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Our dear government’s stalwart obsession with fossil fuel is again jeopardizing the economic well-being of the Province of Alberta.  Kenny is investing heavily in a project that may evaporate with the stroke of the Presidential pen.

The company said Alberta has agreed to invest approximately $1.1 billion US as equity in the project, which substantially covers planned construction costs through the end of 2020.

The remaining $6.9 billion US is expected to be funded through a combination of a $4.2-billion project-level credit facility to be fully guaranteed by the Alberta government and a $2.7-billion investment by TC Energy.

“TC Energy is essentially saying, ‘We don’t want to take that risk’ … Alberta is essentially saying, ‘OK, we’ll take that risk, we’ll put in $1.5 billion Canadian, and if it ends up that no one pulls the presidential permit, then we’re all going to work on getting the rest built over 2021 and ’22.”‘

We need jobs, we need economic advancement, but most importantly, we need to stop running hail-Mary plays based on the fossil fuel industry with public money.  The government of Alberta should represent all of its constituents and refocus on diversifying our economic contribution instead of playing this dreadfully expensive and foolish shell game with Alberta’s future.

Our tarsands oil just isn’t environmentally or economically sound anymore.

“He said what’s also worrisome for the industry is the political signal this sends internationally — especially on the heels of a major Norwegian investment fund blacklisting four Canadian oilsands producers.

“In terms of the bellwether of the political appetite for support for the oilsands south of the border, I think it’s obviously problematic,” Johnston said.”

I sincerely hope that we can elect the NDP as our government again in Alberta, as their dirty oil plan focused much more on economic diversification and benefits for the people of Alberta.  The Federal government of Canada is standing lukewarmly with Alberta for the moment, but with a Democratic win down south it looks like the Keystone pipeline will go back into limbo once again.

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room [of the White House] again as president and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”

A spokesperson for Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, responded by saying the Canadian government supports Keystone XL: “It is a good project that will create jobs for Canadians and it fits within our climate plan.”

Fossil fuels need to pave the way to Alberta’s new economic future, maintaining them and the industries that sway our government, cannot be the way.

Quoted news stores from cbc.ca.

  Very happy to be in Canada for this particular emergency.  The US administration was all over the map has the pandemic started and is paying the price now for having a doofus as head of state.

 

Long-Simmering Realities

In many ways, the current crisis has, of course, just exposed conditions that should have been attended to long ago. Much that suddenly seems broken was already on the brink when the coronavirus appeared. If anything, the pandemic has simply accelerated already existing trends. As a December 2019 Century Foundation report on “racism, inequality, and health care for African Americans” concluded, “The American health care system is beset with inequalities that have a disproportionate impact on people of color and other marginalized groups.” In fact, in 2019, the London-based Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index had already ranked the American healthcare system 59th in the world for its standard of services.

As bad as Donald Trump and his administration have been, the growing American coronavirus disaster can’t simply be blamed on them. Covid-19 has brought home to the rest of us how over here over there really was. And now, the pathetic White House leadership in this crisis has raised another possibility: autocracy.

The Trump administration’s failure to handle the crisis competently stems in part from the president’s perception that whatever he says, in autocratic fashion, goes — or, as he has often put it, “I can do whatever I want.” From his early assertion that the virus was destined to go from 15 cases to one or disappear in the warmth of April to his fantasy numbers when it came to virus testing or obtaining crucial medical equipment to his recent advocacy of ingesting disinfectants as an antidote for Covid-19, the leader of the United States has come to resemble a run-of-the-mill autocrat spreading disinformation in his own interests. It’s one thing to point to the power-grabbing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the underhanded machinations of the dictator of North Korea, or the ruthlessness of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. It’s quite another to have a power-hungry leader as our own head of state. Once again, we are not immune. There is here.

With Covid-19, the very idea of American exceptionalism may have seen its last days. The virus has put the realities of wealth inequality, health insecurity, and poor work conditions under a high-powered microscope. Fading from sight are the days when this country’s engagement with the world could be touted as a triumph of leadership when it came to health, economic sustenance, democratic governance, and stability. Now, we are inside the community of nations in a grim new way — as fellow patients, grievers, and supplicants in search of food and shelter, in search, along with so much of humanity, of a more secure existence.

The world, in other words, has turned upside down.

Peter Franklin’s article caught my eye.   Franklin describes a divide, of sorts, within the libertarian movement in the UK regarding response to the pandemic.  Between those who respect science, and others who think, somehow, their rights are more important that infecting and killing others in society.

I realize my framing isn’t particularly hospitable toward libertarianism, but for the most part I have little time for a philosophy/ideology that boils down to ‘fuck you, I’ve got mine’ as its central tenet.

