Showing posts with label protest movements. Show all posts
Showing posts with label protest movements. Show all posts

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Consequential Protest

As a backgrounder to my position on the Quebec student protest, I agree with Emmett Macfarlane and Andrew Coyne.

There's the reasoned analysis. Here's my emotional response: WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY COUNTRY?????

Now matter how I look at this, I cannot escape the conclusion that the student "strike" is an unreasonable response to reasonable legislation. And then unreasonable responses kept piling up and the whole situation has spiraled into a shithole where things will not end well. The irony of this 100 days (and counting) of protest is that the policy debate around tuition has become irrelevant. This thing has a life of its own and no one knows how or where it will end.

I've always believed that the burden of evidence requiring large-scale civil protest be set very high. The price paid by the current social order of a successful public protest is a costly affair. The ultimate protest, full scale revolution, is almost always a bloody painful affair for everyone involved. There is a high price to be paid for overthrowing or cowing governments into submission.

If the Quebec protests succeed, what price will we pay? We already have a problem where our governments run shit scared of the polls and change policies more often than most of us change clothes. Change is always unpopular with one group or another, but change is necessary. If the status quo were perfect, we wouldn't need legislatures at all. Ever. But since change is unpopular, and unpopular means losing elections, governments are afraid of making tough choices, and refuse to make that choice or make action irrelevant out of "compromise". What the Charest government tried to do with raising tuition was not an earth shattering policy move. And as a result of a minor policy implementation (in the larger scheme of things), we have riots in the street.

So how do governments push through changes then? Hello omnibus bills! Cram so many changes into a single piece of legislation and you fracture your opposition. To avoid public debate, you stifle it in its infancy.

Democracy has evolved into a schizophrenic creature where either the government is furtive and secretive to kill debate or when debate does happen it involves only screaming, shouting and namecalling. What happened to reasoned analysis? What happened to letting governments set policy and for society to observe the results and judge them during elections?

Over a year ago I wrote: "The train we are riding will lead to some sort of popular uprising at some point. Whether it will be mass protests storming parliament hill, or a full out armed insurrection I do not know. But once Canadians stop feeling secure in their day to day lives, there will be an abrupt change in mood in this country, and it will be ugly."

Ugly. There is an ugly mood in this country, and if I look at the student protests through that lens, it makes more sense. People are fed up and angry and they are lashing out. But it all seems so illogical. And maybe that's what I understand but still can't grasp; angry fed-up people are not logical.

But there are still prices to be paid, consequences to be felt. Is Quebec an isolated incident or a turning point for the whole country?

I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Conservative Party of Canada - Dumber Than A Bag of Hammers

What a surreal world our political masters inhabit. We have credible allegations of electoral fraud, and all our Government can say is "Nuh huh, it weren't us! You called us names!"

For a law and order party, this is an issue that the Conservative party should own. A party that puts more weight on the sword of justice should all be fire and brimstone and righteous fury. "Someone tried to tamper with our elections! Off with their heads!"

But no. We have the curious case of a Government demanding evidence before allegations are to be made. I'm pretty sure it is supposed to be the other way around. Once a credible criminal allegation has been made, the legal powers of our land are required to investigate it and to gather what evidence there is. Since this affair strikes to very heart of our democratic system, the very process that legitimizes our entire social construct we call Canada, it is incumbent upon the Government to ensure that the perpetrators are found and brought to justice. They should be leading the charge, not following it or meekly watching from the sidelines.

Instead we have a Government that bobs and weaves, ducks and turns and pretty much denies anything untoward went on. "Business as usual, mountain out of a molehill!"

Our Government is trying to spin this as a smear campaign by the opposition parties who have no evidence. But it isn't the political parties on the hill that are bringing this fraud to light, it is ordinary citizens. So citizens are manufacturing stories with which to smear our Government? Quite the bold claim Mr. Stephen Harper.

This inability to understand voter outrage; that there are citizens of all political leanings that care about this issue that shows this Government is woefully incompetent, stupid and out of touch. The Law and Order party can't grasp the fact that ordinary citizens are upset about a potential crime that puts in question the very legitimacy of the Government itself.

So we ask ourselves, is this Government really that stupid? Or do they have something to hide? Well if the Conservative party did knowingly interfere with the election, then this political strategy of denial makes sense. It all seems so obvious, doesn't it? The fingers are all pointing at the Conservative party, the party that has the responsibility of Governing on its shoulders. And they're more interested in protecting the party name than in the institution of Government that is being threatened by this affair. hmmmm. 1+1 equals.....

