Image by Matthew Shire
2004 as it looks from here
FTLComm - Tisdale - Wednesday, December 31, 2003
No one, not even Horatio (the pompous investigator
from CSI Miami) with all his wisdom can see into the future. All we
have to work with is the past, which each moment moves into the advancing present.
For most of us, we really have no choice but to look at what has been and what had
been before, and from the myth and mist of what patterns we think exist, we can create
some possible outcomes in the fast approaching horizon of each new year.
I regret to inform you that 2004 is not the year we will look back on as one of those
good years. Certainly, like all years there will be both the good and the bad, certainly,
we will all try to make the best of it, but there are some sad and foreboding signs
of hardship in this coming year. The first challenge will be to get through a bleak
beginning to year both financially, politically and in international relations.
Before we get to the predictions let us first consider some of background settings
for this coming year.
|The background to 2004:
Most of Canada's provinces held their provincial elections during 2003 as did municipal
governments but 2004 is the year for federal government elections. The Canadian federal
election is expected in April and from this perspective looks like a ho-hum affair
as Canadians will easily return the new Prime Minister to power. The Liberal government
party has no opposition and the public wants very much to see what the fiscally conservative
and careful former finance minister Paul Martin does with power.
This means that Canadians will be gawking at the spectacle south of the border as
the Democratic Party works its way through the primaries toward the national
convention where the odds on favourite, Howard Dean, will emerge ready to
face the infamous Texas warmonger George W. Bush who did not gain power by
winning an election yet bleats away about democracy while doing everything he can
to avoid such a thing. During 2004 every issue, every event will be viewed through
the smoke and mirrors of the November Presidential election. Even though it seems
Bush's chances of retaining power are better than 50% because he has the reigns of
power and thus the ability to control what happens, or is said to be happening. There
is no indication that he or his followers will consider any restrictions on their
actions if it means that can improve their chances of retaining power and achieving
a second term. Since Bush did not win the election in 2002 it is inaccurate to consider
him being "reelected" as a proper term to describe this process.
The world economic outlook is not good. With the commanding power of the American
dollar and the military activity of the United States the world's economy
is distorted and the rules of supply and demand are suspended.
The primary economic factor is that everything is fixed. Simply put the forces of
power are more compelling than any forces in the financial realm. Trade, the supply
of goods and services are being dictated by the US controlled World Trade Organisation,
World Bank and the International Monitory Fund. All developing countries
are in depression and all enterprises undertaken by American corporations are either
subsidised or provided with favourable protection, in other words the free market
economy is suspended and the world is under the influence of the largest most highly
organised "mob" in history.
The United States debt is the main issue yet the country continues to function largely
because of economic coercion Expect the US dollar to continue to decline but not
enough to trigger a stock market crash as this is an election year. Crude oil prices
are expected to rise gradually and money will be gravitating toward real value such
as property or precious metals like gold. We are all just waiting for the fall.
Oddly enough this is hardly a new environment and you would be surprised to see the
remarkable parallel with 1924 or 25 when the disparity between the very rich and
the very poor became so great and the middle class all but was absorbed into the
working class. The 1920s were a time of excess just as we see now, it was a time
of false speculation and miss-information and finally in October 1929 the
force of economic gravity could no longer be ignored and everything came down.
2004, the year of Newsattianment:
The most important condition that lays in wait for the year 2004 is the state
of public news and information The forces of fractionation and information compression
have been at work for a very long time and it looks like this is the year that the
gradual processes of the past come together in the most destructive manner.
This past summer we sat under an umbrella in the hot summer sunlight eating a likely
tainted American beef hamburger sharing our table with four fools from Kansas. These
four were not by the slightest stretch of the imagination fools, I was impressed
with their intelligence and shocked by their ignorance. Good people will definitely
make bad decisions if they are given bad information.
Here is the situation. The development of cable and satellite television services
bring immediacy to the environment able to give you the story moments after it begins.
Newspapers struggling to cope have changed their focus from information to just trying
to stay afloat and that means catchy stories that will bring readers to advertising.
Here in Canada the mergers and compound monopolistic forces have made the printed
media dynamically focused and under the single control of David Asper. Meanwhile
network television has seen their profits dwindle with the viewer able to select
such a wide range of programming that money alone has become the only determining
factor in what is newsworthy.
This medium, the Internet is the wild wild west where anything goes and increasingly
individuals turn to the instant nature of the Internet for their view of the world.
I am convince they have the best shot at being informed because they bring to their
computer screen an appropriate level of skepticism which enables these folks (you
are such a person) who is critical and willing to check things out. Google
to your hearts content for you are not the majority but you are the best informed.
When these factors are combined we discover that voters in the so called free world
are no better off than the citizens of the former USSR in understanding what
is happening in their world. News is not news without a picture or "footage",
any news that might hurt advertising content is not news, any story that does not
conform to the current attitude poll results is not written and an obscure sensational
murder trial is always more important than a war, especially if the war is mean,
savage and far away.
