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Montreal Electric Vehicle Show, the report

From May 26 to 28, 2017, the first Montreal Electric Vehicle Show was held at Place Bonaventure in Montreal (a first in Canada). I attended the show in order to better know the options available to me for my next vehicle and also to inspire me for my electric racing car game: Gaia Green Racing. Here is my relatively light report of what the show presented and also my overall market assessment.

 

Since the creation of Tesla with its innovative and technologically advanced electric cars, several car manufacturers have followed by launching their own models of electric cars afraid of losing the market. Although still marginal, a race is well underway for the car of tomorrow to be 100% electric.

Since the creation of Tesla with its innovative and technologically advanced electric cars, several car manufacturers have followed by launching their own models of electric cars afraid of losing the market. Although still marginal, a race is well underway for the car of tomorrow to be 100% electric.

Interest in change

Based on the comments, there is actually a strong interest in electric vehicles. It may not be so much an interest in the vehicles themselves, but for the benefits they provide. The majority of people are mad at oil companies for immoral practices and the electric vehicles are a way to take the control for a change to a better world.

Right now, electric vehicles are something relatively new. It’s a market in full effervescence. There really is a great educational work to be done.

 

Change of mentality and change of lifestyle

Driving a 100% electric vehicle requires a change of mentality. Those who have an electric vehicle and who travel on long distances must absolutely know the locations of the charging stations. There are several mobile apps for this. The charging time is still relatively long. We often mention of 80% charged within 30 min on the quick charging stations. Sometimes it’s better to stop twice on a trip to partially charge instead of trying to charge 100%. Driving a 100% electric vehicle requires more break times. If we really want to maximize our time, we have to change our mindset. It’s not just about planning the trips, but also planning our time differently in some cases.

There are several charging networks. Unlike putting gasoline, the driver has to be a member to charge electric. It’s different. The infrastructures for the charging stations are minimal compared to the gas stations.

 

Available vehicles and other innovations

The market is still very young and the number of vehicles is very limited. Many car manufacturers don’t even have electric vehicles on the market or even announced. Furthermore, not all manufacturers that have electric vehicles were present at the show.

Among the electric vehicles being showcased, there were 100% electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The show also featured an electric motor for small pleasure craft (for fishermen for example). There was also an electric recreational boat that had been converted to electricity. Other types of more industrial vehicles for work in enterprises were also presented. There were also several models and manufacturers of electric bicycles.

There are also companies that are beginning to specialize in electric car mechanics.

Offers for used electric cars or imported from the United States were also offered. It’s a proof that despite the marginality of this market, there’s a certain maturity that is developing.

 

Who are the electric cars for?

100% electric car: It’s not for anyone. People who are likely to benefit greatly from it are those who live in urban areas, those with a charging station at home or those who drive to work with their car. If there’s a charging station at work, it’s even better. It is difficult, even impossible to drive through certain areas. The charging stations are too few yet. The quick charging stations (400V) are a minority compared to the standard charging stations (240V). For the time being, in Quebec, the 100% electric vehicles remain mainly urban vehicles and very advantageous for those who have this urban lifestyle. Even cars whose autonomy is under 200 kilometers are interesting choices for the urban lifestyle.

Plug-in hybrid: It’s an interesting option for those who want to keep the same benefits and lifestyle as a gasoline car. Models like the Chevrolet Volt keep the same advantages as 100% electric cars in terms of autonomy, but only for a few tens of kilometers on the electric mode. Unfortunately, plug-in hybrids cannot accept the quick charging like the 100% electric cars. The charging aspect is mainly conceivable at home before leaving or when the car remains connected for several hours at a destination. This type of charge is not made for travel.

General advantages: 100% electric cars and plug-in hybrids offer advantages. For example, the use of reserved lanes and free passage on certain tolls. This can be a considerable advantage for some people. However, this incentive is more likely to disappear when cars are mostly electric.

