Tag Archives: Economy

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

Peace Together – July 23, 2016

Peace TogetherThe door is closing. This was a threat from a random guy that wanted me involved in some moneymaking scheme or business opportunity. This was his lure. Truthfully, I merely want a roof over my head in a home with working utilities. I want time to pursue my life’s passion. I want to learn and create. Continue reading Peace Together – July 23, 2016

Blinders and Distractions – September 22, 2014

nature02Ultimately, I want to save the world, but who doesn’t? The bewildering array of problems that need fixing would make Gandhi throwing up his arms in disgust. Where does one begin? In the early 2000s, my initial focus took on global warming as it was called in a lost age. Now monikered climate change, a more all-embracing expression, it looms over us like a snake on a hypnotized hamster.

What are we to do? Distract ourselves with some talent shows and YouTube videos? My studies indicate that this is the main source of our psychic problem. This instrument infests the mind with commercial drivel, surrounds us with archaic Madison Avenue graffiti, and wears down our sense of self-worth with unobtainable values. This blend brews a whole lot of discontent, making these people targets to even more invasive material.

How does this relate to climate change? Consumerism. The amount of energy that we waste, namely petroleum, to buy items with tyrannosaurus-sized carbon footprints that are designed to break down or go out of style in a month or two is choking us out. I’m talking about pollution. Not only in the waste which we toss into the landfill, but the resources required to gather and process the materials. Followed by the most-likely overseas transport before trucking it inland, the tally refuses to end. All of it is driven by the commercial detritus that leads us to forsake our character for our appearance.

There’s a purpose to all this. The economy must grow no matter what stands in its way, behaving much like a tumor. The rules are written so that every incorporated industry must grow larger every year. If not, they are fined because pissing off the investors is a no-no. How does it grow? By decreasing the consumer’s willpower, tickling their emotions, and instilling a sense of ‘MUST HAVE.’ This is where the corporate heads turn to Mr./Ms. Madison Ave to create the right lure to pull in the greatest amount of fish. While this once was the basic television commercial, they now have more covert methods to delivering their virus.

Commercial culture has ransacked our values, having us believe that we need to be driving near-illegal sport cars and wearing jewellery that could budget a small village’s needs for a year. The need for bling erodes not only our values, but our bank accounts. Now let’s be clear. Our money is our lifeblood, what we toil our time and lives over. In olden days, our earnings were meant to reflect our legacy. Something to pass on to the children. Now we have let our cars, accessories, and property define us. Are we seeing the problem here?

We’re ensnared in a trap, and it does all it can to keep us from reaching fulfillment. Have you ever felt buyer’s regret? You get home and within a couple of hours or days you’re feeling like maybe it wasn’t the best idea. Then something better comes up and we pounce on it like it was something precious.

In this age of self-gratification, where is there room for community? You know, taking part in activities that are outside of your circle of close associations? There are parts of the world out there that require your participation. The world isn’t going to run itself.

What if, when people thought of you, images of something you’ve done and stood up for come to mind rather than what model of car you have? Half of us can’t be bothered to vote. When’s the last time you volunteered? Offered help? Even something as simple as making someone smile can make a difference.? I’ll let you in on a secret: The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

As I dug deeper into the marketing operations, I found that they were targeting our kids and building up a ‘pester power’ for everything from toys up to vehicles. They corralled in psychologists to determine the best way to push the ‘consumer’ button, and the economy blossomed like a nuclear mushroom cloud. The effects were quite similar.

To make all the consumables, resources must be dug up from somewhere. To put those things together and sell so cheaply, the labor must be even cheaper. Their ‘cost-effective’ manufacturing is often environmentally frowned upon in ‘developed’ countries, but ‘developing’ countries are more than willing to take part in the corporate plunder. Oddly, this is also happening in Canada, and we’re ‘developed’.

While these practices take their toll on the environment, the effects ripple to consequences on our health. We have particulates in our air and water, and chemicals subtly destroying the life below our feet. When these end up on our bodies, either through direct exposure or in our food, the results are dismal. And that’s only from the produce.

Our meat and poultry live lives of misery to appease our palettes. Antibiotics have become a precautionary measure, becoming a part of the animal’s nutritious breakfast (lunch, and dinner.) They still get sick, and that spreads fast when you spend day-to-day shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbour. The feed is literally garbage, and this practice extends to what we feed our pets. None is properly regulated. Our institutes have failed us.

All of these chemicals and drugs filter to our food, and there is no way to extract it before it sizzles on our grills. Add a side of chemically-drenched vegetables, smothered in chemical concoctions from a bottle. In between, we nibble on artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners that tax the body even further. What does this do to our minds? It’s not pretty.

