Friday, September 21, 2012

So it goes. . . . .

I haven't blogged much lately. I don't know about the others out there but the situation (at least here in Canada) is increasingly disheartening. When you live under a government that is essentially fraudulent and does absolutely everything in its power to undermine discourse and debate while simultaneously dismantling every aspect of government except those that benefit large corporations and the ultra-rich, one would think that this would be a perfect time for angry rebellion. However, when so many people seem indifferent to the radically anti-democratic agenda of their own government, it is difficult to maintain the energy to keep up with the vocal dissent.

A good example of the disheartening political events in recent months has been the outrageous attacks on trade unionism by government officials as wells as people in the mainstream media and so many painfully ignorant political observers in general. My own MP (and I confess that I shudder at the thought of this guy representing anyone anywhere at anytime) Pierre Poillievre mounted a visceral attack on unionism just the other day because unions in Quebec had the gaul to exercise their basic rights and support a party to which he is opposed. Mr. Poillievre appealed to the worn-out old argument that people who work in a unionized workplace should not have to pay dues because they may not agree with everything or every political position that their union takes. I don't know about the rest of you out there but I get so tired of hearing this insipid, anti-democratic argument that I just want to (excuse my language) 'bitch-slap' any fool that makes it. I plan to write to my right-honorable half-witted MP to tell him that I plan to stop paying taxes because I didn't vote for him and disagree with everything he says and does. This is, after all, the same position. Despite many particular drawbacks, unions are non-profit, democratic institutions and to be meaningful they must function much like the government does in terms of their institutional process and fiscal operation. If Mr. Poillievre really believes that only those who support every action of a union should pay dues, he must similarly believe that only those who support every action of a government should pay taxes. And this means, of course, no one, should pay any taxes since no one ever agrees with 100% percent of a government's actions.

So it goes.

The fact is that it has become increasingly acceptable for politicians to take such positions and make outrageous statements about society and capitalism. Take, as a topical example, Mitt Romeny's remarks this week. The rightwing essentially believes that most people are shiftless and lazy and that all they want is to do sit around living off the dole. Despite the fact that this is simply a blatantly counterfactual position, it is typical of their elitism and the fact that people like Romney and his ilk really want society to function as a plutocracy in which the majority of people are poor, uneducated, and powerless. They want society to consist of 95% of people who are struggling workers at the beck and call of the rich and must do their bidding at any and all times. This is what the attack on trade unionism really represents. Unions are one of the only institutions in society that represent a collective effort of average people, and the rightwing hates any worker power.

So it goes.

In contrast to all this ugliness, this week we saw the small collective effort of one man go viral. A Winnipeg bus driver stopped his bus when he saw a homeless man struggling along the street without any shoes. Passangers sat in amazement as the driver, after a brief conversation with the man, took off his own shoes and gave them to the man. When questioned by the media the driver said he believes in a society in which we all take care of each other.

Imagine that. A society in which people take care of each other! An economics as if people mattered .


Anonymous said...

If unions are a fundamental part of our democracy - and I agree that they are - would you suppose the idea of greater financial transparency for unions, like bill C-377 proposes?


kirbycairo said...

Dear Leo - Haven't heard from you in a long time.

Bill 377 is another red herring introduced by an ultra right MP who has no interest in anything to do with democracy, simply an effort to make things more difficult for unions at a procedural level. Unions are more transparent than government (particularly to those to whom they are accountable - their members), and to believe otherwise is simply to be blinded by Tory talkingpoints.

If Mr. Hiebert were really interested in transparency, his private members bill would also address transparency in other institutions to say nothing of his own government! But it doesn't. And why not? Because he is not interested in actual social transparency.

Owen Gray said...

An excellent post, Kirby. Don't lose hope.

Anonymous said...

You're probably right, but in principle there seems little wrong with promoting greater fiscal rigour and financial transparency. The public generally has stake in ensuring the viability of these groups.

Beijing York said...

The whole financial transparency meme is basically a set-up to imply or cast in the public imagination an image of union corruption. There is this widespread assumption that shareholders/investors ensure that publicly traded corporations maintain financial transparency. But it's another myth-making exercise as proven by the likes of SNC Lavalin and the late Nortel.

My pet bugaboo is indirect charitable donations made by corporations. I would like to see a hell of a lot more transparency on that front. For example, when Safeway Foods runs a donation campaign for breast cancer research or the MS Society, where you add $2 to your grocery bill, do they write off all those donations as THEIR charitable donation? If they run each for a month and I shop 3X a week, had I donated that money directly, I would have 2 charitable receipts for approx. $24 each. In my view, I am subsidizing that corporation's tax deduction. That is on top of all the other diverted corporate tax revenues enjoyed through R&D credits and lavish expense deductions that are paid by us taxpayers. Proactive disclosures of corporate profits and losses without itemized accounts of what we are subsidizing is a more pressing issue in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Since Harper's, so called majority, Canada has turned into a, virtual cesspool of corruption.

What Harper is doing to Canada, is very saddening. I mostly feel very, very angry. Harper is a traitor, selling us out to Communist China. While other country's are chasing China, out of their territories. Harper has China, right on our Canadian soil.

I am even thinking, provinces and their citizens, should separate from Harper's Canada. We aren't safe with Harper. This country isn't even Canada anymore, anyhow.

Harper gives billions of our tax dollars to, corrupt greedy banks, mines, big business and his favorite charity, big oil. He also gives them, huge tax reductions. He thieves from us, to give to the wealthiest corporations in the world.

What the hell do we need a Federal government for, anyhow? To thieve and waste our tax dollars? So Harper can play Hitler? Bugger that.

kirbycairo said...

I agree with much of what you say Anonymous. However, to continue to call China a "communist" country makes little sense. Fascism is a much more accurate term. China has no universal medial system, no universal pension scheme, and almost nothing in the way of universal education. They do, however, have a private housing market, a stock market, and large private firms that pay next to nothing to their workers while the owners of the factories make millions.

Regardless of one's political views - this is not communist by any definition (whether a positive one or a negative Stalinist one). It does, however, fit quite neatly into 1930s European fascist models. A model that Harper and his cronies are fast following.