Venice, Louisiana is aptly nicknamed “the end of the world.” The community of 1000, which includes Venice, Orchard and Boothville, is south of New Orleans is the most southerly terminus of the Great River Road and the last community on the Mississippi River. Venice was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. East of Venice, LA is a human-induced oxygen deprived dead zone on the Gulf of Mexico seabed with too little oxygen to support fish, shrimp, crabs and other forms of marine life, that expanded to its largest on record by 2008 of c. 8,000 square miles.

One of Venice’s main industries is to provide service and transport for off-shore petroleum platforms, including BP’s  Deepwater Horizon oil rig which exploded 2010-02-20 killing eleven people and causing a huge oil spill.

Deepwater Horizon, built in 2001, was a Transocean-owned semisubmersible drilling rig but it was leased to BP (65%), with partners Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Mitsui & Co. owning the remainder.

BP plc founded in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (See wiki for its Iranian-British-American history), which became The British Petroleum Company plc then BP Amoco plc now called BP) “is a British global energy company that is also the third largest global energy company and the 4th largest company in the world. As a multinational oil company (“oil major”) BP is the UK’s largest corporation, with its headquarters in St James’s, City of Westminster, London.[2][3][4] The company is among the largest private sector energy corporations in the world, and one of the six “supermajors” (vertically integrated private sector oil exploration, natural gas, and petroleum product marketing companies). BP’s 2009 reports a revenue of $246.1 billion, a net incomeof US $16.58 billion, a total equity of US $101.6 billion with 92,000 employees worldwide. wiki source

See dramatic photos here.

BP’s Gulf of Mexico Deepwater operations which include Atlantis Oil Field, Thunder Horse, Mad Dog, Pompano, Holstein, Horn Mountain, Marlin, Nakika and Tiber oilfield (announced 2009; production not commenced) operates from Houston, Texas.

“Transocean LTD is the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor. The company rents out floating, mobile drill rigs, along with the equipment and personnel needed for operations, to oil and gas companies. The company was spun-off from its parent, Birmingham, Alabama based Sonat, Inc. in 1993 and was originally called Sonat Offshore Drilling, Inc. Sonat Offshore acquired the Norwegian group Transocean ASA in 1996 and adopted its name. In 2000 the company merged with Sedco Forex, and was renamed Transocean Sedco Forex. In 2001 the company bought Reading & Bates Falcon. The name of the company was simplified to Transocean in 2003. Sedco Forex was originally part of Schlumberger until 2000 when it was spun off. Sedco Forex was originally formed from the merger of two drilling companies, the Southeast Drilling Company (Sedco) and French drilling company Forex. Transocean employs approximately 26,300 people worldwide and has a fleet of 136 vessels and units as of March, 2009. It was incorporated in the Cayman Islands while the principal office is in Houston, Texas. On December 8, 2008, the company’s shareholders voted to move its incorporation from the Caymans to Zug, Switzerland. The company has offices in 20 countries around the world, with major offices in Stavanger, Aberdeen, Perth, Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia. On July 23, 2007, Transocean announced a merger with GlobalSantaFe Corporation. The merger was completed on November 27, 2007.” wiki source

Steven L. Newman, CEO became CEO of Transocean in March 2010 just before the explosion. Newman joined the company in 1994 in the Corporate Planning Department. Mr. Newman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business.

Macondo prospect:
“The Macondo prospect is located on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico in a water depth of 4,993 feet (1,522 meters). BP serves as the operator and holds a 100% interest in the prospect, which was acquired at the MMS Lease Sale #206 in March 2008. On Feb. 23, 2009 an EP was submitted to MMS (OCS-G 32306) proposing to drill and temporarily abandon two exploratory wells on the field. Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon semisub, which caught fire on April 20, 2010, was drilling the Macondo prospect. According to Dow Jones, the well had reached a depth of at least 11,500 feet (3,502 meters), when BP filed a permit with MMS to temporarily abandon the well. The rig sunk after erupting into flames from a blowout. BP may drill a relief well, if required, and will utilize a nearby drilling rig, which is available to commence drilling immediately source.”

At a 5000% mark-up, colour may be too expensive for most of us and we will be back to viewing the world in black and white, low resolution and high noise interference.

In Canada, radio airwaves or spectrum, a public resource, is managed by Industry Canada. The Canadian federal government with a $54 billion deficit hopes to gain c. $ 1 billion dollars through its spectrum 10-year licenses auction to cash in on cellphone industry’s astronomical profits (ex. 2006 total revenue $12.7 billion, 2008 total revenues c. 15.9 billion) Was the 2009 spectrum auction a bargain basement for telecommunications giants?

Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc. and Telus Corp, Canada’s largest cellphone providers have held spectrum licences for cellphone services in Canada. In 2006 alone Canada’s cellphone industry total revenue was $12.7 billion, 95% of this going to these three companies who- lacking competition- charged higher rates and provided poorer services than services in peer countries. In 2008 the total revenue for Canadian cellphone companies was $15.9 billion and in 2010 cellphone providers Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc., Telus Corp, Fido and Virgin charged up to a 5000% mark-up even calculations included technology and overhead costs. Prices were so high and customer service so bad that Marketplace held a “Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill” contest (Mesley 2010-03-05).

