Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Raise dem corporate taxes in Canada

Just like the NDP says:

Reverse the Liberal and Conservative giveaways. The New Democrats will not implement Mr. Harper's profligate, wasteful and unproductive corporate tax breaks. We'll restore a uniform 22.12% tax rate – what it was before the Martin and Harper governments began these giveaways.

Simplify the tax code by reviewing and eliminating outdated tax incentives and loopholes. Tighten-up tax administration so everyone pays their fair share of taxes, and the billions of dollars in taxes currently owed, but not paid, are collected.

Of course, some people disagree: A tax professor at the University of Calgary (oh, ho-ho-ho!), the OECD, and the C. D. Howe Institute among others. The usual suspects. According to KPMG, Canada's corporate taxes (when compounded with provincial tax rates) are the third-highest in the OECD.

No surprise, the Canadian Labour Congress disputes KPMG's numbers:

However, Canadian Labour Congress economistErin Weir counters the claim that corporate tax rates in Canada are relatively high, arguing it is no longer accurate."Canada's marginal effective tax rate dropped from 37 per cent to 31 per cent, mainly due to accelerated depreciation for manufacturers and other targeted measures," Weir said.
Not only is Canada's marginal effective tax rate lower than the 32-per-cent average of industrial countries, the rate on Canada's struggling manufacturing sector is an even lower 23 per cent, well below the 31-per-cent average in industrial countries, Weir added.


What I don't think can possibly be disputed is that Canadians have received very little for previous tax cuts [pdf link]:

As noted, the federal corporate income tax rate has been cut from 28% in 2000 to 21% today. But there is,to date, no evidence of a significant impact on investment.On the contrary, corporate pre-tax profits have soared to a record-high as a percentage of national income, while real business investment in structures and in machinery and equipment has languished.
Now, my good friend Stephen Gordon argues that corporate taxes aren't even progressive, since countries like Sweden have low corporate taxes and higher income and consumption taxes. I'm prepared to move towards Sweden's low corporate taxes to increase investment and productivity as long as we're agreed to pursue the whole gamut of Swedish socio-economic policies, including industry-wide bargaining and significant codetermination powers for local unions within their firm, ... oh yeah, and 80% unionization levels.
Until such a time, I prefer that the state maintain its power to tax our generally underperforming business sector, using targetted tax breaks to ensure genuine investment in our country's future, rather than simply banking it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Failures of bush II regime a testimony to value of democracy

Because, once again for emphasis, bush II and Karl Rove never won an election. Despite massive fraud, they lost both times. The American people had either the good sense to not bother voting at all (which isn't really all that effective a way to ensure one's proper political representation but it at least signifies that you're not impressed with the available alternatives) or they voted for the lesser of two evils.

All the crimes and bunglings of the bush II regime are the responsibility of a minority of the US-American electorate and a corrupt cabal of militarists and corporate gangsters. Which is why the US-American people should have risen up and prevented this gang from ever getting started on their road to historical infamy.

I say all this in the looming shadow of a possible majority government for the murderous and murderously incompetent Conservative Party of Canada of Stephen Harper. This inhuman nitwit shouldn't even have a minority government, but thanks to our freakishly outdated electoral system he does have one. At least there's enough democratic strength left in the system that he's been forced to water down the extent of his and his party's lunatic fantasies. If it turns out to be the case this time that vote-splitting on the left permits the party of the fascist closet-cases and hypocrites, the selfish and the comfortably ignorant, to win majority government status, then we're all in trouble. But the damage that Harper (the enemy of health care and the fan of killing innocent people in other lands) and Flaherty (the fan of 19th Century fiscal policy and 18th Century social policy) and Stockwell Day (the fan of 1930s German policing policies and 45th century [BCE] scientific theories) will do will be testimony to the necessity of a more representative, democratic form of choosing governments in Canada. Because, once again, these fools do not represent the majority. "The People" (to use a democratic cliche) are smarter than that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cold Harper

I don't get a lot of hoots out of Impolitical's blog, due to her intense loyalty to the Liberal Party of Canada which I positively loathe. However, Liberals are good for a smarter trashing of "Conservative" governments than "Conservatives" are good for trashings of Liberal governments, and I have to credit her with presenting this clip to the world:

"Harper 'reacts' to a supporter fainting"

Watch it before reading the rest of my post. [SPOILER ALERT!!!]

That must've been some speech. At the beginning I wasn't sure which of those poor young shlubs was going to be the fainter. But watch as Harper responds when he finally notices that something happened behind him. I have to point out that he doesn't make the slightest effort to enquire as to whether the young person is alright. He doesn't even make a move in that direction. He does absolutely nothing.

Now, ponder at my brilliance and perspicacity from an earlier entry of mine describing the dead moral centre of Stephen Harper:

Somebody on babble once referred to Harper as a "dead-eyed cipher." And I have to agree, in some pictures, Harper appears to have the eyes of a corpse. They just sort of stare, coldly, blankly, thinking of nothing at all, whilst his body uncomfortably wobbles around in some inappropriate cowboy vest or flak jacket.

Like his eyes, Harper doesn't seem to care about very much. It's like he's going through the motions, or some sort of "process" (like decaying).

...

I don't think Harper particularly gives a shit about Israel, one way or the other. That's for the fundamentalist nutbars like Stockwell Day and his US-American counterparts among the religious right. Israel is just a political symbol for Harper. I'm not sure that it's within him to understand how this works deep down, .... he just knows that it works. It helps him by giving him red meat to throw at his political supporters ... who he doesn't care about either. And this is all to help him get and keep power in Canada, a country which he also doesn't give a shit about.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Conservatives" are Shitty Economic Managers

Check this out:

In a speech yesterday, Harper stopped just short of saying voters should give him a majority government to protect the health of the economy.

"They can choose a strong government to keep Canada on track," Harper said. "Or they can choose a weak Parliament that will put our economic stability at risk."

What a crock of shit. Um, Stevie boy? D'you know who your finance minister is? Jim Flaherty. Yeah, ... that guy. You picked him Stevie.

That's a pretty expensive "green" tax package too Stevie. Too bad it doesn't do anything.

You're such a fucking sickening liar. You don't give a shit about sound finance. You don't give a shit about the health of Canadian society. You exist to make your masters rich. You don't even care about the red meat that your chump voting base slavers for.

But it's easy for Stevie to say this crap, because the media (when they're not deliberately singing the corporate tune and excluding sane voices from the marketplace of ideas) imagines that to report on what a politician says and to then tell people whether the politician is lying or not, is departing from "objectivity."

Harper and Flaherty have wreaked the public finances and there's nothing to show for it. Harris-Flaherty-Eves screwed Ontario over. Mulroney did a number on us. Grant Devine fucked up Saskatchewan. The SoCreds loved their deficits in British Columbia. South of the border, it's the same thing. Reagan and bush II in particular, love blowing other people's money on militarism and presents for rich people.

Regarding the media, I, like others, wish they'd do some work and follow-up on important political claims. When Harper blames the Liberals for deaths from tainted meat that happened over two years into his watch, it ought to be a simple task to establish whether he's just being a fat, gutless, lying asshole, blaming others for his own murderous incompetence and corruption.

Lastly, I'd just like to say that Alison at Creekside's presentation of the convinction in the Paintball 18 case is chilling and testimony to how far these Liberals, with their mewling stupidity and corporate arrogance which they regard as "pragmatism" and these "Conservatives" with their naked authoritarianism and their sheer stupidity, have debased our political culture.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Adam Yoshida on Conservative "Vision"

H/T to Canadian Cynic.

