Friday, 29 January 2010

Blowing Smoke at Davos

Well, it has not yet been twenty four hours since my last posting, but it was very urgent that I get on here. The Davos summit is taking place in the fresh mountain air of the ski resort town in the Swiss Alps, and we can be rest assured that the elite of the world are making a master plan to solve all our problems. Everything's going to be all right, just look at past guests which include Angelina Jolie, Saudi oil billionaires, and Bono. To find out more about this summit, the world elite, and how you can attend the World Economic Forum, I suggest you start by reading Samuel Huntington, author of the interesting but controversial 1993 seminal book Clash of Civilizations's, definition of the Davos Man.

Our own prime minister was there, arguing the importance of unfettered global trade, not enacting excessive regulation that would cripple the banking sector, and that our country might pretend to care about the environment someday. Of course him and Bill Clinton both act as if they're under Haiti doing bench reps of it lifting it to salvation. But he managed to jet back to Canada today to appoint 5 more senators, 130k a year for life, giving him control of the upper chamber to push through his party's punitive crime agenda. This means an american style war on drugs with mandatory minimum sentences, including 6 months for one pot plant. An ill-advised road for our country to go down, with the financial and societal burdens it will bring not exactly something we need to be taking on right now.

Maybe if these people with all this money and power who take themselves so goddamn seriously had a pot plant at Davos, they might realize that their greed and selfishness is what got us into the mess they're sitting there claiming to be fixing in the first place. I could recommend them any book by nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, who writes in Vanity Fair and teaches at Columbia. He has such impeccable academic and establishement credentials in the U.S. that he gets invited to the summit, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to tell anyone there that we cannot grow our way out of this.

Out of what? The state has promised more entitlements in the future than it could ever possibly hope to fund by economic growth. This is the case for Canada and all of the so-called "rich" countries. In addition, banks and governments actively encourage a bubble economy of constant inflation and speculation and their incitement of citizens to consume and go in to debt in the wake of what we went through in 07-08 is evidence of that. Closer to home, I could point them to the excellent work done by professor Omar Aktouf at HEC in Montreal. In his book Halte au gâchis - En finir avec l'économie management à l'américaine (Stop the Madness - Get rid of the American Management Economy), he details how this model of resource fuelled inflation and growth is doomed to fail. By surgically dismantling our society's unwavering commitment to neoliberalism in practice as he has in theory, we could be emulating countries who regulate their economies, practice environmental stewardship (Germany, Japan, Sweden - 3 examples), and have better trained and educated workers and higher workplace standards. These countries endured the recession much better than we have with our "growth at any costs" North American economic ideology. Canadians politicians and banks like to pat themselves on the back for Canada coming into the "recovery" relatively unscathed, but really this is pure hubris; without abundant resources we would be in as bad of a position as the state. The investments that would actually make our economy competitive (i.e. functioning transit) have been declined in favour of more roads to nowheresville, petroleum reliant suburbs.

People are isolated and powerless but there are ways to not support the system. Getting involved with people thinking about transition out of this way into a way where people rediscover family, community, and taking care of feeding and occupying themselves is one such way. When at a meeting of such people, many people disassociate with the media and want to know as little as possible about the crazy shit I write about, opting to focus on their families and communities which is commendable. I, however, feel a responsibility to call these power structures out regularly, even if noone is reading this, and I will continue to do so. I don't have the privelege of doing bong hits on the top of a ski hill at davos right now like some people.

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