My Best Poetry (volume one), by Michael Juliano.

This is the fifth review I have done on Amazon as a Kindle Book Reveiw Team member.

Nature, military experience (some scary!), lyrics and haikus. A fun read.

Three stars.

As always, you should not let the star count decide for you. Here you will enjoy 36 poems in various forms and levels of depth. If you like similes, Sledding is for you. The images range from fresh to bizarre, and they all work. This book easily rates three stars plus.

In some poems repetition is used to strong effect, in particular in Green, and Step by Step by Step (one of my favourites). The military theme occurs elsewhere as well, including The Hunt, Metal, and Wild (another favourite, once I guessed what a clad is). In this small poem the armoured vehicle is wilder than the wilderness it chews up. Short and powerful.

There are a few poems of nature, with the human condition brought in as well, as in The Shore. There is simply lyric beauty in poems like The Angel, and in the fun poem Lonely Walkin’ Blues. The poem Life, beginning with ‘Life is but man’s / strangest rose’ is another favourite.  If I had to make tiny carps, they would be these. The poems are not all equally strong, with some of the earliest ones showing less power and control, less clarity of purpose, as the later ones. There were one or two poems I did not truly understand. That’s OK, everybody doesn’t have to get everything.

The four haikus are all cute, neat. And if you’re looking for social commentary, read Yellow. Again, this is a fun read. Recommended.

Jim Bennett  (Kindle Book Review Team)

On Special Laws

We are about to have a special law that prevents transgendered individuals from being harassed. I submit that we should just have laws that prevent individuals (anyone!) from being harassed. Special laws are a form of discrimination against ‘majority’ groups.

For example, there is a special law against spitting on a TTC Constable. An ordinary citizen is, for some reason, not as worthy of defence by stern punishment, as a TTC Constable.

Having special laws is, imho, ridiculous. We have too many laws now. Law should be based on intent, and intent should be for all citizens. You may say, but what about the disadvantaged? May I point out that in France, there is a Good Samaritan law which creates an obligation to help, if help can be provided safely. This applies to the disabled, accident victims, whatever. Amazingly, American common law assumes there is no obligation to assist if you were not involved in creating a situation.

I guess we should not be surprised; the American assumption was there was no obligation for the state to provide health care for the needy, either. This is being fixed now, and the fix is being diluted simultaneously, partly with austerity cuts that avoid tax hikes for the rich, who get breaks due to … special laws.

Re: Police Chief Bill Blair, and ‘undermining public trust’

Toronto police chief sends internal video message to officers warning them not to engage in behaviour that could undermine the public trust. This from the Toronto Star.

When I saw this, I assumed that Mr. Blair was about to enter politics. Torontonians will remember the chief who, somehow, could not identify any officers who removed their name tags at the G20 protest, until Rosie DiManno produced clear photographs of some of their faces, over blank name tag Velcro.

However, now it turns out that judges who believe officers’ testimony was somewhat less than ideally honest and complete, are supposed to inform the police chief of this fact. And, the chief is supposed to make public the names and punishments of the perpetrators of dubious testimony and/or evidence.

So, we are, in fact, having another ‘DiManno moment.’ The chief is telling the troops, finally, to avoid undermining public trust. This only because that undermining is now going to be made much more public.

On Sex and Housework

There was a study recently about sex and housework. Essentially they asked a number of couples of various ages and economic situations about frequency of sex and the amount of housework done by the male partner.

As I recall, men who did a lot more housework than their peers, actually got less than two thirds as much sex.

The study concluded that somehow doing housework made men less manly. I disagree.

I think that men who are getting significantly less sex than their peers (in economic and social and age status) are, in desperation, doing more housework. And, it’s not working.

Comments, anyone?

On Taxes, and Unfairness

Today we have some wonderful examples of tax plans that are grossly unfair. Let’s take Cyprus first.

Bank accounts are going to have a percentage of their balances removed by the state. This is part of a deal demanded by the Eurozone bankers, in particular Germany and Angela Merkel, who does not want to be seen as letting the Cypriots get away with paying for BMW’s and Mercedes with bad loans.

Russia is furious: a lot of money in Cyprus is of Russian origin, some of it claimed to be money laundering, some of it tax evasion. Very large accounts are held by very powerful people. This means problems between Russia and the Eurozone.

In addition, there are runs on Cypriot banks. People will start using mattresses again, and home invasions could go up as a result.

Net Net in Cyprus: those who save, shall be punished. Those who borrowed, shall be bailed out by those who saved.

Second wonderful example: paying for transit improvements in Toronto, Canada. The Toronto Board of Trade has claimed that gridlock costs businesses billions of dollars a year in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). So, they want gridlock fixed, or to put it another way, improvements to public transport, roads, et cetera.

How do these businesses suggest this get paid for? by taxes, not on the businesses that will benefit, but on the workers who will increase their profits. The suggestions include a regional sales tax (on consumers, eh?), a parking space levy (on drivers, as the parking lot will clearly pass this one along, eh?), a regional vehicle fuel tax, and high occupancy tolls. The latter would allow a vehicle not highly occupied to use the HOV lane, for a price.

The (Greater) Toronto (Area) Board of Trade (which just renamed itself as per the parentheses) thinks these are great ideas, since they won’t have to pay for them.

I am reminded of other suggestions that might have changed the financial meltdown:

  • a very small tax on very large currency movements. This idea was killed without a trial; those moving large amounts of cash, as noted above, are influential.
  • preventing banks from gambling with other people’s money.
  • improving real credit ratings by rating agencies.
  • making banks that make bad risks pay the price, not their depositors.

Instead, we are in the throes of austerity programs that are, clearly, making the crisis worse.

Meanwhile the United States Federal Reserve is doing ‘quantative easing.’ This means, the government prints bonds, the Fed prints money, and buys the bonds. This is clearly inflationary.

Inflation is an indirect tax on those who hold cash or equivalent. In short, it is a tax on savings accounts. Cyprus, anyone?

The Fed is also buying up really bad mortgages held in mortgage backed securities. The issuing of these mortgages, their repackaging into securities, and then into ever more complex derivatives, was a big factor in the collapse. So who pays? first, the mortgagees lose their homes. Then, belatedly, the government bails out … not those told to borrow, but those who lent without proper due diligence. The government gets the money to do this in one of several ways:

  • quantitative easing or equivalent, i.e. print money, a tax on all cash equivalents
  • cutting benefits, preferentially to the disadvantaged: health, welfare, education
  • raising taxes. Note that raising taxes for the rich is extremely hard to do in the USA.

Unfair. Comments, anyone?

One thing I forgot to add. At one point in the non-recovery from the financial crisis, it was pointed out that corporations in Canada and in the USA were sitting on billions of dollars of cash, which, if invested, would create jobs and end the recession. It was then suggested that cash held by corporations be taxed at a very small, but incentive rate. The idea was to make cash invested in modest returns more attractive than idle case. Notice that the idea of taxing cash held by hugely profitable corporations was anathema, but taxing cash held by all Cypriot bank users is supposed to be OK. Double standard, anyone?