Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Law, Legislation and Civil Liberty - BC Mental Health Act - Review Panel Process


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When the state intervenes in the life of a citizen in a way that arrests their rightful & innate liberty, the state has engaged in the most forceful act at its disposal.  Regardless of the rationale, the gravity of state action is the same; incarceration is incarceration regardless of state motivation. Most state interventions involving incarceration have an intended outcome, that is to say, the type and duration of incarceration are readily predictable - this contrasts with the BCMHA where "sanction" can last a life time. It is important that standards of judicial conduct are commensurate with state sanctions.

As  a criminal, the degree of state sanction is limited to incarceration, in the case of the BCMHA, state sanction extends beyond incarceration to the total relinquishment of control over mind and body. Under the BCMHA, the individual is completely at the whim of the treating professionals, the state has the capacity under this act of engaging in action absent even approval by family. You must understand, that the BCMHA takes hold of the most sacred entity we hold as human beings, our mind and its application to life. This is no trivial matter, this is by far and away the most intrusive, coercive and draconian sanction the state imposes. It most certainly requires judicial standards at par with criminal sanction, I submit it requires higher judicial standards – it receives retrograde process.

There has been an awkward fusion of Medicine and Law in the drafting and application of the BCMHA, it is inherent in medicine, with good intent, to take control of an individual’s life to whatever extent is necessary to facilitate healing or to mitigate suffering – this good intent by medical professionals then is merged with the requirements of state to conduct itself in accord with fundamental law and charter rights. Of course something has to give here, an individual exercising themselves out of concern for another individual under the rubric of professional obligations and compassion, is apt to lose sight of their actions in the context of law, and societal concern as it applies to the protection of rights in other areas of life. This is why we have a judiciary, the sober mind, the rational mind, to review the actions of the state in the context of law and the application of important principles in place to protect us from the misdirection of state authority and the actions of others. The Review Panel Process makes a mockery of our judicial system and in no way is commensurate with the gravity of state actions in the context of law and sanction.  

There is a general trend toward the tribunalisation of our legal system, in some instances this  may be helpful, where matters are trivial – in matters that have state sanction with the gravity of the BCMHA, the tribunal is a very weak tool. The Review Panel Process as actuated by the BCMHA trivialises the judicial review, it systematises & expedites the incarceration of people merely accused of illness. The process offers none of the trappings of the courtroom, the weight of justice and by extension the weight of consequence for all involved is absent.

Even something as simple as recording proceedings is retrograde, a microphone is stuck in the middle of a table, in reviewing proceedings via this medium the information that is recorded has little efficacy – it is nearly impossible hear what is being said, or who is saying it; the BCMHA provisions for appeal to higher judicial process yet, gathers data in a substandard way, as that data carries forward to higher process, in this way we corrupt subsequent process; the type and nature of evidence permitted in the Review Panel Process would fail to meet standard at the higher court level.  

There is extensive use of the Review Panel Process, the participation there is in effect off the record, and executed in an inferior manner to court proceedings. This effects a circumstance where the general judiciary has no influence over the act, if the acts administration were moved back to the court system, the act would come under greater scrutiny, would be subject to the influence of precedent with every interface of a citizen and the BCMHA. I submit, had this been the case over the life of the act, its application would have been more in accord with legal tenets AND it would likely have been subjected to revision.

It is important to remember, that this act may be intended for the ill, but it affects us all. I believe, and it is clear in reading decisions that have fallen out of very little exposure to the courts, it is to a degree the Pollyanna view of some in the judiciary that has permitted this act to exist as it has, with so little attention to misdirection or the over exuberant application of the act.   

At the point of accusation of mental infirmity, given the modalities of the Review Panel Process, one begins the legal process in a position of reverse onus. Normally the initiation of proceedings takes place as a result of people making accusations, medical professionals actuate emergency measures or some other means to facilitate incarceration, the person is held in custody and observed for an extended period of time prior to the Review Panel Process being actuated – the Review Panel Process must be activated within 14 days of a request. It is important to note, the entire act is drafted with the assumption people accused of illness are ill – so inherent in this reality is the requirement to prove one’s innocence, the assumption of innocence is attacked. Worse however, there is no requirement of the institution to prove anything, on hearsay and observation alone opinion determines incarceration; there is no requirement to demonstrate the presence of pathogenic action. Oft times infirmity is judged on the assertion of beliefs on the part of the accused, regardless of the degree of plausibility of these beliefs, there is no obligation for the state to refute them as they would in other areas of law, through investigation the presentation of resulting evidence.

The Review Panel Process is grossly flawed and flouts nearly every aspect of Canadian Jurisprudence. The most corrosive element is the asymmetry of influence that accrues to medical professionals and other actuaries functioning on behalf of the state. Given the very low standards of evidentiary process, the low standards of review, the isolation of the process from full judicial participation -  the more accused objects the bigger the pile of “evidence” against them gets – this has people who are most adamant about their “innocence” becoming increasingly disempowered.     


The points around the functionality of the Review Panel Process I think have been communicated in previous discourse. Substandard standards of review, substandard evidentiary process, the general disregard for people accused of mental infirmity, the innate paternalism that exists in the medical profession and the desire to control by the psychiatric community all converge to create a very toxic mix. 



