Showing posts with label government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

LIVE :: from a TV or smartphone near you :::

As it happens from the renounced birthplace of Ted Cruz (Calgary)
I'll be goshdarned!  I wouldn't have guessed it: Sanders is beating Clinton AND soundly ::: if that is the case early on (multi-tasking aka watching as I write this for my three followers). If you looked at the preliminary numbers it was a fait d'accompli (french) ::: Trump is ahead 30% with Cruz in his dust.  

Yes'm folks, there very well may be a revolution and you will have to continue along with the media bombardment and (sometimes with the distortion of) the facts ::: organizations taking on the establishment ::: with broadcasts upon channels theatrically gifted anchors and guests acting like it is a return to the hay day of the Kentucky Derby or Vellenieve (oui, Canadian) in F1 racing.  

Food half way to the mouth stopping ::: before the populace is politics of all politicking to eventually come to a finish justifying heady predictions ::: statistics running across the bottom of the screen like a ticker tape, back in the days of old (those words scrolling across the bottom of your screen).  There they were, even to the untrained and nonAmerican viewer,  the early predictions coming true this time from the polls ::: based on what?  You got it:  1% of 1/10th percent!!!

Image source:  Wallpaperscraft ::: Dragon Fantasy (via Google Search)

Switching gears:
Ok, so who else loved the love story of a long time from "Game of Thrones"?  Jack Snow with gal with the foul mouth ::: remember her?

Now, who else was a little cheesed off when they killed that whats-her-name girl with the fiery red hair and Irish lilt?   I was kind of liking having some warm and fuzzies for a change after sooooo much brutality and heads chopped off or hanging ::: holy Hanna talk about violence!  

Well guess what friggin what!?!  The handsome Jack Snow is dating her in RL (real life).  Yes ::: her

Speaking of which, what a fantastic surprise from my hubby who almost never brings me surprises:  gave me a leather notebook with this stamped on the cover.  Unlined so I can doodle or write or .... whatever I want to think about or do.

So, as I often do when I write, I go to look for a photo or image that will make a SPLASH ::: say visually what I am trying to put into words :::


Well, shiver me timbers ... the first response from our friends from Google ::: when I searched for "Game of Thrones images"  and was the first response.  On auto pilot, I click and then wowzers, upon splendor, Jack Snow and his little lady are in love in RL (real life).

Yah, I know, they are young, single (they better have been or I would withdraw my vote) met while filming and fell in love.  I mean what a set! Epically, appealing I would say and no wonder set the internet on fire faster than Trump's first Sanders insult ... outpacing Reality TV audience transfixed by watching the New Hampshire drama unfold ::: my husband is annoyingly flipping multiple channels that tell him the same thing, just different voices and faces.

I have to apologize for messing up their names ::: Game of Thrones costars Kit Harington and Rose Leslie.  Phew, sorry.  We so often get wrapped up by the truly talented best (cinematography, costumes, writing, direction, special effects and crew) assembled into a mesmerizing character we forget that they are very different, very real, people.

One last beef ::: only "highlighted" the guys name:  Kit Harington.  That sucks.  It disappoints me gravely.  I dunno, I guess I thought that People was an establishment made up mostly by women.  BOINK :: BONG :: WRONG.  Then again, women don't often help other women.  Ever notice that?  Well, I'll leave that for another day.  Here's the quote that was embossed on the notepad:


               ~TYRION LANISTER

Source:  Game of Thrones 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lest we forget .... or NOT

Happy Remembrance Day to my fellow Canadians and anyone else who takes the time today to honor the bravery of all soldiers who fight for freedom and peace.

My father passed away 5 years ago and up to his last breath, was proud of who he represented, after 35 years with the Canadian Armed Forces. In our home, we were unable to forget.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae, author of the famous poem 'In Flanders Fields,' wrote the iconic work after the death of a friend during the second battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915. (National Archives of Canada/Canadian Press) SOURCE CBC Canada 

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of one of the most well known poems "In Flanders Field" by Lt-Col John McCrae.  