It is no wonder that Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RCI) is listed by Forbes as having Aggressive Growth potential. Should we applaud the growth for Rogers investors or lament the management of the Spectrum commons?

Spectrum is a catch-all term for the radio airwaves that many wireless gizmos use to communicate information. Radios use spectrum, as do the rabbit-ear antennas on older television sets. The CBC, for example, is broadcast free to many parts of Canada using a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Cellphones, of course, also use it. Spectrum is divided into different frequencies and measured in units called hertz. The government extracts big revenue from selling spectrum licences to cellphone companies, because those licences are limited while demand is high. Other telecommunications providers would like to offer cellphone services but can’t, because they don’t have a spectrum licence. The auction is expected to earn the government at least $1 billion. A number of smaller regional companies, including Winnipeg-based Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. and Regina-based SaskTel, also have licences and offer cellphone services (Nowak 2008-05-26).

See map of cellphone costs worldwide.

Timeline

1789 Jeremy Bentham “considered protection from harm, as more basic (and an aim of regulation) than provision of enjoyments: “the care of providing for his enjoyments ought to be left almost entirely to each individual: the principal function of government being to protect him from suffering” (Bentham 1789/1948:301, quoted in Shrader-Frechette 1991:285). An assessor’s prima facie (at first sight) duty is to minimise the chance that an unsafe technology is implemented; in order to minimise public risk. This is a value judgement: is it more important to protect the public from harm (hazards from risky technologies, such as cellular towers), than to provide welfare (benefits from new technologies, such as third generation services and better cellular coverage)? The perception and response type I and type II errors in regulation reveal the rationality of the regulator. The research analyses the national
thresholds pertaining to RF human hazards and spurious emissions (Madjar 2008-08).”

1864 to 1873 James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1894), a Scot theoretical physicist, demonstrated that four relatively simple equations could fully describe electric and magnetic fields and their interaction. He described how charges and currents produce an Electro Magnetic Radio wave (Madjar 2008-08).”

1887, in the research laboratory of a young German physicist, Heinrich Hertz, the first radio transmitter began working briefly over a range of just a few metres (Madjar 2008-08).”

1895-05-07. Alexander Popov (1859-1906) demonstrated his instrument for the detection and recording of electrical oscillations (Madjar 2008-08).”

1895-spring In the spring of the same year, Guglielmo Marconi (1874- 1937) took his wireless experiments outdoors and soon discovered that an intervening hill was no barrier to the reception of electromagnetic waves (Madjar 2008-08).”

1987-1991 New Zealand was the first country to apply the Wireless Act in 1903 (one year before the UK); the first RF Auction in the world occurred there in 1989. Neo-liberal ideologues promoted structural adjustment program which was more drastic than that inaugurated by Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain (Herman and McChesney 1997:178-9). Their 1987-1991 auction of UHF spectrum resulted in the acquisition of RF (Herman and McChesney 1997:180) (Madjar 2008-08:47).”

2002 The economist Vernon L. Smith, the laureate of Nobel Prize 2002, published (Smith 1962) that only under perfect competition, the market price establishes equilibrium between supply and demand- at the level, where the value assigned to a good by a marginal buyer is as high as that of a marginal seller (Madjar 2008-08:47).”

Today there are more than 3 billion cellular telephones worldwide.

2007-11 Even though Canada’s cellphone industry made $12.7 billion in 2006, 95% of the total revenue went to Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc. and Telus Corp who charged higher rates and provided poorer services than peer countries because of lack of competition (Nowak 2008-05-26)

2008 In 2008 c. 60 % of Canadians subscribed to a cellphone service, subtantially behind the rest of the industrialized world. Countries such as Denmark and Norway where c. 90% of the population are subscribed and rates are much lower (Nowak 2008-05-26)

Instituting special breaks in the auction was the government’s way of spurring competition (Nowak 2008-05-26)

2008 The total revenue for Canadian cellphone companies was $15.9 billion and in 2010 cellphone providers Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada Inc., Telus Corp, Fido and Virgin charged up to a 5000% mark-up even when calculations included technology and overhead costs. Prices were so high and customer service so bad that Marketplace held a “Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill” contest (Mesley 2010-03-05).

2008-08 Haim Mazar Madjar defended his dissertation entitled “An Analysis of Regulatory Framework for Wireless Communications, Societal Concerns and Risk: the Case of Radio Frequency (RF) Allocation and Licensing” at Middlesex University in which he analysed the role of culture and geography in allocation and licensing of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum in different nations. Using an inter-disciplinary approach for example, he explored contrasting risk-management regulatory frameworks/attitudes in the UK, France, US and Ecuador. He summarized and used 3 alternative sociological theories including Mary Douglas et al.’s Cultural Theory (CT) re: categorising countries in terms of perceptual filters. Bounded Rationality (BR) is used to investigate and explain these apparent irrationalities. Rational Field Theory (RFT) showed how beliefs and values guide administrations in RF regulation. Wireless regulation is now divided into two major camps (the EU and the US), which differ in their risk concerns, approach to topdown mandated standards, allocation of RF spectrum to licence-exempt bands and type approval process.

2010-03-04 The Canadian federal government announced its response to the $54 billion deficit which will take the form of $17.6 billion savings (2010-1015) by streamlining and reducing the operating and administrative costs of government departments.

