Friday, September 30, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party and the Media

When Alison at Creekside first blogged about it, I was unimpressed with "Occupy Wall Street." I agreed with them and everything, but I saw a small group of lefties like me, speaking into microphones to the occasional acclaim of the tentative applause of the few hundred lefties gathered around, while a city of millions passed them by, completely oblivious and a nation of hundreds of millions continued even more completely oblivious, [... if that's possible!].

It would be over when the authorities decided it was over. Which would be a couple of days at most.

But it's still going on. And, of course, the US media, which will report on whenever a member of the right-wing chumps known as the "Koch Brothers Tea-Party" farts into a microphone, is doing its usual best to ignore or denigrate a genuine protest movement.

But where is the Tea Party?

Just some links:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Post For the Day

Been a little distracted lately. So, to keep up my posting level, here's a video:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fucking Moron Fag-Bashing Fuck-ups

My enthusiasm for gays serving in the military is even less than it is for gay marriage. Which is to say, I wish there were no militaries for gay, straight, bisexual, buy-sexual, whatever, to join and I wish there were no need for marriages to be recognized by authoritarian institutions.

But be that as it may, I am glad when gays win legal recognition of their humanity and their equality, as represented by the demise of DADT in the US military.

Obviously that makes me an enemy of Rick Santorum and the cheering gaggle of moronic homophobes who cheered him when he said he'd ban gays in the military if elected president.

I know that Dan Savage has condemned the vicious homophobe to having his name associated with the frothy residue of shit and spunk that can result from anal sex, but that's about all I knew about Santorum. I knew he was a virulent homophobe but until watching that clip I didn't know that he was a TOTAL idiot.

Apparently Santorum believes that allowing gays in the military means promoting gay sex in the military. As in, allowing gay orgies in the showers and allowing gay soldiers to fellate each other when they're on active duty. Why Santorum believes this is anyone's guess. Maybe such thoughts just come unbidden to his mind and there's nothing he can do to control them.

Ricky baby - think for a second: Heterosexuals, male and female, are allowed to serve in the military, ... correct? Now, does allowing heteros in the military mean that male and female soldiers are allowed an extra five minutes to fuck each other in the showers before dinner? Are there male-female sniper teams who are compelled to go down on each other while on duty? No Rick, allowing heteros in the military doesn't mean any of these things. (I'll admit that there are a lot of rapes.)

Allowing gays in the military means that gays and lesbians are allowed to be soldiers. End of story. That's it. No more, no less. It's not a "social experiment." It's acknowledging the reality that some people are gay and that that shouldn't mean that they're of an inferior grade of citizen to anyone else. Of course, if Santorum were smart enough to have figured that out he wouldn't be babbling all that other stupid nonsense.

Best Mockery of Global Warming Deniers I've Seen

From "A Tiny Revolution" (it's on my blog-roll!): "Sonny Bono's Brother, Cui"
This is what it means to be a conservative*: you think it's obvious that 98% of climate scientists are falsifying data and/or supporting transparently bogus theories because they want to get their greedy little hands on some of that sweet, sweet grant money, while at the same time recognizing no financial incentive whatsoever on the part of oil company-funded "skeptics"—much less the oil companies themselves.
... read the rest!

"I believe in stuff that's self-evidently shit-headed! I'm a 'conservative'!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Like the ONDP Tranist-fare Freeze Idea

Going downtown this morning, ... there's a delay everyday. Sometimes both ways. Today, Wellesley Station, the power was out. They knew not why. Something tells me that this sort of constant breakdown isn't normal for a "world-class city" transit system.

I'm not a huge fan of the direction Andrea Horwath has taken the ONDP, but this sounds sensible and, again, Horwath never secretly took away your rights in the middle of the night (albeit "temporarily") nor did she marry the asshole who was the assistant to asshole Mike Harris when he was screaming at the OPP to "get those fucking Indians out of the park" with murderous results.*

(*Obviously those criticisms of McGuinty and Hudak aren't related to public transit. I don't care. They're just some of the inexcusable behaviour that disqualifies them as decent candidates for normal people to vote for.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Discredited Economics: Still Trying

I took some undergrad economics courses. I wasn't a solid "C" student. I think I got a few "D's." Anyway, I sucked.

