The BCTF fights back: twelve years later they show us you can still win. Now it’s time to celebrate:
The BCTF fights back: twelve years later they show us you can still win. Now it’s time to celebrate:
It surprises me how often great men—it is rarely women—fail to actually read or consider the actual sources of their thought as they roll through life.
For example there is a bit of a war splashing about relating to what Adam Smith had to say about taxation and other anti-capitalist tools.
The star of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, Kevin O’Leary, seems to feel Adam Smith was completely opposed to taxation because that is so anti-Capital.
Except it’s not true. Really not true. Smith was a strong supporter of taxation. All you have to do is read the opening chapter of the fifth book of the Wealth of Nations, the foundational textbook of capitalism. Smith seems very clear:
“The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor.
“They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable.
“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion”.
If bond traders would just read their own stuff a little more they could avoid a lot of wasted time… And we could avoid fights amongst stupid people. Time for a Wente column on taxation and Smith.
A couple of months ago I committed the one thing you’re not supposed to do when you write about politics: I used the old Nazi comparison on the Sochi Olympics—as in this reminds me of the ’36 games.
Because it does… There was no way any western country had the jam… including Canada… And so our team is trundling off ready to play by Putin’s neofacist rules while we all sit by. Did anyone really think anything else would happen that would be better than ’36?
As described by the NYT then:
“Many American newspaper editors and anti-Nazi groups, led by Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, were unwilling to be duped by Nazi Germany’s hollow pledges and lies regarding German Jewish athletes. But Avery Brundage maneuvered the Amateur Athletic Union to a close vote in favor of sending an American team to Berlin, and, in the end, Mahoney’s boycott effort failed.”
Turning back to the Russian Winter Olympics, a boycott seems like a non-starter, for both good and bad reasons. And like the rest of you, I don’t have any more vodka to pour out. So what now?
Not only does it look like Russia will get away with staging a Potemkin Village Games that hides the terror of its anti-LGBT laws behind two weeks of winter fun and tourism promotion, it shows the lack of coherent options for protest in the face of the power of the Olympic movement.
But surely there are some answers rolling around in the mass of sponsorships, human rights, media cartels and reportage and state representation? Surely, there is something effective that can be done to shine a light on this new emerging fascist state?
That effort failed in 1936. It shouldn’t be allowed to fail this time.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted (I would say sorry, but my family tells me I’ve used my allotted sorries for the hour). As many of you know, my condition has been declining steadily these past few months. I will post a longer update on my health soon. In the meantime, thank you all once again for the many well wishes. They really keep me going, and I hope to give you a few more posts yet.
My husband is about the most intuitive advertising guy going and he’s right when he says John Doyle – the Globe’s TV columnist – may be the best political columnist in the country. Here’s what Doyle had to say about by-elections a year and a half ago, when he had no idea that there would be four campaigns in Tory and Liberal leaning ridings yesterday:
‘“Layton’s election campaign, seen day after day on TV, connected intuitively to the stories of others that warm our hearts and remind us of our best aspects. The iconography of Layton’s campaign on TV – the cane, the limp, the smiling determination to overcome, was the entry point for Canadians to connect to the NDP leader and through him, to his party.
‘All political parties and their leaders have a strategy to create a narrative that suits their purposes… something freely acknowledged in Jane Taber’s interviews with senior Tories in her recent piece, “Harper spins a new brand of patriotism.” National symbols matter. National ideals of “pride” and “bravery” are vital in all of this.
‘In Layton’s election campaign the narrative was clearly not faked, or mere strategy: The person was the message and the message was the person. It’s how television works, to isolate and highlight authenticity.’
I want to point out another message type thing. My daughter found and developed Jack’s tour dates in 2011. (Spot the pride?) – She understood that Jack’s fight was the message and when he stood up in that Montreal bar waving his cane just as the underdog Canadien’s scored, it was because she understood the message that picture carried to millions of Canadians who desperately wanted a leader who would stand with them.
It was highly unlikely that the NDP was going to win one of the 4 seats at play in last weeks by-elections. Regardless. The Liberals did what they needed to do and the NDP and the Conservatives didn’t.
