Category Archives: the future

Give Peace a Chance: The Course

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William Bruneau of UBC is hosting a series of brief lectures titled ‘Give Peace a Chance: Peacemakers and Peaceniks, Canadian and Otherwise.’

His lectures will be during the week of June 21-25 and are part of the ‘Ageless Pursuits’ program that takes place at UBC.

So … for those of you on the west coast that might be looking for a little something to do in the first few weeks of summer, this might be the place.

Do you know of other similar programs committed to sharing the message of peace as part of a school program or curriculum?  I’d like to know, so please share your thoughts below.

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Stephen Harper: Thriving on Pocket Book Politics

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The other day, someone I know was being told about the Tax Free Savings Accounts (an invention of the Conservatives) and they finally said “Why would someone ever vote Liberal with that kind of program in place?”

I didn’t really find myself asking the same question because I abhor Conservative politics (and they don’t really have policies, per se), but I did start thinking about how the Conservatives play the game and tried to put myself into the shoes of ‘the average voter’.

The epiphany came to me.  They don’t win on policy.  They win on what I now call pocket-book politics.

What exactly are ‘pocket-book politics’?

For starters, they capture the hearts of Canadians not by pushing an agenda based on hope or change or grand visions of the future.  No, these politics are based on a much simpler notion:  greed.

Pocket-book politics occurs when you vote for the Cons because you think you’re getting 2 cents savings on the GST, a tax brought on by the Mulroney Conservatives because they actually understood economics and weren’t as concerned about the political expediency of bringing in a consumption tax.

A 2 cent tax cut that has already cost our government at least $60 billion in lost revenues and counting.

Greedy voters decide that a 2 cent tax cut means something to them, so they vote for Conservatives.  However, they fail to see a difference when they buy their Timmies or their newspaper.  That’s because the greed has been transferred to the corporations that run this country.

Pocket-book politics is when you vote for the Cons because you can put money into the Tax-Free Savings Account, something that very Canadians can actually do because they either have a mortgage, can barely pay rent, might want to contribute to an RRSP or an RESP, or simply want to pay off some credit card debt.

Greedy people would want to find ways to minimize every single penny that they pay to the coffers of the government, all the while enjoying one of the best (but declining) health care systems in the world.  Greedy people look at the parts, but fail to appreciate the whole.

Pocket-book politics is when you vote for the Cons because you think $100 per month for your child will make a difference when it comes to proper day care and early education.  Greedy people simply keep breeding, not accepting the fact that every new mouth and consumer that we bring to the planet is destroying it at the same time.  Greedy people don’t even let their wives vote because ‘they belong in the kitchen’.

Pocket-book politics is systemic failure.  Ayn Rand wrote about self-interest (greed) as being the only valuable principle that everyone should have, and since the beginning of the 20th century, people on the Right have mimicked her ideology and converted it to Conservatism.

‘Me first, I don’t care about you’.

However, Ayn Rand and other Conservative intellectuals fail to account for three basic notions:  net present value, externalities and what I call the ‘Newtonian Physics of Politics’.  One could argue that they’re all related, but here are my thoughts on the specifics:

  1. Net present value simply tells us that the cost of our actions vastly exceed the value obtained.  Our consumer-driven madness is going to destroy us.  Soon.  This is the long-tail of real-cost or true value pricing.
  2. ‘Externalities’ are a concept used by economists and Conservatives to brush off the true current cost of doing business.  If we used ‘true cost pricing’ to account for the real cost of what we do, gas would be $5 per liter, using the train would be free and most consumer goods wouldn’t exist.  This is the short-tail of real-cost pricing.
  3. The Newtonian Physics of Politics is this:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  When we kill social funding, we put people on the street.  We depreciate the value of life itself and we indirectly invite them to bring their victimization to us, whether we like it or not.  Crime rises, thefts increase and the cost of keeping this world at bay becomes one of a security environment instead of a caring society.

In 2008, Barack Obama pulled the hearts and minds of American voters away from pocket-book politics and offered something much more ethereal:  change & hope.  Since then, we’ve again learned the adage ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ rarely goes off course.

