Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Harper's Gradual but Spectacular Failure .. . .

It is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to see the Prime Ministership of Stephen Harper and the history of the Conservative Government as anything but a spectacular failure at almost every level. Even judged by their own standards this government has really failed badly on almost all portfolios. The only area in which Harper can say to have succeeded is in the break down of democracy in general and the destruction of transparency, accountability, and due process in the Parliament in particular.

Some areas of Harper's failure have been rather pathetically predicable. Take Senate reform for example. Rank and file Conservatives (most of whom don't seem to understand the function and process of our government) were naive enough to believe that Harper could do something to reform the Senate. If one understands our system of government, however, one knows that any significant reforms to the Senate would (or will) be monumentally difficult and will probably require the agreement of all the provinces. And yet Harper vowed that he would never appoint anyone to the Senate and that he would reform that rather antiquated body. He has now appointed 58 Senators and all of those appointments have been wildly partizan. And while all appointments to the Senate are inherently acts of patronage, this fact should not preclude a PM from appointing competent individuals to that office. Harper, on the other hand seems to have no regard for any qualification other than the degree to which party hacks deserve rewards on the Senate gravy train. As a result of his disregard for vetting his candidates (and this failure applies to his appointments outside the Senate as well) and his lack of concern for qualifications, Harper has appointed a remarkable group of buffoons to the Upper Chamber.

One can only surmise that Harper is, in regard to the Senate, either a terrific failure or that he never had any intention of reform. Either way, Harper is enjoying bringing his friends to the Government trough and shamelessly continues to appoint Senators while talk of reform has disappeared from Government talking points.

In other areas of public policy Harper has similarly failed. Fiscally speaking, Harper blew significant government surpluses and is now head the most deficit ridden government in Canadian history. Of course, one might argue that this has been a conscious effort on Harper's part to bankrupt the government in the short term so that he can gut it long term. However, while Harper has begun the gutting of social services (something we always expected him to do) his reckless spending continues unabated. The problem is, of course, that regardless of one's political stripes, money, power, and spending are addictive, particularly for people like Harper whose real goal seems to be to find ways of diverting money from the middle and working-class to the offices of large corporations.

Harper's failure on the energy and environmental portfolios is probably the most spectacular of all. He has been gutting the environmental restrictions in an effort to promote runaway oil development but this effort is increasingly looking like it is going to fail. Thanks to gradually changing usages and new finds, the US will soon be oil self-sufficient. Meanwhile, because of the high costs of tar-sands extraction, Alberta's economy will soon once again experience one of its many dramatic busts (and this one could be the very worst they have ever experienced). Harper has attempted to create a third-world style extraction economy in Canada, an economy with very little manufacturing or innovation in which the middle-class disappears for the benefit of a small ultra-rich ruling class. However, it looks like in the long term even this rather nefarious effort will be a failure for Harper because soon our extraction economy will also fail and the wealth required for Harper's corrupt model simply won't be there. Instead, Canada will eventually look like the worst kind of Banana republic. More ominously, Canada could follow the road of countries like Spain in which the ruling class exported all their wealth to other countries and ended up undermining their own development.

Over all, Harper has surrounded himself with criminals and incompetents (men like Flaherty who seems to be genetically incapable of balancing budgets even in times of wealth). As things get worse for Harper he, like so many petty, secretive losers with persecution complexes, is receding increasingly into the shadows. Harper has never once since being Prime Minister ever faced the press or the people in an honest, unvetted, straightforward situation. But as his agenda begins to break down, as it becomes more and more evident that his time as Prime Minister is not only drawing to a close but is doing so under a growing cloud of incompetence, Mr. Harper is beginning to recede behind the wall of his office and his security staff like a Soviet-Era dictator. Harper long ago lost any moral authority that he might have had to govern. Now that it is becoming clear that his government is not only immoral, steeped in a growing list of shocking scandals, but is hopelessly incompetent as well, Harper is turning into a Stalin-like figure before our very eyes - a shadowy, bizarre figure who seems increasingly uncomfortable in the public eye and whose obvious narcissistic disorders are destroying him and his government.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Will the CON-Job End?

