Archive for environment

In or Out? Democracy, the EU, and the Fate of the Earth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2016 by jtoddring

The people of Britain have now voted to leave the EU. That vote has deeper and more far-ranging consequences than many people realize. Among other things, it means the beginning of the dissolution and death of the EU. And I would say that is a very good thing, for the reasons I’ve outlined here.

The following article was written, in the main, before the British vote on whether or not to remain in the EU. Now that the people have chosen, the issue becomes even more relevant, because the viability of the EU, and the desirability of any nation remaining in the EU, has come even more into question. This is only the beginning of the debate, and far from the end. And no, it is not about racism or xenophobia, at least for any sane person — it is about democracy and sovereignty, versus rule by the ECB and the banks, which is what the EU now represents.

Europe has nearly a billion people within it. And of course, Europe is also a major economic, military and cultural super-power. Europe and North America, to state the obvious, represent the major centres of the Western empire, just as Russia and China represent the major centres of what can be called the Eastern empire. What happens in any of these four world-dominant regions is therefore deeply significant, and has profound influence, and profound impacts, for the entire world. We should, therefore, be awake to what is going on in Europe and the other major centres of world power. Otherwise, we are simply sleep-walking into disaster.

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The impulses towards independence, freedom, sovereignty, authentic democracy and self-determination are wise as well as entirely legitimate. Calling such impulses nativism, as is happening, simply clouds the issues. We must separate out the issues of racism and xenophobia, which are thoroughly disgusting and which have no place in any informed or intelligent discussion, from the issue of freedom and democracy, versus corporate rule, excessive centralization of powers, or oligarchy. If we cannot do that, then we cannot talk intelligently about what is happening in Europe, or anywhere for that matter.

Nativism is a term being thrown about because the term nationalism is too dangerous now. Nationalism might invoke thoughts of sovereignty, self-determination, democracy, freedom or independence, and these are rightly viewed by the majority of people world-wide as good things. So the term nationalism has been dropped, in favour of the more emotionally charged term of nativism, which invokes thoughts of racism, xenophobia, and a narrow and ignorant parochialism. But such talk and such jingoism simply skirts the issues of freedom, sovereignty and democracy, which remain the central issues, and it clouds the issues in very real, and severe ways.

The troika’s actions in Greece, and especially in Italy, where the ECB and the bankers essentially staged a coup, overthrew and removed a democratically elected government, and replaced it with an appointed government of banking elites, show that the EU is no longer democratic in any remote definition of the term, but has been taken over by the ECB and the banking elite, as Gerald Celente and others have said. That being considered, I would say that staying in the EU is absolute insanity. Unless you wish to be ruled by the European Central Bank and Goldman Sachs, you must oppose the EU, and seek to leave it, and now. And that has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia, and everything to do with democracy.

There is, clearly and undeniably, a slow-motion global corporate coup which is underway, a fact which of course is well-known to many people. And the global corporate coup is gaining momentum, and is accelerating. In short, the business elite want to own and rule the world. This is nothing new. We have seen this kind of infantile grandiosity, unfettered greed, egomania and power-lust many times before. But it is no less dangerous simply because it is not new.

The EU, the ECB and the IMF, or the troika, as they are called, have become, or have long been, instruments of the on-going corporate coup. This must be recognized, clearly, and unflinchingly. They are no more democratic than Goldman Sachs is democratic. These are institutions of pyramidal, elite control, and elite rule. They are institutions, not of freedom, equality, solidarity and democracy, but of oligarchy, plutocracy, and corporate neo-feudalism.

The same is true, of course, with regards to many other major organizations, agreements and centres of power in the world today: almost all of the biggest ones have become, or have long been, instruments of elite rule, and instruments of corporate power — and instruments of the unfolding corporate take-over of the world. These include the privately owned US Federal Reserve, the private central banks of most nations, the BIS, which is the central bankers’ central bank, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the SPP, and the so-called trade agreements, which are in truth corporate rights agreements, including the TTP, TTIP, CETA and NAFTA. And of course, the neoliberal ideology and agenda (or propaganda narrative, as it more accurately should be described) props them all up and underpins them all. All of these instruments of the rising neo-feudal, rabidly anti-democratic, and truly, crypto-fascist global corporate take-over, and de facto corporate rule, must be questioned, challenged, resisted, seen for what they are, and thoroughly rejected and defeated. And this includes the EU.