So despite what I’ve said, I have my doubts that all Canadians think in terms of real-cost pricing, ‘the bigger picture’ or what will happen to this planet when each of us dies.  If we all did, none of us would vote Conservative.

And despite the negative things that I’ve said about appealing to greed as a corner-stone of most Canadian voting decisions, it’s an unfortunate reality.

With that in mind, Canadian politicians in the progressive camps (although one should wonder if the Liberals are liberal any more after supporting the Cons for so long?) would be wise to develop a few simple tactics and pocket-book policies that affect all Canadians in a positive way.

Stephen Harper got massive press out of the GST cuts and I believe this was how he got elected two times running.  This simple measure gained his party enormous currency.

It should be easy for us (readers with Progressive Bloggers, others that like my blog) to come up with one or two ‘bullet proof’ concepts that can be put into action by either the Liberals or NDP to pull greedy voters away from the Conservatives.

Suggestions:

  • No tax on interest income.  This is a little different from the TSFAs because it has a more basic sound bite and will appeal to all Boomer voters that are entering their retirement years and will have a disproportionate amount of their savings in interest-bearing certificates.
  • Deductible credit card interest to a maximum of $1000 per year per taxpayer (conditions would apply.  Example:  only available for people that make less than $25,000 per year).  While this is not a personal favourite (I prefer tools that discourage consumption), millions would vote for it.
  • Deductibility of public transit.  My favourite.
  • You will be paid to vote.  And you will be penalized when you don’t vote.  The intent is simple, based on a break-even promise and encourages all of those fatalists who sit on the sidelines to get their act together and vote out the Cons.

Another word of advice:  keep counter-measures in your back pocket, but be ready for a very basic response that can go unchallenged.  Cons will always push you for ways to pay for these kinds of promises (something the Liberals and NDP failed miserably at in the last elections when the Cons were making similar promises).

2009 Zeroes

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Lists bring a sense of order to the world.

More importantly, I look at lists like filters.  They help me (and hopefully others that read this list and my Heroes list) identify what I think the most relevant activities / people / events in 2009 were.  They help separate all of the noise that’s going on around us and get us right down to the fundamentals of who was naughty and who was nice during the last year.

Anyways, here goes (and apologies for the growing list):

#22:  Scouts Canada

2009 was the first year that my son could enroll with Scouts Canada as a Beaver.

Having grown up with Scouts myself, I couldn’t wait.  I was looking forward to reliving my own youth through my son’s eyes.

This was not going to happen.

Scouts Canada has failed to adapt with the times.

At the very basic level of the Beavers, they decided to ‘teach’ the young kids about soldiers, marching, using guns and even encouraging them to engage in gun play (with fake guns, of course) where they would chase each other and ‘shoot’ at each other in mock games.

To top it all off, it was on the night before Rememberance Day.  I was disgusted and complained to the local leader, only to get a response that it was OK and that gun play is fun and harmless when done right.

I was furious and took my complaint to a local administrator, but was shut down and told to take it up with my local leader, even though I had forwarded the email from the local leader.

Scouts Canada faces extinction if it cannot adapt with the times.  In the grand scheme of things, this was a small issue, but what happens when religion and the Queen enter the weekly running dialogue and series of chants that my son ‘must’ learn in order to ‘get the most’ from this institution?

What also bothers me is the constant ‘tithing’ or requests for donations that we receive every week.  We already paid $150 for the year so that my son could run around a church basement.  Yes, there are things that they provide without asking for more money, but we’re donating a loonie or toonie with every session, bumping up the annual commitment to something more like $250.  There are also the endless fundraisers (Apple Day, Popcorn sales), all of which make me wonder why Scouts Canada needs so much damn money.  I’d rather give this money to charity.

I now attend every meeting, but will not renew my son’s membership in 2010.

Also, I’m looking for a new group that my whole family can participate with.  I’d like to join something that acknowledges and explores world cultures without being religious, but more importantly, something that we can join where we learn some basic outdoors skills while also learning how to be responsible about them.

Suggestions?

#21:  Darlington Spill

The tritium spill at Darlingon in December 2009 was glossed over by the OPG, Ontario’s government and the general media in an unbelievable wave of simplicity.

