Not Enough Tom

It is beginning to cloud over, with a sprinkle or two, here in the Skeena Valley, this after an awesome two weeks of sun fill days that could cause a suntan if you are not careful. It is hard to believe it is still May here on the North Coast. Awwwww, climate change, marvellous. But that is not what I am going to blog about today. No, this is my monthly round up what is going on in my little corner of the neighbourhood. This month, I call it, “Not Enough Tom” to go around. Between the needy around my place, and all four levels of Government, my hard earned money is being targeted like Mexico paying for the “Trump Wall” along the Southern U.S. border, I keep saying “No,” but the “please” keeps sounding in my ears, louder, and louder, and louder. In our free and democratic country, the need for Taxes grows ever stronger, where “asking” turns into “taking,” and like the Internet scammer, the sound has become more demanding than ever before. The root cause in my mind is, the needy get less back from the Government, so both Government and the needy turn to the Middle-class for more. I ask, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

In my everyday routine, the to and from work part, I get asked at least once for “something” by my neighbours, in my neighbourhood. It may vary, from hard cold currency, to material items like tobacco or access to the Internet, but in all cases, the asker is someone who is either self medicating or mismanages their income in varying degrees. Whenever I enter my car, or leave it, that is usually where someone will ambush me, and the asking starts. I am an easy target here in the Thornhill Ghetto: I drive my own car, and it is shiny and black, and I have a job–a regular job–yup, paint a “bull’s eye” on me. Even the Government is asking for more, but I have been able to hold them off for now through tax loopholes and investment incentives through reputable programs, but that is still money I can not spend for myself right now. So here is the list: from “least,” to “most often.”

ONE: The Internet scammers are working harder than ever. In the last month (April 15 to May 15, 2018) My phone has logged up an impressive twenty-six callers that use “spoof” I.D. on the call displays. Yes, I screens my calls, and if it is “friend or foe,” it either goes to voice mail, or I answer it back–but “picking up” is almost a no-no.

TWO: The Taxi service out here in the Skeena Valley is very expensive. Unless you are disabled, either through health issues, or through intoxication, walking is the only true and tried method of getting around without a working and licensed vehicle, on a pauper’s income. Most do not like walking, especially if you live way out in the “sticks,” and you want to bring back that “twenty-four Pack” from the Beer Store, to your home. If you do not have money for a Taxi, then you target your buddies who own a vehicle. I get asked at least four times per week for rides. There are only three of us who have our own vehicles here in the Ghetto. I give no rides, becuase once you open that gate, then the flood begins. We have transit, yes, real actual buses that for a small fee, and it gets you back and forth from town–and it works becuase I know from first hand experience. Forget the Taxi Service and take Transit!

THREE: Being asked for money is the most often need I get asked for by my neighbours of all. Usually, it begins with, “I need food,” while they puff on their cigarettes, to “I need money for Cigarettes.” Sadly this is a reflection on the State of Canada’s economic well being, and those who made poor lifestyle choices. We are heading down the path of great economic disparity between the rich and poor. Lines are drawn between the old and the young, the Educated and labourers, all while those who are property rich cling to prosperity, and the “property poor” pay more and more to live in shacks. We have to learn to live without, and adapt to this economic change. We have choices, and drugs and alcohol are easy once to make, you just need the willingness to do it. But most of all, food should be made the first choice over Cable TV, and so on. To date, being asked to give money is by far the most often request I get here in the Ghetto.

In closing, I like say this: there is just not enough Tom. Yes, I save, but it comes with great sacrifice, but I do it. I plan, and it comes battling forces who try to disrupt my goals to their means, but I still plan anyway. For those who do not save up for their future, or plan for it and set goals, then these upcoming days are going to be your hardest ever. The poor need to ask the Government for more, not from me, becuase Government is taking so much as it is, and they make the rules. So, there is not enough of me to go around.

My Thoughts on Trade Wars Over Oil

The opinions expressed below are mine, and mine alone: this is me thinking out loud.

