2014_06_03

Fare Well with Welfare: How to Survive Welfare by Rolf Auer

Dedication:

For my friend Karen. I owe you, big time.

“Own yourself. It doesn’t cost anything.”–Rolf Auer, 2013

Section 1: Where is my money going?

Let’s say you arrive cold in some Canadian city like Vancouver BC by Greyhound bus wearing only the clothes on your back. Let’s say it’s after business hours. You’re hungry, you have no money, and your survival is uppermost in your mind.

Now what? Hit the head, if you need to. Have a drink of water. Get hold of a free pen/cil and paper (ask, if necessary!). (An aside: if you see a free empty pop bottle or such, wash it and rinse it out, fill it with water, and bring it.)

First things first. Put food aside for the moment. The priority is securing shelter.

You could hail the nearest citizen(s) and ask s/he (or them) for walking directions to the nearest shelter. Write these down. (It doesn’t have to be perfect strangers who are exiting the bus station. This could even include ticket agents.) What I would also do is try to ask to borrow their phone, then phone information (after getting permission from the owner to do so) for the telephone number of the shelter (if you haven’t already secured this from the phone owner), then phone the shelter and verify that it is open, has space, and will do intake on you if you arrive within the next hour. Repeat until successful. Be prepared to spend the night sleepless in the bus station until successful. Next, go to shelter.

Upon arriving, see if you can get a free bite to eat (Airline peanuts, anything!) to tide you over until you can find a food lineup. See what other useful information you might glean from staff, such as the nearest welfare office, the nearest soup-kitchen/sandwich-line-up, the nearest area of town to find low-income accommodation, etc. Obtain as much free printed literature, brochures, etc. about these queries as you can find. (If these are not immediately apparent, don’t be afraid to ask! You have the ability to communicate: use it.) Always be as polite as you possibly can. Ya never know!

Try not to hit people up for money: remember, first impressions are important, and you (whether you like it or not) are under observation (conscious and otherwise) from the moment you arrive.

Find out as fast as possible what the rules are for the shelter. (e.g. Can you return? Do you have to be in at a certain time? Do you have to leave at a certain time?) Make sure you have secure shelter for, say, at least a week. ATTENTION: tiny appleseed-sized bloodsucking creepy-crawlies called bedbugs often proliferate. Be aware!

Next task: get food. There are sandwich-line-ups/soup-kitchens nearby. Get yourself to one and get some food. Adepts at survival often try to squirrel some food away for later.

Next task: go to the nearest welfare office and present yourself as “one citizen in dire need of emergency assistance.” Write down everything you need to do in order to secure an abode. (Usually, this means taking an “intent to rent” form to the landlord (be sure to ask them if your place is free of bedbugs and other critters; if not, can the prospective landlord rid your place of them at no cost to you?), getting s/he to sign it off, check it carefully to see that all the necessary information is there, and return it to the welfare office so it can cut you a cheque.) Don’t forget: you’re on the hunt for literature, brochures, etc. to help you survive: there’s usually a truckload for free at welfare offices. If you don’t see it, ask.

Next task: either find prospective housing immediately, or repeat the shelter/food cycle again and then attempt this.

Et voila! You have an abode and a first cheque. Now what?

Let’s break down the cheque. As I write this, today is 11 February 2014. As of this date, the amount of the cheque (if it’s a full cheque) should be $610.00. Don’t panic. Remember: you’re better off than a lot of homeless people.

Breaking this down, supposedly that’s:

$235.00 for support, and

$375.00 for your abode.

However, if you’re in Vancouver, you’re probably living in the 16,000-strong low-income community named the Downtown Eastside. That means that unfortunately the average rent is $450.00, far in excess of the allotted $375.00 for shelter. Viva capitalismo! (See sarcasm, definition of.) On the plus side (way!), you’re probably well within walking distance of the Carnegie Community Centre (at Hastings and Main).

Do everything in your power to get a bank account asap. (Then get direct deposit information for your bank account, for the next time you’re at the welfare office. You’ll need the Branch/Institution Id: xxx (three digits), the Transit Number: xxxxx (five digits), and your Account Number. Try to get the address and phone number of your bank branch as well. Get a bank card, look into doing telephone banking until you have your own computer (and preferably your own internet access) so you can then do online banking.)

Pay rent. From $610.00, that leaves, at best, $160.00 to last you the month.

Let’s take out some expenses.

$21.00…One book of ten 1-zone FareSaver transit tickets.

$1.00…..membership to the Carnegie Community Centre located at Hastings and Main (worth every penny! Here’s why: you can get connected with people. You can use the free phone. You can buy a low-cost meal at the cafeteria. You can sign up for computer access. (Do this as quickly as possible.) You can stock up on literature, brochures, etc. helping you to survive: if you can, snag “Help In The Downtown Eastside”; ask for it at the front desk!)

You’re left with $138.00. Go to the Carnegie Centre. Set aside $5.00. Eat, eat! (And get a sandwich and/or date bar or something for later). Need to replenish your water?

You’re left with $133.00.

Do everything you can to find out where to get free stuff. (If you’re lucky enough to lay your hands on the brochure called Help In The Downtown Eastside, I think there’s even a section called Free Stuff in it.)

Thrift stores are your friend.

Food banks are your friend.

Next task: go to the nearest food bank as soon as possible and get food. Bring it all back home. Have a snack and/or sandwich, if you want.

Next task: you need to get:

  • a sturdy can opener (splurge!)
  • a small and a medium-sized pot (preferably with covers)
  • a frying pan
  • a spatula, preferably plastic and sturdy
  • a cup
  • a plate
  • a bowl
  • 2 soup spoons, 2 forks, 2 knives
  • a sharp knife, preferably serrated
  • a washcloth and a towel

Does your place give you access to a stove? If not, you need to get:

  • a hotplate

Put your stuff away at home. (Make yourself something quick to eat if you need, or eat something that doesn’t need prep, if that’s your pleasure.)

Say you lucked out and managed to get all this for only $43.00. (Okay, eh, I’m a bleeding heart optimist.) You’re left with $90.00.

Now you’re going to use your first transit ticket to go to the most convenient grocery store (unless you’re okay to do your shopping at stores like Quest or Sunrise, in which case walk!).

