Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Predictions for 2015 - Not a Pretty Picture

Last year my New Years predictions were for a "tumultuous, history making year". So this year I thought: "Well b'y, better be more specific."

For Newfoundland:

1. Halt of the Muskrat Falls project in the Courts.

2. Resignations of  Ed Martin and Gilbert Bennet, and a large scale purging at Nalcor.

3. A Liberal government so large that it has to appoint its own members as Opposition ala Frank McKenna.

4. Large scale cuts to the civil service, and project spending.

5. A huge downturn in the economy reflected in high unemployment numbers and falling real estate prices.

6. A serious downturn in Labrador's mining, exploration, and economy as a whole.

7. Wide spread anger throughout the land.

For Canada:

1. A new Liberal dominated minority government, caused by drops of support in Ontario and BC for the Conservatives, and the NDP maintaining a strong hold in Quebec. Canadians won't trust that Trudeau is ready to run the show without the strong hand of Mulcair to keep him in check.

2. Declines of oil markets in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and here are too large to offset export gains in Ontario and Quebec, and the country enters recession.

3. Northern sovereignty is challenged by Russia, and to a lesser extent others.

4. Aboriginal rights and militancy increase dramatically over living conditions and resources.

5. Political unrest and economic decline make Canada a very unstable place to be, but then the world mirrors it.

For the World:

1. Russia and China escalate the stakes in their economic war with the US. They create formal international structures, based on the Chinese Yuan, to reduce US influence in the developing world.

2. Turkey leaves the NATO/ US sphere of influence and moves toward the Eurasian Alliance - fueled by disgust over Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and greater economic prospects with Russia and China.

3. The war in Ukraine escalates and Russia intervenes militarily. The Ukrainian government falls.

4. Europe enters a period of deflation and recession, that evolves into depression.

5. Argentina attempts to retake the Falkland Islands.

6. The United Kingdom begins the process of leaving the EU.

7. Investors in the US stock market panic over events in Europe and loss of trade markets, sell off, and cause the largest single crash of the the stock market since the 1920's.

All in all, not a very happy or positive outlook on the year 2015. Sorry for that. It's probably just as well that none of us have a crystal ball and can see the future, but, for what it's worth, this is my attempt. Seems to me that we can't avoid the economic realities that continue to unfold around us. The best we can do is try and protect our own. On the upside, every collision of history has always resulted in a better result down the line, so keep that in mind as we weather the storm that will be 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Letter to the Premier

It's not often I would give advice to a PC member of this Province's government. In fact, a big part of me would be happy to see them all gone. However, that may not be good for our democracy in the long run. With the NDP flailing like near dead fish in the back of the boat, the political choices here have become uncomfortably narrow. Not only is a small or non-existent Opposition bad for the democracy of our province, it's also bad for the winning party - as Brian Mulroney found out. It's one thing to have the bragging rights to the "largest majority government ever", and quite another to satisfy all the egos that get swept in with it. Not everyone can be a cabinet minister, or parliamentary assistant, yet they all think they should.

So, in the spirit of the season, and bipartisan concern, here's a few words of advice for our erstwhile premier:

1. Drop Muskrat Falls like the dead dog it is. Use whatever excuse you want. It could be the court cases going through the system now with their impending damnation of the foolish actions of the Williams' administration. Be the bigger man. Own up to what every one else is already thinking. Put the people before your own ego. It's the ego that's killing you. Not yours specifically, but the ego hangover from the Williams' regime, the nagging egos of some of your long-time ministers, and back benchers. Be humble. Be contrite. Be honest. Stop the development for at least five years to get the Province's nightmarish financial and demographic position as righted as it can be. Do not govern with malice. Blaming Hydro-Quebec for everything is old. Everyone knows they're bastards, but nobody wants to sacrifice the Province or themselves on that alter. Stopping Muskrat Falls immediately is your only prayer.

2. Repeal Bill 29. It has come to symbolize that ego we spoke of above. The secrecy. The deception. The breach of trust. It is all the things that your government has been convicted of by the people, and for which you await sentencing. Even the press hate it, and that's never good for your business.

