Capitalism is Destroying Everything 
I've been thinking about how to present this entry for a few days now, and seeing an article by John Mellencamp which closely paralleled my views but in relation to the music industry pushed me to finally get it written down.

It was announced recently that the Montreal Canadiens may be up for sale. For this, I feel fear for all the Habs fans out there who may be in for some serious disappointment.

Montreal, much like Toronto, has a money making machine in their hockey team. The performance of the two teams on the rink though have been as polar opposites. So why the big difference?

If you look at somewhat recent history, Montreal's team has been a contender while Toronto's hasn't. I believe this is a direct result of the fact that Montreal is owned by a family interested in the hockey team, while Toronto is owned by corporations interested only in the profits.

This is what frightens me about the Habs being up for sale. They're such a cash cow that they will be a very attractive target for corporate ownership and if that happens, they will be in for decades of stagnation just like Toronto. Hopefully a private buyer like Jim Balsillie will take ownership, but someone like that could easily end up out-bid by some comglomerate of investors.

Once pure profit becomes the primary motivator for how something is run, pride and values become secondary. Ironically, banking and the recent economic crisis serve as a huge example of this.

Back in the day, you'd deal personally with the employees of your financial institution and loan officers would look at your situation to determine how best to work out a relationship between you and your bank. They would try to fairly determine risk factors and come up with solutions that were mutually beneficial. The bank would take in deposits and loan out that money to make a profit. It was the very definition of capitalism, but it was also a working relationship that helped a community prosper. There was no repackaging of loans to sell to other investors and all the other securities bullshit that goes on today.

Now, your bank doesn't care about you anymore. They don't care about helping people or working with the community or even being a bank anymore. Sure, they do things to help their image so they can keep the money flowing in, but ultimately their only responsibility is to the faceless shareholders who only want the profits flowing. There is no more owner to be accountable or to care about how his bank is perceived. Nobody to take pride in the business. From this, we end up with companies like AIG whose employees are only interested in putting money into their own pockets with nobody to stand up and say "No, you can't do that." If there was some guy who owned AIG and cared about the company, would they be giving themselves outrageous bonuses after running the company into the ground? Of course not.

In the end, I think the only viable solution is increased regulation, but then you have to be able to trust the regulators and that's hardly an easy thing to do. It's a start though.

I can't help but think that promoting private ownership of things would move things in a better direction. In the face of competing bids, perhaps there should be a determination of fair market value for a company and if there is an individual able to pay that, then they should take precedence over a company willing to pay more. Competing individuals would be free to bid up to whatever they'd like, but corporate takeover bids would be capped at some independantly audited value.

Bring back some pride of ownership and accountability, and then see whether capitalism can succeed at more than just generating wealth.

If there was some crotchety old man we could blame for the Leaf's failings then at least there would be someone to vilify or to push to do better. There would be someone we could cheer when they showed some success and someone who could feel elated as they brought success to the fans. As it is, we have nothing and no hope of the Teacher's Pension ever loosening their grip.

Here's hoping the same doesn't happen in Montreal.

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The Recession is Over 
Markets are rising yet again. It's good news for all of us with seriously depleted retirement funds. Perhaps the end is not so nigh afterall.

With that in mind, I am officially declaring the recession as over. You heard it here first.

In more interesting news, Kyle Busch dominated the field yesterday to win at Bristol in what turned out to be a reasonably entertaining race. If last year was any indication, then next week's race at Martinsville should be even better, and I can't wait. Hooray for short tracks! Let the pushing and shoving continue!

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I Have a Man Crush on Jon Stewart 
I think this may have been the best week ever for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Better even than the "fued" with Conan O'Brien fueled by the writers strike last year.

Watching Jon completely dismantle Jim Cramer last night was pure gold. I have no idea what compelled Cramer to agree to be on the show after the happenings throughout the week, but I can't begin to express how happy I am that he did!

It will certainly be interesting to see whether this will have the same affect on Jim Cramer's career as Stewart had on Tucker Carlson's. Jim was far less adversarial in person and seemed to quickly accept how utterly outmatched he was in the debate, so that will probably work in his favour, but you never know. Networks are fickle.

Ultimately he conceded to just about everything Stewart suggested, even going so far as to suggest that he will change the format of both his show and CNBC's promotion of it based on this interview. Only time can tell whether this will actually happen, but I suspect that if it does then it could restore some credibility to Cramer and perhaps even help him going forward.

If it doesn't though, and he ends up completely discredited and cancelled, then I'll chalk up another win for Jon Stewart looking out for the little guys!

Regardless of the outcome, it sure was nice to watch him taken down a few notches after seeing his lame attempts at rebuttal earlier in the week. Really though... what did he think was going to happen??

To see what I'm talking about, Canadians can go here to watch the show in its entirety. Currently, the latest episode is from Monday, the 9th. To really appreciate what happened, wait until next week sometime and watch the episodes from Monday March 9th to Thursday the 12th. Americans can catch them at http://www.thedailyshow.com/.

Enjoy!!


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So much for Atlanta 
Just like the last race there, yesterday's race in Atlanta was, for the most part, just boring.

Instead of Jimmie dominating the end, this time it was Kurt Busch, but the result was the same. A long boring race with a bit of excitement at the end mostly dominated by one guy.

There's short track racing coming up though, so I'll just forget this one and start getting excited about Bristol and Martinsville!!

I'm curious as to which track gives the better race this year. Last year it was Martinsville. Time will tell, but I'm sure both will be great fun as usual!

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Third Time's the Charm! 
After two less than thrilling races to start off the season, things finally got back to normal with the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Speedway. There was plenty of excitement in both the Nationwide race, which was bordering on bizarre, and in the Sprint Cup race, which was exciting from start to finish.

It sucks that all 4 of my fantasy picks missed the top 10, but the race was great fun. Congratulations to Kyle for his first win of the season! I expect many more before Homestead rolls around. Let's just hope some of them can fall during the chase this year.

I'd surely travel to Vegas for one of these. Maybe sooner rather than later...


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