Thursday, April 22, 2021

Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce's Miserable Fantasy


So, on a certain level, I understand where Doug Ford and his unqualified Education Minister Stephen Lecce were coming from in their policy decisions with regards to COVID-19 and Ontario's schools. Being anti-government sector ideologues, they simply didn't want to spend the money to provide extra space and extra teachers and improved ventilation and any of the other safeguards that a highly contagious airborne, respiratory virus that has a fatality rate of around 1.00% (as opposed to the less contagious annual flu's 0.01% fatality rate). 

They did not want to spend the money. I get that.

I also understand that they wanted to PRETEND that nothing bad would happen when kids went back to crowded classrooms, with closed windows. They wanted to believe that the virus somehow knows that a potential host is between the ages of 5 and 18 and therefore, somehow magically knows to leave that person completely alone. They wanted to believe that since young people's bodies are far more energetic on so many levels (and they are therefore most likely to present as asymptomatic) that this meant (to Ford and Lecce) that young people actually don't get the virus AT ALL!!!

So, they wanted to fantasize, pretend, hope, pray, rationalize, ... whatever, ... that nothing bad would happen when they put the kids back in the classrooms without any effective safeguards against COVID-19. I get that. Wishful thinking. I know what that is.

But here's the thing: I don't see how they couldn't anticipate the CONSEQUENCES of their stupidity. I don't see how anyone intelligent enough to know to wipe their asses after shitting (which I assume Ford and Lecce both are) wouldn't easily be able to move on to Step Three of this scenario. Which is that OF COURSE a lot of students would get infected with the virus, even if it didn't affect them. And that schools would become super-spreaders, where anyone older (as, say, many teachers) WOULD get sick and perhaps die. And that furthermore, young people who picked up the virus at school would go out into the world, on buses, or subways, or walking down crowded sidewalks, and they would take the virus into their homes to infect family members (some of whom would get sick and perhaps die) and that these family members would themselves take the virus out with them when they went to work or to the store.

That's how viruses work. That's what "going viral" literally means.

So yeah; I GET that you didn't want to spend the money. And I GET that you fantasized about how you could avoid spending the money and that things would be fine. But I don't get how, as functioning adults, you actually BELIEVED that you could get away with it!

Check this out: I don't have any appreciable talent or charisma but I wish I was a rich and famous Hollywood Superstar. I fantasize about travelling to Hollywood and getting "discovered" and being a rich and famous Hollywood Superstar. Now, unless I spend an excessive amount of time on this fantasy, it's a harmless pipedream. But were I to actually go to Hollywood and try to become a star I would have crossed the line into sheer stupidity and madness.

And that's what Ford and Lecce did. Because they're stupid assholes. Self-centred, lazy, stupid, ideological, confused fuckwits. I already know about Doug Ford's numerous complications. I really didn't know who Stephen Lecce was other than annoying. I went to his Wikipedia page and discovered that he caught the eye of stephen harper (as certain young men tend to do to that opponent of gay marriages) when he was the head of some "conservative" political club at his university. So harper hired him into his office and made him [I'm speculating] one of the "boys in short pants" who supervised MPs and Cabinet Ministers that used to be complained about. He's a bullshit Public Relations peddler and he worked for used-car salesman/Ontario MPP Al Paladini. Now he's in charge of education. And while I'm not the sort of person who demands that only certified experts are qualified to help manage public duties, I tend to be leery of conservative con-artists who hate public goods and who also hate worker-centered institutions such as trade unions, such as the ones that Ontario teachers belong to.

Ford and Lecce are murderously incompetent ideologues who should never have been elected to power. They have blood on their hands and they can eat shit and die.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

How "Workers as Citizens" Could Transform Society


I've been away because blogging is a waste of time. I should be on some newer platform, perhaps "Twitter" with its 140 [?] character limitations and potentially more addictive gratification response times. Or maybe I should be a YouTuber now? Speaking, instead of writing? Or maybe I should embarrass myself dancing on "TikTok"?