3. Ban corporate and union political donations. Restrict individual donations to $50.00 per person. The route of your entrapment is the dollars you take in and div out. So much so that one MLA, with uncommon courage in the legislature, commented publicly about a "stench of corruption". It's not news to us, but you could show leadership by addressing it.

4. Differentiate yourself from the past. Every time you say "our government has" you add another nail in the coffin. Guilt by association. People don't need to wonder if you are the same as the old crowd, because you tell them you are. While that kind of talk may get you a few slaps on the back by party hacks, those same hands, from those same people, will be thrusting that steel blade in your back the moment the party goes down in flames.

5. Know your limitations. You aren't super man, and there is nothing special about you. You aren't a visionary, and you don't inspire with your words. You are a retired cop who worked himself into the leadership, during an unprecedented party blood bath, and entering the kind of political hell that is not often realized by even the most deserving governments - which your's is of course. And you look that part. The glasses intended to portray a "smart premier" impression aren't going to do it for you, although it's a nice touch.

The only, and I mean the only, hope you have of saving ANY PC seats in the next election is to follow these simple words of advice. Are they difficult? Yes. But so is leadership. When Churchill's England was being bombed into oblivion, leadership was difficult. Freeing slaves in the US was difficult for Lincoln. Staring down Quebec separatists was difficult for Chretien. By way of example, the above steps are pretty tame. So, to save your party to the extent of opposition status, or perhaps even minority status, you need to show leadership on the things that matter. Not bike helmet legislation. Not this- that-or-the-other day proclamations. None of that. That only reinforces the idea that you've just "quit and stayed on". For what it's worth, in the spirit of democracy and bipartisanship, there it is. A few words of advice.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ukraine - the US is at fault

The evidence is in, and there is no question the United States government sponsored the coup that led to the ousting of Ukraine's elected President. No doubt he was unpopular Western Ukraine, where the seat of government is, and where most people did not vote for him in the previous two national elections. All that is true. However, in the "modern world order" we don't sponsor coups of elected governments. We even find it meddlesome when "unelected" dictators are overthrown by US sponsored coups. We know by history that once the dictator is overthrown, the threads of that society fall apart like shattered glass. A few current examples are  Iraq and Libya - there are others.

The point is, in the "modern world order" the US should not be destabilizing and overthrowing democratically elected governments - yet it is. On the one hand, the US claims to be the moral high ground  that all should emulate and is the "police force" to ensure it happens, and on the other hand it violates the moral high ground whenever its "national interest" is threatened. I put national interest in quotations as it doesn't have a strict definition. It's just whatever suits the US at the given moment in time. That one thing is the fatal character flaw of US policy - "we are just and right" when it works for us". The problem with that notion is that every moderately powered country could take the same position. The lesson the US has apparently not come to grips with is that the rules apply to it as well - perhaps more so. If you claim to be a world leader then you have to lead, and leadership is by example not convenience.

As the Sochi Olympics in Russia began, a nationalistic moment of pride for Russians as it is for every home country, trouble came to the surface in Ukraine. Not surprising I suppose considering the Saudi foreign minister's comments to Putin that if Russia gave Saudi its way in Syria, well then Saudi would make sure Russia had no problems with terrorists during the Olympics. All that did was infuriate Putin, which you could understand - essentially terrorist blackmail. And, while the terrorist situation remained well in hand during the Olympics, the Ukrainian "uprising" exploded from smoldering discontent to a demand the government join the EU. Ironically, even after agreeing to sign the agreement to establish economic relations of a sort with the EU, the Ukrainian president was still overthrown.

It was all quite clearly organized, funded, and even armed by "western entities". The US, instead of condemning the overthrow of an elected President, simply applauded along as "the people spoke". Yet, in a near identical situation erupting in Egypt, where the army slaughtered thousands of protesters in a matter a of week, the US refused to call the matter a coup - which would have cut off arms money. That's the kind of pragmatic vision that costs you the high ground and leadership. The same thing happened in Libya when NATO air forces went from a UN sanctioned mandate of a "no fly zone" to become the "rebels" air force and destroying the Libyan armed forces on the ground. Another breach of trust. Another abuse of power. Another loss of integrity.

