Month: May 2013

Entitlement – Part 1

What is it with certain groups today? Why do so many feel so entitled?
• I get to ignore the law because I’m – in government
– rich
– better than you at ___ (you fill in the blank)
therefore, I’m entitled.
• I do nasty horrible things to others because I’m an athlete and I’m entitled.
• I deserve to have someone give me that service because I’m entitled.

There are a number of concepts that should govern behaviour.
• for every right there is a responsibility
• democracy is equality before the law
• peace order and good government

Our recent problems with Canadian Senators arose by some claiming things to which any responsible person would never think of claiming just because a loose interpretation of the rules they work under seems to make it possible. Whether you believe in the Senate or not, they are there for a purpose and most of them work on performing that purpose. That work however should not include double claiming expenses; allowances, etc that in fact shouldn’t be justified. I used the word shouldn’t on purpose. Not every action requires a law or a rule; some things just are.
• How could they call what they were doing good government?
• If one of us pulled a similar stunt with our employer, we’d expect to be fired and probably prosecuted.
• Just because they were in government did not entitle them to forget responsibility

There was a recent court case in the US where a couple of high school football players felt hard done by when the court convicted them of rape, kidnapping and illegal use of nude images. They were upset because the verdict could ruin their lives. High school football is close to religion in parts of the country. Team members are held in high esteem. However, this does not bring with it an entitlement to get away with despicable behaviour. They advertised their actions in social media. They were guilty.
• They had earned the right to be sports heros. That however did not give them that right to inflict pain on others.
• Being heros did it put them above the legal consequences even though they seemed to think it would.

Somehow parts of our society have forgotten responsibility.

(part 2 to follow)

The Plaidneck

How to encourage volunteers

Many militia bands rely heavily on civilian volunteers. You’d think they would encourage these dedicated people. The Canadian Forces; however, seem to go out of their way to discourage its volunteers.

At a recent event, an eastern Ontario pipe band who support and represent our local militia was asked to pipe the final leg of a re-enactors’ commemoration of the historic 104th Regiment of Foot’s 1813 march from Fredericton to Kingston. The event was on a Friday. Six pipes and three drums volunteered and made the trip; many taking a vacation do to attend.

Before the volunteers could board the bus (a school bus hired by the unit) we had to sign that we would not hold the country, military, its personnel nor agents responsible for anything that may happen during the trip. In other words the volunteers would become responsible (just for showing up) for any harm no-matter how nor by whom it was caused.

We gathered at the local Armour at 11 A.M; we boarded the bus at approximately 11:30 and arrived at CFB Kingston a little after 14:00. After tuning and instructions, the parade marched off from CFB Kingston at 15:00 and was 2 km long. At the end of the parade there was a 45 minute formal ceremony, inspection and speeches.

Although we were invited to a post event reception we were rushed back onto the bus to start the trip back to Cornwall. We reached Cornwall at about 19:30.

Accompanying the band was a militia honour guard. They did not have to sign a waiver, were on a paid assignment and as the event ran over two regular meal times, qualified for meal allowances. The volunteers; however, were out of pocket for our any meals purchased.

How does the military encourage its musician volunteers?

• First by making them responsible for any harm no-matter how caused just because they volunteered, and on top of that
• by requiring them to supply their own nourishment on an eight and a half hour event.

Makes you wonder about volunteering for the Canadian armed forces doesn’t it

The Plaidneck

The Great Boondoggle

If I made a decision to waste $230 million, I’d go to jail (especially if the actual cost of the decision ended up being somewhere between ½ and 3/4 a billion)!

In order to win an election, a decision was to move two gas fired electric generating plants designed to provide power to the west side of the Greater Toronto Area elsewhere. Only 10% of the GTA power comes from the GTA (compared to New York City where they are working toward generating 80% of their electrical power within their boundaries).

What is bothersome is why we only question when and who knew what about details? Shouldn’t the actual decision be questioned? Shouldn’t the deal reached with the building parties be questioned?

Some background

A Mississauga (Charles Sousa’s, Liberal, riding) gas fired plant is being moved to Sarnia (Robert Bailey’s, PC, riding). The Government’s mid 2012 estimate to cancel was $190 million (I couldn’t easily find an original guesstimate of the cost to make this change but there may have been some misinformation that hinted that the cost could be as low as $10 million – an initial payment to the developer/builder to stop).

The Auditor General’s April 2013 estimate of cost to cancel is $275 million (351 costs – 76 possible savings).

“Cancellation costs included:
$149.6 million paid by the OPA to the lender that was financing construction of the plant, with $90 million of that related to fees and interest that resulted from the cancellation of the plant;
$72.4 million in compensation to Eastern Power, the builder’s parent company, for costs mostly associated with the plant cancellation;
$64.6 million paid by the OPA to the builder’s suppliers;
an estimated $60 million in additional future costs to deliver electricity from the Sarnia area rather than from Mississauga; and
$4.4 million in legal and other professional fees.

Offsetting total costs of $351 million are estimated savings of $76 million. The lion’s share of these savings relate to the province not having to pay for the cancelled plant’s electricity, which the OPA indicated won’t be needed for at least the next few years. As well, some savings resulted from the price for electricity from the Sarnia-area plant being slightly lower than the electricity price contracted for the Mississauga plant.”
From Canada Newswire summary of Auditor General’s report

An Oakville plant, (Kevin Daniel Flynn’s, Liberal, riding) is being relocated to the Lennox Generating site near Bath (Randy Hillier’s, PC, riding). The original (2011) estimate to cancel and relocate was $40 million. However, recent estimates of cost to cancel are much higher:
$260 million (provincial source – March 2012)
$700 million (Bruce Sharp – Toronto Star 10th October 2012)

From very limited information, an estimate for each generating plant is probably in the one billion dollar range. Using the Mississauga data:

• the financiers will be paid approximately 15% of the total cost to build just to stop.
• the builders will be paid 7.5% of the total cost for work done, and
• suppliers will be paid 6% of the total cost for supplies in the pipe line.

I believe that the amounts proposed for the builders and suppliers are probably reasonable. But for the bankers to receive more than the value of the work done material ordered surely is excessive.

If you negotiated such an agreement, would you still be working? Again, our representatives are questioning who knew what and when. As before, why is the original decision not under much more scrutiny. We’ll have spent at least half the value of another power plant just to save a couple of seats in a government that in any case ended up being a minority.

Also, why is the cost paid to the developers also not questioned. Paying the financiers more than the builders seems to be exorbitant. Somehow bankers have become worth more than builders and our political and bureaucratic leaders are supportive.

We, our government, those who question them are in need of a change of perspective. We’ve become a society of data and paper pushers. We now value those who negotiate, argue over and support more than those who do more than those who design and build.

The Plaidneck

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