Category Archives: Poverty

Vancouver’s Co-Working Co-op Stimulates Worker Empowerment

Coworking gratis? A Verona da settembre!Tuesday night in the back room of The Tipper bar/bistro/restaurant on Kingsway at Victoria we are holding our Inception Meeting for a new kind of co-working space in Vancouver, one structured as a co-op.

You can read about the project in The Georgia Straight piece last week, and on the project webpage at Incipe, the consulting workers’ co-op that is spawning this co-op. Incipe, in-CHEE-pay, is Latin for “Begin!” And you can register for the [free] meeting here. And if you want to be involved and informed, you can sign up for the e-newsletter here.

We will be starting forming the community of people eager to take part in a new way of doing co-working, as equal owners of the whole enterprise instead of clients of for-profit corporate co-working spaces, which are how most of the world’s co-working spaces are run.

But considering the fact that people who work, study, think, research, and volunteer from home are often disempowered and vulnerable, they need support.

So they gravitate to co-working spaces because of possibilities of serendipity and synergy and connecting with people to envision greatness with, over coffee. Because trying to do that in a Starbucks has a slim chance of much success.

But one of the key principles of co-working is to build community. And why do we have communities? To support each other.

And, it turns out, co-ops are all about building community and supporting each other in democratic workplaces within an intentional progressive economic climate.

So there’s a natural fit to building a co-working space that is a co-op. And it’s also natural to convene the space for people who understand this, to get to know one another and start building the community so that we can all assess our collective needs, desires, dreams, visions and capacity for mutual aid and support.

From this, we will do the heavy lifting to find our co-working space.

So, consider how precarious work has become for so many people!

It has been a rough couple generations for working people, with a notable increase in precariousness of work.

Downsizing, contracting out, layoffs, people in the middle of their working lives being flung through the windows of corporate towers only to have a difficult time finding work because employers may prefer to hire much younger people.

And while many people choose the freelance, contractor, entrepreneur consultant lifestyle, many people who’ve been canned are forced into fending for themselves, trying to leverage their skills, training and experience into something useful. They are one form of the precariat: the precarious proletariat.

Others in the precariat class include young people who typically can’t get work in their fields they have trained in, or find corporate or organizational structures grotesquely tyrannical and impediments to optimizing their work-life-activism elements of existence. They end up being precariats too. Our Incipe consulting co-op itself formed out of this very dynamic!

So our goals in creating a co-working co-op space include these:

  1. Helping people work outside their homes.
  2. Helping people have meaningful ownership.
  3. Helping people feel some community in their labouring.
  4. Helping people connect with others who can build synergy with each other.

But one of the most important goals in this whole project is to recognize that workers are disempowered, disconnected and devalued. And to fix that, we need to build support networks for people. And one of the ways to do that is to build a co-working space that is co-operatively owned, just like MEC or your credit union or Modo or other small and massive co-ops around the world.

So, scroll back up to see the links to getting more information about our co-working space in development. Get involved, because we need you and your originality!

And whether you need a 24/7 space or a desk away from home for a few hours each week that costs about as much as the coffee you need to buy to camp out on Starbucks’ wifi, this ownership model is for you.

Remember, co-working is about empowerment. And so are co-ops!

What’s Wrong with Canada? We’re Not Denmark-ish

And I don’t mean we need to become Denmark, but we need to have the dialogue about why they can do what they do and we choose not to.

When Canadians are surveyed, a very large majority of us support these public goods. But those desires get subsumed with corporate, neoliberal, right wing government-cut rhetoric.

We need to explore the political sociology of Denmark to understand how they embraced the tax commitment to provide these public goods.

We can be Denmark, but we choose not to.

We need to respin the messages from the tax-hating corporations and make the economy serve human beings better!

 

Ever Wonder How the 1% Talks to Each Other? Shhh. Listen!

Poster of Penthouse (film).jpgIt’s not a secret language, it’s a style, an effervescence. A whimsicality.

It’s like how people stand when they’re shopping in Tiffany’s. You feel me?