I believe that British Columbia is in a great position to embark on the path of becoming energy self-sufficient, and adopting the highest standards possible of any industrialized region in the world on Carbon reduction. It is no secret that there is a possible trade war between the Alberta and British Columbia Governments over oil pipelines. The BC Government as slapped limits and restrictions on the oil pipeline that runs through the Lower Mainland, and with that Alberta has proposed to cut off all old it currently sells to BC as a result. This tit for tat trade war could very well be a blessing for BC, albeit cause short term pain for some, but over all, a boon in the long run to both the economy and the environment.

The Lower Mainland gets most of its gasoline from Washington Sate in the US, as I understand. Here in Northern BC, where I now live, we get our gasoline from Alberta. You might be wondering why I would endorse such a cock-o-many idea if it is going to effect me the most, rather than all those in the Southern half of BC? Simple, we can more then likely absorb the increases in fuel costs more than anywhere else under fossil use, until we convert to renewable energies. Sure, it will be painful, and effect our standard of living in the short term, but we will bounce back better, stronger and faster, then the rest of the Country.

Here is my point. We are a smaller, less dense, populations base. Northern BC is primarily focused on Mining, harvesting and Tourism. By harvesting, I mean we log and process trees, and catch wild fish. All of witch is heavily dependent on oil, currently, however; over time all these industries can convert to electricity, something that we create right here, right in our back yards. BC has a huge capacity of potential electric power, through the use of hydro dams, thus, a carbon free and renewable resource.

We have the technology, we now have to implement it. We can drive electric cars, transport our goods with electric trucks which are now available on the market. We send electricity to mines and mills, so that generating electricity through fossil fuels is prevented. And even with all this growth in electric usability, we could probably still have plenty to sell to other markets—all carbon free, with less of a footprint on the environment.

I say, “lets do the trade war over oil with Alberta,” this is our golden opportunity to change, and start reversing the effects on the environment. Let BC become the new frontier in renewable energy!

Scammer’s, You are too Funny!

Over the last two weeks now, I have been getting SPAM phone calls, emails, even a survey that was mailed to me, asking for some weird information, to a private organization. The level of frequency it hitting fever pitch. Most scammers are emailing me, and a quarter of those are from phone calls, and then there is the one piece of mail in the Post. I am not to terribly surprised, as this time of year some people are in debt and desperate for money, while those who are well-off, are usually tight in the wallets, so the flow of cash trickles this time of year. What made me write about scammers today is the call I just had a few minutes ago.

I just got home from work, and sat down at my PC to check emails when the phone rings. Normally I just wait to see who it is on the call display, then let it go to voice mail if it someone I do not know. I was not paying that much attention, and sometimes it is the girlfriend who phones around this time of day. Though Thursdays, she is usually out at her classes and social events. So I answer the phone. It was a women with a New York accent who says, “Hello, may I have few minutes of your time for this special offer…. your name was chosen to….” and I hung up. Then the phone rings again–I am letting it go voice mail!

I let it go straight to voice mail. It was a computerize voice synth, stating that it was the Canada Revenue Service, and I have a criminal warrant against me, and that I must pay in Bitcoin before I jail for the rest of my life. I thought this was crazy, two in a row.

Last week was the best. This East Indian chick phoned, and left a message on my machine saying that she was from a Collection Agency, and that she was directed from the “Toronto Corporate Office, representing the Credit Agency,” and that I have a debt that needs to be paid off by 4:00pm that day, or my credit history will be adjusted. This one was one of the best I have heard so far, but she got her “official” titles mixed up. The part about payment was outrageous too, as this Collection Company only collects money through Bitcoin. Imagine that? I used to work for a collections company in Langley, BC, so I know a lot about the rules about phoning people up begging for money.

Sadly my phone number is out in the Scammer’s data bases, or they got a list from my local Telco–which would not surprise me. But yes, the frequency of the scammers and sophistication is growing by leaps and bounds.

It is All About Fairness – No Freeloaders!

I cannot stay silent any longer on this subject because I am sick and tired of listening to business people complain about how they are unduly singled out with higher taxes and other parasitic encumbrances to their bottom-line, and that they should be given tax breaks. In traditional fashion, you have the Right-wing saying that all businesses must be taxed in order to stay competitive, while on the Left-wing side, they say businesses must pay more in taxes because they make the lion’s share of the profits. Oh Boo-Hoo. I am tired of everyone from property owners to business people saying that everyone else except them should shoulder the taxes burden. I just heard a small business owner say that all taxes should be dumped on the consumer and property owners while they focus on enjoying their profits and employing more works. Oh-no, I say pooh to that, everyone pays their share—period, especially those who make huge profits in my city!

