Monday, March 9, 2009

Stem Cell Research and GM Pensioners….

What does Stem Cell Research have to do with GM Pensioners you might ask. The answer is that both of these topics have been in the foreground of my thoughts these days and I have been aching to blog on both topics. But time prevents me from doing justice to either.

So I shall have to satisfy myself with giving you a rough sketch of what is on my mind and not the full picture. The rest maybe will arrive at another time and in another blog – or maybe you will just need to engage me in a real live conversation to hear the finer points of my cerebral musings.

GM Pensioners Shitting Their Pants (and Rightfully So!)
The GM pensioners must be saying “What the F….!!!???” to hear that the pensions and lifestyle that they are living today, one that they thought was secure is in fact maybe not so much. If GM were to go under there would be less than half the money in the pension fund required to cover the pensions for these guys. Can this be? Oh, yes, it can be. How, you might wonder.

I took a few minutes to look for a news story to explain the situation to me. You might want to go to the Globe news item if you want more detail. It is at
GM pensions: Who's responsible?

According to the article, it is legislation from the Bob Rae era which is at the root of the problem, when the Government in the early 90s allowed several large companies to under fund its pension plans as a means of saving money and therefore jobs. What this means is that they did not have to put away the money needed for future pension payments, they just had to put aside enough money to pay its current obligations. The silly part of it is that the program was called “Too Big to Fail” as it was only allowed for the largest companies, those that the smart folks of the day thought could never end up going bankrupt. The program was discontinued, but GM was allowed to continue under a grandfather clause. The other two companies originally allowed to underfund (Algoma Steel and Stelco) actually went bankrupt.

The kicker? If GM goes under we the Ontario taxpayers will end up paying assistance to the GM pensioners. The Ontario Government’s Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund will be required to step in and pay up to $1,000 a month to each pensioner if one of these “Too Big to Fail” companies actually fail. However $1,000 a month is not nearly what these Pensioners were promised for their pensions. I am sure many of these old folks are having sleepless nights these days.

Kind of makes me glad that I manage my own pension fund.

I won't go into why we should not sign up to pay ongoing life support money for this company!  I will just make one statement.  Capitalism and the free economy by definition permits and requires failing companies to close up shop.  

Stem Cell Research – Why it is Vital

Obama sure has my respect and admiration and he has come across again with the goods that tell me it is well deserved! Mr. GWB banned this type of research because of religion and his personal belief that it was ethically wrong to use embryonic tissue for research. I could go into a long monolog explaining how  Obama’s announcement showed class and respect – however in interests of keeping this blog to a sketch I will leave that thought and go right to the meat.

You need to listen to this TED talk to understand why stem cell research is vital to humanity and to the evolution of mankind and why this kind of scientific enquiry is essential. Juan Enriquez is the scientist who presents this talk and he has a number of TED talks I intend on listening to over the next while. This one is riveting, frightening and inspiring all at once and presented with a humour that everyone will appreciate. You need to hear his TED tallk to know why stem cell research is vital to our drive to be all we can be as humans and why Star Trek is probably not too far off a possible reality for our future as a race. And if you listen to it you will also understand why he says Americans (and of course as cousins we also go down with the ship) are standing in the flames with the current economic crisis.

There is lots I could say more about this topic, but I simply have run out of time. So as I said it is a sketch…

I will finish up with an Onion item which relates to the topic of the day:

BREAKING: Biden Arrives At Stem-Cell Announcement Dressed As Giant Stem-Cellabout 4 hours ago from twhirl

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