 

“We think of ourselves as a liberty-loving nation, but seven weeks in and we’re still extraordinarily compliant. The protests we’ve seen in America have not been echoed here. Strangest of all, we’ve had remarkably little dissent from the UK’s small, but normally energetic, band of libertarian wonks.

With the economy crushed beneath state controls like we’ve never seen, where are the howls of rage from the free marketeers? The more thoughtful libertarians realised early on that Covid-19 was to be taken seriously. “This time the warnings are not overdone” warned Matt Ridley back in March. Sam Bowman, senior fellow at Adam Smith Institute, was an early advocate of massive state intervention to prop-up the economy during lockdown.”

 

“However, there’s a very different kind of libertarian, one whose reaction to all of this is more visceral than rational — driven by outrage that law-abiding citizens should find themselves under effective house arrest.Some of these individuals wouldn’t call themselves libertarians at all — and would see the “ancient liberties” they defend as being rooted in tradition not modernity. Others are more orthodox in their ideology, but still populist in style.In any case, it is from these types that we see most of the outspoken opposition to lockdown. Examples include Toby Young, Peter Hitchens and Laura Perrins.”

My question to these ‘visceral libertarians’ and their ancient liberties is this – Do you actually believe, in ancient times, that any real sort of individual liberties existed?  The only way this point of view stays consistent is if we define ‘ancient liberties’ as toiling to death in squalor of  the local Lord’s fields.

Our common ‘rights’ in society are born in communal struggle and the concomitant militant threat to the elite classes of society.  Thus ‘ancient liberties’ were an inherently collective endeavor aka the antithesis of libertarian ideology.

 

Andrew Bacevich writes in Tom’s Dispatch about how the Boomer Generation mythos has affected US policy making for much of recent history.

 

“In Washington, policymakers have shown little inclination to consider the possibility that the United States itself might be guilty of doing evil. In effect, the virtuous intentions implicit in “Never Again” inoculated the United States against the virus to which ordinary nations were susceptible. V-E Day seemingly affirmed that America was anything but ordinary.

Here, then, we arrive at one explanation for the predicament in which the United States now finds itself. In a recent article in the New York Times, journalist Katrin Bennhold wondered how it could be that, when it came to dealing with Covid-19, “the country that defeated fascism in Europe 75 years ago” now finds itself “doing a worse job protecting its citizens than many autocracies and democracies” globally.

Yet it might just be that events that occurred 75 years ago in Europe no longer have much bearing on the present. The country that defeated Hitler’s version of fascism (albeit with considerable help from others) has since allowed its preoccupation with fascists, quasi-fascists, and other ne’er-do-wells to serve as an excuse for letting other things slip, particularly here in the homeland.

The United States is fully capable of protecting its citizens. Yet what the present pandemic drives home is this: doing so, while also creating an environment in which all citizens can flourish, is going to require a radical revision of what we still, however inaccurately, call “national security” priorities. This does not mean turning a blind eye to mass murder. Yet the militarization of U.S. policy that occurred in the wake of V-E Day has for too long distracted attention from more pressing matters, not least among them creating a way of life that is equitable and sustainable. This perversion of priorities must now cease.

So, yes, let’s mark this V-E Day anniversary with all due solemnity. Yet 75 years after the collapse of the Third Reich, the challenge facing the United States is not “Never Again.” It’s “What Now?”

For the moment at least, Tom and I are still around. Yet “our times” — the period that began when World War II ended — have run their course. The “new times” upon which the nation has now embarked will pose their own distinctive challenges, as the Covid-19 pandemic makes unmistakably clear. Addressing those challenges will require leaders able to free themselves from a past that has become increasingly irrelevant.”

 

Will this latest pandemic foster a new set of priorities across the globe?  Many people would like to think so, but I think they underestimate the potency of the current establishment and how entrenched they are in the societal disequilibrium they have created.  I most certainly do hope for a new normal, but I’m not optimistic about it actually coming to fruition.

