Category Archives: Privatization

Expanding Our 2014 Boycott List: #BoycottLoblaws

First, it started with IKEA, which has been locking out its Richmond, BC workers for 11 months. Then it expanded to a white Richmond farmer who isn’t all that happy with all the non-white farmers changing the complexion of farming in BC.

So we’re all committing to #BoycottIKEA and boycotting W & A Farms products.

Now, it’s Loblaws/ExtraFoods/T&T/RealCanadianSuperstore that needs a hefty, long-term boycott.

A portion of every dollar you spend at any of that chain’s stores goes to fund the anti-social Fraser Institute and its campaigns to destroy the public education system in Canada.

The [Weston] family foundation has donated nearly $22 million to the Fraser Institute for its programs to destabilize the public education system and promote school choice and vouchers.

Milton Friedman was the inspiration for these programs. His 1995 Washington Post editorial said it all: “Public schools: Make them private.” And that’s what the Weston-Fraser partnership has set out to do.

But, wait, there’s more!

The Fraser Institute’s ability to obtain such vast sums from Weston may hinge on the fact that two Galen Weston cousins are Fraser Institute directors. They’re also on the board of the family foundation that doles out the money.

And it’s fine for people to express opinions and fund whatever they way. Within constitutional limits. But it’s also within our rights to oppose and boycott companies that are reprobates with anti-social tendencies.

So the 2014 boycott list is hereby expanded:

  1. IKEAs all around the world, #BoycottIKEA
  2. W&A Farm products from Richmond
  3. All Loblaw chain stores: #BoycottLoblaws

Sing it, people! ūüôā

Stop. Obeying. The. Rich. NOW!

monopoly-manOnce upon a time, we were taught to envy and respect our “betters,” like the rich.

No more.

They’re taking our money and throwing us under the bus every day. And it’s not even just the super-rich or those in America, it’s the aspirational rich; they’re just as toxic.

This stops now, it’s time to ramp up the Occupy Movement again, and for good this time:

The super-rich of the 21st century no longer think that you and I are needed for their continued success.

And in some ways, they have given up on America, period.

As Paul Buchheit brilliantly¬† points out¬†over at¬† AlterNet, “As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they’ve convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortune.”¬†

Buchheit goes on to say that, “The rich have always needed the middle class to work in their factories and buy their products. With globalization this is no longer true… They don’t need our infrastructure for their yachts and helicopters and submarines. They pay for private schools for their kids, private security for their homes. They have private emergency rooms to avoid the health care hassle. All they need is an assortment of servants, who might be guest workers coming to America on H2B visas, willing to work for less than a middle-class American can afford”

Unfortunately, these millionaires and billionaires who have given up on America and on the working class are in control of the political process in this country.

There Once Was a Time When the Super-Rich Needed a Middle Class to Be Successful — Not Any More | Alternet.

Build Worker Solidarity Now or Suffer the Wrath of the 1%

Working people need to seek out solidarity opportunities.

Unions and unionized workers need to reach out to non-unionized workers and seek legislative improvements for all, like improvements to the EI and doubling the CPP and renegotiating the Canada Health Accord and expanding Medicare and getting a national pharmacare program and starting a national childcare program and building a poverty reduction plan and a national housing strategy and no longer funding First Peoples at third world conditions. And the list, actually, does go on.

And public sector workers need to build solidarity with private sector workers, whose union density is declining.

If we don’t fight the 1%’s decades-long plan to divide us, we are toast. Here are two key thought experiments to try on this hump day:

Continue reading Build Worker Solidarity Now or Suffer the Wrath of the 1%

What Does Post-Corporate Media Look Like?

I know you’re wondering. But it’s hard to imagine. Kind of like a fish imagining life without water. We’ve known corporate media for generations. Since the advent of psychology and marketing, the influence/manipulation of corporate media is ubiquitous. And not in a good way.

But let’s take a few moments to imagine the features of post-corporate media, where increasing the audience [by a variety of questionable, sensationalist means, sometimes] to increase ad revenue isn’t the goal.

Let’s start here with this:

Continue reading What Does Post-Corporate Media Look Like?

Come On, Let’s Really Increase Taxes on the Rich

comic-2011-02-28.jpg

Well, here’s something you don’t see [ever] in corporate media: a review of tax measures in the USA since the crash in 2008 that have succeeded in increasing taxes on the rich. And it turns out, tax increases that are regressive [sales taxes, etc.] or include the non-rich, seemed to fail quite a bit.

