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How PM Justin Trudeau can make Canada’s premiers more productive

by John Brian Shannon

Time

An hour wasted is an hour you never get back. And through no fault of their own, Canada’s premiers are wasting thousands of hours per year.

Canada’s premiers are important people. They hold the keys to multibillion dollar economies within Canada, are privy to some of Canada’s most secret security information, and they need to hopscotch around their region to hold meetings with CEO’s, other levels of government, attend events, sometimes need to get an overview of natural or man-made disasters, and to view proposed mega-projects like hydro-electric dams, major highway systems, pipelines, and railways, all over their particular province.

In the province of Alberta, premier Rachel Notley travels around the province in a convoy of Chevrolet Suburbans worth more than many Albertan homes. With weather-related travel issues, and the time it takes to get by car from the provincial capital of Edmonton to Alberta’s far-flung cities and mega-projects, you can be sure those Suburbans are getting ‘miled-out’ and replaced every 2-3 years.

It’s a ton of money invested in vehicles ($384,043.62 worth, plus annual maintenance and daily fuel) and it amounts to a lot of the premier’s time being wasted barrelling up and down highways.

We all know that much of Alberta’s business is conducted in Calgary and that the provincial capital is 281 kilometres away, in Edmonton.

It takes Rachel Notley and her convoy of Suburbans 3-hours to travel to Calgary (in good weather) sometimes 5-hours (in bad weather) And then there’s the trip home after the meetings, which of course, doubles the travel time. (Alberta premiers typically travel to Calgary about 3 times per week)

But not only that. During the Fort MacMurray fires the highways were closed. The roads were closed a few years ago in regards to the Calgary floods, and it occurs many times during the winter months along the Highway 2 corridor between Edmonton and Calgary that it gets closed due to icy conditions. Sometimes, quite suddenly — like when you’re halfway home from Calgary.

During busy months, half of premier Rachel Notley’s working hours (and whichever cabinet members are travelling with her) might be wasted sitting in the back of an SUV waiting to get to their destination.

It’s a colossal waste of time for every premier in Confederation. Time that could be better spent. Meaning more actual productivity per hour for all of Canada’s premiers. I’m pretty sure that Alberta’s premier spends 900 hours per year being transported by SUV, which is about average for Alberta premiers.

Imagine the wasted time for an Ontario premier — a province with a much higher population than Canada’s four Western provinces combined.

And I’m not ‘fobbed-off’ by claims that the time spent riding around in the back of a Suburban is productive time. If that were true, then why are premiers bothering to personally attend meetings in the first place? If phone calls and emails work so well, why leave the provincial capital? Ever?


“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses.” — Henry Ford


A Better and Faster way to Travel

politics - Canadian Army CH-146 Griffon. Photo courtesy of Canada's Department of National Defence

Canadian Army CH-146 Griffon. Photo courtesy of Department of National Defence – Canada.

Canada’s Griffon helicopters, which are underutilized by the Canadian Army are the perfect answer to efficiently move Canada’s premiers around their home provinces, while saving thousands of hours of time and improving the security of premiers and their staff.

It’s a light helicopter that can carry 10 people and their gear, and it can travel long distances (for a helicopter) at 250 kilometres per hour. There isn’t anywhere in Alberta that the Griffon CH-146 couldn’t fly on one tank of fuel.

But with all of that going for it, it’s still a ‘boy among men’ when compared to other military helicopters, which is the only reason why it’s seen limited military use.

Let’s face it, it was built for Army commanders to tour the battlefield in the interests of creating a better battle plan for the following day, and to quickly zip in and out of combat zones with ammo and food for soldiers. A Black Hawk S-70A or Sea Stallion CH-53E battlewagon it’s not.

But for ferrying premiers and other government officials travelling with the premier, it could very easily handle that role. And, as an added bonus for the Army, the Canadian Army crews that fly them would be better able to meet their (required) number of flight hours per month. That’s reason enough right there to detail one of them to each Canadian premier.

Note: Out of the original order of 100 Griffons, the Canadian military has 20 Griffon helicopters that are parked — and not for safety reasons. They just don’t have missions. The helicopters were already paid-for, years ago. They sit unused because they have no missions to fly. And pilot skills deteriorate without a minimum of 30-hours of flight time per month.

Productivity

Would Alberta taxpayers be getting better productivity out of their premier with 2-hours of travel time per day vs. the present 6-10 hours per day, on average? The answer seems blatantly obvious.

In short; Is it better for the premier of Alberta to sit in the back seat of a multi-vehicle motorcade of Suburbans for 900 hours per year, or to fly in helicopters for 300 hours per year? Thereby saving 600 hours per year for more productive use.

