact, no tattoos, clean-shaven, perfect corporate haircut with a razor-sharp part, immaculate white tie and tails that I had once owned – never rented! -, manicured hands, gold watch, patent leather pumps on my feet, proudly holding up the award in triumph.
She then looked at the man I am now: a bearded, overweight, gap-toothed, pony-tailed, barefoot, dirty-fingernailed, tee-shirted, tattooed part-time janitor.
How can life change that much? How can one man change and transform so completely?
Finally she started to see the likeness in the face and was very slowly convinced. She insisted on knowing the story.
I told her everything - and she didn’t reject me or laugh or put me down. I told her everything in that photo was gone and explained what I have already written in other posts here.
I had not seen my ex-wife or ex-boss for over a year. That award had been thrown away. The white tie formal outfit and the wristwatch had been bought by someone I didn’t know.
She laughed at the ribbons on the fancy pumps I had on in the photo. I told her they had been sold and the silk socks on my feet along with them. She realized that expensive shoes had always been the symbol of my former life for me, and encouraged me not to be ashamed ever again of my new status in life – and to go barefoot as often as possible, to break with the false image – even to learn to drive my pickup in my bare feet on warm days. That’s a world away from the days when I pressed my mirror-shined Ferragamo wingtips on the pedal of my Porsche. If anyone had told me than that this would happen, I would not believe it.
I don’t know why shoes were the symbol for me. Everyone has something that means ‘success’ to them, and for me it was very expensive business shoes. Selling my shoes to others was harder than it should have been! Now I see again h ow shallow that was. Hearing her laugh was great.
She then told me she preferred me the way I am now. Was she lying? I don’t know. But it felt good. She said I would never have looked at her in my former life (I am ashamed to admit she is right) and SHE would never have looked at me! She told me she never liked “suits” and I was definitely a “suit” back then. She also told me she would only leave me if I shaved off the beard (which is now long) or cut my ponytail!
She also gave me the new name I now go by: My first name is Trevor, and I have always used it. She laughed and told me that had to change. It’s too upper class. Fine for an executive. Not for a janitor or a trailer park. So she took my middle name, Henry (still too classy) and turned it into Hank. So after a lifetime of being Trevor, I am now Hank to her – and to the new people I meet.
And that’s the update. I have written a lot more than you pro bably want to know! But as you say, I am more free now and I am STILL surviving.
Now I will take your advice and start volunteering to help at a food pantry. I have so little myself – but at least I have a place to sleep again and maybe I can encourage others as you have encouraged me.
Hank

Thanks Hank. It's really good to hear from you. I've thought of you often. I'm glad that you got your part time job back and managed to get a trailer to live in. Not having a place to call home is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can suffer.

And what wonderful news that you have found a woman who cares.

I've often wondered if getting tattoos is a way to externalize despair. Something to think about.

The big question is, are you happy? I know that I was far happier as a homeless person than I was as a millionaire.

Chicago is a big city and there are sure to be opportunities for you. If you look hard you should be able to get full time employment if that is what you want. Of course, if you can live with comfort on your part time work, you may prefer the freedom of less demanding hours. Since you have your pick up, you may be able to use it to earn a little extra cash if you need some. Also, if you get bored with too much time on your hands, you might consider doing some volunteer work somewhere. Although you don't get paid, being a volunteer can be extremely rewarding spiritually. Nothing can build a feeling of self-worth like helping people in need and the friendships you will build really make you aware that you are not alone.

Thanks again for keeping me posted. You have no idea how good it makes me feel to know that you are dealing with things so well.

Have a happy, healthy and hopeful New Year

Hank March 11/10

Hello again Ronzig:
This is Hank and I won’t refer to myself as the ‘former executive’ anymore. I hope you don’t mind a brief update again. I read over what I wrote in January and I am ashamed of my self-pity.
Things have changed again and are looking up. First I took your advice and started volunteering at a food pantry. It feels great to give something to others after thinking about myself for so long. There are good people there. Second, I have started training as a mechanic with an old friend who used to work on my car in the old days. He offered the training to me as a way of learning a real trade. I said yes right away.
You were so right as usual about the tattoos. I was in despair at the time, but it didn’t last. I complained for a few days and Cheryl, my friend, said to me ‘Were you happy back then?’ I said ‘No – not at all’.
And she said ‘Your grieving. Your grieving for the way you used to look. That’s why you wore those fancy suits all those years. You don’t look important now. You don’t look sharp. Nobody would think you were a big shot. So what? That’s not being happy. That’s it. You’ll get over it’.
She doesn’t care about image or status at all. She’s the one who likes my beard and ponytail and hates business suits and encourages me not to wear shoes if possible. She says: ‘Shoes are to protect your feet Hank. Not tell you who you are. Or what you are. I don’t care what you wore in your office or in your car. Only wear em when you have to until you stop caring, and only cheap ones. No more fancy shoes for you! No more suits either ever again! Get that stright!’ Wise woman.
She is the opposite of my ex in every way. I never have to impress her. But I have to be real.
She was right Ronzig. I started felling a lot better. I am now enjoying my freedom again and my lack of stress and fear. I have a place to live and I found some work. How did you keep up your spirits without a home? I am ashamed at my own despair.
I still have those tattoos of course. They can’t be hidden! But for a mechanic it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s a lesson to me every day not to give into despair and to look ahead. (I have to admit – I would like to see the face if my old boss if he ever saw me now…)
I’m even using my new name now with pride. Trevor, the old me, is gone. (Trevor wouldn't have tattoos or work as a mechanic or go without shoes) But Hank is alive and making it.
So thanks, thanks.
Hank the Mechanic

Great to hear you’re doing well Hank. Sounds like a very wise woman. You’re a lucky man. I like the fact you’re apprenticing as a mechanic. There will always be opportunities in that field.