Ok, we have this issue of gentrification, and it is prevalent in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Gentrification is where you have a depressed area, become affluent and prosperous as a higher class of the socioeconomic population moves in as their boundary spreads outwards. When you have an area where everyone wants to live, that area goes through a cycle of inflation as property prices and costs rise. So too for businesses, as they enjoy rise in the boon of consumers. Nothing is free, as all must pay to enjoy the benefits of this. It boils down to choice. People move to the cities, like Vancouver, because they want to enjoy its weather climate, and the bounty of employment. Businesses do this along the same lines of reasoning too. But sooner or later, inflation creeps in, and so too do taxes. Remember, you have a choice to stay or leave—simple.

The majority of Canadian’s taxes are paid through taxing their income. This concept of paying taxes on the amount of money you make, goes back to the Second World War in Canada, and is one that many have no choice in the matter. You earn a pay cheque, you employer is obligated, in most cases, to collect that money on behalf of the Government. But the bulk of Income Tax goes to both the Federal and Provincial Governments, leaving the Municipalities left to eke out their sources of revue in other ways. So municipalities share the proceeds on mostly businesses and property taxes that they tax directly. I am probably over simplifying the tax laws here, as there are hundreds of different forms of taxation in Canada, but this is a thumbnail sketch of where and who gets what. So as a community grows, in its population and services, so too does its operational costs and development.

The idea of fairness is simple: all of us, who choose to work and live in an area that is going through gentrification, must pay their fair share, no matter who you are. If you are a home owner, then yes, you pay your taxes. As businesses who want to set up in this area as well, they must pay their fair share in taxes too, as they enjoy the prosperity and volume of consumers moving through their doors. Usually it’s the business owner who argues that the market economy should run the world; then let it be so, as the market place becomes over saturated, and the population shifts, then businesses should make a choice. If they have to raise their prices for their wares, then so be it, but to stay competitive by paying less in taxes is not fair—then you need to adjust your profits.

Bottom line, everyone pays their fair share in taxes. No one should be exempt, or reduced, from their fair share in taxes within the population. If you come here to make a profit, then you come here to pay your taxes to enjoy all the benefits that come with living here.

A Cool and Cuddly Passed Weekend

So it is Wednesday, or “hump day,” as I sometimes call a typical Wednesday, and with it, the happiness knowing it is the halfway point in the workweek where we are moving towards the next weekend, a sense of hope that Friday is getting nearer. So, having said all that, what I wrote below, was written last Sunday, and rewritten Monday night, with proof reading and corrections done. So forgive me on my past tents, and wondering sense of time, in my use of grammar. This is, after all, my personal Weblog, so I get to make up the rules as I see fit, yet trying to conform to the standards that I was taught.

Friday night is somewhat a night to myself. I did my laundry, cleaned up a bit around the apartment, and prepared for tomorrow.  I have a couple of emails to send out, and some matters on Evil-Bay that are pending. Mostly, my online to-do list is small this week. It is the month-end, so I paid all of my Bills on-line (November 30), and made sure that my Bank statement balanced out with my records; it all works out, right down to the penny (though Canada no longer has pennies). I also bought a large size bar of chocolate–do not tell–it was my treat for a week well done. Somehow, chocolate has gripped my needs and wants in the food department. For the record, chocolate is not just a “Female” food, we Males get the cravings too. 🙂

Saturday was spent working on the PC, getting it’s software all up to date and fixing some of the on going bugs that have popped up in the last couple of days. Then I spent the rest of the morning reading some Court Documents that I want to study. These are rather touchy for most folks who live in and around the North Coast of British Columbia, so I will not include any details here on the Weblog. But, I did spent over six hours pouring over them, and I learned a lot. But having said that, I see even the Courts are a long ways from finishing this matter, as there are so many questions still yet to be answered. About high noon, Suz., called, and said she is on her way to pick me up, as we wanted to check out the weekend’s community craft events. The craft fair at the Kitsumkalum Centre was the best one, in my humble opinion, as it was packed and had more goodies to offer. In all, we had a great time. To end the night off, it was movie night at Suz.’s place. A fun and relaxing evening, even the Cats enjoyed curling up on my lap, playing chaperone on the couch, as we watched the show.

