Monday, August 05, 2013


I don't really understand it. I can't tell you what is going to happen. I might have ten thousand thoughts and dreams splayed out in front of me. Perhaps they all happen, to someone, somewhere, and I never hear about it.

I can think of at least three occasions where I did think, or dream of something and it played out to happen in real life.

One such thing is earthquakes. I sometimes wake up thinking that there is a strange vibration, a subtle vibration. The next day I find out there was an earthquake a thousand miles away.

But it's not consistent. Sometimes the vibration occurs before the earth quake, sometimes after it, sometimes no earthquake is reported at all.

Now that I think about it, that doesn't mean there wasn't an earthquake somewhere. Certainly there are unpopulated areas in the world, and the earth is whatever % ocean.

If a tree falls in the forest... etc.

Breaking news just showed that two boys in Nova Scotia got killed by an escaped python.

I had a thought, or a dream about a python escaping, possibly through a toilet. Now that I think about it more, the thought was based on my time in Africa. The idea of a black mamba or a cobra in bedsheets got me thinking of snakes. That somehow morphed into  a python, which bites and squeezes it's prey to death. I thought of a pet python escaping.

In Nova Scotia, that happened.

Prophetic? No, I don't think so. I'm sure that with 9 billion people in the world, the idea of a python crossed the minds of thousands in the hours preceding this tragedy.

Earthquakes - perhaps it's just dreaming. Perhaps a subtle and forgotten news headline crept into my thoughts, influenced my dream, and bam, I dreamt that I felt the earthquake. Perhaps I have some mental capacity with connection to the earth, and the vibrations that occur resonate with that connection.

The earthquake thing happens when I'm in a semi-deep sleep. I can feel vibrating, and the vibrating continues when I awake. I don't think anything of it. I won't feel it right now, for example, at the computer writing this. It's only when laying in bed, relaxed, at home.

But maybe there are small and large earthquakes around the world every day. Maybe I live in Alberta and the Fracking causes subtle earthquakes close and unreported. Sensing the earthquakes might be a figment of my imagination.

But it's nice to think I have psychic powers.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Real Cost of Overtime - Border Guards

The Calgary Herald published an article with apparent outrage at the Canadian Border Guard situation today.

Part of their concern is that the government is paying overtime for border guards to work the long weekends, and that the border guards simply have to wave everyone through because there aren't enough to staff the borders.

The article feigns outrage that the guards are making double time, and it's costing the Canadian tax payer millions of dollars, when that cost would be alleviated if there were more border guards.


More border guards equals more cost.

Long weekends require maximum border guards, the traffic increases, I don't know, tenfold, a hundredfold. They need every available person to work.

The dynamic doesn't change if you increase the size of the work force 10, 20, 50%. You still want overtime coverage on the busy times. You still have to pay that double time to several border guards. Furthermore, on the actual holiday, all border guards make double time because it is a holiday!

From a tax payer perspective - a single border guard costs the tax payer the following.

Salary - $60,000 per year - subtract income taxes paid back to the government - about $40,000 per year.
Family Benefits, dental, insurance, etc - $12,000 per year.
Training - $5000 per year, higher at the start, balanced over the course of their career, including courses, etc.
So at the end of the day, a border guard costs the tax payers $57,000 per year. More or less, this is a rough cost.

So overtime - The overtime they are paid is at double time, right? On the surface yes, in reality no.
When they get that $60 per hour, their salary is taxed at a much higher rate - close to 50%.
Their normal salary is taxed at about 35%. So dollar for dollar, once taxes are recuperated, the government pays $30 for overtime, and $20 for regular time. So now it's actually closer to time and a half.

But that's not all. By paying overtime instead of hiring more employees, the government doesn't have to pay more into benefits and more into training. So the $12000 per year in benefits doesn't go up. The $5000 a year in training doesn't change.

This works out to about $8.00 per hour in savings in paying overtime vs paying another regular salary.

So by my estimates, the regular time actually costs the government $28. The overtime costs them $30.

But don't worry, all is not wrong with this article.

One important question is, what is the tariff-collecting benefit of having more border guards vs. less.

Does the average border guard collect more in tarriffs than they make?

Would adding one extra border guard increase that amount?

How much would drug trafficking go down with increased border guards?

What is the perfect amount of border guards?

I'll leave it to the government, the economists, and the Border Guards management to figure that out, because I have no idea.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Edward Snowden - Freedom at Last...

After revealing embarrassing State secrets, that were broadcast for all public knowledge.

Get ready for it - THE US HAS A SPY PROGRAM!

Not only that, but, GASP, that program gathers intelligence!

They do this through various intelligence gathering methods, new and old.

Shocking, I know! I never would have guessed spies would stoop to such a level as to gather intelligence.

Fortunately, Edward Snowden has found refuge in a country whose democratic ideals are unparalleled. A country whose government has intense credibility. A country whose integrity wouldn't possibly infringe on the privacy rights of its citizens and international partners.

Russian women wouldn't stand for it. There would be some sort of Pussy Riot should infringement on rights of expression, and such, ever happen in Russia.

Thank you Edward Snowden. I'm sure every terrorist sleeps a little better at night knowing that they shouldn't use their Facebook or email to share the date, time and place for their imminent attacks.

I'm sure every US ally is pleased in the knowledge that the US government got caught as the guy at the international poker table trying to peak at everyone else's cards.

Snowden has moved from the miserable weather of California and the Southern United States into the balmy democratic paradise that is Mother Russia.

Congratulations on your good fortunes.