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This is my debate point. You won’t find it anywhere in the Alberta@Noon podcast I’m about to link here. I know most of you won’t be thrilled to hear about Alberta’s budget from the finance minister so instead, skip forward to 33:50 of the podcast when two guests, one from the Alberta Taxpayers Federation and one from the Parkland Institute are invited to respond to callers and engage in some debate.
The Alberta Taxpayers Federation (ATF) has shades of the Tea Party mixed in with neo-liberal dogmatic imperatives. Much of their ‘research’ comes from the equally dubious Fraiser Institute, a rightwing corporate skunk-works whose only aim is the complete corporitization of civil society. Listen as Paige from the ATF gets tripped up because her sloganeering has little to do with fact and much to do with stirring right-wing populist notions.
What I’d like to talk about is the caller ‘Mike’ and the following discussion (36:40 – 41:15). Mike is a plummer who lost his job and had to take a lower rate of pay with his job because of the downturn. Mike feels like a faceless drone supporting the ‘queen bee’ of that is the public sector because our recently elected provincial government stated in their platform that they would protect the frontline public workers and public services of Alberta.
Now here is the thing, Mike and other neophytes of the Free Market dogma, there is this thing called the business cycle. When you *choose* to work in the private sector you are choosing the insecurity that comes along with ups and downs of said business cycle. In terms of personal responsibility and making choosy-fucking-choices when the economy is good you will be doing good, and when the economy is bad, you’ll be doing bad too, generally speaking.
This is a choice. Contrast this with the public sector though, whose wages are generally lower and tend not to increase as quickly or dramatically with the ebb and flow of the business cycle. Public sector work therefore, is also a choice with related benefits and negative attributes. Stability over profitability, one could say.
Mike, you don’t get to turn around and demand that the people who have chosen to make less than you in good market conditions all of a sudden should share your pain when the economy isn’t so robust.
I’m not totally against Mike and what he has to say but I don’t think he’s looking at the big picture. Our government, for the last 41 years, has been taking a shit on basic Keynesian market prescriptions. When times are great, we lower taxes because we want to attract more business. When times are crap, we lower taxes to keep our businesses afloat.
Do you see the problem here? Lowering taxes during the Boom times royally screws the government and people of Alberta. How do we save for the economic downturns when we have lower revenue during boom times coming in; also lowering taxes during boom times increase the rate of inflation and makes the bubble expand that much quicker – recklessly endangering public health, infrastructure, and public services. The Anti-Keynesian aphrodisiac the old Alberta PC Party snorted by the bucketful, systematically razed the economic flexibility and resiliency of the province by tying the running of the government closely to the business cycle.
The false-populist beliefs that the ATF, represented by Paige on the podcast, are an extension of this seppuku inducing cycle that our old government perfected. What is fascinating to behold is the scepticism over what beneficial counter-cyclical government economic policy is actually supposed to look like. The government is supposed to spend more and take on debt to moderate the business cycle during economic slowdowns, conversely, the government must raise taxes during the high times to pay of accumulated debt and to moderate reckless growth and expansion during the boom times.
This is what moderating the business cycle is all about and why it is so important is because when you shave off the peaks and troughs, the people who make up the economy have a better chance of keeping things together and surviving in whichever phase the economy happens to be in.
This basic understanding of Keynesian market management is in the curriculum. I’ve been taught, and have taught it to students in this province. Why we elect governments (up till recently) that don’t apply this basic economic fact boggles my mind.
The developing story about alleged Quebec police misconduct keeps getting more interesting. Neil Macdonald wrote an amazing analysis of the situation over at CBC News. There is some great analysis going into the history of SQ (Sûreté du Quebec police union) and how they consider themselves above the law but I think the closing statement is probably the best closing statement in any article I’ve ever read:
But ask yourself this: If I, a charter member of the privileged white males society, find them frightening, imagine what must go through the head of an intoxicated young aboriginal woman on a cold night, alone in a squad car?
Wow. I highly suggest reading the article in full. It will be well worth your time.
To speak to the title of my post though I wanted to address the fact that police officers were taking our aboriginal brothers and sisters for a car ride and dropping them off miles outside of town. For those of you that think this is a new or unusual practice, don’t. It has happened before. And outside of Quebec. As some of you may remember the Saskatoon Freezing Deaths. This was where the Saskatoon police force would take natives out on “starlight tours”, which would mean to drive them miles outside of the city and drop them off. In the dead of winter. We know this was happening as early 1976 because an officer was punished for this and we know it was happening as late as 2000. Is it still happening there?
I remember the reporting at the time of the story and found it troubling but I thought this must be an isolated incident, just this one police for that was doing this. To find that the SQ is doing the same is exceptionally dismaying. If the SQ is doing this, then how many other police forces are doing this as well? That the SQ *allegedly* are adding rape into the situation by demanding sexual favours for a ride back into town saddens me.
As the Intransigent One stated, these things don’t happen in a vacuum. I think this story has revealed the need for not just a federal investigation into the developing Quebec story, nor just the Highway of Tears, nor just the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, but on the conduct of all police forces in relations to our indigenous people. That there are three major issues happening at the same time, all in different parts of the country demonstrates the need for this. We need to get a handle on this issue. I mean, if Neil Macdonald can feel frightened by one of our police forces, imagine how it is for someone not in the privileged class. It’s no wonder why there are such trust issues between our aboriginal people and the rest of us.
