Category Archives: Inequality

Hatred is the Weakest Stance – August 13, 2017

4-768x768I suppose anyone who speaks out in public can be an activist. Many make me proud, having taken the time and energy to earnestly understand their passion, and then wanting to educate the public on the new knowledge. Many are successful.

Not all ideas, however, are created equal. With success, the idea goes viral, possibly leading us towards a new norm. If it is but a weak fad, it disappears and we step back to the status quo.

When people stand up behind bad ideas, are they still activists? I’m talking about the alt-right terrorist who plowed his vehicle through an anti-racism march in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12th, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. These neo-Nazis with tiki torches are cultural terrorists, fighting tooth and nail to maintain their race-based hatred. Continue reading Hatred is the Weakest Stance – August 13, 2017

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Climate, Jobs, Justice & the Economy – April 26, 2017

slide_224827_946621_freeWhere does one begin when fighting for climate, jobs, and justice. In a search for commonalities, the most obvious is the economy.

Climate and the economy, such obvious archenemies, are a dichotomy leaving us a choice of one or the other. We can have one but must drop the other; it shouldn’t be a tough call. Continue reading Climate, Jobs, Justice & the Economy – April 26, 2017

On Racism – November 18, 2016

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If life is a script, none of us want to be the bad guy. Our morals are our guidance for our behaviour.  I suppose the morals of one culture are not the same as those for another culture. Misunderstanding and misinterpretations have built walls between communities, where the lack of questions and dialogue have widened the gap. Continue reading On Racism – November 18, 2016

Performance Review: Employee # PM00022 HARPER,Stephen – January 25, 2014

10159_503171889751850_1151420537_nHarper, we have a problem. After reviewing your performance since the last election, you still have this Robocall dilemma sticking to your shoe. You know that letting Pierre Poutine slide is really a back-hand slap to democracy. I almost believed your denying having any dealings with the farce, but as it drags on the mind must take pause.

Now, I realize that you want the get rid of the Senate, but they are the only brake to your runaway rampage. Sure there have been a few events that almost make me want to side with you, if only all those troubled senators weren’t under your appointment. If we take away your regulators (and I know how you love doing that) then us poor citizens will most likely have to deal with an even more sociopathic state. I think our cup runneth over as it is thank you very much. So, no, there will be no dismantling of the Senate while you’re in power. Sorry.

map01-uniqueidupateThen we have the whole tar sands debacle. I know your big thing is ‘economy economy economy’ and it has its importance, but there’s more to life than money. You see, your little cancerous project is hurting the environment and the people you’re supposedly representing. The Athabasca River is nearing death, and the people relying on its water are getting sick with disease. It’s starting to look like your own private Love Canal.

Of course, I realize you’re doing all you can to ignore this problem. For starters, I’ve got to question your sneaky move of downgrading our environmental protection. What do you have against clean rivers and lakes? Do you realize what we use that water for? I don’t know about you, but I like to have a drink of water here and there. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like an good soak in oil as much as the next droid but my plants aren’t as understanding. And I can’t fail to notice that you’ve also muzzled all your scientists. Do you realize that last time that happened was during the Middle Ages? What era are you from?

There is also the matter of Idle No More. Remember those people dying of disease? I was speaking of the First Nations living with the result of your environmental assault. You know that those treaties aren’t going to write themselves. On top of that, the residential school tragedy is starting to bubble up again. Inequality is not going to go away if you keep kissing the posteriors of higher ups and tear-gassing those you represent.

As for you and the neighbours, I can’t say that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will do us Canadians any good. Remember NAFTA? That one still nips at our sovereignty, and you want to give away more? Nevermind the Trans-Pacific Partnership that you’ve been trying to keep as quiet as possible. You want us to hook into a trade regime that covers 40% of global economic output and one-third of world trade but not let us know the details. I don’t like it.

As for your play dough, it’s time to put you on an allowance. When you said you were taking the limo for a ride, we didn’t mean for a $1.2 million airplane ride to India. And that $620,000 stealth snowmobile must be a great toy! Smart purchase! As for the $2.5 million non-existent-job ad, when we asked for more employment, we didn’t mean to the ad agency. Then there’s the $40 million ads to promote the tar sands, don’t you think you’ve given that group enough promotion? And, of course, you’re keeping us safe with the mighty $45.8 billion F-35 fighters, and the $1.2 billion military spy agency. Feeling a little insecure? I don’t know about you, but that $47.044 billion total sounds like an awful lot when all you’re handing out to us citizens are funding cuts. Perhaps you should call up those folks you hired back in August 2011 to find savings that will help balance the budgets; I’m sure we can scrape up another $19.8 million for them. Were they the ones who tracked down your missing $3.1 billion?

