Interesting Items 02/21

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  Canada
2.  Recall
3.  Norway
4.  Starship
5.  Generac
6.  PJ

1.  Canada.  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in history last Monday.  The Act replaced the War Measures Act used by his father in Oct 1970 against the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ) after they kidnapped and killed Quebec Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte.  The revision was passed in 1988.  It allows Trudeau to invoke various measures aimed at defusing an emergency during wartime.  As I understand it, Parliament has 7 days to approve the invocation.  And that clock is up today.  This should be an interesting day.

  • Coincident with Trudeau’s declaration, Ottawa police started busting heads, arresting protesters in the most violent manner possible.  They were dressed in riot gear that did not have identification visible.  In order to make sure nobody reported anything, they also went after reporters, beating at least one of them.  They also turned out the mounted cavalry, running horses through the crowd.  There is an exquisite video of a Mohawk elder woman who was taken down.  That video and photos were followed by RCMP members chortling about it on Twitter.  The woman is not without resources, and the act may trigger action by the Mohawk tribe against the federal government.
  • In addition to bans on gatherings, the Emergencies Act also allows the feds to order bank accounts frozen, something they have done with gusto and thoroughness.  Armed with the list of donors helpfully provided by one of their hackers, they have been freezing bank accounts for donations as little as $20.  Even local merchants who did business with protesters have been targeted.  Police have been sending names of arrested protesters to the banks.  Note that this is all after the fact, when donations were legal and not after the Prime Minister’s emergency declaration.  In one fell swoop, Trudeau and the banks which are cooperating with this have destroyed the banking system in Canada.  Who in their right mind will put money in any nationally regulated institution subject to this sort of third-world foolishness?  Canada’s Justice Minister has threatened to extend the frozen bank account routine to Trump supporters.  The Deputy Prime Minister has made noises about making parts of the emergency declaration permanent.  The Trudeau regime is also cancelling insurance for the truckers. 
  • For their part, the Harris – Xiden administration are watching intently, egging Trudeau on when they can.  For my dime, the banking piece is the very most important one, as it allows the government to reach out and touch anyone who disagrees with them without benefit of court order, not unlike what they have been doing with the Jan 6 protesters.  And then those people are touched, they do not have the resources available to defend themselves in court.  I do not find it a coincidence that Biden plans to extend his COVID emergency declaration beyond March 1
  • We are currently in the Fog of War on this, but some things are important.  For instance, the provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec all announced they do not support the emergency declaration.  Ontario and British Columbia do, Ontario having gone so far as declare an emergency before Trudeau followed suit.  I have not heard of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or the Atlantic provinces as yet.
  • Bottom line in all of this is that the Canadian Parliament can end this instantly with a no confidence vote.  Whether that comes or not is something else entirely, as there are at least three polls (likely push polls) showing strong national support for the emergency declaration.  Canadians are faced with binary choice.  Either the government is doing something awful and morphed from whatever it was to what it is today while they weren’t watching, or the truckers and their supporters are wrong, and likely anti-Canadian to boot, which is message from Trudeau and his media.  Given the near lockstep media support for Trudeau (not unlike what we see here in the US for democrats), expecting a Parliamentarian response may be a bridge too far.
  • Final observation is that Trudeau’s actions are one of desperation, of someone who lost the argument and simply can’t conceive of any other way out.  This is the first in a long list of protests that he didn’t want to negotiate or support the protesters.  The last two were BLM riots and a pipeline protest.  Scott Adams reads him as someone who has lost, knows he lost, and is simply going through the motions.  Weirdly, he also thinks Trudeau looks like someone transitioning. 

2.  Recall.  A political earthquake took place in San Francisco last week with the recall of three radically woke school board members.  The closest vote was a 70-30% split in campaigns financed by Silicon Valley high rollers.  The reason for the recall was a woke attempt to rename 44 schools and elimination of competitive admissions at the elite Lowell High School.  The population in this area is predominantly oriental, who apparently are tired of being called white, being treated like they are white, after voting lockstep for democrats for decades.  The election may or may not be a harbinger of things to come.  Those of us with a belief that something is changing out there look at the result and smile.  Those who believe that all politics are still local can point out that this is a one-time, local issue, incapable of being extended to future elections.  Lesson from all of this?  Like Virginia, screw around with kids of your supporters at your peril.  We will see if Republicans can do something positive with this opportunity.

