I have been saying for some time that Canada will have to adjust - but the housing market keeps going up. (Link to Paul Krugman)
This picture still makes me very nervous? And you?
This is also a huge driver of the health epidemic - More here
So what to do?
Disconnect yourself as much as possible from the system which is run as part of the game. For instance look at how the health system itself is run in America:
"Mercy Hospital is owned by an organization under the umbrella of the Catholic Church called Sisters of Mercy. Its mission, as described in its latest filing with the IRS as a tax-exempt charity, is “to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus by promoting health and wellness.” With a chain of 31 hospitals and 300 clinics across the Midwest, Sisters of Mercy uses a bill-collection firm based in Topeka, Kans., called Berlin-Wheeler Inc. Suits against Mercy patients are on file in courts across Oklahoma listing Berlin-Wheeler as the plaintiff. According to its most recent tax return, the Oklahoma City unit of the Sisters of Mercy hospital chain collected $337 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. It had an operating profit of $34 million. And that was after paying 10 executives more than $300,000 each, including $784,000 to a regional president and $438,000 to the hospital president.
That report doesn’t cover the executives overseeing the chain, called Mercy Health, of which Mercy in Oklahoma City is a part. The overall chain had $4.28 billion in revenue that year. Its hospital in Springfield, Mo. (pop. 160,660), had $880.7 million in revenue and an operating profit of $319 million, according to its federal filing. The incomes of the parent company’s executives appear on other IRS filings covering various interlocking Mercy nonprofit corporate entities. Mercy president and CEO Lynn Britton made $1,930,000, and an executive vice president, Myra Aubuchon, was paid $3.7 million, according to the Mercy filing. In all, seven Mercy Health executives were paid more than $1 million each. A note at the end of an Ernst & Young audit that is attached to Mercy’s IRS filing reported that the chain provided charity care worth 3.2% of its revenue in the previous year. However, the auditors state that the value of that care is based on the charges on all the bills, not the actual cost to Mercy of providing those services — in other words, the chargemaster value. Assuming that Mercy’s actual costs are a tenth of these chargemaster values — they’re probably less — all of this charity care actually cost Mercy about three-tenths of 1% of its revenue, or about $13 million out of $4.28 billion."Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/#ixzz2LpNHXe6u
If you play in the system, you will be squeezed - it is how it all works today.
What is the End of the World? Does it have to be the total destruction of the planet or might it be the end of a worldview?
For the Soviet system, the world did end in 1989. This was remember a cultural system based on an ideology strictly enforced and top down. A small elite controled the system.
Prior to 1989 powerful economic forces rooted in the costs of empire has eroded the base of this system. The Soviet economy and society had to keep pace with America spending on defence. It could not do this and was bankrupted as a result. It had to show off its imperial power and had a major adventure in Afghanistan. Where it was soundly defeated.
All that was needed was a tipping point moment.
Are we in the west in the same place now?
We too have a totalitarian regime in control of an ideology. We did not know that until 2008, when the regime became exposed. Since the meltdown, the regime is now in full sight of most people. Our illusions of living in a democratic state have been shattered.
Like all totalitarian regimes, the power of the elite has been maintained by offering us an eternal crisis with enemies to fight. So the regime in the guise of protecting us, takes away our domestic liberties and involves us in massive foreign wars. The defence budget is seen as essential.
Meanwhile, as in the Soviet Union, austerity is the new reality. The people pay and pay.
I think that we will be able to look back and see 911 as the start of the end. 2008 as the time when the full vision of the regime became obvious to too many people to ignore. I think that the preconditions for a bifurcation are here now.
More and more people feel that the contract between them and the government is broken. On the left, people look at the DOJ and see how it persecutes people like Aaron Swaz and leaves the bankers alone. This is seen as being illegitimate. On the right, the gun folks look at gun control and see that too as illegitimate. There is a weird intersection of opinion about legitimacy taking place.
When the end comes it does not have to be a big event. The system is so brittle now. And when it comes, there will be no going back. The illusion will shatter for all and the regime will be left exposed on the balcony. This is how it happens.
All the king's horses and all the king's men will not be able to put Humpty together again.
My nephew Tristan is just back from a trip to Spain. It's worse there on the ground than we hear on the media. No one can see a way back to the old days. Here are some perspectives. As I read read Tristan's words, I wondered what was coming here. Is this stage part of our own future? What chance do our young have here at home?
"I spoke to one Spaniard on my flight, who in his late 20s, and who said that of the four men in his family, his father, himself and his two brothers, only he had a job. He added that his job was actually in London and that he worked as a waiter in a restaurant in London for 3 weeks per month and then came home for a few days. He said that in his small village of 1,500 people he would be exaggerating if he claimed that 100 people had a job. Of those that had a job, many would work for the police or the army and a large number would work for the government....."
