Thursday, August 11, 2011

St Joseph de la Rive Maritime Museum, Quebec

Quebec Independence and Globalization

While traveling in Quebec this summer I read an interesting article by Pascal Cyr (La Presse, June 22nd). The journalist suggested that the Quebec sovereignty movement is on the decline. Certainly the defeat at the polls of the Bloc québécois in the 2011 Canadian federal election would support that proposition. But the reasons? He suggests that the advent of globalization and the rise of individualization are behind the political manifestation. Citizens engaged collectively in projects of community and nation building of the Post War periods of the latter half of 20th century, have given way to citizens in the new millennium far more concerned about their individual welfare. Increasingly people rely on themselves to realize their dreams and reach personal goals. He quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, “Each of them, taken apart, is alien to the destiny of others; ones children and close friends constitute the entirety of humanity. Each exists for themselves primarily and if remnants of family remain, at the very least it must be said that one no longer has a mother country.”
Are there parallels with the United States? First globalization and the banking and investment roller coaster, the rise of the Right, the rabid reassertion of individual rights, anti-government resentment, rampant partisanship. The collective good seems to be going out the window.

Monday, August 08, 2011

US Enemy No.1

Hey, pretty good finger on the pulse would you say, my recent posting? Seems over the week-end the Standard and Poor's pronouncement to lower their US credit rating has become the number one news story. They are now a target as they propose the economy gets worser and worser (yes I know, my blog readers in Russia, China, Yemen and beyond will wonder about my grammar). In reaction to the market free fall to-day, Monday, President Obama has quoted Warren Buffet as saying if a quadruple A rating existed, the US would be the sole possessor. Talk about two different narratives. Apparently S&P were giving Lehmann Brothers a Triple A rating right up to the day they crumbled, so who do they think they are anyway? Perhaps though, here’s a thought, they are the only ones saying it as it is.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Oddities in the News

The Mars probe, Viking, has done its job and has now slipped past the planet into deep space, never to return. It is not yet out of contact with Earth however, even though the signal picked up here on Gaia is 20 billion times weaker than the electric current produced from a battery in a digital watch!
Source; Space To-day online

A summer traffic jam of gigantic proportions has developed in China, not for the first time. Apparently the back-up of stalled vehicles on a highway leading to Qinghai is 120 kms long. Has some delinquent painted over the exit signs?

John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, has just returned from China where he declared Canada is now a strategic partner with China. Yep, we have resources to sell one must conclude. This statement flies in the face of Canada’s virtual disdain for good relations with the world’s new kid on the economic block since the Conservative Government came to power in Ottawa in 2006.

New Poor Standard

The wealthiest nation on earth is being brought to its knees, or at least facing a new level of economic adversity not seen since the Great Depression. The recent brinkmanship over cutting the budget in Washington, D.C. has been quickly followed by tumbling investor markets. To add insult to injury, Standard and Poor's have just dropped the credit rating of the United States to AA+ from the perpetual AAA rating, a slap in the face to America. To boot S&P made a two trillion dollar error in their calculations Friday, miscalculating the long term national debt by exaggerating it by that amount! But they slashed the rating anyway. Did they fire the coffee boy or is it business as usual in accounting?