My daughter is at the University of Waterloo, and so periodically we drive west to take her out for lunch, buy her some groceries, and see how things are going with her.
It’s easy to forget how much of a car culture we live in until you hit the 401, and drive the length of the GTA, from Oshawa to Waterloo. Depending on your point of view it is either a nightmare or a mystical experience to enter that first glimpse of the 3pm rush-hour madness that rises around you like a Tsunami. Soon it is stop-and-go traffic; brake lights disappear into the horizon. From Ajax to Guelph to Hamilton, and all points in between.
In those moments I have no problem understanding the concept of paying a carbon tax. We need to be accountable for our sins!
My 81-year-old uncle’s father started keeping track of the dates when the ice first went on, and off, of Bow Lake (on 28S). So we know that relative to 100 years ago, the ice now covers the lake about 3 weeks later than it used to, and is off about 3 weeks earlier as well. That’s 6 weeks of winter that doesn’t exist in Bancroft anymore.
Any of you who grew up here in the ’50’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, know that it was quite usual to have a whole month in late-January and early-February when the overnight temperature fell to -40. (Do you remember the Christmas of 1980, when it dropped to -54C?)
I don’t think we’ve had even one night this winter at -30.
I read that when the red-breasted robin was first spotted migrating into the far north of Canada (a decade ago), the Inuit had no word for it, as they had never seen a robin before.
When do we start paying for our wasteful lifestyles?
But Kathleen Wynn’s new carbon tax reeks of disingenuousness.
Like Trudeau, who came in on a youthful tide of environmental political responsibility and then immediately approved three new pipelines, Wynn loves to speak out of both sides of her mouth at the same time.
She’s disingenuous because while she taxes us for our so-called bad behavior, the Liberals also approve a multitude of new highways in and around the GTA. The cost is in the billions.
As we drive to Waterloo we see that there are three new multi-million dollar interchanges being built on the 401, between Ajax and Pickering. New multi-lane highways that cut north through the cornfields and into the new suburbs to come.
We are slowed by construction west of the city where the 401 is being expanded. Wynn announced a few weeks ago that the Don Valley Parkway is also having more lanes added to it. As is the Gardner Expressway.
Highway expansion is happening all over the GTA as politicians give the developers what they want: more highways for more suburban development.
The great urban planner Jane Jacobs noted decades ago that more highways do not mean less congested traffic. More highways do not increase the flow of traffic.
More highways simply means there will be more cars on the road. Traffic commute-times remain the same, and only get worse with time as more and more cars pour out of the ever-increasing suburbs.
Wynn’s smart enough to have read Jane Jacobs. She also read the university studies and urban planning reports supporting new tolls on the freeways coming into Toronto. She knows that the City of Toronto is spending 20% of its entire budget trying to keep its massively overburdened public transit system up and running.
She knows that if we were actually going to get serious about dealing with carbon, the province would be pouring $1 billion a year into Toronto’s public transit system. (Rather than Toronto remaining the only city in North America who has to pay for its own subway system.)
Like all Liberal politicians Wynn thinks that she can buy votes from both sides of the fence. Add a carbon tax to appease the environmentalist Left, and build more freeways to win the vote in the conservative 905 suburbs.
What, in fact, she and Trudeau are doing though, is just buying more voter apathy as young voters realize the political system is rigged against them.
There is hardly a young person under 30 who isn’t half-scared witless that the environment may collapse on their head sometime in their lifetime.
Who wants to be around to see what happens when the Yangzi River in China and the Ganges River in India both dry up this century? Miami City Council has been told that their city only has another 15-20 years before it is submerged and uninhabitable. New York might have 50 years left. San Francisco has already banned any new development on its waterfront. Bangladesh now builds its schools on house boats.
The synonyms for disingenuous are: insincere, dishonest, untruthful, deceitful, and duplicitous.
Take your pick.
They all apply to Kathleen Wynn and her new carbon tax.
