Tuesday, 27 September 2011

My solution to the Edmonton arena debate | #yegarena

Ugh, this arena debate just isn't going away. Now it appears the city wants to preemptively buy the land for 25million (on top of the arena's tag price, and infrastructure costs). Some of the ignorant comments in the live chat such as "Like Nike, Just Do It!" shows the severely irrational mentality behind justifying this frivolous expense.

So I'm going to propose a plan that should make everyone happy. It will transfer the risk to those invested in the arena. It will provide returns in as secure a sense as the free market can provide. It will leave the city free to spend it's money on the many high-grade infrastructure upgrades that will be needed should funding be raised. Finally it will give Edmontonian's (or other Albertans, probably open to other investors too) who want to build up, have input, and support the arena a direct way to do this.

Now before I explain this plan, I am in no way vouching for the success of the project itself. Even if this approach were taken, I would not be investing my own money expecting a return. Like any investment this one would be folly to the market's mood and if you read my other posts on this blog my long term outlook for the current global economic system is clear. However that aside, let's see how we can solve everyone's issues here.

First, the main arguments for and against (as I understand them):
  • Katz should be using the free market if he is certain about the return on investment.
  • Maintenance alone is not worth 100% of return on investment.
  • The questionable non-compete clause.
  • We are in a deficit and the arena is a luxury item.
  • The meetings are too secretive.
  • Infrastructure upgrading

  • It's believed the arena will contribute to revitalizing downtown.
  • The costs to renovate/modernize Rexall are also high.
  • The Oilers might leave without an upgraded facility.
  • The facility would probably get heavy use by non-hockey events.
  • There are high hopes that an arena will springboard an expansion in commercial service in the area.
  • It's a 1 time opportunity for the city.
  • If not an arena, then what?
  • And finally, Katz says he loves Edmonton.
 So how do we solve all of these issues and make everyone happy? We need to both please those for and against the arena, this is a large investment and those not confident in it should not be obligated to fund it. So the solution? We need a competitive bond process. Ownership of this arena needs to be on the open market. We've had partial open ownership of the Oilers before. So let me break this down for you.

Right now it's estimated that the cost is $450 million broken down:
  • $100 from Katz Group.
  • $125 directly from city.
  • $125 loan from the city, which will be paid back with a utility fee in the future.
  • $100 is remaining without a source.
What I would propose is to drop everything except the utility fee. The utility fee would remain but not to repay a loan from the city, instead it would go towards dividend payouts. Once the shares were put on the open market, Katz could *buy* his $100million worth of ownership (or however much he deemed fit) and the rest would be put up for bids. As time went on, this would give the Katz Group opportunity to buy back all of the shares for complete ownership and would minimize their risk.

Under this model, I also would not be *AS* opposed to city investment in the arena as there would be a direct return and we'd be able to cash out and have another player buy the shares. This would also give the hockey players themselves a chance to invest in the stadium they play in, giving them direct input. Other investors, and hockey fans would get direct input by holding shares.

So lets see, this solves the issue of Katz circumventing the free market system in hopes of placing himself in a monopoly. If he wants a non-compete clause with Northlands that is his business, but it's not the city's business to give him an edge over an already established business and then demand a monopoly. It solves the issue that the city is getting very little in return as like any other investor it could get as much a return as anyone else depending on free market risk. It places all risk and reward directly on the shoulders of those with direct interest in the success of a luxury item. I personally do not believe with the current credit crisis that an arena will increase growth, so why should I personally be on the hook with all risk and no reward? This mitigates that for me, and also leaves those who think that like Nike "Just Do It" to cover the cost. They might then make financial decisions off information instead of propaganda slogans.

Under this proposal all meetings would need to be 100% transparent to convince investors it's a viable opportunity. Good bye shadowy city counsel meetings, it should be 100% public and this system would ensure that.

When it comes to infrastructure upgrading, the city would have a lot more resources in terms of state of the art infrastructure without an already large commitment to the facility itself, and any commitment like I said would provide direct returns thus topping up the infrastructure fund if the city chooses to put it there.