With this in mind, and this an election year, you can well understand why I view
this year as bleak and sad.
- Believe that Saddam Hussein was a monster but be not aware that he was
an American monster brought to power and kept in power by the very country that eventually
blew up most of his country.
- Believe that Osama bin Laden is a monster that commanded the deaths of
thousands of New Yorkers but be no aware that his family members are close personal
friends of the family of the United States president.
- Believe that this present ongoing security alert (imposed December 21)
is based on real intelligence information and that a terrorist attack is possible
but be not aware that fear, government terror, is designed to make the citizen willing
to accept the state's intrusion into personal events in ones life for national security
reasons and accept the words and statements of government leaders and officials who
claim to be protecting their people.
Watch for this trend
The problems with the public service and negotiations with government have already
made the news in British Columbia and Quebec. It looks like labour and labour issues
which have been below the horizon for a while are about to reemerge as a difficult
issue all across Canada.
People are looking at the "good ole days" the 1960s when after the strikes
and labour unrest of the 1950s Canadian and American labour unions were able to establish
the five day work week and developed a much more fair system of employee compensation
then in the 30s and 40s. During the 70s and 80s there was a strong antiunion movement
whereby people thought that they could keep ahead of inflation and other inequities
on their own. The results have been sad as Canadian workers had done better than
Americans but on both sides of the border the situation has worsened as wages have
not kept pace with the growth of productivity and corporate income.
While the public in general has been falling behind and watching as the distribution
in wealth is increasing going only filling the pockets of a mere 1% of the people
in the society. People pay more taxes and corporations pay almost no taxes, companies
like those owned by the Prime minister have found ways to move their income offshore
and receive government subsidies while paying no taxes to the country.
It is inevitable that people will come to the realisation that they have lost a hold
on their role in the North American society and you will see in 2004 the movement
toward increased unionisation. The reversal of tax fairness is unlikely but south
of the border universal medicare is one of the main issues in the 2004 election especially
if Dr. Howard Dean is the Democratic presidential candidate. Here in Canada the Prime
Minister has already announced that Canadian health care is his government's number
|The events of 2003:
As stated earlier 2004 does not have the prospects that were evident at the start
of 2003. Though Canadian politics is basically a good looking situation with positive
pronouncements at all levels of government the impotence of Canadian governments
is embarrassingly apparent. I worry that 2004 is a year of unhappy surprises.
Every farm operation depending upon the cattle industry is in
deep trouble and that includes production of cattle feed, not just cattle farmers
are in an almost hopeless situation. The American closure of the border had a seven
month effect on depressing Canadian prices but the glut and devaluation of Canadian
herds is only about to really show up and this does not even relate to the most recent
BSE case in Washington State. Every farmer in the cattle business but come up with
an exit strategy things are not going to improve at all let alone some time in the
Grain markets are mixed as world need for Canadian grain continues strong but the
huge subsidies in the states undercuts Canadian sales and the rambo attitude of Monsanto
with its genetic modified plants has already destroyed the Canola market and there
is no reason not to expect the same to happen with Wheat.
The only bright light in agriculture is organic production which needs a hand but
could really prove profitable as the consumer is tuned in and aware of the benefits
of chemical free production.
Markets for the year will see beef prices deep in the red from now on. Wheat and
barley will hold its own and improve until well into the fall even with the continue
rise in the Canadian dollar's value there will be steady demand, particularly from
Oil seed prices are stable but should remain constant.
The provincial government has a fresh mandate and is not expected to do the same
old show but is showing clear signs of some new and positive direction. However,
the spring budget will be still a dance of language. Experts are predicting positive
financial conditions in Saskatchewan but do not expect any reduction in taxes.
The march leadership convention for the Saskatchewan party is just to late to be
anything more than barn door closing long after the election horse is a distant memory.
Darnel Wall will make an interesting and energetic leader for the Saskatchewan Party.
Watch to see if Lorne Nystrom does not accept a job or seat with the federal Liberal
government. This announcement could come after the house begins sitting.
Sir Ralph the Goodale will be a lot of Saskatchewan talk but there is no money for
Saskatchewan beef produces. The industry is doomed.
Paul Martin's honeymoon with the press and public will last right
up until and after the announcement of Ralph Goodale's budget. This budget is one
of the most wide sweeping and fundamentally different budgets in a very long time
as the plan to restructure the government of Canada is not all talk but will be money
based and the public will buy it.
The April election will be something of an upset. Not of the government but of the
failure of the Canadian Alliance to have paid attention to public opinion polls.
