Tag Archives: civil society

Don Drummond’s austerity medicine: suck it, Ontario | #onpoli

I’m a little late to the game, so not much in the way of new or innovative analysis or reaction. For starters, though, I’d recommend you take a look at my friend @cityslikr’s thoughts over at his place. Dude’s been away for a few days (and his explanation isn’t entirely convincing, but we’ll just leave that be for now), but he’s making up for lost time. 

If you take nothing else away from his excellent post, just note what we in the news business like to call the “nut graf.” In this case, it’s the part where he points out that in all this panicky, apocalyptic, sky-is-falling shrieking, there’s been no real discussion of the revenue side. So we’re not allowed to talk about raising revenues. Taxes are still a dirty word. We still can’t have an adult conversation about it, apparently because the Sun will crank up the outrage-manufacturing bullshit machine into overdrive.

(I’d also recommend Erika Shaker’s trenchant essay over at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, if you’re in a sardonic frame of mind.)

Anyway, nothing new or revealing there. It’s not as if Ontario is unique among Western jurisdictions in its inability to put two and two together: in essence, that we create a decent society by pooling our resources and shouldering our collective obligations to our fellow citizens. Filter that through the right-wing stupidity machine and it turns into the old “tax-and-spend-socialism” epithet.

So once again, we’re supposed to sit back and suck it as the fabric of our community and all the things essential to our quality of life are attacked with machetes, meat cleavers and chain saws. While well-paid pundits, columnists, bankers and accountants lecture us pompously about living within our means.

You’d think after god knows how many futile decades of this, we’d have learned something.

Again with the austerity koolaid? These people have precisely one tool in their intellectual toolbox: cut cut cut. We’ve listened to them for decades, and where’s it gotten us?

Right where we are today with increased poverty hunger inequity and millions of people taking to the streets in protest Yet they doubledown Tis the last gasp of a dying system

No. If there’s one observation I might make, it’s this: This is what comes of allowing government and international regulatory regimes to be colonized, captured, and operated on behalf of the 1 per cent, instead of set to ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number. That’s why anything that makes life better for the rest of us is under attack. It’s not rocket science. 

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Austerity’s Targets « Framed In Canada | #cdnpoli #classwarfare

As the post-recession politics of austerity tattoo a bull’s eye onto the backs of workers in Canada and elsewhere, Iceland stands out as a refreshing alternative.

Iceland was the first country to feel the effects of the Great Recession of 2008. Its banks owed nearly six times Iceland’s GDP in the Fall of 2008, threatening to bring the entire Icelandic economy down with it.

The people of Iceland broke out in protest, egging their own Prime Minister’s car and spurring a change in government.

Since then, the Icelandic government has gone after the bankers responsible for the crisis, arresting several bankers in an ongoing investigation into questionable activities.

Iceland is being lauded by many observers, including the IMF and Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Paul Krugman, as a model example of how a country can respond to an economic crisis such as the Great Recession.

Greece, the birthplace of democracy, is a study in contrasts.

In Greece, the government has unleashed a massive austerity program that has been met with citizen protests, strikes, political instability, and ongoing social unrest.

In Iceland, they’ve arrested bankers who caused the economic crisis, but in Greece, they’ve arrested unionized workers for protesting property tax increases.

Iceland appears to be on the road to economic recovery.

Greece, on the other hand, is mired in social, political and economic turbulence which show no sign of abating.

Another must-read from the indispensable Trish Hennessy at Framed in Canada.

All the more timely in light of things like the recently released CCPA report on CEO compensation, juxtaposed with Caterpillar’s lockout of Canadian workers on the heels of a demand that they accept pay cuts in excess of 50 per cent. Our tax dollars at work, helping foreign companies screw our fellow Canadians.

So, two possible responses to “austerity,” or shock doctrine if you like Naomi Klein’s framing. Gee, I wonder which way the Harper Government will go?

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From @mtaibbi, a Christmas message from Wall Street | #classwarfare #uspoli

Apparently, we’d all be in much better shape if the poor were as motivated as Steven Schwarzman is to make America a better place.

But it seems to me that if you’re broke enough that you’re not paying any income tax, you’ve got nothing but skin in the game. You’ve got it all riding on how well America works.

You can’t afford private security: you need to depend on the police. You can’t afford private health care: Medicare is all you have. You get arrested, you’re not hiring Davis, Polk to get you out of jail: you rely on a public defender to negotiate a court system you’d better pray deals with everyone from the same deck. And you can’t hire landscapers to manicure your lawn and trim your trees: you need the garbage man to come on time and you need the city to patch the potholes in your street.

