Image: Red Tulips #1

January 31, 2016

red tulips I

Night Music: Chances Are

January 30, 2016

A Solution To The Corporate Tax Dodge

January 30, 2016

Until we manage to mature into a society that can depend on mutual aid and cooperatives, we have to mitigate the abysmal effects of today’s market capitalism and the supra-national power of corporations.  Over the next few weeks I will be posting a number of ideas of how to fundamentally change the economic system, but today I want to start with the problem of corporate tax dodging through foreign ownership.

Google, Amazon and many other international companies make billions of dollars in revenue from , say, sales in the UK, but manage to pay virtually no tax in the UK.  They do this through foreign ownership — sometimes through multiple countries — and so-called management fees that the UK operation has to pay to the home corporation. It has become a regular scandal in the UK and threatens to do the same elsewhere.

For example, a classic case is brewing in the United States with Johnson Controls. This is a company that, as the Times says, exists only through the generosity of the Federal and state taxpayers.  And yet, it is now planning a reverse takeover with a smaller Irish company.  This will turn Johnson into an Irish company and they estimate saving $150million a year on US taxes while still retaining its location in Milwaukee.

Centre-right politicians have suggested that lowering corporate tax rates will encourage more companies to stay in- house as it were.  That is just an excuse to make the rich richer.  There is a simpler and much more efficient way.

I suggest that corporate income taxes be eliminated completely. They should be replaced by a “license to operate” fee equal to, say, 10% of revenues earned in the country no matter where the head office is based. Simple to understand, simple to manage, and, I suspect, very difficult to get around.

Country of ownership becomes immediately irrelevant, and transfers to an offshore HQ will be pointless for tax purposes. Indeed, they may well create a double taxation situation in which those transfers become taxable revenue in the home country. It also gives corporations the right to NOT operate in any particular country if they choose to forgo the revenues.

Finally, I would make this tax law bullet-proof by including a provision that, should some smart accountant or lawyer find a loophole, then that loophole is closed retroactively.

As I wrote earlier, there will be many more ideas on corporate governance in the days and weeks ahead.

Image: Building Blocks

January 29, 2016


Night Music: Misty Roses

January 28, 2016

The late and lamented Tim Hardin.

Votes For Women!

January 28, 2016

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Province of Manitoba becoming the first jurisdiction in Canada to approve the extension of the franchise to women.  This was the result of a brilliant campaign run by Nellie McClung, Cora Hind, Lillian Beynon, Mary Crawford and so many others.

Brava to the ladies!

Back To The Day Job

January 27, 2016

Since officially retiring from community organizing at the end of the year, I have been able to spend much more time on my day job as a community historian.  The first fruits of this are new maps of the growth of Grandview from 1901 to 1915 which you can find at the Grandview Heritage Group site. I hope you find the post of interest.

I hasten to assure both my friends and opponents that giving up street-level organizing (to a group of younger and more energetic folks) also allows me more time to write polemical articles and to keep my eye on what’s going on in the neighbourhood.

I won’t be going anywhere; I’ll just be noisier about it.

Image: Diner #1

January 27, 2016


Night Music: Battle of the Drummers

January 26, 2016

My plan was to find a video of the great Philly Joe Jones so that I could tell my story of meeting him in 1966 or 1967. I found a good video, but then for some reason I wanted to see Joe Morello playing “History of a Boy Scout“. Instead I found a great video of him playing “Take Five” as part of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. I seemed to be satisfied with that, played it twice. But then I had an urge to see Buddy Rich and, in searching for that, I found this glorious Battle Of The Drummers gig featuring Buddy Rich AND Gene Krupa.

They don’t make TV like that anymore!

Dope On The Drive

January 26, 2016

As most of you will know, the City of Vancouver requested applications for marijuana dispensary licenses. They received more than 150 applications, and rejected almost all of them.  Here is the current state of play for dispensaries on the Drive.

The following applicants were rejected and have not appealed:

  • 892 Commercial: Canmed Wellness
  • 1340 Commercial: Healing Club (the vacant space where Scandalicious used to be)
  • 1730 Commercial: Persia Foods (??)


The following applicants were rejected, have appealed, and the date of their hearing:

  • 1470 Commercial: Emilio Marrello: March 2 (this is address of Black Dog Video)
  • 1740 Commercial: My Remedy Wellness:  June 15
  • 2137 Commercial: Vancouver Pain Management: June 15
  • 2223 Commercial: Canna Clinic: October 19
  • 2235 Commercial: Eggs Canna: July 2


The application by Evo Medical for a new dispensary at 1501 Commercial is “being processed” which, I assume, means it will be accepted.

