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Rob Urie takes a good run at explaining some of the problems with the United States polity.  The infusion/revolving door of money and politics means that society is being run for the benefit of tiny minority of people.  They have two ‘choices’ in the electoral sense, but it does nothing to halt this malformation of democracy and democratic values.

 

Even with the realization of late that money determines political outcomes, the distribution of income and wealth is considered economics while the use that these are put to in the political arena is considered politics. The unvirtuous circle of capitalism, where concentrated income and wealth are used to affect political outcomes so as to increase concentrated income and wealth, ties economics to politics through the incompatibility of capitalism with democracy.

Modern electoral politics replaces this relationship of economics to politics with color-coded branding— red or blue, where ‘our guy’ is what is good and true about America. The other party exists to pin ‘our guy’ into a corner that prevents him / her from acting on this goodness. Barack Obama was prevented from enacting his ‘true’ progressive agenda by Republican obstructionists. Donald Trump is being persecuted by deep-state, snowflake, socialists.

Left unaddressed and largely unconsidered has been the persistence of class relations. The rich continue to get richer, the rest of us, not so much. For all of the claims of political dysfunction, when it comes to bailouts and tax cuts, wars and weaponry and policing and surveillance, these opposition parties can be counted on to come together to overcome their differences. Likewise, when it comes to the public interest, partisan differences are put forward to explain why nothing is possible.

The unitary direction of this government response in favor of the rich may seem accidental, a byproduct of ‘our system’ of governance. In fact, the defining political ideology of the last half-century has been neoliberalism, defined here as imperialist, state-corporatism, controlled by oligarchs. And contrary to assertions that neoliberalism is a figment of the imagination of the left, its basic tenets were codified in the late 1980s under the term ‘Washington Consensus.’

What the Washington Consensus lays out is the support role that government plays for capitalism. Its tenets are short and highly readable. They provide a blueprint that ties Democratic to Republican political programs since the 1980s. They also tie neoliberalism to the Marxist / Leninist conception of the capitalist state as existing to promote the interests of connected capitalists. Left out, no doubt by accident (not), was / is a theory of class struggle.

When Donald Trump passed tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich and corporations, this was the Washington Consensus. When Barack Obama put ‘market mechanisms’ into Obamacare and promoted the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), this was the Washington Consensus. When Bill Clinton tried to privatize Social Security, this was the Washington Consensus. The alleged ‘opposition parties’ have been working together from a single blueprint for governance for four decades.

The intended beneficiary of this unified effort is ‘capitalism,’ conceived as multinational corporations operating with state support to promote a narrowly conceived national interest. An ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) clause was included in NAFTA when Bill Clinton promoted and signed it. An even more intrusive ISDS clause was included in the TPP when Barack Obama promoted it. The intent of these ISDS clauses is to give the prerogative of governance (sovereign power) to corporations.

It is no secret in Washington and outside of it that multinational corporations pay few, if any, taxes. The logic of this is two sided. On the one side, the neoliberal / Washington Consensus premise is that corporations can put the money to better use than government. The other is that the role of government is to support capitalism, not to constrain it. Barack Obama’s consequence-free bailouts of Wall Street, often at the expense of ordinary citizens, possessed an internal logic when considered through this frame.”

A thick meaty discussion of the western political economy and the checkered history that has led us to the current financial mess we happen to be in. Great viewing, get some popcorn!

This is the talk that the transactivists don’t want you hear. They protested, they shouted, they tried to intimidate the Library and women organizing the event. Share this widely folks, do not let the woke totalitarians win.

Mark Blythe seems to have a very good grasp of the current political and economic situations we now face.  If you want a no bullshit update to the state of the world, watch this.

 

Some of the claims put forth in the controversial book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societal Almost Always Do Better are being verified in the United States; rising inequality is shortening the lifespan of its population.  on writing on Counterpunch illustrates the effects of inequality in the US.

“The inequality of life expectancy,” as economist Gabriel Zucman puts it, “is exploding in the U.S.”

The new GAO numbers ought to surprise no one. Over recent decades, a steady stream of studies have shown consistent links between rising inequality and shorter lifespans.

The trends we see in the United States reflect similar dynamics worldwide, wherever income and wealth are concentrating. The more unequal a society becomes, the less healthy the society.

On the other hand, the nations with the narrowest gaps between rich and poor turn out to have the longest lifespans.

And the people living shorter lives don’t just include poorer people. Middle-income people in deeply unequal societies live shorter lives than middle-income people in more equal societies.