I tried to keep it brief but you’ve been a busy man. How’s the panda? I’d send this to you, but I’m not sure how long that postal service will be running. Unfortunately, as I feel you’ve been doing a poor job at maintaining the wellbeing of the Canadian citizenry, I recommend that you take a break. I’m a wee bit worried about our country’s future. And I’m sure a good compensation package awaits. Maybe we’ll find a bird sanctuary to name after you, but I’m sure the scar of the tar sands will suffice as your legacy. No offence, but it’s time to throw in the towel. Game over.Tar Sands At Night #2.                                  Series:

November 3, 2013 – The Dirt Under the Rug

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh Canada, what have we become? So much dirt has been swept under that you can barely make out the rug atop the mound. Our ‘Good Canadian’ image has been scraped away, revealing a horrendous human rights record, an anti-environmental economy, record deficits, and a near-deaf, unresponsive government. With Remembrance Day approaching, we near heresy as the democratic face has been ravaged, leaving all that our veterans fought and died for in vain.

A lady in Calgary was in the news when a tenant claimed her property as his embassy, claiming to be a Freeman-on-the-Land. Fortunately the authorities removed him, but not before he trashed the place. Our history reflects the story. Unfortunately for the First Nations, no authorities were around to evict the invasive European tenant. Instead, they were doled out servings of genocide, paternalistic government, and relocation. The overall situation is condemned by the United Nations, but they waited too long to exert any apparent authority.

Even worse, this paternalism was drafted into law under the 1876 Indian Act, basically branding the entire First Nations population as wards of the State, like children. No longer given claim to their land, the Native population was shuffled around like furniture in a home. More accurately, their home was taken over and demolished and all their possessions were put into storage, what the government calls ‘reservations’.

Suddenly, the land was opened up for European settlement, of which they always needed more. This invited urban sprawl, demanding more space and resources, as the boom in technology perpetually beefed up the energy needs. Any land left unclaimed by white settlement was then ceded (or loaned) to the First Nations who sustained it as their foraging and hunting grounds. Later, these areas were flooded as hydroelectric dams joined the mining polluters, biodiversity-killing monocrops and other species-killing efficiencies in destroying their habitat. The overall results have us sending probes into outer space in search of another planet that might be able to support human life. Woe to any inhabitants of that planet, they may someday become wards of the Earthlings.

All this has been in the name of the economy, the lifeforce of coercion. If the dust settles, it will expose how the human character has been suckered into a vortex of man-made laws that disregard Nature’s rules. We have ceded our democratic power and responsibilities to governance in order to continue prospering in our debt-driven lives. It looks as if we are all under paternal government protection, namely the Harper Conservatives.

However, Papa Harper has been out partying with the neighbours more than attending to his Family strife. He’s made promises to those who don’t need help, and deprived those who do. So, we live in a house acquired by illicit means, represented by double-faced policymakers and are fed a belief that we can’t do anything about it. The detritus under the rug must be dealt with, for the longer we resist, the deeper the impact. In other words, the revolution is going to hurt.

Justice Gone Wild – October 18, 2013

elsipogtog-largeIt’s getting ugly out there. As a society living in a developed country, we should be past the corporate colonialism mentality consistently contaminating the idea of human rights. Yet, as the events in Rexton, New Brunswick show, our police force is enforcing a corporation’s rights over those of the citizens.

Clearly, our government has no interest in protecting our land and, thereby, our well-being. Instead, we became a clearinghouse for our raw resources. Our real estate is being sold to foreign companies who tear up the environment and take away our oil, lumber and water while spitting pollutants into our air, land, and what water remains with impunity. They snake into our country behind the shield of free trade which, in most cases, opens the taps releasing our resources while providing these foreign invaders with rights that supersede our own.

