Looking ahead

Everyday now, the news is mostly about Covid. And it should be. C-19 ain’t going away anytime soon and, in the meantime, it is still expanding and hurting us all in so many new-found ways.

“But a vaccine is just around the corner and we’ll all be back to normal soon!”

I hope so (although that which was ‘normal’ could be improved on considerably). But I doubt it. Firstly, we are at least six months away from a vaccine and secondly, many people will voluntarily stay back an extra six months simply because this ‘rushed’ vaccine has yet to inspire a lot of public confidence. Thirdly, the virus is mutating. That does NOT mean a vaccine won’t still be effective but it is a possibility. A greater likelihood is that the vaccine is more effective on one strain but still somewhat effective on another and so we will be trying to defeat this virus asymmetrically – some countries will not do as well as others and so the virus will continue. And it will mutate some more. As some professionals are predicting, “We may have to just learn to live with it, to a large degree.”

But there is more. And it is the ‘more’ that most of us do not see. I have a rich friend with a portfolio of commercial property (leveraged but not dangerously so) and he thought he was rich. NOT SO MUCH right now. Today, he’s afraid that his commercial property may just be the millstone around his neck that drowns him. Just having the fears means that he is changing and altering how he operates. He is not alone. Airlines, of course, are faring only a little better than cruise-lines. Very few people are traveling and even fewer are traveling for pleasure. Resorts, restaurants, bars and hotels are only suffering lesser losses because they are generally mom-and-pops and smaller and lesser capitalized. They are going bankrupt even faster.

And we are all ‘in this together’ and linked to God-knows how many others from Guatemalan avocado growers to thespians in the theater, from healthcare workers to kids in school. Who needs a bus driver when no one takes the bus? Everyone is affected to some extent. And the damn virus is still growing!

So, my point is that ‘hoping for a vaccine’ may be the wrong plan A. Plan A should maybe be about adjusting all those ‘normal behaviours’ we practice – and not only for just the next six months or so, maybe forever. If you are a pub frequenter, get a new habit. If you like public events, buy a bigger screen TV and try for some of the action from the safety of your home (if there is any to even watch). This year may be the year we drastically change a lot of personal habits. We have all ‘hunkered down’ for 8 months already and it was not enough. I suspect that we have another year of relative isolation ahead. How ya gonna do? Take up quilting?

It is already happening in some weird and unexpected (for me) ways. E-bikes are taking off in sales. Why? Because urbanites do not want (afford?) a car but sucking public transit air is now more risky. Solution: a bike. Better solution: an e-bike. Investment in E-bikes is a winner.

Puppy mills. As disgusting an industry as it is, puppy mills are expanding as lonely singles and isolated couples seek some instant ‘loving contact’ partners. I am guessing that ‘match-making’ internet sites are going gangbusters, too. Oddly, used car prices are dropping as two-car families now out of work and having to stay home, get rid of the second vehicle. Good ol’ Bubbas down at the levy drinking whiskey and Rye are also spending more time there and less at work. The levy, it seems, needs some extra lead. The Bubbas, it is reported, are buying up tons of ammo. We are now a bit low on some bullet choices – who knew? And so it goes…..

Lettuce has gotten really expensive!!??

Of course, another year of isolation is fine by me. I am alright with it. But not everyone out there in the world is an antisocial old grump who chooses remote and isolated as the better lifestyle. The vast majority need other people with which to trade their wares or share social gatherings. Many people will not adjust well.

Any good news? Yeah, there is some….more and more young people are showing up out here. Some buying, some renting, some hanging out……all having babies…….

30 thoughts on “Looking ahead

  1. Interesting topics today.
    I totally agree that the amount of people “flocking” to get vaccinated with a rushed “cure” may be less than expected.
    God forbid our beloved democracies try and enforce mandatory vaccines to reach 95% saturation to kill off the virus.
    Conspiracy theorists on the internet will have a field day.