Canadians finally have decided that being in the vanguard of international Neo-liberal community isn’t so shit hot after all. The whole free markety/trickle-downy charade was looking dilapidated and tired; the fear-stick had been applied to the public, with such magnitude and frequency, that suddenly Conservative ideology seemed retrograde even quaint. How engaging are the grand policy strategies of “GWB-lite” after ten years of living the Conservative dream?
We should give the Harper government full marks for stretching those ideological skid-marks of neo-liberal ideology out as far as (they) he did. The hard sell on Neo-liberalism had to go, and off it went, with Canadians giving the Liberal party of Canada a firm mandate and majority to… well… not be the Conservatives.
This is what worries me the most. Like the two business class parties in the US, the federal PC’s and Liberals in Canada both offer oligarchy approved governance styles. The main difference is that the Liberals like to use lube while buggering the public trust, while the Conservatives use a handful of sand. Our social system was savaged by the Liberal government of the 90’s under false pretenses – this same government also approved NAFTA – the free investors agreement – that has been savaging our domestic economy since its inception. Is being sold down the river wistfully by a hand-wringing government ‘forced to make the tough decisions’ any different than one that outfits the public with lead boots and kick off the docks?
Comparing the election wins of Obama and Trudeau reveals similarities that, for progressive voters, ought to inspire some trepidation. Hope and Change may inspire the imagination, but implementing actual societal change is *hard* and given the political realities of the situation. I really want to believe Justin Trudeau when he says, “the old Canada we knew and loved, is back”.
When he gets us out of the Trans Pacific Partnership – the latest free investor agreement and curb stomp to the domestic economy – I might start to believe him.
Well I’m surprised it took this long, but Bill Mahr has almost perfected the technique.
Must be nice to argue against the the assertions your opponent makes with the proviso that you just made up said assertions. :)
The getting out the vote campaigns are heroic and all that stuff, encouraging all those young whipper-snippers to exercise the merest formality in participating in a democratic like system. But really, young people…oh you sad sack millennials, you’re fucked. Generation X is now in the demographic that tends to vote often and is catered to by the political class – did you hear all the campaign promises about lowering tuition and making going to university/college easier – I didn’t either. Have a nice future pouring my coffee and lackadaisically ‘helping’ me at retail locations.
What I heard a lot of during this overly long election cycle (thank you Conservative gerrymandering squad) was economy, jobs, and then niqab. None of these topics have been ‘tailored’…ooo… I guess the word for it now is ‘curated’ for your easy consumption and understanding. Did you tune out and start that really important twitter conversation about the Blue Jays? You did? Good for you! We’ll see you in line, eagerly waiting to express your ‘individuality’ by purchasing the next mass produced shiny over-hyped bauble at the Apple store. Because what you buy defines you. (Not your actions, not your commitments to others, not your responsibilities – just your *stuff*, honest.)
Conspicuous consumption, they have an app for that…
The political leaders, during the election cycle, have talked, emoted and generally performed fairly well; all of them selling their shiny political promises and filled with rainbow farting unicorns and free bonbons for all. A series of turgid farts strained through a dirty burlap sack would have just about as much relevance and importance to the decision Canadians are making on the 19th of October.
What is really at stake here is the continued march of Neo-liberalism and the decimation of the social fabric of our society. Corporations are not people, nor should they have the right to sue our governments for protecting our people (and businesses) from predatory capitalism. The TPP is NAFTA all over again. Do you like having domestic industry? Unions? Society run for the benefit of the people living in said society? The TPP is the enema-bag filled with hydrochloric acid poised to flush all those nasty things I mentioned out of Canadian Society.
I could care less who gets into power as long as this latest shit-swirl in the ice cream of trans-national capitalism is strangled in the crib, because combating Neo-liberalism is the big picture now because if NL wins democracy doesn’t matter anymore. Is our country for Canadians or Corporations? Profit or People?
Now I voted NDP because my MP is one kickass woman (Linda Duncan) who regularly kicks ass and takes names in Parliament, she responds to mail and makes me think briefly that representative democracy might not be bag-of-rats I think it is (that feeling passes quickly).
The 10 week slow motion seppuku that was the NDP national campaign was about as inspiring as being hit repeatedly in the head with a dirty sweat-sock filled with cold spunk. I just need the names of the NDP campaign-brain trust who somehow thought that throwing all the ham at all the walls by going centrist was the best-est idea evar? The salty-tears of socialist jebus are leaking out of the dark hall-closet you mung-gargling-arseholes tossed him in for this election. Pandering to the centre and abandoning core democratic-socialist principles… who would of thunk that was a recipe for getting ass-whipped in the election…
Hello NDP your political base is calling wondering where the hell you are and why there are smexy middle of the road blonde hairs on your damn overcoat.
So anyhow, happy election day Canada. We’ll get the government we deserve today. I’ll see you, fair readers, tomorrow as I have a date with TIO and the good Captain Morgan.
Shocking I say! SHOCKING!!!!
I thought we had a plan. The plan was that we were going to give the NDP a crack at the levers of power because the other two parties have both repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to Neo-liberalism and the destruction of the rights of Canadians.
But look at the polls as of October 11th, there be the NDP in their usual third place because the segment of the population that votes has decided that more of the same is going to be frakking awesome.
It looks like the Liberals are going to get in as the minority government. The same ones that voted for the disenfranchisement and removal of personal liberties of all Canadians; you remember that
bill Law C-51?
Hey, whatever right? Let’s see if we can do a Trudeau-mania part 2 and relive those heady days of the 70’s. Woohaa.