FTLComm - Tisdale - January 1, 2000
  Yes, I realise that I saidlast year I was going to quit doing this but, but, well, I just can't help it. The more I think about the state of things the more necessary it seems to point out the direction we are all headed and in some ways I feel my predictions are more of a report then speculation. (No one ever accused me of being modest or humble)

Before we get to this coming year I need to consider my ramblings last year. Though I missed the timing of the provincial election you will have to admit that my predictions for the results were remarkably accurate. With the Clinton scandal I was surprised to see him survive and it goes right to the man's determination to take the punishment and push on. I pretty much hit things with the situation in Russia and Yeltsin's resignation yesterday was pretty much ho-hum. I missed it with the Canadian dollar and Jean Chretien has made a major comeback. I was able to shed some light on weather and climate but when it came to sports, technology and food I was able to do two out of three and as we have seen Y2K, though costing the world a huge amount of money, seems to be muted. Where I missed the boat was the continued difficulties in Kosovo, I should have seen that coming.
So enough already about last year. Its time to think about this coming year and what it might hold in store for us. The wonder if the passage of time is definitely going to capture our attention for several weeks and perhaps even for a good part of this year as we will reflect on this time and what it means to start out into a new century with high hopes and aspirations. It was moving last night to see people all over the world enjoying themselves, filled with hope and good spirits, the joy we all experienced will not go away quickly and when you write down the date for the first time and see all those zeros you will find yourself puzzled that you have now lived in two different centuries.
Here in Rural Saskatchewan  
The affects of globalisation, rail line abandonment, Americanisation of our economy, corporate farming and Federal disregard of this portion of the country, all combine to place this part of the world under a very nasty cloud. Farms, as many in as one in five, will simply vanish as entities during these coming seven months, with them will go about 10% of the Saskatchewan rural population. Surprisingly, there will be some reversals as industrialisation and rural adaptation takes over, for these are resilient people and though some will leave, many will stay and do many other positive things.

As one form of life declines and disappears, others will emerge and during 2000 we will see new ways of life and a new spirit of small town Saskatchewan, spring into existence. People will look back on 2000 as the year that a major change came about and they will point to the elements at work that made those changes possible. The spirit of community cooperation, clever ideas and invention, resourcefulness and willingness to endure economic hardship to experience a positive life style and perhaps most important of all, we will see the most remarkable movement in history as people, individually one by one move through self training and education programmes, on their own as they transform themselves and their society.

Economic changes and deep resentment toward those who are responsible for the crushing of the Western Rural way of life will be decidedly unpleasant, as self reliance takes over and utter and complete rejection of the present Canadian Federal structure becomes universal.
The coalition works, Romanow continues to manage his government just as he said he would and the deal holds. With this improved atmosphere of cooperation and consideration, the Saskatchewan government's attitude toward education is about to change and with it positive and supportive credit will come from the public to the government. If action is not taken with regard to land taxes, the rural resentment will intensify, but knowing that is the consequence, the government will take measures in 2000 to ease the rural tax burden.

Though the farm economy is very bad, provincial coffers are in fine shape and not only does the sales tax in Saskatchewan drop another point, but the budget of 2000 begins a modest reduction in personal taxes. There is little difficulty in settling teacher's contracts once the tax issue with municipalities is sorted out. Romanow ends the year looking good as there is talk of a successor to his leadership in November.
The Nation  
  The move by the Liberal government to bring Quebec issues to the top of the agenda was quite simply to continue to use Quebec as the focus of the country and further distract all other concerns. Ottawa is the servant to Ontario and Quebec and no other part of the country matters what so ever. This attitude will never go away and it is clear that the rest of the country is no longer a country but instead a colony of Upper and Lower Canada. However, despite this reality no positive or negative events are expected in this year that will improve confederation or further erode it from its abysmal present condition.