Freedom is the absolute key to happiness. No-one can be truly happy without it. For me homelessness was my assertion of my freedom and I would never have come in if my health didn’t force me to. I had to sacrifice a large portion of my freedom when I came in.

I’m pleased that you are volunteering at the food bank. The rewards of doing something worthwhile are far greater than the financial rewards of so many of the meaningless careers that are so abundant in our society.

Stay happy my friend and keep in touch.

Hank Sept 24/10

Hi Ronzig: It is Hank again from previous , just dropping by to say hello and that things are going very well. I have a job as a mechanic in a local garage and the fine woman I met is still with me.
The ponytail and the beard are now full grown (!)
And it looks like I have found that freedom you talk about.
Here's some irony for you: My old garbageman came into the garage where I now work to have his car worked on. And he was dressed in the suit, tie and one of the pairs of Italian shoes he bought from me when I was selling everything from my old life.
He has moved on to a white collar job; his life has changed as much as mine.
He didn't know me at all at first - especially with the name Hank. Then he recognized me, and I told him my story in brief. He just grinned and told me what an arrogant snob he thought I was in the old days when I was Trevor and he picked up my trash. And he's standing there wearing my former pinstriped suit with his feet in my former shoes when he said it!
But the clothes are his now. They fit his life now - not mine. And the suit wouldn't fit me now anyway. I saw how it all came together.
I apologized and told him I had some hard lessons.
Then he said something I really liked: "It looks like you finally woke up to real life! You're a different man now in more ways than one."
Life is funny. What goes around, comes around! He has a Lexus now and I've got the truck. I did a good job on his car. I did not envy him the Lexus. It was now my job to work on it.
The pride in my work is greater now than it ever used to be.
And I am still volunteering in the food pantry. I have a lot to give back to the world.
It is now that I realize I am finally free.
Hank

Great to hear you’re doing well Hank and thanks for staying in touch. I’m so happy that you’re feeling the joy of FREEDOM. That is worth more than all the toys that so many voluntarily enslave themselves for.  Over the past few days, the Financial Post, Canada’s National economic propaganda rag, has been softening Canadians up for another round of fraudulent misappropriation of the nation’s wealth through a return to recession. Check it out at www.downbutnotout.ca/economy.php

Back when everyone started cheering and dancing around gleefully proclaiming the recession was over, I was one of the few that were warning of a second wave even worse than the first that was yet to come. Well it seems like it’s on its way. If I’m right, auto repair will be a good place to be employed. As people forego buying new cars and try to squeeze a little extra time out of the old ones, they will have to keep them running and road worthy.      

You’ll notice that I’ve changed the URL to www.downbutnotout.ca/ The old URL will still work, but the new one is easier to remember. I’m working at improving the site im several small ways, with more emphasis on the causes and possible solutions to the mess that the world is in rather than on the mess itself.

I’ve also changed the URL to my art website to www.ronzigsgallery.com/ and I’m working at a radical redesign there as well. I’m even building an online store and I have a really great new product which I’m launching next week. I’m working with a new contact that can embed my art into the glaze on ceramic tiles. It’s really good and I’m excited about it. You can check the tiles out at http://www.ronzigsgallery.com/tiles.php 

I’d love to see what you look like with the hair and ponytail. Why not send me a photo at ronzig@rogers.com

I could even post it here if you don’t mind. Let me know your feelings on this. Say hi to your lady for me. Glad that’s working out for you too.

All my best wishes, Ronzig.

added Sept 25

They didn't steal enough last time

In the following 3 articles, the Financial Post propagandists who ALWAYS tell us exactly what the elitist bastards that planned the recent recession order them to say, are preparing us for another round of theft of our money through a return to recession. When a recession causes bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures, we tend to think of the assets as lost, but that is not the case. People’s homes and all the assets that are liquidated in bankruptcies and foreclosures don’t just disappear; they merely change hands at pennies on the dollar from us to the bankers and financiers. During the recent recession this theft of wealth along with the billions of dollars in bailout money came directly out of the pockets of us, the people, and went straight into offshore bank accounts of the elitists. This theft which amounted to trillions of dollars wasn’t enough and now they are preparing to do it all over again.

When the government starts handing our money to these bankers and financiers this time I hope the public has enough sense to realize that this is nothing less than fraud. We need to stand up and demand an end.

No more! Enough is enough!

added Sept 25

  Consumer debt, slow U.S. growth worry Carney

Paul Vieira, Financial Post · Friday, Sept. 24, 2010

OTTAWA -- Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has identified the slowing U.S. recovery and household debt levels as “concerns” for the Canadian economy.

In an interview with U.S. business network CNBC Friday, he said low U.S inflation — due to a debt overhang and feeble growth — might prompt the U.S. Federal Reserve to take further measures, such as another round of asset purchases.

“We will deal with the consequences” of any Fed decision on so-called additional quantitative easing, said Mr. Carney, in an interview conducted at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que.

“We will adjust monetary policy to Canadian circumstances, but there are limits to the divergence that there can be.”

These factors are complicating the Bank of Canada’s next rate decision, due Oct. 19. The fixed-income market has priced in 70% odds that the central bank takes a pause at its next meeting, due to concerns of a slowing recovery. In fact, some analysts have suggested GDP in July, for which data are due out next week, may have contracted in the month.

In the second quarter just finished, the U.S. economy advanced at an annualized rate of 1.6%, while during the same period Canada’s economy grew 2%. Plus, a string of Canadian data released this past week have surprised on the downside.

“The recent weakness in the U.S. economy is of some concern to us,” Mr. Carney told CNBC. “We’re the largest trading partner of the United States. The U.S. is a predominant destination for our exports. And … the nature of the slowdown — both the past recession and the recent slowdown — is particularly concerning for Canada.”