For the NDP, it’s a good thing these by-elections are two years out. If we read the tea leaves correctly and take the action necessary to re-tool there’s a good fight to be had. At the very least Harper and his Tories should be gone the morning after in 2015.
And 90% of Canadians should be able to celebrate that.
So, what’s the take away from last night? It’s pretty simple: we need a message and we need issues and examples of that message that show Canadians that we are on their side.
We need to demonstrate through words, events, messengers and strategy that we get what Canadians are going through as the Harper Tories remake our country in their image and we will repair that – not take us backward, but take Canada forward on a path that puts greater equality first – that means a real chance at meaningful education, pensions when they are needed, decent wages and benefit etc…
The good news is that that message is there for the taking.
The bad news is that the Liberals – the true magpie party – is already taking it. We’re spending our time sounding so know it all, calling Justin Trudeau out as an airhead thief from the right side of the tracks, when all he is doing is following the well-worn Liberal playbook: steal the NDP message and the Tory platform or rather throw a spaghetti platform at the wall and see what sticks.
I’m not so sure we’re going to see bud two years from now, but who knows? More importantly, over at Liberal headquarters I’m sure they are saying “who cares”. They’ll pitch whatever works and doesn’t get in the way of what I think they consider is their personal 40%.
I’m sure if I asked, the Federal NDP would say we have an issue and a message and it’s inequality. And I’d reply, ‘if that’s the case, why was the most memorable campaign moment when our leader and our candidate in Toronto Centre disagreed about tax increases for corporations and the wealthy?’
Someone very important to the campaign didn’t get the inequality memo. More importantly, inequality isn’t a message – yet. It’s a general state of being that’s at issue in this country and is very hard to turn into a tight, easy to use issue, let alone a message that resonates with the millions we need to reach. And we aren’t doing that yet. The evidence is very clear.
For example we have spent three weeks in the House killing the PMO on the Senate scandal. It was excellent work and painted the PMO and the Tory senate as two of the most crooked institutions in the country. But what does that have to do with our message going into the by-elections? It sure helped the Liberals, who needed someone to take Harper down a peg or two. But didn’t do a thing to define us or raise the issue of inequality.
Worse, it left the field open to the magpies. So job one is to do the same job on inequality: adopt it and refine it and turn it into our message because inequality of opportunity and result is changing this country for the worse and along with the environment we take for granted is the issue of our time. Liberals aren’t stupid. And if we resort to our standard blame them, not us… ‘Justin’s the too handsome airhead son we can’t take seriously line, we are so hooped.’ What is to be done this time?
First of all shouldn’t we be aiming for the 40%? And doesn’t that mean good research to tell us where they are and how to reach them? Then, a platform that’s real and speaks to their needs: Remember, it’s all about audience, not us. This all sounds so boring but 2011 comes along so rarely. We won’t get the guy with the cane again. As someone who when he turns to his right is carrying a rather colorful cane for exactly the same reason, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. And there are a lot of my worst enemies on the right.
Beat them for me.
Late in high school I had a secret source of inspiration.
For a year and a half or so my dad and I had a boarder living with us. Richard was a lit major at UVIC. I remember him pointing out the poets Sean Virgo and Susan Musgrave, down at the beach, and trying to explain to me their very complicated relationship, which was he promised me, “very poetical”.
I was 16 and had no idea what he was talking about. In hindsight, I was dealing with my own sexual issues and had no way of getting at them. So who cared which poet slept with which and why.
One thing that Richard brought to our house was his friend Dick, who he claimed was the biggest dope dealer in the city. Hence Dick’s self-financed trips to NYC at the age of 22.
Dick told this 16 year old that my love of Lou Reed’s Transformer was the epitome of good taste. That I arrived at this on my own, just because of the cover of the record, was frankly amazing to him. And god, I needed that at that time of my life.
Richard’s new friends led to my first acid trip (pretty much my last). I realized early I didn’t need complex drugs to think differently. Drugs never took hold with me.
And Dick didn’t really care that I didn’t want to buy his product. He did care about the records I bought. I can see his big head with his long, long hair grinning at me as he went through my latest stack with nothing but praise.
