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Sometimes Complaining Helps

You ever have one of those weeks that make you want to throw up your hands and walk away from everything? Check out and never check back in? Let someone else do your thing while you relax in the proverbial sun and enjoy bevvies in the (appropriately socially distanced of course and no more than 10 people) back yard? That would be this week. Started good, got weird, got really, really annoying. But now I am venting which is kind of a natural state for me so I suppose that’s a small win.

 

It’s one of those weeks where a whole bunch of stuff happened to make regular folks like me mad. Plus, I am in the middle of this pandemic induced blog creativity funk so I figured I may as well just lay my cards on the table and do what so many other people are doing.

 

Air.

 

My.

 

Grievances.

 

Watch out. Maybe.

 

Want to know what really set me off? Was it the closing of high schools yet again in the province? Close, but I actually expected that. Was it the random keep dance open, wait only outdoors, oh never mind just go online rollercoaster? Again, close. But no.

 

Instead, peak this week was when I took my vehicle in to the stealership to get an annoying noise looked at. First, they tried to upsell me on some new alignment scanner thingy they have when you pull in (sorry Mr. Parnell, your two front wheels are turned in which could result in premature wear on the inside of your tires). Then it was the oil change pitch (sure you’re at 40% life, but it never hurts to change it). But ultimately it was the call back with the noise diagnosis. Full rear differential rebuild for $3000 dollars. Umm, what? Is this the same rear differential you rebuilt two years ago for less money? Yes, but it’s critical. Your bearings are shredded. Wait, if my bearings are shredded, how is my vehicle even moving? Absolutely has to be done. OK, how long? At least overnight. That doesn’t work for me. That’s OK, it’ll take 10 days for all the parts to get here from the US. But I thought it was undrivable? Well, we won’t know what the actual problem is until we take it all apart. Wait. What?

 

As you can imagine, my vehicle is no longer at the stealership.

 

Okay, where was I? Right! Complaining.

 

Here’s the thing about complaining. It’s therapeutic. The relief valve is real so I fiugire if I get this off my chest now, before the weekend, I will have a much better few days.

 

So below, for your reading pleasure are ten randomly selected things I want to complain about. And trust me, it was hard to keep it to ten.

 

  1. Why does China get to have 18.3% Q1 GDP growth?

Seriously. Why can’t Alberta have GDP growth that high? Look, I get it. China is a faster growing economy than ours. They are ahead of us on pandemic reopening. All the stuff we consume at some point passes through China. And maybe they don’t have things like “regulation” and “human rights” standing in the way of their drive for ultimate global economic domination. And they actually underperformed consensus expectations of 19% (losers!).

 

But just once, don’t you think it would be nice to taste the sweet, sweet nectar of economic performance so absurdly high that all the usual Alberta-bashing pundits would be silenced. Of course, 18% GDP growth in Alberta only gets us back to 2014 levels, but if I recall, that was a pretty good year.

  1. Jake Tapper.

Ordinarily I like Jake Tapper. He’s one of the more watchable CNN hosts. Way less annoying than Wolf Blitzer and nowhere near as frantic as that John King guy. But Jake. Lay off man. Seriously. In case you were wondering what I’m talking about, Jake ran a hit piece on Canada’s vaccine roll-out complete with terrifying ICU scenes and serious doctors seriously talking about how serious things were. Then he called our vaccine roll-out a failure. And basically called the Federal government response a disaster. I actually had an American colleague ask me how bad was it in Canada and if I was concerned for my safety. Come on!

 

Look, our vaccine roll-out is far from perfect. Any self-aware being could see that. But it’s nowhere near as simple a situation to judge as was implied, especially with such an Ontario-centric report that completely ignored the logistics of vaccine procurement, distribution and delivery that exists in Canada.