What can explain how inequality makes this deadly impact? We don’t know for sure. But many epidemiologists — scientists who study the health of populations — point to the greater levels of stress in deeply unequal societies. That stress wears down our immune systems and leaves us more vulnerable to a wide variety of medical maladies.”

Hey folks, it’s election time.  Your MP has to pretend harder that they are listening the people they supposedly represent.  Take the time and send this in.   Courtesy of We The Females.

 

Dear <MP’s Name>

I am writing as a voter in your riding who supports human rights for all Canadians and with specific concerns about the impact of Bill C16 on women’s sex-based rights. 

Bill C16  was enacted in Parliament in 2017 to amend the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Canadian Criminal Code in order to provide protection for the transgendered. Unfortunately, C16 does not explicitly protect transgendered individuals but instead protects “gender identity” and gender expression”, neither of which are given precise legal definitions but are instead subjective categories unlike biological sex.

Although sex remains as a separate protected characteristic, the enactment of Bill C16 has led to a massive conflation of sex and gender identity/expression (many women have found that to even discuss their sex based rights as separately protected from gender identity and gender expression leads to accusations of transphobia and bigotry) with the result that, currently in Canada, a women’s status is no longer based in objective biology but on a subjective “gender identity” and/or “gender expression”.

This is misogynistic and continues to have profound implications for women’s’ sex-based rights including the right to sex segregated spaces and activities including prisons, abuse and rape crisis centres, elder care facilities and sports and athletic opportunities. 

Brief examples regarding Statistics Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada follow:

Statistics Canada

As a direct result of C16, Statistics Canada “has revised the variable “sex of a person” as well as creating a new variable “gender of a person”.

Stats Canada states: “The variable “Gender of person” and the “Classification of gender” are expected to be used by most social statistics programs. The variable “Sex of person” and the Classification of sex” are to be used where information on sex at birth is needed, for example for some demographic and health indicators.”

This means that but for an extremely limited purpose, data collection and analysis from Stats Canada is based on the “gender of a person” not their biological sex. 

One of the most egregious examples of this obfuscation is that universal crime statistics in Canada are no longer collected based on sex but instead on gender identity. This has been confirmed by the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs and now results in crime committed by biological males who identify as transgendered falsely being recorded as committed by female Canadians. 

Changes such as these also lead directly to wrongheaded policies like the recent announcement by OPP that they will no longer publicly report the sex or gender of either perpetrators of crimes or their victims. All at a time when violence against biological women is epidemic in Canada!


Corrections Canada

On January 9, 2017 Corrections Canada announced a policy for transgender inmates detailing that: “Pre-operative male to female offenders with gender dysphoria will be held in men’s institutions and pre-operative female to male offenders with gender dysphoria will be held in women’s institutions”. This policy was abruptly reversed only days later, on January 13th, 2017, following an off the cuff comment by Justin Trudeau at a town hall. As a result, biologically male inmates (both post and pre-operative) are being housed in female facilities, some with mother/child units.

In response to an ATIP, Corrections Canada has advised that between June 1, 2017 and December 3, 2018, 8 biological males who identify as transgendered were transferred to the women’s system. 7 of the 8 were convicted of violent crimes including murder and sexual assault. The total population of transgendered males in female facilities remains unknown.

Female inmates (who are disproportionally aboriginal, have previously been subjected to violence/abuse and are overwhelmingly convicted of nonviolent crimes) are being housed with male transgendered inmates such as:

  •  Madilyn (formerly Matthew) Harks who was convicted of sexually assaulting girls under the age of eight three times and has been accused of harassment and assaulting female inmates while in custody. Current location unknown but thought to be held at the Fraser Valley Women’s Institute which contains a mother and child unit

  • Tara Desousa (formerly Adam Labucan), a dangerous offender convicted of sexually assaulting a three-month-old baby. While in custody, Desousa assaulted female inmates and a female correctional officer. Currently held at the Fraser Valley Women’s Institute which contains a mother and child unit

With the information I have provided in mind, please let me know your thoughts and position on the points below. Your response will be a very important consideration in my choice of candidate on October 21:

  • What is your position on women sex based human rights as separate from gender identity/expression? 

  • Do you support the rights of women to organize, provide and receive services based on biological sex as separate from gender identity/expression?

  • Do you support the collection of date for social statistics programs (including crime stats) based on biological sex as separate from gender identity/expression? 

  • What specific steps will you take to support and promote women’s sex-based rights including the right to organize, provide and receive services as separate from gender identity/expression?