As could be expected, Russia would not stand idly by and watch the US, and for that matter NATO, come to dominate a country right on its border. That should not be a surprise to the US given its 50 year economic boycott, and attempted invasion and naval blockading of Cuba. In fact, the US banked on it. When Russia intervened with special forces, a naval blockade of Crimea, etc the US protested that Russia would face a "cost" for its actions. The cost was to be escalating sanctions aimed at destabilizing and perhaps  over throwing the Russian government  - certainly at a minimum destroying its economy.

It's important to remember that the Ukraine conflict is not about Ukraine, or the fact it is on the Russian border. That is simply the means to the "end". The "end" is a direct blow to the Sino-Russo economic alliance ( mostly referred to as Eurasia). At some point in time the US had to decide whether it would accept losing its international economic superiority, or fight. There are only two ways to fight. One is an economic war. The other is a real war. Of course, the US could obey the rules of world order and accept the ascension of China, including the Russia-China-BRIC alliance. It's happening anyway. For example, India just signed a deal with Russia to build 12 nuclear reactors, and it cancelled a deal with US ally South Korea for a $1 billion minesweeper contract. The message: if you are with the US you aren't with us, and we have the money. A definitive sigh of things to come.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, four or five ceasefires have come and gone. The Ukrainian government, funded and supplied by the US, has used the ceasefires to advance their lines in the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. They created a massive incursion to the north of Gorlovka south toward Luhansk city and just north of the Donetsk/Krasny Luch defensive line. Not to be outdone, the Novorossyian forces have forced themselves to the eastern outskirts of Mariupol and westward of Alchevsk. Donetsk city has been mercilessly shelled by the Ukraine army, and the Novorossyian forces have taken a shaky control of most of what's left of Donetsk international airport.

There was meant to be peace talks between the two sides today in Minsk. It never happened. Instead, the Ukraine government cutoff power and rail links to Crimea. Also, just days ago, the Ukraine President stated publicly that Ukraine would apply to be part of NATO. All part of a war that isn't meant to end, and that isn't really declared for what it is. In many ways it's starting to resemble the "war of annihilation" the Nazi's waged against the then Soviet Union. Not in the sense of magnitude, yet, but in nature. There is no will on either side in Ukraine to surrender, or even submit to the other's authority. Too many people have been killed and maimed. Too many lives have been burned by the flicker of the flame fueled by hatred.

There is no peaceful end for the Ukraine situation. None. One side or the other will prevail, but Ukraine will not rest unless it retakes Luhansk and Donetsk Republics. The Russians will not allow that to happen. In two days the Russian army is supposed to roll into Donetsk and Luhansk to come between the Novorossyians and Ukrainians as peacekeepers. In reality, they are making themselves targets of opportunity for a Ukrainian government bent on revenge and well supplied by the US to do just that. All of which points toward serious escalation, and perhaps all out war. If that happens, the Russian military will destroy the Ukrainian military within a week. The only question that remains is where does it go from there. As Henry Kissinger explained in an article published today:

"Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is HOW IT ENDS, not how it begins."

What Kissinger, the US government, and many other people are not considering enough is:

"What if it's not left upto the United States to decide how it ends. What if the US loses it all?"

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Danny Williams in Contempt

Without Prejudice

This past Tuesday I was in front of Justice Orsborn requesting a date be set to hear my application that Danny Williams' lawsuit against me for defamation be thrown out. The grounds for striking the lawsuit were that Williams accepted being named to a court house building in Corner Brook that houses the chamber of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, and through which justices of the Court rotate through as part of their duties.