    As for the economy….. the shite storm hasnt hit yet.
    Bankruptcies have been delayed by CERB and trickling work schedules.
    The newest shutdowns and the “cancellation” of Christmas should be the final nail in the economic coffin for at least two years…….
    I am beginning to see more and more people out of work in the trades sector as the economy slows.
    They usually see the slow down as projects get cancelled.
    Not good.
    No matter how much “free” money Trudeau drops from helicopters.
    Taxpayers arent an endless supply of cash….no matter how much Trudeau and his New World Reset may wish it so…….
    The false economy of higher and higher flipping real estate values is slamming on the brakes.
    Our record low interest rates have only one way to go…..uppa uppa uppa……… and if anyone thinks tiny little Canada’s economy can steer its own course…….I have swamp land in Burns Bog to sell you.
    Hopefully the annual Christmas suicide season wont be a record breaker this year….but with all the fentynal deaths in BC ……who would notice?

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      • yeah, I remember the early 1980’s and it wasnt as bad as a scenario as what I think is coming….and that was about 4 years of grim………

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      • Moodies confirmed today that Canada has a triple A credit rating.The prime
        rate of the Bank of Canada is .25 percent. Such economic measures give some folks comfort not despair. Like many Canadians I’m not prescient so I make no predictions of Canada’s future. This pandemic might be seen by future historians as a crisis that pulled Canadians together. COVID is indifferent but Canadians still can choose how to respond to it. Showing social responsibility towards others is key.

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  2. yeah, I remember the early 1980’s and it wasnt as bad as a scenario as what I think is coming….and that was about 4 years of grim………
    I think your estimate of 5 years may be more accurate.

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  3. I hope it will not be like the 30’s, because that was followed by the rise of fascism and WWII. But the rise of the extremism is already happening, so we’ll just have to wait for WWIII to start? Could be something for Trump in his last 2 months as POTUS…the visit of his minister to Israel is a sign??

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    • As professional psychologist Mary Trump wrote in her excellent book ” Too Much and Never Enough” about her uncle who she interacted with personally for decades….

      Donald only cares about Donald. He has no regard or feelings for others. It is all about him getting ahead. Just like his father Fred.

      Her book reveals numerous scenarios where Trump stabbed his own family, friends or business associates in the back, time and time again to satisfy his own ego.

      As Donald Trumps older sister Maryanne says in secretly recorded comments, ” I cant believe they voted for that idiot!. He has no principles, You cant trust him….”

      I’m quite sure that Trump would not hesitate to start a world war if he thought it would help him stay in office. Other people’s lives mean nothing to a psychopath.
      Hopefully cooler heads will prevail since Trump has fired just about every top military leader in the nation two or three times over during his tumultuous tenure….

      2 more months to President Biden’s swearing in ceremony……. a lot can and may happen but……

      Once Trump is out ….the investigations and lawsuits begin for the worlds most famous grifter and his equally involved family.
      Jared Kushner may be a most informative witness if he’s facing Life in a Federal prison.

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  4. It sounds like all agree that things will be bad, and very likely a fair bit worse, for the foreseeable future. I tend to see it that way too. C-19 (and all its mutations, some more deadly) will become permanent. A vaccine is wholly illusory and is tantamount to saying they will cure the common cold. Silly to talk of a vaccine really. Such froth might thrill the peasantry, but will have thinking people reaching for the smelling salts. I, for one, won’t volunteer to take the shot. It will have to be by force in the absence of compelling and cogent evidence that it is risk-free and 100% effective.

    That we know all of this still has resulted in some anomalies. Supra, jdc commented thus: “Any good news? Yeah, there is some….more and more young people are showing up out here. Some buying, some renting, some hanging out……all having babies…….”. Not sure that all those young people filling up remote islands (and maybe bringing C-19 with them) is such a great idea. It also suggests that they have cash. To buy land, to build houses. To buy boats and keep them running. My experience is that it costs as much, if not more, to live on a remote island as it does to live in downtown Vancouver. Sure, if forced, one can live on a shoestring anywhere, but easier in town.