And in the bigger picture, of course, you need the state and the private sector both to be functioning well enough to provide you with regular work, and a safe place to raise your children, and clean water and clean air.

The entire ethos of modern Wall Street, on the other hand, is complete indifference to all of these matters. The very rich on today’s Wall Street are now so rich that they buy their own social infrastructure. They hire private security, they live on gated mansions on islands and other tax havens, and most notably, they buy their own justice and their own government.

Matt Taibbi plays his violin for the poor, victimized, super-rich of America. The sociopathic ways they behave, their parasitic and corrupting effect on civil society, and their open contempt for everyone else … of course, there aren’t any lessons for Canada in any of this.

Nor could we possibly see any of this in terms of class, because of course, this is America, where anyone can make it to the top if you just work hard enough. Bootstraps and all that.

(Say the C word, Matt. Come on. You can do it.)

(h/t Edstock at The Galloping Beaver)

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Some Republican nobody on the #OccupyWallStreet action | #uspoli #classwarfare

Smart comment — he’s right.

Here’s the quote from PolitickerNY (h/t reddit blogger cos):

Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King blasted the Occupy Wall Street protesters as anti-American today on a right-wing talk show.

“The fact is these people are anarchists. They have no idea what they’re doing out there,” King told host Laura Ingraham. “They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone and anti-capitalist. It’s a ragtag mob basically.”

Note the use of anti-hippie code words. All that’s missing is a reference to the devil’s weed. (Man, talk about arrested development; not in him, in the people this language is manipulating. Were they all born in 1930?)

But that stuff is just for the rubes. The real message is for the media and the policy-makers, people with power (like the current weed-hating administration):

“We have to be careful not to allow this to get any legitimacy,” he said, adding “I’m taking this seriously in that I’m old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can’t allow that to happen.”

“Legitimacy” — remember that word. He’s not referencing the protest; he’s referencing the complaint.

If the #OWS anti-banker, pro-Constitution grievance ever gets legitimized, our Billionaire Owners and their millionaire retainers (Peter King included) will be playing on defense for the next few years. King thinks that would be bad; he also thinks it’s a possibility.

Playing to win; making the other team play defense while you march down the field. Want to see what that feels like? All it takes is persistence.

You could even help the Occupy Wall Street protesters persist, by joining them.


via americablog.com

This guy isn’t really that important on his own, but his words are symbolic of something a lot bigger. Some powerful people are feeling some powerful threatened.

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The Israeli protest has turned into a revolution – Haaretz

For more than three weeks Israeli society and polity have been shaken by waves of social protest of the sort that has never been seen here before. This protest reached a new peak on Saturday night with demonstrations that saw hundreds of thousands of Israelis take to the streets. Such a display of power is apparently far from being over.

The protest has already achieved much. It has stirred civil society to become involved, and to show solidarity following many years of complacency. It has also altered the social agenda in Israel, and political-security discourse has given way to a socioeconomic one, which has taken center stage in an unprecedented way.

The group of young protesters has also managed to instill an element of popular democracy, managing its affairs far away from politicians and political parties. The demonstrators have shown exemplary organizational abilities, which also peaked during the latest, incredibly orderly demonstration in Tel Aviv. The group of speakers during the demonstration was impressive for its diversity.

The themes of the protest have, to a certain extent, also managed to hit home. When the masses cry out throughout the country “the people demand social justice,” it does not yet suggest an orderly and detailed socioeconomic theory or defined set of demands, but it is doubtful whether these are necessary at this stage, in the forging of a new movement.

We are in the midst of what is increasingly shaping up to be an Israeli revolution. Following decades in which the public has curled up in its indifference and allowed a handful of politicians to run the country as they wished, with no significant involvement from civil society, the rules of the political game have changed.

The public has realized that it has much more power and influence than it imagined. Henceforth, every prime minister in Israel will have to take into consideration this emerging force.

It is still hard to know where this protest will lead, and how it will end. For the time being, we can be impressed by its power and the direction in which it seeks to move. We must therefore praise the protesters for the changes in perception they have already instigated and hope that they will be able to continue their efforts in the future, in the same impressive way that has characterized them to date – and bring about genuine change.

Hmm. I wonder if they got any ideas from watching what’s been happening in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab countries? Of course, that could undermine the whole Israel-is-the-only-democracy-in-the-Middle-East narrative. Which may be why we’re not hearing more about it. That and the possibility that people in North America may get ideas …