Justice Orsborn, quite seriously, put an end to the Court's involvement in the matter. He stated that neither he, nor any other justice of the Trial Division would hear the case, and that he had requested Chief Justice Green of the Appeal Court appoint an Appeal Court Justice to preside over the matter. In effect, Justice Orsborn recused himself and the entire Trial Division from hearing the matter. I was surprised. Williams' lawyer was in a state of shock. Then came the big one. Orsborn continued by saying he had written former premier Marshall on the naming issue, and had decided to give counsel a copy of the letter. The Court Clerk dutifully delivered us each a copy sealed in a vanilla-type envelope.

The letter, which is below, essentially raises many of the same concerns I had over the court house naming after Williams. Kind of common sense stuff, which doesn't seem to be so common in the Government of this Province.

I made the decision to release the letter to the media, because, in my mind, it was a very real matter of public interest, and a classic example of abuse of power and position. It most importantly illustrated that the sanctity of the Courts could be violated by politics, which then brings the independence of our court system into question. This is especially true given our judges are appointed by politicians. In effect this takes on the perception that powerful politicians become judge, jury and executioner.

The story went across the country. Williams, belatedly spoke to the issue. I was almost as shocked by his response as I was of the similar theme between Justice Orsborn's commentary and my own argument.

Williams actually attacked Justice Orsborn's integrity.

Here are some samples of what he said:

" Obviously, this Chief Justice Orsborn had an issue that he had dealt with privately, unsuccessfully, and then basically through another vehicle (that would be me) decided to table it and make it public"

Now, if I was Justice Orsborn, Williams would be waking up this morning in jail. Parse the above statement. " 'This' Chief Justice Orsborn." Really? As if he is speaking down to one of the top judges in the province, like a petty little school girl. Then, in the remainder of the sentence he accuses Justice Orsborn of willfully and with malice of using his courtroom and position in a way that would be an abuse of the bench. In my way of reading, if that isn't contemptuous of the position of Justice Orsborne, and the Court, then I'm not sure what the meaning of contempt of court would be. Black's Law Dictionary defines contempt of court: Contumacy; a willful disregard of the authority of a court of justice or legislative body or disobedience of its lawful orders. Contempt of court is committed by a person who does any act in willful contravention of its authority or dignity.

 I'll go with that last one. Willful contravention of the dignity of the Court. Also, It would also seem to me that Justice Orsborn has a very strong, and likely very expensive defamation case against Williams if he wants one.

"there were other judges there and: They didn't see anything wrong with it, but obviously Chief Justice Orsborn has a different opinion. That's probably the nicest way I can put it." So now Williams, typical to form, is pitting people against people to try and win a point. The problem with this particular comment is that he's referring to Justices of the Courts. It's as if he is not conscience of the fact that Judges shouldn't be endorsing political events. It's as if he doesn't care. It's as if "hey, everyone else is doing it, so it must be right, and you must be odd man out." It's childish and it's stupid, and it's contemptuous of the positions that judges hold, and have to hold, in our society. All this from a man that purports to hold a law degree.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Law Society describes these 3 criteria for it's members:

2.1-1 A lawyer has a duty to carry on the practice of law and discharge all
responsibilities to clients, tribunals, the public and other members of the profession
honourably and with integrity

[2] Public confidence in the administration of justice and in the legal profession may
be eroded by a lawyer’s irresponsible conduct. Accordingly, a lawyer’s conduct should
reflect favourably on the legal profession, inspire the confidence, respect and trust of
clients and of the community, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

2.1-2 A lawyer has a duty to uphold the standards and reputation of the legal
profession and to assist in the advancement of its goals, organizations and institutions.

Seems quite obvious to me Williams has not followed these rules of his profession.

Williams is also quoted as saying:

"I was quite surprised, you know, that a current chief justice would have sent a letter to the Premier raising an objection, because you know, there's a clear distinction between the role of the executive branches of government, and you know, that crosses the line."

Really? What line? Williams' line, because Williams wants the ego trip of having a court house named after him? It's clearly a constitutional requirement that judges protect their independence from the appearance or perception of bias. You would think Williams would know that. Still, he ridicules the Chief Justice.