The poem is a poignant reminder to us.  If not for the bravery of many men and women, our lives would not be the same today.  It reminds us that those people were brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who gave up their lives for others.

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunsets glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders Field.

In peacetime, we can all assume that the life of our military personnel are laid back, living day to day in simplicity and beyond the toils of having a corporate or artistic path.  Yet, those who are given glimpses, with guarded privacy and confidential, there were and are still many who are sent on missions or tasks to uphold our freedom.  They are not heralded as heroes and are obscure from the media eye that they too have done much to keep the evils of war at bay.  Our safety taken for granted.

These same men and women should also be honored because they are behind the scenes to keep us safe daily.  A day like Remembrance Day should also celebrate those who are never credited for what they encounter, what they do, in order to keep our lives safe and carefree.  

As the daughter of my father, I know he went away for days, weeks or even months on assignment.  It was the way of life, without questioning why.  Unlike those who drive into an office, maybe work late, and come home at the end of their day, our military is often tasked with going away to do exercises, safety missions and peacekeeping.  Some don't come home.  They are a statistic and number who don't come home.   Only the family and loved ones left to grieve.  While politicians, media may have a glimpse of their bravery, they often go unheralded for what they continue to represent.

I am not minimizing the cause or bravery that stemmed the poignant poem of "Flanders Field".  I just want to acknowledge and pay tribute that there are far more unofficial acts of bravery that go unnoticed, while we contently live our lives in the arrogance of safety.  Sometimes, there is a mention by name, but more often grouped in a category that doesn't distinguish them from what they contribute, or the sacrifices their families encounter.  

My skin crawls and the back of my hair stands up whenever someone wants to call me an "Army Brat".  I find it distasteful and disrespectful to what my father had done.  In his twilight years, he wanted to exorcise his memories and told us more stories of his life than we could possibly have known.  The burden my mother had, raising four kids, primarily alone.  My father's return quiet, unassuming and without fanfare.  It was a way of life.  Not anything I would have given up.  I owe it to my father, to celebrate his contribution to our peaceful world.

I love you dad.  I still miss you.  You have not been forgotten.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Advocacy for education

Education is a right for every child in our hemisphere.  In my opinion, it evens the playing field.  We are often reminded by great achievements by those who climbed out of despair, poverty or abuse to rise out of the shambles.  Education has a way of doing that.  It is something that we perhaps take for granted.

I often volunteer to help kids in education.  For almost three years I have been volunteering for Junior Achievement, where one is armed with teaching aids, representing major companies in the community as a way of giving back.  The skills covered are economics, budgeting, finance, credit, applying for jobs, understanding expenses and so on.  As volunteers, we are also setting positive examples for kids aged 14 and 15.  

I have also volunteered to prepare and distribute lunches to kids in an elementary school with demographics that show much lower than average household finances.  This was under United Way, another great organization that helps the community thrive.

Recently, our organization, did a fundraiser within our department about a month ago under the charity Stephen's Backpacks  It was set up as a contest among about 10 teams of about 13 individuals on each.  Basically, we were given two backpacks and filled it up with supplies for students, given suggestions by breakdown by group of elementary, junior high and high school (as needs vary).  As our social prime, we also raised funds, some donated filled backpacks, others supplies and others money.  It was a worthwhile cause, helping kids in education.  It helped build team work.  Sprinkled with a little competitive spirit to make it charged.   

I grew up with advocacy for education.  My parents gave each of us the opportunity to go beyond high school to post secondary education.  I was the only one of four to take advantage of it.  It wasn't always easy.  Sure, my tuition, housing was covered while I had to become innovative to get food.  I ended up volunteering on the Yearbook Staff, then moved into the Student Union as its Secretary.  Part of the reward was monthly meetings and afterwards a paid dinner at the cafeteria.  I also was a Floor Senior in the Students' Residence.  There must have been a free meal in their somewhere.  Both allowed me to attend social events for free, and there must have been free food in there as well.  I worked part time for a while but the hours of 5pm to 2am didn't always compliment getting up for 8am classes.  