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Law, Legislation and Liberty - THE PARADOX OF THE INDIVIDUAL & THE COLLECTIVE



Individualism, as a concept, beyond the reality that individuals exist within a group or community, has, in part, found its origins in the protestant privilege to be one’s own conduit to god. This comment is made in a value neutral context, that is to say, individualism was given a forum due to the empowerment of the individual in protestant worship modalities, relative to the centralized modality of Catholicism and other religions. The concept of an individual as an ideal also found support in the enlightenment movement, where it was fashionable to construct one’s own map of reality away from the church and traditional norms. To an extent, Stoicism, as a byproduct of the need of be free of human want, in this case the needing of typical social interactions, has served to shore  the other contributing factors to becoming an individual.  

With the advent of mass media a homogenization of society began to occur, the individual at once gained access to a larger volume of information to feed individualism, however, the communization of the general societal narrative resulted in the perception of the Individual being distilled down to perhaps a dozen stereotypes – a circumstance that had “character type” and “Individual” becoming synonymous. Individualism incurred a challenge with the escalation of media influence; in much the same way that the homogenization of theology had done in earlier times.

Individualism tends to be challenged in the general discourse of humanity, as Individuals become challenged they seek support from others, from there a collective within a given society begins to from. As the collective coalesces around an imperative or common desire, organization begins to demand a degree of uniformity – and so, uniformity and Individualism are inversely proportionate or at least inverse to one another – proportionality is affected by what drove the coalescence at the outset. Oft times, as the coalescence of individuals to a collective takes place in the face of extreme human conditions, where the group is highly dependent or a unified front, hazing mechanisms are utilized “break down” the individual, to effect a state of merged egos or perhaps a “common ego”. The individual is then wholly defined by their association with a group.

It may be said in general terms, a commonage derived of like minded individuals, who have coalesced in common interest or cause finds a generally healthier state of being, than, a commonage formed of conscription and hazing. The commonage of free accumulation finds common action by responding to environmental realities from a core set of beliefs; the commonage that forms from conscription finds common action at the behest of a central power entity. The commonage of fee accumulation is very difficult to corrupt, as ideals inform action, and the association began in a healthier place, in a place of intellectual commonality. By contrast, centralized power, absent support of the individual expression is inherently corrupting – as the core of the centralize power always works to its self-interest, as those subordinated seek to further their lot through acquiring favor from the central power and work around the central power for selfish and practical reasons.  
It is important to note, conscription takes many forms in the creation of a commonage, the indoctrination of children to a given belief structure is a form of conscription. Conditioning is a form of conscription. Our very existence is conscription, by way of example, we are all conscripts of the human race.

Individualism, or the act of developing one’s sense of oneself as an independent entity, and the societal act of provisioning the discovery process to build an individual, in no way impairs collective action, it serves to diversify the informing of collective action. There is a common misperception that Individualism and Collectivism are resident at opposite ends of a continuum; the fact is however, they are mandatory companions existing as an entity. The question is, under what conditions has the collective coalesced and by what means it is being maintained – how these questions are answered determines the health of a collective. A collective that permits individual expression and functions under a premise of common ideas results in a reverse hierarchy, a collective that emerges out of conscription of one type or another results a hierarchy that leads to a central power.

When the individual is co-opted by the collective, thought that panders to leadership emerges – often effecting “group think” and disastrous tangents in the human enterprise. When the individual within a collective is nurtured, critical thought governs individual action, and by extension, thought governs the collective – inherent in this reality is a diversification of power.  
             

“The natural effort of every individual to better “their” own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations” Adam Smith 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Professional Management - DEFINED



It is curious to me, that people underestimate the value of professional management; it seems very clear to me that management is a most complex undertaking and requires a set of skills to execute with. When you are a carpenter, you understand the skills of carpentry as they apply to building a box, garage, home, or skyscraper. So too, when you understand the professional management, you understand how to apply management skill to any task – professional management is the process of leading and directing an organisation, there is no requirement to be a carpenter to run a construction company, one needs to understand management to run a company. It is conceivable to be both a carpenter and a professional manager, as I am, it is just unnecessary. If you are a carpenter contemplating starting a construction company, it is wise to invest the time to understand professional management, as it often the case management skills are lacking in business startups.

I define professional management as the deployment of financial, human and physical resources toward an intended end. Here the core competency is absent any physical constraint and is absent any core competency related to actuation, it is purely, the collection and understanding of data related to actuation. The key here is a global view, what is the opportunity, what is the capital required, and who can do it. It is when people in this space migrate to actuation that bad things happen, unless the undertaking is at a scale that permits the full managerial and occupational space to occupied by one person; the name for people in this circumstance is artisan.
   

In business, the leadership in professional management is defining the opportunity and deploying assets to arrive at the targeted outcome. Opportunity can be a new or an adjunctive business model. Professional management, in its purest form, is really the processing of information through garnered talent. Professional management is a cross disciplinary exercise, so the ability to absorb new data, to assess functionality, to design the interface with market are all that is required. Finally, professional management forms the organization - the structure, the culture and the perception of the organization in society at large. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Violence Against Women - Causation

THE COMMENTS HERE ARE DIRECTED AT THE CANADIAN REALITY
IT IS MORE TRUE - CLEARLY - IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS
& TRUE OF ALL RELIGIONS



The transition from chattel to sovereign being has been long coming and well deserved for women. From 1959 when my mother needed permission of a group of clergymen to have her tubes tied, to now when my daughters are absent any ostensible obstruction to the highest office; this is truly a great step forward for “man”kind. It is a relief, as a father of two women, to have witnessed this progress. In society at large, young girls strut more boldly now, less constrained by conditioning and they are well educated. It is difficult to know what to attribute the progress to in the past fifty years, whether it was the feminist movement finally gaining critical mass or the advent of a pill that put pregnancy in the hands of women as opposed to the whims of nature, or perhaps the awareness of the enlightenment spreading into the western canon. Whatever might be the cause, the future for my daughters is brighter as a result.