Since everything on the pro-side is theoretical or fan-based, I don't see why it doesn't meet the needs. It certainly would show Edmontonians how much Katz loves us and the city by giving us direct input. It would give the expected commercial services the chance to have a direct investment in the facility as well.

That's my idea, I'll be refining it as I think about it more, but I think this model pretty well solves all of the major issues and controversies regarding the arena and should make everyone happy, or at least get their happiness out of city council’s hands as they are supposed to work for all people and any deal brokered by the city isn't going to work for everyone.

I am still refining this solution, so please comment with your constructive criticism. Additional factors I should consider, whatever...

Saturday, 10 September 2011

In a war of ideology, everyone loses

Not long ago a naive younger version of myself decided he would be ‘left-wing’.  For many years I subscribed to this ideology. I amongst many others took part in partisan flame-wars on news article comments. “Everyone on the right doesn’t have a clue”, I told myself.
Five years later, my perspective has changed considerably. I no longer identify with any ideology. Today I rarely even bother to look at what our politicians are saying, because I already know what they are saying. They are promoting whatever ideology they have subscribed to. They will paint today’s issues with a partisan brush and explain how only their ideology can work. It seems that no matter what sort of problem society encounters all it will take to solve it is a subscription to a specific ideology.
Reality tends to dictate though, that whatever your plan is unforseen circumstances will likely screw with it. This is why life on this planet is adaptive. Life adapts to the circumstances of which it finds itself in. In the last 100 years, with the advent of the petroleum based society which arguably for the first time in human history has provided more surplus than we know how to handle a new problem emerged. How do we control and distribute these resources? It is from this question that the modern left and right ideologies formed. Free market vs. Communism.
Today the world faces vastly different problems than it did 100 years ago and yet  we continue to frame all debates within these two very limited views on society. These views are not adaptive, they do not acount for unforseen circumstances. No one who subscribes to these views truly lives by either of them 100%. Many of those on the right are all too happy during a natural disaster to have governmental disaster relief. Take for instance the recent fire in ultra-conservative Alberta. Even though the government is giving money for rebuilding efforts no one is saying this defies the free market response. Albertans have been accepting of government intervention in this unforseen circumstance.
When push comes to shove in society, ideology goes out the window in favour of critical thinking. The rules of our virtual ideologies do not apply when the “greater good” is deemed imminently threatened. When a crisis is occurring most people are focused on what needs to be done, not who and how they are going to do it. These considerations do not matter in a crisis, there’s a job to be done and someone’s got to do it.
Yet when the crisis subsides the ideologies take hold again. The petty arguing between citizens resumes over petty issues. Who they think should provide health care, the government or corporations for instance. Both sides overlook the fact they both want the best healthcare to be provided, and that should be the primary concern or ‘root’ problem to solve.
Anyone who has ever debated me in politics may or may not have noticed that I refuse to use political labels. When I discuss issues you will not hear the words socialism, capitalism, etc, etc. I don’t use them because they don’t really mean anything when there is a problem to solve.
Since I’m a programmer, I will explain this using a programming analogy. Many people today have a favorite O/S of which you can find flame wars all over the internet debating which is “better”. Few of these arguments though put the phrase “better” in a circumstance.
“Windows is better for new users.”
“Linux is better for security professionals.”
“Android is better for embedded devices.”
Instead most of these discussions are absolutes, “Windows is better.”
When I’m approached for a development contract, my first question is always “what is the exact problem you are trying to solve?”. I don’t ask what their favorite O/S is, or if they have a preferred language. The reason? The preferred language or platform may not be the best choice for the particular problem. You might want a desktop app to manage your database, but I insist a centralized corporate website is better!
I can tell them what is the best solution to their problem because I evaluate all tools available without bias. Just because I do not like Windows does not mean I automatically rule out Windows as a tool to solve problems. This is the approach that is needed today in politics. As a society we must learn to address the root problem, and use all tools available to do it. Just as Linux is not the best O/S for every situation, the left (or right) is not always the best ideology for a given situation.
What we need to do to solve today’s problems is focus on critical thinking first and foremost. Not until all available tools are given equal weight will a true solution to our problems emerge. I don’t just mean left and right either, as I mentioned before these ideologies are mostly about resource distribution. None of the mainstream ideologies account for things like “finite resources”, instead opting for infintie growth. These ideologies were developed at a time when things like oil production and consumption might have been a sidenote on someone’s napkin at best. They were developed at a time when the majority of economic activity took place within a countries borders. We need to fully step back and address today’s problems without bias. We need to be open to modern technology, and the infinite amount of tools available to us. We need to understand that today’s world is neither socialist, nor capitalist.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Another sleepless night