I priced these provisions at a Loblaws Superstore. There’s one at South East Marine Drive and Main. (Quickie orientation: In Vancouver, north is towards the water, south away; that’s the opposite of Toronto.) There’re also ones at Rupert Skytrain station and at Metrotown Skytrain station. However, these are 2-zone transit fares from the DTES. You’ll need:

  • if there’re bedbugs, petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline): smear it all over the legs of your bed! The bugs can’t crawl through petroleum jelly, bwaaahaaahaaha! [$2.80+tx]
  • if there’re any other creepy-crawlies, such as cockroaches, some sort of bug poison, say Black Flag or Raid. Tobacco is supposed to be a natural insect repellent. Chinese Chalk (from Sunrise grocery or similar from say Chinatown) is supposed to work, too. I personally prefer the hard chemicals. What I’ve done previously which seems to work well is stuff all cracks with toilet paper, then spray. [$6.00+tx]
  • toilet paper, laundry detergent, soap (I like Ivory Snow. (No, I’m not being paid to endorse it.)), razors? You don’t need toothpaste or shaving cream just yet… [12/$4.00+tx,$5.50+tx,3/$2.50+tx,$3.00+tx]
  • flour [5kg/$7.30]
  • cornstarch [$2.60]
  • baking soda [$1.00]
  • salt, (pepper) [$1.00,($4.80later)]
  • sugar [2kg/$2.50]
  • shortening aka lard [$2.40]
  • cocoa [$4.00]
  • powdered milk [$7.30]
  • margarine (preferably some which both tastes like butter and doesn’t have to be refrigerated after opening) [$2.50-$5.00]
  • peanut butter [1kg/$4.00]
  • paper towels [2/$1.00]
  • instant coffee (go ahead, splurge! I like Maxwell House. (No, I’m not being paid to endorse it.)) And/or (tea). [200g/$6.90+tx,(50bags/$5.00+tx,later)]
  • at least 6 bananas (set 3 aside for making banana bread, if you’ve access to a stove) [$3.00]
  • hot sauce (optional: some like it hot!) [$1.50+tx]
  • instant noodles [6/$0.89]
  • did the food bank give you any meat? If not, get 1 or 2 canned meat (see Sections 2 & 3) [tuna/$1.60,(cornbeef/$3.00later)]
  • did the food bank give you any veggies? If not, get 1 or 2 canned veggies (see Sections 2 & 3) [peas/$1.30]
  • grated parmesan cheese [$6.00]
  • elbow macaroni [900g/$1.50]
  • tomato paste [2small@$0.60]

Lug all this stuff home. If you can somehow manage to do it all within 90 minutes (the duration of a transit ticket), so much the better. (What I might try to do is walk to the grocery store, get this first round of provisions, then take transit home. That way, you can take your time shopping. Your call.) Total ~ $87.00. Get some quarters for laundry.

You now have left, maybe, $3.00, in quarters, for laundry. Take time to relax. Put your towel around you, do a quickie laundry of all your clothes. (I’d do this in the sink and save a few pennies. Use the dryer, though!) Make yourself a coffee or a tea or a hot choc. Prepare a meal that is hot and fast.

Congratulations! You made it to the first stage. Stand up and take a bow! (I’m just teasing you!)

Rest. Tomorrow you’re going to get some more clothes… (Can’t sleep? Walk around the block, get some fresh air, and get to know your neighbourhood.)

 

“Memory is the mother of community.”—Sandy Cameron

from one of his poems: One Hundred Years Of Struggle

from one of his books: Being True to Ourselves

website: http://www.SandyCameron.vcn.bc.ca

 

Some remaining tasks:

Task: get some free clothes. If you can somehow get a pair of steel-toed workboots that fit, good luck! Yer gonna need these, to put in a couple of days waged work. Face it, you need a few more bucks for a cell phone plus some more provisions. If you can find another way to make a few bucks other than manual slave labour at some temp place, more power to ya! (e.g. telemarketing…)

Task: you need a cellphone asap. Try to get unlimited talk/texting. “Wind” offers such a plan for ~$40.00+tx/mo.=~$45.00/mo. However, you have to buy both the phone (unlocked) plus a $25.00+tx SIM card. Investigate this on the net (try kijiji.com). To start, here’s a link for more info: http://globalnews.ca/news/676741/whats-the-best-cheapest-canadian-cellphone-plan-out-there/ You might have to buy a cheapo used cell phone—perhaps one with cosmetic damage—off Kijiji.com or ebay.ca.

Task: ongoing: you’ll have to file jobs searches with welfare in order to keep receiving your cheque. You can conduct these via your cell phone, newspapers (Library), The Employment Paper (free), kijiji.com, the net (computer access, Carnegie Centre), etc. I’ve been told “cold calling” works, if you’ve got the stomach to be turned down cold over and over again… (def’n “cold calling”: find phone numbers for businesses that you’re interested in, and call these in case they’re any jobs available there which are not advertised. You’ll probably need a résumé. Investigate free résumé services…) [there’s a story by W.C. Fields: “If you stand on a street corner and ask 100 passers-by if they want to get laid, you’ll get slapped a lot, but you’ll get laid!”—bwaaahaaahaaha!]

Task: get a computer and your very own “private” internet access. (Cough, cough; all this really means is that you’re not on public access where some jagoff with a soupcon of computer knowledge can too easily pry into your communications. I just want to add a note here to the jagoffs: except for how his life ended, Aaron Swartz should be your role model!) (See Tips For Survival).

Task: you’re going to have to lay in more provisions. Items to get include:

  • pepper
  • corned beef + more canned meat
  • tea
  • good margarine
  • potatoes
  • rice (parboiled cooks fastest; long grain brown is the most nutritious)
  • onions
  • spices? At least try to get Italian seasoning.
  • pasta sauce?
  • jam
  • fresh fruit
  • vitamins?
  • canned salmon
  • lentils (red cooks fastest)
  • oats, semolina (cous cous (coarse, grain), cream of wheat (fine))
  • dry cereal (I like Shredded Wheat, the original. (No, I wasn’t paid to endorse this.))
  • bouillons (I have beef, chicken, veggie, fish, mushroom always on hand in case I want to make soup, and I often make those.)
  • appliances: rice cooker, slow cooker, etc. (see Tips For Survival)
  • I have a largish shoulder bag, and a backpack. These are handy for grocery shopping.
  • canned milk, if you don’t mind that it’s sickly sweet…
  • toothpaste
  • shaving cream
  • shampoo
  • pesto? Okay, it’s time to quit, I’m just throwing ideas out there now…
  • more dishes, cutlery, maybe a double bed… You might get a hot date! Ya never know!

Task: (Except for the stuff you absolutely have to buy new, I would try to get these things second-hand: kijiji.com, thrift stores, garage sales, etc.) You need the odd day here and there of waged work—you’re allowed to make some money now while receiving income assistance, $200 I believe–because you’re probably going to want:

  • a bar fridge for your abode, so you can keep eggs, butter, milk, cheese, etc.
  • a TV
  • maybe even a radio
  • an iPod or MP3 player? (I like music. (No, I wasn’t paid to endorse musicians.))
  • a tablet?
  • to subscribe to some publication(s)?…
  • to subscribe to news?…
  • to subscribe to movies?…
  • mad movie money. Perhaps you relish the thrill of the public theatres… The giant screen/speakers is indeed an experience…

Whatever. As a friend of mine used to tell me, “Blow your socks off!”

 

 

Section 2: A couple of easy recipes

 

Quickie measuring tips:

 

1 teaspoon = 1 tsp = 1/3 tablespoon = 1/3 tbsp

1 tsp = 4.93 millilitres

1 cubic centimeter = 1 millilitre

2.54 centimetres = 1 inch

 

2 tbsp = 1 fluid ounce

4 tbsp = ¼ cup

2 cups = 1 pint

2 pints = 1 quart

4 quarts = 1 gallon

 

236 millilitres = 1 cup (US measure, which is mainly what North America uses)

1000 millilitres = 1 litre

 

1 ounce = 28 grams

1 pound = 454 grams

 

Here’s a cute little formula of mine for converting Celsius (or Centigrade) to Fahrenheit:

Double C reading, subtract 10% (to get 10%, move decimal point left one place), add 32.