Adam Yoshida of "The Western Standard.ca" (what is it now? a blog?) fantasizes about what the Cons could do with a majority government:

Do too much, rather than too little. Don’t shift these things around. Burn them down and salt the Earth. A future Liberal government won’t have the guts, the time, the wherewithal, or the money to recreate them all at once. Sell the land and the buildings. Shred the records. Disperse the staff. It’s easier to destroy than it is to create. A Tory government on a rampage could destroy in a couple of months what it took four decades to create – and what it would take another forty to recreate.

This is just a restatement of the fanatic Milton Friedman's Tyranny of the Status-Quo wherein he advocated a Republican administration should try to destroy as many welfare-state institutions and as many centre and left power blocs as possible in its first six months.

Yoshida, like Friedman and other right-wingers, is, at the end of the day, really only capable of destruction. Friedman's pupils got a blank slate to work with in Chile and it was an economic disaster. Friedman's own recommendations on the money supply and inflation were tested by the Reagan administration and almost destroyed the economy. (Reagan's massive military spending might have been what saved US manufacturing from the impact of the overpriced dollar.) Like the failure Friedman, Canadian "conservatives" have been equally as destructive. Mike Harris destroyed Ontario's finances and managed to kill people with their drinking water. His incompetent finance minister went on to Ottawa where he's backed us up into a deficit situation while Canadians have been dying from eating contaminated meat. These people are insane and stupid and should be kept far from the levers of power.

Yoshida's alternative to state services for the general public is militarism and jingoism:

Build big things. Canadians, for all that they claim to be a peace-loving people, want to love their country. That’s why, in the absence of a more compelling national identity, they hold onto the things that they do. Build a pair of Aircraft Carriers – giant, expensive, deadly, and useful symbols of Canadian pride that children can hang on their walls. Name them after Wolfe and Montcalm or something like that.


Yes. Canadian-made Aircraft Carriers. Yoshida doesn't really have any idea about what he's talking about.

Who is this Adam Yoshida fellow? I don't really know. I think that I've heard his name before, associated with something bad. My last comment on him is that I think the left has to think about destroying the political and economic strength of nutbars like this with the same level of enthusiasm that they would bring to destroying our healthcare system or to starting wars with impoverished countries (while they yammer about how "dangerous" the world is).

Like Friedman said (imagining different targets): "Hit them everywhere, all at once. Don't give them time to mobilize in defence of anything."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Judith Scherr on MINUSTAH from CounterPunch

A great article, highly recommended: "Blue Helmets in Haiti"

A rare glimpse at the situation in Haiti. Including a call for MINUSTAH to stay in Haiti from a source that I can actually trust as it makes sense:

Despite her anger, Bienaim√© said she’s not among those calling for MINUSTAH to leave. She credits MINUSTAH for ending the gang violence in recent years.

“There are still things going on [i.e., gang violence], but it’s nothing like four years ago. Before, it was a very bad situation. I couldn’t sleep in my house because there was always shooting going on somewhere. I almost lost my daughter in the middle of crossfire, and I had to stay for three years in someone else’s house. I’m not saying the U.N. has to leave the country. I can tell they really help. but I still think the U.N. needs to respect people,” she said.



For the record, another Haitian has a different opinion.

Unlike Bienaimé, Guerta insisted the U.N. troops should leave.

“The way the U.N. treats Haitians is as if they are not human beings,” she said. “You shouldn’t have to deal with people who don’t respect you. If I died from this, no one would care, the same way no one cares about this incident. I believe MINUSTAH should leave, because they are not really helping.”

Worth the read considering Canada's ongoing complicity in this travesty.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hot-knives Demo

I'm just not pumped about anything tonight ...



actually, i like that guy's kettle.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More about this Mark Levin character

Forgive me, I'm still a little shaken from my exposure yesterday to the raw fascism and utter insanity of "the great one" Mark Levin. I don't often subject myself to the garbage political culture of the right-wing, and it makes me sick inside to think of how decent, progressive individuals in the USA have to wake up every morning knowing that this putrid nonsense is a dominant aspect of the media thanks to the wonders of capitalist ownership.

That a man with such a pimply voice is a "successful" radio personality is truly bizarre, aside from his mental instability and weakness with facts and argument. That he compensates for his insanity and stupidity by ranting about "the troops' [who his beloved hero bush II either sends to die in foreign wars, or leaves them to fester in their filth at under-funded veterans' hospitals, or simply abandons them to PTSD and the streets] to anyone who disagrees with him, makes him sound entirely like the fascist mouth-breather that he is. Suffice to say, this is an ugly, ugly example of the human species and I shudder to imagine what he's compensating for with all his cowardly bullying and shrieking.

But a couple more things about the content of Levin's shrieking: First of all, he sputtered about how "liberals" derailed earlier bush II regime efforts to tighten regulations on the quasi-public bodies "Fannie Mae" and "Fannie Mac" which have since filed for bankruptcy due to the weight of bad loans. He quotes Chris Dodd and also names other liberal Democrats for thwarting bush II's noble and far-sighted legislation. Apparently Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac chiefs did lobby these Democrats to block efforts to regulate them and, to their shame, these Democrats did speak out against needed regulatory reform. (If Mark Levin and the rest of the US right-wing ever pull their heads out of their filthy asses they'd find out that actual "leftists" don't see the Democratic Party as anything but another collection of corporate shills, so none of what he said came as any great shock.)

But here's the thing; this regulatory reform was proposed in 2003 when the Repugnicans had majority control of both houses of Congress. How the hell were the Democrats (who have caved to every bush II regime demand even when they have a majority in both houses) supposed to block legislation when they were in the minority? That question is also asked by Kathy Gill in very clear terms. Reading the comments section of her post you'll notice that some Repug cretins show up and babble and stammer but fail to answer her very clear question, and fail utterly to provide the evidence of Democratic power that blocked the noble bush II proposal. That's because for all their blustering, they couldn't. Turns out it (surprise, surpise) Fannie's Mae and Mac also bought-off Repugnican senators who also conspired to block the proposals and bush II, probably unaware of the significance of the legislation (as he is with life in general) didn't force the issue.

Okay, so that's the first matter from Levin's tirade. The second howler came in the second half of his show. While he was busy linking Democratic policies from 1977, and CRA mortgages from 1977 to the housing bubble of 2000-2008 [did I mention that he was insane and stupid?], basically saying that this problem was building up and building up due to Democratic malfeasance spanning THREE DECADES, malfeasance that FIVE Republican administrations and lengthy periods of Repugnican legislative control could apparently do nothing to stop, ... while Chris Dodd and Barack Obama were crookedly conspiring to allow housing-market giants Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac to slide into bankruptcy despite the perspicacity of the bush II regime, Levin also took time to shriek that the Democrats have been wrong about EVERYTHING, including "Social Security Reform."

The privatization of the US social security program was a totally unpopular attempt by the bush II regime to give Wall Street a gift, ... control over Americans' pensions. Forgetting the gigantic pink elephant that the scare-mongering about US social security's bankruptcy is complete bullshit, just consider this: Levin spent twenty minutes babbling about how the current Wall Street meltdown is the inevitable result of thiry years of rot caused by the Democrats and which the Repugs were unable to stop. Okay? The roots of the crisis are deep, pervasive, and clear for years for anyone with the eyes to see it. Wall Street has been teetering on the brink of collapse since the 1990s because of the evil Democrats. Got that? Because, as I just said, Levin is an advocate for turning over Americans' pensions to this grievously imperiled system. Levin has known that Wall Street was going to die because of the Democrats but he still thought it was a good idea to put his countrymen's retirement plans into it.