The blemish on this progress is the incessant presence of violence against women (VAW). One wonders what is at the core of the challenge, what fuels the barbarism. Perhaps it is that in reality we are mammals, that because someone has the capacity to subdue and sexually assault someone with blatant disregard for the “other” – they do. For the vast majority of human evolution we simply did what we wanted, when we wanted, based on individual strength or alliance, the humanitarian imperative was absent – I am unsure that we really have evolved that much. Instead of a femur bone of a large ungulate as weapon, we have adopted more sophisticated means – the result however is the same.

When people engage in consensual sexual relations, we call that love making, when people engage in sexual relations absent consent, we call that rape. So what is at stake here, what is the atrocity, I submit it is the disempowerment of another human being. This document is directed toward VAW, men do get raped too it is worth noting. The harm is rarely physical, the crux of the harm is psychological – it is a spirit breaking event to be overpowered, add to that sexual elements and the affected incur extreme pain. If this theory is true, what is true by extension is that RAPE takes many forms – the systematized suppression of women is in effect societal rape – a violation of spirit, a disempowerment.

So what is the cause of VAW, why is it continuing and what is the cure. Part of the challenge in dealing with VAW is that it is normally sexually related, we still, in varying degrees, live in a world where sex is brushed under the carpet. People fail to speak about healthy sex honestly for the most part, how then, can they manage unhealthy sex. The generalized suppression of sexual discourse of any kind is the problem; it stifles progress along the path to solution. When you put a thumb on the forehead of natural human inclination, something ugly always squirts out the side. Humans are biological creatures first, that is our reality, we need to manage ourselves from that perspective. Morality should have as a base premise, the presence or absence of harm; from there we can bring a rational mind to the challenge.

We, hitherto, have lived in a male dominated society – I suppose through history there are examples of female dominated societies – they are few. When might was right, men had the upper hand. As the social complex became more developed, women still had the vulnerability of childbearing – men have never been barefoot and pregnant; which gave men the upper hand. We know this is true, because this reality is omnipresent in contemporary society – women still carry the largest share of domestic concern. Until now, men have had the upper hand, and as we know, power corrupts, corrupts in a multitude of ways; VAW is such a corruption. 

Western males are conditioned under the fusion of Christian theology and stoicism. This fusion in conjunction with male biology is a very conflicted place. The Christian discourse around sexuality, what there is of it, is inherently conflicted – sex tends to be demonized or sullied to a degree here. Stoicism is largely misinterpreted as control over emotions; control over emotions often results in suppression of emotion and by extension, fear of emotions. Add to this male biology – primal inclinations – the deep seated desire to spread genes and the resulting tacit support from peers, even mother’s in this regard, and you have cauldron of human interface that is unhealthy and often unfair.

Often as a male, the most treasured facet of society is femininity, often treasurer tacitly - treasured nonetheless. Living life as a male, the female occupies our mind and drives many of our decisions. Women nurture us and then they let us go, only to occupy our minds 24/7 as their biology becomes a point of fascination (young men talk about women). Their presence in our psyche holds sway over us, there is a powerful paradox in our development, where we are immersed in our dependence on women and then societal conditioning requires us to take different stance, as both the dominant moral complex and the stoic imperative for emotional independence come into play. There have been historical requirements of men that preclude the luxury of acquiescing to the comforts women provided as nurturers. The nagging inclination toward the comforts of that nurturing, in the context of our requirements as men, creates a conflict. Out of that male internalized conflict emerged the patriarchal society. Once the investment is made in a woman, males tend to want to secure that association for a host of reasons. The liberation of females challenges this inclination, which is why society became structured the way it was during the age of patriarch.

Violence is born of three things in large part, the desire to dominate, the desire to prevent domination and fear. Domination is a freighting space; the western male’s conditioning is a product of argumentative thought; we are taught to be oppositional, to deploy tactics and win the day. Intellectual confrontations often extend to physical confrontations. A culture with the impetrative to hold domain over ourselves, or to dominate has emerged - dominate or be dominated. The innate desire to have a women’s appreciation linked to maternal bonding is powerful, it redirects us away the tradition precepts of strength and independence and threatens  self- domain, FEAR, plays a role here; paradoxically a woman’s affections can occupy the mind as a threat. This may in part be the be birthplace of misogyny, this may be the place where the Montreal Massacre came from, or less extreme, or perhaps causal, this may have been the place where Paul’s letter to the Corinthians came from.   

So again, hear the conflict, firstly men want to spread genes, secondly we want fidelity – the only assurance that genes are getting spread is fidelity, so fidelity trumps all – hence the moral complex around western sexual relations and fidelity. So in developing the patriarchal society, men, have had an aim at play, fidelity. Fidelity, the accurate copy is innately important to men – men want to know “our” children are our own; innate one would imagine at the most base level, it would be a biological desire. There is no biological imperative for monogamy; monogamy is a cultural means to ensure every man gets his own and or to prevent conflict. In fact, monogamy gets in the way of spreading our genes. So here too the liberation of female falls a fowl with male desires, or at least potentially so, or perhaps more likely so.  

