Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Canada Day thoughts

I think nationalism, like racism, is a barbarous relic. Am I a proud Canadian? No. We have a 3rd-world implement of democracy. Our history is disgusting. Our environmental record is disgraceful. We rank 23 of 31 OECD developed nations in social spending.

We are following the US down the path of neo-liberal self-destruction with “starve the beast” tax cut schemes that cause debt and inequality to soar: the neo-cons bring them in, the "liberals" cement them in place.

If the rest of the world was like Scandinavia, civilization wouldn't be the disgusting shit-hole that it is. We'd be centuries more advanced in technology, medicine, environmental responsibility, etc.

Canada doesn't make the world a better place. It contributes towards its destruction. It helps perpetrate crimes against humanity.

In short: fuck Canada.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Partisan hypocrisy shows why voting reform is doomed

When Harper won a fake majority on 39.6% of the vote, many Liberals claimed it was an outrage and affront to democracy. Now that Wynne won one on 38.7%, they say she earned a mandate from the people.

Partisan corruption

Major party partisans will always be opposed to voting reform — including the NDP in provinces where they are a major party — because they care more about winning than what’s best for the people.

They will gladly sit on the sidelines while a neo-con party destroys the place, just as long as they get their turn at absolute corrupt power.

Federal Liberal about about face

Take for example the federal Liberal party which fell to minor party status in 2011. Traditionally supporters of First-Past-the-Post, they embraced ranked ballot voting reform wile licking their wounds.

But as soon as they rose to first place in the polls, they predictably ditched their commitment.

The death march of democracy

Now if Trudeau wins in 2015, he will destroy electoral reform for good in Canada with another designed-to-fail PR referendum that killed voting reform in BC, Ontario & PEI.

With an impossible 60% win threshold and a ballot that excludes ranked ballot supporters, the Second Coming has better odds of success.

This farce will drive the final nail in the electoral-reform coffin making corrupt First-Past-the-Post the democratic choice of Canadians.

Conclusion

Democracy in Canada is an insane asylum.

We award absolute corrupt power to minority parties, excluding the actual majority from government. We are stuck wih some other country’s monarch as our head of state. We have an appointed senate filled with partisan hacks that has equal power to the democratic house. We have a corrupt fourth estate owned by corporations that abandons journalistic objectivity to meddle and campaign in general elections.

Getting involed with our slipshod implement of democracy is the equivalent of going to a Christian Fundie holy-roller church service. Either you check your brains at the door or are rendered incredulous by the spectacle.

Liberals didn’t fool progressive or centrist voters

This election in Ontario, the Liberal party’s campaign strategy was to out-left the NDP and win the majority they missed by one seat in 2011. They did this with a bullshit progressive budget and outrageous attacks against NDP leader Andrea Horwath claiming she was a right-wing Rob Ford clone.

Ironically, it was a 4 point drop from the Tim Hudak PCs that allowed Kathleen Wynne to win a fake majority on 38.7% of the vote.

Progressives not fooled

None of the right-wing crap the Liberals threw at Andrea Horwath actually stuck. Which just goes to show the more desperate the rhetoric the less likely the public is going to be deceived by it, regardless of the volume.

Andrea’s NDP made a 1 point gain from the 2011 election. That’s 42% higher than previous NDP leader Howard Hampton was able to take things — and double the seats.

So Liberals didn’t fool progressive or centrist voters — despite the Toronto Star pumping out daily op-eds of ethically-bankrupt propaganda.

It would seem the tabloid journalism of Sun News and The Star only ends up preaching to the choir.

NDP on right track

Despite our absurd voting system that awards absolute power to a minority party on less than 40% of the vote, Andrea is clearly on the right track.

Jack Layton forged the new NDP which unites left-leaning and centrist voters to stop the neo-liberal agenda being perpetrated by the Con and Liberal parties over the past 2 to 3 decades.

Despite complaints from the odd left-wing ideologue and Liberals pretending to be progressives, this path is clearly the right way forward.

Where Andrea went wrong

Jack Latyon ran the perfect campaign. His campaign ads showed, in a light-hearted way, that the Liberals were just another version of the Conservative party. But he also offered a positive vision for Canadians.

This election Andrea focused too much on Liberal corruption and mismanagement, and not enough on her own vision for Ontarians.

Pocketbook populism

Jack Layton’s pocket-book populism is the key to the NDP forming the government and ending 30 years of Tough Tory Times.