Jim Flaherty, the Finance Minister, echoed similar concerns about the U.S. recovery — although reminding journalists the U.S. economy is still growing, although at a tepid pace.

While Messrs. Carney and Flaherty expressed concern over the U.S. economy, stock markets in New York and Toronto headed higher as investors were encouraged with American data suggesting businesses continued to invest in machinery and equipment during the month of August. Also, the durable goods data for July was revised to show drops in spending were not as severe as initially believed.

Another factor worrying the central bank is the record-high level of household debt. (On a debt-to-disposable income ratio, household indebtedness stands at over 140%.)

“The fact is with, exceptionally low rates, Canadians have seen fit to borrow,” Mr. Carney said. “We are concerned about the level of household borrowing in Canada.”

Canadian households may also be coming to terms with their debt, based on a surprise drop in retail sales in July.

In an analysis for clients, economists at BMO Capital Markets said the level of household debt presents a quandary for Mr. Carney.

“Fast debt growth cries out for higher rates, but weak external demand and a strong dollar risk driving inflation further below target,” it said. “Addressing the trade-off between ensuring financial stability and price stability likely means the bank will push interest rates higher at an extremely cautious pace over the next 18 months.”

Economists at BMO are in the minority in that they believe the Bank of Canada may raise rates, by another 25 basis points, next month even in the face of a bumpier recovery.

Financial Post

pvieira@nationlapost.com
Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/news/Consumer+debt+slow+growth+worry+Carney/3576238/story.html#ixzz10WxbsKwE

added Sept 25added Sept 25

Financial Post  Warren Buffett: We’re still in a recession

Jonathan Stempel, Reuters · Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010

NEW YORK -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the U.S. economy remains in recession, disputing this week's assessment by a leading arbiter of economic activity that the downturn ended more than a year ago.

"We're still in a recession," Buffett told CNBC television in an interview broadcast on Thursday. "We're not gonna be out of it for a while, but we will get out."

On Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research said the world's largest economy ended an 18-month recession in June 2009, but cautioned that its assessment did not mean normal activity had resumed.

Buffett said he defines a recession differently from the NBER, saying it ends when real per capita gross domestic product returns to its pre-downturn level.

President Barack Obama said on Monday that economic weakness is "still very real" for the millions of Americans who are out of work, have seen the value of their homes fall, or are mired in debt.

Buffett, 80, runs Berkshire Hathaway Inc, which has roughly 80 operating businesses. "A great majority" of these businesses are "coming back slowly," he said.

Berkshire's operations cover a broad swath of the economy, including the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, Dairy Queen ice cream, Geico auto insurance, and luxury jewelers such as Borsheim's.

Shipments at Burlington Northern are "61 percent of the way back," Buffett said. "Our carpet business, our brick business, our insulation business, they're not back 61 percent, but they are moving back."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has already driven short-term lending rates to near zero, said it is prepared to provide additional stimulus to support economic expansion and avert possible deflation.

"We've used up a lot of bullets," Buffett said. "And we talk about stimulus. But the truth is, we're running a federal deficit that's 9 percent of GDP. That is stimulative as all get out."

Buffett's US$45 billion net worth makes him the second-richest American, trailing only Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.

Berkshire Class A shares fell 0.6 percent to US$123,077 in morning trading. They traded as high as US$126,160, their highest level in nearly 23 months, on September 17.
Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/news/Warren+Buffett+still+recession/3568905/story.html#ixzz10Wqs9Zzo

added Sept 25 

Recovery declining dramatically: economist

Financial Post  News

Paul Vieira and David Pett, Financial Post · Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

OTTAWA AND TORONTO — The Canadian economy had a great run immediately following the recession, but analysts warn that the stark reality of a slow, painful recovery — like the one gripping the United States — is beginning to sink in.

Growth forecasts are being scaled back on the emergence of weaker economic indicators — highlighted yesterday by a report on the surprise drop in July retail sales. This is on top of soft consumer price statistics that suggest core inflation is slowing, and a bleak wholesale trade report.

These factors prompted IHS Global Insight to warn Canadian growth could slow at a more dramatic pace than that of the U.S. economy. The firm now estimates annualized growth in Canada of less than 1% for this quarter — a big comedown for an economy that advanced 5.8% in the first three months of 2010, followed by a 2% gain in the April-to-June period.

“When you look at relative momentum, Canada is declining even faster than the United States,” said Brian Bethune, the firm’s chief Canadian economist.

Warnings of a much slower economy may come at a bad time for the Conservative government, which is aggressively pushing its handling of the economy as a big selling point should an election be called in the coming months.

Mr. Bethune said consumer spending that surged in February and March is running out of steam, as is activity in the housing market. Morever, he said, labour market momentum is waning. In comparison, some key recent U.S. indicators — notably the ISM gauge, non-farm payrolls and retail sales — were stronger than anticipated.

Meanwhile, expectations mount the Bank of Canada will not raise rates at its meeting next month, and may be on the sidelines for a while, just like its U.S. counterpart, the Federal Reserve.

“The list of reasons for the Bank of Canada to pause is seemingly lengthening by the day,” Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, said after the release of retail data, which showed sales at malls slipped 0.1% month-over-month in July — marking the fourth straight monthly decline.

Besides a rate decision, the central bank is set to release its latest quarterly outlook, which was already “too optimistic,” Mr. Bethune said, before this week’s spate of poor data. The central bank originally projected 3% annualized growth for Canada in the second quarter, only to come in at 2%. And the 2.8% advance it envisaged in the third quarter is looking a little too robust given how some economists are speculating the economy may have shrunk in July.

CIBC World Markets offered a preview of what’s ahead for the Bank of Canada forecast when CIBC economists slashed its outlook for growth in Canada and the United States, warning investors to be prepared for the “great disappointment” of a dismal recovery that will stretch through 2011.

