Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My Log 695 Feb 6 2019: Chronicles from my Tenth Decade:129 Good news for anti-capitalist agitators (of whom I have met a few); careless arrest of travellers in transit can have economic impacts; and oil companies that abandon worn-out wells, get an expensive reminder from the Supreme Court

While reading the newspaper this morning I came across several pieces of what I thought were good news. Only later did I occur to me that to many people, what appears as good news to me, must look like bad news to many others, since to me good news is when the capitalist system is showing signs of tension or difficulty.
A couple of the items that caught my eye this morning were:
1.                That ships full of Canadian canola (which used to be called rapeseed, until the gender fanatics got to work on it) are lining up at Chinese ports because of delays in clearing them by customs officials.
(Back story: this has been happening since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the executive of the Chinese electronics giant Huawei, at Vancouver on December 1 while she was in transit, an arrest known about in advance by our “happy days” PM, and his increasingly dysfunctional (for confirmation  of this adjective examine the disarray of our foreign policy, with its recent manifold screw-ups) sidekick Ms. Freeland, an arrest carried out at the command of the Trump administration.
Of course, one must feel sorry for canola farmers who are being deprived of their incomes, a result that  the two responsible persons for the arrest apparently did not foresee, or think about.)

2.                Alberta fears being up a creek because of the recent court
decision that in the event of bankruptcies by oil companies, a priority in repayment must be given to the cleaning up of oil wells abandoned by the company, in advance of payments to creditors.
(Back story: Our western lands are littered with abandoned oil wells, thousands of them, tens of thousands of them, when they are all counted  --- some are called abandoned, others, orphaned, and so on --- which have risen to a figure like 155,000 leaking wells--- this is so huge as to sound hardly credible, but there you go, capitalist companies are allowed to get away with murder, even in beautiful Alberta.  The bill for the province could be as high as $8 billion. All these are wells that have been either closed for one reason or another or simply abandoned when they have run dry, but for whatever reason, they are still leaking oil, and are left to the farmer on whose land the well sits, to pay for what is euphemistically called “remediation.”). 
This reminds me of the dreadful examples of tailings left behind by various mining enterprises that I have reported on in the long-forgotten past: such as a huge pond full of radio-active mine tailings in Elliot Lake, Ontario, once the home of Canada’s first uranium mines; and an even bigger tailings lake in Jamaica, left behind by the Canadian aluminum multinational Alcan, as a gentle reminder to the impoverished people of that island of all the benefits they have had bestowed upon them by the visitors from overseas. In places where workers have been routinely poisoned by companies, one usually runs into widows’ committees, full of grieving women who watched their  husbands shrink to nothing, and then die. Hundreds and hundreds of such women. It’s not much wonder that Canadian companies are so sensitive when they spot anyone approaching their factory gates with a camera. They usually have a lot to hide.
The reason I like this story from Alberta is that it shows the true face of capitalism: heartless, irresponsible, believing itself to be above the law that governs everyone else --- and of course this is grist to a guy like me who is always looking out for information that might change people’s minds about our dominant ideology.
Great stuff, right?  Wot the hell!

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