 

For the record, and as I tweeted to old Jake this week – two months ago, Canada was a couple of months behind the US in vaccines in arms. Currently we are vaccinating at a faster per capita rate than the United States and are now inside of 30 days behind. We will catch up. Will Jake do a follow up story then? Look, I hold the federal and provincial governments to account as much as the next guy, but I don’t appreciate CNN suddenly judging us on our pandemic response as if everything is suddenly tickety-boo south of the 49th parallel.

  1. Elon musk. I hate that guy

That’s it. That’s the complaint. Okay fine. He makes nifty electric vehicles. They’re kinda ugly but I guess they’ll do. And he’s going to go to Mars, apparently he is racing Jeff Bezos now to be first. Who knows, maybe they can go together which might solve a lot of problems and make a great meme. But the celebrity CEO shtick has gotten pretty tired. I’m ready to move on. Plus I missed the whole run-up in the stock so I’m mad. Oh, and he bought a bunch of bitcoin. And is going to take bitcoin, which has to be mined and accounts for as much electricity use as Argentina, as payment for his supposedly green vehicles. So he’s a hypocrite and a bit of a grifter and charlatan. Maybe his next role should be in politics.

  1. Crypto currency

Speaking of bitcoin, is anyone else tired of crypto-currency hype yet? I sure am. The level of over-exposure and pandemonium in this market is crazy. It seems you can’t turn a corner without being exposed to some new crypto-scam. It’s tulip like in its mania. Actually it’s worse. It’s like the Permian was in the run-up to 2015 and again to 2019. It’s all production and no value-added. The only people making money are the promoters. Do you know anyone who is making out like a bandit with crypto? I don’t.

 

How out of control is the hype? I’m a big sports nerd. I follow a lot of analysts and podcast producers on Twitter. Every single one of them has some kind of crypto-currency side-hustle. I don’t know if these are sponsors or not, but it’s an infestation.

 

While I appreciate the concept of crypto and the elegance of having a borderless store of I for one am looking forward to the day that the US comes out and says they are going to have to regulate crypto.

  1. Oil Price Forecasts

Come on. Are we really doing this nonsense again? In the past few days I have seen oil price forecasts ranging from $40 to $20 to $10 a barrel covering periods ranging from 2030 to 2050. All predicated on how close we get to net zero and how fast. This is all great. I can make the same forecast. Here goes. If demand drops to somewhere close to zero, the price will too. See how easy that was? Now pay me for that forecast. What? Look, we acknowledge the energy transition. We know it is happening and is likely going to be faster than many imagine, but coming out with pie in the sky forecasts AT THIS STAGE adds absolutely zero value to anyone. What I want to know is – what is the price of oil projected to be next week, next month, next quarter, next year. Why? Because that is how decisions get made. Directionally over the next ten years? Good luck with that. Probably down because demand will be dropping. But if demand drops, supply growth will dry up so prices will probably go up. Or, I am not likely to be doing this job in 10 years so here’s this dart and I’m throwing it.

  1. Carbon tax.

So the CPC came out (finally) with their carbon tax plan. Or price on carbon. Or levy. Or charge. Or surcharge. What? So as far as I understand it, the CPC proposal is to scrap the carbon tax for consumers and replace it with a smaller “levy” which isn’t a tax, because it has different name. And they will also introduce a “tax” as opposed to a “levy” on heavy industrial emitters who will pass the costs down to consumers. Oh, and the current rebate program, which redistributes the carbon tax to consumers as a portion of carbon tax collections will be replaced by a system whereby you collect tax credits that you can then use to purchase CPC approved green items. So the CPC is scrapping a system that gave taxpayers free money. And is replacing it with what is for all intents and purposes Canadian Tire money? A system which ironically rewards you more, the more carbon tax, sorry levy, you pay. And this is supposed to encourage lower consumption.

 

So, a plan that incentivizes more consumption accompanied by an expansion of government into redeeming loyalty points with the added bonus of negatively impacting the energy industry. The only thing it’s missing is the aforementioned crypto side hustle.

