sabbaticals…and a return to reality…
Well, I see that in my two week blogging sabbatical the world did not, in fact, get any better. (Not entirely true – which I will get to in a moment.)
The Canadian federal government has indeed gone ahead and passed Bill C-51, which gives the government and police forces new and unprecedented surveillance and legal powers over the average Canadian.
Stephen Harper then promptly announced that any group or organization that continued to call for a boycott of Israel – because of its treatment of Palestine – would be charged with a hate crime.
Any environmental group that stands in the way of economic development will also come under government threats through the new bill.
What continues to fascinate (and horrify) me is how many Canadians still think of our government as essentially benign and do not consider these sorts of measures as the erosion of their fundamental freedoms.
Not surprising, I suppose, when corporate media continually bombards us with war, terrorism, and religious fanaticism and the need for governments to protect us from all the crazy Muslims.
Perhaps we are all frogs in the pot of water – not realizing someone has turned on the heat.
Here in Nova Scotia the new Liberal government announced that there needed to be a new austerity budget to deal with Nova Scotia’s debt load. Which, on the surface of things, sounded quite prudent.
But then we discovered that this prudence would only be shouldered by the poor.
It was announced that while almost all community services would be cut in 1/2 – Canada’s richest bank would receive a multi-million dollar subsidy to open a call-centre here, and one of Canada’s richest family-owned companies (Irving) would receive new tax breaks in support of their multi-billion military shipyard contract.
Two days after announcing the cuts to services for the poor, government MLA’s also voted themselves a new full pension that would kick in after only 2 years in office. Which means, that you only have to get voted into office once, and you have a pension for life.
So much for austerity.
The International Monetary Fund – that august Washington tribe of men who maintain the world’s economy – and have been doing so since it was created in the aftermath of the Second World War – noted recently that if you added up all the government subsidies given to the fossil fuel industry (the oil companies), you would discover that they receive, on average, $10 million dollars in subsidies per minute.
The solar industry in North America receives virtually nothing in government subsidies. In fact, some American states have been lobbied heavily by the oil industry to do everything in their power to undermine the solar industry. Some states (like Nevada) have even tried to pass bills making solar power illegal (it failed).
$10m x 60min x 24hrs = $14,400,000,000 per day. $14 billion 400 million a day!
Now imagine that if every day of the year we we redirecting that amount of money into renewable resources, environmental restoration, providing clean water, affordable housing, free tuition, public health care, national day care, and top-quality public schools? Imagine what the world would look like?
And this is only the subsidies going to oil companies – who are already some of the richest companies in the world. Add the myriad of other corporate subsidies and you would triple this number.
So who are the welfare bums – really?
China announced last week that it has reduced its coal emissions in the last 4 months by 5%.
Doesn’t sound like much – until you look at the scale of China.
A 5% coal reduction over just 4 months in China is the equivalent of all the emissions for an entire year for a country the size of England.
But, as Chinese officials noted, while its a start, for them it is still but a drop in the bucket. Air pollution in China remains toxic and out of control.