Sunday was spent with more morning reading, though not as deep as the morning before, but the rest of the Court Documents that I had with me, I finished. Later on, the plan was having dinner with Suz., and her parents, as we were celebrating her birthday. The dinner was awesome, and I was very full. We had Chinese at the Golden Star Restaurant, in down town Terrace. I have to plug this place because they are great, and me and Suz., go there often. Then I left for home early, so I could have a great start for Monday at my work. 

This was an abbreviated version of my weekend. So much more happened, of course, but this is all I need to write. I would also like to add that my car went five weeks before I needed to fill it up with fuel, and my heating bill was under seventy-five dollars (electric heat). Now I know we are getting ripped-off down in the Lower Mainland as far as bad Land Lords and local Governments goes. Shame on you! Just so glad I moved away from all that nonsense. But, you all have a great week, and as always, “stay out of trouble.”

Questions, Questions, and Not One Peep Back.

Dealing with “telemarketers” is one thing, you can hang up on them, but dealing with customer service people, well, that is entirely a different matter altogether. My quest was to somehow lower my ballooning rate per month with my cable/internet/phone provider. For lack of a better word, I am pissed at how much this monthly bill has shot up in the last year. So, my goal today was to lower it, even it means cutting the cord. For now the cord is still intact, but my patients is very thin, and my time with this service provider is nearing its end. It was my exchange of Q & As with the person on other end of the phone call that made me rethink my strategy of dealing with this business going forward.

The circular argument was three-fold. I asked for add-ons to be cut, and more specific, my entire “bundle” to be lowered to the lowest “pack” they had listed on their website. The counter argument was that none of the bundles could be broken, or reactivated unless I was a new customer. My final argument was to cut the cord completely, then re-enlist with the preferred services that I wanted at a later date. The answer was…, yes, but…, no.

We went over this thought experiment for nearly thirty minutes before I had to give up.

Then I brought up the point that what I saw on their website through my VPN was slightly different from when I was seeing it through my local I.P. Address. There was a pause. Silence; not a peep from her. I said “hello” a few times, and waited until she said something. After a minute, she asked me what was different on website, and then spewed off that use of a VPN maybe a violation of my user agreement. I laughed. I said that viewing the website through my VPN, I get to see all the bundles in their entirety, WITH PRICES, where as viewing it locally, I only see the upgrade bundles being offered. The mic drops. I added that “this is a very sad way of marketing and dealing with your customers.” She insisted that this was not the case. My B.S. meter’s needle just broke off from being buried in the red so far.

The cord will be cut very soon!

Oh Mike – The Senate, The Cons, The Court of public Opinion

I cannot hold my tongue no longer. After hearing the results of the Mike Duffy trial, that threw out all thirty-one charges put against him by the Crown, the RCMP and the Steven Harper PC Government of the day, I laughed out loud. “We are all fools” I told myself, after the day long event, covered in segments on CBC News as they peppered us with details of the deliberations (one by one) by the Judge somewhere in Ontario. With the full exoneration of Mike Duffy, the fools from all of this are the people of Canada. Sure, the Happer-Cons were the cause of all of this, as I see it clearly now from the Media. The questions I ask myself: do I still like the Senate afterwards from all of this? Ahhh, all of this has cemented even harder my lack of heart felt “value” of why do we still have this unelected level of government.

(Okay, I had a very long rant going on here. I stopped, and thought about it, then decided to delete it. I felt I was going way over the top with most of my comments. Some of my critiques were, well, abrasive and heart-felt, and borderline on self incriminating myself in public–I stopped typing.)

I guess I see all of this as a media event, like a three ring circus show. I am not a fan of the Senate. When I first learned of how our government worked, I was always asking question as to why this level of Federal Government was appointed, and always stacked in favour of the ruling Party, making it a puppet show of the House of Commons. No one ever told me that this was a one hundred percent good thing. Why not have elections for our Senators, I would ask? Why not make public their expense accounts, and hold them to budgets? Why not have rules and laws that would throw out the bad apples when those rules and laws are broken? And hey, lets have Green Party and NDP Senators too?