That's because Levin is a stammering, babbling idiot. He can't put two and two together, even when they come out of his own spit-spraying, nasily tirades.

I had some armchair psychoanalysis to offer about this turd's shortcomings but I've got a job to do and a life to lead. I think this'll be the last time I subject myself to this fool and his rantings.

Smart, decent US-Americans, you have my deepest sympathies.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More "conservative" Incoherence: Poor people broke Wall Street

From this incoherent airhead: A link to this deranged, ranting piece of shit.

The Wall Street meltdown was caused by US liberal politicians forcing banks to loan money to poor people.

That's right. But go ahead, read it again: The Democratic Party, those champions of pure, unadulterated socialism, FORCED the most powerful financial entities on Wall Street to destroy their balance sheets, and loan money to poor people in the subprime markets with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to the extent that they were driven into bankruptcy. The po' widdle Wall Street giants cried and wailed but there was nothing they could do. In a country like the United States, capitalism simply can't defend itself against the power of socialist ideas.

The only problem with Mark Levin's thesis is that it isn't a thesis. It's complete and utter crap. But what can you expect from a brainless psychopath whose claim to fame is being an advisor to the incompetent and criminal Reagan administration, and Chief of Staff to sleaze-bag Edwin Meese?

The facts, facts, facts, are that the vast majority of subprime loans had little or nothing to do with the CMA:

Problem is, half of the subprime loans came from mortgage companies with no CRA involvement at all. Another 25%-30% came from companies with very little CRA exposure. For those who left their abacus at home, that's 80% of the loans which were fully or largely outside CRA jurisdiction. More than that, the non-CRA mortgage firms made subprime loans at twice the rate of CRA -covered firms.

The might be hard to understand, so I'll try to repeat for the sake of clarity: 80 percent of the subprime loans were made by institutions with little or nothing to do with CRA legislation.

Once again, the right-wing scans desperately and pathetically for any fucking excuse to escape their own responsibility.

This little quote from commondreams points to the main culprit:

In 1999, President Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, which tore down Glass-Steagall's reforms by removing the walls separating banks, securities firms and insurers.

A generation ago, banks, credit unions and S&Ls issued home mortgages that they retained on their books as an asset. The lenders had a stake in receiving full repayment of the loans from creditworthy borrowers.

But in recent years, mortgages began to be sold to firms that cobbled the loans together to create mortgage-backed securities, or mortgage bonds. Loans to the least creditworthy borrowers carried
the highest risk but gave the highest returns, so banks and other institutional investors bought loads of them.


Did'ja get that Levin? Shut-up!! I'm trying to educate you!! Nobody forced those "investors" to load-up on junk! They did it themselves, thanks to the bipartisan miracle of deregulation of the financial sector.



*Except make billions of dollars peddling garbage to the world.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More "conservative" Incoherence

I started this one in August. Happy reading.

From some libertarian (allegedly) website* via TMW: News about another brain-dead "conservative" attempt at humour and satire. As if the splattered shit they called "The Half-hour News Hour" wasn't evidence enough that these people are as funny as, oh, "a creepy 11-year old trying to put the moves on his best friend's hot 18-year old sister." Apparently this abomination will be called "An American Carol" in time for Christmas, in which a "liberal" (a parody of filmmaker Michael Moore) learns about what a horrible person he is:

Executive producer Myrna Sokoloff has put together a "pro-soldier, support our troops, pro-America" comedy, which Stephen Hayes previews in the new Weekly Standard. In it, filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin "brother of Chris" Farley) and his organization MoveAlong.org are trying to repeal the Fourth of July when three angels—the Angel of Death, George S. Patton, and George Washington—come to him and convince him to change his ways. ... The footage we saw floated somewhere in the middle of those two projects, quality-wise. Fat-assed Malone travels to Cuba, pledges to destroy America, and takes advantage of the invisibility granted by ghost status by grabbing a protestor's boobs. Bill O'Reilly appears out of nowhere to slap him. "I just like doing that," he says. Terrorists led by everybody's favorite pockmarked tough guy Robert Davi bitch that they're low on suicide bombers ("All the good ones are gone!") and all answer to the name Mohammed. In a scene that Sokoloff described, but didn't bring, Patton and his soldiers storm a courthouse that's about to remove the Ten Commandments and start opening fire on the people trying to stop them. "You can't shoot these people!" Malone says. "They're not people!" says Patton. "They're the ACLU!" At this point we see that the ACLU members are unkillable George Romero zombies. ... In a clip we saw, Washington takes Malone to St. Paul's Cathedral to lecture him on freedom of religion and "freedom of speech, which you abuse." Malone is grossed out by dust in the priest's box, so the doors open onto the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. "This is the dust of 3000 innocent human beings!" bellows Washington. Malone whimpers that he's just making movies. Washington won't have it. "Is that what you plan to say on Judgment Day?"


Let's examine this garbage in detail shall we? Because, once again, "conservatives" have provided us with more evidence that their entire political worldview is based on empty phrases, incoherent arguments, irrational hatreds and overall worthless garbage. It is the politics of stupidity, nothing more. Just like Blogging Tory "Hunter" who argued that the proof that Canada is a "conservative" country is self-evident in "our families and our land," the message of "An American Carol" is that US "conservatives" don't really have a fucking clue about what they're talking about -- ever.

Let's begin with their deranged, incoherent hatred of Michael Moore. For the life of me, I don't know where this shit comes from, either from the left or [and especially] the right-wing. Leftist critics tend to point to flaws in Moore's political analysis, which mainly arise from his delusions about the Democratic Party, and therefore conclude that he's part of the problem, a deliberate deceiver, out to lead progressive America astray at the behest of his corporate masters. Instead of reaching out to this hugely important voice for progressive criticism in the United States, and convince him of the flaws in his analysis, they decide to deride and condemn him. But leftist criticism is nothing compared to the paroxysms of hateful rage that issue from right-wingers. To them, Moore is some demonic entity (a grotesquely fat one) who hates all that is good and pure and who must be neutralized if their nation is to ever be saved. He is leftist evil incarnate.

How they get this from the man's work is inexplicable. "Roger and Me" about Moore's attempt to get GM CEO Roger Smith to come and see the damage his massive layoffs (while GM was still profitable) were doing to Flint Michigan? Michael Moore hates America. "Bowling for Columbine," about the USA's strange culture of aggressive gun-ownership that has made school shootings a too-frequent occurrence? Michael Moore hates America. "Fahrenheit 9-11," about the bush II regime's incompetence and laziness leading up to September 11th, 2001, and it's subsequent attacks on free speech and it's fabricated (now so obvious to all but those too insane to accept reality) crisis of Iraq's WMD's and criminal invasion of Iraq? Michael Moore just hates America. There's really no justification for the right-wing's visceral hatred. It's just irrational insanity.