It gives everyone a break, but the lowest-income group gets the biggest relative benefit. Contrast this to Conservative and Liberal tax cuts (which they either implement or cement in place.) They give the rich the biggest benefit while the little people are gouged to pay for them.

So the best way to reach out to the 99% of voters is to push affordability and tax fairness and make sure the message gets out loud and clear.

Even right-leaning voters can go for this, which helps split the right-vote keeping the neo-con party from power. (The neo-cons being the Liberals in a hurry to destroy the Just Society centrist liberals and social democrats built up in the post-WW2 era.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Everything you wanted to know about politics, but didn't care enough to ask

Here are a few political observations I have made over the years:

Politics and sports

Politics and sports are colossal wastes of time. But people seem to enjoy the latter.

Politics and sports are similar: everything’s about your team winning.

If your team wins you either pretend good is being done, or wait until your team is back in the playoffs and assume good was being done.

If your team does wrong, it’s no big deal. If the other team does wrong, it’s an inexcusable outrage.

In politics you would rather believe black is white than believe your team is wrong for having chose black.

When your team loses you know what you have lost. When your team wins you’re never sure what you’ve won.

Society

If you are one of the sheep, self interest is evil. If you are one of the shepherds, self interest is a privilege.

Anything good for the people is a bad idea. Anything bad for the people is “for the greater good.”

When pain is meted out to the people “for the good of society,” money is meted out — for the good of the wealthy.

Elections

When democracy is a horse race the only ones represented are those who own the horses.

In Canada an arbitrary minority party is awarded all the power. The actual majority of voters ends up opposing the government.

National politics is like high school politics — depressingly primitive but without the faint hope of sex.

People who are lazy and apathetic about politics are dumb. Prominent campaign issues are even dumber.

The more people gather together, the lower their collective IQ. During an election campaign, it falls to the level of dumb beast.

An election campaign consists of different teams trying to coax a dumb beast to their side of the pen. The beast doesn’t understand the issues. The coaxers are too intent on coaxing to care about the issues.

The platform of the winning team often becomes a forgotten footnote of the previous election.

Ethics

The role of the progressive is to sit on the sidelines complaining about regressives destroying the country.

Politicians are narcissists. Political junkies get stuck with the least satisfying form of addiction.

Journalists would make good mobsters. There is nothing they can’t rationalize.

Politicians discard their values and principles for a stab at power. Journalists discard theirs for a paycheck.

Economics

Free market ideology is like a disease. It’s also touted as the cure.

Economics is dismal, but it doesn’t remotely resemble a science.

Economics is pre-Copernican: economists can’t agree on whether the Earth revolves around the Sun, or the Sun around the Earth.

Economics is politics with math thrown in to lend authority to political agendas.

Democracy never a waste of time

An article form the CP suggests that the Ontario election was pointless because it might not lead to any major change.

They are wrong. Democracy is never a waste of time.

Of course, in Canada we have a distorted version of democracy because of our primitive, 19th-century voting system, First-Past-the-Post.

It awards absolute power to arbitrary minority parties on 40% of the vote, leaving the actual majority excluded from government. Or leads to short-lived minority governments where parties jockey for more power instead of govern.

Coalition government

In the rest of the developed world, multi-party coalition governments are the norm and they usually serve out the entire 4-year term without incident.

In Canada, coalition government is either a dirty word or political ploy, although certainly a legal form of government.

We should have more coalitions. If the Liberals and NDP have enough combined seats for a majority, they should put together a coalition that commits to an entire 4-year term and do what voters put them there to do: govern.

Voting reform

We also need to modernize our voting system with either ranked ballot voting or proportional representation (true voting) to ensure an actual majority is represented in government like 31 of 34 developed countries.

Ranked ballot voting fixes our existing system, locally, by ensuring politicians are elected by a majority. It stops vote splitting and ends 4-year dictatorships on 40% of the vote.

PR true voting ensures parties get the same percent of seats they got in votes by redistributing votes at a federal or provincial level. It’s the most-widely used system in the developed world, embraced by 29 of 34 countries.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Austerity doomed to fail

This election, Tim Hudak is another Mike Harris. That’s obvious.

But although Kathleen Wynne is pretending to be the “social justice” leader, as Bloomberg points out, she’s actually a “less draconian Harris” planning the “biggest Ontario cuts since 1995” when Harris came to power.

