Today ends our string of guests posts for Paul Curran’s weekly Cuppa column. Usual host Willow of willowdot21 is back in the blogging saddle over on the other side of the pond, and she’ll be ready for our Canadian friend to roll there next Sunday. It’s been my pleasure, and, I think, every reader’s as well this past month-plus. Take it away, Paul.
If We Were Having Coffee
Arabs Having a Coffee Break
Your Barista – Paul
Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today and I’m happy to be here once again. For this week Willow will not be able to access her internet dependably so we’ll be meeting here at Mark Bialczak’s Little Bitty in Syracuse, New York. Please come in and go through to the back yard. Mark, his wife Karen and their pooch Ellie B, have prepared a nice, comfy place for us outside on the newly mown lawn of the Little Bitty, so I can tend to your needs for a cuppa, and sweets. The weather this morning is cool at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit with a few clouds. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our worldwide readership and adult beverages for those who wish something stronger. We can relax with a cuppa and calorie free electronic sweets while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. Ellie likes to be patted, so please indulge her when she greets you. How has your week been?
Up first I would like to extend my prayers and condolences to the families of all who lost their lives or were injured in the mass shooting in Oregon this week. Blogger Elyse over at Fityfourandahalf, http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2015/10/01/deja-vu-all-over-again/ did a post on this and included was the above YouTube presentation of President Obama putting it best in his address to the country.
The New Neighbor
Moving onto other topics, well, I had to laugh at my friend Steve yesterday when he dropped by for a chat and a soda. There is a young couple that just moved in across the street. They must be graduate students as I see them heading to the university each morning. They own a black Vietnamese pot bellied pig – a big lad of about 150 pounds – that they take for a walk daily. The pig appears to be a beloved pet as it sports a knitted red, white and blue pig-sweater (Hmmm, maybe he is an American pig?) This is very rare here as pigs are not legal in the city of Ottawa – I suspect the owners are not aware of this as the walk their pig daily in the park down the street. Anyway, Steve had been to Loblaw’s – a chain grocery store about four blocks away – and was carrying his groceries back. He told me that he stopped to pet the pig and talk to its owners, when he suddenly realized that he had one grocery bag full of pork chops that had been on special. Steve said he felt very guilty making nice with the pig while carrying the remains of its relatives home for supper. Ha!
Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet? There are lots, so help yourself and remember they are calorie-free here. So we Canadians just passed an interesting benchmark. For the first time in history there are more citizens over 65 (5.75 million) than there are under 15 (5.70 million). This continues a trend that has been developing for a few generations now and has some serious implications for our economy. It will definitely impact our social programs – like free health care – as the users will eventually outnumber the tax payers. Over 65 now comprise 16.1% of our population. Interestingly enough Japan has the highest percentage at 26%, followed by the UK at 20%, then many European countries, with the US and Australia at 15%. Many Middle Eastern and African countries have percentages of elderly between 1 and 5%, with the United Arab Emirates at 1%. These numbers make it painfully clear which countries have the larger young population and which will most influence the world economy in the future. It is a reality for which we should prepare – if by no other means than encouraging immigration and diversity.
Migrants Trying to Enter the Chunnel
I see that migrants are becoming a problem at the French end of the Chunnel once again; Service had to be shut down late last week when 200 migrants broke into the facility and parked themselves on the tracks. This is only one piece of the larger issue of migrants being wrestled by Europe. Millions of impoverished, scared refugees are fleeing war-torn countries into Europe. If nothing else, it is becoming clear that we really are all in this together and as such the problems of others become our problems. We are our brothers’ keepers.
Here’s a piece of puzzling American political news: Their government has unilaterally discontinued their export/import guarantee organization (US Export-Import Bank, known as Ex-Im) – a much used favorite amongst American exporters. For large public infrastructure export purchases –like dams or power plants or rail systems or aircraft lease companies – no lenders will offer financing because they cannot recoup their investment in case of default. Plus the fact that the lenders are often in the supplier’s country and not the purchaser’s country – a legal barrier to any sort of recompense in case of non-payment. To address this, most exporting countries have government programs that guarantee loans. Because of trade and such, governments can almost always get their money back or at least apply pressure in case of default – options not available to lenders. The direct result of this American political move is to force large manufacturers to move to other countries – for instance to Canada – where the guarantee can be offered. This is a Republican move driven by their belief in free enterprise that is not to be supported by government, which will cost many American jobs and benefit Canada immensely. Already GE, which has $11 billion in deals awaiting financing, has shut down an industrial engine plant in Wisconsin and moved it to Canada. They have also built a state of the art jet engine testing facility in Winnipeg. This is political suicide for the Republicans as their policies strip jobs from Americans and send those jobs to competing nations going into an election year. These policies are being supported by the American super-rich like the Koch brothers – who are financing the Republican Party. One more nail in the coffin of the middle class being exterminated by the rich.
That’s about all we have room for this week folks, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and pat Ellie B. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Mark, Karen and Ellie B for their invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Mark’s other posts while you’re here. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you for tea and drinks back at Willow’s starting next week.