It used to be that the multinational companies went to developing countries to set up factories because of the lax environmental standards. Canada has become one of those countries. This inevitably pisses off citizens, giving rise to protest. The government steps in, calling these people radicals and proclaims that the invaders need protection.

So, looking back towards Rexton, we see the Elsipogtog First Nation trying to do something that the government ignores: Save their land and water from the carcinogenic damage from the chemical agents discharged from ‘fracking’. Of course, the true damage is uncertain as scientists are silenced and environmental protection is given the pink slip. The only gauge is by looking at the illness and disease that come, after the fact.

I look to Rexton and see a corporation under protection of the authorities, and those who oppose ‘business as usual’ are the targets of police brutality. This is not why I pay my taxes. This is not why we provide these corporations with tax cuts. These are signs of a sick society. Is this the representation that taxation is supposed to represent? I think not.

In protecting the corporation over the citizen, we are approaching a worrisome state of oligarchy. That’s ‘ruling by a small group of people distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control.’ We have a less-responsive government than most countries have under a dictatorship; our upholders of the law are dedicated to protecting foreign investors; and we have an economy catering to those who already have most of the money. I sense a flaw.

The status quo must retire. How? With nonviolent rebellion, which has been an unfortunate failure at Rexton; weapons are not needed to reach a strong agreement. If I choose not to support something, I stop investing my time and money in it. As I see our taxes, via policing, go into protecting the tax-protected, and I want to stop putting my money into it. I would much rather place those tax dollars in my community, to charities and non-profits working for our well-being. As well, our Members of Parliament are supposed to be our voice to oppose these matters. Speak up, MPs, or there will be more pink slips on the horizon.

Published October 25, 2013, Kelowna Capital News

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Connections – August 28, 2013

community04 I have a dream, and hope that I’m not the only one. I see a world reactive to civilization’s events, but lack the conviction, drive and motivation to create the circumstances that would allow us to thrive. On a daily basis, we negotiate three separate realms: The internal and mental machinations; the economy, the lifeblood of our society; and, the culture that we interact with. All affect each other.

Our thoughts, feelings, and instincts come from within. Our brain tells us what we sense, reminds us of what we know, and alerts us to what the body wants. Unfortunately, we don’t always understand what it’s telling us. Worsening the situation, we are knocked senseless by our food and drugs, both becoming more synthetic by the day.

Fuelling our mind and body, food and drugs determine which lens we view the world through and how clear those concepts are. Sadly, our view has become distorted with false and biased information, and we are failing to thoroughly question what’s being presented on our plates and in our prescriptions. Complexity further blurs the path to proper development, to the point where the basics, like eating, can no longer be straightforward and it seems that every bite we take will have dire consequences.

At the external end of the equation, the complexities multiply as the line between needs and wants becomes less obvious. The fantastic is replaced by the mundane, as imagination takes the backseat to bureaucracy, and innovation becomes a childhood dream. Our values are set on an economic treadmill, where our worth is in our bling and our values reflected in our media consumption. Everything we require has a price, making our health, education and social needs anything but universal.

Our treatment to others rebounds in a likewise way. Have you ever had that day when you’re unable to shake off the misery and seem to find it in everyone you pass? The worst form comes as prejudice, a sort of extreme disdain. This negativity feeds upon itself, whereas positivity builds itself in a constructive way. The good day reflects itself as much as the bad.

Our democracy has been pirated by industry lobby groups, demanding payback for the political donations, usually for things that the public opposes. What power can a citizen attain in such a lopsided world? Cynicism breeds in such perfect conditions. What is one to do? Asking good questions is a start.

As we improve our physical and mental wellbeing, we must also attend to how we interact with our culture and environment. As our social strife and the environmental misbehaviour reveal, effects run both ways. What we do to our environment reflects the behaviour back at us. Have you ever failed to notice just how messy your room doesn’t seem until you need to find something? Our attitude towards the environment is very similar, where we are cogs in a much larger machine and our actions are but a ripple in the overall butterfly effect of environmental devastation.

The complexity that binds our mind, body, culture and economy is the natural ecology, where geography informs us when enough is enough and the environment reveals the power of its amplifier feedback. This is a question of international proportions. Whether it’s nuclear power gone wild, or raking away entire biospheres to feed the world’s richest; it’s those who neighbour the devastation, and rarely the culprits, who face the feedback. How could this be destroyed if we didn’t support it? Why do we support them? We don’t need a global economy to survive. There are other options.