There is a possibility of an election in the fall. Chretien has consolidated his support and could go to the polls. If that does happen the main reason will be because of the horrible situation facing the opposition parties who are in the worst state of readiness perhaps in history. Preston Manning's United Alternative is still born and with it the Reform Party. Without any positive support in Ontario and the Maritimes the party will fade away. But, Chretien's confrontation with Buchard and the consequences have effectively made poor old Joe Clark and Tories beyond help even from Viagra. The Federal NDP are becoming more and more a party of the "mostly harmless". A fall election would see solid liberal support in Ontario and even some support from Quebec, enough to make a majority. So without expending any efforts on the rest of the country the Liberals can be reelected and it really won't matter who picks up the seats scattered through the West and Maritimes
Federal Budget  
  Paul Martin will deliver his last budget as minister of finance this spring and before it he will do a silly dance about how things are tight all over but no matter what he says the budget's surpluses are not likely to embarrass the man one little bit. Sticking to their plan the Liberals will continue to divide the surplus up between increased spending in social programmes and deficit retirement. The only tension anywhere will be the slight increases in interest rates which will threaten to reduce continued buoyant economic prospects.

Specifically the new budget will take a big swing at tobacco, personal income tax will see a modest reduction and corporate taxation will continue to be much the same, grossly below appropriate levels. The GST will be left as is.
American Politics  
  Though it would be nice if this was a "who cares" category we no longer have that luxury. We are now nonvoting citizens of America, NAFTA has made both Canada and Mexico into colonies of the US and mercantile imperialism is more intrusive then ever before. Albert Gore and George W. Bush will face each other in a fight for the presidency and Gore is going to win. The Democrats will elect their president while the Republicans will elect their congressmen and Senate. Hillary Roden Clinton will be elected as Democratic Senator for New York.
  Russia has entered a new era and in 2000 the basic floor panels for its political restructuring will begin to take shape. The newly elected Duma with what look remarkably like "Menshevics" will begin to assert the need for stability and the "Bolsheviks" though a majority will continue to be without a vocal leadership. The real power in the country is as it has been for almost a century, inside the Kremlin and with the successful resolution of Chechnia behind them the authority of the Army will begin to work its way into the fibre of the country. The KGB is being reborn and a modern Russia will begin more and more to look like a pre-Revolutionary Russia, a place of abject poverty, faced with incredible wealth, with a huge and capable educated elite willing to serve both military and government.
  At some point in this century China will reach a point where the world will be either Chinese or not. The present diffuse leadership will prevent radical or dangerous episodes but should a leader emerge the planet will be faced with a problem that will have no peaceful solution. The present talk about Taiwan will continue but expect on action in 2000, the time is not right and China needs time for consolidation and development.
  Not a good situation in the subcontinent and nothing is expected to get better. India is ungovernable and at some point all will realise that decentralisation and defederalisation must take place to prevent almost continuous warfare. The Tamals, Kashmir, Bengal, are only three of the twenty-five distinctive peoples in this collective country. However, 2000 is not the year for trouble in India, they will keep it together with Pakistan and will spend the year building better nukes.
  Milosovech will not survive the year in power. Serbia is in a tight economic spot and can not expect much, if any help from Russia. The screws of finance will put him out of work. But this troubled part of the world is not done with us yet, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo are in such tough shape that world involvement in their reconstruction must continue while at the same time the hatred and violence that has been will not be washed away with the turn of a century. In the spring the war crime trials will begin.

Germany in 2000 is the focus of Europe, its economy and redevelopment is looking very good. The European community can expect to feel the German presence in this year and for the first time since the formation of the European Common Market there will be voices of concern about the domination of that organisation by the folks from Berlin.
  Wasn't East Timor enough for one generation, definitely, but American influence in this area is no longer what it once was and we should expect to see trouble upon trouble from this densely populated and backward part of South East Asia.
The Economy  
  The Clinton Years are now paying their benefits as the heated economy of the United States continues to grow at an unprecedented peace time pace. Twice during 2000 the American treasury will attempt to cool things off with increases in interest rates but they will not have much of an effect for more then forty-eight hours after each announcement. The primary economic engine continues to be "cash" invest able income continues to flow into the mutual funds of America and that money needs to be invested forcing stock prices upward. The trend of this past year continues as the DOW goes to 12,000 and the American dollar continues to bludgeon every other currency.

Swamped in extremely good production agricultural commodities will not see any price improvements through out the year. Only beef and hogs will return fair market values while wheat and oil seed prices drop well below production costs.

