Excited Delirium

Stories about Excited Delirium, the Shock Economy and a little fiction here and there.

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    Deconstructing the Narrative: Spot the Difference

    Let’s deconstruct some recent news that we should all be concerned about.

    An innocent American journalist is executed by a defense-funded militant organization (that may have been staged) that no longer seems to represent the people that started it.

    An innocent young black man is shot several times point-blank in ‘Anywhere, North America’ by a defense-funded militant organization that no longer represents the people that funded it.

    What’s the difference?

    Nothing.

    We’re flies caught in the web spun by the military industrial complex and our own protectors are now fighting against us.

    Public audits, people.  We need public audits of the military and police forces that are absorbing so much of our financial resources.

    Or, we can be like Vermont and choose to end the war on drugs by ending their budgets.

    Superman Returns to His Fortress of Solitude

    Rather than face political opponents and actually talk with people, Stephen Harper has returned to the north in his never-ending quest for his Fortress of Solitude.

    Like Superman, Stephen Harper is an alien in his own land.  Nobody gets him anymore and his powers are wasted on mere mortals like us Canadian voters.

    But let’s take a slightly unique, albeit esoteric look at this analogy.  In DC’s Superman and related series, the Fortress of Solitude is similar to a Doll’s House.  I’m reading The Annotated Sandman, Book 1 right now and the author and editor remind us that Book 11:  The Doll’s House is a representation of Desire, one of the Endless.

    Desire lives in the Doll’s House, a shell of a structure that reminds us that dolls do not choose their fate.  Their fate can only be chosen by others.  This was the theme of the Doll’s House, a children’s story written by Rumer Godden in 1947.

    Where am I going with this?

    Stephen Harper can look all he wants for solitude and serenity from a growing wave of critics and attackers, but he cannot hide because in politics, your fate is determined by those who choose you.

    Let’s hope we choose wisely in the future and pick someone who’s less like an alien and more like a Canadian.

    Silencing the Masses

    The Harper use of the Canada Revenue Agency to bully environmental and activist organizations that may or may not have expressed opposition to the Harper Regime is something that should concern all Canadians.

    This is another blatant abuse of power that is designed to intimidate all of us.

    If organizations can be attacked and bullied in this fashion, under the guise of ensuring proper fiscal management, then ANY Canadian can be attacked as well under the same authority and rationale.

    My greatest fear is that we’ll soon experience the subjective nature of these audits as members of unions, activists, writers, politicians and political volunteers and other Canadians who are vocally opposed to the Harper Regime and their corporate cronies fall under the microscope and face fines and possibly even prison sentences for errors in judgement (or basic unintentional human error) when it comes to their personal taxes and financial affairs.

    Harper has opened up a vicious can of worms by using respected government institutions to bully Canadians.

    This is fascism:  use of government institutions for intimidation of the masses by ‘making examples of those who get out of line’.

    McCarthy played the same tricks in the 1940s and 1950s, so much so that it alienated an entire generation from folks who might be right of centre, but at least right of mind as well.

    Why we stand for this in Canada today, I do not know.

    The Con Approach to Cutting Taxes

    The Conservatives has created a myth that we pay too much as far as taxes go.  They’ve already slashed some of out more vital taxes.

    The GST / HST tax was cut by a third, even though it’s been proven that a tax on consumption is something all civilized countries should have because it can be structured as a progressive tax for all, especially when it comes to collecting revenue from the rich.

    Corporate income taxes have been slashed to a point where they’re some of the lowest in the world.  Despite this event under the Cons and previous Liberals, we haven’t seen the job or income growth that we were promised.  In fact, it’s been the opposite, hasn’t it?

    And as corporations in Canada fail to take any burden of paying for all of their benefits, it should be obvious that personal taxes as a percent of the total would rise, other things being equal.

    The failure of the Fraser Institute to understand and appreciate this basic math is mind bogglingly ridiculous.

    In fact, the Fraser Institute repeatedly pounds us with poorly written reports designed for press release tidbits that we pay too much as far as taxes go and their latest is a coup in maximum idiocy.

    Once the word is created by Con think tanks, regardless of whether r not the information is true or even makes sense, Conservative and Libertarian types go around every level of government doing their best to convince us that taxes are too high and that there are ‘gravy trains’ running rampant through City Halls and legislatures across the country.