2010-03-04 The Canadian federal budget has confused opposition politicians and industry observers alike as to whether Canada will open its doors to foreign telecommunications companies. The government promised to increase competition and investment in the telecommunications sector, which will lead to greater innovation and lower prices for consumers by removing foreign ownership restrictions on satellites. However, critic Marc Garneau claimed the budget was an overall disappointment in terms of the digital economy as there is no national digital economy plan and future plans include vague allusions to further studies in terms of fast and affordable broadband internet access for all Canadians. Canada was a leader in the digital economy in 2000. Now we are behind other OCED countries. This federal budget promised more on outdoor recreational infrastructure than on high-speed internet in rural areas (Nowak 2010-03-04).

Webliography and Bibliography

Madjar, Haim Mazar. 2008-08. “An Analysis of Regulatory Framework for Wireless Communications, Societal Concerns and Risk: the Case of Radio Frequency (RF) Allocation and Licensing.” PhD Dissertation. Supervisors: Dr. Peter Hough; David Ball; June Burnham. School of Health and Social Sciences. Middlesex University.

Hazlett, T. W.; Munoz, R. E.; Square, V. “A welfare analysis of spectrum allocation policies.” utfsm.cl
“Economic analysis of spectrum allocation policies focuses on competitive bidding for wireless licenses. Auctions generating high bids, as in Germany and the UK, are identified as “successful,” while those producing lower receipts, as in Switzerland and the … “

McMillan, J. 1995. “Why auction the spectrum?” Telecommunications Policy. Elsevier. stanford.edu [PDF]
“Of the alternative spectrum allocation methods — administrative process, lottery, first come first served, and auction — economic theory, as well as various countries’ experiences, show that auctioning works best. As well as raising revenue, an auction assigns licenses to the firms … “

Mesley, Wendy. 2010-03-05. “Canada’s Worst Cellphone Bill.” CBC Marketplace. http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/ID=1433056621

Noam, E. 1998. “Spectrum Auctions: Yesterday’s Heresy, Today’s Orthodoxy, Tomorrow’s” The Journal of Law and Economics. University of Chicago Press.

Nowak, Peter. 2008-05-26. “Wireless spectrum: Auction of radio airwaves will influence Canada’s prosperity.” CBC News

Nowak, Peter. 2010-03-04. “Budget sows confusion over telecom rules.” CBC News

One of the questions that surprised veteran New York Times journalist, Thomas L. Friedman, at the 2010 World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland was, “Is the ‘Beijing Consensus’ replacing the ‘Washington Consensus?’ (Friedman 2010-01-30).

The Davos World Economic Forum usually offers accurate indicators of the global mood on its political barometer (Friedman 2010-01-30).

‘Washington Consensus’ is a term coined after the cold war for the free-market, pro-trade, globalization policies promoted by America that by 2010 has evolved into an almost hegemonic system of open markets, floating currencies and free elections that is now under scrutiny for its weak performance on political risk analysis. The United States may very well be monitored as a risk investment climate because of its political instability (Friedman 2010-01-30).

The U.S two-party political system was described by developing countries as in danger of political instability at the Davos Forum as the U.S. administration appears to be unable to deal with health care, infrastructure, education and energy issues (Friedman 2010-01-30).

In his book entitled China’s New Confucianism, (2008-05) Daniel A. Bell explained how in China, Confucianism, Communism and Capitalism are blending. Capitalists can now join the CCP. The reformed Chinese legal system is slowly aligning with the Western legal systems (Chinese businesses are insisting on Chinese laws for arbitration). Bell observes that as China increased its openness to capitalist markets, it appears to be retreating from communism. China is also embracing a new form of Confucianism, evident in efforts made to enhance and encourage civil society in China during the Beijing Olympics. This new Confucianism, Bell suggests, may be a compelling alternative to Western liberalism.

Ramo, Joshua Cooper. 2004-05-11. “Beijing Consensus: The Beijing Consensus: Notes on the New Physics of Chinese Power.” The Foreign Policy Centre: London, UK. Ramo compares China’s shifting ideology to Heisenberg among others, explaining how developing countries look to China as an alternative to the Washington Consensus which focused on molding nation-states into similar malleable entities preparing the ground for market interests to flourish and profit globally.

Who’s Who

The Foreign Policy Centre “is a prominent UK progressive foreign think-tank founded by Robin Cook under the patronage of Tony Blair in 1998 to develop a vision of a fair and rule-based world order. Through our research, publications and events, we aim to develop innovative policy ideas that promote: effective multilateral solutions to global problems; democratic and well-governed states as the foundation of order and development; partnerships with the private sector and NGOs to deliver public goods; support for progressive policy through effective public diplomacy; inclusive definitions of citizenship to underpin internationalist policies.”

Key Concepts

Beijing Consensus According to New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman the “Confucian-Communist-Capitalist” is a “hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state, with a lot of government guidance, strictly controlled capital markets and an authoritarian decision-making process that is capable of making tough choices and long-term investments, without having to heed daily public polls (Friedman citing Bennhold 2010).” The man who coined the term, Joseph Cooper Ramo “Beijing Consensus”, described it as an alternative to the “Washington Consensus.” According to him, this newer consensus was more attractive to developing countries who wanted recipes for economic growth that did not result in political instability. The Beijing Consensus as dr”: the use of leading-edge high technologies, constant innovation and experimentation, willingness to fail, rejection of a “black hole” GDP indicator, self-determination (as opposed to World Bank/IMF conditions) (Ramo 2004).