The introduction of Greek philosophy in Abrahamic morality is a source of consternation for men in the contemporary setting.  Plato’s ideal of “being above the senses” precluded him from enjoying female company, some still hold celibacy as an ideal to be aspired to – and encounter self-loathing when they fall short. This is of course a perversion of human discourse that has caused perversion of human sexuality and resulted in perverse outcomes.

The Christian narrative around sexuality is complex, conflicted, sullies sexual relations and generates an inappropriate physiological space around virtue. There is at once a requirement for women to be virtuous and a lover, a circumstance that has a woman becoming somehow less acceptable having been a woman. The language that one encounters around sexual relations in Church is often derogatory – “sins of the flesh” and the like; this puts in place a conflict with virtuosity and sexual relations. The exaltation of virginity imposes a diminished state on those who have chosen to engage in sexual relations.

By way of example Original Sin, is a doctrine developed by a very conflicted man in and about 400 AD, Original Sin is in no way the word of Christ. The Original Sin doctrine proposes that by our nature we are sinners and that the pleasure derived from sexual relations is sinful. Original Sin besmirched our humanity and fowls sexual relations. Original Sin is more of a Platonic ideal than one that Christ would have propagated. Christ embraced love; Original Sin is a misplaced in Christianity.

The generalized SUPPRESSION of sexuality by Christianity has sexuality “erupting” in inappropriate ways, violent ways. Perhaps in part, VAW finds some cause here. It certainly raises its head in religious institutions, as has come to light since the sexual revolution has permitted victims of sexual abuse to speak of the incursions on their person. It seems often, where people with suppressed sexuality gain power over others, sexuality is actuated in painful ways, in forms of abuse – residential schools for example.

The violence the emanates from sexual suppression is evident in so many ways in Christian institutions, in the pre-sexual revolution era women who became pregnant out of wedlock incurred violent rebuke and marginalization from the Church. Our policies around prostitution that leave the most vulnerable in often the most deplorable of conditions, is an act of violence that emanates from the Christian moral complex. When people exist affected by suppression, in the case of sexual suppression and other forms of suppression, that is to say, they are in effect fighting to contain an inclination, their response to that inclinations enactment is often violent. You could say that the greater the degree of desire, the higher the degree of suppression, the greater the degree of violence that is elicited in response.

From Eve who betrayed men to the Virgin Mary as an ideal, the ostensible foundation of Christian morality as it relates to sexuality, lands on the male psyche in ways that affects our interface with women negatively. It may be posited that in our secular society that most young men are unaware of biblical teachings and Eve and Mary hold no sway with them, the truth however, is that these concepts amplify as they enter and are distributed through the narrative.

It is my assertion that the tacit double sexual standard that exalts men in sexual conquest and sullies women in sexual participation (thankfully diminished in contemporary society) emanates from the Christian ideals of femininity and the biological inclinations of men, in conjunction with the male desire for fidelity. It maybe, the more generalized double standards between men and women in society finds some cause here as well.
          
The Abrahamic moral complex, in fact the entire human moral complex, as it relates to human sexuality came into being thousands of years ago. It was developed to generate a harmonious society, to reduce male conflict, to create the family unit, to satiate the male desire for fidelity and to manage the negative externalities that flow from human sexuality. It was developed at time when the consequences of sexual interface were dire for people – especially young women, so the rhetoric and response to sexual interface had to be extreme and strict. The moral complex that has arisen from these times is still being projected throughout human discourse, some is a help, and some is a hindrance. As this arcane and archaic moral complex finds expression in society, in the form of government policy and actions, and in the general human endeavor, it effects VAW, and confounds an equitable and loving interface between men and women. As morals come to us with our mother’s milk, we fail in many cases to examine them; in the west we need to examine the Abrahamic moral complex and keep the good, and dispose of the bad - keep the family, dispose of inequity.

With a clean moral slate, we can build a narrative that is anti-violent and is free of suppressive language. We can construct a human interface that is liberated, that allows us to teach young people that sexual relations are a beautiful and can occur healthfully as a part of their general life course. When human sexuality is seen as it is, as beautiful and worthy, humanity will do with it what humanity does with all things it values, it will protect it and by extension protect those involved in it – this is the thing we call progress. In contemplating a new moral complex, let’s begin with the end in mind - a society of love and tolerance, with happy children, the one Christ started his revolution for. The beauty in Christ’s message has survived 2000 years of the institutional perversions that came from of philosophical warfare, actual warfare and power mongering, because it is liberating and recognizes the innate beauty in humanity.  




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Violence Against Women - #NOTokay



Links to more complete thinking below.

MY PROFESSIONAL WEBSITE

It is clear that it is simply unacceptable that women, in Canada, in 2014, find themselves in a state of vulnerability. Our justice system would do well to focus on eliminating violence in society; the challenge is we ask our police to attend to so many things that it is difficult to attend to this important concern.

When police are stretched so thin, we all have to learn to take care of ourselves, men and women alike.  While we need to work toward a society that is wholly respectful of women’s safety and wellbeing; in the interim there is a reality to deal with; there is a risk inherent in some areas of life for women. When my girls were young; I taught them to never walk alone, avoid being alone with one or more men, build a strong buddy system with their friends and generally be aware of their environment. This is teaching young women to take care of themselves; it is in no way acquiescence to the generalized state of barbarism that seems to exist in the societal subtext.