I am thrilled that my second youngest daughter is attending University.  Her father had tried to take her to the Armed Forces recruitment office to subsidize her education.  I advocated her to follow her passion and dreams.  Both her father and I contributed towards an education fund the moment all three of our children were born.  It certainly helps today.  My daughter says that she knows how lucky she is to be getting an education without the cloud of graduating with massive debt.  She took a gap year off, traveled a lot, played competitive soccer and partied some.  I was always nervous that she would get too used to money and put off going back to school.  

I surveyed lots of friends and associates on the matter.  Was a gap year wise?  Looking back, I can see why she did do it.  She is a January baby, very articulate early, starting preschool in French emersion at age 3.  It wasn't playschool it was PREschool.  Then, she was a year younger at graduation than most of her classmates.  I understand she needed a break before she buckled down and went to school.  She took the time to explore her interests and decided on Fine Arts.  That was after Marine Biology, Meteorology, etc.  

What kids have today in some of the schools is career planning early.  Taking quizzes and skills tests to cross reference attributes with career paths.  She was advised to be a stock broker, given the reason that she was in strong in math and had personal integrity and honesty.  Her dad would have done back flips since he had taken the Canadian Securities Course from interest and built knowledge for investing.

My stepdaughter was all set on going into nursing from the time I met her.  She started work as soon as she could and glided from that into a strong position with a strong organization that provides ongoing on the job training which is not the same as a post secondary education.  We can foresee her working her way up as she has already moved upwards a fair bit for someone her age.  

Our youngest has moved cities, expanded herself and spread her wings.  She is starting to say that she has started to settle on an education direction now.  Communications.  I hope she does.  At least I've learned that they have to make the decision themselves even if the expectation is deep rooted and money set aside.  

The best thing we did, was start from the get go with an education fund.  It allowed the opportunity to always be there to back up the encouragement.  Their father and I met at college but didn't graduate with student loans.  

In the long run.  Education is the distinguishing factor that can set anyone apart.  It takes sacrifice, discipline and intelligence to start and continue.  If our governments really wanted to avoid political positioning by playing with education, they would encourage parent or organization finance for post secondary education for all.  

I understand that many US citizens consider the government paying for things like education and health means gravitating towards a socialist state.  I'd say, put your paranoia aside, it doesn't have to mean you're on the brink of communism.  It simply means that you are investing in your future.  Your children.  Their education.  A better chance of survival and financial security than some of their parents.  Educated households, I would imagine, statistically have less abuse of drugs, alcohol or domestic violence.  

We can break the chain of disfunction by protecting all of our futures by investing in our children's education.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Politics: An open classroom

Are you like me -- tired of the nonstop theatrics by politicians from both sides of the border?  It is going to go on for a lot longer.  I am embarrassed for some of the candidates' blunders from either country.

As a Canadian, many of us pay attention to both sides of the border.  Sometimes, I have to admit that the US Republican Party volley for power is ten times more entertaining.  The stats support this.  CNN's airing of the debate hosted 20+ million American viewers while Canada's meagre 60,000 tuned into the Globe and Mail's debate.

Statistically, overall, those are not impressive numbers when you consider the population of America:  320 million compared to Canada:  36 million rounded up.  In either instance, the viewership was less than 10 percent.  With what is at stake:  economy, education, health, security - you'd think more would be tuned in.  Then again, thanks to the internet and social media, one can always catch up.  Even if it is skewed by those that are the loudest or tweet the most absurd.   

Does that mean that both countries citizens are apathetic?  Or, does it just mean that they're tired of hearing about Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau's theatrics?  I had a chuckle when I heard that someone tweeted that Canada needed a Prime Minister, not a rock star.  Granted, it appears obvious to me that Justin is appealing to the Millennials and The Donald is quite simply entertaining.  