"The question that people in Spain ask themselves is where will the new jobs come from? With jobs there is income, with income there are taxes, with taxes the government can provide services and pay off its interest payments and debt. With no jobs there is nothing."
I think that Spain and Greece are the harbingers what is to come. The final stage of the old economy shuts us all out of the game. I don't see either a reform or a way back.
But I do see an alternative. A much better life. A life we can all chose now. You Don't Need a Job is here on Amazon
Here from BBC on how the Greeks are dealing with the collapse of their system:
But the social situation has only worsened, the demonstrators - still incensed - feel ignored and many Greeks are now unrolling a quiet revolution.
Tucked away in a side-street of Marousi, a hilly, green suburb of northern Athens, you come across the local garden initiative.
Marousi's mayor has transformed the land from a derelict dumping ground into small allotments for 40 families battered by the current economic climate.
The sound of raking and digging fills the air.
What, at first glance, may simply look like a healthy hobby is actually a lifeline for people in this community.
Argyro Papazoglou and her husband Niko are pensioners. They tell me they worked hard all their lives but have now seen their state pensions drastically reduced.
"We had to do something," Argyro said. The allotment, she explains, provides them with 50% of their food needs, allowing them to make much-needed savings on supermarket bills.
The Marousi allotment project is one of a growing number of examples in Greece where people have pretty much given up asking for help from outside - whether from their national government or the EU.
Instead, they are taking matters in to their own hands and finding ways to help themselves, their neighbours and their local community.
As well as feeding themselves, all the families working on the allotment hand over a chunk of their produce to others in need.
The fruits and vegetables are passed on to what Greeks have dubbed a "social supermarket". It is an idea catching on all over Greece.
Some of these supermarkets are supported by the state but a growing number of private initiatives stack the shelves with goods - from oranges to olive oil to nappies - donated by individuals or companies.
Ray of light
Social supermarkets allow low income families to shop at cut-down prices.
The money they pay is then used to provide the most destitute with goods for free, even helping them with gas and electricity bills.
Greece's Child and Family group supports more than 4,500 families and has a growing army of voluntary aid workers, doctors and dentists.
Another example of how it is the comedians who tell the truth - HT John Proffitt
Much of this is already emerging - especially the DIY Economy and Sharing.
We are entering a new age in all sorts of ways. One of the new things that we don't talk about much is what it will mean when most people are over the age of 60.
Our world has been designed and constructed around a normal of most people being young. That is most people being able to absorb higher costs. Over the next 30 years, we will face the opposite. As each year passes, more and more of us will not be able to pay more. We old folks will not have the money. We will have less and less and no where to go to get more. And there will be more and more of us.
We have not talked much about what the world will be like when most of us are old and poor. We have to. And we have to now.
The first boomers are 65 this year. PEI is very exposed. We will have one of the most age skewed populations in Canada. So what does this mean for you and for me?
Do you have a generous pension? I don't. Most don't. If you have one, do you really think it is secure? We can see right now in places like Greece where pensions are being cut. We have seen here that corporate pensions are not safe - Nortel. If you get a Government Pension today - how safe will it be when most other people have nothing?
How much money will you have per year for the next 30 years? At my best possible calculation for me it is in the poverty bracket. What about you? How much a month will you have over the next 30 years? Scary isn't it!
So we are entering a time when the basic assumption that next year there can and will be more money is off the table. But how the system works is based on the idea that there will be more money next year. So with the old assumptions, we are on track for a squeeze and then a collision.
How will I pay my property taxes, my heating bills, look after my health and have enough to eat. How will you? This is how I see these things:
Property taxes - They are 10% of my gross income right now. They are among the largest bills I have to pay. Unlike any other bill, if I don't pay them, I can be evicted from my home. This is the one bill that can make you and I homeless.
Cities themselves know how damaging these taxes are but have no other source of income. They are systemically starved by the higher levels of government.
In 10 years time, the majority of home owners will be pensioners. Their only asset will be their home. Can we still have a system that taxes people who will have so little cash in a way that drives them onto the street? What then?
I have not a clue what to do here -I do see this as being an "Impossible Bill" to pay. It would not be hard to see my property tax double in 10 years. It would be impossible for me to pay. It would be impossible for any senior to pay.
There has to be a new way to support our cities and not destroy our society. Time now to start talking about this.
Health Costs - As we get older our health costs go up. It is not unusual to spend $500 a month on drugs now if you have had a heart attack. At least 30% of adult Islanders will have type 2 diabetes. If you get this, you will have massive health risks and costs. About 40% of us will get cancer. The list goes on.
When most of us were young, we did not pay attention to this. Hey the system would pay. But in 4 years time, the PEI health budget will exceed our total tax revenues. The health care system will not be able to pay. Nor will you.
We cannot continue as if we did not live in a new time with new rules.
