International Response to Ebola: The Money

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By: Rolf

The WHO calls this the worst Ebola outbreak in history of modern times, and West Africans call this the virus that kills all. This virus is one of the deadliest viruses in the world and little to nothing is being done about it. In July and August 2014, the WHO called on world leaders to donate $100 million USD to combat the disease properly and instead, fell short. Now, in the past three weeks, the virus has claimed the lives of over 1,000 patients and the disease so far has claimed over 2,500 victims. But the one thing other than the lives lost that you may hear of is the money that is going to slaughter at the hands of mostly inexperienced medical professionals as the world realizes that this is not a $10 million dollar problem. In fact, this is going to cost the world around $1 billion USD to fight and eradicate the disease. In fact, the USA has just spent over $140 million for defence against the virus and is sending in over 3,000 troops to stabilize the area at over $5 million. In addition to that cost, the USA is putting an additional $500 million to prevent the disease from coming over to North America over the next decade. Meanwhile, Canada has taken a pledge to send in medical personnel and over $10 million dollars in support and likewise countries such as Britain and China. In fact, North American governments have also induced $28 million dollars to develop a vaccine.This is a very dangerous case for economies around the world, but I think the approach is completely wrong. if we spent that $500 million on shutting down the areas that are affected, we are theoretically trapping the virus in its origin. By preventing transportation in the infected areas and having effective screening efforts that could cost half the amount we are pledging, we are saving billions in the long run. I also do not believe that this is an international issue. Developed countries have adaptable health care systems and can effectively stop deadlier diseases in their tracks. This is the real way forward, and to risk the lives of workers to a virus is unacceptable when the pay-off is limited. There is no monetary gain to this and trade with Africa is almost non-existent. The more effective plan is to move people out of those large infected areas and therefore, we stop the disease. I know most people will say “but what about those 5,000 infected?” Well I say I feel sorry for those infected and I do hope a vaccine is in the near future, but unless economies benefit, not personally, I think we should stop putting out workers at risk and stop pouring money into an area to die.

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Why Business Cards Will Never Go Out Of Style

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By: Zak

These days everything is online. Most of us no longer send mail so each other. We send emails to each other. Everything is done virtually. However there’s one thing I believe will never go out of style for a while. Business Cards. A staple in the world of business people. Why I don’t believe these will go out of style? Well for one, how would virtual business cards work? With actual physical business cards, we are able save them. Say you come across a business and you take their card. You would store the card in your wallet or in some place safe. Whereas if a virtual business card was sent in an email, you could easily lose it. Business cards are often exchanged upon visiting businesses or after/during a conversation with a person. When going to a local business to purchase something you might come across a business card while checking out at the counter. You would take that card with you and phone it. This might lead up to you purchasing what the business has to offer. While conversing with someone you have met for the first time or who doesn’t have your contact info a business card would come handy. The person would then keep the business card for when they have to contact you. Business cards are great for businesses and I believe they will not phase out. Business cards are very effective for marketing and getting your info across to many different people. This is one of the things that the internet age will not take from us. 

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Eurozone Loses Grip: Euro Continues Downwards Slide

By: Rolf

When the recent depression hit, everyone was in shock. The housing market went into a free-fall and bonds and stocks alike all crashed. Investors who were worth $5 million, were suddenly homeless and trillions of dollars became worthless. Now, the Eurozone economy is still in ruins and the road to recovery is still littered with heavy obstacles. The unemployment percent is still one of the highest in developed countries at 11.5% and banks have one of the worst ratings in the world. Now, how did this all happen and when did all of these negative trends start? Let’s go back to the beginning. In 2008, the world depression hit and the Eurozone, like all other countries were ill-prepared to deal with the crisis. Banks had given away so much money and international defaults were common. The housing bubble burst and land suddenly became worthless. Government debts reached alarming records and the unionized currency did not allow for major tax breaks or increases and public services created as much as 10% of the total debt. Fearing commercialized widespread financial crashes, governments decided to bailout the banking system and to some extent, slowed the ever growing debt. But the banking system had still not recovered as it had loaned out all of its money at low interest, risky loans. Panic forced many companies to shut down or stall and the unemployment rate reached 27% in some countries. Countries such as Greece faced pressure to change government action and it was uncovered that many countries had been underestimating public debt by 7%. For example, Greece had reported a 6% debt in 2008 while it had been 13%. In fact, the instability caused the credit rating to crash and investors could have been losing 30% of their money. In the years during the crash, over 1 trillion Euro’s were handed out as “bailouts” and many countries stopped loaning to the Eurozone. During 2009-10, Italy and Greece among many countries wanted to quit the Eurozone, but they were talked down by the USA as the effect on the Eurozone would be devastating. All loans would double and over 20% of the GDP of Greece, Cyprus, Italy… would be wiped out and the government debt would rise to 200% of the GDP. When things stabilized, investors were still too scared to return to the Eurozone. But things started to look brighter. In a long term stability plan, the major governments decided on a plan to reduce debt dramatically and to preserve the Eurozone. Now many euro countries had their debt drop from 130% of the GDP to under 115%. Is this the way forward? I hope so or the world will start to fall apart once again and in the end, if there is another crash, only China and the oil producing states (Iran, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Jordan) will be safe.