Traveling electric: For those who plan to travel across Canada or the USA with a 100% electric car, this can be problematic. The network of charging stations is more developed in Quebec and is beginning to be in Ontario. Concerning the United States, I’ve been told that charging stations are often available at the stores as an incentive to attract customers. It’s not like putting gasoline as described above in the change of mentality.

Selection of the manufacturer: There’s also a network of charging stations from the company Tesla. I was told that these charging stations are only accessible to Tesla’s vehicles. This makes one think of the pros and cons of buying a Tesla or other 100% electric cars.

 

Why change and how?

Obviously, we have to change the way we do things. There are still several billion dollars in subventions given to oil companies. It’s very absurd to see these sums when we see the gaps in the network of charging stations.

Driving with a 100% electric car or even just a plug-in hybrid reduces the fuel consumption of a lot. A plug-in hybrid allows to drive 100% electric over short distances. Most trips are done for work over a distance that can be achieved 100% electric with a plug-in hybrid. If we had charging stations in all homes that have a parking lot and charging stations in businesses with parking lots, it would be possible to drive mainly electric. We need to focus on infrastructures at home and at work to provide a significant advantage for drivers to buy a 100% electric car or a plug-in hybrid.

In addition to the very low driving costs, 100% electric vehicles represent very minimal maintenance costs compared to gasoline cars. Even a plug-in hybrid represents savings on fuel. However, I still have questions about the actual maintenance costs of plug-in hybrid cars as there are two engines. Even if the gasoline engine is less used, it remains that there’s a good part of the mechanics of a gasoline car that is present in a plug-in hybrid and therefore a similar maintenance.

I noticed that plug-in hybrids seemed to have a smaller space inside the car. Since there are two systems (an electric motor, a gasoline engine, a fuel tank and batteries), it’s normal that the passenger space and the trunk space suffer. That was an impression I had.

Furthermore, the purchase of electric cars helps companies to develop the market. To have more attractive offers, there must be a strong demand.

There’s also the fact that several electric vehicles are subsidized by the government. The subsidies varied widely by country and province in Canada.

 

What’s missing to create a major change?

Better electric circuit and more fast charging stations: Due to the number of quick charging stations that are too few and too scattered, it is still difficult to travel with a 100% electric car on long trips. The electric circuit offers several charging stations, but this system is less accessible than gasoline, more complicated and probably still embryonic.

Furthermore, governments need to invest in the networks of quick charging stations and also in the access to these networks and to supervise the development of the networks. At the moment, it seems to be lacking some vision to make the charging solutions more universal. Porsche has announced the Porsche Mission E which will come out in a few years with a quick charging to 800V, but the infrastructures will not be present. Considering the market being still very young, it’s difficult to know what will be the common solutions in a few years when vehicles even more performing are released.

Price drop for cars: The 100% electric cars whose autonomy is comparable to gasoline models are still too expensive. This is mainly due to battery costs. As long as the production of cheap batteries is problematic, cars will be expensive. In addition, the batteries use lithium and it’s not certain that the world’s lithium resources will be enough to produce all the batteries. At least there’s research for alternatives and also several solutions are already announced soon.

Better battery life and better battery charging time: At the moment, private companies are doing a good job in finding solutions for better batteries. The battery life stops several consumers from buying. People are accustomed to the ease of putting gasoline in a vehicle. We need to have solutions that compete with gasoline.

Better offers from parts suppliers: This factor is not often discussed. Even if we all wanted to buy 100% electric vehicles today, the raw materials and parts are not available. The car manufacturers need their suppliers to adapt. This takes time.

Diversity of vehicle types: The 100% electric vehicles are mainly cars. There are not many offers of sport utility vehicles, pickup type or 4×4. Yet these models are very popular. Models in these categories have already been announced.

Resolving conflicts of profits of manufacturers: Car manufacturers don’t have a great interest in seeing their customers buying 100% electric vehicles. Since maintenance costs are very low, manufacturers make less profit. The interest to develop the 100% electric vehicles is biased by a drop in profit for manufacturers. They don’t have the same enthusiasm as their customers. Unfortunately, it looks like there’s not a direct solution. At this moment, the manufacturers seem to be adapting because Tesla is taking their customers and they have to react.

