Category Archives: Karl Marx

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.

Capitalism: Swing Your Sledgehammer

It’s all about vision and hope, in an effort to envision how economics and markets can exist after the toxicity of capitalism is gone, gone gone. Are you up for it?

Last night, John Holloway, author of Crack Capitalism, was the SFU Institute for the Humanities‘ guest lecturer, skyped in from Mexico. He was full of inspiration and clarity. Enjoy my twitter reflections below.

Continue reading Capitalism: Swing Your Sledgehammer

Cheap T-Shirts Keep Harper in Power

Whenever I read stories about corporations wanting to do the right thing, I never hold my breath. Clothing corporations, the sector where “sweatshops” originates, want us to believe they care. They don’t.

Read what nonsense they are trying to peddle to get us off their back for exploiting people so we can have cheap t-shirts. Then, hold your breath for this, scroll all the way to the bottom to see how it comes all the way back to keeping Stephen Harper in power.

Start here:

Continue reading Cheap T-Shirts Keep Harper in Power

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


September 12, 2013

PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is thankfully becoming less stigmatized due to increased awareness, but like most mental health issues, there stigma that prevents open discussion about mental health is profound. But I recall 2-3 decades ago it was far worse.

There are a few PTSD events that have come up recently that are related to Canada’s shameful neglect and mistreatment of Canadian Forces personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD.

  1. Kate MacEachern went on a long walk last year to raise awareness and funds for PTSD treatment. Wanting to do it again this year, it became incredibly controversial. It’s called The Long Way Home, for many reasons.
  2. Next month, Robin and Stewart are taking part in the Victoria Marathon to raise awareness and funds for treatment.

We are going to focus on PTSD, PTSD in the military, mental health and PTSD resources and networks over the coming weeks.

Kate, Robin, Stewart and everyone supporting them in each of their networks would appreciate your interest, open mind, emotional support, and even your money.


You can donate to Kate MacEachern’s Long Walk Home here.

You can donate to Robin and Stewart’s event here.

Communist Party of BC Wins the Weekend Online News Cycle

In case you were out enjoying the weekend in the sun or some awesome Diwali event, you may have missed the sleeper hit of the weekend. The Communist Party in BC released a spectacular piece of writing decrying the Campbell era and calling for the resignation of the entire party.

Kevin Harding, of course, called for that the other day as well, but the Communist Party piece has made a lot of people wake up over the weekend to question assumptions:

  • who all has a good critique of BC neoLiberalism?
  • what have we expected, or not expected, from communists?
  • just how appealing and accurate is the communist critique?
  • how effective are other individuals and parties in conveying a compelling message?
  • am I actually a communist?
  • who sets the benchmark for effective critique?
  • has this press release raised that benchmark?
  • is their critique of the BC NDP’s attitude to the resigning premier significant?
  • will the Communist Party start polling with the BC Conservatives and the Greens now?

If you haven’t read the press release yet, here it is. Take the time. It’s worth it.

The Communist Party of British Columbia issued the following statement today (November 5) on the resignation of Gordon Campbell:

The three terms of the Campbell Liberals have been characterized by implementing the lowest taxes for the wealthy and corporations in North America at the expense of the standard of living, wages, and social programs of B.C. residents. His forced resignation is a compliment to a tenacious and awakened electorate who has had enough.

In his devotion to corporate welfare, Gordon Campbell kept the minimum wage at the lowest level in Canada while presiding over an economy where the top ten CEOs collectively in 2009 earned $70 million. Upon the imbalanced scales of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, Gordon Campbell’s weight was always on the side of extreme wealth.

For seven years, British Columbia has had the worst child poverty in Canada. After nine years of tuition fee increases, B.C. takes in more from tuition fees than it does from corporate taxation. The massive privatization of health-care services, with parallel cutbacks in quality and accessibility, has channeled hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into corporate bank accounts, while rolling back health-care wages 15 percent and then freezing them at that level.

The Campbell Liberals repeatedly broke election promises that had value to the public, and steadfastly adhered to every policy that gave away public resources to private business. They have brought almost every school board in B.C. into a funding crisis that has put nearly 200 schools on the closure list so far. They broke their promise not to privatize B.C. Rail, and in the corrupted bidding process, implicated cabinet ministers in a scandal currently hidden behind two scapegoats and a plea bargain that hides the extent and involvement of elected officials in betrayal and corruption.