It doesn't look great when we are merely being entertained when we should be considering who we should hand our futures to?

The nicest part, for me, on the cusp of two age distinctions, Generation X, 35-54 or 54+ Baby Boomers, was watching the debate with my 26 year-old son.  He represents the Millennials while my husband represent Generation X mostly.  We represent the smallest bubble of population, faced with security issues (both employment and terrorism) and financial woes (saving for retirement, paying for kids' education).

There were some major impressions that I got for Canada, and living in the oil-bust city of Calgary, is that our incumbent Prime Minister cannot be blamed for the oil recession in our midst.  We should be examining how the oil prices were driven lower before we start to point fingers.  It is a mistake that the other two debaters seem to be missing what is obvious to me.  I wonder if others think the same?  I'm undecided while wondering if I should support staying the course?  After all, the experts say that Harper's finesse comes from a background in economics.  That would seem to be a good enough reason to pay heed.  Personally, I'm not looking for handouts, I'm just looking for a brighter future.  That future looks like stability.  

On the other side of the border, I have an opinion because I'm aware that whatever happens there seems to impact us, whether we want to admit it or not.  Again, where I live is directly linked to the US because of our head office count cross-sectioned with Houston, Dallas, Texas.  A wise mentor long ago, when I was working for a US corporation, advised smartly, to anticipate what will happen in the future, you should keep an eye on the south, politics and Wall Street.  They have a habit of trickling over to us.  

The coolest part was having both my son and I agree on one thing:  Carly Fiorina was a stand out.  If I could vote right now, I'd be all in with her.  She stood steadfast, very poised, never waivered once.  She showed class and demonstrated tremendous leadership by staying on point, and understood her positions on many, if not all the issues, the others were jockeying position for.  

I'm not a feminist while I am a champion of strong examples for our young women to look up to.  I pulled from You Tube, the following example: 

Regardless of your political stance or views, tons can be gained from watching these debates.  You can decide what type of person you identify with, regardless of party or politics.   It is an open classroom for all to learn from.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WE are the WORLD

Incredible share by NASA on latest PIC of #earth.  So breathtaking .... man oh man, isn't it so beautiful?

Which means we're all neighbors.  Absolutely.  Certainly, because we share this vast globe of greenness: trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, fruit, jungles and water: oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, along with mountains made of greatness like Mt. Everest.   

How humble we should feel by the responsibility of this magnitude.  We cannot dwell on our enemies, decease, poverty, climate until it is one gigantic undertaking by ALL people of this world.  She is our home and we often neglect her, so focus on our agenda are we.

We know we host evil and want to abolish it, yet nothing is as important as humanity.  Humanity cannot survive without earth.  Then why do we band together as ONE community under the executives of the universe -- the Sun and the Moon.   Heed the vote to survive.  Listen to the scientists observations.  Watch the educators knowledge. 

Who are we to scoff at what they have been telling us?  Don't we remember that song: "We ARE the WORLD"?  It was a sign of an anthem to be sung.  Not for one color, one culture, one religion, one leader, one information outlet, one idol, one animal, one organism, one food.  For it is this world we live together.  As one.  For eternity. 

Are we abandoning that dream to live in love, health, safety, nutrition, education, religion?  Without this earth.  We are the same:  nothing.  Whether by evaporation, extinction, violence, abandon, or death.  What we are hearing is we cannot go on any longer, never mind much longer, on this path we march jointly.

With deference to our board: the sun and the moon and our people.   Why will we miss that meeting?  Yes perhaps because we have our own agenda, to the exclusion of survival.  It is our world. 

It is our responsibility.  Not one single person alone, but all of us together for one cause:  life.