There has been a movement towards limiting these chemical supplies in our food. I tried some of the improved formulas and they ruined my childhood. When I studied into where these amazing tastes came from, I gagged. Our minds may be saying strawberry, but the internal organs are saying WTF? Why would we have a problem with eating these items? It involves evolution. Our bodies were built up and nourished by natural foods, whereas these chemical additives began the invasion in the early 1900s, starting with refined sugar.

Coinciding with our chemical intake were rising disease statistics. Much of what sickens us comes from our body’s inability to properly synthesize what we eat. Some get stored, and some get excreted, but the whole time our body is confused by this alien entity.

When it gets stored in our bodies, it goes to the liver or fat cells, which itself should be harmless. All these chemicals have been proven safe in a human environment. The problems arise when these chemicals cross each other in the storage units. Chemicals have ways of reacting with each other, let alone that some metabolize into carcinogens when they first take a seat. From this, obesity and disease result.

We’ve been getting sicker from our food and medical miracles, aside from many other lifesaving technologies that have undoubtedly helped. Fortunately, another arm to this chemical culture has come to the rescue. For a price. For every illness, Big Pharma has a fix. They can control everything from our cholesterol to our thoughts. Have you ever wondered what got us to this place? Perhaps we’re taking better pre-emptive care of our vehicles than of our bodies. Why do we so devalue ourselves? Who feeds these standards into our minds?

A large part of the problem begins when those food chemicals scoot past the blood-brain barrier. That barrier’s in place to keep poison from entering our brain, yet our confused body has let some pass. As a worrying aside, other chemicals are out there wreaking havoc on our hormones, and they control almost all of the body’s processes. As for those renegade brain invaders, there are a whole slew of different chemical concoctions to soothe those mental ills. The overall understanding of how the brain operates is incomplete, but Big Pharma feels what they offer is…good enough? I questioned if they really wanted us to get well.

The financial reality told me no. To truly cure the patient is to put a bullet to the head of the consumer. If sales ended because the cure was no longer needed, the whole system would crash. So, what about the institutions that are supposed to be protecting us? These government-funded agencies are like beaver dams trying to stop a glacier.

They were put in place to stop the snake-oil salesmen. They successfully kept their reign on the drug industry. Then the profit motive stepped in. Soon there weren’t enough funds to oversee the thousands of chemicals produced each year. The tables soon turned, and funds were needed from the developers; a fee that soon became the agency’s budget. When you become reliant on your funders, you tend to let certain rules bend. All of this done to the appeasement of the almighty stock holders. Now we have puppet regulations, put together in cooperation with the industries. These rules are supposed to protect the public’s health and well-being, yet the profit motive conflicts with this ideology.

These same industries make billions of dollars by making us sick and then treating us for it. The only time the public becomes aware of a problem is when the media issues a recall. Food tampering, explosive motors, and food-borne bacteria make for painful headlines. Deadly drug side effects, even worse. Sometimes.

Before the public is acknowledged, the accused is obscured behind some public relations fluff, softening the blow to the industry. This fluff is then provided for free to the media, and they swallow it up and spit it back at the public in an either light-hearted or panic-inducing way. The number of deaths matter. Panic is really a big part of the media backbone.

Fear creates doubt, it perpetuates a false sense of urgency, it makes us tuck our heads in our shells, it focuses our hopes on the storm blowing over. There is no plan on what to do after the storm passes. Fear prevents us from taking part in the real world, as our personal hopes for our world are constantly placed in jeopardy and require our constant surveillance. Fear prevents us from stepping beyond our self-contained world, from reaching out and giving what we have as gifts. Rather, we take and hoard our possessions, ‘the meaning of me’, and cage it up in case someone comes and takes it. Call it another symptom of consumerism, I call it paranoid narcissism.

Sorry, that’s getting bitter. What I’m getting at is that this isn’t us. This isn’t the behaviour of a superior civilization. I started off talking about saving the world and climate change. Somehow I’ve gone into the psychological effects of commercialism. How to reconcile this? To start, climate change is the resulting accumulation of each and every one of our actions, and there are seven-plus billion of us inhabiting this planet.