What happens when we are really old? -Worse, when we get to a certain stage, we cannot look after ourselves on our own. The current normal is that we go to a "home". Well my mum is in such a place. It costs about $40,000 a year after tax to keep her there. Fortunately she has a great pension from my late father. But few of us will have that. And even for her, with the world going as it is - is her pension a sure thing? What if she lives another 20 years? Will her pension be there? If it is not, how will I cope? I can't imagine how I would cope.
Many of us will be faced with this. The new sandwich generation of 70 year old people looking after 95 year old parents.
There will be 8,000 85 plus year old widows on PEI in 15 years time. That is a cost to PEI of $320,000,000 or half the current health budget. Stuffing us all in Manors just cannot work when there are so many of us. AND when PEI's ability to raise taxes and revenues will be so limited.
It gets worse. When we get put in an institution, our health collapses and the costs of keeping us ticking over go up exponentially. It is when we have no place in the world. So if we institutionalize the elderly, our normal now, their health care costs shoot through the roof.
We do know though that if the elderly can stay in their home, that this does wonders for their health.
No organization knows more about this than Canada's Veterans Affairs. What VAC have found is that the longer people stay in their home the lower the costs as they remain healthy. so VAC have a program of support, meals , cleaning, yard work etc that helps the frail stay in their home. This is much less expensive and better for all. It also offers a lot of work.
So here we go in a circle. This will have to be the way. For I cannot as a 70 year old look after my paralyzed mother. I will need help if she has to come and live with me. But if paying property taxes means that I have no home..... see what I mean.
Health Costs - The Hope - There is a way forward on health costs though. I am acting on this way ahead for myself. The chronic diseases that we all think of as normal - heart disease, cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer's etc are not normal but are a product of our diet and how we live. In a year I have transformed my health and my aging process by eating and living differently. Aged 61, I have the health and the activity ability of a man in his healthy early 50's. I should be able to stay this way until I die.
We can PREVENT these diseases and we can age well.
My regular readers know all about this and if you are new to this - then dig into my site.
If we do not explore this opportunity, I don't see how we can make it through the next 30 years.
Food the Hope - What such a new way of thinking will do as a consequence is drive out a new food system. Eating right will all depend on access to real food that cannot be raised in an industrial way. Instead of a few big farms, we will need thousands of small operations. Instead osfus buying most of our food in a processed form from the supermarket, it will mean most of us buying food from local people.
This is a huge work and economic opportunity. It is a huge health opportunity too.
Energy Costs - Oil is like Property Taxes - Heating oil is up 25% this year over last. The heating bill is one of the non negotiables. Heating with oil costs Islanders about $200 million a year. That is the equivalent of a 1/4 of the total PEI tax revenue. So this is the largest family bill we pay. The average is I think about $2,500 a home.
We have no negotiating power with winter!
Helping out a few people each heating season will not work when more than 50% of Islanders will not be able to afford to heat their home.
We have to find a structural new way. It will have to involve reducing the demand - up to 40% can be saved with better insulation etc - and by changing how we heat so we are not exposed to the global oil price. For surely in the next 30 years, where do we see oil prices going? We have to have an energy strategy that is designed to reduce demand and to cut us off from the rosk of oil prices. No easy thing but there is a lot of thought already.
Food The Risk - Nearly all the food we eat comes from away. Nearly all the food we eat depends on oil too. On oil to farm and on oil to transport. We are so exposed. Look at what has happened to poorer nations, food is all but outside the budget of a family. We have to reduce our exposure to oil and our food. This can only be done, if we grow food in a new way.
Such a way of growing food and such a shift in diet - away from annual row crops that need oil and that contribute to the health crisis - to pasture based animals and permaculture veggies will offer a huge boost to employment. It is a win win win.
My regular readers know that much work has been done to see what such a system would be like and I will not go further here.
So here then is the bottom line for all of us.
IT IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL. In 10 years time most of us will be over 50 and many will be close to 70. We will be on very limited and insecure budgets. Our tax system, our approach to health, our approach to food and our approach to energy has to change.
Time is so short. We have to get a lot of the new design done and in action in the next 5 years if we have any hope of making it through the next 30.
Time to start the conversation. Time to help each other and time to help our governments do the right thing.
Posted at 11:12 AM in 55 Theses, Aging, Econolypse, Energy, Evolutionary Fit, Financial Markets, Food, Food Systems, Great Disruption, Health, Hope, Local Resiliency, Making a Living, Messy World, Michael Rose, Musings, Organizations and Culture, Paleo, Paradigms, Peak Oil, PEI, Pensions, Politics, Prince Edward Island | Permalink | Comments (0)
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So here we are at the edge - Hedges states the reality - My bet is that the movement will not go away - the blue paper has been lit - we cannot know how it will ned but likely not with a whimper