Read on about a new luxury property on Georgia in downtown Vancouver [emphasis is mine]:

The Penthouse

Upstairs, in the 48th-floor penthouse, it is a different story again. It is a rare true penthouse, taking up the entire top floor and entirely encircling the elevator core. And, aside from one lavishly staged corner, the penthouse is currently a vast, empty, concrete shell, waiting for whoever takes it on to do with it what they will. “They could put a bowling alley in this section,” quips Langereis.

Of course, it also has incredible 360-degree views and several large balconies, including a west-facing covered terrace currently home to an outdoor kitchen and bar. Fireworks party, anyone?

So how much is the penthouse going for? A cool $18 million. “It’s not a hard-and-fast price,” says Langereis. “There’s some negotiating room for the right buyer. We have built a community in the building, so it’s partly about getting the right residents in the penthouse that will reflect the community that we have become.”

– See more at: http://www.rew.ca/news/a-penthouse-tour-of-the-private-residences-at-hotel-georgia-1.1747326#sthash.7WEQCqnT.dpuf

You Deserve Better Wages and Benefits

Canadas_Pay_Gap

Right wingers want to pay no tax. It’s hard to bleat about that in public without sounding like the greedy, selfish people they are.

Instead, they say that public sector workers are paid too much, and that we should privatize everything. THAT way, governments get to starve themselves to the point where they collect virtually no taxes.

Instead of letting rapacious corporations dictate what market wages should be, we should explore living wages, then dream up a world not so different from ours when private sector workers make the stable wages and benefits of public sector workers.

Dream with me, what would that look like? Read on, and if it sounds good, click the link for the rest of the analysis!

If private sector compensation looked more like public sector compensation, the gender wage gap would narrow, discrimination against Aboriginal and visible minority workers would diminish, and CEOs would take a pay cut. Older workers would be less likely to retire into poverty. Fewer working parents would have to choose between a day’s wage and taking time off to look after a sick kid. Unemployment rolls would not double overnight in response to global market shifts.

via Who gets paid more? | CCPA Policy Note.

Yet Another Logistical Solution to Homelessness

So, Utah has been eradicating homelessness by giving people homes. The bonus is that it’s easier and cheaper to provide social services to people when their housing needs are met.

From Amsterdam, we see yet another logistical solution for emergency housing while we have a national dialogue on a national housing plan.

A rich country like Canada should have no difficulty developing a national housing strategy that solves homelessness and unaffordable housing.

The houses will rent for 700 euros a month, or about $900. It’s a little less than someone might pay for a cramped single room in the city, and it comes with a full second-story loft bedroom, a private yard, and soaring windows.

via 18 | Can’t Make Rent? This Beautiful Squatter’s Home Can Be Built On A Vacant Lot In A Day | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

Who Cares About Fixing Poverty in BC?

https://i1.wp.com/bcpovertyreduction.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/prc-slider_BC-last-place-745x210.jpg?resize=396%2C112Well, it’s the Poverty Reduction Coalition!

One of their many activities is to send recommendations to the government when the government deigns to ask people for their ideas. The Finance Committee is an all-party committee of the legislature, so the government usually ignores their recommendations.

As citizens, we need to make the government respond to our demands, particularly when legislative committees provide pretty good recommendations!

Here’s what’s going on this year, from the Poverty Reduction Coalition.

  1. Read it, below
  2. Then email, phone [250.387.1715], tweet or Facebook the premier and tell her to listen to the Finance Committee this year
  3. Then read the Coalition’s latest op-ed: Trish Garner: B.C. is now last province without a plan to tackle poverty
  4. Then visit the Coalition’s webpage and get more involved in making BC a less shameful place!

From the Coalition:

After our submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, they have now released their report, which again recommends to the Legislative Assembly that the provincial government “introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction plan” but this time it also includes stronger features to “review income assistance rates, the minimum wage, and clawback of child support payments.” Also, last year’s “Look at ways to provide more affordable and accessible quality child care” is now “Provide funding and support for the development and implementation of a child care plan.” See the full report here.

Entitlements? What About Understanding UNentitlements?

... Gifts > 1512Blvd Footwear > Adorable Snowman Winter Flip Flops
Punishing irony.