We have been told that there’s nothing wrong, but should we believe this?

This story was a small glimpse into the hazards related to the nuclear industry.

Please never install another nuke again.  To be honest, I don’t care, but the future of our planet depends on not being so stupid.

#20:  Religious Zealots (especially as Political Advisors)

The Toronto Star finally did a tell-all about how people like Charles McVety are effectively controlling policy direction in the Prime Minister’s office.  We need more exploration of a similar and more intense nature.  We need all Canadians to understand how these people are shaping policy for their own profit and gain, with little regard for the population at large.

No Apologies blog offered a little more detail on the subject.

These issues have reawakened the desire of all Canadians to separate Church and State.

It’s time.

#19:  Don Cherry

Canada’s hockey ‘Don’ is a frustrating ‘tour de force’ that perpetuates two things in this country:

  1. ‘Support the troops’ flag waving that we just don’t need.
  2. Hockey violence.

I support our troops just as much as I support our doctors, public policy analysts, our nurses, road workers, and the millions of other people in Canada that provide public services to all of us all the while having deficit cuts and public inquiries hanging over their heads.

And hockey violence?  I will never enlist my son with hockey so long as nothing is done to curtail hockey violence in Canada.  Don Cherry could do something about given his stature as a Canadian commentator with Hockey Night in Canada, but he doesn’t.

Why?

#18:  The Nobel Peace Prize Committee

Barack Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize like I deserve an award for being the first male to give birth.  Giving someone an award for something that they promise to do or might do is not the same as rewarding action.  The likelihood of this happening, however, is marginal.  I think even Obama knows this.

Therefore, the decision to give him the Peace Prize in 2009 is one made in error.  Until the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are actually ended and the hundreds of US military installations around the world are untangled from the rubric of local affairs, I’ll insist that the man get the award.

Until then, find someone who is actually doing peaceful things.

#17:  Asian Carp

Asian carp – a voracious and destructive breed of fish – threaten to invade the Great Lakes within the next few months to few years and this will spell disaster for the natural environment of these water systems.

The Toronto Star covered the issue recently.

The history:

Asian carp were first brought to Arkansas in 1963 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which wanted a natural way to control aquatic weeds, reducing the need for chemicals. Fish farms brought more carp to function as pond cleaners.

The fish started to escape as early as 1966, according to a Fish and Wildlife Service history. The Asian carp were spread by Mississippi River floods in the 1990s.

Once released, the insatiable fish quickly conquered local rivers and headed north to spawn and eat. Asian carp now dominate many parts of major rivers, including the Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, Columbia and Platte rivers. A survey in an offshoot of the Mississippi River near St. Louis found 97% of the fish were Asian carp.

The other sad part of this story:  the Asian Carp represent just one of the more than 150 invasive species to occupy the Great Lakes since the beginning of the 20th century.

#16:  The CBC

Yes, the CBC most certainly deserves a unique mention in this year’s list, mainly because the management has done everything it can to grind ‘the mother ship’ into the ground, buy American programming, and regurgitate all of the PR and spin that comes from various spin doctors.

I think they also deserve to be singled out since they made the exceptionally poor decision to join the hordes of corporate shills behind the ‘LocalTVMatters’ campaign.  Not only is CBC extremely lacking in local content, but their support gives a level of authenticity to the campaign that it otherwise lacks.

To top it all off, they (through CBC Radio) continue to produce the most abhorrent piece of propaghanda known as Afghanada.  It is the bottom of the content barrel and even Goebbels would be proud.

#15:  IOC / VANOC

When I was a kid, the Olympics meant a lot to me.  It was a brief moment in time when all of the world stopped to cheer on the youngest, strongest, fastest and most talented athletes that we could offer to amateur competition.

Today, the Olympics represent nothing more than a big drain on public coffers, a massive never-ending advertisement, support for repressive  regimes (has anyone seen reforms from China yet?) and, worst yet, near-Fascist in the control of information that will come from the Games as they’re played out in February of 2010.  And I haven’t even begun to touch the issues related to native land claims.

