World of Decline

Burning off the Excess

Posted in Uncategorized by isochroma on August 31, 2009

These ‘wild’fires are just so convenient to burn off the excess housing inventory, aren’t they?

Purposely set, arsonous fires to remove the housing excess thus allowing bankers and the rich to continue their endless profit-making.

Hiring wrecking crews costs money while wildfires are cheap to set and the Federal government will reimburse the State government once a disaster has been declared.

It’s just so damned convenient, isn’t it?

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Calling Forth the Truth

Posted in Uncategorized by isochroma on August 11, 2009

This letter was submitted as a Complaint on Telephone service to the CRTC via their online website on 2009/09/10.

Having recently moved to a new locale, I decided to avoid paying for a landline because only a single block away was a nice public payphone.

Since I only make a few calls a month, it would be far cheaper to make them from a payphone at $0.25 each rather than paying $30 per month for a landline.

Everything was nice for the first month; then one day I dropped by to make a call and found the payphone’s armored coinbox had been viciously pried from its body and stolen. Note that the steel around that had been so cruelly bent was 1/3″ thick.

After waiting some months for a repair, I was greeted once again with the phone ‘repaired’. Except something was still wrong: when I put my trusty quarter into the coin slot, it would always drop back into the coin return area. In frustration I finally decided to read the text display, which informed me that the phone was now ‘card only’.

Severely angered, I went home and checked the per-local-call cost of buying a calling card. It turns out the cost of this card is $0.35 per local call.

After this a dirty rotten thought began to creep into my mind. A nasty, yet oh-so-plausible explanation for the incredibly violent theft of that coinbox.

The level of protection on that coinbox was not insignificant. The heavy steel, tiny edge-clearances, etc., and the twisted metal which bore such vivid testament to the amount of force applied to free the box from its phone… all these facts were interesting to my mind.

I wondered how many dollars worth of coins could possibly be in the coinbox. Would it be worth the heavy effort, the massive pry-bars required, the multiple-man labor, the getaway vehicle?

Lifting such a box itself would be no small effort.

It was difficult to believe that:

1. There are people in my neighborhood so desperate that they would pry the entire box from its heavy steel impediments;

2. That if there were such desperate people, that they would have the expensive heavy tools and machinery to free the box.

The more I thought about the case, the more odd it became. The facts didn’t seem to add up. The dark and dirty idea began to seem more and more plausible. In short:

1. Telus is required to provide public pay phones as per CRTC rules.

2. Telus must only charge CRTC-approved rates for calls from these phones.

3. Telus must take public currency in these phones as a method of legal payment, except in unusual cases where egregious or repeated theft can justify a CRTC-approved exception on a per-case basis.

4. Telus makes $0.25 from a coin-payed local call, but makes $0.35 from a card-payed local call.

5. Telus loses money on coin-operated phones because they have to hire people to collect the coins every so often, and do maintenance on the mechanical mechanism.

6. Telus doesn’t lose money when a card is used because the entire transaction is electronic; furthermore, they charge MORE than a coin-call: $0.10 more per local call – even though digital transactions do not entail the same costs as coin transactions (point five).

7. Therefore Telus internally decided that it would fund, equip, etc. third-party(s) or do the job themselves outright. The ‘job’ is to steal coin boxes from Telus payphones.

The orchestrated theft of payphone coin boxes provides enormous economic advantages to Telus, and furthermore decreases the economic costs and employment costs of Telus.

1. Every payphone converted to card-only provides an extra $0.10 per local call.

2. Every payphone converted to card-only removes the cost of coin-collection.

3. The forced use of calling-cards means Telus gets paid upfront in large chunks for the use of public phones. Furthermore, they must be paid in minimum amounts (the smallest face value of a card) regardless of whether the user intents or needs to use the entire value of the card.

And finally the most insidious:

4. Every payphone converted to card-only is one less phone from which an anonymous call can be made. The public payphone system is the final means by which the general population may make anonymous calls. Though the state can monitor a call’s origination, destination and content, they cannot (without cameras) identify the caller if he uses coins.

When a card is used, the card is trackable. Not just its history of use, but the vendor who sold it, the date and time of its purchase, the credit or debit card and associated institution which provided the funds for its purchase – most consumer purchases are via credit or debit card.

The use of a credit or debit card provides total identification of the user, allowing Telus to increase the fulfillment of its State obligation which is the spying of citizen communications by the State.

The likely scenario is that Telus provides information on how to compromise the coinbox, tools to do so, financial payments, etc. to criminal elements. In return they get a cut of the profits.

This arrangement is quite functional and has many benefits for three parties: Telus, criminal elements and the State.

It does have some negative effects on the general population:

1. The increased cost of being forced to use cards instead of coins.

2. The loss of the privacy formerly provided by coin-operated telephones by being required to purchase cards to operate card-only payphones. This loss of privacy is to both the Telus corporation and the State, both of which by tracking the purchase and use of a card obtain much information about its user, often total information – a complete identity – credit card account, bank account, name, address, etc.

3. The requirement to purchase calls upfront by the face value of a card, even if the purchaser has no use for the number of calls embodied by the value of the card.

4. The non-transferability and non-liquidity of the cards that must be purchased. They can only be used with the Telus system, and cannot be converted back to money for other uses.

5. The increase in criminality associated with the criminal elements who participate in this scheme.

If I was running Telus I would be drooling with greed. It is ideal for them, and even if this neat theory isn’t true, it is a template for how regressive change can quietly occur without being noticed. Like the other change of removing payphones altogether.

The public is no longer to be allowed to have its anonymous, cheap, publicly funded and publicly located communication.

Instead, its future will be private, high-profit, easily spyable, trackable and traceable electronic communications. The future is to be embodied in new payphones without coin capability and old ones ‘converted’ to remove their coin capability.