E.g.: What is 30 degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit? Double 30 = 60. Subtract 6 = 54. Add 32 = 86.

 

Salmon & Rice casserole aka Paté Saumon

1 cup rice

½ onion chopped

1 cup milk

3 tbsp flour

3 tbsp butter

1 can wild salmon, open.

250 gm parmesan cheese

salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pan fry onion over low heat until translucent.

In a pot, melt butter over low heat, add flour and make a paste. Slowly add milk, mixing well and stirring. Add cooked onion. Put over low heat on burner, stirring in a “figure eight” motion. Add salt, pepper to taste. Add fluid from canned salmon. Stir in a figure eight until noticeably thickened. Set this roux aside, covered.

In casserole dish, put down a bed of one-half the cooked rice. Spread one half the canned salmon over the top of the rice. Liberally sprinkle one half the parmesan cheese over the top of the salmon. Put one half of the roux over the top of the parmesan. Repeat for another layer.

Cover. Put in oven for 20 minutes. Let cool! Bon appétit!

 

 

Eggless Pancakes

 

1/2 cup flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

2/3 cup water

 

Thoroughly mix dry ingredients. Add water, mix well to make pancake batter.

On low heat, melt 1 tbsp shortening in frying pan. Completely coat bottom.

Still on low heat, pour one third of batter in pan. Pan fry until lots of bubbles appear on top of the pancake. Flip and pan fry. Repeat twice.

Let cool. Enjoy with peanut butter!

Section 3: Tips For Survival

  1. A FareSaver bus ticket is good in any direction for 90 minutes. Can you get everything done using only one?
  2. Food banks are your friend. They give you free food, especially fresh veggies and fresh meat.
  3. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for sales. Coupons can save $$!! Stock up!!
  4. Keep soup kitchens etc. as a last resort (standing in line is a drag). Special dinners  (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) are your call.
  5. Thrift stores are your friend. Very low cost pots, pans, utensils, appliances (drip coffee maker…), clothes. These include the Salvation Army.
  6. Buy least expensive: it’s still edible, or wearable, or whatever. Buy in bulk, if possible. Investigate places like Chinatowns markets. Stock up on sales!!
  7. Libraries are your friend. You can find lots to keep you busy. Ditto Community Centres. (Sometimes, these have free internet. (e.g., The Carnegie Centre))
  8. If you can manage it, volunteer. It’s good for the soul! (IMPORTANT: If you’re doing a résumé, don’t forget to mention that you’re doing volunteer work!) Free Geek gets you a computer! Carnegie gets you meals from its caff!
  9. As much as humanly possible, avoid debt, running a tab, any money transaction that leaves you owing, except those that are absolutely necessary (e.g., cell phone). These only bring you grief: take it from me, I’m experienced. (If you have to borrow, borrow food and pay it back!)
  10. Unless you have a private fridge in your abode, steer clear of perishables. (Get canned meat: kippers, tuna, sardines, corned beef, salmon, etc. Get canned veggies: chick peas, beans, corn, mushrooms, etc.)
  11. Can’t hurt to take vitamins, if you can afford it: (1) vitamin C, 1 gram in the morning, 1 gram in the evening (arrr! prevents scurvy!) (2) B complex (3) multivitamin (4) vitamin D
  12. If you cut yourself get a wad of toilet paper and apply pressure until the bleeding stops (usually about 10 minutes). Hydrogen peroxide is an inexpensive sterilizer.
  13. Investigate protein complementing. You could start with Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet For A Small Planet found at the library.
  14. If you need glasses, these can usually be got from Social Services.
  15. Look into securing a CVP (Community Volunteer Program) from Social Services. This will give you an extra $100 per month, usually for 10 volunteer-hours per month. If you don’t get one right away, don’t fret, just get on the list.
  16. Are you supposed to be getting a diet allowance? (e.g., are you diabetic, etc.?) Are there any other entitlements you’re supposed to be getting?
  17. Appliances to keep looking for: (1) microwave oven (2) coffee maker, if you crave ground coffee that much! (3) rice cooker (4) slow cooker (get 5 quart + )
  18. Junk food. Okay, everyone has their weaknesses, and junk food’s a biggie! (Chips, choc bars, etc.) So, get some sometimes! Yeah, splurge. But not too much! (If you have to do it, do it as a treat!) Remember, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!”
  19. If you have to go to the welfare office, see if you can get your bus tickets covered.
  20. Sometimes, sometimes, bus drivers will give you a free ride if you smile and say “please!” (If you’re going to the welfare office, tell them that: they’re supposed to give you a free ride in that case.)
  21. Do everything in your power to get a bank account. Get “direct deposit,” so that your cheque goes directly to your bank account, instead of being mailed (and therefore being subjected to the vagaries of the postal system…) Get an ATM card. (ATM = Automated Teller Machine)
  22. Never carry more than $20 on you. (If you’re forced to give out your PIN, recite it backwards. When the thieves enter that, the police are notified.)(PIN = Personal Identification Number = your ATM card “password”.)
  23. Get $10 in quarters for the laundry, if you use coin operated machines. Load the washer up to 3 inches below the rim. If you can air-dry your wash by hanging it around your abode, do that.

 

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2014_01_28

Corruption: Escalating Habit of Neoliberal Savagery Rolf Auer, 28 January 2014

In Brazil, police have been going into poor neighbourhoods and murdering people. From 2003 to 2008, in Brazil’s two largest cities—Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro—more than 11,000 citizens were killed by police. Brazil’s leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 44 is homicide; many of those people were killed by police (1).

Of approximately 1,000 favelas (poor neighbourhoods) in Rio, 45 per cent are run by organized crime police militias, 37 per cent are run by drug gangs, and 18 per cent are run by the official and legal police force – the UPP (Unidade de Policia Pacificadora).

The primary duty of police is to protect the population. That Brazilian police are instead murdering the population is nothing less than corruption of that primary duty. This corruption is passed down from the political hierarchy. Everyone knows it is becoming worse, due to the World Cup, which begins in June, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The police are under orders to “clean up” or “pacify” the favelas, to make sure that sports tourists are safe. “Pacify” is code for “torture” and “brutal murder.”

The current President of Brazil is Dilma Rousseff. The Mayor of Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, is Fernando Haddad, who was former Minister of Education in Rousseff’s cabinet. The Mayor of Rio is Eduardo Paes, the “Mayor who brought the Olympics to Rio…” (On 12 August 2012, at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, Paes received the Olympic Flag, via Jacques Rogge—then-President of the International Olympic Committee—from London Mayor Boris Johnson.)(2)

According to Christopher Gaffney, a visiting professor at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, the police violence due to the preparations for the World Cup and Olympics is about a larger issue: the transfer of wealth and land from the poor to the rich under the guise of sports mega-events (3).

The economic enabler of these all too common wealth transfers upwards is neoliberalism, which is merely modernized 19th century laissez-faire capitalism. The cruelty of this transplanted old-style capitalism conflates increasing corruption as well, made all the more apparent by modern high-speed communications and technology. One of Naomi Klein’s books, The Shock Doctrine, documents this cruelty in detail. A hallmark of corruption is wrongful death, and with amoral neoliberal savagery, there is no shortage of that. Case in point: the 11 September 1973 murder of Chilean democratic leader Salvador Allende, usurped by the ruthless dictator Augusto Pinochet, subsequently followed by his bloody repression of thousands of citizens of Chile, all in the name of neoliberalism (4).

