CBC British Columbia
Bob's Blog

Economy Category

Restaurant Tax

bc-hst-nixon-100701.jpgFew things grab your attention in life more than a price increase, particularly in these so called low inflation days.  There you are, going along from day to day knowing that that morning cinnamon bun costs exactly $3.14 when suddenly - WITHOUT WARNING (aside from months and months of Bill Vander Zalm mysteriously reappearing on our TV screens but you always quickly clicked away) - that bun costs $3.40.  Oh, the saturated fats coursing through the veins just burble with outrage.  The HST, you learn, is to blame.  But death and taxes, what can you do, aside from signing a petition and recalling the government? 

Armed with the knowledge that anti-HST fervour is sweeping the province, I decided to sample the righteous anger as patrons partook of their first meal that included the new tax.  They were strangely philosophical about the higher price, but perhaps that's because they love the owner of the place.  Eating the HST icon_video.gif

Garden Work

bc-garden-nixon-100623.jpg    The G20 events that included mass arrests of demonstrators in Toronto brought out a criticism against the media that has become a commonplace these days.  It centres around the idea that the demonstrators know the media will be there, so they stage events that are designed to upstage the main event - and the media plays into their hands, giving them a platform that they could not otherwise obtain.  It's a good debate - about the role of demonstrators, media, police, public discourse of serious issues - and I am not going to provide the last word here. 

    But my thoughts travelled along a similar line last week as I went off to cover the creation of a community garden, seemingly worlds away from the big matters being played out in Toronto.   Except in this case, the cost of the garden, and all the equipment to make it, was borne by Fiskars, a Wisconsin based maker of rakes and shovels and such, along with Canadian Tire, which sells the stuff.  Now sure, the event would go ahead whether I was there to cover it or not.  But a skeptic might suggest the whole point of this fine example of corporate citizenship was, ultimately, to get such coverage and give people a good impression of the principals involved, so that when it comes time to buy a new pruner they would head down to Canadian Tire for one made by Fiskars.  Is that a bad thing or, like the demonstrators in Toronto, just the way things work in a media savvy world?  I'm also not going to provide the last word on that debate here.  But at least, in this case, a community garden got built.  Community Garden icon_video.gif

Bicycle Delivery

bc-bicycle-nixon-100614.jpgFor decades, we've seen bicycle couriers scramble about downtown streets, weaving in and out of traffic as they speed from office to office.  Though some might suggest (to put it mildly) that they put themselves and others in danger - few could quarrel with the proposition that theirs is the fastest delivery method availble to their customers. 

As Vancouver becomes more of a bike friendly city, it is inevitable that someone takes the bicycle courier model and extends it to products other than architects drawings and legal contracts.   But Martin Gunst also has drawn on other elements of the 'sustainable city' concept as he attempts to create his business.  If you want to know more head to his website after you see the video.   Pedal Purveyor icon_video.gif 

Weather Woes

bc-rain-nixon-100531.jpgI put myself through college by painting houses way back in the days when a kid could earn enough money in the summer to afford both university and housing.  I learned a couple of painting jokes, such as what do you say to a client who sees paint drips on their window panes?  No extra charge. 

I also knew about getting rained out.  West coast painters get used to days when they can't work.  It's part of the job and this year has seen more than its share of those.  But I did not realize that the rain actually keeps people from thinking about painting their houses in the first place.  And some people actually do not mind when the rain interrupts a job.  Strange but true.  Wet Paint icon_video.gif

Door Crashers

bc-shoes-nixon-100421.jpgHave you ever felt the urge to release your inner Imelda Marcos.  Remember her?  She was the wife of the dictator of the Philippines and when he was overthrown in the 80s they discovered she had a closet filled with seven thousand shoes.  It became a symbol of the excess and corruption of the Marcos rule. 

In Vancouver every year, the Army and Navy store offers up an annual sale geared those who need shoes for every occasion.  Sure some have an acquisitive, almost Imelda-like acquisitive streak.  But most are just looking for a good deal - and know that this sale delivers the goods.  Besides, what else would they be doing at seven in the morning, if not lining up?  Shoe Sale icon_video.gif

Protester Protester

bc-protest-nixon-100211.jpgIt would be hard to imagine an event whose cost could exceed eight billion dollars (according to the generally reliable Vaughn Palmer) that was held without people protesting.  We live in a world of limited resources and so people can come up with all kinds of perfectly reasonable ways to spend that money that does not include the Winter Olympics.  As the games neared, protests against the games escalated, and that could be expected.  Now most people who support the games probably took the position that they agree to disagree with the protesters.  But not one fellow I met, who decided to try to convince them not to take to the streets.  Video Appeal icon_video.gif

Olympic Mittens

bc-mittens-nixon-091215.jpgAfter this story ran on TV, people started coming up with all kinds of conspiracy theories as to why shoppers have trouble getting their hands on these popular Olympic souvenir - and darn warm winter wear too.  Sure everybody wants to buy some for their Grannies in Florida.  But the theorists speculate that maybe the Bay has deliberately kept them off the shelves so that anyone coming looking for them will buy some other Olympic bauble instead. 

Giving Back

It's a truism that tough times often bring out the best in people.  That's certainly what happened with a woman I met during my foodbank series.  She went through a tough spell herself, met people whose needs were far greater than her own and decided to help out, and help out and help out.  Deb's Story

Doggie Spa

As a kid, we had a black lab named Skipper.  She was so smart that when I told her to go get her dog food, she would race down to the basement larder and pick out the Dr. Ballards from amongst all the niblets, peas and other can choices.  Could she smell the food through the tin, or did she recognize that German Shepherd on the label?  I never knew - but neither did I ever reward her for her ingenuity.  

Times have changed, apparently. 

Let's Raise Sheep!

    These are tough days for farmers.  Cattle ranchers still face lingering problems over BSE, hog producers watch demand dwindle over an apparently misplaced fear about the connection between pork and H1N1. 

    But that's not the case with sheep farmers. 

Smell O'rama

Hey, I love the smell of a freshly mowed lawn, and cinnamon buns in the morning.   It's great to catch a whiff of hotdogs at a baseball game.  But I never thought you could make money from odors.

Lobster Feed

You may have heard that when the stock market collapsed last year, New York restaurants noticed that stockbrokers were no longer buying 'what the hell' wines at lunch.  These are wines that cost hundreds of dollars a bottle.  In fat times, financial folks would look the price and say 'ohhhh, what the hell' before ordering one. 

U-Brew Boom

Hey, you want a good news story in all this economic doom and gloom? Well, chug on this one.