It’s been one of the cloudiest winters on record in eastern Ontario…but it hasn’t been entirely bad…
Patient: Downtown Toronto (Beaches to Bloor West Village)
Diagnosis: Terminal Gentrification
Death by Gentrification – 2017
Come as You Are
Endangered Species List:
All cafe patios (city is proposing a 1,000% increase in patio taxes)
Area of Concern:
Yorkdale (50 yrs)
The Beaches (40 yrs)
High Park/Bloor West Village (30 yrs)
Queen St. West (25 yrs)
King Street West (20 yrs)
Yonge/Eglington (10 yrs)
Leslieville (5 yrs)
often, other people says things much better than I do…
I’m in Toronto for the weekend and the free subway newspaper has a profile on the last standing farmer working within Toronto’s city limits. (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/02/06/two-centuries-and-counting-for-torontos-last-farming-family.html)
He is a man named Dale. He has 350 acres in Scarborough. The land is worth millions to developers. He prefers to grow crops. The farm has been in the family since 1805.
The last farmer.
We have given up on these men at our own peril. Our faith in an international – global – food system absolute.
With Trump now in charge, and with a Presidential approval rating among Republicans that soars somewhere into the clouds, we sleep a little less easily, for we are now just imagining what even a little fascism can do.
I think very soon, we are going to find ourselves to be in the same position as this year’s Toronto Blue Jays – not the best team in baseball, though not the poorest either – not as talented as last season’s team (which was less talented then the year before that) – with some explosive starters – but with no relievers and middling bench strength.
We have forgotten that good pitching always beats good hitting.
I think baseball was so popular in the heartland of America, where the last farmers live, because farmers much more so understand the strategy of good pitching. That one’s real strength is knowing there is a good bullpen behind you.
The poor people of rural Ontario, people living in places the Toronto Star once called the Ozarks of Ontario, have been protesting the high cost of electricity (known in Ontario as Hydro One) ever since Hydro service was semi-privatized a couple of years ago and prices started to jump.
Thousands of rural people suddenly found themselves disconnected.
But “rural Ontario” may as well be in the Appalachians as far as politicians and the media care.
Which made yesterday’s front page story on the high cost of Hydro in the Toronto Star that much more ironic.
“It’s crazy,” cottage owner says of shocking hydro delivery charge.” (The Star’s headline read.)
You see, “rural Ontario” is not known to urbanites as rural Ontario – a place where people live and work and have families, grow old and die. Rural Ontario has been transformed into “cottage country” by city-centered people.
Cottage Country: the place where you have a 2,500 sq ft cottage on a lake, where the sun shines and the children swim, where you drink a beer and your wife has a cranberry cocktail while you watch the latest Netflix offering on the flat screen, while a loon calls in the night.
The front page story was about a computer programmer from Toronto who had to pay a $82 delivery charge to get his $1 of electricity to his unused cottage in the Muskokas.
To add another layer of irony to the story, Premier Wynn, who sold off part of Hydro One and who’s polling numbers are the worst of any Premier in Canada, after months of selling to the public the positivities of privatization, now stands faux outraged at the podium and tries to echo the voice of the old NDP Party.
“Every month people in our community are struggling to cover the total cost on their bills,” she said.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could send politicians like Wynn, and Trudeau back to whatever hole they came from. At least with Harper we knew what we were getting, there was no bullshit.
They think that just because they support Gay Pride, anti-racism, or multiculturalism, that is all that is required to make them fit to lead.
They do whatever the Bankers tell them to do, because, well they are the so-called experts on such things.
Our farm dog can smell the scent of wolves long before he watches as they cross the back of our fields at night.
Well, we have all caught a whiff of the lies that are daily sold to us as our own good.
The privatization of essential government services, Trudeau’s support of pipelines and Bill C-51.
It’s really starting to stink.
Trump outed the courts on the weekend as the supporters of terrorism, in a chess game that has America drifting ever closer to the end of the idea that we should be ruled by laws and constitutions, and towards the petty dictates of a Dictator.
The fascist strategy always involves the removal of the courts as the law of the land. When the people have collectively agreed to uphold Constitutions, Bill of Rights, the United Nation’s Proclamation on Human Rights, and that this is supposed to be the first and solemn oath – then the courts are the first that have to go.
With Sunday’s federal appeals court decision to stay Trump’s Islamophobic anti-immigration act, they have effectively set up a show down with Trump’s White House.
Any Muslim terrorist attack within the USA (real or manufactured) will now be blamed on the Courts. American deaths will be laid at their feet.