It's 3:45am. For the past week I've had a churning in my stomach I can't shake, and with it I can't sleep. So much is on my mind, but so much is always on my mind -- why should this week be any different? So I'm going to just sit here, and write in my little space on the internet. I don't know yet even what I'm going to write about.

I can almost sense that the moment of just utter economic panic is closing in now. Since 9/11 who could have believed what we've seen? What we've witnessed? The G20s to riots in London. An utter war rampage in which now it's "nothing big" when we start attacking or invading a new country, It's seemingly become our right, and our right alone (NATOs) to globally police the world. I'm sick of it, seriously plain sick of it. Is this really all our "civilized" and "progressive" society is going to do? Wage war for the earth's remaining petroleum reserves while enslaving the future generations to debt servitude? These days it sure seems like it. So many people I speak to are so adjusted to the constant atmosphere of war and terror played on repeat to us through our discount Chinese slave labour TV screens.

Even when presented with extreme contradiction, such as NATO claiming to be worried about Al-Qaeda gaining access to Libya's weapon arsenal while simultaneously admitting that the "rebel" leader has links to Al-Qaeda! And people seriously believe this crap about our "war on terror"? Get over yourselves and the false sense of reality you have. Our leaders are liars.

This post isn't about Libya though, I still don't know what it's about. Maybe it's about the fact that the number of problems the world has on it's plate is overwhelming? Or maybe it's about the fact these problems are being left to a generation that will have no resources while the baby boomers drool over their stock portfolios and all of the monopoly money they think it will bring? Or how 10 years later it's perfectly O.K. that civil servants and the population was lied to about dust not being toxic from 9/11? The number of inconsistencies, lies, and glaring holes in not just 9/11 but the entire economic and political systems continue to mount and where is our Canadian voice? I'm still not hearing it. We are not going to be able to vote to fix these issues. Not at a federal level at least. The corruption of our system is utter and complete to the point where deception and propaganda infiltrates our lives almost 24/7. Marketing agencies are on a constant search to see where they can put ads next to get in your face. Cable companies continue to extend the time given to ads and then wonder why people are leaving their services. It's amazing anyone manages to end the day having any independent thoughts that weren't baked up for them by a public relations team.

The double-think in our world I believe can literally drive a non-adjusted person insane. If your memory is longer than 5 years then watch out; the plain criminality and denial can be a lot to handle. But no, none of these things are what is keeping me up tonight. So, what could it be?