Then in an attempt to show just "how normal and non-controversial" the naming of the court house after him was, Williams says:

" The Court House in Grand Bank was named after Chief Justice Hickman who was the former Minister of Justice in either the Smallwood or Moores era I think, but he was alive at the time and of course there wasn't ever an issue with that, so."

Williams conveniently doesn't mention that after his political career, Hickman was Chief Justice for 20 years until he retired. Whether that remains a correct thing to do or not is up for debate, but it in no way compares to Williams situation. Justice Orsborn assessed it as such in his letter to Marshall.

All of this is the way Williams has attempted to rule Newfoundland and Labrador since at least 2003. Pit people against each other in an attempt to humiliate and marginalize his opposition. Ignore realities that don't suit and manipulate arguments to suit the purpose. Threaten those that disagree by accusing them of "crossing the line". For myself and the Telegram provincial newspaper that meant being sued by Williams for defamation. For Chief Justice Orsborn it apparently means being derobed of your judicial dignity and independence publicly by a man consumed by his own image - as he sees it.

It is time for Danny Williams to be brought down a whole lot of pegs. It's time that his abuse of his public position as former premier, that is to say using that position to threaten and demean those that see things differently than him, to end. Attacking a well-respected, extremely experienced and highly intelligent Justice like Chief Justice Orsborn is an outrage. Williams should be dragged through every editorial column in the land for even daring to attack the integrity of a Chief Justice. The Court should defend the honour and integrity of Chief Justice Orsborn, and its own, by throwing Danny Williams into jail for contempt, so that he realizes that nobody is above the law. Yes, not even Danny Williams. Or, perhaps, especially not Danny Williams. We have to know that the Courts and the media aren't afraid of the little man from St. John's.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Putin Plays the West

It's early days in the battle I often refer to as the "Gold War". Russia and China, having announced their intention to form a new Eurasian economic order, inclusive of India and other BRIC nations, are now fending off blows from the West. The Russian ruble, currently pegged to the US dollar, has been taking a hammering as the US and more specifically its ally Saudi Arabia, glut the world oil market forcing a massive decline in the price per barrel. One has to assume it's part of the "price" Obama said Russia would pay for its intervention to materially support Eastern Ukraine (Novorossyia) separatist forces. That's just on the face of it though.

Consider and remember that China is the bank and Russia is the sword of the new Eurasian alliance. The goal of that alliance is not to do well under the US dollar, but to replace the US dollar as the world's reserve currency with either a new currency or the Chinese yuan. That is important. Both China and Russia have large reserves of foreign currency - in Russia's case nearly $500 billion.

Then consider Russian President Putin. He rose through Russia's power ranks as an intelligence officer. That is one of three important pieces of the pie. That means: he uses deception and part truths to achieve an end; he is disciplined and demands the same of others in his circle; he is ruthless and flexible in achieving his goals; and he will never crack. Secondly, he is a judo master. That means he uses movement and blocking to defend against blows, but most importantly he uses the energy of his enemy as his own to defeat an attack. That part is critically important to remember. Finally, he is Russian. Russians have a proud place in world history due to the massive and brutal sacrifices they have made along the way. The most recent of which was the 25 million Russians who died during World War Two while ensnaring most of Hitler's armies, and giving the other allies time to organize and become engaged. Russians are used to sacrifice, and are super sensitive about the "Motherland" being prosecuted by foreigners.

Putin is using all three of these elements. He is using the Motherland as the force behind him, that will hold him upright in battle. He is using judo to block, move, and use the energy of his foes. He remains disciplined to his cause while apparently allowing his foe to walk into, no run into, his trap.

Why did Putin move into Crimea, and then support (with deniability) Eastern Ukraine separatists? What purpose does a "frozen conflict", as some call it, serve? Well, it's simply a means to an end. On the one hand it's defensive as the US took over influence of Ukraine, on Russia's border. On the other hand it's reason to invite economic conflict with the US. Putin had to know the US would not go to physical war with Russia over Ukraine - especially the quasi occupation of just a part of Ukraine. So the natural deduction would be financial sanctions to try and remove Russia from the US's new ally's territory. The territory of Ukraine being it's only real strategic value. However, its real value to Putin is to not let the US and to a lesser extent Europe escape from a financial battle.