Timeline

1984-06-30 Deng Xiaoping spoke with the Japanese delegation to the second session of the Council of Sino-Chinese Non-Governmental Persons. This excerpt is entitled “Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”

2004 Joseph Cooper Ramo coined the term “Beijing Consensus” to describe an alternative to the “Washington Consensus.” According to him, this newer consensus involved: innovation and constant experimentation; rejection of GDP growth above all in favor of sustainability and equality; self-determination (as opposed to World Bank/IMF conditions) (Ramo 2004).

2008-05 In his book entitled China’s New Confucianism, (2008-05) Daniel A. Bell explained how in China, capitalists can now join the CCP; the reformed Chinese legal system more closely aligns with the West and Chinese businesses are insisting on its use Chinese laws in arbitration. Bell observes that China has increased its openness to capitalist markets, retreated from communism and is embracing a new Confucianism. This new Confucianism, evident in the efforts made to enhance and encourage civil society in China during the Beijing Olympics, may be a compelling alternative to Western liberalism.

2008 Before the Beijing Olympic Games China was still considered to be an emerging economy. China seemed to respond positively to the U.S. and E.U. to lift censorship and to cooperate with the West. Efforts were made to enhance and encourage civil society in China during the Games.

2010 The World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bell, Daniel A. 2008. “From Communism to Confucianism: Changing Discourses on China’s Political Future.” China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society. Princeton University Press. pp.3-18.

Bennhold, Katrin. 2009-01-27. “Is Europe’s welfare system a model for the 21st century?New York Times.

Bennhold, Katrin. 2010-01-27. “As China Rises, Conflict With West Rises Too.” New York Times.

Deng Xiaoping. 1984-06-30. “Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

Friedman, Thomas. 2010-01-30. “Never Heard That Before.” New York Times. Davos, Switzerland.

Gibney, Frank B.; Lin, Paul T. K. et al. 1979-11-26. “We can develop a market economy under socialism.”

Jessica Li, Jessica; Madsen, Jean. 2009-04. “Chinese workers’ work ethic in reformed state-owned enterprises: implications for HRD.Human Resource Development International, 12:2:171-188.

“Work ethic, as the construct of work-related values and attitudes, directly affects employees’ job performance. Work ethic subjects to the influence of business and social practices. China is in the mix of major economical and political transformation, although little is known about how work ethic has changed for Chinese workers since the economic reform first initiated in 1979. This study is designed to examine work ethic currently held by workers of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Findings revealed work ethic perceptions based on the multidimensional work ethic profile (MWEP), a Western work ethic profile, and the Confucian work ethic (CWE), an Eastern work ethic profile, resulted in similarities but often lived different life styles. Differences: perceptions of hard work, self-reliance, centrality of work, education, use of time, delay of graduation. Other MWEP concepts were very similar to Chinese workers’ work perceptions.”

Ramo, Joshua Cooper. 2004-05-11. “The Beijing Consensus: Notes on the New Physics of Chinese Power.” The Foreign Policy Centre: London, UK.

Folksonomy

Content saved to PC .txt files under

Links saved to my bookmarks under folder > subfolder

Linked to other Web 2.0 tools

Digg, delicious, google docs, Google customized maps, social media, Flickr, picasa, slideshare, my social history timelines,

Old age is monetized and pressure is placed on older adults to strategically outsmart future financial markets to ensure a personal portfolio protection against poverty in their final years. Women remain at highest risk of poverty since statistics show that women do not save for their retirement. The subtext of this Financial Post article on “Your Money” is one of individual responsibility to strategically manage money factoring in the potential economical situation from twenty to sixty years in the future. Given that the financial experts themselves were unable to foresee the financial meltdown even months in advance or to respond to it effectively even months afterwards this is just another callous empty article providing adult children of the elderly and social agencies with another excuse to blame impoverished elderly for their own demise.

As the extremes of wealth and poverty intensify, insurance companies, banks and financial institutions entangle webs of potentially lucrative and increasingly complex refinanced, repackaged and unregulated debt, credit and insurance schemes that reap huge dividends for a handful while stripping the most vulnerable of everything including their homes, their incomes, adequate health care provided in a respectful dignified environment and finally a place to die  with dignity in a truly respectful care giving environment.

Webliography and Bibliography

Allentuck, Andrew. 2020-01-20. “Living longer — will poverty stalk the very elderly?Financial Post.

long term care insurance, retirement strategies, retirement, life expectancy, boomers, health, at-risk, belonging, moral topography, humiliation, dignity, at risk populations, Social Justice, social exclusion, vulnerability to social exclusion, moral mathematics, poverty, extremes wealth poverty, policy research, @twitter,

John Dolan’s chilling account of his descent into Dickensian poverty in 2007 in the US in spite of graduate education and teaching experiences, reads like a Gothic do-it-yourself manual.

read more | digg story

Judith Maxwell (2008-01-28), former head of the Economic Council of Canada and Canadian Policy Research Networks, claimed that the high concentration of at-risk Canadians live in highly disadvantaged neighbourhoods of poverty by postal code. In 2008 the Canadian national poverty rate remained at c. 16% where we’ve been stuck for eight years. Maxwell claims that religions, some social-minded businesses and countless volunteers who constitute civil society are revitalizing desperately poor neighbourhoods, tackling homelessness and letting governments know that the current policies prevent people from escaping poverty.

read more | digg story

Maxwell, Judith. 2008-01-28. “Forget policy makers, civic leaders are spearheading the fight to end poverty.” Globe and Mail.