We are wasteful. A light left on by one is hardly considered a waste, but when one percent of seven billion do this, that’s still 70 million lights left burning. And how likely is it that only one percent has this habit? Granted, not all seven billion have electricity and that’s not a good thing either. How grateful should we be for this electric culture we’re in? Sadly, it is nothing more than background noise; a part of modern life. These engrained habits, this loss of wonder, has left us in a state of hyperstimulated burnout. It’s no wonder so many of us flock to the flatscreen. We need the distraction.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not your fault. The food’s been playing tricks on your brain, the drugs to treat that are adding icing to the glazed problem. And the media that we’ve been depending on is in cahoots with the industries that are poisoning us. It’s a tough prison to break free from. You may notice I didn’t speak about politics. I hoped to keep this brief.

So how do I save a world in such dire straits? For one, I stay open to chance meetings out in the real world. I went out and started a group called Community Minds. It didn’t accomplish much, but I haven’t counted it out. Everything’s a process for me.

That’s the second part: Always be open to whatever’s presented to you. Within limits, of course. I’m not talking about anything extreme, but of those moments that peak your curiousity. If your first thought is, I haven’t don’t that before, then try it. On the other end of the spectrum, when you’re worried about something that might be, ask yourself: Is there anything I can do about it right now? If yes, do something. If no, drop it for the time. Don’t waste your energy.

I suppose if I wanted to save the world, I’d would get everyone to eat better. Take back your health. Treat your body with the same reverence you do your car engine. You don’t wait for it to break down before taking it in to the garage. We get tune-ups and oil changes. Our bodies are no different. Clear out the toxins, go on a fast food fast. Drop processed foods from your menu and see if it makes a difference. I’m not saying go cold turkey, because I sure didn’t. But I don’t eat junk food like I used to and I feel great.

So turn off the computer, go outside and find someone to have a conversation with. Help mow someone’s lawn, move furniture. Be a Boy (or Girl) Scout. Eat right. Read good books. Gaze at nature’s beauty. Regain a sense of wonder and the bling will lose its appeal. Life is too short to worry about the future or fret about the past when there’s so much change going on around you. Expose your spirit through the vehicle you’re given, connect with others and build that network of change. Perhaps someday it will intersect with mine.

On the Teachers’ Strike – June 10, 2014

600041_10151501512691420_1069111680_nAnd so we reach another strike. Our teachers are unhappy and want to negotiate better pay and improved class conditions. Meanwhile, the Liberals are looking for ways to retain their tax-collection monies. After all, do you know how much a night at the oyster bar costs these days?

Taxes are the fees we pay to ensure a functioning society. We want to ensure our health, wellbeing and longevity. The dilemma is how to keep an operational level of our social services AND prepare our children to replace our workforce positions at the same time. Who requires education more?

Our students jump through the hoops and achieve straight-As, only to find that their studies were toward an occupation that’s either saturated or defunct. After many years of schooling, they enter the workforce to be trained or retrained so they can make the proper fitting cog in the machine.

Is it not the employers who demand that we hold at least a high school diploma to get a foot in the door? Is it not these same industries that demand tax breaks and government subsidies? These same industries contribute nothing while demanding everything; it sounds like a certain anti-welfare argument. Anyways, the words ‘bloodsucker’ and ‘leech’ come to mind.

Now, I’m not talking about letting these industries anywhere near our curriculum. That would be like locking the hacker in with the mainframe. We need the industries as a part of the tax base, underscoring their connection to the community. If industry refuses to contribute to the education and societal kitty, they have no right to demand minimal education requirements from their employees. After all, they’re the reason that we seek these degrees, whether they get used or not.

In the end, the strike should have nothing to do with the industries or the teacher’s salaries. It is about the children and their future. If we insist on sending them to learn for eight hours a day, is it wise to seek out bargain-basement prices? Is there not a price for quality, and why aren’t we willing to pay it? If it’s the money, I’ve already given my two cents.

Shotgun Democracy – May 30, 2013

democracy06The world is at an uncertain point. It makes it tough to determine a direction when the economy collapses, democracy crumbles, and the environment strikes back. Our food and medication are killing us, our technology’s a mystery, and we don’t know who to believe anymore. Wow. What a mess.

What’s one to do but stash your money under the cushion, unplug the world, plant a garden and load the shotgun for protection from ‘the others’? That or simply unplug your television, that cretin filling our minds with crime, corruption, disasters and disturbed people. But aside from the news, we watch quasi-reality shows, celebrity gossip and cute pet tricks to engage the mind. This makes for quite the mental diet.

While engaging in this act, we munch on candy bars, salty snacks, sodas, beer and whatever other convenience is tossed our way. With meat and produce making us sick or killing us, there’s always the comfort in knowing that these processed foods are rarely the carriers of illness. Okay, aside from obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The common link here is industrial processing, the art of taking real, live food and squeezing the life out of it. It’s those live qualities that can limit a product’s shelf life, after all. So, our physical diet is a matter of inflating us with chemically-derived nutrients, preservatives and coloring, amongst many others. Great.