In his book the Anatomy of Power, John Kenneth Galbraith, speaks to the sources of power in society, he states that CONDITIONING is the most powerful of the sources of power. We live in a society that is in large measure directed by the Christian Narrative. The Christian Narrative holds a patriarchal bias and in some cases women are ridiculed by errant historical depictions. The destructive elements in traditional Christian teachings, or the misinterpretation  of Christ’s word, are being muted as we become generally more secular. The United Church and other progressive churches have helped to move us toward a more rational society which has fueled women’s progress.

The lingering affects of orthodoxy, the generalized suppression of healthy sexual dialog lays a cloak over the whole subject of human sexuality, and with that reality there comes a stifling environment where teaching young men and women about appropriate relations is difficult. The sexual revolution, spurred by secularism, has brought us closer the Christian ideal of peaceful human relations, because now, having “de-stigmatized” sexual relations to a large degree – people negatively affected can speak about what has happened, knowing they will be seen as the victim of wrongdoing. Much of the “shame” in victim-hood related to sexual assault emanates from the generalized suppression of sexual relations as exercised by many Christian organizations.  

We need to exercise caution in remedying the negative circumstance that does continue, yes we must teach compassion to young men, yes we need to exercise a culture of respect for women – we do however, have to be mindful of zealotry. People should never be convicted on hearsay, in the case of the two parliamentarians who were suspended; both were severely affected absent due process. It may be that they did do something wrong, what is required is the sober assessment of a Judge as opposed to a near “lynch mob” mentality. The men that inflict violence on women are bad men, we need to be cognizant that there are bad women too. We need to remember that in a world were accusations convict that we are replacing one vulnerability with another. DUE PROCESS PLEASE.

More Thinking on the VAW
CLICK THE LINKS BELOW

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Environment Reconsidered - A Positive Strategy

Canadian Oil Has a Social Conscience



Canadian oil has attached to it all the values of a secular democracy; equity regardless of sex, colour or creed, due process, exemplary world citizen etc. … We have environmental review processes that are overtaxing. What other significant oil producing supplier offers that to the World. The Saudis – NO – they have financed discord throughout the Arab world, they are the birth place of religious extremism AND in Saudi Arabia women are refused access to driving a car, let alone fair access to employment opportunities. Perhaps Venezuela – NO – they dump crude oil on roads to keep the dust down, crude oil then runs into the ditches and water ways AND there is no indication that oil wealth is building a creditable social platform. Perhaps Nigeria – NO – they, flare off natural gas like we did in the 1950s, dump oil in rivers, use child labour, syphon off state oil revenues to a Swiss bank accounts AND make no effort at equitable treatment of women. Russia? Iran? You get the point, the oil will get purchased and used, whoever sells oil gains material strength, think about which country you want to have the influence that comes with material strength – then think strategically.

What we humans want, we get, supply does wane, prices do go up – oil is no exception. Oil is the single biggest influencer on the human enterprise, without a doubt, where oil goes we follow. There are replacements, just none that come into play quickly enough to offer a liberating degree of fungiblity for this item, as George Bush said “we are addicted to it”.  When oil goes up, economic growth wanes, it is a constraint or boon to the economy; a cursory review of the modern economy indicates this reality. The good news is that there has been somewhat of a decoupling of oil and GDP post the 1970’s oil crisis. The move to a more efficient fleet is partly responsible and of course, we have moved to a more “intellectually” based economy – less physical stuff relative to information and services.  

Technology is giving access to more and more oil and we have yet to pursue the gasification of coal as an oil replacement, a process that was reported to be viable at about the present world price. In the 1980s, before tight gas was really accessible, coal gasification would have provided 100s of years of supply. The key point here is that we are nowhere near a point of reserve depletion to effect an economic imperative for the development of substitutes AND absent substitutes, the world will keep using oil for 100s of years. So then what is the best strategy for the environmental movement in the face of this reality?

Is the best near term strategy to block Keystone and Gateway, only to have oil producers of ill repute fill the supply gap – NO! The rhetoric and fear mongering that has emerged from the environment movement around pipelines for example, is unadulterated fear mongering. We have had pipelines for years and for the most part they have given safe service with very few environmentally significant failures. The present activities of Kinder Morgan in twinning their present facilities through British Columbia is meeting resistance, there is no rational reason from a safety perspective to oppose these actions, that pipeline’s record is exemplary. The desire to block pipelines is to obstruct the exportation of Canadian gas and oil, specifically, oilsands oil. How is this a rational course of action – WHEN WE KNOW – that the producers of ill repute will fill the supply gap.

In Canada, we have processes for review of projects. In Canada we have tort recourse in the courts. In Canada people can object, protest the works. In Canada people of conscience can review the industry and its conduct, and effect influence over that conduct. Canada has in effect, by being a country of conscience, facilitated the means to have our industry attacked. We are one, of very few, significant producers in the world that can offer ongoing monitoring and control of operations.

I offer this to the North American environmental movement as a strategy, stop punishing the “best of a bad bunch”, Canadian oil on all fronts offers benefit relative to other producers. Then, through political means, pressure the government to tax oil exports to facilitate transition to different energy sources and or development of technologies that render fossil fuel use harmonious with natural systems. The mission statement might be, by 2045 fossil fuel use in Canada will have no net “long-term” negative impact on the environment. 