This whole business smacks of both the Nanny State and hypocrisy.  Most of the dispenary rejections are said to be because the stores are too close together or too close to schools.  This is for a product that virtually all medical experts now consider to be safe and, perhaps, medically helpful.  There are no such rules for stores selling drugs that everyone accepts are dangerous, indeed lethal — drugs such as cigarettes and liquor. What’s with that?

Image: Treeline

January 25, 2016



“Treeline”  (July 2008), acrylics on canvas, 30 x 24

Poem: House

January 25, 2016


She always kept olives in a glass jar

In the cabinet above the pantry,

Amid the fluff and dust of decades.  Tar

Paper lived elsewhere, with the iron gantry

For lifting meats, the turpentine and wax.

Everything else she threw in the dark cave

Of the understairs;  all things that would tax

Her strength she threw on the floor, and this gave

The house the appearance of a swallow’s

Nest built from found goods.  But always she had

Irises, quivering on a cold rad.


Night Music: Yardbirds

January 24, 2016

In West London when I was a boy we were lucky to have the Yardbirds who brought us Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Keith Relf and so many others. Their catalog tends to the pop side, but their live shows were much blusier. I remember them doing a twenty-minute version of Smokestack Lightning that has stayed in my memory for fifty years.

Japan Wins — At Last!

January 24, 2016

kotoshogikuAsk most people in the west about sumo wrestling and they will probably know that it is Japan’s national sport, with the not-unreasonable assumption that sumo wrestlers are Japanese. However, the truth is somewhat different. In fact, for the last fifteen years or so, sumo champions have come mostly from Mongolia with a smattering of East Europeans thrown in.

The current list of top division wrestlers, or rikishi, includes eight Mongolians, two from Georgia, and one each from Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, and Russia, along with twenty-seven Japanese.  There is even a Canadian lad working his way up through the lower ranks.

Foreigners wishing to pursue a career in sumo are required to adopt a very traditional Japanese lifestyle and speak only Japanese.  This imposes a huge intellectual and cultural burden; and yet many of them thrive.  So much so that there has been NO Japanese champion for the last sixty tournaments — a ten-year drought. That all ended last night.

Kotoshogiku, a Japanese veteran who has held the second-highest ranking of ozeki for the last 26 tournaments, finally prevailed with a 14-1 record at the January basho, sending the millions of Japanese fans into paroxysms of joy. The news made the front pages of major newspapers and this morning was the lead story on news broadcasts.

Even though Kotoshogiku is not one of the rikishi that I cheer for, I am delighted that a Japanese has finally won. The sport has regained its mass popularity after recovering from the betting and match-fixing scandals of a decade ago, and each day of each basho is regularly sold out.  A Japanese champion is a worthy repayment for the fans’ renewed support.

Melanie Mark and the Billionaire Boys’ Club

January 23, 2016

Long time readers of this space — and those who follow Vancouver municipal politics closely — will know that Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver are creatures of Joel Solomon and his Billionaire Boy’s Club. However, it is a surprise, even to me, to see that Vancouver-Mount Pleasant NDP candidate Melanie Mark needs to be added to the list of Solomon’s playmates.

Joel and Dana Solomon are hosting a get-to-know Melanie party at their place in Gastown on Monday evening. It is, of course, an exclusive invitation-only event. Have you been invited?  No, neither have I.

Ms Mark doesn’t live in the riding (she’s from Burnaby) and now we find she’s being pushed by the super-rich 1%ers who are helping to wreck Vancouver’s neighbourhoods, especially here on the east-side.  That’s two strikes.

Voting for Pete Fry will be the third strike and she’ll be outta here!

A Shout Out To Sunrise Pizza

January 23, 2016

Sunrise PizzaLast night a group of twelve of us held a farewell party for one of our friends and colleagues who, due to the affordability crisis in Vancouver, has been obliged to move three hours into the Interior to find a house to buy. We had the dinner at the Sunrise Pizza & Steak House at 949 Commercial Drive because it is one of his favourite places.

Sunrise has been part of our neighbourhood for more than thirty years, but I have to admit that I haven’t been there more than half a dozen times. I can say without hesitation that we will be more regular diners in the future.

The food was excellent, with huge family-style portions, and at reasonable prices. More, the service was simply superb.  We were not a rowdy group, I guess, but the orders were complex and made more so with separate billings between couples and singles, some with shared wine, some without. The server was prompt and friendly, and got every order and every billing correct. She was always available when needed without imposing herself. She certainly helped the evening proceed in a merry way.

Bravo to the server, the cooks, and the owner!


Image: Echo Density

January 23, 2016


Night Music: Maria Maria

January 22, 2016

Night Music: I Try

January 22, 2016

The incomparable Macy Gray

Wise Words of Existential Epicurianism

January 22, 2016

Wise Words 20160122