How did these taxes on the 1% succeed? Continue reading Come On, Let’s Really Increase Taxes on the Rich

Greed + Government Cuts Erode Society [Bah, Humbug!]

The greedy and selfish among us are NOT on our side.

Happy Christmas Eve!

I hope you’re all giving lots of money to charities because ’tis the season and all that. But what happens if generally, as a society, we can’t or won’t give so much?

Coupled with public sector social service cuts, a decline in charitable giving creates preventable suffering.

But the Fraser Institute is a big fan of the charitable giving solution to public sector cuts. What do they have to say about that this year? It’s not good.

Continue reading Greed + Government Cuts Erode Society [Bah, Humbug!]

Fried Squirrels

It’s a crisp, foggy November Saturday morning in the south side of the city. Seventeen people sit in the large open area at the back end of an organic fair trade coffee shop run by a workers’ co-op inspired by the Mondragon movement in Spain. Meet-ups like this are quite common in this shop.

The male and female co-facilitators move briskly through the agenda with the help of the nodding volunteer maintaining the speakers list. There are sporadic jazz-hand gestures, common from the Occupy Movement, as well as a strict yet comfortable group norm of only one person speaking at a time, and succinctly, because of the elaborately carved talking stick that moves around the room.

Continue reading Fried Squirrels

Class War: US$11.5 Trillion Hidden in Tax Havens

Which tax haven is right for you?
Which tax haven is right for you?

UPDATE: Apparently the families of the 1% are hoarding as well.

Class war is alive and well.

I have this rose-coloured, nostalgic dream of history. Once upon a time we emerged from feudalism with a democratic revolution. All were equal. Well, most.

But the hope of democracy was to rid the world of the despot rule of aristocracy. But then we got corporations. Many of the aristocratic elite ended up entrenching their power through these fake humans. And we still have the aristocrats today. And for centuries, the rest of the elite have wielded power through corporations.

So this year when data was leaked with information about who is using tax havens, governments lined up to do nothing to stop it. Governments are compradors who serve the elite. They are in no rush to go after cash socked away in tax havens, even if it means eroding the capacity of governments to do the work of government.

US$11.5 TRILLION are socked away in tax havens.

And that’s no accident. The elites do not like governments. They include regulations that box in the elites and attempt to distribute their wealth through taxes in order to serve the people. Like some kind of democracy. Or something.

But as you will read below, you will see a few features of the feudalism we currently live in:

  1. The Conservative Party and the elites want to get rid of governments to the extent that they can, which is why they go out of their way to reduce possibilities of increasing revenue.
  2. Stashing money in tax-free zones is the elite’s nest egg.
  3. Canada is foregoing billions of dollars in tax revenue by not pursuing taxing this hidden money.
  4. Tax evasion is illegal, unless the government does not pursue your evasion, which is the norm for corporations.

All I know is that if I got a job and tried to set up a corporations in an off-shore tax haven, I wouldn’t be able to convince my employer to pay my corporation instead of me. Humans with SINs need to pay taxes.

But if I decided to not work for anyone as an employee, I could create a corporation registered in an off-shore tax haven. Then if I could contract out my work so an organization hires my corporation to do work, I could conceivably not have to pay tax if I work my accounting correctly. Donating money to the federal Conservative Party may help discourage CRA from pursuing the wealth I could sock away in a tax haven.

And I’d have to go back and check to see if the Liberal Party in government was any good at tracking down offshore stashed cash. But considering what kind of an offshore expert Paul Martin is, I’d doubt their record is any better.

And where does this leave us?

Well, firstly, we need to remember that class war is alive and well. There is a collection of rich elites who are really running things by influencing/being governing parties and by being untouchable. And the rest of us are serfs.

Secondly, the goals of the Occupy Movement were bang on. And they still exist.

Thirdly, when you see a politician speaking and acting strongly to support democracy instead of neglecting the elites, support them. But you’ll hear a lot of crickets.

Fourthly, expect more decadent, despotic behaviour from the elites. They seem to get off on it.

Earlier this year, 2.5 million files and 120,000 companies and trusts who use offshore tax havens was revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that caused an international furor. What also became apparent when this list was revealed was, that like the Lagarde list, governments had access to this information for years and were not doing anything to hunt down these funds. In fact, the Harper government has eschewed all efforts to pursue this money, while at the same time laying off 3,000 tax collectors at the CRA this budget year.

“The offshore system is the secret underpinning for the political and financial power of Wall Street today. It is the fortified refuge of big finance,” Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands, a 2011 book on offshore tax havens, has said. And he is quite right.