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Announcement Of New Song: Toronto 2014

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By: Zak

Hey guys,

It is with my pleasure to announce that a new Zakopinion song is in the making. The song will be titled “Toronto 2014 Elections Song (It’s On Toronto 2014).” This song should be out in Late September-Early October. It’s going to focus on the Big Three and what their platforms are like. I will be making the video, rapping to it, and producing it.
Stay Tuned!

Burger King and Tim Horton’s: The Bad

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Yes I’m sure most Canadians have heard. U.S burger franchise Burger King has purchased an icon of ours. Something we cannot live without. A place that provides us with garbage food, a place that rips us off daily, a place that we love. This place was named after a famous hockey player in the 60’s. This place is Canada’s #1 Coffee franchise. Tim Horton’s. Last week world famous burger franchise Burger King bought Timmy’s for a whopping 14 billion dollars. It was a largely discussed topic. I had a few conversations with a few people and some thought that this is good. They said that Burger King will move their HQ to Canada and that more jobs will be created. This is actually far from correct in my view. Burger King is owned by Brazilian equity firm 3g. This company will probably keep the American staff or bring their own in. This company is also known to be very strict and will cut down the amount of workers at Tim Horton’s head office. Jobs already lost there.
I’ll give you another reason as to why the Tim Horton’s-Burger King deal is harmful for

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our economy. Wendy’s. Most Tim Horton’s have a Wendy’s next to them. This was because of when Wendy’s used to own Tim Horton’s. The two still remain together. Now that Burger King has bought Tim Horton’s, they’ll kick Wendy’s out as soon as the lease comes up for renewal. Wendy’s is a Burger franchise like Burger King so that really wouldn’t work out. If all the Wendy’s have to move out, they’d have to find new places. Property and leases are very expensive these days. Some perhaps all Wendy’s would shut down and Canada would have lost about 2,000 jobs right there. While checking out the Conservative Party of Canada’s Facebook page, I spotted an article highlighting why the public should vote Conservative. One reason was that big businesses are now moving to Canada because of the Conservative government. Mr Harper! While bringing in big businesses to Canada may be a good thing for you, don’t forget about the jobs lost! These corporations who come up north, end up shutting down Canadian businesses. Most of these businesses bring their own HQ staff here. Small independently ran stores would have to shut down. Even big Canadian corporations like Mr. Sub and Harvey’s would take a hit. Americans refer to Canada as it’s little sibling. I hate to think of that but sadly CANADA is becoming AMERICANIZED. 

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Flag Carriers: A Burden, or A Blessing? What Should You Chose?

By: Rolf

We all know what it is like to fly with our country’s airline. The thrill of flying to a distant or close place knowing that the flight will benefit the economy. In fact, flag carriers are one of the most comfortable airlines that a country might have to offer. Let’s take Air Canada. It is the official flag bearer of Canada and it is subjected to many vigorous tests. Now, if you have flown on some cost-cutting airlines, you know the difference. Many cost-cutters do not clean their cabins and everything costs more to buy and to check in luggage. But in the new world, many cost-cutting airlines are giving close to the same service as aboard a flag carrier. In fact, many flag carriers are starting to lose A LOT of money as their service has not improved, but has dropped even. In fact, British Airways has lost some $300 million dollars in the past decade to reduced passengers and higher operating costs. Now many people say, “But Flag-Bearers are run by the government, they will never run out of money!”. Yes, that may be true, but the financial risks of running a government airline is high. In the history of Air Canada, its counterparts Canadian Airlines and Air Canada had to be joined together over fears of a financial crash for the airline and in the history of Air Canada, they have declared bankruptcy before. But when the Canadian government took over the airline, profits are up and the staff are happier than ever. In fact, Air Canada now boasts an average of 85%+ full on international flights other than the USA and Mexico. That means more money in the bank for many happy directors of the airline. On a professional note, Air Canada made a net income of $340 million CAN in 2013 according to the Air Canada Annual Report 2013. In addition to that, Air Canada has agreed to a code-share with 3 other airlines and the increase in connections from Toronto Pearson has increased by 3% in 2012. Passengers have also reported that Air Canada is the best carrier in North America and it has been that way for 5 years in a row. This accords for service, availability, and the planes themselves. In 2013, the amount of passengers travelling with our flag carrier increased by 1.9% and net profits are up by over 1%. But there is a negative side to all of this. By expanding the airline with 37 new Boeing 787-8’s, the company has acquired a net debt of 4333 million CAN. This can be a real “shocker” as the airline is doing so well. But this will all pay out as the amount of passengers are supposed to rise by 1.5% every year on most routes and on new developing routes to Europe and Asia, net increases of 4%+ are to be expected. On a side note, if you are looking into stocks as I am, I suggest an interest in Air Canada has in the past year, the stock has increased by $1.20 and possible capital return is magnificent.