When that happens, Trump will walk through the doors to their chambers and throw the judges to the streets to be mauled by the masses.
How long, do you think, it will take a pharmaceutical company to figure out a pill for our impending collective freak-out?
(And don’t think Canadians are exempt. A Federal Court recently ruled that the federal government has been illegally spying on Canadians – at least for the last 10 years. And for the second time in the last three years CSIS has violated its legal responsibilities by lying to the courts. The Liberal government refuses to rule out changing the laws to make these crimes legal.)
If you still don’t think that America has transitioned into a Corporate Authoritarian State, then you don’t understand that Trump only banned immigrants and refugees from the Muslim countries where his business – Trump Org. – does not have business interests.
Not even one American has ever been killed by a terrorist from these 7 countries.
The ban did not apply to those 4 Muslim countries where Trump Org exists. Countries who, by the way, are responsible for killing over 3,000 Americans.
And if you can’t see how the upcoming hostilities with China, India, and more of the Middle East are nothing but the Neo-Colonial Counter-Revolution, then you haven’t read enough History.
America is losing its grip on its 20th Century New World Order – has yet to realize that we are nearly 20% into the 21st century – and Trump’s right-hand man Steve Bannon wants to take us back to 1863, when the cities of Europe were all aflame with religious fervor.
In the end-days of the Roman Empire, Caligula rose to power. Enter Emperor Trump.
Here is something you need to fundamentally understand. Donald Trump currently has an 81% approval rating among Republicans.
You have to understand this to understand the White revolutionary fever that is in America today.
You have to understand that Joe and Karen Average has been so economically screwed over these past 40 years, the standards of education has dropped so precipitously, that irrational political policy and erratic presidential behavior matter so little, because middle-class white America is angry and unmoored, economically, socially, and religiously adrift in a neo-liberal world where the Elites have taken everything for themselves.
In economic statistical terms, the American Empire peaked as the world’s singular dominant economic power in 1972. The historical forces of capitalism’s inherent contradictions and imperial decay are too large for even the might of America to withstand.
Within that contradiction 1% of the people now control 90% of the wealth.
Anyone who has worked on the frontlines of poverty, homelessness, or social justice over the past 20 years knows that the seeds of a counter-revolution were ripe for planting. Once the economic system began to marginalize large numbers of the largest demographic (Whites), minorities – of race, religion, culture, education – increasingly became the targets for White anger.
How ripe are the white masses for a scapegoat – anyone who they can blame for their problems. Islam, liberals, science, political insiders, China, women, immigrants, refugees – all of them – the Grim Reaper’s of the Great American Dream.
Greed and bloodlust are the narcotics of choice for most of our economic and political elite sociopaths – as it was for the pirates and Ghangis Khans of History – who have always lived among us.
They are the breeders of fascism, witch hunts, inquisitions, religious zealots – men who will walk into a Quebec City mosque and randomly open fire on suburban prayer worshipers.
Trump has replaced the Joint Chief of Staff and the Chief of Intelligence on the National Security Council with ultra-nationalist and white supremacist Steve Bannon. Bannon is the sort of character cockroach politician we have not seen out in the open since the days of South African Apartheid.
Friends with Putin (for now) and Netanyahu – these are the types of men who will dismantle their own democratic governments on a whim of fury or as a final grasp at glory.
The Drums of Mordor beat throughout the land, and the Elfin are trying to hide in the woods. Trump and Bannon now control the largest military machine ever known to exist in the history of man, yet, both because of that and despite it, the resistance continues to grow among the global citizen.
We know that nothing will change without a counter-vision – those old bug-a-boos of justice, equality, liberty, opportunity.
There are many dark days ahead before America emerges into the other side.
This shit is not just words we read in history books. The living collective memory of war may be sufficiently extinguished, the Elders are mostly gone, and a new bloodlust is in the air. We can’t all just go hide in the woods, and wait for it to pass.
Few of us have the ability to see the contradictions and ramifications of a post-America new world order. What I do know as an amateur student of History, is that change is almost always violent.That the forces of revolution / counter-revolution circle each other like the Yin-Yang, that on the great Hindu/Taoist/Buddhist Wheel of Life, we are constantly moving between the light and the dark.