It seems to me that a growing number of Canadians are finally waking up to the fiscal incompetence of the Harper cabal. It doesn't take the Economic education of Jim Stanford to understand that despite the CON-Artists continually self-congratulatory attitudes to their own supposed economic prowess, these guys really have no idea what they are doing. The ruthless pursuit of a bitumen-exporting economy already seems to be a doomed effort even from its own point of view now that the price of oil is edging downward and the Americans look to be energy self-sufficient in a few years. But from any normal point of view the CON-Artists economic strategies seem to be not only doomed to failure but downright idiotic. Not only did the Harper CON-Artists blow the economic surpluses they inherited with stupid GST and Corporate tax cuts, but they have taken Canada into a structural deficit situation (despite their supposed opposition to deficit spending at any time). Now to compound their basic economic stupidity, the Harper cabal is failing utterly to shape the Canadian economy for the future. Instead of shaping Canada's economy as an exporter of refined resources, alternative energy technologies, and education driven new ideas, the Harper-cons are looking to make Canada a banana republic that has no equality, no democracy, no generalized prosperity, and no real future.

Tell me again how these buffoons are able to trade on an image as economic competence and responsibility??

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Right has Lost the Debate . . . And Soon They Will Lose the Battle . . .

Though the right is, in many places, still riding high in the actual political struggle, if we talk about it honestly the right has, in fact, already lost the political debate at almost every level.

At the social level, the right has consistently, albeit gradually, lost throughout history. But in the resurgence of the right since the eighties when they began their concerted efforts to push back many of the 20th century gains, it is now clear that they have lost that skirmish. From Gay rights to abortion rights, from pay equity to feminism, the right has been lossing ground and support everywhere. Though the right has, in many cases, been able to attack certain institutions that aid in socially progressive issues, the right knows that they have lost the actual debate and that most people support such things as gay marriage, abortion rights, and women's rights in general.

At the environmental level, the right has again, maintained the a great deal of power, but they have clearly lost the debate. No credible person doubts the reality of global warning and even if there is still some degree of debate about the cause, we all know that we need to stop pouring crap into the air and find alternatives to carbon fuels. Even the once great bastions of rightwing ideology, the World Bank and the IMF, have, to a degree, come on side with the demands of the environmental movement.

At an economic level, the rightwing has lost the debate in quite spectacular fashion. The theory that Ronald Reagan once had the gall to call "trickle-down economics," has proved disastrous. Low taxes for the rich and for corporations has not created wealth for anyone but the rich and everyone now knows that it has created economic inequities. Not only does the 'neo-liberal' approach lead to considerably less relative prosperity for the vast majority, it actually destroys the very economies that it is supposed to help. A growing cohort of economics have now abandoned the 'neo-liberal' economic theory and are asserting more reasonable theories as if people mattered.

Now, I can hear you thinking "if the rightwing has lost the debate on all of these issues, why does it seem that they are winning so much?" Well, the sad truth is that those who win the debate don't necessarily consistently win the political struggle, and the rightwing has two significant advantages, to wit: ownership of the media, and a creeping control of the judiciary that has come from many years of growing corporate power. The rightwing lies about almost everything and they can depend on their media lapdogs to repeat these lies in a ubiquitous fashion. So even where they have lost the debate among those who know and understand these things, many people look out and see another reality being presented to them constantly in the media and this cognitive dissonance is difficult for many to overcome. And when you couple this media power with the gall of men like Harper to actually muzzle the fact finding factions of government, the rightwing is maintain some degree of an upper-hand on a sad technicality.

Meanwhile, these technicalities are being mirrored in the judicial system where the right has appointed a huge cohort of supporters to the bench and where money all too often buys victories. So a chronic criminal like Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto can keep winning on technicalities and avoid ouster and stay out of jail (where he really should be). The rightwing trolls even play the Reagan card regarding Mayor Ford and begins to blame the "left" for his trouble. These fools shout out such things as 'Witch Hunt" as though the Mayors constant criminal activity is not to blame but rather those who hope to bring him to justice are somehow at fault.

And because our political system is so badly antiquated we can have a government that essentially operates outside of the spirit of the law (if not the letter) and can move blithly forward manipulating the system to its own advantage. When we update our political institutions men like Harper will be in jail where they belong.

So the rightwing has lost the debate at every level but maintains a degree of power with the help of corporate media and antiquated institutions. But losing the debate is the first step to losing the entire battle and lose they will. If history has taught us anything it is that those with money and power cannot hold back the tide of change and that we shall overcome.