“The great recession that shattered global growth in 2008-2009 is now water under the bridge, but the great disappointment of a subpar global recovery will be with us for a good while longer,” CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld said in a report.

CIBC cut its outlook for 2011 growth to 1.9% from 2.5%, while scaling back its U.S. target to a “paltry” 1.8% from 1.9%. Starting for the July-September period, annualized quarterly growth will not surpass 2% until mid-2011.

The U.S. economy, Canada’s largest trading partner, will continue to be weak, as fiscal stimulus is removed and consumers continue to pay down debt. In addition, housing prices may fall further, CIBC warned, as a flood of foreclosed homes hit the market.

In Canada, Ottawa and the provinces will also undertake budget-cutting measures in 2011, which will hamper job creation, especially in construction. “And it’s unlikely that the new jobs created in 2011 would be of the same high quality — limiting the upside potential in personal income,” CIBC said.

Canadian retail data, released yesterday, suggest consumers may be keeping more of their income in their pockets. One factor could be that households are coming to grips with their record-high debt levels.

The retail data “suggests that Canadian consumers are beginning to adopt the same behaviours as their American counterparts concerning discretionary consumption,” said Marie-Claude Guillotte, an economist at Laurentian Bank Securities. “It may be that Canadian consumers are also feeling a need to put their financial affairs in order — a goal that necessarily entails cutting spending.”

pvieira@nationalpost.com

dpett@nationalpost.com


Read more:
http://www.financialpost.com/news/Canadian+economy+declining+dramatically+economist/3563588/story.html#ixzz10Lve3fx0

The Robin Hood Tax.

How it works

The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax on banks, hedge funds and other finance institutions  that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.

It can start as low as 0.005 per cent – and average 0.05 per cent . But when levied on the billions of pounds sloshing round the global finance system every day through transactions such as foreign exchange, derivatives trading and share deals, it can raise hundreds of billions of pounds every year.

And while international agreement is best, it can start right now, right here in the UK.

That can help stop cuts in crucial public services in the UK, and aid the fight against global poverty and climate change.

Why now?

Because of the financial crisis, frontline services at home – like the NHS and our schools – are under fire.

At the same time, poor communities and the environment are being hit hard – as aid and green budgets are slashed by rich countries.

So it’s time for the people who caused this mess to pay to clean it up.

Who’s in?

Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel (the German Chancellor) and Nicolas Sarkozy (the French President) have all spoken out in support of a tax on financial transactions.

Plenty of business bigwigs are on-board too. Lord Turner (from the Financial Services Authority), George Soros (the philanthropist) and Warren Buffet (US businessman extraordinaire) have all backed transaction taxes. And then there are the hundreds of economists who have backed the idea, too.

This isn’t some crazy pipedream. It’s a simple and brilliant idea which transcends party politics and which – with your support – can become a reality.

A good idea?

  • At the end of the video we ask you whether the Robin Hood Tax is a good idea. What do you think?
    yes  no
  • Your responses so far:
    YES: 90383 votes
    NO: 8544 votes

 

This YouTube playlist entitled Politics & Economics features videos exploring the negative effects of economics under the Capitalist system and the political ramifications to our society. 

Banks - Legalized Fraud

In these videos, Paul Hellyer speaks of Legalized Fraud where banks are allowed to lend the same money 20 times at once and collect 20 times the interest on each dollar that they have. If an individual did this he would be slapped in jail.

Double Dip Recession or Not? Maybe the Bond Market Knows | FP Posted | Financial Post

AJ Sull  June 30, 2010 – 9:48 pm

Looking back at the start of this year, the markets began the year with good cheer and likely a fair dollop of complacency.  Fast forward to the second quarter, and all of a sudden the PIIGS group of countries, double dip recession, and stubbornly high unemployment began to gain investor attention.

As has been commented upon in this space before, the bond market tends to be a better prognosticator of the economy’s direction than the equity markets - most of the time.  In general, rising bond yields have correlated with rising equity markets and falling bond yields (i.e. falling interest rates) come about as economic uncertainty gives rise to fear and panic.

So much effort is often expended on trying to predict market direction or how much the economy will grow (often turning out to be a fruitless endeavor) that all too often the obvious is missed. From our perspective, we have been keeping a keen eye on the 10 year Treasury yield (i.e. the level of interest investors are “charging” to be lenders to the US Treasury).

Even the 2 Year Treasury yield has come down to record lows as the bond market begins to price in an economic slowdown and the potential for deflation to set it in. At this point, perhaps it is too much too soon. Markets (including bond yields) never go up or down in a straight line. But since April, our line in the sand was drawn as we watched investors run for the safety of the bond market. This line in the sand was drawn at the 3.10% level. As we can see from the chart below, the line in the sand has been breached.
Read more: http://business.financialpost.com/2010/06/30/double-dip-recession-or-not-maybe-the-bond-market-knows/#ixzz0scRRkn00

At these levels, the bond market has discounted little fear of inflation. The gold bugs have been pounding the table for years about the coming inflationary crisis that will be fueled by the printing of money by the world’s central banks.

From the most recent data from the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) it would seem that all of the monetary grease that they have put into the economy is not making its way into the economy – and this will be the case so long as the banking system globally is not running at optimal efficiency.

It is hard to argue inflation when US GDP numbers are being revised lower (not higher) for the last two quarters, Europe is undergoing spending cuts and tax increases, and even the Canadian economy has seemingly hit a rough patch for the month of April – surprising many an economist. Yet if they would bother to pay attention to the bond market (above chart), an economic deceleration has been slowly getting priced in. 