The Campbell Liberals have gutted the Environmental Assessment Act and created cabinet powers that overrule municipal bylaws and autonomy to the point that municipalities can only govern if they don’t interfere with corporate interests. They cut the transfer of gambling profits to charities and the arts from 33 percent to 10 percent. They made massive funding cuts to women’s shelters, closed down homeless hostels, and cut and slashed their way through almost every social or special-needs program in the province.

For Gordon Campbell to whine about a vindictive public and the strain on his family after ruining so many lives is typical of the arrogance and contempt he and his government have exercised. The NDP MLAs and party leader who stroke him on his way out with platitudes about “years of public service” should tell the truth and expose the years of “corporate service” if they don’t want to appear as members of the same club.

Gordon Campbell was not brought down by the parliamentary opposition; he was not brought down by a caucus revolt. He was brought down by massive public rejection of the Liberal government’s record of lies, broken promises, and deceit that made it impossible for him to continue. The HST debacle and the transfer of $1.6 billion from the public to the private purse has become the catalyst, the glue of all the diverse forces screaming betrayal.

The historic pending referendum is evidence of the public rage. Gordon Campbell is going, he should be gone, and his entire caucus that supported him doggedly should leave with him.

via Communist party: B.C. Liberal caucus should follow Premier Gordon Campbell out the door | Vancouver, Canada |

More Worker Bashing From Diane Francis at the National Post

In her tired piece on Thursday, Diane Francis employed a sad collection of worker bashing, loose rhetoric and diction to undermine one of the core elements of authentic worker rights in the world: a closed shop.

She is spinning worker rights by simply redefining it as workers having a right to not belong to a union, a classic union busting tactic. This stands in opposition to hard-fought worker rights to legally be able to build solidarity to negotiate benefits and rights for all through the power of solidarity and the threat of a strike, without which, the workers have no real rights.

Really, what rights can workers hope to gain if they need to confront employers on their own.

In her piece, she profiles Jocelyn Dumais:

Jocelyn Dumais is a Gatineau contractor and for years he has championed workers’ rights against the powerful labour union, the Commission de la construction du Quebec, and Quebec’s closed-shop laws. …Dumais took the abuse of workers to the Supreme Court.

via Tilting at unions in Quebec. [all emphasis is mine.]

Championing workers’ rights against unions is solidly surreal. Positing it as an abuse of workers to have generations-long legally, politically and socially sanctioned closed shop laws is simple class warfare.

Ironically as well, since Francis is being creative with diction to respin reality, the print edition of the piece had the apostrophe after “rights” instead of “workers” in the online version. It’s quite symbolic of the fragile syntax in the piece. A non-unionized copy editor might be summarily fired for this kind of error.

Later, in quoting Dumais, she allows a sloppy characterization that unions go around arresting people–the union thug stereotype:

“Here’s a union that has arrested so many people for not joining it and yet when you do and need their pension they will ignore you.”

And while the article includes several valid questions about whether pension funds are ensuring former workers entitled to pensions receive them, she continues to allow Dumais’ grossly inaccurate expressions of unions’ ability to incarcerate people:

“For years, the union, and labour officials, have been chasing people for working and putting them in jail for not belonging to the union.”

Rhetorical flourish? Yes. But it is also part of a pattern among neoliberals to posit organized labour as the enemy to rights: another tool in the worker bashing toolkit.

Two Minutes to Counter Anti-Union Brainwashing

YouTube – What Have Unions Done For Us is a nice two minutes this Saturday morning for you to enjoy while the blueberry pancakes are between flipping and your shade-grown, organic, fair trade coffee is gently steaming your upper lip.

It’s not like you didn’t actually know all the things that unions have done for all workers for 1.5 centuries, it’s that there has been a concerted effort among the corporate media, local and global corporations, and the comprador anti-union politicians they breed to keep us from remembering that unions are sometimes the only political group that has worker interests at heart.

So if you have two minutes this morning, feel good that lots of what we take for granted actually came from struggles from our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and their parents. There were plenty of midnight lynchings, beat-downs, imprisonments, extra-judicial death sentences and random neighbourhood street violence that those who came before us suffered so we could take advantage of minimum wages and benefits while the rich get so incredibly richer while we are doing the labour.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Worker Bashing 101

For those people on your Christmas list who think you’re full of hot air when you complain that there has been a concerted attack on workers in the last few decades, here are a few examples of demonizing rhetoric to introduce them to, courtesy of Adrian MacNair: We don’t need no stinkin’ unions | National Post

Dalton McGuinty’s current plan to freeze public sector wages has delivered to him the same experience of previous governments that tried to cut their deficits by freezing pay. The game is playing out in much the same way, too, with the unions threatening to use extortion in order to get their raises.