Decades of neoliberal corruption of democracy has resulted in plutocracy, wherein neverending wealth transfers from poor to rich manifest as rampant inequality and people no longer notice the bodies of the economically injured whom they step around on their way to their comfy quasi-sinecures bought with their silent acquiescence to the status quo. Instead, complaints abound about these unsightly homeless impediments to progress, and it is commonly accepted as a fact of life that “the rich get richer” without questioning the hows or the whys of systemic classism and classist exploitation, currently aided and abetted by neoliberal doctrine masquerading as economic rationalism, itself merely a hackneyed excuse for forsaking one’s neighbour as a “cost cutting exercise.”

I claim that the emphasis of competition over cooperation, of hierarchy over networking, of secularism over spirituality all contribute to the exacerbation of Social Darwinist tendencies exalting such crudities of human behaviour as neoliberalism, corporatism, and persecution of belief.

A first step in combatting these is to be aware of these. Having achieved this, what should one do then, might be the logical response. Whatever one can is my answer. I like the following story: a stranger encountered a man on a beach. Washed up on shore were hundreds of tiny starfish, dying in the hot sun. The man was picking these up one by one, and throwing them back in the water. “Isn’t that rather futile?” asked the stranger. The man replied, “Each one that I throw back is one more that lives.”

——————————–

More information about protests in Brazil can be found at the Twitter hashtag: #NaoVaiTerCopa

——————————–

(1) The Enemy Within, 18 January 2014, article (Toronto Star, Declan Hill)

(2) www.wikipedia.org 19 January 2014

(3) op.cit.(1)

(4) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, 2007, book (Naomi Klein)

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2014_01_16

Civil Disobedience: Because It Works! Rolf Auer, 16 January 2014

Is civil disobedience effective? Is it relevant today?

Here, a student asks these questions of MIT Professor Noam Chomsky (1):

Student: “How effective do you feel civil disobedience was during the Civil Rights Movement and do you feel that it’s still relevant today when considering mainstream media blackouts on such events as March Against Monsanto and the protest for Bradley Manning?”

Professor Chomsky: “Well, the civil disobedience during the Civil Rights Movement was highly effective, not because of media exposure (most of it got very little), but just because the effect of civil disobedience, if it’s done properly, is to encourage others to undertake actions that they might not have considered otherwise, and it had a kind of a steamrollering effect in that way and I think there’s every reason to expect that it still will! Of course, you have to catch the imagination of the public and reach the understanding of the public. The civil rights activities—like others, like say sanctions, boycotts, any means that are taken—can only be effective if they are intelligible to the audience you’re trying to address, meaning they’re based on educational and organizational activities and they inspire actions which can escalate and develop. It’s a tactic that’s been effective when properly carried out in the past, and it can be today!

How could civil disobedience be used today? Here are six potentialities:

(A) fracking

(B) Oilsands

(C) homelessness

(D) inequality

(E) privatization of knowledge

(F) TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal

(A) fracking

Here, a man sets on fire tap water contaminated with frack wastewater: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U01EK76Sy4A&feature=youtu.be

An excellent 6:00-minute-long video summary of the Elsipogtog, New Brunswick anti-fracking protest can be found here (2). Anti-fracking protests are taking place around the world (3).

MIT Professor Noam Chomsky is on record condemning fracking and the Alberta Oilsands (4). “‘It means taking every drop of hydrocarbon out of the ground, whether it’s shale gas in New Brunswick or tar sands in Alberta and trying to destroy the environment as fast as possible, with barely a question raised about what the world will look like as a result.’

[I]ndigenous peoples in Canada blocking fossil fuel developments are taking the lead in combatting climate change.”

More references can be found at Twitter hashtags: #Elsipogtog #Fracking.

(B) Oilsands

From Double, Double Oil and Trouble (5): “During the half-hour-long 2008 documentary, Downstream, one Native woman from the Alberta First Nations town of Fort Chipewyan condemns the water from the Athabasca River as undrinkable. From a related news article: ‘Many Fort Chip residents have even forsaken the town’s purified tap water, struggling to afford the bottled kind, which sells for $8 a gallon.’
Not only has the water (untreated or even treated) from the Athabasca River been proven to be undrinkable, it is so catastrophically polluted that it destroys not only the health of the First Nations peoples living beside it, but also all of the wildlife depending upon it in any manner for their existence (fish, fowl, et cetera).
It is largely First Nations communities that are bearing the hidden costs of tar sands development. The injustice of an economic gain that profits select Canadians while jeopardizing others’ health and access to clear water is undeniable.’—from the 2010 article titled, Dirty oil’s human price

Other articles of interest include: The Graveyard Laugh (6) and Oil Pollution Is Economically Inefficient (7).

Legendary musicians Neil Young and Diana Krall will be giving benefit concerts in Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary to fundraise for a First Nations legal defense against the Oilsands (8). Catch a few words from Neil Young here (9).

Here is an article about the atrocious record on pipeline safety (10). An Oilsands “before and after” photo can be found here (11).

More references can be found at Twitter hashtags: #oilsands #Tarsands.

(C) homelessness

From Stephen Harper government lies to world on housing (12): “The Wellesley Institute filed a five-page document [available as a download in this article—RA] with the Universal Periodic Review citing a litany of Canadian cutbacks to housing programs….‘Included in the federal cuts were: 97% cut in Affordable Housing Initiative (new affordable homes) from $452 million to $16 million; 94% cut in national low-income housing repair program from $674 to $37 million; 27% cut in on-reserve Aboriginal housing from $215 to $156 million; and, 5% cut in assisted housing from $1.7 to $1.6 billion.’”

“Canada remains the only G8 country without a housing strategy.” (13)

(D) inequality

From Who Is Working For Minimum Wage In Ontario? (14):“The evidence is clear that income inequality in Canada is growing, and that it is harmful to our economy, to our society and to our health. Statistics Canada data document rising income inequality in Ontario. While the real incomes of the top 10 percent of Ontarians increased by 35 percent between 1982 and 2010; the real incomes of the bottom 90 percent increased by only 4.7 percent over that 28 year period. Analysis by the Conference Board of Canada and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has confirmed this trend. Work from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has documented the concentration of income to those with the very highest incomes.”

A rising share of the Ontario workforce is working for minimum wage. Between 2003 and 2011, the share of employees working for minimum wage has more than doubled from 4.3 to 9 percent. Data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics shows us that minimum wage work is not distributed equally across all Ontarians: women, racialized workers and recent immigrants are more likely to be working for minimum wage….Young workers are much more likely to be working for minimum wage than those who are over 25. But almost 40 percent of employees working for minimum wage, 183,000 Ontarians, were 25 years of age and over in 2011. The share of adult employees at minimum wage more than doubled between 2003 and 2011. However, the pace of increase was even faster for racialized adult employees and adult employees who are immigrants.” (15)

From the CBC radio show, The Current (16), Ralph Nader recently stated that in the US, 30 million minimum wage workers are making less wages as in 1968. He quoted a high-up in CostCo about the necessity of paying employees a living wage as saying: “It’s the right thing to do.”