I studied a fair bit of economics history though. Back in the day there was a lot less math and a lot more explanation. (This is around the 1920s-1940s.)

Now, of course, with all these articles looking like mathematical gobbledy-gook and the greater resources that economics departments have, with all these pretensions to being akin to the objective natural sciences, you'd think that the mainstream liberal brand of economics would have had far greater success in managing our economies and predicting and avoiding crises.


World economic crises have become bigger and badder since 1980, precisely when all the "distortions" of "discredited" Keynesian economics was dust-binned and was replaced by neo-liberalism, both in the academy and among policy-makers.

This is because neo-liberal economics primary utility is in rationalizing a system of wealth distribution that rewards capital and suppresses labour. It isn't about identifying the one-best policy. If it was, the economic course pursued for the past three decades would have been abandoned as self-evidently failing in the 1990s, and as inarguably failed with the present massive world crisis.

But being totally discredited is nothing serious to these people. It seems that only when the capitalist class is being eaten alive by their hunger-crazed victims (the rest of humanity) with all of civilization, including [most importantly!] their own palaces and treasures lying in ruins around them, and neo-liberal economists have been lynched and burned alive, that they'll consider the possibility that a paradigm-shift is occurring, and that there might have been some flaws in their underlying assumptions. For the present time, it's a better career choice to be a liberal economist than to be an auto-worker or an administrative clerk, so all is right with the world AND with their theories.

And that explains stuff like this: "Can demographics explain why the income shares of high earners have increased?"

There's been a massive shift of wealth from the poorest 80% to the wealthiest 20%, with the top 5% enjoying the lion's share of the gains. The middle class is shrinking. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet says that there's been a class war going on in the USA and that his side is winning.
But what does he know? He's just a billionaire investor who doesn't have a clue how the real world works. The last thing we want to do is talk about stuff like "class war" when, with the magic of bullshit neo-liberal economics we can drain all the blood out of a topic and attribute things to random forces that nobody in particular can be blamed for:

The two points I'm mashing together are the following:

1) The hypothesis that the sharp rise in executive compensation was driven by an equally sharp rise in firm values. This study (pdf) concludes that "[t]he sixfold increase of CEO pay between 1980 and 2003 can be fully attributed to the six-fold increase in market capitalization of large US companies during that period." According to this story, the increase in high-earner wages isn't a problem that needs solving: CEOs are being paid their marginal product.

2) The hypothesis that the sharp rise in equity prices was driven by demographics. The story we'd tell here is that as the leading edge of the baby boom reached the age of 40 or so, the demand for financial assets increased, driving up firm values. (See here for a theoretical model that develops the point.) The timing certainly fits: the rise in asset prices began in 1985.

So the claim is that demographic pressures are behind the underlying cause of the increasing concentration of income in the right-hand tail of the income distribution. Clearly, the timing fits this story. The beginning of both the asset price boom and the trend to higher top-end salaries occurred when baby boomers started saving/investing.

As far as policy goes, this is very much a story in which those high executive salaries are best thought of as rents: those CEOs just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

So, there's been no weakening of the labour movement. No union-busting. There's been no destruction of unionized jobs through automation, globalization, lay-offs and speed-ups. There's been no shrinking of the welfare state under various pretexts. There's been no income tax-cuts that mainly benefited the wealthiest, while payroll taxes, property taxes, consumption taxes and user-fees, primarily affecting average people, haven't been increased. The world's financial markets haven't become increasingly de-regulated, allowing for massive gambling profits for the few, along with increasingly frequent panics, meltdowns, and bail-outs (paid for by the unprivileged many).

Nope. None of that.

Share prices just increased because the baby-boomers started saving for their retirement.

It turns out that WE are the "greedy capitalist" we've been running from.


Monday, September 19, 2011

"I think the checks are there"

That's what asshole stephen harper said when asked whether he'd be able to use his majority government to ram through every stupid, divisive, destructive, deluded, disgusting policy that enters into his toxic sludge of a brain.