The latest casualty of censorship and control was the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which refuses to ‘mime’ their performance for the grand opening.  Good for them.

I, for one, will not spend a minute watching the Games.

#14:  Rupert Murdoch

In 2009, Mr. Murdoch of News Corp and Fox News fame essentially told Google to go screw itself and that all content produced by his companies would be hidden from search engines.

While thinking ‘hey, that would be a good thing, right?’ I also wondered if Mr. Murdoch had read the stock pages recently of his own Wall Street Journal for the list price of Google?

#13:  The IMF and World Bank

2008 ended in near-complete financial anarchy.  The economies of the world were barely pulled together only because the world’s largest economies and treasuries responded to the clarion call of a number of international institutions, particularly the World Bank and IMF, to generate a massive and unprecedented level of spend from public coffers.

I believe the action taken to encourage economic stability was misdirected in the form of incredibly large bailouts for companies and activities that needed them least of all (the banks and car manufacturers).

The short-term result was unprecedented deficits of all western governments.

The longer-term result:  we will see 2010 and beyond be years of incredible slashing and burning of all public institutions.

I predict that anything that we hold dear in Canada – health care, the CBC, a legal system, etc – will be put on the block by Jim Flaherty.  The entire array of government-owned property will be sold off at fire-sale prices to finance a fraction of the inappropriate spending on home renovations and tax-free savings accounts for the rich and roads for the mob.  In fact, this story will prove to be a scandal of much larger proportion in 2010 than the Ad Scam was, assuming someone has the stones to do something about it.

#12:  Dalton McGuinty and Gleb Campbell

The HST will sow the seeds of ruin for both Dalton McGuinty and Glen Campbell.  It is Harris downloading at its best and will help the Cons shine while the rest of the country gets mired in political wrangling and the perception that it’s the provincial leaders brining about a tax increase.

Both of these men got screwed by the Cons, but we’re all going to get screwed by downloading.

Thanks for nothing, gents!

#11:  Elizabeth May

“Where’s my home?”

Elizabeth May has run in 4 jurisdictions (London North-Centre, Central Nova, possibly Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, and in the next election, the Saanich-Gulf Islands in BC) since being elected leader of the Green Party and she needs to settle down.

Of course, I like Elizabeth.  I like her broad knowledge base and ability to cite specific details in relation to environmental issues, legislative challenges and other elements related to her party’s platform.  I like her the fact that she seems approachable.

In fact, I think that the Greens should still consider some way to partner with the NDP (despite vast political and ideological viewpoints) and find a way to minimize the destruction that both parties bring to each other at the benefit of the Cons.  If they do, it will guarantee that either May or Layton will be top-ranked as Heroes in 2010.

And those are the only reasons why she didn’t get graduated to the Top 10 list of curmudgeons in 2009.

#10:  Michaelle Jean

In 2009, Canada’s Governor General proved that the office was redundant and an insult to Canadians.  Stephen Harper leveraged the office of the Governor General to prorogue, or effectively cancel the notion of democracy in Canada.

The situation proved that Canada is nothing more than a blob on a map for monarchists to do with as they please.

Thanks for another year of Conservative dictatorship, Michaelle!  Thanks.

#9:  Alberta’s Tar Sands

I don’t think I’m going to say much about the Tar Sands with the exception of this:  Ed Stelmach is right in that we all have Tar Sands muck on our hands.  As long as we accept transfers from the Wild Rose state province, we all have to accept responsibility.

#8:  10 Percenters

It used to be that Parliamentarians tried to communicate the wonderful things that they did in the House of Commons using what are called ‘10 Percenters‘.  These mass mailings could go to households in other ridings – at no cost to the politician sending them – so long as the distribution did not exceed 10 percent of the households in their own constituency.

This ‘perk’ has proven to be a complete sham and is being abused by every single federal political party in Canada to spread malicious BS about anyone else that is a Parliamentarian.

Will 2010 be the end of the 10 Percenter?  Let’s hope so.

#7:  The CRTC

During 2009, the CRTC proved to Canadians that it doesn’t have a purpose.

