Monday, September 30, 2013

Op-ed by Ross Beaty.


No system can grow forever — neither human nor economic. Yet the pursuit of continuous growth has been the bedrock economic model of our time. Outdated and unsustainable, it is still advocated, recklessly and relentlessly, by federal, provincial and nearly all municipal governments.
To some extent, this is no surprise. Since its inception, B.C., like Canada as a whole, has enjoyed remarkable and sustained growth, and as a geologist and resource entrepreneur, it’s easy for me to see the role that our wealth in mineral, hydrocarbon, forestry, fisheries and hydro resources played in that success story.
But we should also credit some other factors: B.C.’s natural beauty, as well as the education and immigration policies that have created a well-trained, hard-working and steadily increasing population. The challenge today is to maintain our prosperity — amid a declining resource base — while preserving the things we most value: a diversified industrial economy, magnificent scenery, a healthy environment and livable cities.
But we don’t live in a fishbowl. B.C.’s economy is closely linked to the country and the world. And global economic forces are changing profoundly — it is harder and harder to sustain growth, even though governments the world over keep spending and borrowing more in pursuit of that goal.
For example, Canadian GDP grew nearly fourfold from 1950-2008 but has struggled at an average 1.4 per cent a year since 2008, in spite of a 32 per cent increase in our national debt (to over $600 billion), and an increase in provincial debt by a like amount.
British Columbians need to understand why global growth has slowed. Some reasons are environmental. We are exceeding the carrying capacity of the Earth to support world populations living at the standard British Columbians now enjoy.
Natural limits to growth are everywhere: depleted groundwater, soil degradation, ocean contamination and acidification, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and climate change. These all increase costs, limit wealth creation and reduce prosperity.
At the same time, we have exhausted the world’s land base for frontier agricultural development, and we are depleting global deposits of oil and minerals, forcing us to seek out high-cost alternatives such as oilsands and lower-grade, less-accessible mineral deposits. There are also structural and social changes. In wealthy countries, populations are aging, and fertility rates and personal consumption are on the decline, cutting demand for the goods and services that have been the backbone of consumer economies.
Is slow growth bad? Look at Japan. Despite a massive increase in government debt, it has grown by barely one per cent a year for the past 20 years, and many experts dismiss it as an economic disaster. Yet the country remains one of the richest, safest, cleanest and most socially cohesive on Earth, its people among the healthiest and longest-lived. Not bad for an economic basket case.
I think we need to aim at a steady-state economy. This will require us to moderate expectations, reduce borrowing, and stimulate the myriad business and social innovations that contribute to a healthier and more sustainable society. That doesn’t mean sacrificing employment or social justice — quite the contrary. But it will surely require extraordinary political vision — and a focus on economic policy that goes well beyond one election term.
As an entrepreneur, it is clear to me that our market-based economy remains the most efficient way to drive the change. Along with political vision, we need a free and innovative market to invest in energy efficiency and conservation, in renewable energy, better urban design, improved transportation systems, waste reduction, better water infrastructure and more sustainable agriculture. We need more durable and satisfying consumer goods, and health care and social organizations that sustain a healthier population. We need to manage our forests and farms on real sustainability principles, and we must preserve for agricultural purposes the tiny amount of productive farmland in the province.
We will still need new mines and oilfields, but the more successful we are at reducing demand, the more these non-renewable resources will be available to benefit future generations. Projects like the Northern Gateway pipeline, which clearly have greater long-term risks than long-term rewards, simply should not proceed. Finally, we need realistic expectations about our potential LNG industry — slower, more-thoughtful development and broader provincial benefit for generations.
British Columbians live in a blessed corner of the Earth. And Vancouver is already a world leader in implementing the kinds of policies and directions that will succeed over a much longer term. Our provincial, federal and other municipal governments need to do this, too — giving up on the growth model is one big-picture solution. The result will be a healthier and wealthier population — wealthier in all ways, not just financial.

Ross Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur. He is chairman of Alterra Power Corp., a clean-energy company, and chairman of Pan American Silver Corp., one of the world’s largest silver mining companies. Both companies are headquartered in Vancouver.
 
 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Response to Stubhub's corporate customer service form letter.


Dear Stubhub, 
Considering the fact that the tickets never did come to my house, then the sender and Stubhub did not bother to contact me in any way and then as the night of the concert drew close, I called to inquire about said tickets, and I was informed the tickets were on the other side of the country. This being, geographically, the second largest national land mass on Earth, after Russia, I was concerned the tickets would not find their way across it.
However, the overtly and almost robotically engineered, corporate ramblings and apologies spewing forth from Matthew, ( I think that was his name) on the phone assuring me that I would be seeing the show and I could expect the tickets some time the following afternoon.

Matthew said if the tickets did not make it to me by a reasonable time in which a person could receive the tickets and reasonably get themselves across town in time for the opening, he said I would receive a refund.
This refund he so eloquently spoke of was downgraded to a promise of the amount of a show, at a later date, to be paid for, for the total sum of the price of the previously mentioned tickets I was supposed to receive, but had not yet.
I still have yet to receive any trace of a phone call or explanation of where the cross country ticket debacle finally came to a dramatic close, or how the tickets met their demise.
I can only hope that some lucky soul noticed the sad, empty seats in the Orpheum that night, while the young, talented way beyond his years, Jake Bugg, poured his innocent,folk heart out on the stage.

It is suffice to say that I am let down by your lack of action and service and I ask to be refunded in full, to my credit card, for the amount of the tickets. The order is #7187375, 2 tickets for the meteoric Jake Bugg, of Nottingham, England, at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, on September 27th.

I hope that this Fan Protect TM that you speak of in your business language covers negligence by your company or the mail carrier, like in this case, demonstrably so, I would argue. If the circumstances in this case don't warrant the invocation of Fan Protect TM, I would have to question the entire existence of Fan Protect TM.

I shall await your measured response...

Tony Durke.