The protest movement, contrary to middle-class baby boomer beliefs, is indeed alive and on the move. It may not yet be totally fit, or particularly muscular, but the movement has started going back to the gym on an almost daily basis.
America was built on a revolutionary rhetorical fervor of freedom, liberty, and equality. And for all of its history, they have always ever only been words on a piece of paper encased in glass. (Any person of color will tell you that.)
America only wanted slaves from Africa. Trump sure as hell doesn’t want its immigrants or refugees.
But History shows that these principles can only be tamped down, they can never be entirely extinguished.
Sure, the average person will allow their freedoms to erode – a lot! – as long as they still make a living and can put the kids in after-school programming. But the collective mass has a limit before there is push-back. Vietnam, Gay Pride, anti-Apartheid, the Berlin Wall, are all recent examples of this limit.
So is this the end-times of the 20th century American Dream? Is La La Land indeed so popular because we all want to go back to the 1950’s, when movie musicals and White middle-class opportunity was making people’s head’s spin – like children running in a spring meadow? Back to when Black men happily played Jazz in White bars and the Lone Ranger’s sidekick was a Mexican chap named Stupid (Tonto).
Or, will America go back even further, and somewhere in the land right now there is an Abraham Lincoln, a Martin Luther King, or a Mother Jones, who will emerge to be our next Beacon of Hope?
Will you be, as Toronto Star journalist Vinay Menon noted, “waking up one day in a cold sweat and realizing the world is burning and America, once a shining city upon a hill, is now a darkened village in an isolated valley under tyrannical rule where long forgotten democratic ideals are fossilizing in the sludge?”
That is the glory and the tragedy of History, baby!
There were no good ole-days.
There is no place to hide.
So, I was reading today that Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants from the US under his watch than all previous presidents combined (Harper’s Magazine) – some 2.4 million people. Many of whom are dumped in random countries with phony US papers created by US immigration. But because Obama likes to play himself off as a “progressive” this was all done as quietly as possible. Trump took advantage of this quiet approach to talk about how tough he will be on illegal immigrants and the Democrats could not respond without letting the cat-out-of-the-bag about their own policies.
Ironically, the whole process of getting tough on immigrants was started by that other Democratic president now re-cast as one of the great “progressives” – Bill Clinton.
One of the great lessons neo-liberal elites have learned over the years is that they need to feed progressive voters what they want to hear. They know that most people won’t ever look below the surface once they are elected – that the icing is all that matters for the appearance of the cake – so, as long as they don’t interfere with progressive social ideals – gay marriage and such – they can continue to support the fundamental economic or military arrangements and everything is right as rain.
The Trudeau Liberals know well this trick. Our old Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper sets environmental standards that the world laughed at. He said climate change was bullshit. Trudeau comes in and encourages all countries to sign the Paris Accord on Climate Change, and then quietly approve to continue with Harper’s environmental standards. Standards that we were all laughed at last week. Few noticed.
Trudeau signs the Paris Accord one day, and then signs off on new oil pipelines the next. But he took great selfies at last year’s Gay Pride Parade – the first Prime Minister to attend. What a guy!
Obama signs off on the legalization of torture, bails out Wall Street and then gives the bankers jobs in Washington, bombs seven different countries last year, increased the military budget by millions of dollars, legalized fracking, put more people in jail than any other country in the world, gave billions in tax breaks to the wealthy; but he wears a nice suit, plays with his kids, and says we all need to be more racially tolerant. What a beautiful man!
Shuck and jive.
It’s the great political game of our times.
And that’s the essential problem we have with Trump. He doesn’t play the game. His policies will not be fundamentally different than the previous administration, but he will throw it all in our faces, call us hypocrites, hang the laundry out for all to see. He doesn’t understand the essential decorum of polite fascism, of creeping authoritarianism. Just put it out there. Fuck you if you don’t like it.
But that smells bad. He has no Obama style. He’s a bad orator. He takes a horrible selfie.
He exposes the system for what it is. The corporatization of our entire lives. The concentration of wealth to levels not seen since the Middle Ages. The colonization of the world’s resources into a handful of companies.
Welcome to the game.