Simplification of technologies: If the solutions are too complex, customers will be lost and turned off. Simplifying the access to solutions has often been a success key for many companies. We must have a better vision of the direction to develop the market of 100% electric vehicles.

 

Conclusion

Although there’s a strong interest, we are at the beginning of a big change and there’s still a lot of work to do before seeing the majority of people switching to a 100% electric vehicle. This is a very young market and the number of vehicles is very limited, especially in larger vehicles such as sport utility vehicles.

A competition is already well established among several manufacturers to develop better vehicles, better batteries and other technologies, which is driving the market forward. Buying an electric vehicle, or plug-in hybrid allows to support research.

The electrification of vehicles is being done in several sectors, not only in the automotive vehicles. This demonstrates a clear interest in the electrification of transport in general and this disgust for gasoline.

Right now, the 100% electric car is not better than the gasoline car. It’s different. It’s still disadvantageous on several points and also more advantageous on other points. Considering our dependence to gasoline, a 100% electric car can be an excellent choice as a second car for a household, but can also be an excellent choice as the only car for other consumers with the corresponding lifestyle.

What blocks consumers is mainly related to the autonomy of the car, the cost and the possibility of charging during the journeys. As long as there are no better batteries and charging solutions, buying a 100% electric car will remain marginal.





The impact of housing refugees

Several Syrian refugees have been housed in several countries during the last months. Generally, citizens are in favor of housing the refugees. However, the impact of housing refugees has not been discussed in a strategic way. There is obviously a cost to this housing.

 

The sad reality of refugees trying to escape the war in their country. Very often, they take big risks to find a better world.

The sad reality of refugees trying to escape the war in their country. Very often, they take big risks to find a better world.

The housing of refugees has a cost

The federal government of Canada announced the budget that will be deployed for the housing of refugees. The money of this budget comes from taxes paid by citizens. In principle, this money which is now available for the housing of refugees, is cut in other areas and will not be available for these other sectors.

The government doesn’t say that other areas will get less money. The reality is that there is always 100% of the budget invested. If we want to get more money in one area, we have to move it from other sectors.

There is the question of choices. In a society where all people are constantly asking for more money in all sectors, it’s impossible to meet expectations without making cuts. Therefore, there’s a choice to make about priorities.

 

Could the costs be an investment?

The housing of refugees can be a significant cost at their arrival. However, these refugees are likely to integrate the society and occupy jobs. In the long term, we expect them to contribute to the society and to pay taxes. These amounts could offset the initial cost of the housing. So the refugees could be more an investment than an expense in the long term.

 

Question of choices and options

Richer countries feel they must help the citizens of poorer countries. This appears to me to be the only option to change the fate of countries in need. However, the help can take many forms. Housing refugees is an option. In the context of the Syrians, we know that they are fleeing the war. Countries could also fight the war to eliminate the source of the problem and to ensure that refugees don’t try to leave their country. Right now, there is the housing of refugees and also the war.

 

Conclusion

Helping certainly includes costs. Whether it’s housing refugees or participating in the war to eliminate the problem, the costs are significant. These costs imply that we cut in other sectors of the society. No matter which option is favored, we have to house the refugees for the immediate needs and also act in the long-term in the countries of the refugees to cut the source of the problem. Both measures are necessary. The big question now is probably more about balancing everything for helping others with the financial resources that are always an issue in every sector of our society.





How humans have stolen nature and how to give back

The negative impact of humans on nature is not to demonstrate. Humans have taken a lot more than they have given to nature. Despite all the warnings, we are killing biodiversity and changing the face of the planet irreversibly.

 

How humans have stolen nature

For centuries, humans have been taking their place on Earth. The number of people is increasing and that is taking more territory to house people. Therefore, cities expand and parts of nature gradually disappear. The population is so spread in some areas that many animal migration corridors were severed.

When a city or a highway is developed in an area, this part of nature is lost forever. Even abandoned cities occupy areas that could be restored, but the infrastructure is still present.