Thank-you for earliest response,

<Your Name>

An unhappy view of what probably is to come as we come to terms with notion that the institutions in our societies can no longer adequately serve the needs of the people.

Here, then, is a very partial listing of some of the most important of those signals then readily available to anyone bothering to pay attention. On the eve of the Great Reckoning, however, they were generally treated as mere curiosities or matters of limited urgency — problems to be deferred to a later, more congenial moment.

Item: The reality of climate change was now indisputable. All that remained in question was how rapidly it would occur and the extent (and again rapidity) of the devastation that it would ultimately inflict.

Item: Despite everything that was then known about the dangers of further carbon emissions, the major atmospheric contributor to global warming, they only continued to increase, despite the myriad conferences and agreements intended to curb them. (U.S. carbon emissions, in particular, were still rising then, and global emissions were expected to rise by record or near-record amounts as 2019 began.)

Item: The polar icecap was disappearing, with scientists reporting that it had melted more in just 20 years than in the previous 10,000. This, in turn, meant that sea levels would continue to rise at record rates, posing an increasing threat to coastal cities.

Item:Deforestation and desertification were occurring at an alarming rate.

Item: Approximately eight million metric tons of plastic were seeping into the world’s oceans each year, from the ingestion of which vast numbers of seabirds, fish, and marine mammals were dying annually. Payback would come in the form of microplastics contained in seafood consumed by humans.

Item: With China and other Asian countries increasingly refusing to accept American recyclables, municipalities in the United States found themselves overwhelmed by accumulations of discarded glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, and paper. That year, the complete breakdown of the global recycling system already loomed as a possibility.

Item: Worldwide bird and insect populations were plummeting. In other words, the Sixth Mass Extinction had begun.

All of these fall into the category of what we recognize today as planetary issues of existential importance. But even in 2019 there were other matters of less than planetary significance that ought to have functioned as a wake-up call. Among them were:

Item: With the federal government demonstrably unable to secure U.S. borders, immigration authorities were seizing hundreds of thousands of migrants annually. By 2019, the Trump administration was confining significant numbers of those migrants, including small children, in what were, in effect, concentration camps.

Item: Cybercrime had become a major growth industry, on track to rake in $6 trillion annually by 2021. Hackers were already demonstrating the ability to hold large American cities hostage and the authorities proved incapable of catching up.

Item: With the three richest Americans — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet — controlling more wealth than the bottom 50% of the entire population, the United States had become a full-fledged oligarchy. While politicians occasionally expressed their dismay about this reality, prior to 2019 it was widely tolerated.

Item: As measured by roads, bridges, dams, or public transportation systems, the nation’s infrastructure was strikingly inferior to what it had been a half-century earlier. (By 2019, China, for instance, had built more than 19,000 miles of high-speed rail; the U.S., not one.) Agreement that this was a problem that needed fixing was universal; corrective action (and government financing), however, was not forthcoming.

Item: Military spending in constant dollars exceeded what it had been at the height of the Cold War when the country’s main adversary, the Soviet Union, had a large army with up-to-date equipment and an arsenal of nuclear weapons. In 2019, Iran, the country’s most likely adversary, had a modest army and no nuclear weapons.

Item: Incivility, rudeness, bullying, and general nastiness had become rampant, while the White House, once the site of solemn ceremony, deliberation, and decision, played host to politically divisive shouting matches and verbal brawls.

To say that Americans were oblivious to such matters would be inaccurate. Some were, for instance, considering a ban on plastic straws. Yet taken as a whole, the many indications of systemic and even planetary dysfunction received infinitely less popular attention than the pregnancies of British royals, the antics of the justifiably forgotten Kardashian clan, or fantasy football, a briefly popular early twenty-first century fad.

Of course, decades later, viewed with the benefit of hindsight, the implications of these various trends and data points seem painfully clear: the dominant ideological abstraction of late postmodernity — liberal democratic capitalism — was rapidly failing or had simply become irrelevant to the challenges facing the United States and the human species as a whole. To employ another then-popular phrase, liberal democratic capitalism had become an expression of “fake news,” a scam sold to the many for the benefit of the privileged few.

“Toward the end of an age,” historian John Lukacs (1924-2019) once observed, “more and more people lose faith in their institutions and finally they abandon their belief that these institutions might still be reformed from within.” Lukacs wrote those words in 1970, but they aptly described the situation that had come to exist in that turning-point year of 2019.”

Ouch.

 

 

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