When Obama rushed in to "make Russia pay" for its actions in Ukraine, Putin must have been smiling. Every sanction the US placed against Russia was matched by Western Europe. Western Europe is dependent on Russia for economic survival. The US can't replace the European loss of market in Russia, so anything other than a very short sanction period means severe financial harm for Europe - especially Germany. As Europe slides into recession and worst, Russia can now sit by and watch as Europeans blame US sanctions for destroying their markets. While the US projects strength in Europe with sanctions and military posturing, Europeans suffer the effects. Not dissimilar to the US of Europe as battlegrounds of past wars.

With every new economic sanction waged against Russia, Putin can turn to his own people and make the case that "Western partners" are too unstable and immature to have trading relations with. All the more need for an Eurasian alliance of like-minded, stable countries who want peace and brotherly love. The more the US pushes the faster it loses. Like quick sand.

Today Putin announced that Russia has $500 billion in foreign currency. Enough, according to him, to defend the ruble for two years. However, this is the intelligence officer's half truth. While it may be true that the reserves will defend the ruble, is the purpose to defend the ruble, or is the purpose to use up the foreign currency before Russia and China switch to a gold based currency standard, thus making the US dollar irrelevant as the world reserve currency. I suggest they're using up what they have while it still has a value to them. It gives them 2 years, as Putin partially said, to transform their monetary systems to gold based. After that, they don't care.

Lastly, the US and Saudi flooding of the oil market is also working for Putin and China. China gets to stock its strategic oil reserves on the cheap. Saudi and other major oil producers are losing massive revenue that they can't replace, and they are not meant to transition into the new Eurasian/BRIC alliance - meaning they won't have anywhere of significance to sell their oil in 2 years, and will be infighting with the US and other partners for market share. Meanwhile, in the Eurasian/BRIC alliance Russia, Iran and Venezuela will be selling their oil to China, South America and Africa in a stable market which has no competitors, and controls three quarters of the world's population.

So, the best way to view the events of today is to remember that the intelligence officer's mantra is "kill at least two birds with one stone". Cheap oil hurts Russia in the interim, but it solidifies the need for a stable market place in people's minds. Russian peoples minds. Chinese peoples minds. Etc. Where is the stable market? Well obviously not the US as they "ride like cowboys into the China shop", or US allies that let them. As the US proverbially throws a punch at it, Russia proverbially uses that energy to reach its final goal. For the rest of us, it means be prepared to be the collateral damage. Protect yourself, and your investments as best you can, because when big powers fight the little guy is not on the radar.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

In NL the Budget Man Cometh

Danny Williams ' big spin was Newfoundland and Labrador would become Master of its own house. Remember that? He created Nalcor for that purpose. His government acted as if this was somehow possible. It wasn't then, and it isn't now.

There is no better modern example of how every economy in the world is dependent on each other than the world-wide economic war happening right now. It's a war the US thinks it's winning, yet it's a war the US has already lost. Hand-in-hand with Saudi Arabia, the US is flooding the market with oil to devastate economies that depend on its revenue. Russia just happens to be the number one oil producer in the world. The aim is of course to drain Russia, Iran and Venezuela of budget revenue, and ultimately ruin the new Eurasian/BRIC alliance while in its infancy.

The problem with the strategy is the intended victims, Russia and China, have historically proven they can withstand any adversity. The 25 million Russians killed while bleeding the German army white during WW II is one example. Ditto for Napoleon. Etc. The Chinese sent 250 million people back to their villages without jobs or income after the last big world economic collapse in 2008. Not even a bead of sweat creased their brow. These are tough populations, used to adversity, and determined. Our side not so much. In a game of mutually assured economic destruction, as is being played out now world-wide, the only sure bet is the populations of Europe and North America are far less willing or able to withstand economic hardship than our fellow human beings on the other side.