The major problem with our development is that what is taken from nature is not given back in another way. Nature provides limited resources. We are always appropriating more parts of nature on an Earth with a limited territory.

 

Some examples of human activities that could be improved

 

Mines and quarries that have pierced the ground

When the quarries or mines are emptied, they do not come back. This leaves several huge holes on the surface of the Earth. It’s mainly the operations in surface that create this problem.

 

Coal mine leaving a huge hole in the ground

Coal mine leaving a huge hole in the ground.

 

Massive deforestation

Because of the deforestation, many species of animals and plants are disappearing at a rate never observed. Among these species, we count the orangutans and elephants. A part of this deforestation involves agriculture for palm oil which is a resource grown on cleared land. The consumption of palm oil promotes deforestation and the decline of orangutans where most of them could disappear within the next 10 years. Orangutans are killed to avoid harming the cultivation of palm oil. Often these orangutans are savagely beaten up until agony.

 

Deforestation due to oil palm exploitation in Sumatra

Deforestation due to oil palm exploitation in Sumatra.

David Suzuki says in his book “The Sacred Balance, rediscovering our place in nature” that 90% of the forest of the United States of America have disappeared in the last 200 years. These forests will not come back since cities, farmlands, roads, quarries, mines, and other infrastructure created by humans occupy these territories.

 

Overfishing

For several years, fish stocks have collapsed in the oceans. Fishing is a critical food resource for many people around the world. At the moment, we are consuming more fish than the regenerative capacity of oceans. In addition to destroying certain species of fish, we risk running out of food.

 

Our need for food is destroying the fish stocks

Our need for food is destroying the fish stocks.

 

We must give back what we take

Unfortunately, the territory and resources are limited. We cannot give back directly to nature. However, some scenarios are possible.

We can create or maintain certain animal migration corridors. This requires a will from people to preserve certain areas in the wild. In a society that is always developing, there’s a lot of pressure to urbanize these wild areas often coveted for their beauty. The government must act in favor of the balance in the nature before urbanization needs.

Today, in some construction projects that destroy the environment, governments require construction companies to restore or compensate the natural environment affected by new infrastructure. For example, if a bridge is built and its construction destroys a part of the natural environment, the company must rebuild the environment in other ways. This prevents the total loss of breeding grounds and allows life to continue in the same places by maintaining the natural balance.

 

Conclusion

On an Earth with limited resources and territory, we cannot create nature. However, we can limit what we take from nature. In the current context, it’s difficult to limit our actions because of our development. Our hopes are mainly: limiting the number of humans on Earth, sustainable development and an adaptation of our needs in harmony with the needs of nature. Our development and our needs should include a space for nature. Rather than taking directly from nature, we must transform the nature in a strategic way to compensate for the losses. Even if the planet is permanently transformed, it’s the only way to adapt.





How do you think paying your retirement? With your credit card?

How do you think paying your retirement? With your credit card?

How do you think paying your retirement? With your credit card?

Probably in a few days, you will receive your credit card account statement of the holiday season. Maybe you are like many people who are not able to pay their credit card in one payment. When you look at your credit card account statements, how much money do you plan to save for your retirement?

 

If you don’t have the money to pay your credit card, do you really think to have some for your retirement?

A significant number of people turn to debt consolidation services to be able to pay their debts and avoid bankruptcy. This service is useful, but it demonstrates that many people have no economy and retire being poor.

According to surveys, many people pay their Christmas gifts with their credit card, even if they don’t have the money to pay them at the time of purchase. They’ll have to pay them over a period of several months after Christmas. This fuels the debate about the retirement plans and in what conditions these people will live their retirement.

The problem is mainly that many people retire being dependent on social assistance from the government to survive.

 

The government must plan for retired workers

The previous facts demonstrate that people cannot be fully responsible for their situation. The government must step in and take some of people’s responsibilities for their retirement.

People don’t like paying taxes. They prefer to manage their finances. However, many people don’t know how to manage their finances and even less how to plan their retirement. If it wasn’t about the social assistance of the government, they would be homeless.