Other articles of interest include Do workers have the right to a living wage? (17), Let’s Fix Economic Inequality (18), $10.10 [US] Minimum Wage Would Actually Create Jobs: Study (19), and Seventy-five Leading [US] Economists Just Told Congress To Raise The Minimum Wage (20).

More references can be found at Twitter hashtag: #minimumwagewars.

(E) privatization of knowledge

If knowledge is privatized, people would have to pay to access what is now freely available, if they would be even allowed access to it at all. Important information was made available to the public via Information Age heroes Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond (21), Julian Assange, Edward Snowden (22), and Aaron Swartz (23), who sacrificed dearly so that the public would remain informed.

More references can be found at Twitter hashtag: #WikiLeaks.

(F) TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal

MIT Professor Noam Chomsky roundly condemned the TPP (24): “It’s very hard to make anything of the TPP because it’s been kept very secret. Half-secret I should say—it’s not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing the legislation. To them, it’s perfectly public, they’re in fact writing it. It’s been kept secret from the population, which of course raises obvious questions, and we even have some answers to those questions because one part of it leaked. It was leaked and released by WikiLeaks, it’s the section on intellectual property rights. What are called intellectual property rights are simply highly protectionist measures introduced to maximize profit for pharmaceutical corporations, huge media conglomerates, and so on. It’s called free trade, but that’s just a joke. These are highly protectionist measures designed to undermine freedom of trade and in fact much of what’s leaked about TPP indicates it’s not really about trade at all, it’s investor rights.

This 10:50 minute video is eye-opening (25). One quote: “To put it bluntly, the TPP would sacrifice national sovereignty, public health, and internet freedom all in the name of helping private corporations keep their CEOs’ wallets fat and their shareholders happy.” (02:16-02:28)

An article of interest: A Polemic Against Corporatist Dehumanization (26).

More references can be found at Twitter hashtags: #TPP #NoTPP.

CONCLUSION

Human rights today are under attack, eroded by corporatist dehumanization, of which the latest wave is the neoliberal assault. To fight this, one would be hard-pressed to find a better reason to use civil disobedience.

Remember Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

—————————————–

(1) Noam Chomsky video conference , 37:00 minute video, 1:03-1:20 Student 1:21-02:46 Professor Chomsky, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDLBDzDp0A0

(2) Canadian State Waging War Against Mi’kmaw First Nation – PRESS TV, 6:00 minute video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWorGYMlDBI&feature=share

(3) ‘We Say No To Shale Gas’: World Unites Against Fracking, 20 October 2013, article, http://rt.com/news/global-frackdown-fracking-protest-442/

(4) Noam Chomsky slams Canada’s shale gas energy plans, 1 November 2013, article, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/01/noam-chomsky-canadas-shale-gas-energy-tar-sands

(5) 25 April 2013, article, Instructions to read / download this piece: In a web browser enter the URL http://www.zcommunications.org, on menu on left, click “ZBlogs / Forums”; on “Advanced Search” on menu on left, click the magnifying glass; click “Sustainer Blog” and enter “Rolf Auer” in “Writers/Sustainers” field and click same in dropdown, then click “Search”; scroll down to first article by Rolf Auer; click “Auer’s Zspace page”; click “Auer’s content” on menu on left; click “Blogs” in dropdown; scroll down popup and click Double, Double Oil and Trouble. Whew!

(6) 8 May 2013, article, To read / download this piece, follow Instructions in (5) except for last one: instead click Bitumen pipelines are dangerous. Alternatively, in a web browser enter the URL http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rolf_Auer; Find Intersection Vol 1 Set 1: free download.

(7) 10 June 2013, article, To download this piece, in a web browser enter the URL http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Rolf_Auer; Find Intersection Vol 1 Set 1: free download.

(8) http://www.honourtheacfn.ca/

(9) http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2014/01/13/neil-young-oilsands-occupation/ 13 January 2014, 24:00 minute audio, click “Listen”.

(10) 28 October 2013, article, http://www.cbc.ca/news/pipeline-safety-incident-rate-doubled-in-past-decade-1.2251771

(11) March 2013, photo, http://www.ienearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/before-after-en.jpg

(12) Stephen Harper government lies to world on housing, 14 November 2012, article, http://www.straight.com/news/stephen-harper-government-lies-world-housing

(13) Statement by Marie-Claude Morin on the Conservative rejection of bill C-400, 27 February 2013, article, http://www.ndp.ca/taxonomy/term/24

(14) Who Is Working For Minimum Wage In Ontario?, October 2013, article, p.1, http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Who-Makes-Minimum-Wage.pdf

(15) ibid., from Executive Summary

(16) Minimum Wage Wars: Canada, US and International Minimum Wage, 14 January 2014, 28:00 minute audio, podcast downloadable from http://www.cbc.ca/TheCurrent

(17) Do workers have the right to a living wage?, 14 January 2014, article, http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/working-deserve-earn-living-wage-215554902.html

(18) Let’s Fix Economic Inequality, 8 January 2014, article, To read / download this piece, follow Instructions in (5) except for last one: instead click Let’s Fix Economic Inequality. Alternatively, in a web browser enter the URL http://www.ubiquitous42.wordpress.com. The article is located at entry: 2014_01_08.

(19) $10.10 Minimum Wage Would Actually Create New Jobs: Study, 19 December 2013, article, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/1010-minimum-wage_n_4474183.html

(20) Seventy-five Leading Economists Just Told Congress To Raise The Minimum Wage, 14 January 2014, article, http://www.thenation.com/blog/177918/seventy-five-leading-economists-just-told-congress-raise-minimum-wage

(21) Julian Assange: Stratfor Hacker Jeremy Hammond Guilty Plea Part of Crackdown on Journalism, Activism, 29 May 2013, article, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/29/julian_assange_stratfor_hacker_jeremy_hammond

(22) Public letter by Edward Snowden detailing and explaining some of his actions, 17 December 2013, https://www.facebook.com/davidmichael.miranda/posts/749158735113204

(23) Aaron Swartz’s unfinished whistleblowing platform finally launches, 15 October 2013, article, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/10/aaron-swartzs-unfinished-whistleblowing-platform-finally-launches/. The latter “whistleblowing platform” (whistleblowers are kept anonymous) is located at the following URL https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/securedrop.

(24) A discussion with Noam Chomsky, 20:00 minute video, 03:25-04:52 Professor Chomsky, http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/a-discussion-with-noam-chomsky/52cad6fffe34442083000162

(25) TPP – WikiLeaks has released another bombshell, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPIsjH25GHo

(26) A Polemic Against Corporatist Dehumanization, 1 December 2013, To read / download this piece, follow Instructions in (5) except for last one: instead click On Corporatist Dehumanization. Alternatively, in a web browser enter the URL http://www.ubiquitous42.wordpress.com. The article is located at entry 2013_12_01.

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2014_01_08

Let’s Fix Economic Inequality Rolf Auer, 8 January 2014

In my opinion, the primary defining characteristic of this age is gross economic inequality. The vast income disparities around the planet are inexcusable and egregious (1).