“Canada’s social safety net results in lower rates of poverty and income inequality along with higher rates of self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations than in the United States. But many Canadians would be surprised to find out that the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada [...] Canada’s relatively poor record on child poverty, income inequality, and assault [remain] shocking [...] Particularly troubling is its ranking on child poverty. In Canada, according to OECD statistics, one child in seven lives in poverty. Canada also still has an unacceptably high rate of poverty among its working-age population. According to statistics published by the OECD, just over 10 per cent of its working-age population is below the poverty line. This is double the rate of Denmark, the best-performing country on this indicator. Canada’s crime record is also disturbing—with 17 times the rate of assaults as the best-ranked country, 7 times the rate of burglaries, and 3 times the rate of homicides. Crime takes its toll on trust—both within the community and within public institutions. This picture of crime is not what Canadians think of when they think of their society. [...] Canada ranks high on the indicator measuring acceptance of diversity [...] Canada’s past achievements, such as reducing poverty among its elderly, show that, given the political will, Canada could successfully address other social challenges to sustain future quality of life (Conference Board of Canada Society Overview 2008 ).”

The Conference Board of Canada (2008 ) compared economic, innovation, environment, education, health and society performances of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States which are considered to be Canada’s international peers. Canada’s standard of living ranking dropped from 4th spot in 1990 to 9th in 2008. In terms of Education and Skills, over 40% of adult Canadians lack literacy skills required for everyday life and work in modern society. In terms of innovation Canada scored D since the 1980s and has failed to produce any top global brands.

The full report for 2008 will not be available until September. I am curious to see how data specifically related to Canada’s growing aboriginal community with its unique social histories and current dilemmas will be analysed in this report. When we examine the weakest points in the report, it is obvious that the vulnerabilities faced by Canada’s most at-risk group (aboriginal women and children) affect our international ranking. It is also useful to consider the location of remote aboriginal communities in terms of the most volatile environmental debates in Canada.

Data for this annual report comes from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (c.80%), the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. The report measures quality of life based on this definition:

“The Conference Board defines a high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians as being achieved if Canada records high and sustainable performances in six categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health and Society (B 10/17). The word “sustainable” [1] is a critical qualifier. It is not enough for Canada to boost economic growth if it is done at the expense of the environment or social cohesion. For example, to take advantage of high commodity prices by mining and exporting all our natural resources may make the country rich in the short term, but this wealth will not be sustainable in the long or even medium term. The Conference Board has consistently argued that economic growth and sustainability of the physical environment need to be integrated into a single concept of sustainable national prosperity—what we call here a “high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians.”

..

“Having a high quality of life means living in communities that are free from fear of social unrest and violence, communities that accept racial and cultural diversity, and those that foster social networks. A country that provides a high quality of life also minimizes the extremes of inequality between its poorest and richest citizens, while reducing the social tensions and conflicts that result from these gaps. Performance in the Society category is assessed using 17 indicators across three dimensions: self-sufficiency, equity, and social cohesion. Self-sufficiency indicators measure the autonomy and active participation of individuals within society, including its most vulnerable citizens, such as persons with disabilities and youth. Equity indicators measure equity of access, opportunities, and outcomes. Social cohesion indicators measure the extent to which citizens participate in societal activities, the level of crime in society, and the acceptance of diversity [. . .] Canada’s social safety net results in lower rates of poverty and income inequality along with higher rates of self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations than in the United States. But many Canadians would be surprised to find out that the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada [...] Canada’s relatively poor record on child poverty, income inequality, and assault [remain] shocking [...] Particularly troubling is its ranking on child poverty. In Canada, according to OECD statistics, one child in seven lives in poverty. Canada also still has an unacceptably high rate of poverty among its working-age population. According to statistics published by the OECD, just over 10 per cent of its working-age population is below the poverty line. This is double the rate of Denmark, the best-performing country on this indicator. Canada’s crime record is also disturbing—with 17 times the rate of assaults as the best-ranked country, 7 times the rate of burglaries, and 3 times the rate of homicides. Crime takes its toll on trust—both within the community and within public institutions. This picture of crime is not what Canadians think of when they think of their society. [...] Canada ranks high on the indicator measuring acceptance of diversity [...] Canada’s past achievements, such as reducing poverty among its elderly, show that, given the political will, Canada could successfully address other social challenges to sustain future quality of life (Conference Board of Canada Society Overview 2008).”

Footnotes

1. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland 1987:43).”

Webliography and Bibliography

Brundtland, Gro Harlem. 1987. Our Common Future: World Commission on Environment and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conference Board of Canada. 2008.