But that all sounds like a lot of work too. And whooz kidding whom?

So I've been thinking of posting shit about other topics; most recently Jason Kenney once again deciding that COVID-19 is a real thing. It is everything the health experts the world over have been saying it is, TWO WIT: It is a highly contagious virus that could kill 1% of the people who get it (which could be 100,000 to 300,000 Canadians for example) and which has been found to have long-term effects on many more people who survive it.

Jason Kenney has re-discovered these truths, and has, for the moment, broken with the right-wing, white supremacist led, "anti-mask" movement (as well as the desperate business owners being broken by our governments' half-assed responses, which prolong their misery while still making them responsible for paying their rents, mortgages, and taxes to the banks and the governments that the banks own. 

Now that his delusion and incompetence have produced a medical inferno in his province, the miserable shithead has decided to impose a lockdown. 

One really has to wonder about brains like Jason Kenney's. How does one simultaneously grasp that COVID-19 and its dangers are real, but at the same time, and being in charge of the province's policy-response to this healthcare crisis, try to pretend that it isn't real to placate nazis and restaurant owners?

Anyhow, ... I got that off my chest. 

[Real-time update: A few hours after writing that I read this post from Owen Gray at "Northern Reflections" that partially explains Kenney's behaviour. It seems many members of his own caucus are brain-dead denialists. They don't see why they should have to do what people in more populated areas have to do. But as commenator "Cap" says: 

These rural folks still don't get it. Putting additional restrictions on high-Covid urban areas causes city folk to seek services in rural areas. This brings Covid into areas ill-equipped with hospitals able to deal with it.

So you have two choices. Either you accept additional restrictions everywhere or you enforce travel restrictions between urban and rural areas. Either way, beating Covid means accepting personal inconvenience for the greater good.


(Please note: "Cap" lost both his parents to COVID-19 so he has every right to bring the hammer down as hard as he does.)

There's a lot more criticism of all sorts of things I feel I could write about. Criticisms ....

BUTT!!! I don't just want to blog my negativity! I want to offer positivie proposals to try to get humanity out of the many messes we find ourselves in. Hence my occasional posts about "Workers as Citizens" lately.

So now I think I'll indulge myself in a counter-historical pipe-dream wherein I was hugely influential in the 1990s and "WaC" became an actual THING on the Canadian Left in the early naughts.  

Now here's the thing: It is vitally important that we take cognizance of the enormity of the task before us. Some Leftist writers have had DECADES in which they could have articulated how to respond to the overarching power realities in capitalist society so as to make the majority's (the majority being sane after all) thoughts on the environment and human rights and war versus peace and economic justice be reflected in a process that is supposedly democratic. AND THEY HAVEN'T DONE IT!!!!.

Sneering fuck-face Jeffrey Saint-Klare of Kownter-Paunch has no mass-movement behind him. He's been an "activist" for decades. He has nothing to show for it except for a website that appears to have the same business model as the Huffington Post, ie., writers contribute for free and every year or so the website circulates the hat for contributions so that Jeffrey can keep his house and buy new books. (Unless he gets them for free like his website's "content" contributions.)

So, let's imagine that in the year 1999, instead of getting fired-up about describing the latest outrages and proposing an afternoon of peacefully milling about carrying placards, the Canadian Left thought about getting the general public hep to the idea of workers having a say in the running of their workplaces! In the case of small workplaces, like, say an independent retail establishment, their voice would be relatively less powerful than would be the case in a larger workplace with hundreds, or even thousands of workers and a proportionately smaller administrative and owner population.

In a store, it would be the owner's name on the bank loan and on the rental agreement with the landlord. But the employees would SEE these agreements. They would KNOW how much has to go to these costs. Also, I know for a goddamned FACT that most Canadians are reasonable people. The store is the boss's baby. The owner PROBABLY puts in more hours than any of them. (I also know for a fact that there are spoiled rich kids who open a store or a restaurant or whatever and who do shit and are only sustained by employees trying to keep the damned thing going so as to stay employed.)