It becomes clear that the government must plan for people who don’t plan. Even with education, finances remain an emotional area and people love spending. We live in a consumer society where credit is easy to obtain. It’s also easy to get into debt.

 

Conclusion

There is no doubt for me that the government must step in to ensure a minimum income for people when they retire. Educating people and developing financial management measures help people, but it’s not enough. What we’re more likely to see is many people continuing to depend on the government’s welfare and being in a situation close to poverty during their retirement.

If you really want a good retirement plan, think how you use the credit and that could say a lot about the quality of your retirement.





The learning speed problem in school and how to fix it

The learning speed problem in school and how to fix it

The learning speed problem in school and how to fix it

In a class, every student has a different learning speed. Some people learn faster a  school subject while their colleagues learn more slowly another school subject. Yet, students are forced to learn at the same pace and forced to graduate at the same time.

 

Problems of the current school model

For many students, the problem is often related to the fact that it’s too fast or too slow. The problem is related to the long-term consequences. Here are the main problems and their consequences.

Uniform class issue: Students cannot learn all school subjects at the same pace. Yet, they must meet the same requirements to graduate from one year to the next. This causes a problem related to the learning speed.

Learning too fast: If a student has difficulty learning at a learning stage, he will have even more difficulty at the next stage. Before moving to the next stage, we must master the current stage. In a group where all students are forced to follow at an average speed, many people will not master the school subject before moving on to the next stage. These students will accumulate more and more delays. Eventually, they will either drop out or fail their class and repeat their year by lack of skills.

Learning too slow: Although it does not seem like a major problem, it remains a problem anyway. Some students have more potential than others in a class. The fact of following the average speed of the group will not allow themselves to develop their full potential. Furthermore, if they are bored, they can possibly drop out because a lack of interest.

 

Solutions

The best solution that we can develop is to teach on an individual and customized basis for each student. This is very similar to an individual and private course, but with today’s technologies, we can get this potential without the cost of private lessons.

Right now, teaching is done by group. It’s more profitable to teach a group than  having a teacher for each student. This is a sensible and intuitive long-standing approach. However, with the complexity of the school subjects to be learned today, this approach is problematic. Therefore, we must think how we can teach at different speeds for each student while having a teacher for a group.

The most individual and most advanced teaching mode is on the computer. Several applications exist to teach a single person. This works relatively well for people who already have notions of the language.

If we can learn from tutorials on YouTube and other video sites, we can learn that way at school or at home. It would be interesting to develop more a model with this aspect.

Mixed model: Right now, I believe the ideal model would be schools with a mixed model between classes and individual learning. There would be classrooms and also periods where students would be learning on the computer with the tutorials. Teachers would also be available during periods of tutorials to answer questions from students.

Flexibility of learning time: Often, students are stronger in math or English. Depending on their most mastered school subject, they could spend more time learning their weakest school subject to catch up and follow the group.

Variable group size: If you were in a group of 1,000 students who were learning the same subject, imagine the learning gaps. Now, divide this group into 20 groups of 50 students where each group master the subject differently. Each group will perform better with a more adapted teaching to their level. Take these 50 students per class and divide again each group into 5 groups of 10 students. The teaching will be more adapted. The closer the teaching gets to the individual, the more the teaching is adapted.

 

Conclusion

High rates of school dropout justify that we innovate in the ways of teaching. I believe a part of these rates are attributable to ways of teaching.

The computerized method of learning and the Internet have shown us that it’s possible to learn well with these tools on an individual basis (outside of a class).

Since everyone has a different way of learning, it’s necessary that the school adapts to students as much as possible. This adaptation of the schools should be done essentially with a mixed model between individual learning and classroom courses.





What information should we archive about our society?

What information should we archive about our society?

What information should we archive about our society?

We live in an era of information and communication. Internet has certainly helped spread the information and its development. Have you ever thought about the amount of information that we archive each day? It’s really a lot. Therefore, it’s essential to preserve only the archives that provide value to our society.