Let us put aside whichever supposed causes might be responsible, and instead concentrate on the problem itself. I write this latter statement because I do not believe that the out-and-out overthrowing of “the system” is viable. The natural inclination of humans is towards peace, therefore they would not—as a rule—welcome violent revolutionary upheaval, as much as a frenetic minority would advocate it as being the best solution. That’s not to say the politics of desperation has no place in the collective imagination—merely that it should only be a motivational actuality, better left unrealized in the interests of preserving the calm stability of human vitality.

US President Barack Obama has singled out inequality as a key pressing problem. His immediate response is to advocate for the raising of the minimum wage, to the point where comparing it with the amount which is actually needed to overcome poverty becomes at least quasi-respectable:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/obama-economic-speech-draw-attention-income-inequality-082143444–finance.html

(the text of this story can be found in 2013_12_05)

It’s worth noting that the issue of raising the minimum wage has been embraced by the Democrats:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/30/us/politics/democrats-turn-to-minimum-wage-as-2014-strategy.html

“In a series of strategy meetings and conference calls among them in recent weeks, they have focused on two levels: an effort to raise the federal minimum wage, which will be pushed by President Obama and congressional leaders, and a campaign to place state-level minimum wage proposals on the ballot in states with hotly contested congressional races.”

A reader, sjford, commented:

“Teenagers in the fast food industry only comprise 25% of the workforce. That means a whopping 75% of that workforce are adults that are living off those wages. A study showed that making all Walmart employees full time at $12/hr would raise the average shopping trip by 11 cents. A burger would go up around 18 cents. These miniscule price increases aren’t going to stop anyone from making these purchases.
The question is do you want to pay more taxes to provide these people with food stamps, medicaid, and housing assistance or do you want multi-billion dollar corporations paying their employees enough to live on? Because you can’t have it both ways. If you’re against a minimum wage increase then you’re FOR paying increased taxes to provide government benefits to these people. Which is it?”

It’s good that an attempt to solve the problem of economic inequality in the US is being initiated directly by the Administration, led by Obama. The centerpiece of the American dream—as written in its Declaration of Independence—arguably is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.” This cannot be achieved without fairness in economic opportunities. Antithetical to this idea are poverty and indentured servitude—inadequate remuneration and student debt being only two examples of these. It is readily apparent that raising the minimum wage to such a point where a decent standard of living can be thusly achieved is an extremely important step in guaranteeing fairness in economic opportunity, thereby placing the American dream back within reach of the average person.

Another way of achieving a decent standard of living is to acquire enough education and so qualify one for higher paying positions (2). It is known that a correlation exists between the amount of education attained and the amount one can thusly earn (3). Therefore it is a possibility open to those who are able to acquire the requisite amount of education.

The purpose of attaining education, however, is to “learn how to create,” not to enhance personal economic gain. Chris Hedges (4), Michael Albert (5), and Noam Chomsky (6) have all noted how emphasizing the latter over the former corrupts civilization.

Attempts to safeguard financial wellbeing—such as exemplified by the moves made by the Trilateral Commission ca 1973-75—also corrupt civilization by stifling creativity and thereby also inhibiting economic productivity (7).

As I wrote earlier in this article, I do not believe in “overthrowing the system” by violent revolution. I am by nature a pacifist, a person who first resorts to peace in resolution of conflict, who believes in the supremacy of reason over passion.

I would therefore advocate taking the system from within by achieving necessary education and therefore also the necessary personal economic clout. That one also thusly enhances personal economic gain is a delightful secondary result. More importantly, as stated previously, one’s creativity is enhanced. Most importantly in this particular instance is the acquired ability to effect change in the system from within, specifically to solve the most pressing problem of our time, that is, eliminating gross economic inequality.

However, beware!—the structure of the education system is conducive to making its recipient into a corporate meat puppet. As Vandana Shiva has said, “Education quite clearly replicates control in many, many ways. I come from a country that was colonized by Britain, and one of the instruments of control was education, because education can either free the mind and encourage independent thinking or it can control the mind and condition the mind, and can basically turn you into slaves who voluntarily give up their freedom because they don’t know who else to be, how else to think.” (8)

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the practice of freedom – the means by which men and women […] discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” (9)

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”—Milan Kundera (10)

“An education that omits what is needed to understand power thereby protects it. Most of us will pass through school without a single lesson on the roots of inequality… the influence of corporations… or the workings of capitalism.” (11)

“Passive acceptance of the teacher’s wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought… Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position.”—Bertrand Russell (12)

“A hierarchically-structured workplace demands that we sell more than our time and knowledge. It demands that we sell our obedience. The more skillfully we conform to the logic of the system and obey the agendas of those above us, the more power we will attain.” (13)

“Science couldn’t progress unless it was based on the inculcation of the urge to challenge, to question doctrine, question authority, search for alternatives, use your imagination, act freely under your own impulses, cooperative work with others… That’s my view of what an educational system should be like, down to kindergarten. But there are certainly powerful forces in society which prefer people to be indoctrinated, conform, not ask too many questions, be obedient, fulfill the roles that are assigned to you, and don’t try to shake systems of power and authority. Those are choices we have to make as people, wherever we stand in the educational system, as students, as teachers, as people on the outside trying help shape it in the directions in which we think it ought to go.”—Noam Chomsky (14)

Part of the fight is against the privatization of knowledge. As the song goes, “These days it’s all secrecy and no privacy…” (Fingerprint File, The Rolling Stones).  Heroes in this fight are Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Aaron Swartz. They sacrificed dearly in order for the public to remain informed.

An article lists reasons why people today do not want to question authority (15). Briefly, these are:

1. encumbered by student-loan debt (Ref.: “indentured servitude” earlier in this article)

2. psychopathologizing and medicating non-compliance (This is why the too common diagnosis and treatment of ADHD—to give one obvious example—is being questioned)

3. too often schools educate for compliance and not for democracy

4. educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race To The Top” (These have the effect of enhancing point #3)

5. shaming young people who take their education—but not their schooling—seriously (Conformity is encouraged, while people who “rock the boat” are shamed)

6. the normalization of surveillance (Google “surveillance” and you will quickly see that it is thought to give rise to conformity)

7. television (I don’t have to explain this, do I?)

8. fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism (Organized religion typically is narrow-minded and encourages conformity—Pope Francis is a refreshing exception to this! Rampant consumerism is one consequence of long-term corporatist dehumanization (please read 2013_12_01))

Education should be free. In some enlightened countries, it is free. In fact, it’s free here, if one isn’t worried about independent study and not being graded. (I’m writing here about access to education via the Net. MIT open courseware can be found at ocw.mit.edu/index.htm This is one justification for making Net access as widely available as possible.)

It costs surprisingly little to make education (in the traditional sense) free (16).

(Noam Chomsky recounts the story of a professor who was asked what would be covered in his teachings (6). He replied, “It doesn’t matter what we cover. It matters what you discover.” It’s worthwhile and instructive here to recall the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan a mathematical genius self-taught only by one old college textbook, who made astonishing progress in number theory: the point is that obviously if education is freely available, wonderful things can happen.)

Education is not free precisely because the PTB (powers that be) wish for it to be conducive to indoctrination and conformity, as previously pointed out by Noam Chomsky.