So what did he give me the thumbs up for when I added them to my meagre collection? I don’t remember all the approvals – I know he liked the Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead, Neil Young’s Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere and more spectacularly, all things Parliament.
Now, I can’t think of a whiter city than Victoria. Dick, telling me about NYC and the wide world in between confirmed it, introducing me to a pile of records that was so weird and so different from what the average guy in Victoria was buying that I realized I had just discovered a new way of showing off how odd I was.
Screw it has been my motto about music ever since. I like what I like.
Parliament, Funkadelic and now Galatic and all the rest… I am so lame when it comes to creating music but at least when it comes to spending my money I am able to focus on the beats.
Now, what was I saying? Right, Lou Reed.
All the tributes seem to be in. And as they should be they are all over the place: NYC, punk, the Velvets, art, Warhol and the Factory and his now partner Laurie Anderson…
But I am surprised that nobody seems to say anything about one of my favourite Lou Reed songs – a tough song that perfectly captures – not that I should know – seventies New York. It’s a song that plays like a version of “This Love Goes to Building on Fire” with three separate movements, a surprise hidden guest and like the times, lots and lots of drugs.
It’s nasty, dark and a platform for love and redemption. It’s “Street Hassle”. I love this song. I was 21 or 22 when I first heard it. And it means no less to me today than then. (warning: this is so not suitable for very young ears – much street language).
And I thought the sale of BC Rail was fixed from the start.
A month ago Vaughn Palmer wrote a now prescient column on the ALR. The column seemed to come out of nowhere: A group of Agricultural Land Reserve supporters showed up at the annual budget hearings to provide input on the core review of the ALR.
Core Review of the ALR? Neither the chair nor the vice chair of the Budget Input Committee knew anything about the Core Review of the ALR.
And, Palmer noted, you think they would, particularly because the Chair of the Budget Input Committee is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister Responsible for the Core Review, Pat Pimm.
Geez. It would be as if the government were hiding its real agenda if it didn’t even tell its own Parliamentary Secretaries what was really up with the Core Review and the budget before sending them out on the road to gather public input.
Turns out they didn’t. And they are. Hiding the real agenda.
Turns out the Parliamentary Secretary is just an ignorant straw man whose job it is to keep interested people from asking hard questions.
The Globe is reporting today that the government is planning to get rid of BC’s innovative Agricultural Land Reserve. The paper is written. The Cabinet is listening. Even if the leak messes things up for a few weeks, the Reserve and Commission as deciders are likely dead meat.
How brown is that? Why it’s almost as brown as a fake and meaningless five-point ask on a pipeline that they were going to approve regardless – just as soon as they got a tricky little election out of the way.
This is why the BC NDP owed it to the people of BC to win the May election. This is why the House sits less than a month a year. This is why the Liberals will always outraise the BC NDP and why the NDP should never count on the big business sector for its ask.
I added oxy today to go along with the methadone, gabapentamine, advil and tylenol. To make sure I can cross the border and visit a restaurant or bookstore or both in Bellingham over the next month or so, one of my palliative care docs, whom I love btw, wrote a little mosh note to the border patrol.
“He’s no pusher, he’s just another guy with advanced, non-operable cancer that will surely kill him within a month or two. Don’t worry, be happy and let him through.”
I hope they listen. I have books to buy and cool restaurants and oyster bars to visit on the old Fairhaven highway.
And another BTW: I’m worried about this because if anything happens I just don’t have the health care coverage to pay for a medivac. You see, up here our taxes still pay for this great health care I get.
Yes, I know it could be a little cheaper taxwise. What couldn’t these days? But it is a lot cheaper per patient than America’s and it does spread the cost out in equality minded fashion through the tax system. You can’t beat that, even if your web sites don’t work so well.
Finally. And that word carries a lot of meaning for me these days…
My doc gave me up to 8 weeks today, saying she wouldn’t be surprised to see me make Christmas, not that I’m a big celebrant. Some people even believe I’ll sneak into the New Year, which is a big deal when my own docs originally thought I wouldn’t make it much past Labour Day.