We need to flatten the wealth curve for our society to continue to move forward and prosper.  The out of balance economic shakedown that has been the status quo for so long needs to change.  Paul Street writing for Counterpunch lays out the grim details:

 

“+ 23. Capitalist Inequality Puts Anti-Science Fascist Lunatics in Power. The savage economic inequalities that are written into the inner logic of capitalism put a pandemic-spreading anti-science lunatic, the demented fascistic oligarch named Donald Trump, atop the world’s most powerful nation. In his useful book How Fascism Works, Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley notes that one of contemporary right-wing nationalist authoritarianism’s key taproots is harsh socioeconomic disparity:

“Ever since Plato and Aristotle wrote on the topic, political theorists have known that democracy cannot flourish on soil poisoned by inequality…the resentments bred by such divisions are tempting targets for demagogues…Dramatic inequality poses a mortal danger to the shared reality required for a healthy liberal democracy…[such] inequality breeds delusions that mask reality, undermining the possibility of joint deliberation to sole society’s divisions (pp.76-77, emphasis added)…Under conditions of stark economic inequality, when the benefits of liberal education, and the exposure to diverse cultures and norms are available only to the wealthy few, liberal tolerance can be smoothly represented as elite privilege.  Stark economic inequality creates conditions richly conducive to fascist demagoguery. It is a fantasy to think that liberal democratic norms can flourish under such conditions” (p. 185, emphasis added).

The political culture of pseudo-democratic duplicity and disingenuousness generated by modern capitalist inequality and plutocracy creates space for fascist-style politicians who “appear to be sincere” and “signal authenticity” by “standing for division and conflict without apology.  Such a candidate,” Stanley writes, “might openly side with Christians or Muslims and atheists, or native-born [white] Americans over immigrants, or whites over blacks…They might openly and brazenly lie…[and] signal authenticity by openly and explicitly rejecting what are presumed to be sacrosanct political values….Such politicians,” Stanley argues, come off to many jaded voters as “a breath of fresh air in a political culture that seems dominated by real and imagined hypocrisy.”  Fascist politicos’ “open rejection of democratic values” is “taken as political bravery, as a signal of authenticity.”

That is no small part of how malevolent far-right politicos – many of them dedicated enemies of science in service to the common good (e.g. the malevolent right-wing narcissist and instinctual fascist Trump and Brazil’s monumentally despicable and ecocidal racist Jair Bolsonaro) – have risen to power at home and abroad. The opening is provided by fake-progressive capitalist neo-“liberals” (in the U.S) and neoliberal social democrats and fake “socialists” (in Europe and elsewhere), whose claims to speak on behalf of the popular majority and democracy are repeatedly discredited by their underlying commitment to dominant capitalist social hierarchies. The demented fascist uber-assholes Trump and Bolsonaro, both of whom have acted to increase COVID-19 deaths in their own nations and thus in the world, are outcomes of capitalism in this and other ways.”

I wish people would vote on a rational rather than dogmatic basis. This kind of wonderland level of stupid could have been avoided.

Here in Alberta I am really enjoying our neoconservative UCP government.  They replaced a government that sough to balance economic investment and diversification with support of the public good.  The UCP essentially tore up that balanced economic plan and went ‘all-in’ on ramping up the Oil & Gas industry and making building pipelines a major campaign promise.

The UCP budget forcast included oil prices to be well north of $50 a barrel.  And here we are speculating that the current oil prices (April/May 2020) may hi the (negative)-40 dollars per barrel figure.

Yep, they were elected on the premise of killing the deficit and now are forecast to run some of the largest deficits in Alberta’s history.  But this is nothing new for Alberta under conservative rule.  Allegiance to the large business sector and Oil & Gas has always been a fixture.  The people of Alberta and the public services they need have always come a distant 10th.

So, the price of Oil has now cratered and is tunneling downward toward the core.  What next dear UCP?

 

“Alberta’s oilpatch history is full of ups and downs, dating back to the province’s first big oil rush more than 100 years ago near Turner Valley. But who would have thought oil would one day be worth less than $0?

On Monday, the price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the North American benchmark, fell more than $50 to close at negative $37.63 US.

“It’s certainly not something I ever thought I would witness,” said Matt Murphy, a Calgary-based equity research analyst with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.

“I won’t wager a guess how it may trade [Tuesday]. Could it go worse than negative $40? I don’t know,” he said.

Oil companies in Western Canada and offshore Newfoundland were already drastically reducing costs, slashing payroll and pulling back on oil production in recent weeks with commodity prices hitting multi-year lows. Now, the cuts are being accelerated further with Husky Energy and Crescent Point Energy both on Monday cutting spending more than previously announced.


It was a crazy day on the markets.

WTI prices swung wildly as oil traders began to panic as time runs out to get rid of oil contracts for May. The price of oil is determined by investments known as futures contracts, which are agreements to buy and sell a certain amount of oil at a certain time in the future. Typically, the contracts are bought and sold countless times before the oil is actually delivered to the final buyer.

But the May contracts are set to finalize on Tuesday, meaning anyone left holding one will have to physically receive the oil — and storage options are filling up, especially in the U.S. Midwest. No one wants to be stuck with the oil and traders were willing to take heavy losses to ditch the contracts before they come due.”

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