“But Rolf, what should I choose? The cheaper airline or the flag carrier?” you may ask, and here is my advice. I see no reason to pay a premium for flights that are under 3 hours. You will get on the plane, and then get off. There is no need to dish out maybe 20% more than you need to. But if you are flying on long-haul flights, I suggest your flag carrier. Flag carriers have higher standards and the quality of the service is still higher. The seats are clean and the airplanes are usually larger and more comfortable than cost-cutters. It is easier to sleep on flag carriers and many offer complimentary meals unlike many cost-cutters. I always fly with flag carriers as they have a better and much friendlier surroundings and I always feel that I am supporting our national airline. But remember, the decision is all yours, cost-cutters are great, but if you want comfort, reliability, and better passenger ratings, fly your national airline.

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America’s Tax Problem: It’s Not The Individuals

By: Rolf Li

Do you know what is worse to the American tax collectors than a simple income tax evasion problem that CAN be solved? No? Well, I can tell you exactly what the problem is. It is the large corporate companies that are ripping the American Tax Collectors off. In fact, the amount of companies that are moving their headquarters from America directly to Canada because of the lower tax rates and the same amount of productivity. The tax rate for large companies and any company in America is close to 38%. That is a ridiculous amount to pay just to have a company in the USA. This is just going against the point of getting the economy back on track. If you have high tax rates, then companies do not want to be a part of the American tax system. No one in his or her right mind would rather pay higher taxes and have educated workers when they can choose less tax and the same amount of education. After the recession, America chose to pump money back into the system and to get the economy rolling again and then they allowed companies to headquarter easier in the USA. But then America got greedy and they though that they could keep companies here even though they had ridiculous tax. In Canada, we want the companies to come to our country so we LOWERED the tax rate to only 25%. That substantial difference goes right into the profit line and into improving the company. With all that money, the company can expand and hire more people. With the headquarters in Canada, we lose nothing. We gain money from corporate tax and we gain jobs when the companies open new stores and hire more people to operate the company. Statistics show that America has lost 700 billion in uncollected taxes from big companies. 700 BILLION! I would laugh at the Americans, but that is not nice, but it has helped our economy so much that I would congratulate the Americans for driving their companies out. For instance, look at what is happening to the big company that has just moved to Canada. Burger Kings has just bought Tim Horton’s for 11 billion dollars. That is very good for Canada because we get money off that deal, Tim Horton’s retains its name and the merger company is moving their headquarters to Canada. That means we get even more money and we pump more jobs into OUR economy. Good job to our taxmen for lowering the tax rates and getting more money into our future. It was a wild run America, but the end was near for all of your companies.

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Markham NHL Team: The Pros and Cons

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By: Zak

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced today that by 2017 the NHL will be adding 4 more teams. 1 in Seattle, 1 in Las Vegas, 1 in Quebec City (return of the Nordiques), and another team in Toronto! Let’s shift our view to the 2nd team in Toronto. It will probably be based in Markham where a new 18,000+ seating arena is being built. I’m a man who personally doesn’t like change, I’m a little bit pissed off at this. However the NHL thinks it’s great so they’re giving it a go. Lots of things are going to come out of this. Let’s weigh in the pros and cons.

Pros: 

1.This will give the NHL and hockey and all new look. Markham is home to many new Canadians and ethnic people so the new NHL teams will probably encourage them to become hockey fans. 

2. The Toronto Maple Leafs are already a sellout team. People have been dying to go to a game but because of high prices and lack of seating this hasn’t become possible. Now that there’s two teams, people from the Markham area will probably go to their games (if they’re not leafs fans). People from Toronto will then stay in their area too. Ticket prices will then be reduced (yay!)

3. More revenue will be generated meaning the NHL will become even richer. This will keep Canada’s sport alive for many generations to come. 

Cons:

1. Sales of tickets, merchandise, etc. will drop for the Leafs because of another team. Lots of hockey fans might attend the Markham games than rather making the long voyage to the ACC. This might mean that the annual sales for the NHL’s only 1 billion dollar franchise might go down.