Sure, keep the Senate; I do agree with the concept of “A Second Sober Thought,” with our law makers. But lets prevent this three ring circus from going on any further–let us make true and lasting change.

LINKS

Mike Duffy ruling could put brakes on expense cases against other senators” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Judge clears Mike Duffy of all charges and slams Prime Minister’s Office under Harper” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Read Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s ruling” April 21-22, 2016 c/o CBCNews.

My Take on the Panama Papers

I almost fell off of my chair when I read the news article called the Panama Papers from CBCnews on their website. First, when they said that there are legitimate reasons for having an off shore account like and second, just how prolific these off accounts are among the rich and famous. But that is not all. When I read that part in the news article that our very own Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will not invest time and efforts to look into the Canadians on the list (who could be possible tax cheats) on the Panama Papers, this made me angry.

So, I am a big multi billion dollar corporation, and I ask my lawyers, “hey, how do we cut the amount of taxes we are paying in this county,” they would say, open an off shore account and there you can hid your money from the tax man. How could this be legal? I certainly see the benefit from the corporation’s point of view, and I just cannot wrap my head around how our government can legitimize this whole secrecy part about hiding money like this. Sure, there must be some legal reasons for doing this, (although I cannot see them at the moment) but in this day and age, when the number of people who have billions in their bank account is growing, and the number of countries and people who are corrupt grow, I can only see dodging and secrecy as the heaven against high tax jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies. So it would make sense to me that anyone who has lots of money (or property) would want to “hide” it, especially from government’s tax and legal departments.

I am just dumbfounded that in my own country (Canada) having an offshore account is perfectly acceptable; however, I did read my my tax return, and it asks if you have property and money outside of Canada, so I guess if you are honest, you would tell them. But, the CRA seems to not have any troubles if you decide to open an offshore account, and you kept that to yourself, they appear to have no interest in looking for it. So, if you are lucky enough to not have your offshore company’s records leaked to the world, then your money, assets and property (including valuable art) are perfectly safe in (from) Canada.

I say, Canada at least, should treat this like the “War on Drugs.” Liken it to drugs, say Cocaine for example. Cocaine is a highly additive drug, and it so happens that it is illegal to have possession of it, and to us it, other than for medial reasons by a real doctor. So, lets treat offshore banking the same way. Since greed for money seems to be associated with illegal activities, and common links can be drawn between the drug user and offshore accounts, why not set up laws and policing agencies to combat this scourge. If it is discovered that a person, or legal fiction, has an offshore account, then an automatic investigation should start. Heck, why not make it so that all money transactions have to go through policing body for some sort–say the CRA. in other words, if a Bank, like the RBC tells one of its customers that they should open an offshore account, then the first thing that must take place is a request by the CRA to grant the RBC to open this offshore account, while in that process, a copy of money and items must be registered.

Yes, I think this would fly like a lead balloon. Even in Canada, this would go too far. Yes, I would admit, if I could hid my money, I probably would. The best I could do is bury my cash, (LOL) if I had any to spare.

As Frogs Call – Is It That Time of Year All Ready?

My first full weekend in nearly four weeks, my, what to do with it? Well, lets write a blog post! So, what to write about…, lets see, there is the weather, that is messed up right now. Then there is the U.S. Election, as each major party chose their candidates to run in the Federal Election next year. I have lots to say about that. Then there is the price of everything. My poor pay cheque seems like it is worth nothing as I prices for everything climb out of control beyond my reach. I have lots to say about that too. Okay, lets get typing!

Thomasso Logo March 2016 Weblog Image

This is where I show my typical Canadainism–a rant about the weather. Spring has sprung, or has it? I am not sure, but Saturday was almost a day that would call something close to a late spring day. Yes, it was that warm out. Some of the flowers are popping up too that normally do not sprout for another few weeks, like the Daffodils, and of course the crocuses. Some of the Cherry trees are showing their blossoms, and even the Magnolia trees are sprouting them too. Along with the warmth brings the mosquitoes and other flying pests. You take the good with the bad, and so it is, my first mosquito bite–on March 5th–what’s up with that? I think this year will be an extra early spring. Heck, the frogs are going nuts, the croaking at night is loud, and all of this around the first week of March. I first noticed the frogs a couple of weeks ago, but last night must have been party night for them. Could we see a frog population explosion this summer? LOL!