 

On the plus side, they have proposed a carbon charge/tax/levy which means they acknowledge climate change, so at least that nonsense debate is over. Or is it?

  1. High School students under the bus.

This complaint doesn’t come from me. It comes from my 15 year old daughter. She is fed up with adults, Especially adults in government. Kids have always been the afterthought of the pandemic, even if platitudes say otherwise and nowhere is this more obvious than for High School kids. In and out of school multiple times already, they continue to be subject to the policy of the moment. They have no real say in the events that are affecting their lives. They have no vote. They trundle off to school on crowded busses that are COVID hotspots, they attend overcrowded classes of up to 40 students each in classrooms that rarely have opening windows (if they have windows at all), everyone wears a mask, teachers are bundles of frayed nerves, their lunch choice is to sit at their desks and nibble away or leave the school for lunch (doors locked behind them) and then when a case breaks out, everyone in a class is sent home to lock themselves away in isolation for 10-14 days with no recourse.

 

My daughter says no one in government cares about her. I can’t argue with that. It’s crap. And these “kids” that get shunted around like this are mostly 15-16 years old and up. Most of them will be voting for the first time in 2023. Kids have long memories.

  1. Calgary’s New Rink

Of course this comes up ahead of our upcoming municipal election. The Flames ownership group and the City are once again in disagreement about funding. Apparently the budget gap is $70 million and the owners want the City to foot that. Maybe they’ll even threaten to leave. That’s the way this playbook works.

 

Everyone’s current favourite mayoralty candidate “Baker” www.rogerbforyyc.com will be coming out with an official policy position on this soon, but let me give you the preview. No.

  1. Bailout for Air Canada.

Saw this the other day. The Federal government has agreed to provide a pretty massive bailout to Air Canada. Something in the order of $6 billion that includes low interest loans (write-offs) and an equity stake. Air Canada has agreed to refund a bunch of money (about $1 billion) to out of pocket ticketholders and to purchase the balance of regional jets on order stemming from the sale of Bombardier to Airbus (can we never get rid of Bombardier?). Great, right? Aunt Jolene gets her Cuba trip money back! But wait a minute. Isn’t there more than one airline in Canada? What about that cute little Calgary-based upstart? What were they called again? WheatJet? WestPlane? The Ponoka Propeller Company? Oh right, West Jet. Where’s their bailout? Coming they say. Still being negotiated. What? Why is it separate? Isn’t the entire air carrier sector in trouble? Transat? Porter? North Cariboo Air? Why are we doing individual negotiations? Will they all see an equivalent equity investment from the federal government? Because you know who I don’t want to be negotiating a bailout package with? That’s right, a party that owns equity in my largest competitor, that’s who.

 

Whose dumb idea was this?

  1. Gamestop, Hometown International.

Figured I would end with this one. We all stood by in wonder a couple of months ago as GameStop, a bankrupt, mall-based game retailer, saw it’s stock surge in value as a series of traders waged war against some short-selling hedge funds that made the mistake of leaving themselves open to being wiped out. Never mind that there was no real value to attribute to the GameStop business (unlike say Tesla), the price took off to in excess of $300 from $17 for no reason other than that people bid it up. Hold my beer said the OTC market, do I have one for you. Welcome to Hometown International, a $100 million market cap business that… operates a $60,000 a year deli in New Jersey. Its majority shareholders, that includes the Chairman and a variety of China and elsewhere in Asia based investment funds, must be super geniuses because short of money laundering, the only way to puff a stock up so much is to introduce some kind of crypto side-hustle.

 

Can we all agree that the stock market has gotten stupid? Can someone at the Fed please raise interest rates and put an end to this madness? Maybe the Bank of Canada can play along as well. Side benefit? It’ll cool the housing market in a hurry so we can stop all the other nonsense talk of taxing capital gains on principal residences which a whole different level of complaint!

 

I just renewed and locked my mortgage in. What do I care?

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