Harper sought to reassure those Canadians concerned that his Conservative government faces no serious opposition in implementing its agenda.

"I think the checks are there and we will certainly do our best to listen to the opposition and try and accommodate them when we believe they're making requests that are in the best interests of the country," he said.

Checks? What checks? When you lost the confidence of the House of Commons and they were preparing to vote you out of office, you took the unprecedented step of compelling the Governor General to prorogue Parliament and avoid democratic accountability.

When the opposition-dominated Special Committee on Afghanistan started to hold hearings on your war crimes in Afghanistan, you PHONED IN another prorogation request.

You refuse to share the most basic of government information to allow Parliament to debate your policies.

You're even on record of approving the falsification of government documents and then lying to Parliament about it.

That was when you had a minority government.

The gods help Canada, because, as a people, we're incapable of doing it ourselves.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Strange Liberal Editorial

It's from the Liberal Party rag, the Toronto Star: "Polarized economy, polarized politics."
The Canadian middle-class dream is disappearing. There is more income inequality than ever before, and fewer people find themselves with the trappings traditionally associated with middle-class life
No arguments there ...
Relentless global competition has destroyed the compact Canada had with its citizens — “work hard, play by the rules and you will have the wherewithal to own a house and raise a family."
At this point I'm not so sure that global competition really had much to do with the wages of the vast majority of jobs that aren't tradeable, in service sector industries that don't export anything and aren't threatened by imports. I think it's more that a certain social-economic policy of blatantly transferring wealth from the bottom to the top was embraced by the political servants of the ruling capitalist class.
These changes in the middle-class circumstance means that fear has become a much stronger motivator than hope. The polarization of economic outcomes will lead to a polarization of political choice. From “a rising tide will lift all boats,” we are moving to a zero-sum game.
I get that. Here comes that part that bugs me:
People who do not believe that they or their children can move up the ladder turn from hope to resentment. Instead of supporting economic growth policies that might advance their standard of living, they will demand tax and social policies that redistribute income.
Just what does the writer mean by "economic growth policies"? The same neo-liberal snake-oil that has produced the ill-effects described previously? "Free trade"? Anti-union labour policies? Corporate tax-cuts? Raising tuition rates? I think it's unfair to say that the losing majority will foolishly reject the policies that are going to benefit them, when the fact is that the policies that have hurt them were sold as "economic growth policies."

Secondly, redistributing income through the tax system would, at the present time, constitute an economic growth policy. Taking money from people who have so much of it that they can't find viable investment opportunities for it, and giving it to people who will pay down debt, or purchase necessities, will give the economy a shot in the arm.

Third, so far it appears that the last thing the beleaguered working class is doing is to vote for socialist wealth sharing. They appear to be voting based on the simplistic notion that their tax dollars are all being squandered on public sector unionized layabouts and welfare queens, and that any suitably racist, homophobic buffoon promising them a tax-cut is going to help them fight back against economic uncertainty with a slightly higher amount of take home pay.
On the other hand, most relatively affluent Canadians have always seen themselves as just the top end of the middle class. They tended to identify with middle-class values and to support similar policies. They felt part of a collective experience with the middle class. In a polarized world, they are part of a minority of affluence that needs to protect what it has against the desires of others to take it.
Of course, most of them have always thought that way anyway. That's why affluent neighbourhoods were blighted with "re-elect Mike Harris" signs way back in the day. Just because he was an incompetent, an asswipe, and he killed people, was no reason not to vote for him. He saved them a few grand at tax time. Hooray!

This is one of the driving forces behind the restructuring of Canada’s party system. In the last election the Liberals tried to address these middle-class issues. However, their unwillingness to veer from conservative economic orthodoxy meant they could not propose any measures that would have a meaningful impact on the circumstances of people clinging to their middle-class lifestyles Once the middle has shrunk sufficiently that there are really only two groups in society — economic winners and economic losers — there will only be a need for two parties, one to represent each group.

If our politics cannot find the prescription for saving the middle class, increasing disparity in Canada is going to make politics and life more divisive and more confrontational.

I'd be interested in hearing this guy's economic prescriptions. Especially what those mysterious "economic growth policies" are.

