Archive for January, 2009

THE STRIKE IS OVER!!

Thank goodness that the OC Transpo strike is finally over.  It sounds like the federal government threatening to step in made both the Mayor and the head of the Transit Union to agree to binding arbitration.  Both the Mayor and the Union head seemed to not be willing to comprimise at all!  It finally took local MPs to realize how badly the many people who rely on the buses were hurting in Ottawa, before anything was done about it. 

Kudos to the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP for working together to get this thing done.   They all realized how important OC Transpo is to the people of Ottawa.

Now our two negotiating teams seem to have not realized this.  Their egos  seem to have gotten in the way of getting things done.  They have agreed to binding arbitration that a mediator recommended to both parties on day 1!!!  Shame on them. 

And specifically to the union, you approached this with such animosity, that you had a complete shut-down, right before Christmas, and carried this out through the worst weather season.  Shame on you.

Let’s hope that OC Transpo gets classified as an essential service so we don’t have to do this again.

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Just for fun–Bush vs. Zombies

Downfall of the American Empire?

I remember reading this interview a little while ago.   Emmanual Todd predicted a fall for America back in 2003, near the start of the Iraq War.  It looks like he might be prescient again.  His comparisons of present America the consumer to 16th century Spain the consumer are particularly relevant now.   I like when at the end about there being no true world super power in the future.  There is much talk about Europe (his knowledge base), but he doesn’t touch on the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries that much.   Still, an interesting read.

Some thoughts on bail-outs

I finding it hard to really get behind the bail-outs that are being proposed in both the US and Canada–and around the world.  One of the premises of the capitalistic system is that good companies rise to the top, and bad companies fall away.  It is up to the consumer to decide the successes and failures of companies.   People who know me would probably think of me as left-leaning, but I have a hard-time with Governments using tax-payers money to help prop-up failing businesses.  I believe that governments are responsible to the people of the nation–their citizens and tax payers.  I therefore believe that if government money is needed to get us out of this economic mess (which I’m not sure I agree with), it should be directly invested into the people of the nation.  That could mean prolonged EI benefits, money to schools and universities to educate the people, funding infrastructure projects or financial help with STARTING a business.   Not help mature companies that are not able to react to the times, or have huge corporate wages and perks, and have out-dated technology. 

I know I previously thought that Nortel may be deserving of a bail-out, compared to the big 3 automakers, but now I’m not so sure.  Maybe from the remnants of Nortel there will be talented people who will be able to start new innovative companies.  One can only hope.

The GST

So, the Harper government is considering further cuts on the GST. Are they seriously thinking of doing this?! Now even taxpayer federations are saying that their previous tax cuts to the GST was a bad idea (see this article from CTV.ca )  That 12-14 billion might be pretty useful right about now.

To think that they would consider a further cut to the GST at this point.  I guess they would think that this would increase spending, which may or may not be the case.  If people do spend more, the only industries that I believe will really benefit will be the retail sector, and imports sold at Walmart and other such places.  Not necessarily the best use of money, money that could be used to pay down the national debt.

New Apple Toy

BTW, I finally broke down and got an Apple product. I believe we overpayed for an Apple iPod nano (my wife liked the colours, and the availability of docking speaker systems), but I am getting into it. The docking is great, and my exploration of iTunes and the iTunes store has added to the experience. Everything is set up to be so easy–I can see why people like it!

Back to the overpaying, I must admit there were many other options with the same or better technical specifications (I like the idea of an FM receiver) such as the Zune, Sansa, and Sony-Ericsson models. They must be able to get away with it because of their name, and the positive reviews of the whole ecosystem.

Does this now make me the member of some sort-of Apple cult? Or just a happy user that will still buy non-Apple products? I would say I’m the latter right now.

Nortel’s woes

Living in Ottawa and working in the high tech sector, it’s hard to not be affected in some way by Nortel. There are many ex-Nortel people out there, and everyone has some story about how they worked, or almost worked there. Now, with the bankruptcy protection, recently laid-off workers and pensioners are now worried about their money. Ay, yay, yay.

One thing that I can take from this is that there are definitely issues of bad management and bad accounting. But is this any worse than the big three automakers? As much as I do NOT want Nortel to get a bail-out–isn’t the high tech industry a better place for the government to invest than the auto sector? The automotive area employs many people, but does manufacturing really increase the knowledge base of the people of Ontario? What kind of R&D spend do these companies do? Nortel, for all it’s warts, is/was one of the top R&D spending companies in Canada. So many high tech companies spun out of Nortel. Should the bailout people maybe think about tech sector, just to see if they can help out?