Are we to believe that in a workplace with one owner and five employees, that all five of them would be lazy, parasitical leeches? More likely the majority of the workers would be decent, sane people who realize that their paycheques rely on the sustainability of the workplace. And they would align with the owner against any employee who, out of insane levels of stupidity or entitlement, acted so as to endanger the future of the enterprise.

But the main thing is that most of what we currently produce as a society is unnecessary. Our societies depend upon unsustainable levels of consumption. We depend upon the eternal production of world-busting garbage that people don't need and which does not provide lasting happiness. A sane world is going to be one wherein such nonsense has been shut-down. And that is going to require STATES with the VAST RESOURCES to subsidize the wages of people in discontinued industries and to build the infrastructure to direct human talents and ambitions to more sustainable pursuits.

So WHAT has the Left proposed about this obvious requirement? Perhaps there's something. But I just haven't heard of it. I especially haven't heard anything coherent about how to get from here to there. If you know of anything that I've missed that spells this out, please, by all means, inform me of it in the comments.

But no state bureaucracy could figure this out. This is where I agree with all the pro-capitalist, "free market" political-economy that I've read over the years. All the Milton Friedman stuff about the brilliant efficiency of the price system.  Friedman's problem is that he was an ideologue. He had his face buried so deep in capitalists' assholes that he thought that "externalities" were unimportant and that "demand" wasn't just "effective demand" but actually the critical needs of the whole human race. His sadly diminished view of reality is no way for humanity to reconcile itself with the very real limits of our planet's life-sustaining capabilities. 

Imagine that it's 2010. Not only has the very sane, defendable, easy-to-wrap-your-head-around idea of workplace democracy,  .... WHEN PURSUED SERIOUSLY AND WITH INTENT by the Left has not only taken hold in Canada, but as a philosophy it has also galvanized leftists the world over. EVERY SINGLE workplace in Canada has people thinking about how to transform their workplaces into either producing environmentally-sustainable and necessary for human well-being stuff, or they're focusing on other ways that the capital of their enterprises could be directed into more sustainable directions.

Regardless: There is no "capital strike" as democratic governments sought to seriously address the reality of global warming, global poverty, and all the other ills. 

Look, I'm a student of economic history. I recognize the contribution of technology to have created a world where ... LOOK! I think that the musings of comfortable Western academics about the abundance of hunter-gather societies are based on fantasy. Certainly some areas of the world had worked out arrangements to share limited resources. At the moment I'm thinking of the Arctic. I'm of the impression that the Inuit had a balance of survival so precarious that they had zero interest in conquering nearby communities. To what purpose??? To kill or enslave the inhabitants in order to build another community with just as small a margin for survival? How long before that colony was placed in a state where they felt the need to kill some other community (including that of their forefathers) to survive?

Look: If I'm wrong about the divine levels of bliss of hunter-gatherer societies; if they didn't come into conflict with neighbouring humans over scarce resources, if their populations weren't kept in check by occasional famines or by the limits on populations caused by scarce resources, ... then I'll concede to more informed analysis.

But, regardless, we are now at the place where we are now at. I believe that life was often precarious. Sometimes (often times) "nasty, brutish and short." And technology, spurred by freedom of enquiry and shit-loads of stuff I can't get into here, but also including the [hint: MARXISM COMING UP!] superior ability of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, of early capitalists to direct society's resources better than inbred, thuggish, arrogant, mafia-type "aristocrats" descended from brutish warrior families.

Capitalists exaggerate their contribution to the advancements of human capabilities under their dominance. But they had some part to play in it. At the price of untold millions of lifes destroyed by actual enslavement (which had also been a feature of earlier societies) and de facto enslavement of lives of drudgery under below-poverty wages. Capitalism is an inhuman system celebrated today only by shit-heads.

Look: "Workers as Citizens" would direct the genius of all of humanity into finding more productive, sustainable directions for their workplaces AND it would destroy the power of capitalists to impede the work of DEMOCRATIC governments to realign their countries' resources to more sustainable pursuits.

I'm too drunk to continue ...