This apathy empowers the industries that have the most to lose. As the economic landscape shifts, the older generation who gained the most has started losing ground. Cycling in more ‘political donations’ for them to maintain their grasp and kick away the competition, their fight to maintain the status quo has stifled society’s progression. If the system allows this bullying to continue, the system must be changed.

The mass of society empowers the institutions. Our wages and debt form the economy, and keep the industrial powers at the top. While the banks and corporations reap the rewards, we inject our lifeblood of time, indentured to the end, and sometimes beyond. Being good economic citizens has not improved our situation. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can break free of the dream to ‘make it big’. How about, instead, we aim to make it broad. Rather than becoming iconic, we aim to be effective?

Our culture grows on the structure of its institutions. Education, science, democracy and our values are all based on our interaction with them. Unfortunately we see them as too big for us to have any influence. We have stepped away from the controls and refuse to step back into the command position. The plague of capitalisum has crept in and injected its imperative into our cultural values.

Now we educate to conform rather than unleash creativity. Our education must shift from drone manufacturing into creating imagination machines. The recall of facts has no importance to anyone without effectively synthesizing it into the bigger picture. Rather than climb to heights of innovation, our education forces us into silos to help dig out the reductionist roots.

The economy has helped slant science away from the whole and fractured it into reductionism. The holistic picture becomes ever more complex, like putting together a puzzle where the pieces keep breaking apart. Now they’re unable to figure out why Nature’s results are greater than the sum of her parts. Pride magnifies animosity between specialties, nailed down to a chain of debt, stifling open-minded intercommunication. Life has too many unknowns for reductionists to acknowledge that it exists since it can’t be synthesized.

The first order of duty is to restore your health. Question the food you eat and drugs you take. The only one to look after your health is yourself, and if what you eat is frequently advertised then you may be causing yourself a whole lot of damage. Open a book and research the information. Question your doctor on what you’re prescribed, and investigate dietary changes that have proven very effective with many ailments. Never, however, go cold turkey on your prescriptions as this could do more harm than good. Alternative therapy exists, but tread carefully. And exercise should be a given.

Once the body’s physical inputs are purified, it’s time to put the mental house in order. The best approach is to reach out to others rather than to tough it out, though going alone has certain advantages as well. Though given a recent backlash, spirituality, and not necessarily an organized religion, is recovery’s best backer. Having a belief system in place will help combat the onslaught of cynicism. A belief is not your own, but a trait shared with a group that holds similar hopes. Hope drives us to the finish line, at times opposing all odds of success. With the power of this group, hope is possible. This is your community.

Rather than injecting your lifeblood solely into paying off debts and gadget-hunting, invest it in your community and reinvigorate that sense of hope. Social action and volunteerism are the quickest way to re-incorporation. But being involved must go beyond the cause and have a holistic sense of each action’s impact on the social ecology. This requires co-operation between all of the aid societies and it can evolve the social structure.

The bad news for the capitalist banking system is that sustainability works best with a local economy, not a global one. Local means supporting credit unions, using local dollars, or participating in a time bank system, to name a few. Numerous communities have succeeded and prospered on such alternate systems. A sustainable economy focuses on business conduct, product choice, food security, and responsible development. We must support social entrepreneurism, people and organizations working to better the social landscape through business and political means.

The sense of community requires a close analysis of how we relate to it. How do social conditions affect you? Where do you place yourself against the elite? What sense of interdependence do you feel with the environment around you? What sense of guardianship do you witness? It’s never too late to get involved, whether you stand for justice, a cause or institutional change. There are people out there working on it, and they need your help, be it donations or your time.

The best part is, we can make the changes we want because they are all human creations and we have a whole civilization of brilliance and passion that can make it happen. We can rationalize the complexities, gauge the probabilities, and create the kind of community that we can proudly hand over to our children. Overall, I probably could have shortened this to: Treat your body well, and then the world.

Democracy Needs Tending More Than Once Every Four Years

activism04Society rests comfortably on its democracy, or level of it. Once it was a shield against tyranny, now a muffler of the people, blinders to the necessity of change. It is the liar and propagandist saying that we, as a society, are at our best and need do no more. While sensible in a bureaucratic world, it’s insane in an organic one. The law of Nature surpasses the law of man, and Nature’s laws are malleable and change with the circumstance; if not, the typical sentence is extinction.