Today, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) claims that offshore banks globally hide some (US) $5-trillion to (US) $7-trillion from tax authorities, or about 8 per cent of the world’s assets under management. Moreover, an estimated (US) $11.5-trillion is being stashed in offshore accounts worldwide for one reason or another.

Now governments talk about the so-called “tax gap” — the difference between what they could collect and do collect — caused by the use of offshore havens.¬†In the U.K., this estimate ranges from ¬£50 billion to ¬£100-billion annually. Of that, about ¬£20-billion sits in offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, though, the CRA refuses to make an estimate of the tax gap in Canada, but it’s safe to say if they did they would find it’s in the many tens of billions.

The offshore tax haven issue speaks to one of the Great Lies currently promulgated by conservative, liberal and even social democratic governments: which is that governments are broke. And hence they must lay off civil servants, impose cuts and wage restraints on the public sector. And it is why governments are desperately trying to avoid the issue: after all, they’ve all encouraged tax evasion and avoidance by offering corporations and the wealthy lower and lower taxes and greater tax breaks over the years. Now they are reaping what they have sown.

– from How offshore tax havens destroy governments | rabble.ca.

The Red Wings Fiddle While Detroit Burns

The new iconic photo of post-crash Detroit. Listen, can you hear the footsteps of Robocop?
The new iconic photo of post-crash Detroit. Listen, can you hear the footsteps of Robocop?

We can’t really blame just the Red Wings. We have to blame the Tigers and the Lions too, but really the 1% who own them.

Detroit is bankrupt. Services will be privatized to privateer leeches. Human beings will lose pension supports, jobs, wages and benefits. The 2008 crash could have been a catalyst for a manufacturing transition to a post-carbon energy infrastructure, but that was squandered.

But amidst all this, we have: stadia! Glorious stadia!

And who put up hundreds of millions for these glorious stadia? Governments, including one called Detroit, that is now bankrupt. And the citizens will be paying for these circuses instead of libraries, schools, water infrastructure and a host of other necessities in 21st century cities.

All I know is that if I’m in a fiscal crisis at home and I am having trouble paying for food, clothing and shelter, the last thing I should be doing is going out and buying a mid-life crisis Corvette convertible.

But that’s just me. What do I know about stadia.

What I do know is that the 1% who control governments around the world, big and small, will continue socializing the losses and privatizing the parasitic gains. And if this suddenly frustrates you, it’s called neoliberal capitalism. Find your nearest Occupy cell and begin building a post-capitalist/post-parasitical future…hopefully one that does not include Robocop.

NOOR: And, Frank, we just got some breaking news that the Michigan Strategic Fund has decided to issue $450 million in bonds for a new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings, 44 percent of which will be financed publicly. Do you think this decision is emblematic of the development model that led Detroit on this path for years, if you can give us a brief comment?

HAMMER: Well, you know, I mean, I think that Detroit built a new baseball stadium, it built a new football stadium, and lo and behold, here we are a few years later and Detroit is still going into bankruptcy. So apparently building stadiums doesn’t quite do the trick. And I think that a manufacturing model, a resurrection of manufacturing with green technology would be a much more permanent and sustainable solution.

Detroit Red Wings Get New $400 Million Taxpayer-Financed Stadium While the City Goes Bankrupt.

Free Speech and the Privatization of Public Space

Donald Smith was protesting a sign at Glenmore Landing in Calgary's southwest Sunday that bans political demonstrations.
Donald Smith was protesting a sign at Glenmore Landing in Calgary’s southwest Sunday that bans political demonstrations. [CBC]
The privately owned parking lot near the prime minister’s constituency office asserts that protesting is prohibited. On the surface, this looks like the prime minister is impeding the constitutional rights of expression and peaceful assembly.

I’m sure he finds this all quite convenient, but a large hidden issue in this is the privatization of public space.

Can I prohibit protest in a space I own? Possibly.

Can I lament at the amount of space deemed to be public [parking lot, shopping mall] that is really privately owned? Yes.

We need to remember to assert the legitimacy of the public usefulness of space. We need to challenge the amount of space being privatized. This is a difficult task. Any suggestions?

“Political or public protesting or demonstrating, soliciting, use of loud speakers or other similar devices, pamphleteering, loitering [and] skateboarding is strictly prohibited,” states the signs, which were installed by the owners of Glenmore Landing.

via Signs banning protests by Harper’s Calgary office questioned – Calgary – CBC News.