However, that slowdown scenario does not presage yet another recession or double dip. A double dip recession is an infrequent occurrence – happening only once since the Great Depression. However, for many individuals looking to recover from the last recession or to get back into the labor force, the words “double dip” or “economic slowdown” are just semantics – the impact is real.

 AJ Sull, CFA, MBA, CMT is president and chief investment officer at Pacifica Partners – Capital Management in Surrey, B.C.Read more: http://business.financialpost.com/2010/06/30/double-dip-recession-or-not-maybe-the-bond-market-knows/#ixzz0scRZz7LL

 

added Dec 22 

This excellent report is full of exceptional information to help us understand the economics of this recession.

Well worth reading.

Citizens income.pdf Citizens income.pdf
Size : 1.738 Kb
Type : pdf

Has Capitalism Failed?

Over and over, I hear the same lament, “Capitalism has failed!”

Dictionary.com defines Capitalism as an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, esp. as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

Capitalism is merely an economic system created and designed to deliver the highest possible level of goods and services (wealth) to the people who utilize its principles to ultimately achieve the best possible standard of living. It makes no claim to being a form of distribution of wealth and has never been intended to deal with issues such as social justice. These issues are not addressed by Capitalism and belong in the realm of governance, not economics. As an economic system, Capitalism, has not failed, it has been extremely successful. It has provided goods and services adequate for the provision of an extremely comfortable and pleasant lifestyle for every human being on the planet.

On the other hand, our form of governance, Democracy has failed.

Dictionary.com defines Democracy as government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. A state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.

According to that definition, our government which is a form of Democracy is given the responsibility of ensuring that each citizen is guaranteed equality of rights and privileges. Specifically that would mean that our government is responsible for creating rules or laws that guarantee that if some members of society are privileged with a lifestyle that provides comfort and security, then all members of the society should also be granted the privilege of a lifestyle that provides comfort and security.

Democracy has failed to ensure equality of rights and privileges and that is where our society has failed. We need look no further than our political system and the politicians who work theoretically for us when we seek to understand the vast inequities in our society. They have been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring equality of rights and privileges yet we have individuals and families sleeping on our streets while others sleep in homes that exceed their physical needs so dramatically that it boggles the mind.

We live in the richest society that has ever existed on the planet and yet we have members of this society who are reduced to searching through garbage to find food to keep them alive and every month several people who are denied the basic right of a safe and secure home perish for no reason other than our failure to enforce the rule of Democracy that demands equality for all. We claim that society can not afford to provide this equality even though we are surrounded by vast riches. I say we can not afford not to provide this equality under penalty of disintegration and collapse.

Democracy has failed and each and every one of us is responsible for allowing it to fail. Only you and I have the power and responsibility to correct this. No-one else, you and I.

 

This is by far the most informative and important analysis

 of the economic collapse ever to be reported.

As Foreclosures Hit All-Time High, Wall Street on Pace to Hand Out Record $140B in Employee Bonuses

Click the title to watch an important and shocking video from:

Democracy Now! | Radio and TV News

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has topped 10,000 for the first time in a year, as JPMorgan Chase reported massive profits in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that major US banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year—a record high. But on Main Street, foreclosures are also at record levels, and the official unemployment rate is expected to top ten percent.

 

When will we move beyond a Stone Age mentality?

Throughout the history of the human race there has been a division of power resulting in an elite few who did little while the majority worked every waking hour just to survive. While the privileged few grew fat off the labour of the rest, the progress of the race was hampered because most of the population had no time to work at creating a better society.

Today is no different. While 90% of the population slaves every waking hour to maintain the few comforts they have been allowed to enjoy primarily through a credit system that ensures they will never escape an indentured state of existence, the dominant 10% enjoy their multi million dollar yachts, private jets and mansions.

This powerful elite maintains its privileged existence through manipulation of the economy, the politicians and the population through bribery, deceit and corruption as they gather the bounty of this Earth unto themselves at an unprecedented and alarming rate, leaving the majority to struggle for survival with the threat that they face disaster if the income they have been fooled into relying upon through the credit system is disrupted.

Nearly every individual and family in the industrialized world faces the loss of all they have if they are deprived of income for just a few short weeks. Thus they are driven by fear of loss to toil under a system of Economic Slavery throughout their entire lives and each and every one of them by doing so contributes to the ever increasing gap between the few at the top of the heap and the rest of us as the profits from their drudgery is siphoned off into off shore banks where it has no benefit to society whatsoever.

Whenever society becomes alarmed at this situation, the elite put forward a token saviour to fool us into thinking that he will alleviate the inequities. Such is the case with President Obama. It costs One Hundred Million Dollars just to be able to run for President in the United States. Now, Mr. Obama did not pull that money out of his pocket. Neither did his opponent. They had to have backers willing to pay to support them, backers with very deep pockets. I didn’t give them this money and neither did the average citizen. The bulk of this money came from the privileged few at the top and they gave similar amounts to each candidate because they were never concerned with who got in. They own them both. A couple of Hundred Million Dollars is a small price to pay to ensure the system remains basically as is, for as it is, the system allows these powerful people to skim all the cream from the economy to the tune of Billions of Dollars annually.

Now that the token saviour is in place at the White House, his hands are tied by this monstrous debt he carries and by the similar debts of each and every politician who has been elected and whose support the President needs to pass any legislation. As an added incentive to maintain the status quo, lobbyists are ever present to continuously remind them of the debt and to sweeten the pot when absolutely necessary, thus increasing the obligation.

Meanwhile, the spin doctors create false propaganda to deceive the public into supporting the status quo. Is it any wonder that the wars continue while important legislation such as heath care is thwarted?

Now you may say that is the United States and this is Canada, but the same formula to dictate government policy exists in every modern so called Democracy in the world. The political leaders of the governments are not the people who make the decisions. They obey the orders of their bosses at the head of the major international corporations who are the unseen dictators worldwide.