Thus, traditional education remains difficult to obtain. This is part of a “dumbing down” agenda partly brought about by the efficacies of the 1972 report “The Crisis of Democracy” and the resultant actions of the Trilateral Commission. The purpose is to loosen the grip of democratic action so that, for example, rights previously won can be taken away with little to no objection. Devices in this respect (in Canada, at least) entail ushering in secret trade deals which are mere corporate Bills Of Rights (CETA, TPP) and restricting access to knowledge by shutting libraries (17), “muzzling” scientists (18), and restricting FOI/ATI requests (19).

It will take a concerted effort for the population at large to shake off the shackles binding their minds to the limits of the status quo, to free themselves from prejudices and forces of conformity, to find new ways in which to think, see, and act. However, that is the only way inequality will finally be overcome.

I close with a couple of quotes:

“Rise like Lions after slumber / in unvanquishable number, / shake your chains to earth like dew / which in sleep had fallen on you / ye are many – they are few”—Percy Bysshe Shelley, from one of his poems The Masque of Anarchy, 1819

“Who but shall learn that freedom is the prize / Man still is bound to rescue or maintain; / That nature’s God commands the slave to rise, / And on the oppressor’s head to break the chain.”—John Quincy Adams, July 1845

——————————————————————-

(1) From one of Murray Dobbin’s books, The Myth of the Good Corporate Citizen “In 1995 there were ‘only’ 357 billionaires. Their net worth was $760 billion, more wealth than the bottom 45 percent of humanity. That is, 357 people in the world owned more combined wealth than 2.7 billion other people.” According to a 11 March 2010 article in The Globe and Mail titled “The New World Order,” at that time there were over 1,000 billionaires. Some research on the Net showed that their net worth was $3 trillion. I checked with Shannon Daub, Communications Director of the BC Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and she told me that their value was equivalent to the net worth of more than the poorest 3.5 billion human beings (out of 7 billion) on the planet.

Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, spoke at Toronto’s Massey Hall in protest of the G20 meeting. From Democracy Now, 2 July 2010, here’s a little of what she said: “The richest 2% own more than half the household wealth in the world. The richest 10% hold 85% of total global assets and the bottom half of humanity owns less than 1% of the wealth in the world. The three richest men in the world have more money than the poorest 48 countries.”

(2) The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better For Everyone, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, 2009, Chapter 8, p.103

(3) ibid., Chapter 12, p.161

(4) Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges, 2009 “We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and ‘success,’ defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.”

(5) The Lottery of Birth, documentary, Michael Albert (09:48-11:10)

(6) The Purpose of Education, interview, Noam Chomsky, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdNAUJWJN08 (11:48-15:33)

(7) op.cit.(5), (17:09-20:30)

(8) op.cit.(5), (20:34-21:08)

(9) op.cit.(5), (23:51)

(10) op.cit.(5), (21:19)

(11) op.cit.(5), (21:25-22:45)

(12) op.cit.(5), (30:07)

(13) op.cit.(5), (36:30-36:53)

(14) op.cit.(6) (04:50-06:08)

(15) http://www.alternet.org/story/151850/8_reasons_young_americans_don’t_fight_back%3A_how_the_us_crushed_youth_resistance 31 July 2011

(16) http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/03/how-washington-could-make-college-tuition-free-without-spending-a-penny-more-on-education/273801/ 8 March 2013

(17) http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/capt-trevor-greene/science-cuts-canada_b_4534729.html  3 January 2014

(18) http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/muzzling-of-federal-scientists-widespread-survey-suggests-1.2128859  21 October 2013

(19) http://www.oic-ci.gc.ca/eng/media-room-salle-media_news-releases-communiques-de-presse_2013_7.aspx  17 October 2013

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2014_01_01

Give It Up For Whatever by Rolf Auer, 31 December 2013

So, you still believe that your vote counts for something? Ahh, sweet naivety, let me lose myself in unending ignorance, which is bliss! Of course, “Soma” will not be marketed now that Huxley has had his way with it. “Bliss,” however, has already hit the market. The MSM deal in it everyday. That’s why nary a whimper was heard when the last election was stolen. Canadians are high on bliss, which is ignorance.

If Canadians could give a frack, they would. They can’t, however; they are frightened children cowering under Harper’s simpering stare. What’s that, you say, the election was stolen? So what?

It was to be expected. It’s the logical outcome to forever giving it up to the military-industrial-complex, to forever condoning endless war. Again, we couldn’t give a frack. At one time, we were proud: we took pride that we were known worldwide as peacekeepers. Now, we are common warmongers. We give it up for whatever.

I was listening to CBC this morning, on this, the last day of Annus Torybilis. “I have two words,” said someone, “‘balding’ and ‘hard.’” Whoa, let me fall on my face at your feet, oh great one, and worship your penetrating and astute wit. You have split the issue to the core. The issue being how to avoid the issue, that is. Let’s be frivolous and trivial, and avoid at all costs discussing the demise of our democracy. Anybody notice that the last election was stolen? No? Ya, I suppose it’s all too boring. So, I’ll play along, and write an ode to those great news words of ‘balding’ and ‘hard.’ D’oh!

“The clowns at the radio station / weren’t saying much of anything / as usual, except that / life is ‘balding’ and ‘hard.’ / O clowns, I would even now / compose an ode in your honour / if you had any honour / that is.”

Experience taught me that Canadians were tough. Were. Not any more. Now we’re merely wimps. Now we give it up for whatever.

I’m bored. Think I’ll watch a chick flick. How about Erin Brockovich or Silkwood? Funny, you never see those on TV. Why not?

Well, how about Coal Miner’s Daughter or Norma Rae? You don’t see those anymore. Why not?

Oh well, guess it’s Dumb and Dumber then. I give it up for whatever. I. Am. Canadian.

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2013_12_18

CPC MP James Moore – The Unbearable Slighting of Beings

Rolf Auer, 18 December 2013

Is James Moore representative of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)?

I claim Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the face of the CPC, its kernel, its personality.

Consider: either the CPC ideology closely conforms with Harper’s own, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then Harper must be pretty cold-blooded to compromise his personal beliefs in order to achieve political power. If it does, then what can be said about the composition of Harper’s ideology?

A man is known by the company he keeps. Euripides.

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him. Niccolo Machiavelli.

According to the following 12 September 2011 article by Paul Wells, Prime Minister Stephen Harper at that time was only really listening to four men: Nigel Wright, John Baird, Jason Kenney and James Moore. http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/09/12/harper%E2%80%99s-single-white-males/

Wright was—until fired recently—the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, and not above “steering” members of the CPC via strategic phone calls. MPs Baird and Kenney hold ministerial portfolios. MP Moore is Minister of Heritage.

Wright is currently embroiled in the Senate scandal. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/11/29/senate_scandal_nigel_wright_and_the_making_of_a_controversy.html

Some of Baird’s past conduct has been closely scrutinized by the media. Discussed are his actions (1) while Minister of the Environment, and (2) as current Minister of Foreign Affairs. (1) http://www.canadians.org/fr/node/6592 (2) http://globalnews.ca/news/889102/photo-bomb-john-bairds-maldives-spat-frankly-ridiculous/

Minister of Employment Kenney has been in hot water too. (1) http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/kenney-amends-controversial-refugee-bill-1.1250633  (2) http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/immigration-minister-jason-kenney-uses-bomb-describe-alberta-175717134.html

Above all, however, it is Moore who consistently courts controversy. Adding insult to injury, he simply is unable to avoid personally denigrating any he sees as opponents on top of leveling political criticism at them. He has offended (1) people living in poverty, (2) people with autism, (3) artists, and (4) people working at Canada’s publicly owned broadcaster, the CBC.