We are the world

charity single originally recorded by
 the supergroup USA for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is one of the fewer than 30 all-time singles to have sold at least 10 million copies worldwide.
Following Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" project in the UK, an idea for the creation of an American benefit single for African famine relief came from activist Harry Belafonte, who, along with fundraiser Ken Kragen, was instrumental in bringing the vision to reality. Several musicians were contacted by the pair, before Jackson and Richie were assigned the task of writing the song. The duo completed the writing of "We Are the World" one night before the song's first recording session, on January 21, 1985. The historic event brought together some of the most famous artists in the music industry at the time.
The song was released on March 7, 1985, as the only single from the album. A worldwide commercial success, it topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, "We Are the World" received a Quadruple Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. However, the song garnered mixed reviews from journalists, music critics, and the public. Fans enjoyed hearing racially and musically diverse recording artists singing together on one track, and felt satisfied in buying "We Are the World", knowing that the money was going to charity. Other individuals, including many commentators in the rock press, were disappointed that the song did not challenge listeners as to why famines occur in the first place, and felt that the lyrics were self-aggrandizing.
Awarded numerous honors—including three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award, and a People's Choice Award—the song was promoted with a critically received music video, a home video, a special edition magazine, a simulcast, and several books, posters, and shirts. The promotion and merchandise aided the success of "We Are the World" and raised over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the US.
Following the devastation caused by the magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, a remake of the song by another all-star cast of singers was recorded on February 1, 2010. Entitled "We Are the World 25 for Haiti", it was released as a single on February 12, 2010, and proceeds from the record aided survivors in the impoverished country.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Talking taxes benefits

"In matters of truth or justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same."
~Albert Einstein

A discussion erupted in my home city Calgary recently because a local law enforcement officer was written about because she has gone on record to having to leave our city because topped benefits isn't good enough.  For most Canadians, they are given a percentage of their wage for a certain number of months leading up to and after giving birth.   What topped up benefits means is getting the company or organization to add to that based on tenure and wage -- sometimes in return for the mother to agree to return to her same job, responsibilities, title and wage she had before leaving on maternity.  In addition to  her federal benefits.

An article was posted by MetroNews Calgary inspired me to respond with my own opinion under their comments:

Having your benefits topped up is a dangerous precedent and expensive one.  It is one thing to be pro-women and pro-mothers, I applaud that.  However, we need to take a look at the big picture -- how realistic is it for mothers to gain the same benefits city-wide?  I like the discussion simply because it is about how our taxes are being used.  When I had my THREE kids maternity leave went from 3 months federal benefits to 6 months.  We've come a long way to allowing a year.  However, topping up is not something that every new mom is afforded.  Unless it is legislated for everyone, it shouldn't be an elite squad's right.  Once again, do I have to repeat ... it is our taxes that we're using to support this.  There are far many ways this could be coordinated ... like, child bearing aged moms and pops put into a fund (like we older folks do for retirement) and that fund is used as child benefits.  A la carte, chosen based on needs i.e. maternity or child care.  The young'uns don't want to fit the bill for retirement unless it is their own, then us elders, don't want to fit the bill on what we cannot benefit from.  Perhaps benefits and tax breaks should be chosen by each citizen based on where they need the help?  Just thinking out loud (which is more than I can say for those that come up with buying votes and managing our tax dollars).

Like it or not, we all have to face it that our population is widening between generations with major age gaps.   It is going to become an ever-increasing dilemma to any governing organization trying to please the populous.  When you have a broad gap between Baby Boomers (age 55 plus) and their kids of Gen-X/Melinia (ages 18-35 specifically), you're going to have a nightmare trying to keep everyone happy (and get the votes centered).

I'm just about smack in the middle.  I had my child-bearing years and am now facing the daunting task of looming retirement.  Safe to say, both milestones in life are important.  We need to keep the young people working while the older ones keep saving as much as they can for safekeeping and to avoid being a burden to the tax base in 10 to 15 years.

