Archive | July 2015

The Greater Fool Theory and the Winter of 2015

By Jim Brown

It was a brutal, horrible winter that smashed all records for snowfall accumulation on PEI and instead of trying to forget it ever happened, like most sane individuals, I’ve gone and done something that only serves to bring back a flood of unwanted memories. I’ve collected a small patch of snow and stashed it in the garage freezer.
I guess when you get right down to it I couldn’t let it go. For better or worse the past winter was a huge part of my life for five months. For much of the winter my back was sore from constant, non-stop shoveling and I can still remember spending days on end housebound, praying for the plow to appear. I heard the fierce winds shriek, saw a curtain of white smother everything in sight, turning the landscape into a blighted winter wasteland of snow and ice. I strapped on snowshoes nearly every day for hikes through Stanley Bridge to get some much needed exercise.

Then it was late May, May 24th to be precise, and small, shrinking patches of snow were still clinging to parts of our property in Stanley Bridge, shaded by sheltering trees. I scooped some snow into a Tupperware container, scrawled the date with black marker (mistakenly writing May 25 instead of 24th), photographed the sample, posted the images on Facebook and then shoved the frozen snow, rippled with pine needles, to the back of the freezer.
And now it is July 26 and I still can’t decide what to do with it. I had thought about advertising the snow patch for sale on Kijiji – hoping the “Greater Fool” theory worked in this case, as it often does in the operation of equities markets. I was brought back to earth when a Facebook friend posted she had close to a dozen snowballs in her freezer.
So I don’t exactly have a unique commodity. If she has close to a dozen it must mean others must also have collected samples of snow from the winter of 2015. That will certainly knock down the price, or at least weed out the fools.
I really should just throw the snow away. Let it melt in the sun. But I can’t.
Something is telling me not to. At least not yet.
The snow could still disappear forever if the freezer’s power is interrupted for any period of time or it could survive for decades.
Proving maybe I am the Greater Fool, after all…018 015a

Summer’s over

By Jim Brown

Well, it was a short but fun summer. Now it’s time to trade flip flops for mukluks and running shoes for snowshoes. It’s impossible to live in denial any longer after turning on my computer this morning, July 9, and finding a “back to school” alert from Payless shoes.

Buyer’s remorse

By Jim Brown

Okay, admit it. Nearly every one of us has broken the bank buying tacky neon T-shirts at the start of beach season. Sometimes half a dozen for as much as $30 each.  Unfortunately we were to discover by the Labour Day weekend those same T-shirts had been removed from their shelves and placed on racks and, of course, marked way down, to as little as $3.

It would have been nice to know that before the colors started running.

It really, really hurts to know you’ve been ripped off like that. Now imagine you’re a Conservative donor and over the past 10 years you’ve answered the bagman’s call for money every time. You’ve really stepped up. It didn’t cross your mind you were supporting a party that’s added a mind-boggling $175 billion to the national debt while pretending to treat every tax dollar like it was a blessed sacrament.

Shed a tear for the 40,000 or so CPC donors who thought they were buying a top of the line T-shirt, only to find out later it was a Pierre Poilievre cast-off. They thought they were going to see taxes on their six and seven figure incomes plunge, and they did, for a while. Now, of course they can look forward to all those lovely tax breaks disappearing with the election of a NDP or Liberal government.

Think of all the goodies they will lose because the new government will actually try to help ordinary and low-income Canadians at the expense of rich folks whose biggest priority in life is gaming the system so they can get the equivalent of a free Lexus payment every couple of months. The Trophy Wife Tax Cut (income splitting for wealthy old farts) – it’s gone baby, gone, gone, gone.

The money spent building new prisons while shutting down prison farms that actually help to rehabilitate criminals? It’s going to come back and bite you right on your heinie, because your party overlords didn’t tell you the bad guys would get out eventually and without those programs to provide practical skills they can use to find productive work and improve their quality of life they’ll only become more embittered and likely to commit more crimes, maybe even break into your gated compound.

All those billions diverted to cover your tax breaks, all the funds that could have been used to protect our environment, our food supply and our safety – well, forget it. You’ll be paying through the nose brother, and sister, since it costs much more to restore something that was lost than not to destroy it in the first place. Someone’s got to pay and it might as well be you. Everyone else is much poorer because of your government’s misguided policies and slavish devotion to tribal capitalism.

Our roads, bridges, sewer systems, the environment and the institutions that helped make us one of the most envied countries on earth have taken a huge hit under the government you continued to support with your tax-deductible donations over the past decade. Now how do you feel about seeing the GST rise to eight or even 10 per cent?

We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. While you were asleep the country fell apart. Now we’re going to rely on you rich folks to pay a more realistic share of the cost of fixing it, or at least make an attempt to fix it. Maybe it’s so far gone, it can’t be fixed.

So how do you like those $30 T-shirts? The ones Pierre Pollievre and Mike Duffy wouldn’t be caught dead in?

While you were asleep did you even know your government, the one you kept supporting with tens of millions of tax deductible donations over the past decade, closed eight Veterans Affairs offices and even held back money for needed veterans programs just to bring in a sham surplus? Did you know many continue to live blighted lives without adequate compensation for injuries sustained in war zones defending the PM’s talking points? Did you care? Did you care about aboriginal communities falling deeper into despair and desperation, lacking clean water, education, proper housing, all the things that First World countries supposedly provide for their citizens?

No, you kept writing cheques to the CPC, even though by any sane measure this country continued its drift towards authoritarian rule. Did you care when the Fair Elections Act was passed in your name and was anything but fair to hundreds of thousands of potential voters who will be denied the right to vote? Did you even stir in your sleep when the odious Bill C-51 anti-terror act was passed and our democratic rights were gradually stripped away?

It will soon be too late for anything but buyer’s remorse. Those $30 T-shirts are about to be marked way down.

And sorry, no refunds.

A good kick at summer

By Jim Brown

New Brunswicker Aidan Moland, working on the Island over the summer, took his soccer ball to the family cottage in Fernwood on July 4.030