And what is the result of this situation?

Men and women are tricked into enlisting or drafted into the armed forces and sent off to distant lands to kill and be killed where covetous elitists who never step into danger see opportunity to seize resources through military intervention. All to augment the unimaginable coffers they maintain in off shore banks.

Dictators worldwide are supported and billions of taxpayer dollars are funnelled to them annually under the auspices of aid programs for the sole purpose of ensuring unimpeded access to the resources to be taken for the further enrichment of the elite. Most of this aid money finds its way into the off shore banks rather than going to alleviate the suffering of the throngs of people who are enslaved by these dictators. All to enable the elite to siphon off even greater profits to add to their coffers.

Millions of people die annually from starvation while the surplus food that would prevent this tragedy is destroyed to maintain high prices in the marketplace.

Diseases that are easily prevented or cured take millions more lives because need is not the motivation to save them, profit is. Since they have no money to add to the coffers in the off shore banks, they are expendable.

And as was the case during the Stone Age, the chieftains continue to fatten at the expense of the majority.

What can be done, you might ask.

We, the people need to go after the storehouses of the bounty that we worked and slaved for generations to create. These off shore banks which exist for only one purpose, to hide ill gotten riches from exposure must be stopped. The United Nations should seek to lead world opinion in demanding that the secrecy and resultant immunity of off shore banks be eliminated.

Some thoughts on the budget speech

After catching the budget speech on the news last night I have to say that I am disappointed,but not in the least surprised at Prime Minister Harper?s cynical attempt to con the public with a smoke screen of proposals that appear to be designed to provide recession relief while actually doing very little except to keep him in a job. Sadly, I fear that he will accomplish his goal as it is doubtful that the Liberals will vote to defeat this ignominy.

a)     Of primary concern is the fact that the only meaningful step he has taken to help the average man on the street is to extend Employment Insurance coverage for five whole weeks. Whoopeee!!! That'll help a lot. We?re entering a period of prolonged recession expected by the experts to last for years, but at least when you lose your job; you'll be covered for an extra five weeks before you drop off the face of the Earth into the welfare system where you will find it impossible to keep your home or feed your family. Hooray for Mr. Harper. Thanks buddy that should really help.

b)     Absolutely no mention of welfare in this document. Harper seems to believe that once your EI runs out, you just don't matter any more and it?s OK to let you slide into homelessness. Surprise,surprise!!!

c)     He has promised to spend billions on infrastructure; something which should have been done years ago, but by requiring the provinces and municipalities to each put up one third of the cost of each project and requiring a prolonged application procedure before approval,he has made certain that there will be few projects begun until long after the recession has run its course. No help there either.

d)     Out of the couple of billion dollars earmarked for social housing projects, less than a quarter of the funds will be spent on new housing for the hundreds of thousands Canadians on the waiting lists, so it seems that the desperate shortage of affordable housing is still not of concern to the Conservatives who have fine homes to live in. Why should they be concerned about the plight of the 60,000 people on the waiting list for housing in Toronto alone? An average often years isn?t too long to wait to be able to afford the rent on a home for a person?s family is it? Again, not a lot of help for Canadians facing the downward spiral of joblessness followed by the loss of homes and families.

e)     By raising the point of the first two levels on the Income tax graph he has effectively conned us again. The result will be that everyone will pay less tax including people at the top who earn millions of dollars annually, but why not make everyone who earns less than the poverty line totally tax exempt and raise the rates for the top earners enough to compensate? They can certainly afford it from their multimillion dollar incomes and these top earners are recession proof. Even if they go bankrupt they get to keep more money in their personal accounts than most of us earn in our lifetimes. There is never any fear of their needing Ei or welfare, but then again if there was, you can bet Harper would be the first to raise the rates.

A scene from Yonge St South of Bloor St.

OCAP's response to the budget

Today's budget will do little to help low income Canadians. Harper's
government has made some attempt to placate the opposition, but his
efforts will only help a shrinking fraction of the population. The
spending strategy is described as Timely, Temporary, and Targeted. Indeed
it is. It's too little, too late, for too few. While 75 billion dollars
are given to the financial sector, there are only scraps left for the
poorest in our society.
In line with the ongoing Harper agenda, the budget emphasizes tax cuts,
instead of making real investments in housing, infrastructure and people.
He crows about investing in social housing and unemployment insurance. The
budget says that it will invest 2 billion into social housing.  Sounds great. But the cost of repairs to
Ontario's housing are estimated at about
$1.2 billion. And 60,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing
in
Toronto alone. Given that much of the infrastructural fundingis
dependent on cost-sharing with the cash-poor provinces and municipalities,
the figures are misleading. Harper claims that he's making things easier
for laid off workers by adding 5 weeks to employment insurance. Given that
60% of Canadians aren't eligible, this will do little for the majority of
those suffering in the economic downturn.
As factories close and businesses go bankrupt, more and more Canadians
will need help. Unfortunately the tax cuts, benefits and incentives will
do little for them when they're evicted, unable to obtain employment
insurance, or scraping by on welfare and food banks. A budget that would
really address the needs of the increasing ranks of poor Canadians would
raise the welfare rates, expand employment insurance in a serious way,
build new and quality social housing invest in transit, education and
health care. This budget doesn't even try.
An economic recession that leads to layoffs, evictions and poverty is not
the time for bailing out the corporations and playing political games.
It's the time to organize in our communities to support one another, and
to fight to ensure that the poorest, the most vulnerable, are not
abandoned yet again.