It seems to me that the crux of the matter here is just why the policies of economic failure were embraced so fervently for so many decades, ... whether it was genuine delusion or deliberate class politics, to reward the rich and punish and weaken everybody else. If it was the former, then there's a chance that the Liberal Party of Canada has a part to play if it can rid itself of failed dogmas and create genuine "economic growth policies." If it was the latter, then the Liberals must content themselves with having been a party of neo-liberal managers of a system in decline. The best they can hope for is to be confronted with absolute political morons like Tim Hudak and Rob Ford, who make the right-wing label toxic enough to scare voters into lining up to keep such nut-bars out of government.

But, as the detestable Barack Obama is discovering, you can only milk that cow for so long. Eventually, people get tired of being taken for granted and they stay home on election day.

What we need is a peaceful revolution. I just don't see the Liberal Party as being capable of even conceiving of such a concept. (Or any of the mainstream parties for that matter.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011


That's the excuse stephen harper is using to justify the crackdown on citizens' rights and to keep the GRAVY TRAIN of public dollars for the law-and-order parasites running.

Yep. "Islamicism." It's the top threat facing Canada.

Quick. What was the biggest terrorist outrage that killed the most Canadians in the history of our country?

A total of 329 people were killed, including 280 Canadians, 27 British citizens and 22 Indians.[1] The incident was the largest mass murder in modern Canadian history.
I'm referring, of course, to the bombing of Air India Flight 182 by Sikh militants in 1985.

Curious, isn't it, that after Air India Flight 182, the Canadian government wasn't enabling draconian legislation, attacking cherished citizen and general human rights, in a misguided attempt to "keep us safe" from further terrorist attacks, but they were after 24 Canadians were killed along with the 3,000 or so other victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Of course, almost all the victims of the Air India bombing were of South Asian descent. So, you know, as long as "real" white-skinned Canadians stayed away from flights to India, they'd probably be safe. A similar sort of logic would argue that as long as Canadians stayed away from the USA they'd be safe too.

NOT SO!!! Don't forget the "Toronto 18." The deadly terrorist outfit (some of whom were teenage boys who had no idea what was even supposed to be going on) organized by an RCMP informant to blow-up a building in Toronto and attack Parliament Hill with swords. Or something like that.

When you hear harper say something as stupid as "the major threat is still Islamicism" you have to wonder if he's really, really, REALLY stupid, or if he's so contemptuous of both his supporters and his detractors (now that he has a majority) that he's not even trying anymore.

Personally, I think that harper believes in the "Islamicist threat" about as much as he believes in Jesus Christ. Which is to say, "Well, sorta, but not really."

It's the same sort of vague, but quite smelly garbage-thinking that sits within the brains of most right-wing morons. Cretins, one and all. The same stupidity that leads them to concoct and believe in such nonsense is the same stupidity that prevents them from noticing that when they speak it out loud or write it down somewhere, other people are looking at them like they puked.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Raising Taxes in Ontario and Jeffrey Simpson

On September 1st I was reading a print version of the Globe and Mail (I won't buy the paper because of their stupid columnists AND because of their endorsement of stephen harper in the last federal election. The latter crime revealed the paper's utter contempt for Canadian democracy and is unforgivable and irredeemable.) wherein Jeffrey Simpson was pontificating about the promises that were soon to come thick and fast from the political parties in the upcoming Ontario elections.

Simpson made sense in so far as he said most of them would be bullshit. Given that the premier is a serial liar ("No taxes" followed by the "health care premium" - which, strangely enough, goes straight to general revenues) and Tim Hudak is nothing but a lying buffoon, that observation isn't particularly prescient. I've been waiting for the editorial to come online though, because it was after conveying the obvious that Simpson then went right off the rails.

Simpson said that the only thing possible to rein-in Ontario's deficits would be to cut, cut, cut. As usual, Simpson yammered about the expense of public health care and the annual growth in expenditure being unsustainable like he's been doing for the past thirty years.

It seems though that the Globe and Mail, in a desperate attempt to get people to pay for their corporate propaganda, hides some of their columnists' more recent offerings and I've been visiting their site and subjecting myself to Simpson's other drivel, trying to find it.

