The Election Races Forward

September 17, 2018

I seem to have been writing, on and off, about the 2018 Vancouver municipal election for months. But now we finally find ourselves with the full list of registered candidates and only just about a month before the big day.

We finished up with a record number of contestants for this election: 21 people standing for the Mayor’s job alone (with only one winner), along with 71 wannabe Councillors (just 10 to be chosen), and another 33 each vying for Parks Board and School Board, which have 7 and 9 seats respectively. There will be a lot of disappointed candidates come October 21st, but at least Vancouver’s voters will have been given a wide choice — no bad thing.

Just to make things a little more complicated, the candidates for each position will not be listed in alphabetical or party order. Apparently it was thought that candidates with names beginning with “A”, “B” or “C” have an advantage over those with names starting with “W” or “Y” or “Z”.  Therefore, the candidates will be listed in random order in a draw to be made soon.

I understand the reasoning for this change, but I don’t agree with it.  Listing the candidates in random order — especially when there are so many in each category — guarantees that name recognition and/or party slate voting will play a larger role than it should.  I believe the dangers of that are at least as great as having to deal with lazy voters who don’t look beyond the first half of the ballot.

My selections may change over the next month, but as of today, my plan is to support David Chen for Mayor and the following Council candidates (in alphabetical order):

  • Sarah Blyth
  • Christine Boyle
  • Adriane Carr
  • Pete Fry
  • Lisa Kristansen
  • Rob McDowell
  • Derrick O’Keefe
  • Mirza Rezel
  • Anne Roberts
  • Jean Swanson

Although I recognize their importance, the fact is I just don’t follow School or Parks Board, so I don’t feel comforable selecting favourites.

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Image: Pathway In Fall

September 17, 2018


Keeping Banks Safe For Our Money

September 17, 2018

As anyone who has read the papers or seen the news in the last few years knows, banks around the world have broken numerous serious laws, have had to be bailed out with taxpayers money, and yet still pay millions of dollars to inept executives and billions more to stockholders. Many of their problems involve their connection to complex financial transactions that do nothing but make money for already-rich individuals. There has to be a better way, and there is.

I would oblige all banks to become credit unions and I would strictly limit their functionality.

Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions cooperatively owned by their members. They operate solely for the benefit of their members rather than for outside shareholders, of whom there would be none.  Their senior management is elected by the members and their policies are offered up for approval at regular meetings of the membership. Senior management remuneration would require members’ approval. The billions of dollars that are currently paid out in dividends to outsiders would be used to increase services and lower costs for the members. Any surplus could be re-paid to the members or added to the credit union’s capital.

I would limit their functionality to the taking, managing and disbursement of members’ deposits, and to the issuance of personal loans (including credit cards) and personal mortgages.  Any member or corporation that required business loans, corporate mortgages, investments or insurance would turn to investment companies, mortgage brokers and insurance companies designed specifically for that function.

No one would be limited in their desire to engage in stock market or other investments.  But these would be handled entirely by companies separate from banks.   No longer would bank depositors’ cash be at risk in the marketplace for derivatives, for example.

Competition between credit unions, if such were needed, would become a function of service and accessibility.  I believe this would get us more branches on the streets and a more personalized service between member and bank.  It would bring banking back to the people, to a smaller scale that we can understand and control — after all, it is our money they are using.

 


Poem: Creating Collage

September 17, 2018

 

we sleep together,

for sure,

but mostly we share together,

cutting out our memories

from the bark of life’s tree

 

— like pieces of collage

laid out on the floor

before an exhibition

celebrating our anniversaries –

 

unhurriedly pasting them together

 

— refocusing colors and shapes

and forms –

 

until it is late again

and again

for sure

we sleep together