Notice how 1.5 centuries of worker-fought rights to collective bargaining, the right to withhold labour in the form of a strike, is now considered to be extortion, a criminal activity.

The simple fact of the matter is that public sector union workers in Ontario are grossly overpaid as it is. It isn’t as if the government is asking to lay people off, cut salaries, or axe positions permanently. No, they’re doing none of the things that private sector workers have suffered through during the recession. All they’re asking the union to do is to hold the line on salaries for two years.

Many public sector workers are paid what is considered to be a living wage, which is higher than the serf class abundant in service sectors. They aren’t overpaid, the serfs are miserably exploited.

The solution for the abuse of private sector workers is not to make public sector unionized workers suffer, but to improve the working lives of those under the thumb of oppressive employers.

Holding the line on salaries is a pay cut if there is inflation. So when MacNair claims the government isn’t cutting salaries, they actually are with a zero raise, unless of course inflation disappears: not likely.

How about we cut 2% of the public sector every single year? And we keep cutting it until we have a $19.3 billion surplus? I think that would send the right message to the unions. Public sector salaries eat up 55% of the province’s program spending. Which means that less than half of what you spend on services are actually services.

What a clever solution: eternal pay cuts! What message would that send to union members? That they are worth less than what they are paid now. Are they really?

The salaries of a highly trained lab technician, long-term care facility practical nurse, kindergarten teacher, teen crisis counsellor, water treatment centre technician, or cardiac stent purchaser may consume 55% of program spending, but if we fire them all, the service provided is not left for us on their workstation consuming the other 45% of service costs. It is foolish to imagine that what a person brings to a service is not actually part of the service.

I find it incomprehensible that the Ontario government, with the ability to draw upon an international labour pool, the high number of unemployed, and the clear deflation in private sector salaries, would even bother trying to please the unions. If they don’t like it, fire them all. If that’s against the law, change the laws in the legislature. If that’s politically impossible, run an election on the issue. There have to be enough people who are sick and tired of the whining and complaining of the gilded class.

Fire them all? When Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, he at least had trained military personnel to stick in place.

Honestly, I do not want to know who will replace all the fired Children’s Hospital oncologists. That is simply an absurd suggestion.

And if earning a living wage is considered to be membership in the gilded class, then the consequence of this view is that workers don’t really deserve a living wage.

Further, the message here is that those who think they ought to earn a living wage are whining.

So the next time you feel paranoid, or imposing or otherwise unjustified in expressing concern for people’s working lives, remember, you aren’t to blame.

Follow the money. The rich who are getting richer are trying to shame you out of a reasonable expectation for a decent work life and living wages.

That is sick and wrong and we must make it stop.

Scared neoLiberals Lie About BC’s High Unemployment

Well it would seem that the Liberals are still in denial. These numbers represent the largest job losses in the history of British Columbia, and yet the Liberals are still claiming on their website that they have “record low” unemployment numbers in all regions

via The Butcher Shoppe: BC Liberals Out of Touch on Job Losses.

Denial is one thing, lying is quite another.

Without getting all Marxist with a long rant on false consciousness, I know that there are quite a few people who may even be nice folks with generous souls who still wish to support Campbell’s neoLiberals.

But when facts conflict, people seek an easy reconciliation.

When papa Gordon “says” we still have record low unemployment, these nice folks can sleep at night because they trust him and will reject StatsCan data that conflicts with what they wish to believe.

So I can’t imagine that some of the extraordinarily PhD-heavy bureaucrats in Victoria are merely rejecting StatsCan data and sending alternate information up the chain to the political lever-pullers.

I think it’s as simple as the neoLiberals lying to keep as many people onside as possible. Just like the Republicans were desperate to make sure their base showed up to vote for McCain/Palin, the neoLiberals–far from a populist party–are eager for their supporters to actually vote.

This all fits with my continually reinforced theory that the neoLiberals are desperately afraid of losing their jobs.

And since Gordon Campbell’s neoliberal ideology is responsible for the global crisis in capitalism, his job is to make sure the cult of Milton Friedman doesn’t take the fall for this.

So lying is easy. Let’s set their pants on fire on May 12th.