So why don't I deal with Jeffrey Simpson first?

In his editorial "America as a trading partner, yes; economic model, no" Simpson talks about a poll that shows that Canadians (in the light of the obvious economic and political meltdown in the USA) are more optimistic about Canada's future than the USA's. Simpson takes this as an opportunity to wax philosophically about the increased confidence Canadians have in their country (ostensibly due to our dedicated adherence to the neo-liberal policies espoused by Simpson and the rest of the gang of idiots at the Globe):
Asked which country has the best long-term prospects for prosperity, an astonishing 86 per cent said Canada. That shows historic levels of confidence in the country’s economic future.

Remember two decades or so ago when Canadians were debating free trade with the U.S.? How many times did we hear that Canada could not compete. There would be a great sucking sound toward our neighbour. Moreover, shouted the critics, Canada would lose its pension scheme, health care, unemployment insurance and other social programs.

The fear-mongering was rubbish then, and it’s rubbish now. The Canada Pension Plan, while far from perfect, is in much better financial shape than Social Security. Medicare, although needing an overhaul, still produces better value for money than the U.S. system. Unemployment is lower than in the U.S. Our government deficits, although too high, are still much lower on a per capita basis than in the U.S. Our debt situation is also much better. And Canada Post doesn’t face bankruptcy, as does the U.S. Postal Service.

Now, let's point something out. It's obvious, but Simpson, capable of seeing only what he wants to see, and having been paid for this talent for decades, sees Canadians being more confident in Canada's future as a result of the implosion of the USA, and believes this to be an increased confidence in Canada in general. This is akin to asking someone sitting in a lifeboat and asking them if they think they've got a better chance of survival than the people clinging desperately to floating flotsam, and writing an essay about the lifeboat inhabitant's greater reserves of self-confidence.

Canada hasn't done, or achieved anything in recent years to warrant any increased confidence in our future. Canada appears to have avoided the fraud-induced meltdown of the USA's financial and real estate sectors. (This, remember too, is not the achievement of our current government, which began pursuing the same bankster-led deregulatory mania, only to be forced to call it to a halt when Wall Street's own criminality blew-up in its face.) A series of US-American presidents has been monkeying with US economic statistics over the decades and it seems that the economic dislocation in that country is much greater than the relative economic statistics between our countries would seem to indicate, hence the obviously greater extent and Linkintensity of poverty in that country.

If Canada is in economically better shape than the USA it is because we have, to a small extent, avoided the very US-American policies that Simpson and his newspaper have been advocating since forever. If Canadians are more confident about our future than about the US-Americans' that itself isn't a vindication of anything that Canadian policy-makers have done.

Now let's get on to Simpson's stupid comments about "free trade":

Remember two decades or so ago when Canadians were debating free trade with the U.S.? How many times did we hear that Canada could not compete. There would be a great sucking sound toward our neighbour. Moreover, shouted the critics, Canada would lose its pension scheme, health care, unemployment insurance and other social programs.

The fear-mongering was rubbish then, and it’s rubbish now.
"Rubbish" 'eh? As I recall, the warnings were that Canadian manufacturing employment would be devastated and that we would be told that our social programs (and the taxes that paid for them) were making us "uncompetitive" with the US-Americans and that we'd be forced to dismantle them. Well, the predictions about manufacturing were born out and only a senile, doddering fool like Jeffrey Simpson could have failed to notice the decades-long assault on social programs and the rise in inequality and misery that have resulted.

The last thing I want to point out is this little bit of disingenuous nonsense:
Medicare, although needing an overhaul, still produces better value for money than the U.S. system.
Sure Jeffrey. Whatever you say. Actually, what do you mean by "overhaul"? I read you for a couple of years and all I can recall is your droning on and on about how public health care is expensive (without mentioning that private health care is expensive too and often more so) and calling for creeping privatization. You're just like your partner is crime, [PDF!] Preston Manning who said you guys would have to kill public medicare in stages, because Canadians would react to a direct assault. [PDF!]