Politics provides a good depiction of progress reversed. Its actions regurgitate past plans that failed to produce. Some might call this insanity, others as a loop of lacking imagination. I see it as a distraction, a cup-and-ball trick keeping us occupied while the accomplices steal our rights and highjack our land. Until I see evidence, democracy hardly exists.

Man-made laws take the tack of bureaucracy, hiding behind barricades of red tape making the whole system tough to change. The civilization that is superimposed over the organic world is warping and distorting like microwaved Saran wrap. The theory of straight-forward laws, when applied to this film, becomes unmanageable and doesn’t seem to fit the environment. When we fail to adjust, a greater-than-the sum-of-its-parts problem results and the repair is costly. It’s like having a plumber change your faucets and ending up with a flooded basement. This is our government.

So that’s where we stand as of now. Our economic, political and social institutions are failing to adhere to the surrounding reality, and the ‘power’ of the people has been ceded these deformed creations. The system meant to empower us against tyranny has taken a Bizarro twist and reversed the flow of power. Big business takes precedent, little guy takes the hit.

Is there a solution? Yes. Can we rely on the political and economic powers to make the change? No. The system works for them and they see nothing that needs changing. This requires a do-it-yourself approach with a ‘do-it-for-all’ mentality. This means your personal lives must be put aside for us to focus on the greater good. It is here that action overpowers the word, where the me is subsumed by the we, where the community overtakes the mind.

It’s true that we must be the change we seek. We affect the economy with where we choose to shop and what to buy. We affect community in how we treat both those who we know and those we don’t, accepting whatever differences there are. We affect politics by our level of participation, by the pressure we exert and the demands we make of our representatives.

What we take as ‘acceptable’ must be beneficial to the greater good. However, our tweets, posts and reactions indicate that we are far in the territory of ‘unacceptable.’ We must veer off in a new, unknown direction for our society to blossom. Democracy is more than a comfortable blanket, it is a vulnerable shield requiring upkeep by its citizens. It is the backbone of civilization and it needs your help now.

Misjudgment of Policy – June 20, 2009

Trusting the policies to cure society’s ills is like letting your doctor’s prescription pad heal your ailment. Our leaders would rather blame our shortfalls on the declining economy than accept the responsibility for creating policies that drive society towards a brick wall. The only vehicle that sustains us is getting trash by the joy-riding corporate hooligans. Our planet’s life-providing gifts are being nudged aside for the productive efficiency that feeds our consumptive happiness.

We are filters to the economic flow; a consumer’s identity is a mere cog in the economic machine. Income and debt drive the forces of our lives. Our forefathers fought and died for our credit-driven lives, and, for this, indigenous cultures were assimilated or destroyed. Freedom and choice are more dependent on a person’s economic status than on their rights; the justice system is living proof.

Rather than fight to retain a free society, we let our economic and political systems dictate our life’s purpose. The recent economic meltdown left those with no family or friends left to depend on to sink into lives of further deprivation and struggle. The needy victims lost even more ground in the crash than those with cushioning to fall back on.

This desperation is bred into the lives of impoverished children and, likely falling into homeless drug addiction, contributes to the ongoing underground activity. On the street, the homeless receive feigned smiles and endless excuses for not having spare change. We claim no blame that they chose to be stranded on the streets.  Only when we become the victim to the crimes of the deprived do we get angry at the symptoms of a failing society. This reaction distracts us from seeking out the cause.

Society boils into an uproar to cuts in health care and education, yet remains warily silent to similar cuts in social services and mental health care. We hope these won’t affect us. Our failure to acknowledge each other on the streets breeds the inequalities. Our idleness is partial to blame for society’s ills. We remain comfortable believing that our leaders will repair our society. We are defined by society, when we should be steering the way towards how we wish to live.

How can we lay claim to society’s highlights without accepting blame for its shortfalls? Citizen-driven innovation shifts society. It establishes procedure and realizes a need, as it did with post-World War II production, as well as desegregation, and women’s rights. Once in place, government stepped in and made these shifts into policy. As a community, we must define the priorities, and repair the social rift that is hinders our true progress. It is the action, not the policy, that determines our direction.