We don’t need to archive everything. We may ask ourselves why we should preserve certain television shows more than some others. We need to determine what the archives will be used for. The answer doesn’t seem necessarily obvious. Many times we know decades later with hindsight.

For example, in the sector of video games where I work with my company of independent games, the number of games has been increasing for decades. There are plenty of good games from the 80s that are still available today. Although they represent a minority of games, the principle of information that accumulates and dilutes the other games is present. Archives of games are only growing. The names of games are getting very similar because of a lack of originality. Despite this, I find important to preserve the older games. They have a historical value and serve as inspiration for the gaming community of players and developers.

Here are certain archive types that seem to accumulate over time.

  • TV News
  • Movies
  • Television shows
  • Radio shows
  • Songs and music
  • Books
  • YouTube videos
  • Website archive (web page and the different versions over time)
  • Software (applications and video games)
  • History of nations
  • Archaeological data

 

Problems related to information archiving and why should we care?

We can think that the information management will become less and less effective as  the archives grow.

I asked myself what information would be important to archive. Archiving everything is an aberration. When searching for relevant information, some information could dilute the important information.

In addition to archiving the present, we’re archiving the history of ancient nations. For example, we’re archiving the history of ancient Egypt over several thousands of years. Imagine the amount of information that we’re archiving.

Some notable problems arise with information archiving.

  • Dilution of new information: Unless being able to search by date, we often get old results. The amount of results makes the selection of relevant information much more difficult as the amount of information grows.
  • Costs of maintenance: Archiving information requires a cost for the maintenance and the access to the archives. These costs can become very high because we tend to archive more information.

 

Solutions

In my opinion, there are no solutions that can actually solve the problem very efficiently. Here are some solutions.

  • A voluntary solution would be to delete older archives and keeping the most significant. However, this selection is based on standards that are difficult to establish.
  • An unconscious solution that already exists is to let the people decide on a collective and unconscious way how to keep the archives. For example, the day when everyone has deleted or destroyed a book, it’s probably because it will no longer be valuable enough to be kept related to other books.

One way or another, archives tend to grow at a problematic pace.

 

Conclusion

There are no right or wrong answers. We don’t know exactly when we will need these archives. We’d need to clean it up from time to time. The main point is to be aware of the problem. Nevertheless, I feel we’ll have a phenomenal amount of information and very difficult to manage in a generation or two.





Is justice for sale?

Is justice for sale?

Is justice for sale?

How much are you willing to pay to be heard in a courthouse? How much are your rights?

You will not see any price on the application of a law. However, if you are prosecuting someone or if you are sued by someone, you have to spend money. We’re supposed to have a justice system. Money is a part of life that is not fair between individuals. The first quality of justice is to be fair. Is it fair for individuals to have a different capacity to prosecute or defend themselves?

To illustrate the injustice related to money, think about those people who have dropped lawsuits because of a lack of money. In some cases, they let criminals continue their crimes without being able to do justice because of a lack of money.

A famous case in Quebec is the one of Claude Robinson against Cinar. Claude Robinson had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute Cinar. This represents an enormous amount of money for most people. Meanwhile, Cinar spent a relatively low amount for a company to defend themselves. This looks a lot like  David against Goliath.

To better understand the principle of justice for sale, let’s compare with the following example. When someone goes to the store, he must pay for a good or service. It’s the same in the justice system to be heard. In many cases, if you don’t pay a fee to file a lawsuit, you don’t have the right to be heard.

The access to justice is extremely unequal between individuals and businesses with different finances.

One of the fundamental principles of a true system of justice is that rights are not redeemable for cash. Because it demands unequal and unfair amount of money to individuals, the justice system is the worst injustice of our society.

Finally, is justice for sale or not? If you don’t pay, you cannot prosecute or perhaps even defend yourself. In addition, depending on the amount spent on legal fees, your chances of winning your lawsuit could vary greatly. So, no money, no rights.

 





Are the connections between politics and the private industry sane or insane?

Are the connections between politics and the private industry sane or insane?

Are the connections between politics and the private industry sane or insane?