Here's a self-described "conservative stalker" going after Moore. It's interesting in that the "conservative" guy is probably redeemable. He's just a product of a debased political culture that makes people suspicious of new ideas support a party of blatant militarism, racism, and corruption. When confronted with the fact that Moore can be a regular guy, the "conservative" is honest enough to admit it, however, he claims to remain politically opposed to Moore. (If you can call the sewer of "conservative" thought to constitute a political position.) The video itself shows a number of shots of Moore announcing his hatred of the Republican Party and his wish that it be defeated, as if these were self-evidently signs of loony-tunes radicalism.

Back to the stupid film:


filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin "brother of Chris" Farley) and his organization MoveAlong.org are trying to repeal the Fourth of July ...

What the fuck does that even mean?? What? They don't like that date on the calendar? They hate America? Why? Because they don't like bush II? What utter nonsense!


Fat-assed Malone travels to Cuba, pledges to destroy America,

Because, obviously, what Michael Moore is REALLY all about is a burning passion to destroy America. Imbeciles.

... and takes advantage of the invisibility granted by ghost status by grabbing a protestor's boobs. Bill O'Reilly appears out of nowhere to slap him. "I just like doing that," he says.

You've got to be fucking kidding me! O'Reilly slaps him?!? But maybe if they were really "spectacular boobies" O'Reilly would have joined him? O' - fucking- Reilly for whom FUCXNews had to pay millions to settle out of court for sexually harrassing an employee? Shameless stupidity; one of the hallmarks of right-wingers.

In a scene that Sokoloff described, but didn't bring, Patton and his soldiers storm a courthouse that's about to remove the Ten Commandments and start opening fire on the people trying to stop them. "You can't shoot these people!" Malone says. "They're not people!" says Patton. "They're the ACLU!" At this point we see that the ACLU members are unkillable George Romero zombies

Nice. There's numerous instances in both Canada and the USA where the ACLU or the CCLA went to bat for "conservatives." This always comes as a bit of a surprise to "conservatives" since they have no brains and therefore no ability to comprehend what Civil Liberties Unions are all about. All they know is that a lot of the time they're defending the freedoms of people and causes that "conservatives" see as political enemies and which are therefore worthy of total state suppression in the name of "freedom." (Whereas for Janis Joplin, freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose, for "conservatives" freedom is merely the pronunciation of a series of letters arranged in a certain way. They will occasionally shout it at the top of their lungs a-la Mel Gibson, or they'll use it as some sort of magic word in an incantation ["They hate us for our 'freedoms'."] but they have no idea what they're saying. It has no meaning whatsoever and they'd be hard-pressed to understand you if you tried to explain it to them.


In a clip we saw, Washington takes Malone to St. Paul's Cathedral to lecture him on freedom of religion and "freedom of speech, which you abuse." Malone is grossed out by dust in the priest's box, so the doors open onto the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. "This is the dust of 3000 innocent human beings!" bellows Washington. Malone whimpers that he's just making movies. Washington won't have it. "Is that what you plan to say on Judgment Day?"


Maginficent. The perfect testimony to the empty wind-tunnel nature of the right-wing mind. "This is the dust of 3000 innocent human beings!" Yeah? So? The relevance to freedom of religion and freedom of speech (which leftists abuse apparently and so must lose)? They were killed as an assault on freedom of religion and freedom of speech? So, aside from the fact that that's totally wrong, what does it have to with Moore? Seriously. Is he opposed to religious freedom in his films now? Did I miss the Michael Moore movie where he called for the suppression of all religions and the imposition of atheism? Did Michael Moore take a stand on the issue of putting the Ten Commandments up in court-rooms?

Two things on this issue: First, for "conservative" nit-wits to pontificate about "freedom of religion" is pretty rich. They're the ones who are having conniptions because they belive (wrongly, like everything else they think) that Barack Obama is going to take the oath of office on the Koran. Apparently you can shove Christian mythology into everyone's face, but if Jewish, Muslim, or any other prayers were broadcast over their children's school P.A. system, they'd form a lynch mob.

Second of all, these "conservatives" are generally laughable hypocrites regarding their own professed religious beliefs. They worship war and wealth in spite of the fact that they're own holy book tells them that both are the way to Hell. And the religious symbolism that they want to shove into your face? They don't even know what it means themselves. Famous example: Republican Georgia congressman (since re-elected) Lynn Westmoreland, sponsored a bill to put the Ten Commandments up in Courtrooms across the country. Because they were central to who Americans were as a people, and they were an awesome guide for how to live your life. When asked to list them, the idiot could only remember three of them. It happened on a comedy show, because it's laughable. They're laughing-stocks. They're absurd. They're screwball comedy come to life. And they should have no power over our lives whatsoever. They're living jokes, not people with political views that need to be respected.

The victims of September 11th, 2001 died as casualties of blow-back from US Cold War and imperialist politics. The specific actions that produced the tragedy were made possible, to a great extent, by the incompetence and apathy of the unelected bush II regime. End-of-fucking-story. If George Washington wants to berate somebody about the dust of innocent victims it oughta be bush II and Cheney. Given the undeniable facts that they resisted setting up the 9-11 Commission and then withheld evidence from it, it's really those two repugnican mother-fuckers who ought to have George Washington yelling at them. Michael Moore's films had nothing whatsoever to do with 9-11 2001 and this movie's shamelessness and stupidity are mind-boggling.

Orcinus (David Neiwert) blogged on the deranged level of the right-wing. Essentially, whenever a crazed gunman takes out some "liberal" politician, minority-rights activist, abortion provider, women or feminists in general, or people watching a children's play at a Unitarian church, the MSM and the right-wing hot-air factories explain away the right-wing tendencies of said crazed gunmen because they're unrepresentative "loners" and "odd-balls." But that's the whole point says Neiwert:

Part of the problem is that we actually have seen this happen time after time after time: A mentally unstable person is inspired by hateful right-wing rhetoric to act out violently -- and yet because of that mental state, the matter is dismissed as idiosyncratic, just another "isolated incident." And over the months and years, these "isolated incidents" mount one after another.

But simply ascribing these acts to mental illness is a cop-out. It fails to account for the gross irresponsibility of the people who employed the rhetoric that inspired the violent action in the first place, and their resulting moral culpability.


The more articulate and restrained amongst these cretins makes freely with the violent, eliminationist rhetoric, and the less restrained amongst them actually puts these ideas into action. And they do this because they're mouth-breathing idiots who struggle and strain mightily, every day, trying to comprehend the world they've been cast into without the necessary resources.

Finally, a behaviour study demonstrates conservatives more shaken by surprise unsettling images and another one showing they are resistant to logical argument. By "resistant to logical argument" I mean what the study found, that when provided with a (now acknowledged) erroneous bush II regime talking-point, "conservatives" are able to disagree with the error. But when "conservatives" are provided with the talking-point and then a rebuttal, the majority of them tend to agree with the error, perhaps as a defensive response. The same sort of behaviour was not found to be a significant factor in people who self-identified as "liberal." (For record, i consider myself conservative in that I stick to intellectual positions very stubbornly. The difference between me and right-wingers is that when the facts make something screamingly obvious, I'm able to adapt to them, as opposed to sticking to erroneous opinions out of spite.)

To conclude, these are people to be pitied, not debated with. Except for experimental purposes.

*I'm not sure if it's genuinely libertarian or more of the "free markets are a vital part of any society's precious human freedoms and if you don't agree General Pinochet here will smash the bones in your fingers until you do" version of the free-market fanatic.

Busy reading about the Wall Street melt-down

At http://www.counterpunch.org today. That is all.