Unfortunately, such a lifestyle will be detrimental to our health. Our beliefs and emotions feed on our senses, our mental health on what we ingest and inhale. On this premise, junk food, television and our habits are some of the top suspects murdering our health. We do have the health industry to fall back on, so long as you can sum up your life’s worth of problems in fifteen minutes. Surgery and prescriptions are their typical solution, as profit margins shrink if too much time is needed to one patient’s therapy. So that’s out.

Science has advanced our lifespan. We’ve discovered many lifesaving techniques, helpful pharmaceutical drugs, and taken the ‘dis’ out of disabled. It has also created nuclear weapons, deadly viruses, and horrific destruction. But when will we go too far? What ethics allow us to genetically alter our food and wantonly destroy our ecosystem in the name of progress? What good is a naked Earth to the future generations? Is this bettering us as humans, or that certain top percentage fattening their bank accounts?

Have our values truly sunken down to the least common denominator, being the almighty buck? What would we do without the media, food, agriculture, and technological industries? They appear to have us by the short and curlies, but luckily we have democracy on our side. Surely our government will protect our privacy, food, health, water and safety! Their protection is the reason why we don’t need shotguns to protect our possessions. Right?

These Keepers of the Great Canadian Household seem more interested in playing with their industrial friends that tending to the kids. While playing dice with our tax dollars, hoping to strike it big and provide a lasting legacy, they appear to be losing our lot piece by piece. Their focus on the economy has created a struggling citizenry, as the costs are picked from the pockets of our education, health care and social services. I don’t see how a new set of fighter jets is going to help the struggling Canadian citizen, but I guess everyone needs new toys.

So is the economy as vital as we’re told? After all, it provides us with our electronics, produce, food, petroleum and various other distractions. Our government grants and policies provide industrial relief to continue employing us to tear apart our house. The pharmaceutical industries are making obscene profits by providing us with magic bullets, then others to counter the effects of that magic. It empowers a handful of media giants to determine how we view the world, no matter how ‘truthy’ it is. It empowers six food corporations to run the farm and grocery store. At the center of all this is the bank, weaving the web of power while pulling the economic puppet strings. We are the entranced audience, feeding the web.

How do we get our house in order? It’s not a service we can get delivered. We have to mop up our local environment, sweep out the entrenched politicians, and scour our municipal, provincial and federal policies of industrial favoritism. This is no small feat, and those in power are unlikely to be the ones to do this. Now, this will have an impact on your consumption and lifestyle, but it really is about making the choice of transitioning now, or facing the inevitable impact later. Sorry to be a doomsayer, but the economy is the least sustainable of all. The ripple of the 2008 crash can be a global recurrence, and we should set up some disaster preparedness. If we take back control of the economy, we no longer need be threatened by it.

Economies were borne of a local need. These needs still exist and can continue no matter what size the economy. Our skills and expertise are already solely local provisions, sold at an hourly wage. We have the knowledge and intelligence to exist apart from the surrounding world, which is important if transportation ceases operability when the oil runs out. Time banks, where an hour of my skill is worth an hour of yours, have sustained communities throughout the world. Local currencies and co-op programs, requiring the participation of community retailers, have helped communities plug the leakage of dollars to out-of-town head offices and built up local businesses. There are alternate ways to determine our value.

The basis of our wellbeing is what we ingest, everything else is icing on the cake. Supporting the local food movement may be our first great step to embracing a positive future. The plants help our environment breath, replenish nutrients to the soil, and fulfil our nutritional needs. The backyard, community and rooftop gardens are blossoming as the gardener has regained her connection with the environment, and rewarded with a bounty of healthful food.

Entertainment was once packaged in the form of barbecues, dinners and a game of cards. Local plays and performances primed our imaginations, and local bands brought our community senses together. Our lives were defined by our community more than our fashion sense and television programming. Sadly, local arts and culture are in need of resuscitation after being steamrolled by the commercial empire. It is our community that provides our identity, the industrial detritus homogenizes it.

Once it’s all settled down, our solution appears obvious. Disengage from your cable, wi-fi and cell phone and re-engage with your community. The people around us provide identity, not our possessions. Our abilities determine our worth, not the sliding scale of the economy. Our knowledgeable choices determine our health, not our ability to decipher which advertisement speaks loudest to our psyche. Hope, far from lost, stands front-and-center with each step we take to control our lives. Let’s put away our shotguns and start building our own web.

 

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.