The TDRC & The Recession Relief Fund Coalition respond to the budget
The Recession Relief Fund Coalition of which TDRC is a member was very disappointed in the Budget tabled today. A response has been crafted to send to
Ottawa. Here are the email addresses for the Minister Flaherty, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton. Please email the attached letter(with your signature/identification) to them.
flaherty.j@parl.gc.ca
ignatieff.m@parl.gc.ca
layton.j@parl.gc.ca
Duceppe.G@parl.gc.ca

The Hon. Jim Flaherty
House of Commons Confederation Building-Room 607
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Flaherty                                                        January 27, 2009
The Recession Relief Coalition represents the over 225 organizations and over 1,000 individuals that signed the Recession Relief Fund Declaration. The 2009 Budget tabled today did not address the concerns of our country's most vulnerable and the agencies that provide them with essential services.
The Declaration called for an increase in spending through HRSDC programs, including a doubling of funding to HPI (Homelessness Partnership Initiatives). There is no recognition that private sector donations, required by many agencies offering essential services, have plummeted. At the same time, demand has increased as more and more people become unemployed.
Although EI benefit periods have been extended by 5 weeks, barriers to qualification and waiting periods remain intact. It should be noted that only about a third of those who lose their job can qualify for benefits, even though many have paid into EI for years.
Training funding is welcome but does not appear to address youth and other people of employment age living in extreme poverty. Many require pre-training. Many require housing and other supports for several years before they are job ready.
We welcome the much needed $1 Billion allocated for repair and renovation of existing affordable housing stock, funds for seniors housing, on reservation housing and $75 million for people with disabilities. However, there appears to be little allocation for new affordable housing stock in urban areas. In addition, it is not clear if seniors? housing will target housing for low income seniors and what the definition of disability means (For example, does it include individuals with mental disabilities?). There is clearly no fully funded National Housing Policy as requested in the Declaration.
The requirement for municipalities to apply to Ottawa and to line up matching funding is an issue. Shovelready? projects could be delayed for years due to the application process and the requirement of municipalities and possibly Provinces to provide matching funding. In addition, municipalities will not be free to set their own priorities but will be held captive to the agenda of the Federal Government.

Yonge & College in Toronto

Also at Yonge & College


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Index of Ronzig's web pages

Website:

Down But Not Out

As well as Ronzig's Gallery, Ronzig built and maintains Down But Not Out, a website dedicated to social activism and providing information about many of the current issues that threaten to destroy our planet and the social structures we have developed. This link will take you to the Home page of Down But Not Out which was recently ranked as the 12th best website about homelessness on the internet and the following information will explain each of the pages on the website. You will have the opportunity to comment on what you learn here and read the many comments of other visitors to the site.

Learn more about Ronzig and why he created Down But Not Out and why it began as a website discussing the issues of poverty, homelessness and addiction and how it evolved into much more, encompassing issues a wide ranging as politics, war imperialism, conspiracy, economics, health, the environment and more.

Having been a crack addict for nearly 2 decades, during the 2nd of which I was homeless, I have acquired an in depth understanding of addiction, how & why it begins, what it does to a person, what is involved with getting free of this curse and the social implications of this ever increasing plague on civilization. I disclose some little known and often ignored information and insights that will assist you in coming to a better understanding of what addiction is all about.

I have created a page where visitors to Down But Not Out can contribute by telling their story about how the issues discussed on the site has affected them or someone they care about. I encourage you to read what others have to say and please tell us your story. You can remain anonymous if you prefer.

There is an extensive examination of the economy on Down But Not Out with discussions about the recession, economic collapse, the increasing disparity between the rich, the poor and the middle class. I delve into the phenomena of the shrinking middle class and the emergence of a 2 class society where an economic elite rule and the rest of us are rapidly being relegated to economic slavery.

Whether you call it Global Warning, Climate Disruption or choose to adopt one of the euphemisms that opponents to addressing this impending disaster use to seek to reduce the significance of the crisis to protect their ill gotten financial profits, it is a scientific fact that our global environment is on the brink of collapse. If meaningful and immediate action is not taken the human race along with almost all other forms of life on the Planet Earth will soon face extinction.

Whenever I have time I try to post notices of significant events that you may wish to attend including rally's, protests, political meetings, or other relevant items here. I also use this page to post notices of upcoming art shows where my work will be on display.

The social, economic and political issues revolving around health and healthcare are currently creating an environment where universal healthcare in Canada is under attack. It is evident that the elite no longer wish to ensure adequate health services for an aging population. They see no need to preserve individual health when there is no shortage of replacement economic slaves to step in when one of us succumbs to preventable illness and dies.

There is a worldwide epidemic of homelessness that has emerged in the past couple of decades to plague society and the wealthiest nations, ones with more than sufficient resources to provide housing for their populations are the worst at addressing the situation. Having lived long enough to realize that even when our society was steeped in relative poverty compared to today's situation, homelessness was never a significant problem until recently as the elite grab more and more of the world's wealth and resources, leaving the rest of us to struggle just to keep a roof over our heads.

With the advent of the internet, hope for a just society has been restored, yet there are sinister powers threatening to crush that hope. Just when internet should be reaching the point of universal global access, these powers are forcing an increasing internet divide, where surprisingly millions who once could afford access are being economically deprived of this crucial commodity, for a commodity is what it has become and it is for sale at price not reflective of costs, but of what the market will bear. Perhaps we should be considering defining internet as a Necessary Service that is available to everyone at affordable rates of free of charge.

With the corporatization of mainstream media, it's difficult to find any honest reporting in this media, as they tend to stick like flies on flypaper to the elitist party line. However even the most cynical of these outlets of information are forced to include a modicum of honesty in their reports when faced with the vast amount of conflicting evidence distributed freely on the internet. It is beneficial also to be up to date on what they are saying in order to point out the inadequacies and outright lies that they distribute.

Over the years, Ronzig has been in the news on several occasions, both as the subject of articles and as interviewee. Of course I've commented on many news items as well. you'll find some of these pieces on my news page.