I don’t know how I feel about that. Wrapping my head – so to speak – around time to live is a strange thing to do. All I know is that right now I don’t want to die. I haven’t found peace if that’s what you are supposed to do. I don’t even know under which rock to look.
Who needs red tape, eh?
It’s so bothersome…. like when it involves public safety. That’s why we elect governments that are so keen on deregulation, like the BC Liberals who are currently in the process of deregulating liquor sales, closing government stores and shifting sales to the private sector.
Here’s how good that old red tape reduction has been in Canada…
“viewed from a public-safety perspective, the (deregulation) model is much more problematic. It results in a dramatic reduction in regulators’ first-hand knowledge of what is actually happening at the firms whose practices they are supposed to be overseeing on behalf of the public. This invites serious risks that unsafe operating practices will not be identified and addressed until a major incident occurs. The food-contamination episode at the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., last summer, and now the Lac-Mégantic disaster, stand out as examples of these problems.”
That’s from the Globe, who just seem to have woken up to some of the small problems associated with thirty years of deregulation. But it sounds so sexy to pop off those little red tape items: like shooting the teddy bears at the fair as your boyfriend grips your arm a little harder each time that pop gun goes off.
But let’s get real. People dead? A town destroyed? Isn’t that just a bit too high a price to pay to make it easier for the private sector to make more money?
So let’s move on to another place where it really hurts: liquor sales.
BC is getting ready to shovel the piles of money into the hands of grocery stores and other large industry players while raising the cost to the health care and policing systems, not to mention dealing another blow to small businesses who mistakenly believe they can compete with Mr. Loblaw in a deregulated market.
Look who pays the bills over at BC Lib Inc. You just know that the real money will be made by Sobeys and the other big operators, not the mom and pop operators who will get those 12:15 AM sales to the “are they 19 or just 18? Geez, I haven’t made a dime all day… that means 19 for now…” group.
That’s just not enough to stay alive against the mega discounters. Have you bought vodka at a US Costco lately? At their price point you can stay drunk all the time. That’s tough to compete against.
More importantly, that’s not the only problem. The fact is that there are no regulatory changes that will keep the costs down for the average taxpayer. The real story is that in many other jurisdictions that got rid of government red tape and privatized liquor sales, revenues went down and costs went up on the government side. More importantly, very expensive social problems like FASD increased.
FASD does not come cheap, especially when it remains untreated. BC will be no exception. As some liquor gets cheaper, opening hours increase, limits are forgotten by “amateur regulators”, enormous social problems linked to alcohol increased in many jurisdictions that deregulated and privatized liquor in North America.
Eliminating red tape sounds so sexy. At the end of the day it has cost quality of life and taxpayer’s money far beyond the estimates. Our governments lied to us when they tried to spin red tape removal as a good thing, particularly when it comes to liquor.
This isn’t just a belief. Many of us have direct experience with these problems. Extended bar hours increased alcohol consumption for too many. FASD is one result. There is no worse addiction and a kid in the womb can’t be blamed for his exposure to this one.
This is not about individual responsibility. It’s about a society that thinks it can get cheap and easy liquor without the associated problems. And it is wrong.
It’s been a long time. But I’ve been pretty sick and haven’t been able to put digits to the pedal. I’m hoping to get some more work in so here’s crossing my fingers. I really miss it and there is so much to write about.
For example do you really think the Mayor of Toronto should be… you know… Mayor? And coaching troubled kids. Hey, we’re just getting shit faced…
Gerry told me about it, but I wasn’t paying as much attention as a vain guy should. Steroid gut… Moonface… Love handles to burn.
I’ve got it all. And I hate it.
I’ve written a bit about my love of running on this blog and everything I’ve written is true. I run because I love to run. For the last two or three decades, that is.
But in the beginning I ran because I am vain. I don’t want to be fat.
Not was, but am vain. That’s pretty clear from the reaction I had after finally shaving yesterday. I looked up and there it was in the mirror, this round, round, round moon shaped face, clean of silvery whiskers, buffed as it were and just completely goddamned round.