2. More traffic on Hockey Night In Canada days. If you’re a person who hates Toronto and GTA traffic. Tough luck. Both Markham and Downtown Toronto will be clogged on Saturday nights. Toronto and GTA traffic will be even worse now. 

3. Traditions lost. Whenever we’d think about Toronto hockey we would automatically think about the Leafs (and how they lose haha). Now we would have the option to think about the Markham franchise. Most people jump on the Leafs bandwagon. Now they can also jump on the Markham bandwagon.
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The Economy of the Rockies: A Report

By: Rolf Li

Many people, like me, have gone or are going to the Rockies and their National Parks. The view is stunning and the landscape is majestic, but what most of us don’t know is the economy and the life of the people who permanently live in those cities and towns that we stay in overnight and how they depend on the waters and the land to survive in this tough world.

Let me start with Banff, AB. This is a small tourist town that was build specifically to accommodate travellers and tourists. The whole town has about 5-10 thousand permanent residents that go about their daily lives. But what is special about this town that makes it so popular? Well, for starters, you have one of the best views in the entire mountain range in Canada and the wildlife is amazing. Take a break and you could be going to one of the town’s many hot springs and enjoying the underground water. Banff draws in about 2-4 million visitors every year and these attractions are designed to put a hole in your pocket. Visit the gondola of the town to get the better view will cost you $40 and a trip to the springs could cost $50+. Hotels in Banff are also a premium and they can cost about $300 a night and can go up to $600. It is much cheaper to live in neighbouring towns such as Canmore. You can take a walk downtown to a variety of stores, but most importantly, Gem Stores. These stores sell high end jewellery for a high end price. The profit margins of the hotels and store can range up to 70% of the gross amount they make. You may think that the residents are rich, but they are not. The economy of the town and the surrounding area is solely based on tourism, and if the people count is low, then they make no money. The area has little resources to draw on and education is a nightmare. Based purely on revenue, the town is booming and the resident to local GDP value is sky-rocketing. But the area has been in a steady decrease of tourists and that means less money in the bank. There is no commercial value of the goods that the town can produce and it is very dangerous. If people stop going to the town, the people have to move out, and when the people move out, towns die out. Many of the people in the town are beyond working age and there are no people to fill in jobs. It is very obvious that the stores are under-staffed and they need help. This is why tourist towns just won’t work in the future. Young people are moving out and finding jobs in the city, and they are bringing less money into the area and that is terrible for the economy. I would value the yearly GDP of Banff, AB to be around $750 million dollars a year after taxes and loss of jobs. Over all, the economy is moving along at an okay pace but give 15 years and the place will be in trouble.

Jasper National Park houses the famous Athabasca Glacier and the other glaciers of the Columbia Ice-field. The glaciers draw in around 4 million people a year and that could mean more than $65 million dollars in revenue per year at literally no cost. Strategically on the Trans-Canada Highway, the glacier entrance is right on the way to Jasper, AB and anyone can view the magnificent ice-land. This is one of the reasons that tourism is a lucrative industry. People are going to pay $35 to ride the huge glacier trucks and to view the glacier. With 4 million people a year, the owner and his/her investors could be making $120 million in gross and then after paying the staff, taxes, and loans for the trucks, they could be making (as I said) $65 million dollars! It is this that pumps money into the system and that is what gets the local economies rolling. Unfortunately, the glacier is shrinking fast and in a couple of years, it could be very costly to bring people closer to the glacier and one of the most majestic natural things in the world could be lost. But there is a bright side. In the next 20 years, the amount of visitors to visit the area could rise 2-fold as people try to see the last of the ice-age. This is one of the things that pumps money over time and the government is surely enjoying the added cash from foreign countries. When foreigners visit our country, we don’t just spend our money in our country, they are spending theirs. They had to buy Canadian currency and that allows our dollar to rise in value. Next comes the city or “township” of Jasper. This is quite similar to Banff as it houses some of the most expensive hotels in the Rockies. Stay here for about $400 a night and enjoy the run-down buildings and the abandoned houses. Here, the money is clearly not going into the people and the town, but it is going to the government and investors. Like Banff, it has many expensive shops and the attractions are very inflated. The population of this town is lacking and only has about 5,000 permanent residents. There, like Banff, has no youth and the jobs are horrible. Hopefully the economy can go along without the help of the government in the next 5 years. But unlike Banff, the view is not that good and that will damage the economy, maybe even by 10% in the next 5 years every year. Soon, the infrastructure costs and the resource costs will run these small towns into the ground and people will move away to cheaper towns, but thankfully not for a while.

These places are a must see for the Rockies and if you are in the area, I highly suggest you go and visit Banff and Jasper as they are truly amazing places to see.

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