    And as for having babies, are they nuts? Who wants to bring a kid into today’s world and the much darker one coming? I would have thought that Everywoman’s Health Clinic and those like it would be a growth industry. Off-grid abortion clinics should be popping up. And do these folks not see the economic pain to come? I suppose they expect the taxpayers will pay more and more for them to have kids. Baby bonus run amok. But, in reality, all of those payments for producing more people the planet does not need will surely end soon.

    Not sure I agree with nonconfidence and the suggestion that interest rates will soon skyrocket. Not that it matters. Most will lose their shirts in any event. But a return to a prime rate of 22.75 that I recall from my youth (when I had a Bank of BC second mortgage of $120,000 on my principal residence at prime plus 1.75%) is not something to return soon unless there is a need to control galloping inflation.

    The consensus here seems to be that soon no one will have money to spend, so runaway inflation seems not to be a prospect. That said, contrary to what some say they are seeing, I have spoken with builders on Quadra Island and elsewhere who claim to be busier than ever. Those renting accommodation on Quadra are booked solid. A new car dealer in Campbell River has commented to me that 2020 will end as a banner year for new car and truck sales. Peculiar, yes? But, overall, I am in the camp that says the chickens will soon come home to roost and many will rue the day they decided to buy that new house, that new car, to breed that new kid who will have no hope of ever becoming self-sufficient, etc. The early 1980s was a mere bagatelle by comparison to what is coming. That period passed unnoticed by most. This time, it will be hard to ignore and most will feel the lash.

    I suppose this post will be seen as incomplete and wanting, lest I indulge in larding it with some vituperous comment about Trump. It seems to be un-Canadian to not vent one’s spleen about him at every opportunity, even if one must stretch a bit to create said opportunity. All I’ll offer on that score is I think most will soon have much more with which to concern themselves and Trump will soon be forgotten and relegated to the dustbin of history.

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    • Part of the conflicting economic signs is that our neck of the woods is considered more ‘desirable’ than much of the rest of Canada . The Salish Sea has always been a western alternative to going south and now is the only option for most Canadian snowbirds and newly minted retirees or bankrupts. Secondly, the urban exodus is just a trickle but it is at least that and it is slowly becoming more visible. Thirdly, a lot of millenials had given up on trying to ‘get ahead’ and the gig economy didn’t help change their mind – they were ready to leave anyway. Then came Covid and Zoom and working from home – if at all. Fourthly, not all babies are planned (Nature makes planning secondary to the moment). Of the 4 or five ‘young couples’ out here, I count three babies and and two new couples are definitely ripe. There could be more. Will they infest our remote islands? No. I doubt that we’ll see more than a ‘bit of a population bump’. We may add a dozen people to the census. By the way, of the recent arrivals, only one has any money. The ratio of four poor households to one with some money is close to the average out here so the profile of the community won’t change much.

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  5. Our remote islands. Canada has increased its future immigration targets. Our economic future partly needs more self reliant persons building lives in remote places.

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    • Well, I do not think our economic future lies OTG but I firmly believe our species future lies out here- at least in a significant-but-primal way. That ‘city life’ is 100% similar to heating a frog in a pot of water vs dropping a frog in a pot of hot water. The difference is mostly in the shock. And we have been anesthetized (by drugs and entertainment) into thinking it is NOT TOO HOT to handle it in the city. But it is. Especially when the city has given to you what you wanted (spouse, career, experiences). Then it is time to get out. When you get out, you will likely realize you were slowly being boiled alive. I understand fully why someone may not believe that but I defy anyone to go live (at a reasonably modern level) OTG for say two years and then trying to ever go back. 99% of the people (especially over 35) will maybe go back and then return OTG. Why? I dunno….maybe because we have evolved over thousands of years ‘IN NATURE’ and then, ever since the Enclosure Acts and the Industrial Revolution plus capitalism and increasing complexity, we have abandoned Eden for a strata-pot of boiling water. Bottom line for old guys? NEVER GO BACK!

