Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: September 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Housing and Poverty


or this

There is an interesting article in today's Globe which talks about the poor, housing and average consumption and it’s rather startling. While stats do show there is real poverty in American, today’s poor often still have car(s), air conditioning and a 43% home ownership rate. The homes that the poor do either own or rent are drastically larger than either European middle class or American middle class of the 1970s. I'm sure these stats are probably relevant to the Canadian experience as well.

So a reasonable question to ask would be what is the true definition of poor? Is much of today’s poverty real or simply a combination of exaggerated expectation and the unwillingness of people to buy rationally sized homes, plus this problem is added to when towns and builders seem unwilling to build such units?

The average double garage is as large as a 1900 era home, when does poverty equate to greed and unwillingness to live within ones means?

Poverty to me would mean lack of food, shelter and medical care, ie basic necessities. Medical care is mostly a given in Canada but when the government does not mandate small houses of <1000sq ft, the poor end up spending their money on what they can find which are usually much larger and more expensive which in turns reduces their ability to feed their family and provide other needs.

Shelter does not necessarily mean 2 baths, each child having their own room, or the even the existing 439 sq ft average living space for poor U.S. citizens. Shelter means something safe, clean and warm that is not crowded (the U.S. definition of crowded is more than one person per room of the home which represents only 5.6% of U.S. poor today)

The market is either failing to providing small houses (I’ve seen no new ones) or else people are unwilling to accept what they need, rather than what they want. It's probably the combination of no supply and exaggerated expectation but the result is the same, people spending far too much of their income on shelter,leading to poverty.

So an ideal way to reduce poverty with a side benefit of lowering our carbon footprint and preparing for peak oil would be the creation and marketing of small efficient housing. Other than a small effort by Habitat for Humanity no one, and certainly not government is doing anything about this. Why is this not an election issue?
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Peak everything!

Here is an interesting interview,(click on hour 2 and the player of your choice) with the writer of Peak Everything, Richard Heinberg

I've not read the book but after this interview I think I'll be adding to my want list.Recommend this Post

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ontario Election called off due to Stupidity

I feel robbed, ripped off, abused.

What the hell am I going to do from this moment until Parliament starts up again?

“Blog on the Ontario election” you might say.

Hell no. I can’t do that the election has been called off for stupidity.

The reality as I see it is: the election for all intensive purposes is over, done, a forgone conclusion because John Tory is apparently the stupidest bastard to run for office (local politics excluded, he ran there too but was not the dumbest) for decades. At the start of this campaign I did not think the man was dumb or mentally challenged but it’s becoming more obvious that John Tory would never find his way to Queen’s Park unless the SHORT BUS picked him every day. Before he really hurts himself I think his wife or keeper should make sure he always wears a helmet in public.

Now I’m all for Ontario students being given a course in comparative religion just as a way for them to learn about other cultures and perhaps learn to respect the beliefs of others but allowing Creationism or Intelligent Design to be taught in any publicly funded school is idiotic in the extreme! Our students already lag in math and science and teaching them fairy tales is not going to improve the situation.

So what’s next John Tory?

Equal time for climate change deniers

Special presentations by the Flat earth society

Having our students audited for body Thetans (Scientology Bullshit)

Perhaps you can have the biology text books rewritten to include the Snuffleupagus, Unicorn, Jackalope, Bigfoot, and Nessie.

It seems pretty obvious that Dalton has already won. I guess that means people will feel free from the pressures of strategic voting and maybe we can get a decent Green showing, of course no debate probably limits that chance, sigh…

An aside. Considering MMP will increase the chance of minority governments it seems more important than ever to vote YES. Imagine this crazy ass Tory and his Voodoo Creationists with a 4 year mandate, (shudder repeatedly)Recommend this Post

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I Can't be bought, Assholes! Part 1

So it has started, each of the political hopefuls is armed and ready with their massive bags of loot in an attempt to bribe me into giving them one more chance to screw me and any chance of our being ready for the challenges of fiscal instability, global warming and peak oil.

Let's start with Dalton:

Planting 50 million trees is pretty impressive but does not make up for the broken promises on shutting coal fired plants and moves towards more nuclear plants when the ones we have are expensive, dangerous(leaking tritium) and unreliable since their retrofits.
40 Billion dollars would build a hell of a lot of wind turbines, provide subsidise for home efficiency retrofits, and fund transit.

17.5 Billion in new transit, that's not bad, good for the environment, divert people from their cars and it will better prepare us for peak oil. Of course this is not today's spending it's an election promise which may or not be implemented by a Fiberal Government and could be left to the last year of a mandate even if it was funded. This needed to be in the last budget not dangled as a future plan.

This new found concern for the environment is nullified by policies like new HOV lanes for the QEW. Now if these lanes were to replace existing ones it would encourage car pooling but no, these are additional lanes which will speed up commuting for HOV users AND those alone in their cars. For HOV lanes to work we need to replace lanes not increase lanes. Make the lives of those foolish enough to drive from Burlington to Toronto alone each day hell! This plan rewards everyone and is not incentive enough to encourage car pooling or transit use in the numbers required to make a difference.

A new holiday. Like everyone I like time off but considering Ontario's economy is going to suffer in the wake of higher dollars, U.S. economic downturn and our overall uncompetitiveness on the world stage how the hell can you justify more paid days off which will further raise production costs and lower efficiency. When manufacturers are complaining they are not competitive you'd think you would consult them before adding higher costs to their bottom line. This is the most shallow self serving promise so far! Perhaps it should be Cynic day not family day.

Let's not forget the impending U.S recession/depression and chance of some form of fiscal crisis in the banking industry. I hope parties don't make bold promises based on projected revenue growth since I expect growth to vanish in the next 12 months.

I'm sure we can count on more bribes from Dalton but so far he's not found my price. Future critiques will depend who pisses me off next.

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Agricultural Biodiversity in Danger

As reported in the BBC. UN findings show that many of the worlds livestock breeds are in imminent danger of extinction as the developing world moves to more productive but often environmentally unsuitable breeds. This trend away from indigenous breeds lowers biodiversity and often leads to catastrophic failures for farmers when highly productive western breeds are incapable of adapting to the stresses and less than perfect conditions of the developing world.

The loss of these blood lines would be a great loss of genetic variety, including disease resistance, drought/heat tolerance, ability to survive on low levels of feed, mothering instincts and easy birthing, all traits which do not increase yield but do increase survivability of animals in harsh conditions.

Recommendations by the researchers to improve the problem included:

-establish gene banks in Africa to store semen, eggs and embryos

-allow great mobility of breeds across national borders

-encourage farmers to maintain a variety of indigenous livestock

-use advanced genomic and geographical mapping to match breeds to suitable environments

The Problem however is not just a developing world problem, western farmers have most of their eggs in one basket with 90% of all cattle in 6 distinct breeds ignoring others who's genes may once again be needed in a lower yield post carbon farm or needed to rebuild herds after some agricultural plague to which the pampered, uniform and high intensity farming breeds might succumb.

See the 13 cattle varieties under watch by the Rare Breeds Canada, 16 Chicken and 8 Turkey breeds, as well as horses, water fowl and pigs.

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