Archive for ◊ May, 2012 ◊

• Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

A 12 year-old girl understands Canada’s debt problems and high tax rates better than 99% of reporters and political “experts”. And she actually has the cahones to point out the truth: that the banks and government are colluding to “rob” and “enslave” the Canadian people.

Publicly owned banks make it obvious that we don’t need private banks to issue our currency, finance public projects or underwrite private debt. I wonder how Bank of Montreal shareholders would feel about this idea <<chuckle>>.

This girl is so cute that it is hard to hear her revolutionary message…

Source: Common Dreams

The direct solution to the economic crisis, urged by veteran money reformer Bill Still, would be for the federal government to simply create the money it needs, as the American colonists did by printing paper scrip and Abraham Lincoln did by printing greenbacks.

But cities and states don’t need to wait for a deadlocked federal Congress to act. As Wong-Tam has proposed for Toronto, they can divest their public revenues from the too-big-to-fail banks and put them in their own publicly-owned banks. These banks could then do what all banks do: leverage capital, backed by deposits, into money in the form of bank credit.

This newly-created bank money would then be available for the use of the local government interest-free (since the government would own the bank and would get the interest back as dividends). Among other possibilities, the money could be used to restore the schools. This would not be an expenditure but an investment, as illustrated by the G.I. Bill, which provided education and low-interest loans for returning servicemen after World War II. Economists have determined that for every 1944 dollar invested in the G.I. Bill, the country received approximately $7 in return, through increased economic productivity, consumer spending, and tax revenues.

• Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Investments in bike paths and walk ways pay offSource:

If you ever doubted whether a small investment in biking and walking could have a large impact, here is your proof.

The last transportation law, SAFETEA-LU, provided four communities with four years of funding to build an infrastructure network for nonmotorized transportation (a fancy way of saying “sidewalks and bike paths”). It wasn’t a lot of money — $25 million each to Columbia, Missouri; Marin County, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

The program built 333 miles of on-street biking and walking routes, 23 of off-street facilities, and 5,727 bike parking spaces in the four municipalities — not to mention some outreach and education. Not bad, especially when you consider that $100 million would only buy about five miles of new four-lane highway in an urbanized area…

The FHWA report is full of data showing how a small down payment on active transportation can lead — quickly — to dramatic improvements in air quality, traffic levels, and public health.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a major supporter of the pilot program, called it a “raging success.”

“These are not all typical, bike-friendly cities,” said Marianne Fowler, RTC’s senior vice president of federal relations. ”These four communities represent a solid cross-section of America. Even in places like Sheboygan, which doesn’t have urban density, has cold winters, and has had almost no experience with biking and walking initiatives in the past, locals have rapidly become champions because they have seen the real-time effects, the actual benefits to their community.”

Fowler went on to say that with the evidence now in black and white before them, Congressional representatives must now recognize that continued investment in walking in biking represents terrific value for American taxpayers.

“The incongruous thing is that Congress, with a simple, low-cost solution to so many transportation problems right here in front of them, can’t see the people for the cars,” she said.

• Sunday, May 13th, 2012


It was perhaps surprising, but also encouraging, that the January 2012 TED conference finally addressed the subject of collapse, by inviting Paul Gilding to give his talk The Earth is Full. I’d actually seen a version of Gilding’s talk at the Ilhahee Lecture Series here in Portland last fall.

Gilding’s view is that we’ve reached a relationship between global population and available natural resources that makes it inevitable that the economy — a converter of natural resources into goods — will sharply slow down, if it has not started to slow down already. Gilding can be thought of not as a neo-Malthusian, or a doomer, but rather as an ecological economist. (As most readers know, I share this same view.)

Gilding looks at trailing historical growth rates — again, the rate at which natural resources are converted to industrial and population growth — and concludes that the future size of the economy at these growth rates would create a machine that the earth simply cannot sustain…

The second crucial problem is a failure to consider the limit outlined by Paul Gilding, which is that present growth rates of energy consumption, for example, imply an economy that just about everyone can agree is simply too large for the planet to handle.

You simply cannot keep growing the size of the human-created heat engine up to the level of a star. This was articulated beautifully by physicist Tom Murphy in his recent and very widely read post, Exponential Economist Meets Finite Physicist. When problem solvers entirely avoid the subject of limits, it is both appealing and exciting, but eventually it becomes vaguely pathological.

• Monday, May 07th, 2012

turcot interchangeRoads fly.

The most prominent example in Montreal is the Turcot intersection. The roads fly 10, 20, maybe 30 meters in the air with steel-reinforced concrete holding them up.

All of this to keep the happy-motoring way of life alive. What insanity.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Representatives of local residents, environmental groups and the municipal opposition said the Turcot plan still fails to offer viable public-transportation alternatives and will only increase automobile traffic and lower the quality of life in nearby neighbourhoods such as St. Henri and Côte St. Paul.

“It’s totally car-focused,” said Shannon Franssen, coordinator of Solidarité Saint-Henri. “For the neighbourhood, it’s disastrous.”

Mayor Benoît Dorais and city councillor Véronique Fournier of the Sud-Ouest borough said the changes are no more than window dressing on a project they described as “worthy of the 1950s.”

“We need to send a clear signal that transportation in Montreal and in the Montreal region needs to change,” Fournier said.

“It’s certain the project in its final version has not responded in any way to that concern.”

The project, slated for completion in 2018, will also have dire consequences for the Côte St. Paul district, where residents will be forced to use a 45-metre tunnel to be built under the new highway, Fournier charged.

“You are mortgaging the future of this whole area of Montreal,” she said.

Dubé said traffic is expected to rise by a little more than two per cent on the westend road junction, used by 300,000 vehicles daily.

But opponents predicted that, in fact, traffic will increase substantially on the new interchange.

Car ridership in the Montreal area has jumped by 350,000 vehicles in the past decade and the project offers no measures to halt that trend, Bergeron said.

He said the success of the métro to Laval proves that commuters will choose public transportation if an efficient option is available.

Turcot offers a golden opportunity to make that shift, he said.”The moment to make the change is now,” he said. Inducing commuters to leave their cars at home would require attractive alternatives like state-of-theart, frequent trains or trams – not just a few extra bus lanes, Bergeron said.

In its current form, the Turcot plan will set back sustainable transportation in Montreal by a century, Bergeron predicted.

“If we do this with Turcot, the message we’re sending is that we intend to do the same thing with Notre Dame St. E., we intend to do the same thing with the Bonaventure Autoroute, and that is going to take us to the end of the 21st century,” Bergeron said.

“Only then will we be able to move away from 1950′s style development.”

• Monday, May 07th, 2012

4 green stepsSource: Montreal Gazette

Tucked into a small office in the Town of Mount Royal is Four Green Steps, a young, eco-friendly company that encourages people to live a better, longer life by going green.

Its comprehensive website shows people how to live sustainably by purchasing green products, reading about green practices and participating in green initiatives…

Each step represents a different aspect of the enterprise. Step one: the Marketplace, where more than 50,000 green products are sold. Step two: Infozone, where news on environmental issues is located. Step three: Community, where recipes, blogs and videos on sustainable living are posted. Step four: School Program, where schools around the world can download eco-conscious curricula.

The Marketplace finances the company and was the Yarrows’ first priority. Four Green Steps brings together merchants who sell green products, such as bath salts, organic bed sheets or jewellery made from reclaimed materials, and consumers who want to live a healthier, more eco-friendly life. Despite creating the marketplace for a greater purpose, Jaye admits their approach was risky.