Whether it was rules and regs about Net Neutrality, licensing and copyright issues or policies related to broadcast television, they clearly demonstrated that they are not connected with Canadians, but with the monopoly institutions that lobby the CRTC day and night.

Canadians are being lead to believe that we need things like CanCon or rules related to content programming for our broadcasters.  Unfortunately, neither of these or other rules have done little to benefit Canadian artists.

If you feel the same way about the CRTC, call for its demise and support DissolvetheCRTC.ca.

#6:  H1N1 ‘Hysteriosis’

The insanity that surrounded H1N1 vaccinations, the clinics, the media and people that were threatening violence if they didn’t get their shots was beyond obscene.  All of the actors involved did nothing less than depreciate the human experience in 2009 and they should be ashamed.

2009’s H1N1 mania exceeded the insanity we saw with 2000’s Y2K.  It was a mess that was compounded by the media’s inability to apply scrutiny to an awful situation.  Moreover, several company did their best to act in their own interest and not with that of the public.  It opens up the likelihood that any federal party that promises a public medical research institution will gain credibility with a wide array of Canadians that don’t believe companies should profit from hysteria.

The hidden story with the H1N1 fiasco:  it highlighted the ways in which certain privatization zealots would attack Canada’s revered health system.  Because private institutions were given medication ahead of public flu shot clinics, many wealthy and powerful Canadians will do their best to continue to get front-of-the-line access like they might at a Lexus dealership.

#5:  Canadian Broadcasters

Read this article.  It will change your life.  Save Local TV, but for what?

The dark side to the whole Canadian broadcast story the past decade or so has been the limitless, reckless overspending – especially by CTV – in order to attain total dominance in the marketplace. CTV has owned the Canadian Top-20 nationally the past decade with its deep line-up of American hits – American Idol, the CSIs, The Amazing Race, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, the list goes on and on.

During – and, really, because of – that drive to dominance, the cost of importing American shows skyrocketed. Still, it seemed, no price was too high to keep a potential hit away from arch rival Canwest Global.

Now CTV wants you to cover their losses after recklessly overspending on the rights to the Olympic Games. The CTV-Rogers consortium paid a record $153 million U.S. when you include the rights to 2012. It was, some estimate, about $50 million more than CBC was prepared to bid at the time.

Times have changed. The companies that used to race to sponsor Olympic TV – mainly car companies and banks – got in ahead of the broadcasters for bailouts. The grand plan by CTV and Rogers to charge the highest ad rates in Olympic history ran smack into a stiff recession.

So now they’re going for the gold by asking Canadians – also hard-hit by the recession – to reach into their pockets and help them cover their losses.

If overspending was an Olympic event, CTV would win the gold, Global the silver, City the bronze. Don’t get taken for another ride in the KITT car, Canada. Let the buyers beware.

Now … go out and give some money to the folks with Net Neutrality.

Along with the need to abolish the CRTC, we all need to send a signal to our politicians and broadcasters that we’re really not interested in watered-down pablum from the US.

Canadians can produce good content, but you have to let us go.

#4:  Jim Flaherty

When this man talks, I have to turn off the radio or TV (although I have to admit that I don’t watch TV much anymore).

I’m left with a single question:  did the people in Oshawa not learn their lesson when Flaherty was Michael Harris’ axe-man in the 1990s?

Shortly after Parliament was dissolved for the holidays, ‘Diamond Jim’ crouched over the collective fire pits of millions of Canadians and took a dump on their Christmas by threatening unprecedented cutbacks in public programs in order to finance the growing deficit.  This was most likely a tactic done to appease the Conservative base but also avoid any real public scrutiny in the House of Commons.  Bold move, Jim.  Bold move.

What’s next?  Stealing presents from under the tree and ‘taking burned out lightbulbs to repair them there and bring them back here’?  When’s the moment when you and Max ride to the top of Mount Crumpet to discover that your heart is three sizes too small?  Is there anything that will make your heart grow to normal proportions?

Probably not.

#3:  Christie Blatchford

I’ll give her this:  blogging in Canada wouldn’t have taken on the relevance that it has in just the last few weeks if Christie Blatchford hadn’t trashed Richard Colvin the way she did.