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  6. I think OTG is a good choice for you and Sal. If a person were healthy and free of the vicissitudes of old age with the means to live modestly then let them give it try. In light of the COVID-19 restrictions on behaviour and the number of people resisting such constrains on their liberties of these persons how many do you estimate to be “OTG ready”? What is their capacity to succeed of the OTG? My personal goal currently is to stay socially isolated and to keep out of the Old Folks Home.

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    • While no one wants to be spoon fed pabulum in an old folks home……age and infirmity deem otherwise.
      My parents have just moved into “assisted care” ……aka…. an Old Folks Home.
      One parent (90 years old) is mentally acute but is now almost blind thanks to macular degeneration over the past 15 years (didnt see that coming)..
      The other parent(89 years old) is mentally wandering and physically deteriorating( incontinent, unable to stand, etc.)
      NO ONE expects to end up in an old folks home…
      Both of them would rather be anywhere else (especially during the resurgence of Covid) than where they are.
      They both listen to the News and resisted moving…..for years.
      Their options were limited.
      Covid in the Spring “cleansed” the “Home” of a two year waiting list and they reached the front of the line……then the extended family weighed the pros and cons of having “Mother” blindly wandering into traffic on her way to get groceries when the fridge was already full or “Father” fall one too many times at home and break another hip…….
      No.
      Assisted living at $7500/month for Father and $4500/month for Mother ( they require two different levels of care so they have two different rooms)….their savings should , statistically…..out last them at 89 and 90 years of age……
      But they prepared for retirement…..unlike the vast majority of Canadians that are now scrambling to make ends meet.

      Old folks homes may become cardboard boxes under a highway overpass in the next few decades.

      A pissant grifter like Donald Trump is the least of our worries.

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    • If a couple in their 70’s came out, they could pull it off. But, but, but they would need the new cabin paid off, some basic DIY skills and a reliable income of at least $4K a month (hard to spend more). Sell Vancouver home for $1M and you are good to go. MODERN OTG is easier than the established ‘image’ of OTG but it is still taxing in many ways. Being physical is a given. Being a superman is unnecessary. Plus they would need to have a ‘guide and advisor’ to make the transition work. AND they would have to abandon many deeply held values and habits and expectations. This is different. It is doable…but it is different.
      In your sixties? It would be easier. In your 50’s. Easier still. People in their 40-‘s are the perfect age. Still young and strong and open-minded but maybe have the equity to enter the OTG jungle more easily.

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  7. My father died at 98 in a supported living facility. He had his marbles but cancer came calling and killed him. He took personal responsibility, he served in WW 2 in the Canadian Airforce and when it came time to collect his veterans benefits in full the Conservatives made cuts to veteran services. The ‘greatest generation’ facing broken promises. With nine children OTG, was an impossible aspiration. He worked in bush camps and spent months away from his family. Snowed in, no telephone,no electricity or radio. When he retired the back of beyond did not send its siren call. One test he faced was driving to camp in ‘56 Dodge Fargo truck pushing snow and the guys lost a tire and no spare. They fashioned a log into a curved ski and attached it with wire to the flat tire and drove to camp at a few miles per hour. This is not a bull sh*t tall tale. They survived because they carried survival gear, tools and there was no one to call. Personal responsibility! Dave do you want the grifters and the cling-ons?

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    • Kudos to your dad. Thank God we do NOT have to be that tough. Having said that, sometimes we do have to be tougher than we thought we had to be. Still, it is normally NOWHERE NEAR as hard as that story. Modern OTG is easier. It is still hard. It is harder than urban living but it is very, very doable with some common sense and a healthy bank account. Why bother? Simple: life is better out here.

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  8. Hmmmm,
    Coquitlam Center is suing their “anchor” tenant Hudsons Bay for non payment of rent.
    As are other malls all across Canada

    https://www.timescolonist.com/business/hudson-s-bay-in-coquitlam-closes-as-other-hbc-stores-stop-paying-rent-1.24243453
    .
    The Bay is on the hook for $20 million dollars a month in rent all across Canada.
    Other malls are threatening to lock The Bays doors if they dont pay up…….one month before Christmas.

    Covid and Amazon are crushing Brick and Mortar stores.