Normally I do not write about U.S. politics, but today I will make an exception. Let me say a few things about the Trump Machine that seems unstoppable down South. We here in Canada had our own version of the freakishly out-of-bounds and embarrassing public figure, the Mayor of Toronto, back in 2013, that pushed the limits of how low you could go, and it seems you too in United States have your own case now. All I can say is “hang in there,” as I am sure that your Federal Election will set things straight, and Trump will be just a post scrip in the annals of time. I know the fear that there is a possibility of Trump becoming the Commander and Chief of the Super Power of the world, and yeah, it scares the crap out of me too just thinking about it, but I have faith in the American People to vote for the best person for the job, and I hope they, quite honestly, Dump the Trump.

The rising prices of stuff. I see it is not just me who sees the price crunch ramping up on nearly every purchase I make. I feel a little bit better when I read in the local media that the gouging and price increases are biting nearly everyone around–it is not just my in head–or something I am imagining. One price I keep my eye on is the price of gasoline. Where I live, the taxes are super high for gas, as compared to just a few kilometres away in the next township, and across the U.S. border. I save twelve to fourteen cents per litre just making that extra fifteen minute drive to any one of those locations.  Today, I notice that gas was selling for $1.10 per litre, while just in Abbottsford it is only $0.98. It does add up over time in the savings, making that extra trip across the line to fill up. Also on the rise are most foods I eat. I think the most expensive item that I use to buy is beef. The price of beef has climbed so high that I just stopped buying it. Instead, I found deals on fish and pork, and of course, a lot more poultry goes into my grocery basket. Next in the food department are veggies. I think I will be starting a little veggie garden this year. Over all, I noticed the food bill climbing, and that worries me. It is time to switch to more economical food types, and buy more local items until the Canadian Dollar bounces back up. I always wanted to get serious about food gardening–now is the time.

Phew. I am tired now. Okay, time to press “publish” and sign off for another day.

 

It Seems Like it was Thrown at Random

Ode to email Spam, those wonderful texts of lures that pop up on my in-box on an almost daily event. Some are funny, becuase their claim, requests, action, and demeanour are painfully out of whack. Others, well, they are so damn scary becuase I almost read into them. Sure, I know, everyone has a email story of their own. And I am not typing this out to play One-Ups-Man topping the worst email tail of all time, but rather to say, they are getting clever, sneaking through email-filters, and methods more meticulous. Here is an account of events that happen to me yesterday, as I almost fell into an email Spam trap.

A Pile of Numbers On the Ground Weblog Image

I had just finished opening an account with a VPN service that I wanted, and I was waiting for their Account Verification email, after I had done the payment, and typed in all of my biographical information, on their website. Like clock-work, an email popped up in my in-box, with the header, “Account Approved – Your Reference Number.” So I clicked on it, and the page opened so neatly, with a short blurb on “Terms and Conditions” and “Account Information – Terms and Uses.” But in the body of the email was, “Some fields in the form were not properly filled, or the wrong information typed in – Please enter the necessary fields (highlighted in red) to complete the form.” Like a monkey following a banana tied to a stick, I did what I was asked.

After clicking on the hypertext, my browser opened up to a page that looked totally foreign to me. I had never seen this webpage before, and in fact, my browser was having problems tying to construct the HTML into a meaningful looking page. But, just at the moment when I was going to dive deeper into the page, I noticed the URL header looked strange. It was an URL address that did not make sense (…bradshawfq-3442433-sum223-543.net/qr24332/m-text23.) My fingers applied the brakes towards the Enter Button, and I paused for a moment. “This is not from my VPN, nor would they want this garbage/information from me.”

Then it hit me (only after spending a sum total of less than a minute looking at this webpage) that I was being doped. Yes, I had almost fallen into a Spammer’s trap. So evil they are, those Spammers.

A few minutes later my anticipated Conformation Email came from my VPN provider.  With my VPN account opened, I laughed at the thought that for once I had almost fallen into the trap of a Con. (not meaning Canadian Federal Conservative Member of Parliament).

I did report the URL to my ISP, and found it listed on http://hoaxbusters.org/