Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Current Account Balance

In the British Newspaper The Guardian on Monday, George Monbiot, an author who is not scared to evoke the less than favourable outcomes that await the human race should it continue on its current mission of unfettered, resource driven expansion, really got down to the brass tacks in his op-ed. The two figures he uses which are the cause of all the urgency now would be the 2 degree increase we could expect to see if we guzzle 60% of the remaining coal and petroleum left on earth.

But the group of people blocking the negotiations at Copenhagen, led by the neo-conservative movement in North America beholden to Petroleum interests, has effectively discarded a concept which mankind innately followed as long as money has been in its systems: Fiscal responsibility. It was this disregard for hard numbers that allowed George W. Bush to start two wars without raising taxes, a first in American History, as Thomas Friedman notes in the revised first two chapters of his book "Hot, Flat and Crowded, which he put up on PDF form in his column.

This is why when guys like Bush and Harper look at the earth, whose resources are lets say in a bank account with x number of dollars in it, they see no reason not to binge. Because while masquerading as "conservatives" they really are anarchists, who let expenditures rise but refuse to ever pay for them with tax increases. Where will the money come from? "economic growth."? And if it doesn't? Well, you just print the value of the entire economy, just like the U.S. Treasury did last fall. Big firms in trouble? Bail them out.

Because the beautiful thing about money is it isn't real, or at least, it isn't really for governments and corporations. It's real for you when your overdraft and credit cards are maxed. But even you can get out of paying by declaring bankruptcy. But Humanity cannot get out of paying the price for its resources visa bill. And I'd say the politicians holding that resources credit card right now are about as responsible as a guy who'd been homeless his whole life would be if you gave him a 50k platinum amex

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Abolishing the Borders From Below...

As the mayhem of copenhagen continues, protestors and challengers of the status quo in Denmark and around the world continue to be depicted as "extremists" and "troublemakers". Few could resist cracking a smile yesterday, however, when the American (very) professional prankster outfit known as the Yes Men released a communiqué masquerading as the Canadian Ministry of the Environment saying that Canada had actually changed its positions and was ready to agree to what the majority of its citizens and the world wanted it to. When the hoax was revealed, the ministry had the double embarassment of explaining that it had successfully been impersonated and reiterating its own embarassing, polarizing position of essentially doing nothing on the climate change file.

But all laughs aside, they (the government) do have the last laugh over us (the people) because we cannot effectively make them change their mind. Attack them all you want (and I have been), you can be rest assured that the devil you know never admits its wrong and never backs down unless it absolutely has to. If they had it their way, they wouldn't even be at this conference. As it stands, the environment minister's delegation consists mainly of his PR people and Calgary petroleum executives. Even Obama's energy secretary, the Berkeley science prof Steven Chu, refused to be photographed with him.

Let us resist though, the too easy to fall into the central canada, east vs. west, virtuous and clean vs. dirty and selfish dynamic when talking like this. The National Post was correct in its editorial this morning saying that it's easy for Ontario and Quebec to score cool points on the world stage criticizing the government but they're happy to take equalization money from Alberta, not to mention areas where they are hardly green in certain areas themselves, like a three times delayed coal plant closure and terrible gridlock.

Dalton wants to appear like "Mr. Green" but the reality is he just wants to please everybody. That's why he's on the verge of wasting two majorities. Homes are no more efficient, traffic is worse than ever, a moribund dinosaur of a company (GM) in a dying industry has been propped up with public money, the "greenbelt" is being zeroes in on by developers, and aboriginals in remote places are fucked for their resources, just like everywhere else in our country. He's scared to frighten his middle-aged, upper middle class base who have the highest moral fibers in the world until they're asked to actually do anything. Our leaders are unavailable and their positions are wishy-washy, watered-down, hand-washing platitudes. If you are concerned about the environment, don't look to politicians to solve your problems.

Unfortunately, for those looking for a new alternative, the green party has been equally useless during this tumultous year of the game changing decade. And that is mostly due to its absent, weak leader. But more on that party and how to save it and turn it into a real alternative next time.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