Anyhoo, ... that was my reply to Simpson's latest. I can't find the editorial I read in the coffee-shop last Friday, but take my word for it that Simpson was saying that Ontario's precarious fiscal state means that there are going to have to be cut-backs in provincial spending, not increases, and his bemoaning the fact that no politician has the courage (like Simpson does) to tell it like it is.

Which is nonsense. Excuse me? Cut-backs? There is grid-lock and there are traffic jams on the highways leading to Toronto for much of the day. We need a massive expansion of commuter rail service. Monthly welfare payments for the long-term unemployed have fallen frighteningly behind the rate of inflation over the years. Humanity says those rates need to be increased. We still have intolerable emergency room waits. We have sky-rocketing post-secondary tuition (in an era when post-secondary education is practically mandatory). We have a massive urban infrastructure deficit.

BOTH levels of government need to ratchet-up the spending. Big time. We have been living through a period of government austerity since at least 1993 (when the Liberals regained power with Paul Martin as their finance minister).

The ONLY things our elites have seen fit to spend money on are boondoggles that reward their political friends, such as E-Health, and gifts to the construction industry of the building of hospitals and schools without hiring health care providers or teachers to staff them, or money so that patients and students can access them.

The reason we have these deficits is because our governments have been cutting taxes to business and the wealthy and there has been no reciprocal, corresponding increase in investment.

We need to look at tax policy with a new attitude. Neo-liberals yammer that ALL taxes are a drag on growth, whereas Keynesians argue that tax increases during periods of recession are counter-productive. But what happens when tax cuts have been indulged in and there has been no benefit to the general public? What if it's been the case that governments have cut taxes to spur investment but have only seen a drop in revenues that have been used as an excuse to cut services?

What premier could sell THAT to the public? "We have to cut taxes across the board because the wealthy need more money to burn in the stock market and I need an excuse to under-fund health care and jack-up your tuition rates!" Nobody would buy that. But that's what we've been taking.

How about this? If tax cuts to the wealthy and the corporations have failed to spur economic growth, AND the rich have more money than they know what to do with (re: all the wealthy fools who bought garbage from Wall Street because the real economy was in the doldrums) AND governments have been faced with deficits in combination with cut-backs to public services, then maybe it's time to reverse course.

There are no magical economic "laws" people. If you give money to people in the hopes of getting some benefit from it, and the benefit does not materialize, and you find yourself short for necessities, then take the money back. (Of course it's entirely valid to point out that the people give the money to the government first, via taxation. But, if you want to go there, you're going to have to deal with the reality that the wealthy and the corporations have the wealth that they have as a result of deliberate government policies to transfer money away from labour and towards capital. We are supposed to be a democratic society and if the vast majority think their health care system is more important than the top five percent of income-earners gambling in the stock market, then that's going to have to accepted.)

We have (to reverse the words of the idiotically wrong Mayor Rob Ford) a revenue problem, not a spending problem. We have vast social problems to address and this requires money. Taking the money from the people who have too much of it and using it to hire people to provide needed services is going to give Ontario's economy more of a shot in the arm than the dogmatic attachment to discredited economic theories ever will.


The irreplaceable Alison at Creekside has found the editorial for me. Here's the relevant juicy bit:
Given Ontario’s fiscal situation, spending cuts will be the order of the day no matter who wins the election. But no party apparently has the courage to tell voters this truth, and voters can only blame themselves since they don’t seem to want to know the truth.

The Conservatives, at least, are marginally honest in telling voters that, yes, they would make cuts; whereas the Liberals, who have presided over the ballooning of the province’s deficit, are campaigning as if none existed.

The Conservatives’ identified cuts are so limited that, when placed against their spending promises, the financing of their entire platform is a joke. As for the Liberals, they always campaign by showering pledges of more spending on the electorate. And they’re true to form this time. They know they need to rein in their spending, which is why they’ve asked respected economist Don Drummond to review the province’s spending.

As I said, complete nonsense. I ought to add this bit of howling hypocrisy from Simpson about the misplace priorities of the ONDP this election:

Not to be outdone, the New Democrats have joined the bunfight of promises, but with a twist. The NDP has moved away from some form of social democracy toward jerky populism, vowing this or that bit of tax relief or spending, adopting the federal Conservatives’ strategy of identifying target groups and pitching precise messages to them.