Gerry told me about his steroid induced weight gain that goes along with moonface. I’ve got that too. It’s a band of fat around my belly that I’ve compulsively kept off for decades. But I’ve always known it’s there, in spirit… just waiting.
Now it’s here in three dimensional, jiggly never-going-awayness.
My doc told me too. “You’ll get fat. So get fat. Who cares? It’s not like you’re not in great shape,” She told me when she prescribed the steroids. “These will keep you alive for a good bit. So eat what you want. Enjoy it.
And it’s true. Underneath this not too bad sheath of jelly, I’m in pretty great shape for a dying, exercise-maniac physical comeback kind of guy. And I get to feed my sweet tooth.
So I live with it. Just another thing to signal it’s coming. And this particular signal is not so bad. No pain, a bit of struggle with the belt. Shirts that don’t fit so well, not that I have anywhere to go, anyhow.
Like most everything else now, this one’s a ‘learn to live with it’ trial. It’s not up there with the throat closing up or the leg dragging on the ground or the fatigue that strikes every day around 4. These are all staring me in the face with a deeper meaning – I can and will die soon. All I can effect is what lies around the edge.
And there’s another thing I can effect: how I live this out. That’s the hardest part. So, no more moaning about moonface.
And just what story isn’t getting any coverage – not a spit of coverage – this morning? The latest job report, showing BC lost 14,000 full-time jobs last month.
Here’s what the Globe wrote on May 18th, as Premier Clark jetted away on another vacation:
“Ms. Clark sat down at the airport with The Globe and Mail to lay out her plans for the first 100 days in office. It’s an ambitious agenda that includes hardening up plans for a critical trade mission to Asia, beginning a conversation with the province’s labour leaders aimed at creating a new era of co-operation, refreshing her jobs plan, swearing in a cabinet and tabling a budget.”
The 100 days were up sometime last month and the budget is passed and the cabinet sworn in. But nothing else seems to be on the agenda. And the premier is still on vacation. Unemployment is up significantly and the economy is in a stall.
This ain’t refreshed but that’s not an easy story to write so it won’t get written.
To Kevin Logan: Kevin, it may be an error in the writing but I think you misconstrue my entire conclusion.
I’m saying, if the NDP doesn’t start listening to the people who vote for it and craft doable agendas based on their needs and run professional campaigns aimed at winning government, someone else will and they will deserve the victories that I believe are there for average people.
They don’t want a bunch of talk about the meaning of life and socialism. They want effective change that gives them and their kids and the people they care about a better chance in life.
They are very patient. They wait a long time. But they won’t wait forever.
Finally, do I believe in an empty bureaucracy that exists just to win elections? Do I think all talk is meaningless…. etc… etc… Of course not. But I do believe that at the heart of what we do is that fine walk between what needs to be done and what can be done.
All of that needs talk. All of that needs discussion and is generally the heart of the matter in a campaign.
I would argue that our last campaign was so bad we obscured any meaningful discussion of what we were about, what we placed on offer.
Was there a worse platform reveal? Not that I can remember. Did we just spend a week handing them one weapon after another? Yes, I believe we did.
Did we protect our candidates from the damage? No. Did they know what to say? No, because talking points are the work of the devil and the devil’s work is inauthentic.
Except, they often give the candidate exactly what they need to get on with their local campaign without showing up in a horrid pic in the top right corner of the TV screen while fending off a posse of cameras and notebook holding scribes with a glint in their eye, going in for the kill.
Three excellent blog posts by Paul Willcocks on the fate of the newspaper: what went wrong and what can go right. Read all three posts and start thinking.
A couple of things that that occurred to me: Isn’t the ownership model an important aspect of what kind of information we seek?
And Paul writes that it’s time to experiment broadly. I agree, although I don’t think that’s the kind of thing that happens without the commitment of deep pockets and that’s just not available to media in Canada, right now.
Still, it seems to me that the big fail in media and the place it’s least likely to experiment but most important to do so is in investigative journalism. You can count the number of stories in the entire country on one hand that are being generated through a commitment to investigative journalism. (BTW the Globe’s coverage of Harper’s northern tour strikes a new low. How close are they sleeping in that tent?). But the need for the same just in the Senate is obvious.