The Communist Manifesto

Say the word “communist” to a large audience in the year 2009 and you will be ridiculed and scorned. The political ideology founded by Karl Marx has been discredited, disabled, chucked into the dustbin of history. It is synonymous in the public consciousness with hammers and sickles, Stalin’s purges, Mao’s famines, and Kim Jong-Il’s erratic behaviour. North America has all kinds of people descended from the old Eastern bloc who left the bleak misery of their desolate homelands to prosper in the land of oppurtunity. Their firsthand accounts of brutality give credence to the chorus in the media that speak of this great monster, who failed spectacularly against its adversary, all at once, on November 9th, 1989.
That narrative has become so entrenched in people’s minds that anyone who dare question it is written off as deluded and grossly mistaken, a sympathizer of corrupt dictatorships and misguided left wing ideology. The comments underneath the article on the worldwide climate protests today responding to the photo of a protest banner that said “Save the World – Scrap Capitalism”, left by ordinary people but identical echoes of which we could expect from our media and politicians, confirmed my suspicions.
There is simply no tolerance of any critique of capitalism as a system. But there is an important distinction to be made about its “failed” younger brother – communism is not a failure, totalitarian dictatorships are. And we effectively live in a global totalitarian capitalist dictatorship that has not yet failed for some that currently benefit from it. Those words are not a polemic on my life – I’ve never stood in a breadline – but turning the world into a gigantic free market has made a system that already has failed for the majority of its inhabitants, and will certainly fail for almost all of its inhabitants if it keeps going the way its going.
I have the good fortune of living in a developed nation and being born into the upper middle class of it. And during my life time the entire world has embraced free trade and it is now accepted as dogma. I did a presentation once about Adam Smith’s visionary work “The Wealth of Nations”, considered the basis of modern laissez-faire capitalism. The thing is, when Smith talks about why there is no reason there should be any trade barriers between nations who want to trade, it makes sense because he presupposes these nations will be more or less equal. Unfortunately how that has played out is rich countries going into poor countries and taking all their resources to sell back to their citizens. We have here more or less a modern, justified form of slavery. This is why I laugh at comments bragging about America’s “225 years of prosperity” “400 years of prosperity”. Prosperity from stealing land and indentured servitude, sure, if you want to admit those last words, which nobody does.
Today, the people who’ve decided they like the status quo just fine and the political-media cabal that enables this belief have decided that the global warming issue is a hoax and business as usual should continue on earth. Meanwhile, if you look for some real information and forget about that stupid debate, you will see that capitalism, and most industries will starve to death in 30 to 40 years when humans burn through the few petroleum reserves left on earth. As long as people don’t see any physical changes in front of them or in their bank accounts, and are permitted to keep doing what they’re doing, we will certainly be given to oppurtunity to see what this ugly reality looks like. But if we could start thinking about the earth as a public asset, which every being born onto it has equal claim to, the same way the taxpayers of this province think of its crown corporations, then maybe we’ll think of a better way than capitalism to organize and manage ourselves. Until then, we’ll content ourselves to be called “irresponsible” by all the “responsible” politicians and oil companies.

Friday, 11 December 2009

And your great country you're so proud of complicit in...torture!

We have a government with a clear contempt for parliamentary institutions. And thanks to the reporting in this newspaper, they are now being forced to acknowledge that they have lied and torture has happenerd under the Canadian Army's watch.

Despite insistence by certain leading political columnists like Chantal Hébert at the star and John Ibbitson that torture will never be a ballot box issue, it clearly is hurting the cons. The cover up attempt more than the incidenc(es) (them)selves. This governments obstinate refusal to ever, ever admit any wrongdoing which has earned it so many props in political strategy circles could now seriously hurt it. Although Tories probably just have their fingers crossed that the public has a short memory and an extended consumer-mas vacation followed by some equally costly and excessive olympics will make them feel better and remember to get back in line.

Maybe, but one thing is for sure. You know things are desperate when the neo-conservative political tactic of the 21st century, ignoring human rights and blacking out information in the name of "national security", is used. Which is where the government is at now, with their latest reaction to being held accountable by this bill.

And thirty percent of all former Canadian ambassadors and counting rising to Richard Colvin's defence shows that there are prominent independant voices willing to speak out against the government, something it absolutely can't stand.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Welcome to the Lacking Credentials Web Log

It has been ten years roughly since the phenomenon known as "blogs" entered into existence. And although it never occurred to me to get on board with it, I have reluctantly embraced it on the eve of the two thousand teen decade. It seems like an appropriate milestone to start on. So, what is this "blog" thing all about, anyway?

For a long time, I thought blogs were part of this narcississtic cult of self worship on the internet where people who once would be considered ordinary now updated their thoughts and musings, however pointless, on a bunch of free applications. I admit to have gotten sucked in by facebook myself. Which brings me to why I'm here. I do peruse a fair bit of content every day and think I have something to say about it. Yes, so I am joining the crowd, at the point where this has become completely mundane for them.

But is it just blogging, for the sake of spewing my opinions that I assume someone cares about? Is it to admit I was wrong and embrace "new social media"? Is it to chronicle my daily life in some kind of pathetic display diary? No, no, and no. It is just a new way to extract words out of myself. I'm an aspiring writer. The facebook page is ill-suited to this purpose, starting a website is too expensive and time consuming, and I will not get anywhere near that infantile verbal diarrhea fest known as twitter. Now instead of writing notes on facebook, attempting to send mass emails, or posting links I can waste all my time on this consolidated medium and actually create some good content out of all the content I can't seem to stop looking at.

That was easy. I just lost my blog post virginity. Here we go, into the 2K10 and beyond...