(1) During the following one minute interview, Moore is questioned about what is being done for people living in poverty. He responds by reeling off “factoids”: that poverty from different regions cannot be compared, that prosperity is up and unemployment is down, that more people are working than ever before and a million new jobs across Canada have been created, and that Canada has never before been so wealthy. He overlooks that Statistics Canada Low-income Cut-off  (LICO) poverty line definition is intended to make possible regional poverty comparisons, that Canada’s new found prosperity continues to go mostly to the well-off, that the new jobs created are—for the most part—“McJobs,” and that if it is true Canada has never been so wealthy as it is now, then why is it that household debt levels are at an all-time high? Then Moore cracks a joke about how it’s not the government’s job to provide for people living in poverty, and chuckles: “The government’s just my job to feed my neighbour’s child, I don’t think so. (laughs nervously? contemptuously?)” This offhand remark was so egregious and the public outcry (on Twitter, for example) was so vociferous that within the space of one day Moore was forced to apologize. The interview audio clip can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqVu6iSVXTo&feature=youtu.be

(2) At a public all-candidates meeting in the lead-up to the last federal election, prospective office holders were asked: “If elected to parliament, will you publicly commit to support legislation which will amend the Canada Health Act to include autism treatment under Medicare?” The main party contenders responded in the affirmative, except for Moore, who replied: “Autism is not a disability and The Canada Health Act is not for special interest groups.” (to find his answer, scroll down to the 29 April 2011 entry of Elaine Willis): http://www.medicareforautismnow.org/archives/candidates-response/ Moore was elected.

(3) In response to a question as to whether “someone in the PMO was contacted by the police with regard to the Nigel Wright – Mike Duffy affair,” Moore ducked it by instead attacking an income-averaging bill (before the House meant to help artists cope with their often widely-varying annual incomes) as an attempt by its originator to avoid paying taxes and as a product of “NDP corruption.” (At this pathetic excuse of a non-answer, all of the CPC members simultaneously jumped to their feet and applauded: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr2oJ6lL5P8&feature=youtu.be ) This quotation is from the following article: “Actor Eric Peterson, winner of one of this year’s lifetime achievement [Governor General] awards, was among the artists who walked out of the chamber in disgust. ‘I was led to believe I was to be introduced in the House of Commons and I was to be congratulated for what I’ve done, instead of sitting there and to be insulted by this incredibly insensitive remark about artists…’… Peterson was particularly dumbfounded that such remarks came from the minister responsible for Canadian arts and culture. He said Moore appears to believe his job is “to protect corporations and the taxpayer from the rapacious demands of artists.”” http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/artists-insulted-as-moore-jabs-ndp-mp-in-heat-of-qp-1.1372230

(4) After Moore’s promise to increase funding to the CBC, its budget was slashed. Moore: “We believe in the national public broadcaster. We have said that we will maintain or increase support for the CBC. That is our platform and we have said that before and we will commit to that. The CBC is the infrastructure around which Canadian arts and culture is built, so of course it is central and it is key. It is essential for respect for all of our official languages and all of the regions of the country — broadcasting in aboriginal languages in the North.” The opposite happened. Earlier this year, I was following news stories on Twitter and FaceBook, and I noticed at least one concerning funding cuts which were forcing the shutdown of Aboriginal radio stations. http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2012/03/30/CBC-Budget-Cuts/

In the case of Moore (not so much the others), only hubris could explain his ongoing insouciance and insensitivity, which are punctuated by his uncaring comments.

Is it my imagination or do today’s politics too often appear to be marred by instances of overweening arrogance, attitudes of entitlement, and/or abuses of privilege?

Is that all there is to modern politics, or more specifically, is that all there is to the politics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the CPC?

In conclusion, I claim that while Harper’s association with Moore may not be generally indicative of his personality (and therefore that of the CPC), the fact that Moore has such a prominent role in the CPC and in Harper’s inner circle is in itself telling. Perhaps I am becoming mildly curmudgeonly due to my advancing years; however, it seems to me that the pristine Canadian politics with which I grew up is now tattily tainted by Harper and his ilk.

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2013_12_13

P.M. Harper and His CPC Are Pathological Liars

Types of Lies             Explanation                                            Weight

1. error                        honest mistake                                          (1)

2. omission                 leave out relevant information                 (2)

3. restructuring

a. distortion           misrepresent the truth                                  (2)

b. minimization     diminish the truth                                           (2)

c. exaggeration      enlarge the truth                                             (2)

4. broken promise       claim will do something, then don’t        (2)

5. obscurantism

a. smokescreen      hide the truth                                                  (2)

b. distraction          cloak the truth by diversion                          (2)

6. hypocrisy                say one thing, do another                          (2)

7. denial                      refuse to acknowledge the truth                (3)

8. cover-up                  suppress the truth                                      (4)

9. fabrication               falsehood; deception                                   (5)

A History of Lies – links to articles at entries 2013_12_07 & 2013_12_09

(Simple model determines arbitrary order by assigned weight)

Senate scandal: cover-up as evidenced by constantly changing stories of what transpired, 8. Attempts to buy loyalty of involved senators were hypocrisy because why do so if nothing wrong, 6. Total weight: 6.

Fraudulent election: the 2011 election results were fraudulent. Done by 1 (possibly 9) by having voters in certain ridings telephoned and given misleading directions to polling stations. Also, 8 by not having this investigated. Total weight: 5 (possibly 9).

Condoned Human Rights oppression: disbanded human rights tribunals calling these “totalitarian,” 9. Total weight: 5.

Tried to force bitumen pipelines to be built: Omitted telltale data about possible environmental damage, 2 (possibly 7). Thwarted democratic process by closing National Energy Board hearings to public during consultation, 3a. Used fabricated figures about potential jobs created, 1 (possibly 9). Total weight: 5 (possibly 9).

Trade deals negotiated in secret, CETA & TPP: failing to provide necessary information to the public so that the public could make informed decisions, 2. Total weight: 4.

CSEC spied on Canadians, monitored online politics chat rooms, restricted Access To Information/Freedom Of Information requests: Harper promised “openness and accountability,” 6, 4. Total weight: 3 x 4.

Tried to ram through Senate Reform: tried to bypass laws defining Senate reform, 7. Total weight: 3.

Neglected climate change: refuse to accept proof of evidence, 7. Total weight: 3.

Censored Canada’s scientists: denied the truth of their reports, 7. Total weight: 3.

Tried to close InSite (Vancouver’s safe drug injection site): refused to acknowledge proof that Harm Reduction saves lives, 7. Total weight: 3.

Neglected Canada’s Veterans: despite purporting to be on their side refused to grant military pensions to all Veterans, 6. Total weight: 2.

Harper government broke promise to build new affordable housing: 6. Total weight: 2.

Ran numerous attack advertisements: attempts to obscure the truth about Harper and the CPC, 5a. Total weight: 2.

Harper government lost $3.1 billion: accounting error, 1. Total weight: 1.

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