Oil prices will moderate with the price of crude sliding back to $24(US) in May but this is a temporary move as it will climb to above $30 in October. Despite this apparent good fortune for the Oil industry oil stocks are not good investments but natural gas development and transmission companies are.

The value of the Canadian dollar will see almost no improvement in the second quarter after the gains in the first and will float unchanged until the new year almost unchanged. The continued strength of the American economy will not permit any growth relative to the US dollar but the Canadian dollar will keep pace with the US dollar in relation to other currencies.

If you have a hankering to gamble watch the Euro as the German economy taps it forward.

There is no avoiding one problem, inflation is a threat to real economic growth in the second quarter.
  No crystal ball is needed to foresee the general trend in 2000 weather. We are in a climate shift, not global warming, where the cycle of warmer Northern temperate temperatures are rising steadily. The result of this global trend will take years to change or return to pre-90s conditions. In 2000 look for lots of precipitation in February and March. Spring should be similar to the last two years and just as dragged out while the summer of 2000 will be superior on the prairies with rain and plenty of sunshine. Like this year the fall will be late once again and very very dry, with no snow in Tisdale until mid to late November.

The high number of summer tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico will be matched in 2000 with at least six becoming full blown hurricanes
  Genetically altered foods will continue to be a big issue throughout 2000 as consumers demand improvements in the food the buy and the labels on the packaging.

The frightening demand for herbal medicines by the aging baby-boomer generation will result in even more magazines and TV shows expounding on the merits of one wonder cure after another.

Less meat, with red meats higher in price consumers are at the same time looking for more fibre type diets and what was a fad becomes the norm.
  The trend in the late 90s away from commercial sport is not waning in 2000 as the Riders find it harder and harder to sell season tickets even with a team that at long last makes the play-offs. In Winnipeg the Bombers talk of 2000 being their last season.

Detroit wins the 2000 Stanley Cup but who cares, hockey is now a summer sport.

Even the Olympics in Salt Lake City receive lower TV ratings and 2000 is a good year to go skiing and forget about that professional stuff and their endorsements.

Mets, yes the Mets win the 2000 World Series.
  Two words - High Speed. The move to faster connection speeds is the big need in 2000 for the Internet and computer software and hardware designers are now expecting all businesses and individuals to be on line all the time. The developments are considerable as "free" software begins to emerge as standard and with high speed connections comes operating systems that come up over the net. Computers are already giving way to access terminals and this trend will continue at an accelerated pace.

The result is the continued decline in computer values as their functionality changes for most people so that US consumers will shop for 2000 computers in the $500 (US) range and Canadians will pay $900 (Canadian) for their appliances.

For the worker who still needs a computer the price is rising for solid work stations because their production capabilities is doubling. Windows machines with 700mhz processors will be the norm in the spring while Mac users will begin using multiple processor 500mhz machines.

Windows 2000 is to be released in February but essentially will only be installed on new equipment as users will continue to use the operating system that came with their machines. Windows 2000 is essentially a rework of Windows NT and that makes it almost five years old by the time it is released.

This differentiates the Macintosh user from the PC user as Mac users switch to OS 9 this winter and in the spring and summer will be installing OS10 which is a UNIX based system that will be the standard for servers and productivity computing.

The explosive development of Desktop video in 2000 is a remarkable phenomena as DVD iMacs coupled with Firewire (IEEE) video cameras bring commercial editing and composition to the desktop.

But the main story is the Internet as it now becomes even more ubiquitous and no matter how people attempt to ignore it is now main stream and virtually indispensable in all endeavours.
  So what does 2000 look like, well if you are a farmer you will be considering getting a herd of cattle or considering early retirement, if you live in town or a city you can look at less taxes this year but everything will be sneaking up in price including gas, hamburger, booze and tickets to movies and pro sports. If you have investment capital you will be able to play the stock market and see your investments grow unless you buy some of those Internet stocks like Amazon.com which are sure to correct sooner or later.

This will be a good year to be a kid, good weather, a relaxed atmosphere with a little more money going to education this year.

I know I have missed telling you some things but in general that is it for this year. I would love to hear your comments and hope that each and every one who reads this has a happy and prosperous New Year


Timothy W. Shire