A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Obama on Democracy

Last Tuesday President Obama presented his final speech of his presidency before the incoming Twit in Chief take power this coming Friday. The focus of his speech was as he said “the state of our democracy.”, meaning the state of democracy in the U.S. which surely looks bleak given the Twits recent twittering, however many of Obamas comments are relevant to all democracy’s across the world including our own here in Canada. I make no apologies for cherry picking a few of the most relevant sections of his remarks and presenting them here for your consideration. He says it so much better than I ever could........

Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.
But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.............
........stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind - the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills - convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful - a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics..........
.......we must forge a new social compact - to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don't avoid their obligations to the country that's made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can't be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don't create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come...........
For too many of us, it's become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste - all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that's out there...............
How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we're cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It's not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it's self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you............
..........protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. ...........
........the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.........
...........our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. .............
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we've been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
Ultimately, that's what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there's an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.
Somehow I don’t think the incoming Twits acceptance speech will address any of these issues in any meaningful way, I truly hope that our neighbours to the south do not slide back into a place where democracy and diversity take second place to authoritarianism and exclusion but am not very optimistic in that regard.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Name for Greed

I am not fond of 'labels', particularly political labels, they tend to be far to generalized and invariably lump a wide range of views under one label that is often cannot clearly define all the views encompassed by the generality. After all does 'Liberal' define all liberals or 'Conservative' cover all the various shades of grey surrounding that 'label'? One label that has seen a massive (doubled in the last year according to google) increase is ' neoliberalism', a simpler description would seem to me to be 'greed' or more specifically Corporate Greed with its closely associated Greed for Power.
Graeme Decarie in The Decarie Report put it all in perspective for me this week in that he says this is nothing new but simply a new label for an old affliction.

Recently, they (the corporate aristocracy) have introduced a new term to justify their vileness. It's called neo-liberalism. It's a belief that the wealthy need to be free from any government regulation or restraint, that humans are by nature competitive, and that by giving complete freedom to that competitiveness we will all become rich.
That is pure nonsense. There's nothing new about neo-liberalism. It was neo-liberalism that was used by the old aristocracy to plunder the world. Neo-liberalism made possible the slaughter of native peoples in the U.S. and Latin America - and in Canada. The only people it ever made rich were the neo-liberals. Even now, as neoliberalism gathers speed in the west, the very wealthy are getting richer while the rest of us get poorer. It can end only in a general crash. But our new aristocrats are too stupid with greed to think that far ahead.
As if that weren't a big enough crisis, we have an added one. Those who tried to deal with the great depression of the 1930s used the theories of Keynes who advised government spending when private spending slowed down.
But that may not work this time. It may not work because we're already making demands on our resources - like oil, mines, food - that cannot be sustained. Somehow, we need less growth, not more - but we still have to meet human needs.
But, with the present power of the corporation world there is no chance of concentrating on human needs. The starvation of millions means nothing to them. The evidence of climate change means nothing to them. Like the old aristocrats, these believe themselves to be born superior beings to the rest of us. And, like the old aristocrats, they are self-absorbed - and not very bright.

That last bit highlighted says it all for me, just like the pyramid schemes designed to make the instigator rich at the expense of those being sucked in later such things must by their very definition collapse under their own weight and lack of new building material (suckers). The whole idea that our economy can only survive if it is ever expanding is no less a scheme that must eventually run out of support from the bottom be it 'investors' or raw materials or simply those who would (or could) purchase the goods and services that keep the guys at the top happy in their corporate towers.

Call it neoliberalism if you like, I just call it greed and unfortunately it is not limited to the corporate world, for those of us the bottom of the heap many of the 'middle class' particularly the unionized worker be it white or blue collar, but particularly the public service crowd appear to be equally greedy. Everybody wants more, more, more and in a world of finite resources seem to forget that if they get more someone somewhere must pay for it and will have less. less, less. Until we all decide we can do without all the latest gadget, car, tool or toy (and the money to pay for them) and are satisfied to just live with what we have then we are ALL part of the problem IMHO.

Now, how much did YOU spend on non essentials over the last 30 days supporting that ivory tower?

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

A not so Merry Christmas?

As many of us gather with family and share conversation, memories, good food and presents I hope that I, my handful of readers, and any others that have been taking notice can, however briefly, ignore the ever increasing turmoil across the world. More than 6 years ago I started this blog to speak out against what I saw as an increasingly authoritative and power hungry government lead by one Stephen Harper and was therefore greatly relieved when he was tossed from power last year. Whilst our new government is far from perfect let us not forget how close we came to loosing so many of the things that I for one believe makes our country great. Free speech and the right to (peacefully) protest those things we disagree with, protection of our national parks, our rivers and streams, our lakes and shorelines. The ability of our 'arms length' watch dogs to actually do their job, make public their reports and receive sufficient funding to do so, the ability of our MPs and Senators to vote their conscience without penalty, etc etc.

I will admit to giving the current government a bit of a free ride over the last year and there are things that I could be quite critical of, however after all those years of seeing our democracy being attacked and stealthily little by little reduced to a shadow of its former self I find it hard to critique a government who I believe is trying to reverse some of those cuts. It took 10 years to almost destroy it, it will not be resurrected in just one year so whilst I support those who are keeping this governments feet to the fire I will be giving them a little more time before doing a whole lot of writing about their actions. When I look at the place we were the beginning of last year, and the place where our neighbour to the south appears to be going, and the events in the middle east and elsewhere I can only thank god that we here in Canada have a more benign administration than most, one that is largely devoid of right wing bigots and extremists.

So as the new year approaches my thought is how lucky we are, most of us will have a roof over our heads and food on the table, we have thus far managed to resolve our differences with out armed conflict and we are free to express our opinions (including about our government) without arrest. There are many problems to be resolved, poverty, homelessness, Jobs, education and heathcare funding, the list is endless but I do not know of any other place I would rather live.

Thats not a very 'merry' summation, its hard to be optimistic given world events but I do wish us all a brighter and more uplifting 2017!

See you next year (as and when I feel like writing which is increasingly becoming less frequent! ).

The traditional wish of Peace on Earth seems to be particularly appropriate this year and that is what I wish for for 2017.

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