Her unfortunate acts against Colvin have not only ruined his character, but they’ve damaged the reputation of the Globe and Mail to a point where I believe there will be an internal riot that will ultimately destroy one of Canada’s most influential media institutions.

In fact, I would argue that her acts of bias have pushed the Globe into irrelevance, much like Rupert Murdoch has pushed Fox into a world of ‘Faux News’.

Congratulations!

#2:  Stephen Harper

I’m honestly not sure where to start.

Stephen Harper spent 2009 being at the centre of Canada’s rapid descent into last place with pretty much everything on this planet unless, of course, you’re talking about the world’s worst and we’re at the top.

The great thing about Steve is that he’s helped the world of bloggers develop a broad new lexicon to describe him and the Conservatives:

  • “Harpooned” – anything that gets in Steve’s way gets Harpooned (democracy, Parliament, environment, etc).
  • “Slippery Steve” – to date, nothing has stuck to Steve, but give it time.  You can’t be mired in so much shit and not stink.
  • “Harpocrisy” – the constant state of saying one thing and doing another (example:  destroying the Liberals for their efforts to bring a carbon tax to Canada and then suggesting it might happen here simply because the US might want us to).

#1:  Jack Layton

That’s right.  I’ve saved Jack Layton for the very end.  We all know that Stephen Harper is the most manipulative politician since Macchiavelli himself, and that Michael Ignatieff will continue to lead his party sideways for the rest of 2010 and beyond.

However, Jack Layton deserves the #1 spot for zeroes in 2009 for one simple reason:  he helped the Conservatives retain their hold on power in Canada.  I think Jack is the ‘friend’ that Stephen is singing about here.

I love the man, but the NDP made a single bad choice in the fall of 2009 by not stepping in to defeat the Conservatives when they could have.

Of course, an election wouldn’t have helped us collectively avoid our shameful disgrace in Copenhagen.  However, we could have opened up the books on the Afghanistan detainee issue.  We might have even been able to get what Jack wanted (EI reforms) if we simply pushed the Cons over the edge and brought on a new election in Canada.

That’s right:  I would have welcomed an election in Canada again so that I could celebrate the fact that I live in a democracy and not in a tempestuous brine of political swill that swallows my sense of pride and dignity when I say I’m Canadian.

Maybe you’ll be reading this Jack and you’ll get the message that if you don’t want to lead, please step out of the way because there are lots of Canadians who believe our country is more than just about political aggrandizement and power grabs.

And if you’re reading this Jack, please take a note from your ‘friend’ and start thinking ahead 4 or 5 steps like Stephen Harper does.  I don’t like the man, but I’ll give him this:  he and the rest of the Cons are exceptional strategists.  If you’re ever going to bring the NDP to power, you have to start thinking ahead instead of having knee-jerk reactions to various ‘turdblossoms’ that the Cons hurl at you because it’s exactly what they want you to do while they work behind the scenes on dismantling this country.

Another consideration (which I mentioned above) is that Jack needs to talk with the Greens.  Together, they could come to rule this country if they work out some way to cast aside differences and stop chipping away at each other’s base.  If they do, it will surely be an exceptional action worth noting in 2010.

In fact, I believe the future of our depends on it.

Conclusions

I’m sorry about writing such a massive list.  However, after several days of effort and a lot of thought, I’m happy with my list, but I know that I missed a thousand examples of people being small, petty and miserable in 2009.

Please share your thoughts about who deserves the crown as a zero in 2009.  I look forward to it!

P.S.  I expect to have my list of ‘2009 Heroes’ polished and published within the next few days.

The Financial Crisis: Why Current Actions Won’t Work

I put a couple of articles on the back-burner, waiting for a chance to read both before commenting on them.  As it happens, this most recent article reminded me a little of this one so I thought it was time to explore them a little further.

Ultimately, the conclusion that both seem to have is that we’re going to run out of taxpayers.  And the problem with the financial crisis is that it’s nuclear:  we might be able to bail out a few banks now, but we’ll have toxic debt issues related to the bailouts for generations to come.