Ross Levin, a NYC hedge fund analyst with Arbiter Partners, who calls himself a “passive speculator in securities” met Lionel Lepine, a member of the Athabaskan Chipewyan First Nation whose family and friends living on the contaminated watershed upriver from the oil sands’ effluence are suffering from unprecedented numbers of cancerous tumours.

read more | digg story

A number of recent stories intersect here: Harper’s apology for past treatment of Canada’s First Nations, the pollution of the Athabaskan River north of the oil sands, the impatient development of nonrenewable resources, the meteoric rise of oil commodities market directly caused by irresponsible speculators playing with volatile, unpredictable hedge funds that play havoc with the market making a fortune for some while destroying economic, social and ecological environments all around them.

In a rapid visit to the local library yesterday I grabbed Jake Bernstein’s How the Futures Markets Work. Although it is quite old for the fast-paced risk management industry, there are certain fundamentals that ring true. He briefly traced the history futures contracts leading to the volatile environment where agricultural futures were replaced by the less predictable currency markets. Of course, his book was written long before the meteoric rise of private equity funds.

My concern remains with the absent ethical component on trading floors. Ethical responsibilities are as elastic as the regulations that govern the centuries old practice of hedging. In the period of late capitalism and the emergence of risk society, the cost of destructive unintended byproducts have created havoc in ways that far exceed the commodities/service value. The road to profits and impatient money, is paved with casualties.

Berstein’s facts of market life are telling. He encourages simple methods and systems which require few decisions and little mental conflict. Too much thought is not conducive to successful trading. Too much analysis costs lost opportunities. Keep systems simple. Control your emotions. Practice caring less so that you remain more objective. Don’t ask why. Knowing why may hinder you more than it will help you. Patterns are the best indicators available (What feeds into a “pattern” however is not a science). Timing is what makes money in the futures market (Bernstein 2000:282-3).

In other words, futures’ gurus encourage young hedge fund analysts to not think too much about factors such as displacement of peoples, the degradation of living conditions and the way in which they unwittingly contribute to making vulnerable ecologies and peoples even more vulnerable. Their gurus tell them to not think about the impact of their actions. They are told to not ask why the prices of essential commodities like fuel and food that they are playing with, are pushing certain groups into unimaginable levels of social exclusion. In the end groups at-risk to health degradation are always those least able to protect themselves. How convenient that the gurus do not factor in these social issues. They are entirely absent from finance reports.

But then a lot of information is purposely not included in financial and business reports. Bernstein argues that the simpler systems that take fewer things into consideration will lead to more profits. Yet when he lists off all the potential factors in operation in even a simple fundamental analysis, it is not at all simple. It begins with the highly complex. The algorithms involved may appear to be simplified through the use of databases that seem to generate accurate, objective hard facts. In reality, the accuracy of any query depends on what was fed into it.

Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1). These financial instruments offer unlimited profit potential with relatively little capital. Speculators are drawn to the possibility of quick money or what I like to call impatient money. The great wealth accumulated from speculative financial instruments has spawned careers in brokerage, market analysis, computerized trading, computer software and hardware, accounting, law, advertising which themselves subdivide into more recent opportunities such as those related to risk-management.

While gurus such as Bernstein argue that gambling is for anyone but speculation is for professionals, the chaos and unpredictability of the current global economy have been linked to a growing culture of gambling in futures trading rather than level-headed professionalism. Gamblers create risk simply by placing a bet; professional speculators “transfer risk from the hedgers to the speculators” and it therefore called risk management instead of gambling.

“It rained last night so the price of soy beans will be down today.” Although the basis of fundamental analysis in economics is supply and demand, the actual fundamental analysis of specific markets that might generate accurate price predictions are complicated as numbers of factors overlap and massive quantities of data need to be considered. The simple equation involves how much of a commodity or service are buyers willing to pay at a given time and place. There used to be a correlation between price and consumption. Factors that impact on price of commodities include the state of the economy (local, regional, national and international – inflationary, recessionary with rising or falling employment), availability of alternate products or services, storage possibilities, weather, seasonality, price cycles, price trends, government subsidies, political influences, protectionist attitudes, international tensions, fear of war, hoarding, stockpiling, demand for raw materials (sugar, petroleum, copper, platinum, coffee, cocoa), currency fluctuations, health of the economy, level of unemployment, housing starts. Most technical systems are not effective in making traders money.

In spite of this there is still a persistent belief that there is an invisible hand that guides market correcting imbalances like a living organism or finely-tuned machine.

“Markets work perfectly as they respond to the multiplicity of forces that act upon them. It is our inability to find, parse, and correctly weight the impact of these factors that limits our results and success of our fundamentally based forecasts (Bernstein 2000:162).”

The bottom line is that wealth disparities continue to intensify and that these inordinate extremes of wealth and poverty destabilizes society. These distorted economic relationships deprive us of any sense of control over economic forces that threaten to disrupt the foundations of our existence. National governments have been either unwilling or unable to deal effectively with this situation in which we live where the deplorable superfluity of great wealth exists alongside the acute suffering of those living in miserable, demoralizing and degrading abject poverty even in countries like Canada.

Social equality is an entirely impracticable chimera. Even if equality could be achieved it could not be sustained. Wages and income should be unequal and should correspond to different efforts, skills and capacities. However, equal justice for all is not only necessary but urgently needed.

As long as those involved in the financial and energy industries remain in denial of their role by hiding behind economic and ideological polemics and simply dismissing concerns from others there can be no productive change. A fresh look at the problem should involve people like Lionel Lepine who are directly involved with decisions, along with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines. There will not be a voluntary ethical turn so for now we desperately need public policies that will regulate industries.