    The canary in the Canadian economy coal mine?

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    • HBC is a dead polly, that is for sure. The first domino. Triple 5, Ivanhoe-Cambridge, Cadillac Fairview, Morguard and dozens of other pension-fund-supported developers of shopping malls are also in trouble. If they are in trouble, pension funds are in trouble. Pension funds in trouble?….and then so goes the insurance companies and banks. Capitalism is a house of cards. Total collapse? Maybe not. All those behemoths are too big to fail and so Trudeau and gang will try to limit the carnage or at least slow it down. Can they do that for three years while facing a health crisis, massive unemployment, climate change, internal corruption and aggressive foreign actors? Can they do that while issuing EI, Welfare, government pensions and running infrastructure while their foot soldiers continue to spread the disease and die of drug overdoses?
      I dunno……it looks like a close battle to me. I suggest getting out of the battlefield, away from the firefights and as far as you have to go to watch from the sidelines for at least three years.
      “I do not have time to build off the grid.” I know. So, buy a cheap moho or boat and equip it minimally. Being able to ‘bug out’ is almost as good (so long as you get out when you have to).

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  9. You mention “massive unemployment”, but Trudeau et al. have a very different crystal ball. They plan to bring in 401,000 new immigrants in 2021, suggesting that Canada will open its borders to international travel on a grand scale, even when the rest of the world is tightening up. Apparently we have endless well-paid jobs here, waiting to be filled.

    As for no time to build OTG, who needs time? For a modest fee, MarineLink or Inlet Navigation will bring that moho to your island. Might be a better place to end up. With a million new immigrants every few years, space in Walmart parking lots will be at a premium.

    I suppose it’s only a matter of time before real estate everywhere becomes more or less worthless, but right now, the big advantage lies on the outer islands. Islands like Quadra have gone nuts. The cheapest land there now goes for over $100,000 an acre, and that’s a bargain, for the right to live back in the bush. Right now, at Q. Cove, there are bare land strata listings at $160,000 for .07 acre. That’s not a typo. Only .07. Maybe enough space for a small moho. On a nice, busy road, with no view or anything. If you want a view, or waterfront, well….

    On the outer islands, which are not far away, land prices have stayed the same for about 25 years. 10 acres in the bush goes for about $50,000. Ten acres of waterfront, about double that. Our land is assessed as of July 2019 well under what we paid for it in 1994 and the assessed value is probably about right. So, from that perspective, these islands are a great place to be poor. You can buy 10 acres (sorry, showing my age, let’s make that 4 hectares), for $50,000, a moho for $5,000 and you’re home. Property tax, $100 a year, if that. Yes, prices out here will probably drop along with the rest of the planet, but, if you are only starting at $50,000, you cannot really lose your shirt. Worse to see your $5 million Vancouver house go to $500,000.

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  10. Canada has a triple A credit rating. The key is to build confidence in the our economy. Most economists do not see Canada’s economy ‘’going to hell in a handcart’’! People are buying 30 year bonds. I will be toes up in thirty years. Best be optimistic that our OAP not fail. If you want to see a failed state look at Ethiopia. The USA just narrowly escaped fascism so the tunnel has a light.

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    • In truth, Canada rewards the indolent, not the diligent. I have reached the age to qualify for OAP, but I can’t have it. Fully “clawed back”. My punishment for working too hard to be self-supporting. So, if it fails, okay by me.

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  11. So OAP is means tested. I paid EI for my entire working life and never collected a dime but I felt grateful for this social safety net that helped others . I like paying taxes and I’m not dismayed by helping those facing poverty. I never speculated in real estate. My main contribution was in building human capital. I do believe in personal responsibility but recognize that not all citizens can over come their challenges to be personally responsible. Dave’s work in an East Vancouver Clinic confirms the needs of others. And to be charitable to the destitute. I’m a ‘left wing pinko communist bleeding heart’ like Dave who loves the weakest among us.

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  12. I don’t think OAP is means tested at all. Income tested, for sure. But I know of people with millions in net worth who still collect. Am I wring?

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