Great Depression austerity mistake

John Keynes — the father of centrist mixed-market economics responsible for a 30-year post-war boom — urged more government spending to end the Great Depression during the 1930s.

Governments balked, implemented austerity and prolonged the slump.

As Keynes pointed out, “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.”

History repeats

Paul Krugman is a modern day Keynes. He’s been urging fiscal stimulus (government spending) to end the Great Recession since the free-market collapse in 2008.

But governments have been repeating the same mistakes of the 1930s, with the same disastrous results.

America

Krugman pointed out how American cuts have cost $200-billion a year in economic growth and added one point to the unemployment rate.

Europe

Europe embraced austerity and killed off their recovery. The bond-rating agency Standards & Poors actually downgraded European countries back in 2012 for plans to cut spending:

As such, we believe that a reform process based on a pillar of fiscal austerity alone risks becoming self-defeating, as domestic demand falls in line with consumers’ rising concerns about job security and disposable incomes, eroding national tax revenues.

IMF

The IMF recently documented how austerity has caused much more damage than right-wing experts had anticipated.

Indeed, if the fiscal multiplier is really, really high in certain situations—such as during a downturn— then austerity could prove counterproductive.
Those higher taxes and severe spending cuts will cripple growth so much that the nation will end up with an even bigger deficit than it started out with.

Debt burden

Since the debt burden is measured in debt/GDP, this means austerity actually increases the debt burden by slowing GDP growth. Economic growth since the 2008 meltdown is already anemic.

In the post-WW2 era, we paid down the debt by increasing government spending. Infrastructure and social spending created jobs and growth which raised tax revenues. Debt was paid down to 45% by the 1970s from over 100% after the war.

All pain no gain

Instead of inflicting pointless pain on the people and making the economy and debt-burden worse, we need to slow deficit-reduction plans.

As the IMF’s chief economist noted: “Decreasing debt is a marathon, not a sprint. Going too fast will kill growth.”

Progressive taxation

We also need to embrace the tax fairness we had in the post-WW2 era by eliminating costly tax cuts for the rich. These have added to soaring inequality which has caused economic growth to dwindle.

In Ontario, Mike Harris cut income taxes by 30% causing a $5.6-billion structural deficit we never recovered from. These tax cuts must be eliminated on the highest bracket.

Pointless corporate tax cuts

The Liberals also — outrageously — cut corporate taxes from 14% to 11.5% in 2010. (The NDP stopped them from cutting them to 10% in 2011.) This added $2.4-billion to a $10-billion deficit!

Considering Canada has the lowest corporate tax rate of ALL major economies, we must raise corporate taxes higher than 14%.

Step in the right direction

Only Andrea Horwath and Tom Mulcair plan to reverse these absurd corporate tax cuts. But much more needs to be done.

Ed Broadbent blasts Wynne’s presumptuous rhetoric

Apparently, Kathleen Wynne has become the champion of the poor and huddled masses this election. According to her, she has picked up the NDP torch left behind when Andrea Horwath abandoned her principles to become the “right-wing Rob Ford party.”

Of course it turns out Wynne wants left-leaning votes a lot more than she wants to represent them.

It turns out her “most progresssive budget in two decades” is also the most regressive budget in two decades according a Bloomberg analysis. They say Wynne will bring in the “biggest cuts since 1995.”

Ms. Wynne, you are no Ed Broadbent

Aside from claiming to be the party of “social justice,” Wynne has taken to invoking past NDP leaders whom she says Andrea has betrayed. One of them was Ed Broadbent.

Ed minced no words putting Wynne in her place:

Partisan debate is one thing, but by invoking my name in weekend speeches and articles to attack Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP, Kathleen Wynne has gone beyond the pale.
Let no one doubt: I fully support Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP.

Blast from the Past

David Reevely of the Ottawa Citizen noticed a parallel between Wynne’s government weighed down in scandal and that of Paul Martin’s in 2006.

In a column titled, If you invoke Ed Broadbent, you’d better know what you’re doing, he points out what Ed Broadbent — as an NDP MP under Jack Layton’s leadership — said of the Liberals back then:

No matter how unethical, undemocratic, and unprincipled the Liberal Party becomes, the team of insiders at the top can simply not imagine people choosing to take power away.
It should be taken away…its conduct in office has not been ethical. Its contempt for Parliament is rivaled only by its manipulation of voters.

Reevely concludes:

In his final statement as an MP in 2006, Ed said that the Liberals had lost the moral authority to govern.
And so too have the Ontario Liberals.