The solutions offered were mixed.  The Reality Sandwich article is really only in ‘Part I’ of a series, but towards the end, they seem to speak fondly of nationalization of the money creation process.  This would marginalize the demands placed on all capitalist countries by the financial community to borrow as they print money.  Instead, they would simply print money.  As someone who warns against the ills of abusing those things that come for free, this solution might create more ill than good.  It’s called inflation.

However, inflation only comes when people expect more from their economies.  Perhaps if we tuned ourselves to think in terms of zero growth (zero growth of money supply (unless under economic ‘duress’), zero growth of economies, zero growth of wages, etc), it might actually be feasible.

Good luck with that, though.

Enter the Socialist Project, with another lengthy and more current article, focusing mainly on the use of Keynesian philosophy and who’s doing it better.  They argue that China and other countries are better positioned to jump-start their economic bodies because they have a healthier attitude towards Keynesianism, but again, I’m concerned that we’ve really missed the point: we no longer have the luxury of infinite growth .

All of these policies, be they monetarist or Keynesian or whatever, simply don’t account for the notion that it’s irresponsible to fashion economies around the principles of endless consumption.  At some point, the party has to end.  We’ve already talked about the impact that demographics will have on our current situation , but the truth is that we don’t think anyone is listening.  There are too many special interests at risk (big banks, big unions, big government, etc etc etc).

What are your thoughts on this situation?  What do you think our governments should do to pull us away from financial ruin while trying to also encourage people to have a positive attitude about their futures?  Post your thoughts below.

US in Depression

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The Economist magazine has diagnosed that the US economy is in a depression , not a recession.

While the throngs of journalists, publicists, politicians and other folks are loathe to confess that North America has entered the greatest recession on record, I commend the Economist for having the balls to finally show it like it is, even if they’re still very indirect about it.

Now … let’s do something about it.

First , we need to acknowledge that a drepession may not be all that bad, assuming of course, you don’t believe the media version of economic crisis.

What we’re going through is a radical structural and social change.  The folks who make money today and in the future are not the same folks who used to make money.  Nor should they be.  We used to support a lot of inefficient enterprises and that should end.

Expanding that idea, we need to do a lot more research into the health enterprises of today versus the unhealthy corporations of yesterday.

My gut is that we’ll discover a very vibrant and cohesive economy of smaller businesses doing things like selling organic produce through online delivery or co-ops with unheard of loyalty to their brand because they make quality, fair-trade product.  We’d also find that the average consumer no longer wants an SUV, the most profitable item for a car manufacturer to sell, not just because it’s a gas guzzler, but also because we’re bothered by the excessive footprint that a car that will last just 4-5 years will have on our planet.  People want products and services that will actually a little longer than lettuce in your veggie drawer (and don’t get me started about fridges, either).

We’ve handed over our ability to control the economy to a small group of monopolists who believe that centralized control is the best thing for us and we’re proving time and time again that this is the absolute worst thing that we could do.

But that’s just a hunch.

The second thing we have to do is something that I recommend again and again:  act with your wallets.  When you shop at places like Wal-Mart or Dollar Stores, you throw good money after bad and you endorse the cycle of poor decision-making.

When you shop for the things you need, buy local.  Buy organic.  After that, don’t buy.  Save your cash, assuming you’ve got some left to save.  Donate to smaller, non-religious organizations that return that money to the community ten-fold.

Finally, the third most important thing we can ALL do is become active advocates.  We need to be so loud that it will be impossible to shut us out.  Demand that we stop bailing out all of these losers.  When you were growing up, did the teacher always pass the failing student?  Well, sometimes they did with a little trick called ‘bell curving’, but that’s a different topic.  Were we told that coming in last would get you the biggest pay-cheque?  What kind of message does it send when governments respond to people that create money pits for taxpayers, all the while taking home record incomes?

It’s time we stopped the bailouts and started spending money on more productive efforts like a green economy and a new social and physical infrastructure.

Anything less would be depressing.

By the way, I’m not the only one with this opinion:  it seems the idea of being sensible is taking hold with a number of other bloggers, including this one:

A Creative Revolution

If you feel the same way or know of others who are trying to send the same message, please post a link below.