Archive for March, 2008

Paulitics to go on a (hopefully) short hiatus

I’ve been getting some e-mails from regular readers of Paulitics who have been wondering why I have not been posting as frequently as of late. So, I feel like an explanation on my part is necessary.

A number of factors have been keeping me (against my wishes) from publishing more regularly on this blog. Originally, these reasons included the fact that this is my last semester of my masters degree as well as my having to work longer hours to afford to go on a trip to Alberta for a friend’s wedding. However, I just returned from Alberta recently and, a few hours after returning, I broke up with my live-in girlfriend and thus now I am faced with the prospect of finishing my schooling, finding a new apartment as well as finding a new job all at the same time and all in short order.

Because of this latest development in my personal life, I will not be posting on the Paulitics blog for a couple of weeks until I get my living arrangements and new career settled. Please bear with me as I go through this process.

A *Really* Inconvenient Truth: ‘Green capitalism’ is an oxymoron

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oxymoron-eco-capitalism-2.pngI recently came across an interview with Joel Kovel, the man behind A Really Inconvenient Truth and Enemy of Nature.

Joel Kovel is an eco-socialist who critiques Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth not from an environmental skeptic position, but rather on the contrary, he critiques it from the left.

The interview is well worth the listen to if you get the chance. However, I do suggest that if you’re going to listen to it, do it soon because I’m not sure how long the radio program will be hosting the file.

You can access it here:

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or you can access it here.

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Government to Canadians: Struggling only makes it harder for you

This past Wednesday, I was hosting my cousin who was up visiting Ottawa from Toronto.  As a part of the sites he wanted to see, I took him to Parliament to watch Question Period since he’d never been.

Usually, the press only covers the first few questions that Dion, Duceppe, Layton and also usually Ignatieff ask, and then uncerimoniously catch up on the fine art of sleeping with one’s eyes open.  Thus, had I not actually been in the gallery, I’d likely have missed this gem of a question from Conservative MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) directed to the Minister of Labour since it was the last question of the day. 

From Hansard:

Question:

Patrick Brown (Barrie, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, some members of this House may be aware that a recent study found that in 2005, Canada lost more days of work due to labour disruptions, both lockouts and strikes, than any other G-7 country. The big picture is that these numbers represent $700 million in lost annual gross domestic product.

    Could the Minister of Labour inform this House how he is addressing this very serious issue?

Answer:
Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):  

    Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about those numbers. Work stoppages hurt workers, their families and their communities and they are also bad for businesses.

    As Minister of Labour it is my responsibility to look for new ideas to keep the talk going on between unions and employers. I have launched a study on the causes and impacts of work stoppages. The study will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on ways to improve labour relations in our country.

    An expert, Mr. Peter Annis, will consult with unions and employers and will submit a report to me with recommendations.

unions.pngSo, memo to unions:  The Minister of Labour doesn’t understand what causes strikes nor does he understand the impacts of work stoppages.  I’ll give the minister a hint:  in 1905, before any massive strikes began and struggles against capitalism began, the average worker’s wage was pennies per hour and there was no minimum wage, no safety standards and no government assistance for the poor.
But, as for the other point about “struggling only makes it harder for you”, that sent a shiver down my spine.  Is this going to be the Conservatives’ new campaign slogan?
conservative-election-platform.png

New poll of Canadian corporate elites shows interesting results

In the year 2000, Canada taxed corporations at a rate of 44.6%.  Despite Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney, we had been able to maintain this relatively good rate of taxation which we first achieved during the Liberal-NDP minority governments in the 1960s and 1970s.  Since then, however, Canada’s corporate tax rates have dropped precipitously by over a quarter to only 30.9% in 2007

During this time, the only public opinion polls conducted that I am aware of were conducted on Canadian corporate elite opinion alone.    This, quite simply, is because elites understand that the public’s opinion on such ‘frivolous’ matters would be inappropriate to solicit.  The public’s opinion is not of any consequence to the determining of public policy in this area, thus why get their hopes up by asking them?  Why remind them that their opinion will simply be disregarded shortly after it is documented?

Nevertheless, it is still worth taking a look at what Canada’s corporate elites would like to see reformed in Canada’s government spending and taxation policy because, on these issues, their opinion is more equal than others and thus is far more likely to be an indicator of what changes will come.

The most recent example of such a poll of corporate elites was conducted recently by Conrad Winn, the president of Compass Polling (and possibly the most infuriating man I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting).  Despite Winn’s delusions that the CBC actually has a whole cadre of communists working for them, that universities are only designed to indoctrinate children with Marxist propaganda and that CNN is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the U.S. Democratic Party (believe it or not he’s actually said all of these things), Winn is smart enough to know that it is elite opinion on this issue which matters and thus is worth soliciting.

The results of Winn’s poll are thus, very revealing. 

canadian-corporate-elite.png

The margin of error for this poll is +/- 8.7%, so I have highlighted the most popular response for each question in yellow (questions where two responses are highlighted are statistically tied in first place). 

The first thing that should leap out at Canadians is that this poll destroys the myth that the Canadian bourgeois does not want a large government or an activist state.  Indeed on the contrary, Canada’s bourgeois (much like America’s bourgeois) wants government intervention into the private sector in certain limited regards.  Contrary to what is published in the mainstream media, this is nothing all too surprising.  Ever since the end of the Second World War, economists of all stripes have noted that without heavy government support and intervention in the economy, capitalism would collapse.   In 1944, economist Paul Samuelson predicted the 1948 economic employment crisis when he wrote that “the present prosperity is ‘artificial,” and that many of the central sectors of the economy “cannot possibly maintain their present level of employment, or one-half, or one-third of it.”  Thus, ever since, virtually all industrialized governments (including the Canadian and U.S. governments) have been actively subsidizing corporations through ‘corporate welfare’ and ‘military keynesianism’ in order to sustain the capitalist mode of production.

The poll above illustrates that, contrary to the majority of the populace, the bourgeois is well aware of the importance of the activist role of the state.  Canada’s bourgeoisie wants increases in government subsidies to the private sector for infrastructure funding and military funding (military keynesianism) in addition to increased government activism in paying down the national debt and increasing health care payments (which, after all, relieves employers from having to offer private heath insurance unlike their American counterparts).

But, on the other hand, there is one other final item which is interesting and worthy of consideration in this poll of Canada’s bourgeoisie.  While the poll illustrates that capitalists recognize the value to them of these various forms of corporate welfare, the last two questions (highlighted in red), also conclusively show that they just don’t want to have to be the ones to pay for it.

Don’t you love that we’re teaching the Afghans to be ‘free’ just like us?

“On the contrary, the citizen, always active, sweats, agitates himself,
torments himself incessantly in order to seek still more labourious
occupations; he works to death, he even rushes to it in order to get
in condition to live, or renounces life in order to acquire immortality.
He pays court to the great whom he hates, and to the rich whom he
scorns. He spares nothing in order to obtain the honour of serving
them; he proudly boasts of his baseness and their protection; and
proud of his slavery, he speaks with disdain of those
who do not have the honour of sharing it.”
-Rousseau, Second Discourse

See also:

Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?

Poll: Do you support the conservatives or oppose helping children? WTF!

Our entire existence summed up in one cartoon


Resources:

home page polling resource

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