When Canada’s premiers are conducting business on behalf of the people where one deal could conceivably cost or save billions of dollars, isn’t it better to have premiers that arrive refreshed and ready to negotiate — rather than arriving frazzled, after a harrowing 5-hour drive on icy roads?


This is one case where the federal government should divert from its typical overly-cautious Canadian tendencies and actually make the arrangements to dramatically increase the productivity of every Canadian premier.

In this day and age, it’s great to ‘work hard’ but it’s more important to ‘work smart’. And working smart means adding 600-hours of productive time to each premier’s schedule annually.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I urge you to direct the Canadian Army to park one Griffon helicopter and crew beside each provincial legislature for the official use of Canada’s premiers (and whichever officials are required to accompany them on provincial business) in the interests of increasing the productivity and personal security of all of Canada’s premiers.

This would be the low-hanging fruit, Mr. Prime Minister, on the path to making Canada all that it can and should be.

Europe: New Challenges, New Directions

by John Brian Shannon | August 30, 2016

Europe is at a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions

Very conveniently, however, there are really only 3 problems with Europe.

Map of Europe includes the EU and non-EU nations.

Map of Europe includes the EU and non-EU nations. EU nations that aren’t part of the Eurozone (the euro) are light blue. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

I: The trickle-up economy continues to move trillions of dollars out of the bottom 4 quintiles and place it into the hands of the top quintile. This remains a recipe for failure, and the longer it continues the more draconian the solutions will need to be.

In 2016, half the world’s wealth is concentrated into the hands of the 1% — but by 2030, three-quarters of the world’s wealth will be concentrated into the hands of the 1%.

That’s wholly unsustainable. And nobody is even talking about it.

Unless addressed, Record Inequality will become Social Breakdown. And that will be the end of Europe as we know it.

II: Globalization is a truly wonderful thing. It continues to bring cheap goods to consumers since the Arab Oil Embargo in 1974, which caused millions of Americans to buy cheaper, more fuel efficient cars. That was the beginning of it, but the flood of electronics, textiles, and other goods soon followed.

For one such example of this; Each iPhone would retail for over $2000. with some sources asserting each iPhone would cost $3000. if manufactured in the United States.

But globalization has piggy-backed on Record Inequality to the detriment of workers and families in the West and it looks like (however fairly or unfairly) ‘The People’ are sick of globalization.

Declining living standards due to Inequality and Globalization have ‘The People’ thinking that change is necessary.

And change will come. The People always get their way. Maybe not with Perestroika and Glasnost, but the will of the people eventually becomes reality.

III: “You are leaving the American Sector”

We all remember those signs in postwar Europe. But what is actually happening is that America is leaving the American Sector in Europe.

Yes, America has realized that 58% (and growing) of all global trade is happening in the Pacific and the Americans are lowering their commitment to Europe and the Middle East.

Europe should be all grown-up by now, and the Middle East is a rambunctious, late-teenage, regional power. You should try to get along.

Prior to the Brexit referendum, the normal course of events would have been for the U.S. to become the Pacific Power and for the EU to become the Atlantic Power.

However, for that to happen, the EU needed Britain (which is by definition) the world’s seafaring nation and Britain is leaving the EU.

Consequently, history is still happening as the logical course of action post-referendum is for the UK to become the dedicated Atlantic Power, while the EU becomes the dedicated Mediterranean Power.

And that means strong (and fair) linkages with MENA nations and it means a strong invite to join the EU for every single southern European nation.

As 97.1% of Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia, it also means ‘Hands-Off Crimea’ but either Turkey or Ukraine (sans-Crimea) will eventually join the EU. But not both.

Russia won’t allow the EU to have both, so choose the option you prefer and get it done with as little upset as possible. The EU already has too much on its plate — troubles with Russia is the last thing the EU needs — especially in view of decreased American commitment to Europe.

The next 10 years will be a vulnerable time for the EU; Meaning, this is not the time for the EU to go shooting itself in the foot with a Russian gun.

Summary

Europe has only three problems. The ways I’ve outlined are not the only ways to solve them. However, they align with what is already happening.

What I’m saying, is that instead of governments being steered by events European leaders need to steer the thing even if it means continuing on with what was already going to take place anyhow.