    Governments are simply too big.  We need to slash them, cut back on spending (unless its our buddies in the pharma business, oil barrons or defense contractors) and reduce public services to anemic levels, to the point where they have no option but to fail.

    Research from Baylor University proves that this is all wrong.  They show that the countries with the biggest governments that are focused on economic justice for its citizens, income redistribution, progressive taxes and yes, efficient spending on services for people instead of supporting pseudo-corporate mouth pieces also result in populations of people who are the most happy.

    It’s really no surprise, I suppose.

    When people pay taxes, services should come in the form of public benefit.  Our current model is that people are paying taxes and the benefits come in the form of bigger dividends and contracts for private companies.

    Alas, we continue with the pattern of the Cons waging war against wages and they have a simple answer and trite campaign promises to solve these mythical problems:  we pay too much in taxes so we will cut what the average citizen pays in taxes.

    What the average citizen doesn’t realize is that when your income, salary and benefits get gutted by Conservatives, yes, you’re paying less in taxes, but only because you’re making a fraction of what you used to make.

    Summary:

    • People want lower taxes because we told you that you do
    • We kill jobs
    • We make you scramble for lower paying jobs
    • You pay less in taxes as a result

    Problem solved.

    One day, someone with balls will remind all of us that it’s OK to pay taxes and demand services, so long as those services are for the good of the public.

    Canada’s Watergate?

    The home of Justin Trudeau has been invaded.  Documents have been stolen.  A warning was left on the back porch.

    All while Trudeau’s wife and children were sleeping upstairs.

    An act of political terrorism has been committed.

    THEY are trying to intimidate Justin Trudeau and his family.

    But who would have done such a thing?

    Surely not our depraved and egomaniac, ‘do no wrong’ leader Stephen Harper or his merry band of Conservatives.

    I shudder at the thought that anyone in political office would even consider doing such a thing to a family in a country that pretends to live by the law of the land and democratic institutions.

    But if those in charge are so desperate to cling to power, they will do anything.

    Or their mindless minions will.

    Be warned.  This is not Canada anymore.

    This Just In: World At War

    According to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), there are just 11 countries in the world that are NOT at war.

    The IEP has identified that there are more countries in a state of martial confusion that any time since World War II, where nearly every country in the world was engaged in this conflict.

    I found this figure staggering, and yet I’m not truly surprised.

    The only ones to achieve the lowest score for all forms of conflict were Switzerland, Japan, Qatar, Mauritius, Uruguay, Chile, Botswana, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Panama and Brazil.

    Of course, I’m going to play ‘pile on’ with this figure and suggest that even the 11 ‘neutral’ countries are at war or are funding the global crisis.

    The Independent article points out that there are issues with even those countries that are in a state of ‘peace’ are in conflict.  In Brazil and Costa Rica, the level of internal conflict may be the lowest possible – but civilian access to small arms and the likelihood of violent demonstrations are worryingly high.

    And Switzerland pretends it’s innocent, but they fuel the fight with massive volumes of arms exports.

    And let’s not forget that even the US is in a state of its second Civil War.  Pretend it doesn’t exist, but when the Nazis come in the form of publicly-funded police forces, abusing and beating the public that pays their bills, it’s not long before the plug gets pulled.

    Ferguson, Missouri, is the first to descend, but failed cities like Detroit and the hundreds of other small towns that are teetering on bankruptcy will push the world to realize that things are about to get very, very ugly.

    Beware: 1-2-3 Attack of the Cons

    The pattern is now recognizable to a point of being a joke.

    Unfortunately, Canadians continue to fall for it.

    Attack Point 1:  The Federal Finance Minister gleefully announces that the Conservatives – the stewards of the economy, the only suitable managers of Canada’s finances, the voice of fiscal reason – will be steering the Canadian budget towards a balanced budget within the year.  It’s likely that we’ll even see a surplus.

    Let’s ignore the facts that the deficit was created by Flaherty and his crones, that the sources of funds have been attacked ruthlessly over the last 10 years and spending has skyrocketed on much-loathed items like an unnecessarily bloated defense industry in Canada.

    Let’s ignore that all kinds of ‘pockets’ of cash have been stashed by the Finance Minister (past and present) to create the mirage of deficit and then surplus.  Funds have been ‘recalled’ and programs have been cancelled so that the Finance Minister can boast about their prudent fiscal management when all they’re engaging in is a creative shell game.