The new Conservative party will anoint Stephen Harper as their leader and will have
a tough time getting more than 15 - 20 seats. Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan will
send a few of them to Ottawa but more bigotry and wrong headed policy statements
will shut them out of Manitoba, Ontario and the Maritimes.
Ontario is the battleground in every election and this year it is between the Liberal
Government and Jack Layton's NDP. It will be worth watching as we see Paul Martin
supporters take the nominations from sitting Liberals and in many ridings disaffected
liberals and former Progressive Conservatives vote for NDP members. How about twenty-five
NDP seats in the next house of commons.
The disaffected Progressive Conservatives will hold off to long to make a real difference
and though they will field many candidates they will be to late but will elect between
six and eight seats.
The real upset in this election will come in Quebec where the Liberal party will
clean up and only four Bloc members will be in the house and that may be zero.
The Maritimes are free for the taking. Liberals and former Progressive conservatives
will harvest the seats with only one or two NDP members, but the over all winner
in the Maritimes will be the Liberals.
The real story will come after the election when Martin will be on cruise with is
restructuring programme working and time available to devote to the unwieldy nature
of international events. Martin will do his very best to maintain relations with
the Moron and his minions but one idiotic move after another will force him to make
a choice and he will try to sit tight counting on the election of a Democratic president.
God Bless America
As mention the whole direction of the United States will be toward
an attempt to elect George W. Bush so that the business of America can continue as
it is today.
What this means is that rash military and economic action will be the order of the
day to concert the US public opinion with a show of world mastery. Damn the torpedoes
mentality and God Bless America will be devastating upon all who are unwilling to
worship the Bush.
Student and public protest will advance into the summer, far below Vietnam levels
but significant as the losses in Iraq are progressive.
The progressive police state mentality of the United States will continue to be accepted
in the false hope that it will provide the citizens of the republic with a sense
of security. However, the war on terrorism is in its third year and the only fear
Americans really should have is from their own government.
Howard Dean will step out as the Democratic candidate for presidency but at this
time it is impossible to call the outcome. Al Gore won the last election but George
W. Bush was named president and with him in power there is no reason to assume that
he will not retain the presidency simply because he has the will and lack of moral
conviction to let Democracy stand in the way of doing all and anything necessary
to retain power. The United States is not a democracy.
Israel and the Middle East
No change from a year ago, now that's depressing and no progress expected in 2004.
For the Palestinians and for the Israelis there seems to be a desire for war to live
long and prosper. It is their problem and until they realise that they alone are
responsible for resolution and Saudi and US interference with substantial economic
support ensures that the state of murder and reprisal is the norm.
World War Three
Last year I announced the massive conflict that has enveloped our planet. All indicates
are that it is flourishing and the primary culprit is the United States the aggressor
and imperialist nation that leads all others in ownership and use of weapons of mass
- Stock market decline is gradual in January and February with
a dandy of a rally in March and April. Summer is cool and calm on the market and
prices are up in September, down in October as inflation becomes a factor in November
but few pay attention as all eyes are on the election and the false events that will
influence it and its outcome.
- Trouble in Detroit. 2004 is the year for GM, Daimler Benz
and Ford to see their stock plummet with their share of North American sales. Their
0% financing has already moved them to "BBB" rating just above "junk
bond" status and there is nothing to prevent further decline.
- The distribution of motion pictures is about to be radically
altered and movie theatres will be forced to up their ticket prices forcing many
out of business as first run DVDs will make their appearance in the market place
as early as May 2004.
- You thought it was over and so did I but the summer of 2004
is another dry one. Spring is expected early, low levels of winter precipitation
allow for an early seeding and a short crop with average yields harvested early in
this part of Saskatchewan.
- The North American West Coast suffered from drought in 2003
and will again in 2004 as the altered Pacific currents will continue change the climate.
If you thought it was hot in Kelowna this year wait until late summer in both the
coastal and Revelstock areas with fire outbreaks in Northern California as serious
as those in LA in 2003.
- Severe storms from the Mississippi East and up the St. Lawrence
valley will make 2004 the year of floods and killer storms.
- West Nile strikes Saskatchewan and Alberta harder in the dry
hot late summer of 2004 as the carrying bug is the only mosquito to prefer hot and
- Saskatchewan forest industry experiences an unexpected boom
as spring demand for product is well above past years.
- The poor performance of the US economy in the spring drives
down demand and gasoline prices are the lowest in a decade.
- The Habs do not make it to the Stanley Cup.
- The Cubs do not make it to the World Series.
- The Riders do not make it to the Grey Cup.
- No explanation for this but mid winter a new dance craze develops,
whacky, funny and escapist, peters out before the first snow fall.
|Talk to you later about this and other things. You can change
your future and you can enjoy even the worst of times, its all up to you.
Timothy W. Shire
Access door to a bridge over the Bow River in Banff Alberta,
Christmas Day 2003, photo by Timothy Shire II
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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004