to vote, to vote, to vote…I must get out to vote!
One of the things you notice when you take advantage of the opportunity (and the privilege) to take 6-8 weeks off work, in order to pack up your house and move back to the family farm in eastern Ontario (from Halifax) – while in the middle of what may be one of the most important federal elections in recent memory – is, that you have ample time to realize and consider just how much we all have riding on the lies.
All of us. Each of us.
We tell ourselves so many lies, so many times, that we forget that they are lies, and we think we are telling the truth.
This is no new discovery on my part. Lau Tzu and Plato were writing 2500 years ago about the fact that we just sit around in a cave pretending that the reflections produced by the light is reality. “Give the people their seasonal festivities,” remarked Lau Tzu, “and the people are happy enough.” Shamans and mystics and religious philosophers have long said the same thing.
Two (of many) media headlines will suffice to illustrate my point.
A Globe and Mail business writer noted earlier this summer that “despite challenging times, bank profits were up” [for the second financial quarter of this year].
The article was written in such a way that a) we should all be surprised at the banker’s success; b) and good for them, for succeeding in such difficult times! (a round of applause for everyone!)
What a load of horse manure.
Bank profits have been up each and every year since the mid-nineties – with every year breaking a new record for profits.
The Globe and Mail also reported earlier this year that 2014 set a new record for corporate profits in Canada. It was the best year since Confederation for making money in Canada. (more applause)
Where, exactly, are these challenging times for corporate Canada?
I read yesterday that 2015 will be the worst year ever – for personal debt loads in Canada. On average we owe $1.68 for every dollar that we make.
Surveys now also reveal that more than half of Canada’s urban population earn less that $15 an hour. In Toronto, it is creeping up on 60%.
And economists tell us that if the 1980 minimum wage had grown at no more than the rate of inflation it would now be right around $22 an hour.
The gap between the rich and the poor is the largest it has been since the Great Depression. Poverty is crushing huge sectors of people in Canada.
(Because of federal funding cuts, a 42-bed youth homeless shelter in Scarborough announced that it was closing last week.)
The sweet side of high personal debt is that it incentivizes us all to keep our noses to the grindstone and not make trouble. (At least in the short run.)
Record profits and record debts. Yet no one talks of the correlation.
I recently read various op-ed columns from all the leading newspapers about how barbaric ISIS/ISIL is, for as we now know, ISIS has sexually assaulted female western journalists, and beheaded some of their captured western male colleagues. (Beheading, we can all agree, being one of the last of the truly barbaric rituals.)
It is barbaric behavior. But we should not be surprised that the Barbarian Class has taken over in the former Iraq. The Barbarian Class is always the first to emerge in times of chaos. Thugs love power just as much as the next politician. History, and the Bible, are full of such examples.
What exactly were we to expect when America and Britain provoked this quagmire by bombing a people back to the stone ages? Everyday Iraqis were already dealing with a fascist dictator; a dictator who had no qualms about using chemical weapons on his own people. Then to be attacked for something they had no hand in – that the western world knew they had no hand in (but did not prevent) – awoke a beast that lies within all of us in such situations.
The death toll in Iraq since the US-led invasion began in 2003 is officially at more than 500,000; while relief agencies say it could be twice or three times that number. True, these people were not beheaded, they were just blown to tiny bits of brain and body parts from bombs dropped from planes that nobody could see or hear.
Entire schools of children were wiped off the face of the earth. Hospitals blown to smithereens.
So who are we calling barbarians?
The thing you hear as you drive from Nova Scotia to Ontario, listening and talking in the roadside diners, at the Tim Horten’s, and truck stops, is how disenchanted everyone is with the current crew of idiots vying for power in Ottawa.
The Canadian voter is in a prime reactionary mode at the moment.
Everyone – at least in eastern Canada – is done with Harper. His parliamentary bills giving the police vastly increased surveillance powers over Canadians, and his Fair Elections Act which made it much more difficult for the poor and many people under 30 to vote has revealed Harper for the neo-fascist populist wolf that he is.
Harper preaches a constant need for vigilance and fear. So while I sail through German and Czech customs this summer (greeted by smiling young men and women in suits), I am greeted on my return to tiny Halifax airport by customs officers wearing the now standard full military fatigues, flack-jackets, gloves – with everyone sporting some form of trumped-up paranoia about the potential evil-doers hidden in my bottle of Czech liqueur stowed in my suitcase.
Harper knows that there are just enough Canadians who believe his populist paranoia, and that it could again allow him to run up the middle on election night, when the other two clowns – Bearly-Bear Mulcair and Aw-shucks Trudeau – split the moderate and left-of-centre vote.
Right now the reactionary attitude is “anyone but Harper”. It has not yet focused beyond that.
Mulcair and Trudeau – rather than burying the hatchet and admitting they are two heads of the same coin – have a month to see if they can grab that reactionary horse by the reins.
My early money is on neither of them inspiring anyone other than their own party supporters, and we’ll have another Harper end-run, and four more years of conservative xenophobic jingoism.
But if a wave does break, I’ll take Trudeau to show, as he seems more sincere in his quest, and more respectful of the voter’s intelligence (a calculated risk to take at the best of times). He wasn’t afraid to tell us that our infrastructure is on the verge of completely falling apart, that (for example) our cities are losing between 25-65% of their water simply to leaky pipes in the system, and he wasn’t afraid to admit to us that he’d have to run a deficit to put even $500 million a year at the problem (best estimates suggest spending 10x’s that amount a year for the next decade).
But none of them, even Trudeau, is being up front about the money. About how much there is. About where it is. Nor about who really has it.
How could they, when it’s really all about record profits, and record personal debt?