I don't get this feeling often, maybe its some sort of super-power? I wish. It just feels like a climax of unseen proportions is barreling our way. Today was an insane news day. I'm still processing everything and trying to understand it. It seems Canada is stepping up it's police state. Two announcements today: Stephen Harper is predictably reinstating the charter violating anti-terror laws and in Vancouver's riot report, the "recommendations" certainly raise some suspicions. Take note of the vague terms such as 'hooligan demographic'. Do you know what that is? It's anyone, like "terrorist". I find it interesting in light of London which may arguably have the most CCTV cameras in the entire world and still had the recent riot, CCTV is still being recommended for riot prevention. Watch how fast 'hooligan' and 'terrorist' become one and the same. The writing is all over the wall at this point, Canadians really need to start noticing the path we are on. If you have never seen it, you need to see Into the fire -- this is their preparation for whatever is in store. I've been writing now for some time about how Canada will soon be in the same economic boat as the other western powers, does it still seem so unbelievable? If it does I'm sorry to say, but you have been brainwashed. Repeated statements such as 'economic stability' and all the other crap these politicians spout might sound fancy, but critically think about what they have said. Are they saying anything? Our banks are stable because we have "regulations"? Give me a break; we use fractional reserve banking, fiat currency and compound interest just like every other ponzi fiat economy. They are not stable, Canada's just in a different spot in the economic food chain. Just today I read an article about how we had better drop our "hostile corporate takeover" regulations. "Hostile takeovers in the U.S. are a lot more difficult" -- I almost pissed my pants laughing. Harder for who? Those not on the inside.

Am i rambling? I can't even tell anymore. There are so many problems, but in reality they are all one problem. A failed naked system, an emperor not only with no clothes, but no money in the bank either. The world's last economic hope of China has just reported that they anticipate a slowdown of growth in their economy. Probably because they are short on energy to grow it. It's simple logic, you see. But does either article point to the conclusions of the other? No. Everything is compartmentalized and packaged with a neat little bow for your half-thought out consumption.

I can feel tensions in my generation are growing. It's not a simple anger boiled around politics or economics. It's a complex, deep seeded anger, that either consciously or unconsciously is on every youths mind. When we see articles today about the baby boomer pensions crisis it's pretty well a huge red flag of hopelessness for future generations already debt ridden. If anyone from my generation believes there will ever be a pension waiting for them, it's a false belief. Maybe it's more faith than belief. Or even normalcy? My generation has been taught that you work hard, live it good, then retire. It's another form of double-think, we are constantly told by the system that everything is ok, and yet if there is a debt crisis now, a pension crisis now, what hope do we have in 40 years? This feeling of hopelessness is inherently political. It really makes me angry when simple-minded supporters of this corruption boil down events like the London or Vancouver riots to simple phrases. One of the more common one's I heard was "Well what do you mean they're poor? They've all got ipods and are tweeting.". Well what do you expect? this comes back to the 24/7 corporate invasion into our life. Madness that can drive actions like this. This isn't 1991, you don't need to be rich to have a cellphone, and most carriers are more than happy to sign multi-year contracts providing the phones for free. Just like how governments keep adjusting the CPI so that real inflation is hidden. Oh the price of food went up? That's ok, kids will just buy more Ipods because they are cheaper. This is the lunacy of the system we surround ourselves with, and then wonder why it's blowing up in our face.

The response from the system is becoming obvious. A campaign against western youth is well underway. The system knows we are long overdue for a generational revolution, and it just doesn't want to let go. It'll come none-the-less though, it's inevitable. Just as civil unrest has spread like wildfire in Europe and the Arab nations, it will be here too. One day in your streets you will see events like this for yourself. They are gearing up for a war against the generation they've stolen everything from. They know most of us will figure it out one day, and when that day comes the propaganda against them will be in full effect.

I'm going to try to sleep now.

Friday, 2 September 2011

10 years later, 9/11 questions rage on

10 years and 3 wars later with Osama Bin Laden apparently buried in the ocean many questions still remain about 9/11. For instance, if even 1% of the questions presented in the following presentations cannot be answered, then there is something the U.S. government has lied about. By the way, the 9/11 first responders are not allowed to be at the 10th aniversary.

These are listed in an order of quality. From best to worst. I do not subscribe to every theory presented here, I am only pointing out that there is a large number of questions and only a small number of them are needed as proof of an insider conspiracy.

Mike Ruppert - The truth and lies of 9/11

AIA Architect Richard Gage (part 1): 9/11 Symposium 11/03/07

Architect Richard Gage (part2) :9/11 Symposium 11/03/07

Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup

Truth Rising

9/11: Road to Tyranny

My thoughts go out to the families of this tragedy. One day you will have closure.