A day of Economics: Four Hours of it!

I just got home from a seminar on crime, economy and community that focuses on Metro Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. Ninety percent of it did not surprise me at all, but there was that ten percent that I either thought it was right off the wall, or made me think very hard. The general consensus that people seemed to talk about are: the immediate problems that everyone is facing such as possible lay-offs from work, loss of business and services, the real estate crunch and shrinking market demands.

There were plenty of people who stated that for most, the economic crunch will have little impact on our general state of economic health, and we should be all right. For those, and I have always stated this, who have debt, you are the ones who are going to feel it the most. If you have little or no debt, then your means of weathering this economic storm are very good. But this is all common knowledge, and old news; it was the ten percent of the speakers who threw some words of warnings onto the fire and made some smoke.

There were a number of market fallacies that took place way back in September of 2008 that the media literally played to death. The number one fallacy was the environment vrs the vehicle manufacture. This was so big because it was right in front of our faces that we could not see it, and was truly the first major sign that the economy had failed. It went like this, buy new because your old car causes more pollution than the new top-of-the-line SUVs. Next was the dirty oil fallacy of using nuclear energy to aid in the extraction of the Alberta Tar-Sands. This fallacy was that nuclear energy is a clean form of energy that would make the whole process of dirty oil reasonably clean again and more environmentally friendly. Spending credit is going to help the whole economy. In other words, we must spend our way out of the economic slump we are in. The word perpetuation kept being repeated over and over by this speaker. Sadly because of our lifestyle of instant gratification and free spending from having credit, we will “sheepishly” continue to have growing debt. And lastly, but not the least, is the fallacy that government should give corporate welfare and create huge deficits in order to maintain the economy. To prop up failing companies sort of throws mud into the face reasoning that like in the natural world of evolution—only the strong survive and weak shall wither away–so why should we even bother? Even in the lens of right-wing thinking, asking government to bolster unprecedented debt, to keep failing businesses afloat, is a contradiction of ideology. From Bay street to Main street to your street—only the debt will certainly go. The next obvious out come from this is income-tax burden.

It was intriguing to hear the speakers talk about these topics, and even more to hear their opinions on how to fix it. I heard some really good ideas, but I heard more about angry people who lost so  much because of their investments into such things like RRSPs and nest-eggs.  It was the Stock Market to stole centre stage tonight!

I was there to hear what people had to say about my favourite topic which is crime. Like the fallacies I talked about earlier, there are just as many on the topic of crime. The perpetual increase in crime is a constant no matter what era we live in. The new fuel on the topic is that more people are now going to commit more crimes in order to feed themselves because of the increases in unemployment. Sadly, and I fall on statistics, the rate of poor people has always increased, especially in the last five years of economic boom. Crime is going down overall, even in terms of property crime, but that all depends on how big of the macro view you use to measure. If you just focus on East Vancouver, then yes, property crime is increasing at an alarming rate. Do you think the media is going to spell that out for you?

I have a lot of information to digest. It was a good seminar, and I wish more people could have gone out to it because it really put things into perspective. I left with a sense of hope and good karma because this is a personal dilemma that each of us faces as opposed to a social one. It depends on how well each of us deals with our own economic health, and in turn will reflect upon how well the overall economic state will become. I took from it that debt is bad, and smart spending trumps all.

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