    Attack Point 2:  A third-party, conservative ‘think tank’ (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) releases a discussion document that whips the non-thinking Canadian into a blind rage of libertarian frothing demand for justice.

    I don’t know when the Fraser Institute took a turn towards tabloid research, but they’ve proven again that their organization is nothing but a puppet to be controlled by conservative managers and lobbyists across the country.

    The quality of their research reports are just a touch more professional than that of a Grade 3 research project into Ancient Greece, being superficial at best.

    The recent report from the Fraser Institute that claims we pay more tax compared to any other expense today is specious at best, but more embarrassing for all than any other report they’ve issued.

    When you actually look at the basic documentation concerning this report, it’s easy to see that the biggest jump has been under the watch of the Conservatives who have tirelessly slashed taxes to appeal to their libertarian friends:

    Canadian Taxes Rise Most Under ConservativesA KEY point about all of this is related to the following quote:

    Canada’s booming oil and gas industry over the past 50 years is also a factor. “Included in those government revenues are royalties on oil and gas, which were not nearly as high then,” said Dungan. He added that in addition to taking inflation into consideration, analysts must also consider the relative price of oil and gas as well as the sheer amount that Canada exports today. “The Fraser Institute counts those as taxes.”

    Really?  How can any organization worth its salt come out with such inflammatory comments and not account at all for the rapid rise in oil revenues from all governments over the last 50 years?

    They also shouldn’t be comparing aggregate tax rates (and oil revenues) to personal income.  In order to compare ‘apples-to-apples’, they need to compare an aggregate to another aggregate, like the national GDP.

    Finally, they completely fail to acknowledge that a growing part of our economy has become a hodge-podge of part-time jobs, where people on the lower levels suffer more from punitive non-progressive ‘taxes’.  Like oil revenues.

    How stupid do they really think they are?

    Well …

    Attack Point 3:  An all-out media blitz that will drown Canadians in superficial commentary about how ‘over-taxed’ we all are.

    OK.

    What goes first?  Roads for trucking companies?

    Health care?  Education?  Hospitals?  Retirement benefits?

    Should we have our parents eat out of cans and get their clothing from Goodwill?

    OR … maybe we should jump on this opportunity to look at how PROPER income taxes are increasingly going towards the following:

    • Defense
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Oil subsidies

    Hopefully, Canadians come to appreciate that we’re being duped and that the whole barrage of media related to how ‘over-taxed’ we are is a GREAT BIG LIE.

    Thoughts on Robin Williams

    I was blown away with the news of Robin Williams.  I knew of his struggle with depression and other issues, but only in a tabloid kind of way.

    My thoughts?  He was like a sun going supernova:  with us through what seemed all our lives, brilliant and bright any time we looked at him, with an unfortunate darkness to follow his demise.

    To quote The National, with their song ‘Slipped’:

    I’m having trouble inside my skin
    I try to keep my skeletons in
    I’ll be a friend and a fuck-up
    And everything

    But I’ll never be
    Anything you ever want me to be

    The song reference is probably out of context, but it creates the same emotion about hearing about how even Robin Williams can ‘slip’.

    Our Future Lies With Tailings Ponds

    The Mount Polley disaster is a glimpse of the future that we’ve carved for ourselves.

    At best, tailings ponds represent negligence and casual treatment of the environment.  The worse case scenario was just witnessed a few days ago:  Massive floods into clean lakes and rivers, destruction of complete, vast ecosystems in the blink of an eye, and (what I predict) the ultimate bankruptcy of Imperial Metals because they won’t be able to afford the litany of lawsuits that will follow.

    ‘I told you so’ is a painful phrase that we can all mouth silently as we look in horror at what’s happened this week in BC, but we must prove that action ultimately speaks louder than words.

    Mount Polley is a tiny glimpse of what’s wrong in our world, as we’re lead by corporate fear-mongers and greed instead of practical, common sense.

    The company might – might – face a MILLION dollar fine.

    Oooh.  Ouch.

    That’s a couple of month’s work for the President, who made at least $3 million in salary, bonuses and options in 2010.

    We need to look at ALL of this mess in a fresh light.  We need to begin a process of carving away at the notion of ‘limited liability’ because it’s killing our planet.  Disasters are occurring all the time, right under our noses and because of the way corporations are structured, no one is held accountable.