There have been targets before and targets have faded in the face of pragmatism, a pragmatism born of the reality that our oil is sold as a commodity alongside the oil from the producers of ill repute. It is an obscene paradox, that in obstructing the Canadian oil industry the environmental movement is effecting a net degradation to the WORLD environment and shoring up regimes of oppression. The obstruction that is occurring in Canada from the environment review processes and the rest of the industry’s regulatory processes costs the industry money and negatively impacts their competitiveness in the world market. If the environmental movement “got behind” our industry, reduced the obstruction occurring now, the environmental movement would be in a position to levy the industry for funds for research and development of substitutes and or remediation of fossil fuel use – the means to facilitate transition would come to hand. The environment movement has to manage the axis of, on the one hand asserting their requirements and on the other, facilitating the financial strength of a good producer; in this way, like the martial arts, the environmental movement uses the weight of its opponent to meet its own ends.   





Sunday, November 23, 2014

Environmentalism Redefined - The Road to Prosperity



Some thoughts for the way forward. 

To imagine a world of harmony between man and nature may have been beyond the possible just a half century ago, but now with the world’s knowledge doubling every few months and the world’s people able to speak to one another with such ease, I am hopeful. Beyond human knowledge and ability, lies something stronger, human spirit. The most heartening thing I witness now is the spirit and strength of will that finds expression in our young people; they are conservationists who know and expect a good life; this fusion of ethnic and expected experience will guide them to take us closer to the harmony we all wish for.

One wishes the environmental movement would define its mandate solely with environmental clarity and pursue it with focus; the extraneous adjunct of social concern is hampering its progress. If climate change isn't an issue but an emergency, as Mr. Gore likes to remind us, then please environmental brain trust seek solution, solution that provides abundance within natural systems. The solution posited now – subsistence for all – is as disturbing in its acceptance as it in it’s misinterpretation of reality; the earth is a generous provider – abundant energy is the reality. There is a “silver bullet”, it is a matter of turning the environmentalist ship from “hyper conservation distorted by social concern” to the clear pursuit of solution. Imagine if you will the mass of resources spent now on opposing everything, fighting the oil industry and industry at large – now imagine those resources directed at the real solution, a viable replacement for fossil fuels or fossil fuels' agreeable use.    

It is my sincere hope, that a few words on a page can give young people insight into the prosperity we enjoy in the first world, its source being the freedom we have to pursue prosperity through largely unfettered enterprise. Be wary of people who detract from that source of prosperity, the marketplace in concert with natural systems, in the absence of distorting policy will surely bring us closer to harmony with natural systems, than the social engineers who have embedded themselves in the environmental movement. The communitarians whispering promises of social justice through equality have had their chance and failed many in the process. In the presence of abundance humans become most rational, kind and generous. Prosperity is the best guarantee for a safer and healthier world. Prosperity is a much better offering to the world's needy than the most hideous proposition of subsistence. Trade at its apex of execution will eradicate the prosperity asymmetry that now grips our world. Enterprise linked to the natural world will build an economy prosperous and in harmony with nature.    






  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Environmentalism Reconsidered - Canadian Oil V. World Oil




Letter to the New York Times - More to Come - This serves as a primer. 

Dear Editor

This letter is in response to the NYT article of May 18, titled A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit. Firstly, please allow me to thank you for the imagery – the Canadian black monster that ate Manhattan may have been more credible.

Allow me premise my comments by offering a brief mission statement for North America oil policy, so that readers may gain their bearings in regard to what I believe to be is a rational position on Oilsands development and oil policy in general.

MISSION STATEMENT: By 2043 North America’s fossil fuel’s net impact on the environment will be reduced to nil.

This mission statement is offered as a backdrop for thought around policy and to offer a time line for contemplation that permits transition rather than the immediate annihilation of the industry that some in the environmental movement seem to view as the imperative.  

Regardless of your position on climate change, the solution to energy provision lies in a better energy source than what is presently used. There is little merit, if you are advocating against fossil fuels, in forwarding environmental solution that seriously challenges immediate economic wellbeing; there is only public rebuke on that path. 

I am dismayed at the onslaught of “bad press” the Canadian Oil Sands and our industry in general receives. The sheer mountain of excrement that has been thrown against this wall astounds and to all our folly, much has stuck.

If one assumes that the world will need oil for some time to come, that in the present world circumstance there is a given demand for oil, that there is supply for provision of the oil, that no viable alternative exists – then it is rational to believe the oil will be delivered and used. Given this reality and in choosing a supplier of oil, the question then is, which oil offers the most hope for transition, the least immediate impact and the most social benefit – you need look no further than Canada.


Where would you rather source your oil, Nigeria perhaps; a jurisdiction that still flares millions of cubic feet of natural gas as waist and considers oil in rivers as being a part of doing business. Think if you will beyond just the environment, Nigeria, it is reported, has much of it’s oil revenues syphoned off to Swiss Bank accounts while the population lives in relative squalor. Canada is a responsible oil producer, the environmental movement has access to our regulatory process and influences industry behavior – to what extent does this occur in other jurisdictions; we are in effect the victim of our own good practices in this regard, in that we provision the forum for the environment movement to “attack” our industry, undoubtedly if the environmental movement thought they could effect change in Nigeria they would be as vigorous in their rebuke of that nation’s oil. Further, the men and women in our oil industry are very well paid, Fort McMurry Alberta is home to people from all over Canada, who would be otherwise unemployed or underemployed – please note men AND WOMEN!