I was even at the tail end of child extra-curricular tax benefits.  When the Harper government in Canada introduced a tax credit for parents of children who are enrolled in sports mainly were given a break to compensate for fees associated.  I applauded the idea because, although I had had to pay for that on my own, I also recognized that kids who are in sports tend to stay out of trouble which can be a burden on resources and funds.  I always said that being a figure skater for many years, was an expensive way for my parents to keep me out of trouble.  Later on as my skills improved, the cost for ice time, coaching, private lessons, competitions, shows, skates, etc. got really expensive, I got a PT job to contribute.  I think that was a brilliant move on my parents' part because it demonstrated how keen I was to skate because I loved it, not because my parents could afford to give me the best tools to become good at it.

We should all look at the big picture.  If the government funds a select group, the other groups will want their own piece of the benefits.  Like I said, although I don't argue with the many merits of the various tax breaks, I have been disappointed to miss the mark to gain any pay off.

Let's take a look at just voting.  Statistics were given that in Canada only 34% of the age group of 18-24 vote, whereas 65% of the 65 plus age group do.  That is a huge balancing act to be sure.  So what do politicians do?  They appeal to the segment that garners the most votes.  That isn't rocket science.  Then they poll and speculate that they had better appeal to the other age segment that may wake up and realize that their vote can cause change and make a difference in their present lives in their future. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon where you fall, many of the benefits fall in the middle.  The child-bearing, child-rearing age group, child care paying, population.... who get maternity benefits, child care subsidies (in some areas), and parents of kids 8-16 year olds get breaks for being a model parent.  Ironically, my math shows they represent 1% of the voting populous while reaping a good 85% of the tax funding.

Then there is the 18-24 year old group that get breaks to squirrel away to put a down payment on buying a house.  Again, I'm saying that is a good idea because real estate transactions fuel the economy -- buyers get loans from lenders, builders get funds generated by building which sweetens the economy.  When buyers stop buying, the economy rolls to an abrupt halt or swiftly slow downs.

Sounds like a lot of imbalance if you ask me.  Then there is the other part of the equation.  The one group that tends to help the investment community is from the older age segment.  Then investment, gives money for banks and such to lend money.  A different spiral.

If you have two spirals working in opposite ends of the economy it is no wonder the ones in the middle get a lot of dust.  But then again, that is where the government focusses a lot on their funding and tax breaks.

Okay, so I've gone on and one and painted a very real picture.  What do we do?  Seems pretty simple to me.  Take an example from an employee's insurance benefits offered by the best corporations:  you get a certain percentage of your wage to be used as YOU wish it to be used.  You have a say in how much you contribute (usually between 1-5%) which the company matches.  Sounds like the ideal company to work for doesn't it?

I'm getting to my point:  why doesn't the federal government use the same process.  Instead of the expense, studies and pushback on deciding on where tax breaks go, let the individual citizen make the decision themselves.  For example, everyone gets 5% of their wage to go into a federal tax fund/break.  Each individual gets to decide themselves where that fund goes:

  • 18-24 year olds into education, saving for a house, starting a business, saving for when they have a child (income top up and child care)
  • 25-40 year olds can put it towards putting their kids into sports programs, buying down their mortgage, saving for their retirement
  • 40-55 year olds use it for paying off their mortgage, to give them more disposable income to do other things that fuel the economy, like make investments, plan their retirement, buy a vacation property
  • 55-65 will hopefully have paid off their mortgage and use the left over funds for investment and planning their retirement
  • 65+ are allowed to spend their hard saved cash with little penalties because they do not burden the rest of the tax system, they are rewarded if they help their kids or grand kids buy a house, pay for their education -- all which society benefits from.
Sometimes you can't see the forest because you are only looking at trees.  Let's pressure our politicians and leaders to have more integrity and use our votes to the benefit of everyone, not a select few. 

The onus would then be on citizens to elect those that appeal to the big picture, not greedy with power or backfilling their own agenda. 

Sounds like Utopia to me.  Doesn't sound too difficult to me either.  What may be the most difficult would be to hold ourselves accountable on how we vote, who we vote for, and then only approve those that have the integrity to benefit society as a whole. 

This is not socialist thinking or communism.  We would still be using the democratic process.  The pay off would be when everyone, not a select few, gets a piece of the action and benefits.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
~George Orwell