    And we need to start thinking of our environment like sly landlords do when it comes to students:  we know you’re coming, we know you’re going to wreck the place, but we know we can also impose a few billion worth of bonds and deposits to ensure you don’t get too carried away.

    In other words, we need to force any company in extractive industries to post a bond secured by a third-party that would clean up and COMPLETELY restore a site every 3-5 years of production.  Failure to restore = loss of deposit.

    Mandatory sentences would also be a good reminder to the world’s corporate elite that we’re sick of this crap.

    Suncor is ‘proud’ owner to the world’s largest dam – dam, not just tailings dam – second only to the Three Gorges Dam in China.  What’s the plan for Suncor when the tailings ‘pond’ breaks or leaks there (if it’s not already)?

    Life-ending phenols, arsenic, mercury; cancer-makers such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fish-killing naphthenic acids all pollute the grounds of Alberta.

    Hundreds of BILLIONS of GALLONS of toxic sludge are being held back by packed dirt.

    That’s like burying spent uranium rods behind sand piles made on the beach by 10-year olds.

    In addition to ending limited liability, mandatory sentences for senior executives and secured bonds, maybe a simple renaming of ‘Tailings Ponds’ for what they truly are:  ‘Massive Toxic Waste Dumps’ and ‘Gross Negligence at the Profit of Stockholders and Cost of Taxpayers’.

    Waste Dumps are the biggest environmental issue that most people have never heard of.  If it’s remotely possible that something good can come of the Mount Polley disaster, perhaps it’s the fact that they’re are now on the radar of the general public and things will change.

    How To Reshape News in Canada

    The CBC is dead.  The Cons have been granted their wish, they’ve killed it with 1,000 cuts (well, 1,500) and public news and the image of ‘honest’ journalism is dead in Canada.

    There, I’ve said it.  Let’s move on and let’s have an honest talk about what we can do now that the CBC is no longer with us.

    Years ago, many private news companies in Canada knew that the best way to create the news for corporate interests (and not report it) was to consolidate their efforts.  In effect, the chose solidarity in news reporting and put it under the banner of ‘Canadian Press’, or CP.

    Under a non-profit organization, to boot.

    CP is owned and operated by TorStar, CTVGlobeMedia (Bell, CTV, the Globe and Mail) and Gesca or Victoria Square Communications Group (both subsidiaries of Power Corporation).

    For half a decade, they’ve been selling press releases and other content to the CBC for narration under the guise of public broadcasting.

    Here’s the kicker:  as Canadian taxpayers, we’re paying ourselves to be brainwashed.

    So, for those that weep about the demise of the CBC, look again.  You’re being played a fool and it’s important that you accept this before we have a serious talk about what we as Canadians can REALLY do to create real news in this country.

    First, we need to take back our Internet.  We need to do something simple like start a Kickstarter campaign or something similar that will raise enough money to generate a serious bid for the next chunk of spectrum space or attack this city by city with customer-owned investment and installation plans.

    We have to build our own network because the existing owners of the networks can’t be trusted to act in our best interest.  Investors in the network will be given participation rights and opportunities to vote on structure and key logistical considerations.

    We get a million pissed off customers to pay in $1,000 and we’ll have a billion to start from.

    Think $1,000 is too much?  That’s a year’s worth of wireless bills for the average Canadian.  Or about 3 months of the all-you-can-eat cable/phone/internet packages that we lap up on a regular basis.

    Any progress will be good enough, as it will push momentum in our favour.  The future of companies like Bell and Rogers will become suspect, to say the least, as their only true rule is to act as gate keepers.  Once the fences are taken down, they won’t be able to control access to content.

    And the ‘new’ internet doesn’t have to be built by individuals.  Cities and provinces can participate too.  All it takes is a simple legislative stroke to require any new road or infrastructure projects to include about a foot of fibre optic cable any time the roads are open.

    All it takes is one city or province to decide that they want to do this and the rest will fall into place.  Stratford is trying, but they aren’t quite there.  Yet …

    Next, we need to do what the big companies do and consolidate our efforts.  In large part, we already have the tools to do this thanks to numerous social networks and search tools, but they aren’t good enough because they’re prone to censorship.

    Since we’ll own our Internet, censorship won’t be an option.  All Canadians will have an opportunity to add their own stories, have them voted on and ultimately reported on to other Canadians.

    News will be ours again.

    News will be new.