Your article is less than flattering toward the Oil Sands oil, associating it with growing mounds of black and positing statements like “It’s really the dirtiest residue from the dirtiest oil on earth,”. One needs to contemplate Oil Sands oil honestly, perhaps by degree these statements are true, but only by a relatively small margin.  At the tailpipe FOB New York, Oil Sands oil is only marginally higher in carbon emissions than other sourced oil, rarely more than 12% and often at par. The complexity of assessing these issues and the mass of variables makes clear communication on the subject difficult, so someone will refute that number, regardless however, the oil will be consumed.    

Canadians want to refine oil on site if possible, we see the added benefit that accrues to us by doing so. We are faced with realities the thwart this desire. Oil Refining is a very marginal business and capital intensive, generating a circumstance where shipping oil to existing plant offers superior financial benefit. The environmental review processes in Canada all but precludes new plant. Our partners in the US want to use their refining capacity in an effort to render, what amounts to, stranded capital productive again.

The US and Canada have common cause on so many fronts, the fractious nature of this debate is disturbing; it does us both well to remember we contribute to each other’s security, while many of the other US suppliers of oil do not.

The environmental movement are running, like the Dutch boy with many fingers and many holes in the dike, finding new and ingenious ways to stifle the use of, what is by all measures, a superior product. A mound of coke here, a keystone pipeline there – while they spin their tires and permit irresponsible producers of oil to prosper – they leave the solution unaddressed. Rather than flail at Canadian oil, they ought to be demanding earmarked royalties to support transition, rather than running headlong into the brick wall of economic concern, they should be harmonizing their interests with what is an overwhelming reality; the world needs oil – for now.


We're a good bunch of good friends up here, quit picking on us!



Friday, November 21, 2014

Environmentalism Reconsidered - Connecting Carbon & the Economy


Strengthening the ties between carbon and the economy

We need only to strengthen the ties mildly, between the abstract representation of human endeavor (the monetary system) and the environment to gain alignment between human action and natural systems. We have successfully globalized the monetary system in a manner that permits efficient international interaction; we need now to imbue that system with a connection to the natural world. The key is full and equitable participation.

To date efforts in linking the economy and the environment have been curtailing participation by creating a circumstance where major emitters are deterred by structural disadvantage in proposed solutions. Had the world approached Kyoto purely on the basis of environmental concern, Kyoto would have had a greater chance of acceptance. Proponents however, chose to engage in redistribution by placing the majority of the burden on first world countries and relinquishing responsibility from other countries. The Cap and Trade proposals were as much a redistribution program as an environmental program. Their justification for this approach was that the first world countries had created most of the problem so they should pay the biggest penalty, the underpinning was a social justice imperative of the “rich should pay”; this may sound fair but political realities drove the refusal of major players. This is an example where the social justice movement scuttled environmental progress. We can learn from the past, but only the future matters, and asking people to accept disadvantage in the future is sure to meet strong residence. Placing a price on carbon is an effective means to link the economy to the environment; the key is its universal application.

The Kyoto protocol was a starting point in the process of creating a worldwide link of the economy with the environment, the creation and negotiations of the cap and trade program needed to take place at the world trade organisation, perhaps as an extension of the Doha or other trade talks. While this would bring another level of complexity to the Doha process, it would be the best place for Cap and Trade to be developed, as Cap and Trade development would have taken place in the context of the multitude of other considerations in the development of a world trading system. The WTO is keenly aware of the asymmetry of prosperity and the influences it has in generating a world trading system, as such their expertise provides the greatest opportunity for the successful development of a cap and trade system.       

The flow of capital can provide some illumination as to the possibilities for the effective connection between the environment and the economy. The international clearing bank effectively manages the most complex transfer of funds to and from countries in an almost instantaneous fashion. The financial system is a complex entity and yet there is an international organisation that provides for the flow of capital instantaneously anywhere in the world. The emergence of this organisation happened because people prosper as a result of its creation and operation. A similar mechanism can function to facilitate as seamless a circumstance for cap and trade and other programs; the key though is universal benefit.   


There are many examples of existing organisations that can provide a conduit for the strengthening of the connection of the financial and real economies with natural systems, fostering universal attachment in the context of pursuing prosperity. Yet the environmental movement, I believe under the influence of social activist interlopers, have chosen to demonize these promising institutions. Rather than seeing an existing functioning entity with capabilities that satisfy green causes, they have chosen instead to reinvent the wheel absent considering the functionality these organisations represent.



Environmentalism Reconsidered - Lessons from the Canadian Cod Fishery



Environment and the connection to human enterprise

While most agree aggressive action is warranted in improving how we utilized resources that affect the carbon content of the air, the market has started to that for us. Until about 20 years ago, there was an almost perfect correlation between US GDP and energy consumption. Then something happen, the US economy started becoming an economy of intellectual endeavour and technologies came into play that made human action less energy intensive and that correlation has now broken. GDP is now consistently trending upward and away from energy consumption. The monetary system - the abstract representation of human endeavour, indicates as humans interact with their environment, there is a tendency for this abstract entity to also reflect the needs of nature. Is this perfect, no, are there market driven Faustian events, yes. With very little tweaking however, the monetary entity can be evolved to provide incentive for harmonising human action with natural systems. This requires good policy, policy that accelerates human action in accord with nature and expands human prosperity.