A classic case of targeted populism and stupid policy is the NDP’s promise to remove the HST from heating oil, hydro and gas. This removal will indeed save consumers a small amount on their bills, while costing a lot for the deficit-laden treasury. It’s a far cry from the kind of redistribution of income and fundamental social change for which the NDP ought to fight.

Yeah, right asshole. So, you'd be their champion if only they'd fight for the redistribution of income and fundamental social change? More like you'd have a fit and scream for the party to be outlawed. (Simpson was just trying to make up things to criticize the ONDP and got a little ahead of himself.)


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ontario Election: NDP Should Win By Default

I'm still dealing with the culture shock of moving from one of the country's poorest postal codes to one of the wealthiest. Back in Hamilton, the political contest was always between the NDP and the Liberals, with the NDP usually being the incumbent. Here in Forest Hill, it appears that a "conservative" wave is expelling Liberal incumbents. There were a lot of "Rob Ford for mayor" signs. The Liberal MP was replaced by a harpercon. And now, for the upcoming provincial election, the most active team appears to be the Ontario PC's.

It's kind of sickening looking at these young "conservative" activists. They're volunteering. They're knocking on doors and handing out flyers. They're political animals. They're on the make. They're completely ignorant of the fact that the party they're working for is murderously incompetent. They're completely ignorant of the fact that besides being murderously incompetent, their party of choice is massively corrupt.

Dudley George? Who is he?

People dying in ambulances driving around and around trying to find an emergency room that can find room for them? When did that happen?

People dying from drinking tap-water? Where was that?

Sweetheart jobs for "Team Harris" hacks at Hydro One? I don't know what you're talking about.

A super-sweetheart deal for the elite consortium to run the publicly constructed Highway 407? The campaign office never mentioned it.

Just like the careers of Ezra Levant, Margaret Wente, Jeffrey Simpson, etc., are all indictments of our political culture, so too is the continued political viability of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party. After their reign of error, of death, deficits, despair, homelessness, teacher's strikes, and on and on, one would think that the political brand would be toxic. You would have thought that having screwed-over so many Ontarians, for so long, in so many ways, that the people of this province would be sickened by the party and its minions to the extent of never voting for them again. Even determined right-wing voters would demand at least a new party, free of the detritus of the Ontario PC's.

Alas! Ontario, like the rest of Canada, is a maddeningly complacent society. A little bitching to friends and family, and that's all she wrote.

But remember, if you liked all those teachers' strikes, and having a high-school drop-out as an Education Minister who was video-taped saying he planned on creating crises, then I guess the lying simpleton Tim Hudak is your man for more crises and unproductive deficits and more disasters.

I mean, the simple fact of the matter is that Hudak is a buffoon and his party's platform is being derided by commentators left and right as being complete nonsense and lies. Hudak and the gang are betting that Ontario voters are too lazy, stupid, and ignorant to care and that enough people will hear "tax cuts" and start to drool like Pavlov's dog and then go Ontario PC. (Not an outlandish hope, given the low level of democratic spirit in this country, but not anything that I would get behind.)

Which brings me to Dalton McGuinty's Liberals.

I've always thought that corporate Ontario has a pretty neat scam going. They've got the Ontario PC's to be the villain and then they can sell the Liberal Party as the alternative. Either way they get what they want. All the Ontario Liberals have to do is NOT be Mike Harris, and people give them credit for being a sane alternative.

But, aside from my disdain for the Ontario Liberals being merely kinder, gentler neo-liberals, there are somethings that cannot be forgiven and Dalton McGuinty did one of those things.

I'm referring of course, to McGuinty's hush-hush decision to suspend his fellow citizens' Charter rights (only temporarily of course [!]) by empowering Toronto Police Service Chief Bill Blair's men through the 1940's Public Works Protection Act.

Unlike most Canadians, I think our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an important document and McGuinty's decision to trash them in the dead of night is inexcusable. I mean it. Inexcusable. And unforgivable. If McGuinty did nothing but this assault on our civil and political rights he'd be unacceptable to me.