Selected Timeline of Critical Events

1710 The first modern organized futures exchange began with the Dojima Rice Exchange in Osaka, Japan. The Japanese feudal landowners began to use certificates of receipt against future rice crops. As these futures certificates became financial instruments in the general economy the value of the certificates would rise and fall as the price of rice fluctuated. The Dojima Rice Exchange emerged as the world’s first futures market where speculators traded contracts for the future delivery of rice or “certificates of receipt.” The Japanese government outlawed the practice when futures contracts (where delivery never took place) began to have no relationship to the underlying cash value of the commodity leading to wild and unpredictable fluctuations (Bernstein 2000:30).

1848 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was formed as a price risk occurred in the grain markets of Chicago.

1865 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) organized trading of futures contracts.

1919 – 1945 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) traded futures in eggs, butter, apples, poultry and frozen eggs (Bernstein 2000:70).

1960s Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1).

1970s There was increasing volatility in international currency exchange rates as the Bretton Woods agreement began to break down. Business people transferred risk of volatility in international markets by hedging with speculators willing to take the risk. Futures markets began to expand into foreign currencies as fluctuated wildly competing against each other and the US dollar.

1972 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 18 million and the top ten most actively traded future contracts were agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:71).

1974 The US Congress passed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act and established Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to protect participants in the futures market from fraud, deceit and abusive practices such as unfair trading practices (price manipulation, prearranged trading, trading ahead of a customer), credit and financial risks, and sales practice abuses (Bernstein 2000:32). Individual nation states have similar regulating bodies.

1982 Futures trading in the US was self-regulating and anyone in the business had to become a member of the National Futures Association (NFA).

1986 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 184 million and the T bonds were among the most actively traded future contracts (Bernstein 2000:71).

1990 The price of crude oil rose dramatically when Hussein invaded Kuwait.

1999 The most actively traded future contracts were interest rates, futures, stock index futures, energy futures, currency futures and agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:72).

2000 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) trades futures in livestock futures, currency futures, interest rate futures, stock index futures (Bernstein 2000:70).

2000 More than 90 foreign futures exchanges emerged with the ever-increasing demand for new financial instruments “to hedge against fluctuating interest rates, changing foreign exchange rates and institutional securities portfolios (Bernstein 2000:46).

2008 Calgary has a high percentage of young millionaires with lots of disposable income. There are also c.4000 homeless people in Calgary, the oil capital of Canada. c. 40% of the homeless are working poor who are unable to afford housing.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bernstein, Jake. 2000. How the Futures Markets Work. New York Institute of Finance.

McHugh Bluff Stairs for Fitness. Tory Calgary, AB MLA Dave Rodney is the first to propose legislation through the vehicle of a bill (2008-05-11) offering a maximum of $1500 tax relief to those who purchase a limited number of eligible fitness-related services. Would a tax credit only push a few people to step away from their screens and go outdoors, the can-but-will-not?

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Purchasing a club, team or gym membership does not make the buyer physically fit. The same degree of fitness can be achieved on Calgary’s biking, walking and hiking paths and trails. People get fit by choosing to use stairs indoors or outdoors like those at McHugh Bluff. Others keep in shape through paid or unpaid work related activities. How do we monetize their contributions towards relieving Alberta’s ailing medical system? Do we have statistics on the demographics of health-care users specifically as related to income and fitness? Do we have evidence-based research that lack of physical fitness on the part of individual’s is a key component in weakening Alberta’s medical system? Who is driving this bill? Are community members concerned with individual well-being who are not linked to the sports industry (organizations and businesses who monetize fitness) actively engaged in promoting this bill? How will this bill facilitate fitness improvement as part of quality of life issues for city’s most vulnerable populations? Is there any evidence-based research that the the most vulnerable groups, the biggest consumers of public medical system resources, would benefit in any way from a tax-incentive? What percentage of the municipal population who have access to a disposable income required to access pay-per-use fitness activities would find themselves in the tax bracket where this would benefit them? What is the real saving? What are the real costs of this proposed tax-incentive, spread across the broad spectrum of the municipal community, to encourage those few people who have the buying power but not the will, to puchase fitness-related services? Once they have purchased them is their any monitoring device that they would use them? Is there evidence-based research to ensure that those best served by tax deductible fitness-related purchases (those who have disposable income) really require a tax-incentive? If the largest demographic group using health services is a specific income or age group, why not examine ways of reaching that group first by improving universal access to fitness-related courses or memberships by financially assisting those who would-but-cannot because of a price hurdle, then focus on the vague possibility that a tax-incentive might get some people away from their screens and outdoors, the can-but-will-not?

Leading US advocate for homeless praised The Calgary Committee to End Homelessness’ 10-year plan business plan’s innovation, measurable benchmarks, field-tested, evidence-based & modeled on best practices in US cities which house homeless families, provide supported housing and treatment for homeless who suffer from mental illness and addictions.