FTR: Another lost comment - did it again

I clicked on a comment to read it prior to approval or rejection, and the screen burped and next thing I know the screen says "no unmoderated comments found." I don't even know who it was from.

Edited a couple hours later ... so i logged in, ... same thing. 1 new comment, clicked on it, ... screen change "no unmoderated comments"

try "smartzeethwap@yahoo.ca" ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"It's Stressful"

That's what "Conservative" Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz pleaded as his excuse for his inappropriate attempts at humour regarding listeriosis deaths.

Note to shitheads: Only victims and overworked helpers are allowed to employ "gallows humour." Would Ritz have been understanding if a doctor who'd botched an operation and killed a loved one tried to make jokes about it to "relieve the tension"? Of course not. Nor should Canadians be understanding about how "stressful" it is to be the government that removed regulations and inspections in meat-packing that helped produce a deadly crisis.

This is pretty extraordinary actually. However nasty or incompetent they've been, past Canadian governments don't tend to joke about the people they've killed or might have failed. Liberals didn't make jokes during the tainted blood scandal. I can't think of a political movement so full of nincompoops as this one.

They're actually imploding on the campaign trail ain't they? Here's an aide to Northern Quebec MP Lawrence Cannon telling representatives of a Northern Aboriginal reserve that the MP will visit them if they're sober and they behave, followed (apparently) by comments about incest.

This follows their communications director Ryan Sparrow's suspension for responding to criticisms from the father of a slain soldier, of Harper's arbitrary 2011 cut-off date for "the mission" (tm) in Afghanistan, as being null and void because the father is a Liberal.

It's not pretty is it? When ruthless, floundering capitalism unites with the last gasp of social values that are 50 years out of date. This is the sort of vermin that KKKate McMillan would vote for. What else could we really expect?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time to Blog

But i have no time, and very little to say. So, ... um, here's a post about the financial meltdowns in the United States of America.

I've been studying political-economy for about 14 years. And reading sources that are highly critical of the capitalist system, I've mainly focused on why it can't work. Because of this, I've made idle predictions of catastrophic failure a number of times, only to find that the system has such internal resiliency that it's managed to get up, shake itself off, and keep going.

So, ... will the latest crisis based on extreme corruption and a housing bubble sink the United States economy to the core? I honestly don't know. Real estate often seems to be the last refuge of excessive capital concentrations. As well, there are dangers to any strategies that the US government takes to alter the value of the dollar or to launch counter-cyclical economic policies. But I've been down this road before. I honestly don't know what'll happen.

You tell me:

David Lindorff:

Actually, it’s worse than that. As Michael Lewitt, a Florida-based money manager, wrote today in an opinionarticle in today’s New York Times, AIG is a key player in the $60 trillion (yes that’s trillion with a “T”!) credit swap default market, a huge, international and wholly unregulated field in which hedge funds play, and whose collapse would make the 1929 Great Crash look like a minor fender-bender.

So that’s what it’s coming down to. There are no Blue Chip refuges from the rolling disaster that is the US economy today. And there are no easy rescues—indeed according to one theory Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson let Lehman Brothers go bust because he knew he needed what funds the Treasury has left to try to keep AIG alive. It’s all a fragile, interconnected house of cards, propped up by a residual faith among ordinary investors who, at least so far, still think it has some kind of inherent structure to it.


Financial Post
:

The hard line taken by U.S. Treasury secretary Hank Paulson is ultimately a positive for the markets in the long run because it is removing the moral hazard that it created by bailing out Bear Stearns and forcing the weakest players out of the market. Rather than lay motionless on federal life support, like so many Japanese banks did in the 90s, we are reaching a moment of pain and capitulation that will allow the US financial system to recover more quickly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Michael McCain Leaves a Bad Taste in My Mouth

At the moment that I'm typing these words, this blog post is an unfinished snippet that I'm going to use as my obligatory post for the day, as well as to also have as few unpublished starts in my blog archive. By the time it's done, it will be a (barely) finished snippet. I started it at the height of the listeriosis scare.

Enjoy mutha-fukkas!!!

Ever since I read about him a long time ago in Canadian Business Magazine (to which I subscribed in the mid-nineties) did a profile about him during a nasty strike, Michael McCain (of "Maple Leaf Meats" fame) leaves a bad taste in my mouth. According to the magazine, Michael was the son of the younger of the two McCain (of "McCain's" foods) brothers. He got a job as an executive but being a type-A personality apparently acted like he could run the place better than his uncle, who promptly fired him.

So his dad bought him Maple Leaf Foods, and Michael went about slashing wages to pay for his big purchases of slaughtering capacity. The first year following the strike, McCain paid $10 hour (probably equal to $15 hour today) wages to anyone who'd walk in off the street. But that kind of money soon showed itself not worth that kind of work and turnover was a huge problem. In response, wages went back up but still not enough.

Essentially, McCain was trying to replicate the conditions in US meat-packing, which are grimly depicted in this awesome article. In the end, I blame the uncontrolled corporate nature of our food industry for that terrible tragedy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Epilogue to the manufactured May scandal

Just to begin, ... I don't really like Elizabeth May and I think the Greens are (at best) a Quixotic band of unnecessary vote-splitters in our already over-burdened FPTP electoral system.

But I thought the whole brouhaha about Elizabeth May's "stupid" comments (which turned out to be a mere slip of the tongue that could have happened to anyone) was an entirely useless distraction from real issues and real debate.

What I find interesting is that it was apparently the man behind the aggregator of scum and villainy (the "Blogging Tories"), Stephen Taylor, who was responsible for the whole thing. Got that? The guy who thought he'd embarass Elizabeth May by posting a snippet of her apparently saying that Canadians are stupid is Stephen Taylor of the "Blogging Tories." Which is to say that he's a supporter of the Conservative Party of Canada and its leader, Stephen Harper.

Everybody got that?

Because it just so happens that there's an old clip of Stephen Harper saying pretty much the same thing about Canadians, only this time it doesn't appear to be a slip of the tongue. In this transcript you can read how teleprompter reader Peter Mansbridge commiserates with Harper about the majority of Canadians' abysmal ignorance on "the mission" (tm) in Afghanistan and Harper takes the opportunity to run with the idea and accuse most Canadians of similar ignorance about pretty much everything:

Mansbridge: “How do you explain, to yourself, the apparent lack of knowledge on the part of a good number of Canadians as to what we are doing in Afghanistan…?”

Harper: “You know, Peter, I don’t know if I am shocked by that. I’m not sure if it’s different on Afghanistan than on any other area of public policy."

Wow! Taylor manages to be both a sleazy political operative, fabricating charges of "elitism" against Elizabeth May, while being either clueless or a hypocrite at the same time. It can't be helped though. Intellectual and ethical consistency is generally impossible for the denizens of the shadowy political realm known as "conservatism." It would be nice if there weren't so damned many of these fucking morons though.

P.S. Once again, I have to say that I find it rich that Mansbridge and Harper believe that they get to sound superior to those Canadians not taken in by the propaganda about "the mission" (tm.) in Afghanistan. In reality, by supporting this clusterfuck of imperialism, it's they who expose themselves as witless buffoons.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Harper reduces "The Mission" to a campaign stunt

Harper must've thought he was pretty slick, under-cutting criticisms of the seemingly endless conflict in Afghanistan where we approach the 100th Canadian fatality, with a surprise announcement that he's throwing in the towel after his arbitrary 2011.

