US Thanksgiving: Perfect Time for British Columbians/Canadians to Give Thanks!

Last Thursday, Americans celebrated US Thanksgiving… but when it comes to COVID, it’s British Columbians and Canadians who have a lot more to celebrate than our American neighbors.

Give thanks, Canada.

The United States was far ahead of Canada in acquiring/distributing face masks, developing and distributing vaccines … making the comparison of Covid’s impact and results even more startling.

Look at the numbers:

Canada has a population of 38.2 million; the United States, 333.7 million … 8.7 times that of ours.

But … despite all their advantages in the fight against COVID… the US has counted 48.1 million Covid cases; Canada 1.7 million.

Their Covid infection number: 28 times ours!

Clearly, our governments, health authorities and co-operating public did better and acted faster to contain the virus.

Because in Canada …and BC … Covid became a health issue, not a political one.

The result: in the US, the dead bodies from Covid have also piled up at an almost inexcusable level.

The US now has a total COVID death count of 777,000; Canada 29,671 … only 3.8% of the American total.

Give thanks, Canada.

And then, there’s Florida… where I winter and where politics play a key role in public health policies.

There are no state laws or public health regulations requiring anyone to wear masks or show vaccination proof when entering restaurants, bars or retail stores.

In fact, Florida’s Republican-dominated House and Senate passed four legislative bills just last week, aimed at blocking President Joe Biden’s mask/vaccine mandate agenda.

You can read the details here: https://floridapolitics.com/archives/474484-gov-desantis-signs-vaccine-mandate-ban-freedom-policies-in-covid-19-package/ .

De Santis called it part of his “Freedom” agenda. I’d call it “Putting profits ahead of public health and safety” agenda!

Yet, there has been some good news: millions of Floridians have gotten vaccinated … and the state’s Covid infection rate has lately plummeted substantially.

But Florida’s overall Covid infection numbers … and death toll … have been horrendous.

Florida has a population of 21.6 million, approximately four times BC‘s 5.2 million.

But the US state has recorded an almost incredible 3.68 million Covid cases; compared to 217,000 in BC.

Four times the population: 17 times the Covid cases!

Sadly, Florida has also suffered 61,147 Covid deaths… almost 30 times BC‘s 2,322!

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s Covid mitigation and prevention plan has clearly done better than the Florida Governor’s!!

Give thanks, BC.

Most British Columbians would consider Florida’s Covid loss of life outrageous, even criminal … but not so in Florida.

In a recent poll, Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seeking re-election in 2022 and is even toying with running for the Republican nomination for President, scored 51% popularity… six points ahead of his closest Democrat opponent.

We have no doubt enjoyed lots of opportunities to criticize the actions … and sometimes inactions … of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government or Premier John Horgan and his government (and every other provincial government) over the handling of Covid.

But the numbers don’t lie.

Last week, the Americans gave thanks … clearly something Canadians should do … all year ’round.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: Follow @harveyoberfeld.ca on Twitter for FREE First Alerts to all new postings on this Blog. No spam … just Alerts to new topics up for discussion.)

Posted in British Columbia, International, National | 17 Comments

Dispatch from America: Skyrocketing Gas PRICES May Give Keystone New Life

Americans are not happy. (I know … these days, are they ever ?)

But this is different. Americans are getting a reality lesson that almost all the rest of the world learned a decade ago: the days of cheap gasoline are over.

And they don’t like it!

Even most of those who called for, campaigned for and celebrated when US President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline project from Alberta to the US are hurting … a lot.

Gas prices in the US now approach $4 to as high as $5 (US) a gallon in many states … nothing new by Canadian (or European) standards … but a horror for US consumers.

In the Fort Lauderdale area , where I am now visiting, regular gas is now averaging up $3.59 a US gallon … where $2.73 or less used to be the norm.

People are pissed!!! Regardless of their political affiliation.

Of course, it’s due here to a very old and very basic law of capitalist economics: supply and demand.

Not like, in some countries, where environmentally-driven policies are aimed at deliberately making fossil fuels more expensive … to reduce their use and help fight climate change.

THAT is not the case in the US.

Americans are just paying the price, literally, for a post-Covid return to economic growth and the inevitable increased energy consumption.

NOTHING to do with environmental or climate policies.

Of course, the price escalation is not affecting just motorists/families driving to work or out for a weekend drive. This US Thanksgiving, 93% of those planning to travel will do so by car.

Commercial vehicle drivers … from delivery vans to semi-trailers … are also being hugely impacted as well … and passing it on to customers … wholesale and retail.

And huge numbers of the American people … registered Democrats as well as Republicans … are angry.

“Despite strong job gains in recent months and promising signs of economic growth, only 23% of respondents rated the economy positively, the lowest since the height of pandemic lockdowns in May 2020. More than 70% said recent rising gas and grocery prices have caused hardships for their families,” according to Seattle’s KOMO News.

In Fact, in the latest Fox News poll, only 44% of Americans approved Biden’s overall job performance … down 12% since June; and only 36% supported his handling of the economy … a drop of 15%.

Sunday, the New York Post reported even more troubling polling results:

“While the CBS News/YouGov poll pegs Biden’s job approval rating at 44 percent, which is higher than some other recent surveys, it also shows that he gets negative scores for his handling of inflation (67 percent), immigration (64 percent), the economy (61 percent), foreign policy (58 percent), and race relations (56 percent).

“Biden is in positive territory for his distribution of the coronavirus vaccine — 53 percent.” 

Supply and demand: or actually, the the LACK of supply is clearly hurting Biden and the Democrats.

And as the world economy continues to rebound, and demands for fuels continue to grow, the picture for the US will likely even get worse … just as US politics heat up again for the 2022 mid-terms!

And how ironic: by killing Keystone, Biden put the plug into the pipeline that could have pumped, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council environmental organization, 830,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands oil a day to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Total estimated supply of crude oil buried in Alberta: 168 BILLION barrels.

Canadian oil for a thirsty America. In return, of course, for billions of US dollars pumped into Canadian jobs, royalties, taxes.

Now, I get it: from an environmentalists’ point of view, Keystone’s cancellation was good for the planet, good for the climate, good for reduction in fossil fuel consumption.

That’s NOT, however, what most Americans now care about … and the implications of that will very likely come back to haunt Biden and the Democrats.

Higher gas prices will bring even lower voter support.

From a practical and political point of view, Biden and the Democrats may have sealed their political fate in the mid-terms.

I doubt Biden had any idea when he killed Keystone, Americans would so soon be facing $5 a gallon gasoline …with prices heading even higher by next summer as world demand continues to grow.

It’s the stuff that can make and break governments … more important to voters than Covid, crime, gun control, civil rights … or climate change.

Perfect fodder for the Republicans… especially if gas prices remain high.

It could even become part of the next campaign.

So if the Republicans re-capture the House and the Senate in 2022, and threaten the Democrat Presidency, the Keystone pipeline story may not be over.

Harv Oberfeld

(Special note: deepest care and concern for all those back home impacted by the flooding, mud slides and terrible damage over the past few weeks. Thinking of you … every day.)

Posted in International, National | 9 Comments