3.  Norway.  One of the foolish protectionist measures taken by Alaskans was a 1990 statewide vote to ban fish farming in Alaska.  The promise at the time was everyone would have more fish, and Alaskan commercial fishermen would be protected from competition of farmed salmon, halibut, pollock, etc.  At the time, fish farming worldwide was producing about 10% of the marketplace.  As with all other protectionist measures, this one only protected Alaskan commercial fishermen from being able to compete in the global marketplace, relegating them to an increasingly niche market for wild salmon, which in recent years does not even taste as good as farmed.  It didn’t result in any more fish available for sports fishermen, personal use or subsistence users, something promised during the campaign.  As an aside, what better way to get someone’s vote than to promise them something they already own?  Today, 75% of all salmon sold in the worldwide marketplace for salmon is farmed.  Worse, there is a single Norwegian company that in 2021 sold more salmon ($729 million) than the entire state of Alaska produced in 2021 ($644 million).  Since Alaskan commercial fishermen have opted out of the global marketplace for farmed salmon over the last 30 years, what has been their response?  Generally, when you can’t increase quality or availability, the only thing you can do is increase quantity, which has been their goal.  It is the only thing keeping them economically alive, participating in an increasingly bitter fight over a decreasing resource.  Sadly, they have sufficient political clout to keep the fish wars here in Alaska going and won’t be happy until their nets catch everything returning to spawn. 

4.  Starship.  As discussed last week, SpaceX has the option to shift testing for Starship from south Texas to Florida should the environmental food fight become too difficult for their schedule.  Last week, Elon Musk said that shift was in the planning stage and would happen if the FAA did not complete its environmental assessment by Feb 28.  The FAA pushed their deadline from Dec 31 to Feb 28 in response to boatloads of comments to its proposed testing licensing.  We all know how well the greens can manufacture comments when they want to do so, and their comments on the FAA environmental assessment have demanded a full Environmental Impact Statement which would intentionally delay SpaceX flight testing by at least a year.  While SpaceX does not intend operational flights out of the Boca Chica site, they are refurbishing a pair of offshore oil rig platforms that could be moved around as needed.  Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the offshore platforms will be the main operational launch sites. 

5.  Generac.  Interesting piece from Forbes last week entitled What’s Good for Generac is Bad for America.  Generac manufactures home generators.  And their business is booming.  The good news is that business is good.  The bad news, the awful news is the reason that business is booming.  Reason?  The energy grid is getting increasingly unreliable, down to third world levels of reliability in California.  Prices of these machines are not insignificant, in the $5,000 – 10,000 range for 10 – 20 Kw generators.  These generators typically run on propane, natural gas or diesel.  Customers in Texas have recent experience in need for the generators with the weeks long power outage a couple winters ago that they are still cleaning up after.  The graphic at the end of this piece demonstrates the occurrence of major disturbances and unusual occurrences on the US grid over the last 20 years.  The increase since 2011 has been stunning, and heartbreaking, as we are doing it to ourselves.  It won’t be the rich or middle class without power when the windmills fail and solar is not illuminated.  It will be the working and non-working poor. 

6.  PJ.  One of my favorite guilty pleasures many years ago was the National Lampoon, edited by PJ O’Rourke 1973 – 1981.  It was generally outrageously funny and took no prisoners, most of it not safe for work (or anywhere else).  Upon leaving National Lampoon, O’Rourke went freelance publishing books and articles for the rest of his life.  Parliament of Whores was a great introduction into the American political system.  Eat the Rich was a sufficiently decent follow-on to Friedman’s Free to Choose that I gave it to my kids as an introduction to economics as they got interested.  He passed away last week at age 74 after his second bout of cancer.  He brought a lot of joy into the world and will be sorely missed. 

More later –

  • AG

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