While it's better late than never, Harper's supporters must feel a twinge of nausea as he tosses vaunted commitments to N.A.T.O., vows to stay by the Afghan people "until 'the job' is done," and ensuring that those who died did not die in vain, into the waste-basket with an out-of-the-blue bombshell on the campaign trail.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ah, the pointlessness of it all ...

I can't do anything about Stephen Harper. Here in Hamilton, all I can do is try to do my part to make as many people as possible continue to support local NDP candidates (we got's three of 'em). This might be a hard sell, because some area voters might forget how useless the Liberals are and how strong the NDP is locally, and vote Liberal as part of a national wave trying to hold back a CPC majority.

It would probably be vicariously fulfilling to be a supporter of one of the two main parties. But given the fact that I can't get excited about supporting imperialism in Afghanistan, the SPP, the tar sands project, and neoliberalism, I just can't bring myself to turn off my brain and vote for one of the winning teams.

Perhaps both Harper and Dion could self-destruct on the campaign and perhaps produce an even weaker minority government and a stronger NDP, but that's nothing to get excited about either.

I'm going to quote something that Scott Neigh said recently about elections and the electoral process, and which I've long meant to send words of agreement for:

It's a puerile liberal fantasy that they constitute genuine decisions for us by us. Yet within narrow bounds, we get to choose -- criminally narrow bounds that mean elections cannot touch the things that mean life or death, more suffering or less suffering, for many, but can make small but real changes that mean life or death, more suffering or less suffering, for others. We get a certain level of influence over certain narrow aspects of how our opponent functions. It would be politically foolish and morally dubious to ignore that.

...

I'm not saying don't vote. I'm not saying don't care about who wins. I'm not even saying don't intervene in the election somehow, though generally I don't beyond voting.

What I am saying is that we all need to take a good, long, critical look at our words and our other actions and figure out what external cues they respond to. We need to ask, "What organizes my political life?"

...

It is in lowering our expectations, closing off our sense of possibility, making us believe that this is it, that so much of our potential to make the world better is stolen from us. Or, as I tend to see it in my more depressive moments, how so much of that potential is simply surrendered by so many of us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Layton Excluding May: Good Politics, Bad Values

The consensus seems to be that Jack Layton and the NDP should have done the honourable thing and given Elizabeth May (who likes to indulge the the occasional "Taliban Jack" dig) a place at the televised leadership debates.

The majority of Canadians appears to agree with the blog-o-sphere. Of course, if the NDP had acquiesed to May's attendance they would have been roundly praised by all and would have received significant political advantage from their fair, principled stand. Actually, of course they wouldn't have. Nobody would have cared and the NDP would have allowed even more publicity to "place to park my protest vote number 2" in our first-past-the-post electoral system.

Only Stephane Dion has been consistent in chivaloursly trying to help this alternative to the NDP as much as possible. He's been as fair and collegial as Harpercons are to the Bloc Quebecois alternative to Liberals in their stronghold of Quebec.

I guess when Layton was forced to choose between allowing the leader of a party with SIGNIFICANT NATIONAL SUPPORT to participate in the debates and the relevance and survival of his own party, he put his party first. I can't say I fault him too much for that. Nice guys can finish last.

We desperately need proportional representation.

Two Lost Comments

My computer had a strange fart this morning while I was in the middle of approving two comments for publication. I hadn't had any coffee yet, so I don't remember exactly what was going on. I believe one was from Boris and the other from Stephen Gordon. Regardless, they were lost, so my apologies to whomsoever it was.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Tory Majority?

It's a possibility. Because our media conspires to keep people IGNORANT of how truly detestable Harper and the gang are.

Both of our parties survive due to systemic media complicity in preserving their respectability.

"Progressives" wouldn't vote Liberal without the warm delusions of the media that wants to create the same meaningless contests as they have in the USA.

That moment when a trio of conservative mainstream US commentators unknowingly blurted out their true thoughts about how terrible a choice Sara Palin was for VP, immediately after speaking positively when officially on-the-air shows how blatant this process is down south. The system that brought us "Timbits over torture" here in Canada is the exact same thing at heart.

You're still just a consumer. A prize for the advertisers. "Democracy" is supposedly one of our fundamental values, so they try to make it as meaningless (but entertaining) as possible.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Election Fever = Fewer Posts

I've actually just become really busy. I'll conduct some debates with Boris n' Steve in earlier posts, but it'll probably be light stuff for a week or so at least.

Should we arm the people of Afghanistan?

Here's evidence from U of O's Nipa Banerjee before the Foreign Affairs and international trade Committee. Yeez kin read it yerselves.

But here's my thought: Based on the premise that we in the West have an obligation to rebuild Afghanistan, my opinion is that we should all use our massive wealth to pour billions into the country and let the new state institutions of Afghanistan do it. [And if that means they have to get outside help from the nations of their choice, so be it, we'll pay for it.]

Canada and other donor nations will of course reserve the right to monitor the spending of their dollars on the lookout for blatant corruption, and the "stick" that will be used will a total cessation of funding until the relevant egregious corruption is ended.

The goal should be to make the army of the government in Kabul much, much stronger than that of the warlords'. We shouldn't submit the people of Afghanistan to renewed civil war though. The government's strength should be used to tame them and eventually make them irrelevant.

But this would all be based on the premise that the government in Kabul and its agents can be trusted and they haven't shown themselves to be trustworthy. That's why I toss out the option of arming the entire country.

I'm certain that the bulk of the population is sick of war. The bulk of the population wants rebuilding. The bulk of the population wants some sort of life for women larger than the narrow strictures of the fanatical Taliban. The bulk of the population wants some respite from the depredations of the warlords and the thieves and thugs of the official army and police. I'm pretty sure that they don't want to all start fighting amongst themselves. If they were all well-armed, wouldn't it be possible that these farmers could provide their own security? If Taliban nut-jobs destroy their schools, the farmers could protect themselves or hunt them down. If Karzai's underpaid, incompetent, corrupt police try to shake them down, they can defend themselves.

It sounds incredibly risky, but we're already failing these people. Plus, this is a blog, not a policy paper. Speculation like this isn't as dangerous in this context.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Canadian and US-American Politics

US-American politics really are a joke. At first I was 100 percent entertained by this "Daily Show" clip, wherein Jon Stewart and his writers and what-not totally expose the crude hypocrisies of the Repugnicans' defenses of Christian-fascist-moron vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

But after a few hours' reflection, I'm only about 90 percent entertained. Because, after all, the witlessness of the Repugnicans and their partisans is so obvious, that it's really just low-hanging fruit to expose their lies and hypocrisies. Stewart and company still did it quite well, and it's also a welcome relief from the usual totalitarian corporate media system that professes to take the US-American political system seriously (even when they clearly don't).

While I'm still kinda taken with my metaphor of US-American politics being the same sort of low-fiction as professional wrestling ["Oh! Why isn't Good-Guy Obama responding to the dirty tricks of Mad-Man McMain?? Why isn't the media exposing McCain for the liar that he is?? Boo!"] that doesn't mean that I believe that these imbeciles are capable of anything better. Karl Rove really is that untalented and stupid. John McCain really is that craven, shallow and ugly. Sarah Palin really is that big of a hypocritical airhead. The Democrats really are that deluded, corrupt and clueless. Oh yeah, and they're all that fucking evil.

