Looking good, Justin?

As the voices of the jubilant singers of the Lullaby League and the Lollipop Guild begin to fade away a week after the Canadian federal election, we move from the genuinely comforting realization that Stephen Harper is not merely gone but really quite sincerely gone to speculation about what happens now.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Shucking off the costs of the effects of climate change

As wildfires burn in British Columbia and rage in California, now is a good time to contemplate one of the nastiest results of the collision —  collusion? — of the corporatist’s insatiable love of profit and the neoliberal’s deification of small government.

Both of these stances zero in on the same fundamental target: taxation, in all of its forms. Not just direct taxes, graduated or not, but also those “extra” costs of doing business forced on industry by government regulation. The target is the same, for more than anything else the corporatist hates the loss of potential profit, and more than anything else the neoliberal hates the intrusion of “big government” into the marketplace.

Why is now such a good time to consider the consequences of this unholy alliance of the economic elite and the politicians it has purchased? Just look at the under-reported results.

Continue reading

Shameless is as shameless does

Good news, Canadians! Our federal government, better known as “The Harper Government,” has sent you some of your own money!

We know that it’s “The Harper Government” (THG) because the federal Employment Minister made the announcement in a snappy, blue Conservative Party of Canada tee shirt. I hear that this shirt will replace the Maple Leaf as Canada’s official symbol if the Conservatives win again in October.


And by the most unexplainable of coincidences, the bonus cheques for a program first announced eight months ago come just weeks before the anticipated start of the federal election campaign. The credit was announced back then, but it wasn’t implemented until now, for some vague reason, so that the redistribution of taxpayer money could come not as an annual credit starting then, but as a “retroactive” cash outlay now. In other words, families are getting next year’s tax break now, as an electoral — I mean “economic” –incentive.

Since I anticipate getting a modest tax refund next April, will THG please send the “retroactive” portion of it to me now? I’d like to make a political contribution, and I could use the money.

Critics are lining up to point out the parts of the cash distribution that THG doesn’t emphasize. Among other things, the new tax rule replaces an existing tax benefit, making its net benefit hundreds of dollars a year less than it appears at first glance. It does little to help the poorest families afford child care so that both parents can keep working to feed the kids. Every family with children gets the same benefit, no matter how little or how much income the parents have. And it’s taxable, so that a good chunk of it will be clawed back next spring.

Just how stupid does THG think we are, anyway?

More Notes from Aboveground

pierre-poilievreGood news, Canadians! Our federal government, better known as “The Harper Government,” has sent you some of your own money!

We know that it’s “The Harper Government” (THG) because the federal Employment Minister made the announcement in a snappy, blue Conservative Party of Canada tee shirt. I hear that this shirt will replace the Maple Leaf as Canada’s official symbol if the Conservatives win again in October.

View original post 234 more words

No flags for me this patriotic week

Confederate battle flags unfurled at state capitals. Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses. Swastika tattoos on the forearms of skinheads.

It’s pretty easy to dislike and descry totems like these, isn’t it?

The first is a sad remnant of not just a lost war but a morally bankrupt way of life, one based on the false presumption of the inherent inequality of different iterations of our single species. The second enforces the desire to impose the majority mythology on the personal, social, and political lives of everyone, believer or not. And the last is nothing else than a declaration of ignorance, hatred, and violence.

This week, with Canada Day on the Tuesday and U. S. Independence Day on Saturday, one question begs to be asked: How about adding the Maple Leaf and the Star Spangled Banner? Do they belong on the same list of evil influences as the others?

Most people will say no, and many will find the very question offensive, if not nonsensical.

Not me.

Continue reading

Canada’s PM: a warrior wannabe

On his way to European ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise visit to (almost) the front lines of this year’s “War on Terror” headliner, the Kurdish zone of Iraq. While there, he had a great photo op with the leader of the Kurds and peering through binoculars at distant ISIL positions.

(Harper also visited Baghdad, but there he refused to participate in a joint appearance with the unacceptably Iran-friendly president of the whole country.)

What a pile of self-serving political crap.

Continue reading

“Do no science, Hear no science, Speak no science”

41ngqcmfv3l-_aa324_pikin4bottomright-5722_aa346_sh20_ou15_As Donald Gutstein usefully explained in Harperism, there are several kinds of liberalism, and their differences are crucial to the ways that governments seek to operate.

Laizzez-faire” liberals were in favour of expanding personal rights and liberties, but they believed that government should remain “hands off” on the economy. (Adam Smith’s famous “invisible hand.”) In contrast, New Deal liberals saw government as an active shaper of economic opportunity, security, and relative equality.

Libertarians distrust government in all but its most basic function, which is simply to keep someone else from messing with their personal wealth and privilege. Then there are the neoliberals, who are often confused with libertarians but who demand that government play an active role in the economy. The neoliberal idea of a perfect government is one that supports and facilitates the free market.

Another must-read book is Chris Turner’s The War on Science (the source of this article’s title) which shows with alarming clarity that one of the worst consequences of the radical neoliberalism practiced by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in Canada is his government’s systematic dismantling of the fact-based science that had long characterized Canada’s public policy.

Continue reading

Control the conversation, control the country

Canadian author Donald Gutstein is a friend of one of the members of our regular Monday morning ideas group, and recently we met with Donald to discuss his important book, Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his think tank colleagues have transformed Canada.

Unlike other books on Canada’s most conservative government, Harperism focuses on the political philosophy at the foundation of what to many is an alarming reversal of our country’s traditional role as an advocate of social justice and environmental responsibility.

It’s not that Harperism ignores these changes. On the contrary, Gutstein explains them in terms of the “neoliberalism” at their heart. This focus makes Harperism important far beyond Canada’s borders, for neoliberalism underpins the successful imposition of “free market” ideology into the policies of most of the world’s titular democracies.
Continue reading