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The Calgary Committee to End Homelessness unveiled its 10-year plan, “outlining the hundreds of millions of government dollars success will cost, as well as the projected $3.6 billion in eventual savings. The plan, developed by a committee 2007-2008, includes targets such as reducing the number of emergency shelter beds by half within five years, eliminating family homelessness within two years and chronic homelessness within seven, and creating more than 11,000 affordable housing units, including secondary suites and student housing [. . .] The Calgary committee has already launched two pilot projects it believes will put roofs over the heads of at least 100 people over the next year . . . A New York program is the model for Pathways to Housing, which finds supported housing for people with mental illness or addictions and then focuses on treatment. Hennepin County’s Rapid Exit program is being copied by CUPS as it matches homeless families and landlords, finding a place to live for at least six families in its first month (Guttormson 2008).”

My questions: How did structural changes over the last twenty years change the face of homelessness? When did the Canadian federal government download responsibilities regarding public health services including mental health to the provinces and the provinces to municipalities? What are the current demographic studies of the homeless, the proportion who are urban Inuit and First Nations? women? immigrants? children? families? mentally ill? relationship between mental illness and substance abuse?

Folksonomies or tag cloud

Calgary Committee to End Homelessness, Steve Snyder, Calgary’s housing prices are seriously unaffordable, Phillip Mangano, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, homeless, 10-year plan, crisis-management, end the disgrace, innovative ideas, business plan, measurable benchmarks, innovative ideas, municipalities, field-tested, evidence-based, Pathways to Housing, Rapid Exit, best practice, Calgary Committee to End Homelessness, 10-year-plan, emergency shelter beds, homeless families, supported housing, mental illness, addictions, chronic homeless population,

Timeline

2006 3,400 people in Calgary, Alberta were considered homeless, that is, living without permanent shelter (Guttormson 2008).

2007 The Calgary Committee to End Homelessness launched two pilot projects Pathways to Housing and Rapid Exit in 2007 which are anticipated to put roofs over the heads of at least 100 people in 2008 (Guttormson 2008).

2008-01-28 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2008 pegged Calgary’s housing prices as “seriously unaffordable.”

2008-01-29 The Calgary Committee to End Homelessness unveiled its 10-year plan, outlining the hundreds of millions of government dollars success will cost, as well as the projected $3.6 billion in eventual savings (Guttormson 2008).

2010 According to the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness’ 10-year plan (2008-2018) officials hope to stabilize the homeless population at the 2006 numbers 3,400) and to eliminate family homelessness by 2010.

2013 Calgary Committee to End Homelessness 10-Year Plan promises to reduce the number of emergency shelter beds by half within five years (Guttormson 2008).

Who’s Who?

Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) is “a not-for-profit community health centre in Calgary’s downtown core. Offering collaborative and holistic services in the areas of health care, education and social services, CUPS Community Health Centre helps people make the transition from poverty to stability. Founded on the principle that all people have an inherent right to lead a life of dignity, equality and respect, CUPS is a safe, warm and welcoming environment free of judgment and rejection (CUPS website ).” CUPS is actively engaged in combatting poverty and homelessness in Calgary. They have inaugurated a pilot project which matches homeless families and landlords, finding a place to live for at least six families in its first month is modelled on the US Hennepin County’s Rapid Exit program.

Cox, Wendell a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and Hugh Pavletich, a property investment manager in New Zealand produced the survey entitled

Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2008.

Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s senior fellow Wendell Cox and Hugh Pavletich, a property investment manager in New Zealand produced the survey entitled

Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2008.

Kim Guttormson is a journalist with the Calgary Herald which is part of the CanWest group.

Pathways to Housing, which finds supported housing for people with mental illness or addictions and then focuses on treatment is modelled on the successful New York program (Guttormson 2008).

Phillip Mangano is executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and a leading advocate for the homeless, who praised Calgary’s 10-year plan for ending homelessness. Mangano claimed that, “If this plan is implemented the way it is written, you will see in the next few years the number of people on the street, the number of people long-term in shelters, begin to be reduced. Calgary has decided to stop managing the crisis and begin ending the disgrace.” Mangano is confident that Calgary’s “bold and innovative” strategy will accomplish the plan’s ambitious goals. “Mangano, who has read Calgary’s report, calls it impressive and says it has the key components of successful plans in other cities — it’s based on a business plan, it has measurable benchmarks and it uses innovative ideas from other municipalities. “Calgary has done a very good job of uncovering the innovative ideas that are already field-tested and evidence-based, they’re already working somewhere else,” said Mangano, who has worked with more than 300 plans south of the border. “So you know if you invest in them, they’re going to work there (Guttormson 2008).”

Steve Snyder is chairman of the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness. Snyder explained how this plan differs from past approaches where money was “thrown at the homeless issue” in that there is nothing in this plan that is pie-in-the-sky. In order to break the cycle of homelessness the committee studied best practice models in American cities where ten-year plans developed since 2003 have proven successful. “New York has closed a 1,004-bed shelter, Portland reduced its chronic homeless population by 70 per cent, Denver saw its chronic numbers drop 36 per cent and Hennepin County in Minnesota recorded a 43 per cent decrease in homeless families (Guttormson 2008).”

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

Webliography and Bibliography

Guttormson, Kim. 2008. “U.S. advocate for homeless raves about Calgary plan: City lauded for decision to start ending ‘disgrace’.” City & Region. Calgary Herald. January 29. B3.


CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Homelessness: from crisis management to ending the disgrace” >> Google Docs. Uploaded January 29.

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