But McGuinty and the Ontario Liberals deserve the boot for a whole lot of reasons. There's also McGuinty's attacks on First Nations in northern Ontario defending their lands against mining corporations. One could argue that McGuinty is only allowing the laws and the courts to run their course if it weren't for the fact that things like Ontario's 135-year old mining legislation is within his power to change and he has done NOTHING to change it. McGuinty could have issued a statement about how concerned he is about the tensions produced by this archaic legislation and First Nations' concerns for the liveability of their reserves, but I have heard nothing from him. Finally, besides having a legal obligation to allow miners to prospect regardless of who has the surface rights to the land above, McGuinty is also bound by our Constitution to consult with and accommodate First Nations on all new matters that affect their interests.

In Ontario, as in the rest of Canada, it's corporations first, all others second.

The Ontario Liberals have shown their unfitness for government by their inaction on the plague of police brutality that has occurred under their watch. Besides the wholesale trampling of thousands of Canadians' political, civil, and legal rights at the G20 Summit in Toronto, wherein the province's Special Investigation Unit has been revealed as an irrelevancy, Jim Bradley, McGuinty's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, has been silent on the serial abuses of the Ottawa Police FORCE. There have been no noises from his ministry about changes to the Police Services Act or any other relevant legislation. Presumably then, local police forces brutalizing their populations is an agreeable part of the corporate order in Ontario. "Look what they do to completely innocent people. The last thing you want to do is actually go out and protest."

Then there's the Ontario Liberals' refusal to reverse Mike Harris's welfare cuts. I suppose there are hundreds of thousands of ignoramuses who believe that everyone on welfare has deliberately opted to give up working for $20,000 a year so that they can live on $10,000 a year on welfare. Or that the main reason single mothers are living in poverty on welfare isn't due to there being no affordable daycare but to sheer laziness and a love of "slutty" behaviour. But when you accommodate ignorant voters like that, you negatively impact the lives of thousands of individuals. Mike Harris's welfare cuts increased poverty and homelessness and McGuinty has not only NOT restored this subsistence income to pre-Harris levels, he has allowed it to fall increasingly behind the rate of inflation. And, in truly scuzzy behaviour only moved swiftly to restrict access to the special diet allowance that people were using to offset the Harris cuts.

But what do we get for this Harris-McGuinty-Hudak subservience to corporate interests? What do we get for all these crooked "Public-Private-Partnerships" and corporate tax-cuts? Just like everywhere else, the result has been economic failure. For the first time in its history, Ontario has become a "have-not province" within the Canadian federation. Now, if that sad fate had befallen an NDP government like Bob Rae's, which pursued (for a while) union-friendly legislation and modest increases to welfare assistance, the right-wing and the corporate media would have pounced like rabid hyenas about how Ontario's decline is an irrefutable indictment of pinko political-economy. We hear no such outcry against the Harris-McGuinty regime for this indictment against the corporate agenda though, do we? (Unless it's from far-right nitwits who label McGuinty a "socialist" like the Tea-Party does to the Wall Street puppet Obama.)

A final reason to get rid of the Ontario Liberals then, is because they have no vision for Ontario other than the demonstrably flawed neo-liberal corporate agenda.

Did I say "final"? I forgot that just like Tim Hudak, the Ontario Liberals are eager to insult our collective intelligence with their laughable campaign promises. After years of allowing post-secondary tuition rates to rise, McGuinty pledges in this election campaign to provide grants to lower-income families to offset 30% of their tuition, all the while maintaining corporate tax-rates and reducing the deficit. It's self-evident bullshit, but McGuinty, like Hudak apparently, trusts in the ignorance, apathy, and stupidity of Ontario voters to see him through.

This little screed is entitled "Ontario Election: NDP should win by default." I'm not saying anything about the NDP other than to link to this earlier statement. Given the murderous incompetence of the Ontario PC's under Harris and the fact that their current leader Tim Hudak is his clone, that party should be written-off by sane voters. Given McGuinty's record of failure and his shameful disregard for our political and human rights, he too should be out of the running. End of story.