There is a disturbing trend in politics that is increasingly threatening the very fabric of Democracy, or the sorry excuse for such that we have  adopted. I'm speaking of the merging of the Capitalist manifesto into the political agenda to the effect that today's politicians see their job almost exclusively as serving the requirements of capitalism and corporate profits rather than the needs of the citizens who are the true backbone of any nation.

Ever wonder how it is possible that in the richest civilization that has ever existed on the planet, extreme poverty is reaching epidemic proportions?  The answer is obvious. Every single year for the past 3 decades the wealthiest 5% of the world's population have taken control and ownership of a greater proportion of the world's resources leaving less for each of the remaining 95% of the people who have to live on this planet. In every industrialized nation the middle class is under attack and is shrinking annually as people are forced down the economic scale into the burgeoning poverty class. The truly terrifying aspect of this is the fact that the members of the middle class which is the primary target of this attack believe that when the middle class is eliminated they will be part of the elite upper class of rulers rather than economic slaves of these rulers. Because of this the middle class votes consistently for politicians who serve this elite ruling class and don't even realize they are voting for their own destruction.

In a society which professes to be primarily Christian is it not a paradox that we have created such an un-Christian attitude toward our neighbours? By assuming the philosophy of "Looking our for number ONE", we find it easy not only to allow our brothers and sisters to suffer and actually perish because they can not afford to pay for the basic requirements of survival, nourishment and shelter, but many of us are arrogant enough to hate them for their predicament. How are we to overcome this tide of apathy and animosity which in the end will destroy us if we fail?

If you group is interested in Ronzig's experiences and philosophies, I do speaking engagements and will talk on any of the topics covered here. I have had great success with audiences while speaking about homelessness & addiction, Democracy & politics as well as photography & art and would be pleased to accept a request to speak to you group.

Primarily because of American Imperialism the world has been in a constant state of war for the majority of the past 6 decades. Isn't it amazing how we can call making war on another nation a Police Action or Peacekeeping Action to camouflage the fact that we are invading a nation to seize control of its resources or to use it as a staging zone for our aggressive moves on its neighbours, yet we call defensive retaliation Terrorism? We call the slaughter of innocent civilians Collateral Damage to hide the fact that more than 80% of the people we kill in our wars are civilians primarily women and children. I find it disturbing that Prime Minister Harper has eagerly jumped into bed with the Americans and is arming Canada to fight along side our neighbours to the South as we seek to seize control of far off nations. We stand idly by and allow Israel, the puppet state of the Americans which exists solely because of American arms and financing to commit wide scale genocide in its attempt to eradicate the legitimate population of the region from the planet.

Website:

Go to Ronzig's Gallery digital photoArt, photography,  video, photographic & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto, Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images and art on ceramic tiles top home page.

Learn about Ronzig and Ronzig's Gallery: What is digital photoArt? Ronzig's guerrilla photography and video. Art on Ceramic Tiles. Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images, Mini Video Tours of Toronto. And photographic and video recording services.

View some of Ronzig's best work in a slideshow or individual images from Ronzig at Ronzig's Gallery of digital photoArt and photography.

You can contact  Ronzig's Gallery by email, telephone or by snail mail to his address to inquire about Ronzig's digital photoArt, photography, Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images. video, photography & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto and art on ceramic tiles or to purchase his products or services. You will also find numerous links to other websites where Ronzig has a presence.

Read the Legend of Ronzig the Wizard and his battle with his evil twin brother Ronzak the Sorcerer in the story of the ongoing struggle between good and evil that has been going on since the creation of the universe.

This is where you can order  Ronzig's products and services from Ronzig's Gallery such as digital photoArt,  photography & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto, art on ceramic tiles & Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images.

Ronzig creates spectacular panorama works either as photographic images or as Digital photoArt that are available in standard sizes up to 44" x 13" on either canvas or archival quality photo paper (larger sizes available by special order).  Ronzig's Gallery will also embed a panorama image into the glaze of a series of ceramic tiles to create a unique wall or floor covering surface to your specs.

Ronzig's Digital photoArt & photographic images from Ronzig's Gallery cover a broad array of subject matter and themes resulting in highest quality art works to suit any preference. These images are all available on ceramic tiles & Collector Series Postcards as well a more traditional canvas and archival photo paper in a wide range of sizes to suit your requirements.

All of Ronzig's best work is available on Collector Series Postcards on archival photo paper, suitable not only for mailing a unique greeting to friends and loved ones, but also for framing as a group to hang on your wall.

Ronzig has done work for a wide range of clients from law firms to developers, health services facilities and the City of Toronto, all of which would certainly provide excellent references to Ronzig's Gallery.

Most of Ronzig's best work, be it video, photography or Digital photoArt is available as stock video clips or stock photo & art images at extremely reasonable prices for royalty free applications that you are producing.

Most of Ronzig's best work can be embedded into the glaze of ceramic tiles, resulting in virtually indestructible art works suitable for architectural uses such as surfaces for walls, floors, counter tops, back-splashes, fireplace surrounds or mantlepieces. As home furnishing uses they provide unique surfaces for tables or any other flat surfaced furniture. There is a series of 4" x 4" tiles with a protective backing designed for use as coasters that are bound to intrigue your guests as you entertain. Of course they make timeless stand alone art suitable for framing or placing on a stand for display.

Ronzig produces a wide range of videos, including Documentary works, event recording such as children's birthdays, activism and social protest works, art films, Mini Video Tours and special effects clips. Ronzig's Gallery is fully equipped and has access to support professionals to create original works with multi-camera filming, still photography and custom music for any production. He is presently working on a special fx movie, The Legend of Ronzig the Wizard, for which he the writer, art and costume designer, producer director and star.

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