Where its all leading for oil is fairly predictable. Putin hinted as much when he recently commented that ISIS was surviving by selling oil on the international black market for $30 a barrel. I take that comment, in the context it was made, as a direct challenge to the Western powers attempting to empty his coffers: "Russia is prepared to see oil fall as low as $30 a barrel in an international game of chicken". Let's say that's true,  what are the ramifications of that strategy for us?

Oil accounts for 33% of all revenue in our provincial budget each year. We are now fully dependent on oil revenue for our standard of living - government and the population. We have borrowed. We are in debt to our eyeballs. An oil  recession in this province would be far more dangerous here than most places. The government has spent every cent of oil revenue in the last 9 years, except the $2 billion or so that is needed for the Muskrat Falls down payment required by the federal loan guarantee. They borrowed a billion dollars last year on top of that to pay bills. This year the deficit looks to be about $600 million or so. That will have to be borrowed as well. That means our gross debt, the money we actually owe, is almost $1.5 billion higher than when Williams was elected , and the oil money started coming in.

But what will it mean going forward? If oil settles at $60 a barrel, as many economists are predicting, our annual budget will lose about $1.25 billion. That is catastrophic for the provincial economy. That is recession. The reason is that this province relies heavily on government spending to drive the economy. Some examples are Muskrat Falls, hospitals, etc. Without that expenditure, the private companies that relied on it die on the vine. Have no illusion, they will die on the vine. That means much higher unemployment numbers, serious drops in real estate values, and all that spirals from that as usual.

It means massive cuts in government spending on programs and people. It means recession. Now, if Russia carries out its implied intention to ride the oil wave down to $30 a barrel, the consequences are much different. A $30 per barrel drop means Newfoundland and Labrador loses over $2 billion in oil revenue per year. That means depression. That means default on large loans - like the federal loan guarantee on Muskrat Falls. That means Hebron is cancelled. It means an end to all oil exploration, and the end for the many local companies living off servicing the oil industry. It means massive unemployment in the private sector and the public sector. At least in the range of 25%.

Now, you might think this is an exaggeration, but remember that the provincial GDP increases of the last decade have been almost solely based on oil revenue. The economy and society have inflated along with the boom. Personal debt has increased with the expressed idea that oil would keep going up. Government debt ditto. Therefore, the dramatic shock of oil deflation has even more severe consequences than would normally be expected. If you want a really good example, look to the oil bust in Alberta in the 1980's. That was Alberta's first big bust. They were like us. They spent like it would never end. It ended, and when it did people walked away from their houses... Alberta was devastated, and it had a government savings account - the Heritage Fund. We don't have one of those.

At $30 a barrel the refinery at Come-by-Chance is almost certain to close. Ditto for the Hebron development. Those two projects alone would have a massive financial effect in central Newfoundland. Muskrat Falls also comes into focus. Selling power at a loss for the sake of it may be trumped by common financial sense, and that project may be abandoned. As bad as its financial are now, financial arrangements still have not been made with the Nunatukavut or Nunatsiavut governments, which can be expected to be at least $1 billion extra. Then there is the prospect of Hydro-Quebec winning its lawsuit over the water management agreement. That one you can take to the bank. In 2010, the provincial department of Natural Resources estimated such a loss in court would result in billions of dollars in damages being awarded by the courts. It also stated that CF(L)Co would be bankrupted. These are the facts.

There is no bright side to the economic war being waged by the big powers in the world. Not even for them. It's the kind of "battle to the last man" that by necessity means no one else survives. We are and will remain casualties of the "greater good". We are also casualties of a foolish and irresponsible spending policy of the Williams' regime. We are also casualties of our own acquiescence to the Williams' vision.  The problem, and it's a very serious problem, is Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not being informed of the reasons for it all. It's put down to "lower oil prices" and that's about the extent of the explanation by government. They say only two things are certain: death; and taxes. Add a third: ignorance is no excuse.