OK, I’m fine admitting it. I focus on entitlements a lot. I’m often trying to encourage people to examine our unexamined entitlements: race, age, economic class, gender, sexuality, etc.

But one way to understand entitlements is to understand how unentitlements work.

I’m guilty of overlooking this. Until today.

Read this, below, then read the rest of it. See if you don’t weep.

And ask yourself if BC Liberal MLAs can read this and understand what they don’t know about unentitlements.

This same boy, earlier in the year when the weather was just getting cold, was wearing flip flops to school. I asked him if he had another pair of shoes, and he said no. I took him to the clothes room at our school to pick out another pair. Yes, we have a clothes room. He chose a pair and he looked proud. When he ran off to go join his friends at the playground he called back to me: “I’ll bring back the shoes at the end of the day.” You see, he thought I’d given him the shoes for his time at school only. He felt so unentitled to shoes that he thought he had to give them back. That lack of self-worth is devastating. It prevents you from opening your mind to learning. It makes focusing on adding, or writing persuasive paragraphs, or learning about the water cycle, nearly impossible.

In My Class, Child Poverty Is No Numbers Game | The Tyee.

Work, Dignity and Living Wages?

Fast food workers plan surprise strike

  1. A strong union.
  2. Corporations that understand the social contract.
  3. Corporations that know a tad smaller profit here contributes to more dignity throughout society.
  4. Corporations that recognize the value of unions.
  5. The living wage in Vancouver this year is $20.10, almost double the minimum wage.
  6. The “precariat” are precarious proletariats. We have too many of them; but fewer in Denmark!
  7. Let’s follow their lead!

What Danish fast food workers have that their American counterparts do not is a powerful union, and fast food franchise owners who are willing to make a little less of a profit, though they still do make a profit. Denmark is also a much smaller country, with a higher cost of living and a huge social safety net. And yes, a fast food burger is a little more expensive in Denmark than here in America.

Martin Drescher, the general manager of HMSHost Denmark, the airport restaurants operator, told the Times: “We have to acknowledge it’s more expensive to operate. But we can still make money out of it — and McDonald’s does, too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in Denmark.”

He also said: “The company doesn’t get as much profit, but the profit is shared a little differently. We don’t want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor. We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”

Can you imagine?

Burger King and McDonald’s Pay Fast Food Workers $20 an Hour in Denmark | Alternet.

TFWP: How Racist is Canada?

Here’s one way to tell how racist a person/nation is.

Have them read this excerpt and see if they fly into a rage about “those” people, or just come up with economic arguments to keep “them” out.

Hopefully, everyone you know will nod and say, “obviously!”

Since this is a chronically underpopulated country with an aging population and an inadequately sized consumer and taxpayer base for its geography and culture, there is no reason for Canada to make any of its immigrants anything other than permanent.

Those who say “Canadian jobs for Canadians” are right: We should continue to attract immigrants who want to do these jobs, and we should make sure they are able to become Canadians, as quickly as possible.

via Foreign workers won’t be temporary if we make them permanent – The Globe and Mail.

Class Warfare CAUSED Income Inequality, Not the Opposite

Horatio Alger mythology is designed to make us leave the 1% alone and shut the fuck up.

If you haven’t yet seen John Oliver’s amazing rant about the perils of inequality and how the rich shame us out of talking about it by suggesting we’re trying to invoke class warfare, you can see it below.

The truth is, income inequality doesn’t just happen one day, then the classes fight each other. Class warfare is what creates the conditions for income inequality.

But as long as the 1% can keep us from talking about class issues, we can say income inequality 84,000 times each day and nothing will ever change.

The rich want to keep us poor and powerless.

But we all knew that anyway. It’s time we did something about that, don’t you think?

Because the more we continue to believe in this American Dream nonsense, the longer the 1% continues to pull our strings.

We need to demand higher taxes on the rich and corporations. We need to protect working people. And the environment. And people who aren’t old white men, so basically those without entitlements.

And if this isn’t yet clear enough for you, you may now watch John Oliver sock it to ya!

Continue reading Class Warfare CAUSED Income Inequality, Not the Opposite