Friday and We Are On Shaky Ground

FTLComm - Tisdale - December 8, 2000

This is how my world looked at eight this morning, the sky almost completely covered and the temperature at -20 C, not a bad situation. Tisdale is a busy place this morning and that is true of it almost every morning but today it seemed like there was more traffic a sense of urgency and deliberate intent.

The municipality is moving gravel to the storage site just behind Petro Canada's bulk station as trucks stream in there one after another depositing gravel. Schapansky is getting ready for an auction sale this weekend and the heavy
trucks just keep up a steady
pace with loggers and grain
"B" trains drumming along one after another.

Out at John Bob they have decorated up a swather with a fancy blower attachment in a very nice display and Northern Steel keeps up the pace of innovation with a newly designed oil-field tank with what looks like some unusual features.

But while all seems well in Tisdale the rest of the world seems a bit confused. The stock market continues to be a shambles as the American Presidential election continues to flounder. There will be court decisions in Florida today and the will be met with additional challenges and appeals even if a decision is reached by December 12 the whole mess will be difficult as there will be no clear winner or loser and the American level of certainty in its government and the world's reliance upon it will continue to be uneasy. Meanwhile our Canadian Dollar seems destine to continue its decline.

It would seem that Free Trade is not just devaluing our standard of living but the dollar continues to devalue despite wholesome productivity and economic stability from sea to sea. The evidence is on this page as you can see our economy and our people are doing their part in being financially responsible and busy yet unseen forces strangle our financial world.

Have you been paying attention to the world situation lately. The news media hasn't and why the American news gathering system focuses on its navel things are happening. On Wednesday a Russian court sentenced an American to twenty years in a prison camp for spying, the US promptly has cut of all aid to Russia. Thursday Russian military forces began a series of serious military exercises in the Arctic forcing Canadian fighter squadrons to take up positions in the arctic. Today the Russian Duma passed a measure returned the Soviet national anthem with new lyrics to replace the forgettable Russian one that no one accepts. (If you don't remember the hockey version of the anthem just think of "The Hunt for Red October" as the sailors burst into song) A nations symbols are a nation and the Russians look to have taken a sharp turn in where they want to go and it is not toward continued devolution of their economy and acceptance of crime as a way of life.

And, while you are contemplating that little story consider this, in our most recent history three heads of major countries began their carriers as head of their country's military intelligence agency and all three changed the course of history. President Gorbachev (head of the KGB) of the Soviet Union moved his nation from the "cold war" to perestroika, George Bush (head of the CIA) united the Western nations in a conflict with an Arab state and Vladimir Puton (head of the current version of the KGB) looks like he is about to transform Russia into a viable country once more.

Stability and order are good for business but anxiety and disorder lead to rash and perhaps unwise decisions. We are not in a time of stability.

A peak at the stock market will tell you that the traders and brokers are all acting like they are twenty minutes past the time they should have taken a bathroom break. On Wednesday Apple Computers announced that for the first time in three years it will show a loss due to a decline in demand for home computers. With over $600 million in cash reserves and a loss of just over $100 million expected this sent NASDAQ into a tale spin with every company taking a hit. This jumpiness has been going on for months and makes no common sense whatever. But the need to dash off to the bathroom or where ever seems to be the mentality and these tremors have enormous consequences far beyond the dreary gray streets in downtown New York.

But to get some perspective on things just consider the summary of the US presidential election mess. I received this list from Edwin Wallace as he knew I would appreciate the odd humour in all this.


A Zimbabwe politician was quoted as saying that children should study the presidential election in the United States closely; it shows that election fraud is not only a third world phenomenon.

  1. Imagine that we read of an election occurring anywhere in the third world in which the self-declared winner was the son of the former prime minister and that former prime minister was himself the former head of that nation's secret police (CIA).

  2. Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular vote but won based on some old colonial holdover (Electoral College) from the nation's pre-democracy past.

  3. Imagine that the self-declared winner's 'victory turned on disputed votes cast in a province governed by his brother!

  4. Imagine that the poorly drafted ballots of one district, a district heavily favoring the self-declared winner's opponent, led thousands of voters to vote for the wrong candidate.

  5. Imagine that members of that nation's most despised caste, fearing for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to vote in near-universal opposition to the self-declared winner's candidacy.

  6. Imagine that hundreds of members of that most-despised caste were intercepted on their way to the polls by state police operating under the authority of the self-declared winner's brother.

  7. Imagine that six million people voted in the disputed province and that the self-declared winner's 'lead was only 327 votes. Fewer, certainly, than the vote counting machines margin of error.

  8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots in the disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.

  9. Imagine that the self-declared winner, himself a governor of a major province, had the worst human rights record of any province in his nation and actually led the nation in executions.

  10. Imagine that a major campaign promise of the self-declared winner was to appoint like-minded human rights violators to lifetime positions on the high court of that nation.

None of us would deem such an election to be representative of anything other than the self-declared winner's will-to-power. All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page thinking that it was another sad tale of pitiful pre- or anti-democracy peoples in some strange elsewhere.

At nine this morning this is how the world looked, a little brighter but not that much different.