And don't hold out any depressing, self-defeating visions of some shadowy capitalist ruling class that's happy to have such compliant stooges running the shop for them. They're just cut from the same cloth as the politicians, they just went about pursuing fame and fortune a different way. They're human, just like we are. That means they're stupid just like all of us are. In our lives, we've all encountered large institutions that make idiotic decisions with vapid talking-heads peppering the upper ranks of the administration. (And, of course, with a fair share of absolute cretins among all the ranks.) But there's also obvious talent in these institutions. It's the same thing within US politics. There's talent there. It's generally among the Democrats. As much as I loathed him, I never really thought Bill Clinton was stupid. I'm pretty impressed with Barack Obama's theatrical/oratorical talents and his personal charisma. But a political culture based on pursuing profit and maintaining an empire through massive violence to perpetuate profit and consumerism, is going to inevitably produce a lowering of the intellectual debate.

Which brings me to Stephen Harper. Late-capitalist political culture is an ugly thing. Being so close to point-zero of this abomination, Canada could not prevent some of the toxic slime from seeping across its border. Thus, we have the brain-dead "Conservative Party of Canada" as a major political force. And, since they directly impact on my life, I'm going to start writing more about Canadian politicians during this election, rather than the easy-to-lampoon-condemn professional wrestling tournament south of the border.

But I have to reply to Dr. Gordon in a discussion two entries ago, so for now, I'll simply provide you with a partial list of Stephen Harper's achievements, compiled by Alison at Creekside:

Canadian prisoners tortured, refusal to protect lakes, Lougheed Martin census, obstructing HoC committees, conditions on FN reserves, mail-outs from defeated Con candidates, rewriting/deleting research on government websites, Colombia free trade deal, Canada First - not, copycat crime bill, militarization of arctic, Bill C-537, Bill C-10, NACC, Server in the Sky, Canada-Israel homeland security pact, TOPOFF 5, government scientists muzzled/fired, support for Guantanamo, RCMP whitewash, TILMA, Chalk River, no-fly list, biometric passports, CIA access to banking records, Benamar Benatta, North American Forum, red fridays, Bali conference, Commonwealth climate change talks, undermining nuclear disarmament, Question Period a shambles, Independent Panel on Canada's Mission in Afghanistan, war on drugs, lowering pesticide standards, Montebello


Rest at the link.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fighting Back at the RNC

More stuff like this please.

Just so we're clear here. That goddamned Repugnican Party stole two elections, launched a war based on lies that's killed around one-million people, stonewalled about their efforts prior to 9-11 in the federal commission appointed to look into the issue, and are carrying on with their racist "cleansing" of New Orleans, where their incompetence and corruption cost the lives of thousands of American citizens.

In St. Paul Minn. the police are acting very much, ... no, strike that, ... ENTIRELY like the authoritarian goons of a totalitarian police state AGAINST THE PATRIOTS WHO SHOWED UP TO REGISTER THEIR PROTEST AT THIS COMPLETELY CRIMINAL GANG.

In the clip, one of these cowardly goons is attempting to drag yet another protester off to god knows where, squirting pepper-spray at people watching and yelling their disapproval. Finally, one guy jumps the fascist prick and manages to help his fellow citizen escape. Observe as the pants-shitting bully sprays everyone around him with gutless abandon.

If that ugly fuck really cared about the sacred "rule of law" he'd be marching his cheese-brain down to the XCel centre and arresting scores of those liars, thieves and murderers who call themselves "Republicans."

It's odd how we've normalized this complete, utter insanity. The Republicans are guilty of the worst sorts of treason and illegality, but it's the patriots who the police attack. These "law-enforcement" scum are idiots, imbeciles, morons and fools.

And I'd just like to conclude with the observation that while a lot of the right-wing blog-o-sphere, like the "Blogging Tories" like to advertise themselves as "rebels" and enemies of the status-quo, you'll notice that their gatherings are never monitored, harrassed, and illegally intimidated as are those of people on the left, including the most moderate sorts like the Council of Canadians. That's because, as I said here, the elites don't fear these sheep-like cretins as much as they fear genuine critics on the left.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dangerous Liberal Dogmatism [finished]

This is turning out to be a bigger entry than I thought it would be, but since I want to put something up today, I'll post it as is and finish it up tomorrow. (Which has since arrived.)

Stephen Gordon is a mainstream liberal economist who used to try to debate economic policy with the lefties on "babble" and "enmasse." I often disagreed with him, to the point of really not liking some of his positions, but on the whole I welcomed his contribution. I've even changed my thinking on a couple of issues due to his facts and analysis. I certainly didn't think he should have been dismissed as a cynical shill for capitalism or as someone motivated and informed by their self-interested position as a member of the ruling elite.

I was at his blog, "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative" recently though and I came across an older entry that I just had to take issue with. Entitled "Self-sufficiency in food: always and everywhere a bad, bad idea," it is just simply a dangerously dogmatic doggerel about the virtues of liberal international trade.

Basically, Gordon takes issue with a Globe & Mail editorial "Everything is Not Peachy" which actually refers to a subject I talked about in a blog-post "Another Case of Market Failure" about a peach canning facility in Niagara that closed down due to stagnant sales (although it was still profitable).

Most of the meat of the Globe & Mail editorial is in this paragraph about the dangers of specialization a-la "comparative advantage":

As we specialize, we become more dependent on other people, industries and regions in the global economy. That may be fine for non-essential goods such as children's toys and kitchen appliances, but should we depend on others for life's essentials such as food? Also, specialization at the global level tends to reduce the diversity of producers and products - a small number of large, highly efficient producers often comes to dominate the market for specific goods. In complex systems from economies to ecologies, however, lower diversity usually means lower ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. And, finally, all that connectivity among specialized producers around the world makes everyone more vulnerable to cascading system failures: a shock or failure in one part of the global system can propagate through the rest of the system in the blink of an eye, like a row of falling dominoes.

To which Dr. Gordon replied:

This is exactly wrong. Specialisation and trade reduces exposure to catastrophic risk. In countries that insist on self-sufficiency, a bad harvest means starvation. In countries that participate in world markets, a bad harvest means a trade deficit in food.

Which is simply NOT "always and everywhere" true. First, a metaphor: Imagine that you're a poor person who grows their own food in their backyard. A businessman offers to employ you and to pay you enough to buy your food from the supermarket and still have more money left over than if you grew your own food. However, when pressed, the businessman cannot promise you that he'll always have paying work for you, nor can he promise you that the price of food will always stay affordable for you at your salary. On top of this, he offers you the possibility that he can loan you money or food in hard times, so long as you cede to him the deed to your house and any other possessions you own in return.

That's not that far off from what's actually happened to some poorer countries as we'll see. But first, I imagine that Dr. Gordon's reply would be: "Fine. But you're not guaranteed that you'll be successful in every attempt to grow your own food either." To which I can only say that then you'll be in the same supplicant's position as the one that the businessman offered you, except that given your experience, catastrophic results from your backyard farming seems slightly less likely than occasional bouts of unemployment and dependence.

And, the fact of the matter is that while we're having this debate, there's a food-crisis going on in the world, and the insecurity of countries that have abandoned their self-sufficiency in food are suffering greatly.

Let's take the example of Haiti for instance. As part of the package of neoliberal imperialist snakeoil that Aristide had to agree to the FIRST time he was overthrown by Western monsters, Aristide agreed to "open up" Haiti's markets to heavily-subsidized US agricultural imports, which devastated Haiti's agricultural sector.