Many fear that this affair will never get settled; and that the Conservative Party of Canada will obfuscate, obstruct and delay an investigation. If that happens then the Conservative Party of Canada is playing a very stupid, and very dangerous game. Because many people will view the Government as illegitimate with no authority to govern. And we all know what happens to Governments that are viewed as illegal and illegitimate by the people.

Stephen Harper wake up! Your ass is on the line more than you know.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The 99-99-99 Issue

While my sympathies lie with the Occupy Some Street protests happening world wide, I ain't entirely behind them either.

I do agree that the growing wealth divide in the West, including Canada, is an issue. I also do not have a problem with the lack of a coherent voice out of the movement. Criticisms that it doesn't have a coherent point are offside as far as I am concerned. More on that later...

I have also read some criticism that the '99%s' are partly responsible for the current debt crunch because they chose to overextend themselves with bad credit decisions. That argument has merit EXCEPT WHEN BANK EXECS APPROVED SHITLOADS OF BAD LOANS, DAMN NEAR BURIED EVERY MAJOR BANK IN THE WESTERN WORLD, GOT TAXPAYER BAILOUTS AND THEN PAID THEMSELVES MASSIVE BONUSES. Holy Flea Bitten Goats! If we have to take responsibility for the consequences of our own actions, why by all the rules of fairness and accountability did the bank execs not have to take the same level of responsibility? Come on!  Responsibility for consequences has to be universal, otherwise fuck off when telling me I have to take responsibility for my actions. I argued earlier when this whole crises was unfolding that if consumer debt failures were causing the crises then bailout the homeowners, not the banks holding the loans. As far as I'm concerned, with the way the banks took the money and ran, I was proven right with that idea. (And to her credit Hillary Clinton was on-board with that idea too.)

So the bank bailouts, more than anything else, is fuelling the fire of the current protests (In my opinion). From that the anger has boiled over to other aspects of our daily lives, and this is where the inspiration for the title of my post came from. Currently it feels like 99% of us are affected by 99 problems that are each needing 99 solutions. With that much going on, it is impossible for one single message to dominate these protests.  (Yeah the title is also a smack-down of the stupid simplistic nonsense coming from Herman Cain).

People are angry, and I get that, I get pretty pissed myself at times. In fact, I feel like I've been in a permanent pissed off state for the last 8 years or so. So why am I not right down there with the protesters? Because I feel at this moment their solutions are too simplistic for the problems we are facing.

Part of my problem is I am living proof that none-union employees are doing OK. For 12 years running my employers (often to my surprise) have kept my raises above the cost of living. Our family has finally, after 15 long years, crested that hill of financial stability. We made sacrifices, worked hard and we're making it.  We're a success.

We have also had an unfair amount of damned good luck too. I'll take it, but I admit a lot of our success was due to luck and unforeseen good timing.

That's why I do not buy into the "it's your own damned fault you're not successful." Success takes hard work and good luck, hell, there are people where luck is entirely the source of their success (Kim Kardashian anyone?) Even for us, it wouldn't take much bad luck to push us back down the wrong side of that hill.  To claim hard work alone will grant you success is the ultimate lie we tell ourselves.

We in the West have unparalleled levels of wealth, even in the stressed out over extended middle class. Multiple cars, multiple PCs, TVs, large houses, multiple appliances, video game systems, etc. etc. Part of me wishes this 99% debate would re-evaluate what it is to be wealthy (there's probably some back-to-the-stone-age type thinkers in the mix I do not doubt). There's a dark jealousy aspect that bothers me. That being said, the way the top 1% are accumulating wealth at an unimaginable rate is just nauseating. And the numbers back up the notion that everyone else's income levels are not growing at the same rate.

There have been some interesting suggestions around wealth distribution policies (higher VATs, guaranteed supplemented base income are two), I think those are serious policy options that need to be fleshed out and debated/implemented.  But there's a lot of shouting going on right now that drowns out these incremental measures to get us back on the right track. Fix things now! seems to be the message out there, and that just ain't gonna happen.

But what holds me back the most; I have this very strong innate doubt that the Western capitalist model is sustainable.  There are just not enough resources to go around.  To abuse the Titanic metaphor, we're not just rearranging the deck chairs, there are also just not enough life boats to go around.

Economy, civil rights, environment. Each has multiple seemingly insurmountable issues.  When faced with problems that are complex we are told to break them down into manageable components and deal with them one at a time.  But doesn't it feel that these issues are too intertwined, the effects are compounding quickly and we just don't have the time to deal with them all?

Maybe our only option is a collective expression of disgust of where we are and where we are going.  So no, I'm not saying stop protesting.  Use your voices, try to make a difference, because in the end something does have to change.

I just wish I could put my finger exactly on what that change needs to be.