Women and Children First

Profile of Steve Carlson

The second wave of the H1N1 flu was washing across the country before the vaccine arrived this fall. Government told us that only designated high-risk groups would receive the first shots, the rest of the population would have to wait their turn. I didn’t dwell much on this preferential treatment until a friend, who is a medical doctor, surprised me one day with his comment about this government directive. He told me that the process was “unfair” and that everybody should have had equal access to the vaccine when it was first released. Continue reading Women and Children First

Mighty Miniatures of Quinte

Nikon D300, 50mm F/1.4G, f/5.6, Aperture Priority, 1/30s, -1.0EV, ISO 800, Neutral

Did you know that until World War II, the only land links spanning Canada from coast to coast were railway tracks? It’s true, the war stimulated the Canadian government to build roads between small towns north of Lake Superior (where I was raised) so motor vehicle traffic could eventually cross the country, too. There were good reasons. Three sets of track stretched over this area. If German saboteurs ever blew up three bridges simultaneously, our country’s only method of land transportation would have been severed, at least temporarily. Continue reading Mighty Miniatures of Quinte

Don’t Blame Democracy

Profile of Marketing Options®

How many citizens of Western democratic countries today feel that, although they have a right to vote, the government that gains power after each election never seems to be one that really represents them? Even when their party wins. Promises are broken, priorities change, time passes. As the world grinds on, hope fades. Citizens become cynical, indifferent and wonder whether they should even bother to vote in the next election. They blame the political persuasion of not only the party in power, but also the opposition, depending on their own political philosophies and favourite “ism” (capitalism, socialism, statism, etc.). But they won’t really appreciate what’s happening unless they know the rest of the story.

For greater understanding of the failings of representative government, they could follow the money but they had better keep an eye on the power, too. In their search for truth, they must appreciate a sickness that thrives in most Western countries. This sickness has been around for over a hundred years, but it needs more exposure and discussion. It’s another “ism”. It’s called corporatism and here’s a little 101. Continue reading Don’t Blame Democracy

Death Bonds

Profile of Steve Carlson

“Psssst, buddy! Want to buy a death bond? They’re the most exciting, new investment on the street today. Get ’em while they’re hot.” Hardly, at least in Canada, but I saw them pop-up in an article in The Globe and Mail last month. Death bonds are the catchy name for life settlement securitizations that are bundled life insurance policies sold, in this case, as bonds. Profits to investors come from the death benefits paid by the life insurance companies. Death can’t come too soon to maximize returns.

The article quoted life insurers’ ethical reactions to death bonds. Frank Zinatelli, Vice-President of legal services at the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association that represents most of the life insurers in Canada said, “From an ethical context, you’re betting that someone will die. It doesn’t have the right smell.” Continue reading Death Bonds

Remembrance Day, 2009

Profile of Steve Carlson

I picked up my poppy this year on November 9 from an attractive, middle-aged lady who was standing outside my local Valu-Mart. It was closer to Remembrance Day than usual but, like I do every year, I had waited to see if I could get my poppy from a war vet. They’ve always been easy to spot with their medals and all and, when they have been willing to talk, I like to ask them about their war experiences. But this year, every place I went the only people offering poppies for Remembrance Day were younger members of Legion who clearly didn’t qualify as vets.

I mentioned this to the lady and she smiled pleasantly at me. Then she said, “My grandfather fought in World War II and my great-grandfather was at Vimy Ridge. Perhaps that is enough to let me qualify for you this year?” Continue reading Remembrance Day, 2009