By the1990s rice imports outpaced domestic rice production, displacing many Haitian farmers and secondary agricultural workers with few employment opportunities. Haiti's adoption of trade liberalization policies and its environmental problems have played significant roles in the collapse of domestic rice production. These trade liberalization policies at their center have involved the lowering Haiti's tariffs on rice imports. Currently the rice import tariff is 3%, which is much lower than rice import tariffs of all other nations in the Caribbean Community. The Haitian rice market is now flooded with "Miami rice" from the US and some have accused the US of dumping its rice in Haiti.

This case demonstrates how often trade liberalization can have devastating consequences for the rural populations of the developing world. Haiti is now the least trade restrictive country in the Caribbean, but in spite of this openness to trade, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Caribbean. While those in the pro-liberalization camp believe these policies are more helpful than hurtful to Haiti because they have lead to a decrease in the price of rice, this decrease in the price of rice has benefited mostly the relatively wealthy, urban population of the country. Liberalization has been very hurtful to the rural poor who are finding it impossible to earn a decent living in rice production.



"All well and good" would be the reply of a liberal economist. "While subsidies are bad, at least the people of Haiti have cheaper food and can turn their energies to more profitable pursuits." But what, pray tell, would these pursuits be? Cheap labour in Port-au-Prince sweatshops? Are there even enough sweatshop jobs to go around? Obviously not. So, formerly self-reliant Haitian peasants are forced to rely on food imports as many of them languish in unemployment.

Another example of this blindness is in the comments section of this CommonDreams article: "The Food Crisis and Global Institutions."

This one from commentator "Jay P":

I have a small, 100 acre farm in the midwest that has been in the family for 150 years. Although, because of scale factors, I have a professional sharecropper do the farming because he has the equipment to farm over a thousand acres. Better for him, better for me. We grow soybeans, corn, wheat, millet, and clover on rotation.
With regards to food production, we need to be more consistent with our message, or at least prioritize conflicting agendas.
Start with a universally held idea: The world's population is growing, therefore, food production must increase.There are only two ways to increase production: Increase productivity and/or increase land used for agriculture.
Here is the problem. At the same time we recognize the need to increase production, some are trying to deny the tools to do so, and are actively removing crops from the food chain, diverting it to fuel. These actions will result in famine. We must decide which is more important, feeding people, non-disturbance of nature, or biofuel. Any one to benefit must necessarily negatively impact the other two.
To increase productivity, we need insecticides, herbicides, large farms, high production seed, and irrigation. At the same time, we are demanding organically grown crops, genetically unmodified foods (actually a false claim since all domesticated foods have been modified through selective breeding), [what drivel. as if gene-splicing is the same thing as cross-breeding!!...thwap] break up of large farms to be given to peasants, and we protest against construction of dams and for keeping unused land to stay untouched. We are highly subsidizing corn to ethanol to burn in our cars, which in net result produces a marginal amount of energy and would be uneconomical without the subsidies (plus many vehicles get as much as 15% less mpg with a 10% ethanol blend!).

These artificially imposed constraints are in direct conflict with the need to feed the world. In an exaggerated example, suppose all oil were replaced with biofuel. We would then be facing a choice: Do we fill our gas tanks or do we allow someone to eat for the week. If we fill the tank, someone
dies.

Whenever prices of something are not what consumers, producers, or governments desire, they try to correct the perceived inadequacy by taking money from one group and giving it to another. This is a seriously flawed approach because it distorts the supply-demand curves and always makes the prices worse, whether worse is considered higher or lower.

Handing money out to poor people does not get around the constraints we are imposing on ourselves. It raises prices, requiring more money to be handed out to those who were just priced out by the action of handing out money. The only answers are to increase supply or decrease demand. The only way to decrease demand is to decrease population. If we are not going to do that, then we must increase supply.
Let's not over constrain ourselves. I believe that people are more important than any fish in a stream or any weed in a valley. Improper use of chemicals may slightly increase lifetime risks of some kinds of diseases, but that is irrelevant to someone who is going to die of starvation by the end of the week. For those concerned, increase variety. At my farm, corn yield per acre has increased over 60% since 1970 using these tools.

Some believe peasants should be given control of the land they work, but I have seen these results first hand in a developing country. Sure, it buys votes, but it decreases production. Give the peasant a job, an education, and something to eat instead of reducing economic scale. And for the sake of everyone, let's stop this corn to ethanol madness. It does not work.

An no, we cannot have our cake and eat it
too.



And this bit of self-congratulatory nonsense from one "marc melchiori":

Jay P. Fellow farmer here in Mt. Olivet KY. Don't sharecrop, do most of it myself. Third generation strong and hope to pass everything I know to my boy and girl. You hit it dead on brother. Dead on. I could not have said it better myself. except, you forget one thing. A lota folks in this forum who would not know the ass end of a steer like to give a lota advice and directions withou knowing a GD thing. Reminds me of my 7 year old. Most of these folks outa but out of the picture and leave feeding the world to folks who know how to do it.Hope the rains are frequent, the sun is shining and the spirit is strong. God bless

That's all I have time for today. I'll finish it tomorrow.

And, here I is.

I take issue with both Jay P. and marc melchiori because their arguments, while internally consistent, fail totally to address the reality that it is precisely those arguments (become policy) that have failed the people of the impoverished countries. Some of them have become dependent on subsidized Western farmers, either as importers of their products, or through being made reliant on US government controlled "food aid," which as this NY Times op-ed states , is deliberately used as a political weapon:

The Sudan aid authorization, which was included in Congress's final budget bill at the urging of the State Department and National Security Council officials, is an open acknowledgment of what has long been a hidden truth behind food aid. From the beginnings of the federal Food for Peace program in the late 1950's, food aid has been viewed in Washington as a political weapon, a stick disguised as a carrot. South Vietnam was one of the first beneficiaries of the program.
So there's that to worry about as a country allows it's self-sufficiency in food to wind down in the expectation that foreign sources will always be a dependable, unproblematic food alternative. A genuine loss in political autonomy.

A healthy agricultural sector is vital for any developing country. Opening up one's agricultural sector to heavily-subsidized developed-countries' products tends to devastate the rural population.

In the European industrial revolution, innovations in agriculture preceded industrialization. Furthermore, industrial jobs became available because Europe had (by fair means and foul) come to dominate international trade in manufactures. What we're asking the poor countries to do is to allow their agricultural sector to be destroyed, pushing farmers off of the land and into the cities, where, as opposed to the European case, there are no dependable, domestic world-leading mass-production industries to absorb the redundant peasantry.

If we don't do that, we foist "green revolutions" on these countries, which means expensive petro-chemicals, machinery, and large-scale irrigation and other corporate farming techniques. These programs do raise productivity, but it only benefits the wealthiest, most politically-connected farmers. The result is the same as before; the redundancy of the peasantry. Whether in Mexico or India, the social damage is severe.

Jay P. stated above:

Some believe peasants should be given control of the land they work, but I have seen these results first hand in a developing country. Sure, it buys votes, but it decreases production. Give the peasant a job, an education, and something to eat instead of reducing economic scale.
This is true if only one ignores the fact that generally, when peasants are finally given any access to land, they are not given the financial assistance necessary to do anything with it. Contrary to "green revolution" evangelists, the diversity and organic independence of peasant agriculture has untapped potential.


Regardless, Jay P.'s petro-agricultural model is rapidly coming to the end of the line.


That's all that I've got time for today.