Many people say that political parties are funded by the private sector. This is why parties are biased in their political decisions and they respond sometimes to private interests before democratic interests.

An event drew my attention about the connections between the politics and the private industry. On October 8, 2013, the businessman Paul Desmarais died. At the funeral and at a memorial service, several people from the political sector came to the events. When people go to a funeral, it’s because they have a connection with the deceased person.

Several critics have already been recorded concerning Paul Desmarais and his connections with the politics. It’s not a surprise to see so many politicians at the memorial ceremony.

This case may be outside of the average, but it raises several questions about our democratic society. I often asked the question: Are we democratic? It’s doubtful to see private companies financing political parties. Why a private company would finance a political party? Even for a business person, the same question must be asked. People usually expect a return on their investment. What do they expect from their support to a political party?

Finally, are the connections sane or insane? The problem of corruption is an insane connection. What we see as corruption in the media already represents a visible part of insane connections. It’s impossible to represent properly the other connections that are not visible. What is certain is that people from the private industry have financial interests to see some political parties being elected rather than others.





Buy on credit without paying a penny for a year! Is it really a good thing?

Buy on credit without paying a penny for a year! Is it really a good thing?

Buy on credit without paying a penny for a year! Is it really a good thing?

Several companies offer to make purchases on credit without paying for a year. Is it something that helps or harms consumers? The credit has become easier to obtain and the debt ratio of North Americans has also increased.

 

A measure to attract consumers

In the North American society, people buy a lot on credit. Very often, they buy goods or services on credit they could not afford if the credit didn’t exist. The credit allows people to buy a lifestyle more quickly.

 

The problem of credit

Most of the time, credit comes with interests. Many people will pay more, once their good fully paid, because they pay interests on payments over several months. The reimbursement can be well managed with a good budget planning. It doesn’t necessarily represent a big issue.

There is a more subtle problem. When companies offer their customers to pay only in a year, the customers do not see their debt. For example, people buy a pool or a couch and enjoy it for a year without paying. Meanwhile, they continue to buy on credit because they are accustomed to this kind of lifestyle. They pay their credit card and a year later, the payment of their superficial purchase just comes up to the surface! The credit card is suddenly charged for several years with an extra amount.

Very often, the consumer experiences financial difficulties. Then come the debt consolidation agencies and personal bankruptcy.

Do you know many people who buy on credit without paying for a year to grow that money in a bank account? Usually, people seem to be using it to get themselves other things.

Buying a vehicle on credit when we have a job is a sensible thing. In other cases, the credit has become so ridiculous that it allows people to buy goods on credit they would buy in a single payment. Think about this coffee machine that costs $100 and paid in 36 installments with the interests. Frankly, if you are not able to afford the coffee machine in a single payment, do not buy the machine.

 

Conclusion

In general, the credit is a good thing in my opinion. It requires education and isn’t for all people. If you buy on credit, you should start reimbursing in the following month. The negative effect of reimbursing a year later makes people think they have more money to spend. It gives the impression that they have no debt and live beyond their means. It isn’t surprising to learn that the debt ratio has increased significantly over the last years.





Do you find unfair to pay twice for the roads?

Champlain Bridge.

Champlain Bridge.

The toll of the new Champlain Bridge in Montreal creates a debate among Québécois.

Some highways and bridges in Quebec were financed with tolls until 1991. These infrastructures were directly financed by taxes after 1991. Recently, we have seen two new bridges appear with tolls. The one of the Autoroute 25 between Montreal and Laval and the one of the Autoroute 30 at west of Montreal.

 

Problems that are expensive

Basically, the problem is that citizens already pay taxes for infrastructures and the government asks them more money to pay for the new infrastructures. Here are more precise problems that I see by this kind of approach.

 

Higher taxes and cost of living

We already pay a certain amount of taxes. People who will use the new Champlain Bridge will have to pay their transit in addition to paying the same amount of taxes they already pay. In the old model, people were already paying taxes in addition to paying for their transit. In 1991, the government decided to abolish tolls and to finance infrastructures directly by taxes collected. People paid more taxes, but no more tolls. Today, people pay an amount of taxes already very high and the government is asking them to pay for crossing certain bridges without reducing the taxes of citizens.