As a Canadian I witnessed the collapse of the cod fishery off our east coast. Successive governments engaged in policies that exacerbated the faustian effects of extraction of value from common property. The Canadian Government failed by falling prey to political pressure to save a way of life, as opposed to rational management of a resource. In a circumstance where the market was the only determination of viability of the Cod fishery over fishing could occur, and as the fish stocks depleted so would the fishermen, in much the same way a natural predator responds to depletion in prey, erroneously referred to as the “balance of nature”. In an act of complete perversion the Canadian government instituted a “fishing for stamps” program which allowed fishermen to collect unemployment insurance payments for only a very short period of work. This act extended the economic viability of fishing and depleted resource and provided incentive to fish to the point of the decimation of the cod fishery.

This demonstrates a queer dynamic of values colliding to create disaster. In western society we have a thing called the work ethic, which states that the only valid way to garner sustenance is by work, and if not fully engaged work,  then at least a token effort. So the government said to the fishermen, if you work a little bit, we will extend you financial benefits for sustenance. So instead of pursuing another means of livelihood in a viable industry, they continued to fish Cod. The government would have been better off to pay them to stop fishing, purchase their assets and pay them out, a Cod fishermen’s golden parachute if you will. The next value was the preservation of a way of life and the support of communities. This value contributed to the “fish for stamps” program and many other programs geared toward extending the viability of Cod fishing, where the Cod were disappearing. So in an effort to save communities, the government contributed to a circumstance where the traditional rational for that communities existence is more severely curtailed than if “nature had taken its course”. The value of environmental protection found expression in fishing limits and other management efforts to preserve the fishery’s viability, whatever the methods employed; the outcome indicates the effectiveness the government’s ability to manage a resource. The Canadian Cod fishery’s destruction was a tragedy of the commons in the traditional sense and in an expanded sense; as common concern trumped rational action.    

If nothing else, the overall dynamic around the destruction of the Canadian Cod fishery demonstrates how poor a bedfellow “social activism” makes to environmentalism.  The feeble attempts at placating social concern severed to generate a circumstance were both the environmental concern and the social concerns were both ill served. In the case of the Cod fishery, the outcome would likely have been better absent government intervention as financial imperatives would have resulted in lower fishing participation.   


The scarcity doctrine lingered in the background as fishermen believed the world held little else for them and government held an impoverished view of fishermen’s ability to adapt. I would wager that had government adopted a view of abundance and provided generous mitigation to the fishermen subjected to government miss-management, the entity called the Government of Canada would be better off now, because the fishing industry would once again be enjoying the benefit of a reinvigorated fishery.



Strengthening the ties between carbon and the economy

We need only to strengthen the ties mildly, between the abstract representation of human endeavour (the monetary system) and the environment to gain alignment between human action and natural systems. We have successfully globalized the monetary system in a manner that permits efficient international interaction; we need now to imbue that system with a connection to the natural world. The key is full and equitable participation.

To date efforts in linking the economy and the environment have been curtailing participation by creating a circumstance where major emitters are deterred by structural disadvantage in proposed solutions. Had the world approached Kyoto purely on the basis of environmental concern, Kyoto would have had a greater chance of acceptance. Proponents however, chose to engage in redistribution by placing the majority of the burden on first world countries and relinquishing responsibility from other countries. The Cap and Trade proposals were as much a redistribution program as an environmental program. Their justification for this approach was that the first world countries had created most of the problem so they should pay the biggest penalty, the underpinning was a social justice imperative of the “rich should pay”; this may sound fair but political realities drove the refusal of major players. This is an example where the social justice movement scuttled environmental progress. We can learn from the past, but only the future matters, and asking people to accept disadvantage in the future is sure to meet strong residence. Placing a price on carbon is an effective means to link the economy to the environment; the key is its universal application.

The Kyoto protocol was a starting point in the process of creating a worldwide link of the economy with the environment, the creation and negotiations of the cap and trade program needed to take place at the world trade organisation, perhaps as an extension of the Doha trade talks. While this would bring another level of complexity to the Doha process, it would be the best place for Cap and Trade to be developed, as Cap and Trade development would have taken place in the context of the multitude of other considerations in the development of a world trading system. The WTO is keenly aware of the asymmetry of prosperity and the influences it has in generating a world trading system, as such their expertise provides the greatest opportunity for the successful development of a cap and trade system.       

The flow of capital can provide some illumination as to the possibilities for the effective connection between the environment and the economy. The international clearing bank effectively manages the most complex transfer of funds to and from countries in an almost instantaneous fashion. The financial system is a complex entity and yet there is an international organisation that provides for the flow of capital in and instantaneously anywhere in the world. The emergence of this organisation happened because people prosper as a result of its creation and operation. A similar mechanism can function to facilitate as seamless a circumstance for cap and trade and other programs; the key though is universal benefit.   

There are many examples of existing organisations that can provide a conduit for the strengthening of the connection of the financial and real economies with natural systems, fostering universal attachment in the context of pursuing prosperity. Yet the environmental movement, I believe under the influence of social activist interlopers, have chosen to demonise these promising institutions. Rather than seeing an existing functioning entity with capabilities that satisfy green causes, they have chosen instead to reinvent the wheel absent considering the functionality these organisations represent.