Which is:

a) Friendly divorce with Britain.
b) EU lowers Atlantic commitments and ramps up linkages and commitments in the Med and MENA.
c) All southern European nations join the EU.
d) Choose either Ukraine (sans-Crimea) or Turkey and make one of them an EU nation, ASAP.
e) Friendly relations with Russia are imperative — if the present leadership can’t get it done, Fire Them and get new leaders — it’s that important.
f) Friendly relations with the Middle East (stop bombing your neighbours)
g) Address Inequality in no uncertain terms.
h) Stop using the word globalization and seek Win-Win bilateral trade agreements exclusively, where that trade actually benefits both sides — instead of just dumping your goods in other countries and getting the loot. You need (true) Interdependence instead of Globalization.
i) Harmonize EU economic policies around the best existing model in Europe (Norway) where deficits are limited to 4% of GDP, plan for a 3% unemployment rate, free university education for residents, low crime rate, high productivity, very high SPI and UN Happiness Index scores (and those two metrics drive all other positive stats) revenue surpluses directed to a sovereign wealth fund, and so much more.

These are not big challenges compared to the challenges faced by WWI and WWII leaders, and by leaders in the immediate postwar era. These are tiny challenges.

But these challenges will require persistence by leaders who can keep the main objectives in the forefront of their mind, even as (seemingly) everyone else wants to go in different directions.

The question is not; “Does the EU have good leaders?” (Of course it most certainly does or the EU wouldn’t have ever existed, nor would it still remain)

The question is: “Does the EU have the leaders it needs to actually accomplish the remaining goals?”

Related Article:

Why be Interested in a Better Future?

by John Brian Shannon | August 15, 2016

Why build a Better World?

Imagine for a moment the unforeseen has occurred, and lying in the middle of the road is your body covered by a white sheet.

Yes, you got hit by a bus only minutes ago. And now, body-less for the first time in your existence, your spirit is hearing the words of the ‘keepers of spirits’ as you watch the paramedics put your body into the Ambulance.

They tell you that you’ll sleep for 20-years and then be awoken in time to be born in the normal manner, but to a different set of parents, exactly 20-years from today. Happy Birth Day!

Oh, and, this part is important. You won’t have any of your present memories, you may be born anywhere in the world, you may be a different ethnicity or gender, you may be born within any socio-economic group — and your parent or parents might be the poorest on that particular continent or the richest, or anywhere in between. All these variables and more will be matters of chance.

For now, let’s assume that the above paradigm is true.

But what if you died and came back tomorrow?

‘Well’ you say, ‘It depends where I was born, and how highly my parents rank in that country.’

If you came back tomorrow; There’s only a 1 percent chance that you’d be a brand new member of the 1 percent. Did you know that the 1 percent manage to exist on more than $1179. per day, per person? How do they manage it?

Some 29 percent of the people alive today live between $10. and $1178. per day, per person.

And there’s a 71 percent chance that you’d be born into a family that lives on less than $10. per day, per person.

That’s our world in 2016.

Know your annual income?
Find out which percent group you belong to on this interactive CNN chart

You found your goat! Image courtesy of Mongolia on Pinterest.

You found your goat! Image courtesy of Mongolia on Pinterest.

Today, you’re more likely to be born into poverty, maybe living on the desolate Mongolian steppes.

Hey! In your previous life you always liked goats and always wanted to pet one. Now you can be a goat-herder for the next 64 years! Which is the average life expectancy of Mongolian males who live in yurts (tents) on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

Or maybe you’d be born as one of the Roma (formerly called gypsies) the poverty-stricken people who roam all over Europe, in sight of luxury every day, but never able to experience it.

Or maybe you’re born into a Muslim family trapped in present-day Syria. Better start studying that Koran as soon as you learn to read, I hear they don’t tolerate slackers there.

On the bright side, you have a 29 percent chance of being born into a family that exists on anything between $10. per day, per person and $1178. per day, per person. You rock!

Just remember that you won’t get to choose any of this, nor prepare for it in advance. It’ll be completely random. Nor will you have any memories of your previous life.

What if you came back 20-years from today?

One wonders what kind of world will exist 20-years from now. Hopefully, you’ll be one of the people who used your time wisely in this decade to help create a better future for all humanity — not only for yourself and your immediate family — but for people who are being born on every continent, at every economic strata.

If you knew today that you were going to be reborn in 20-years with a family and country chosen for you at random, what would you do today to help create a better future for all humanity?

In 2016, 7.4 billion people live on this planet and 1 percent of the world’s population own more than 50 percent of the world’s total wealth.

But in 2035, 8.8 billion people will live on this planet; And if present trends continue, the 1 percent will own more than 80 percent of the world’s total wealth.

Leaving only 20 percent of the world’s total wealth to be distributed between the remaining 8.7 billion in 2035.

If you expect to be alive in 2035, let’s hope you’ve used your time wisely in this decade to help create a better future for all humanity.

Share of the world's total wealth for the Top 1 percent and the Bottom 99 percent. Image courtesy of OXFAM.

Share of the world’s total wealth for the Top 1 percent and the Bottom 99 percent. Image courtesy of OXFAM.