For the bridge Olivier-Charbonneau, the cost is $2.48 per transit at the rush hours for users with the transponder. For about 260 transits (about five working days per week with two transits per day), this is approximately $1,290 per year. This is probably the insurance premium that people pay for their car.

Let’s consider the last example and let’s add the new Champlain Bridge. Imagine a driver crossing the two bridges. The cost would be about $2,600 per year. Several bridges could require a toll in the coming years as they are being replaced. It’s not rare in the Montreal area that adriver crosses two bridges for getting to work. With costs like these, drivers will pay the equivalent of another insurance premium, their car a second time or even both!

In a few years, a driver traveling from Laval could cross the bridge Olivier-Charbonneau (between Laval and Montreal) and the future Champlain Bridge (between Montreal and Brossard) at a similar cost than needed fuel for the ride (even with the transponder).

 

Additional management costs

Infrastructure tolls generate additional costs to collect money. In addition to paying a bridge or highway, citizens must pay for managing the infrastructures. These management costs could be avoided if the government managed directly the costs through taxes.

For a bridge or two at the provincial scale, it will probably not create very high management costs, but imagine that each bridge and highway of the province askstoll. That’s a lot of unnecessary management and costs to collect money directly from the pockets of drivers.

 

Complexity for citizens

The fact of adding tolls and transponders to collect money from drivers creates a complexity for them. That requires them extra time that could be avoided if the government collected taxes directly in overall taxes.

Let’s consider a concrete example. The new bridge Olivier-Charbonneau of the Autoroute 25 requires a toll since its construction in 2011. Users can cross it at a higher cost without a transponder. The higher cost includes management fees. For regular users, the acquisition of an electronic transponder allows to register transits at a lower cost.

The transponder is not a bad thing, but think about the trouble for drivers who have to cross several bridges. They’ll need a transponder for each bridge!

Furthermore, that penalizes people form outside who come in the Montreal region by car. Likely that people visiting the area will not get a transponder and they’ll pay the maximum price. That creates considerable additional costs.

 

Who really benefits from the toll?

There is a principle where people pay taxes to the government to develop the infrastructures. It’s a common good. Usually, we don’t pay individually for each segment of road that we use. People have accepted the idea that we pay taxes in a general way to manage the infrastructures (including several public services) with these taxes.

Our current model includes two modes of payment for the infrastructure: paying individually each infrastructure and paying globally for the entire infrastructure. Our taxes pay for the majority of road sections. Only a minority of sections is private and requires a toll.

We may wonder if it’s really better to have some roads maintained by the private sector. Does the population get the most out of his money with this model? Some people think that the roads are better maintained by the private sector.

Furthermore, let’s ask the question: why paying for bridges and not boulevards? From my point of view, there are two reasons. First, the bridges are among the most expensive infrastructures. The government is in debt and unable to pay for new bridges and that’s why he introduces tolls. Second, the bridges are very limited access. If a driver wants to avoid a bridge, the alternatives are relatively far. Unlike boulevards and secondary roads, bridges represent access with little or no alternative. It becomes easier to get citizen paying.

 

Conclusion

All this makes me to think that the government is implementing a toll system to be able to pay for the new bridges because it doesn’t have the financial resources to build them. Several bridges are already in a frightful state with very high maintenance costs. One way or another, we will pay for the bridges. The big difference is that we will pay for the management in addition to paying for bridges.

Imagine that all the bridges in the Montreal area ask for a toll. A person could easily crosses three bridges (the North Shore to the South Shore) back and forth and it would cost about $14 of toll in addition to fuel.

Infrastructure funding seems to have worked for several years without toll (since 1991). Today, we’re going back to the old model with additional costs. Based on the figures above, we can see the extent of costs that may be comparable to paying its fuel, insurance premium or vehicle twice. This could represent an enormous cost in the coming years for all drivers.

Do you find unfair to pay for each transit? Generally, do you think tolls will improve your life?











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