Over two hundred years ago, in 1812, Thomas Jefferson warned of the rising powers of the corporations, and what he called, “the new moneyed aristocracy” which controls them. He said, “I hope we shall crush the new moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it bids defiance to our laws, and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.” We failed to listen then, and we have failed to listen since, and we are reaping the dark rewards.

The moneyed aristocracy have taken over, the war on democracy and freedom is almost won — meaning, the people lose, and the oligarchy wins — and we are now entering a new feudal age, where the banking and other corporate elites control and rule the world. And yet, the obvious truth of this fact is still dismissed, marginalized, minimized or overlooked, while we focus on secondary and derivative issues. This is the central issue of our time: freedom and democracy are being systematically destroyed by a slow-motion global corporate coup. And yet, we are asleep at the wheel, while heading for disaster. Worse, we are not even at the wheel. We are allowing the corporate elite and their political prostitutes to drive us into a new dark age, and into extinction, while we yawn, or bicker over what are, by comparison, distractions.

As the leading Canadian environmental scientist, David Suzuki has said, “We’re racing toward a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour, and everyone is arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

What we need to be doing, above all, is to change course, and the most central and urgent course correction that must be made, if human beings are to survive, is for us to halt and reverse the global corporate coup which is undeniably taking place right now, as we speak. And to do that, we must strengthen, at least temporarily, the nation-state and national democracies, as Chomsky has also said, along with the democratic process at the level of the province or state, and at the level of local municipal governments. The EU, like the SPP, the IMF, the BIS, the WEF and the corporate rights agreements, run precisely counter to these most central and urgent tasks and goals, and so, must be opposed and rejected.

Above all, we need to restore power to the people, not remove it further from their hands. We need to halt the greatly excessive concentration and over-centralization of power, not aid and abet and further it.

(As an important aside, it should be noted, for libertarians and anarchists in particular — and I would, with some qualifications and reservations, count myself among the latter, along with Chomsky, Thoreau, Bertrand Russell, Bookchin, Kropotkin, Huxley, Orwell and many others: we must accept that it is now critical to support at least a temporary strengthening and defence of national democracies and the nation-state, as Chomsky has also said; because if we do not, the result will not be freedom, but simply tyranny and empire of a new kind, and a de facto global government, as the business press has called it, of the global corporate empire and its institutions. If these facts are not perfectly clear, then frankly, we are not dealing with the real world, and we should leave all discussion about politics or social issues to people who do not live in a cloud, but who have their feet firmly planted on the earth.)

The central pattern, or essential nature of the new global corporate empire, is five-fold. It represents a further hyper-concentration of wealth and power in the world, far beyond anything we have ever seen in recorded history. It represents the inevitable corollary of staggering and truly astronomical inequality. It represents a war on democracy, freedom and constitutional rule, and the replacement of democracy, freedom and constitutional law with oligarchy and neo-feudalism. It represents an increasingly violent militarism and a deeply Orwellian global surveillance state, since the overwhelming majority of the people world-wide are suffering immensely from the corporate empire, and oppose it, and so, must be forcibly restrained from overthrowing it. And it represents as rapacious looting and pillaging of humanity and the earth, which is driving us rapidly into a dark age and into extinction. And all of these central features of the new corporate empire, and all of these trends, are accelerating. This is the central thrust of human civilization, if you can call it that, at this time, and it must be firmly addressed, and now.

We need to oppose and reject the instruments of corporate power which are furthering the hyper-concentration of power in society and the on-going global corporate coup. And the major instruments of corporate power and global corporate rule now include (1) the EU, the SPP, the IMF, the World Bank, the BIS, the Fed and WEF — which are the major institutions of global corporate rule; (2) the military-industrial-security complex, which acts as the armed guard of the global corporate empire; (3) the great majority of the media, which is the empire’s primary propaganda division; (4) neoliberalism, which is the ideology, agenda, and propaganda narrative of global corporate rule; and (5) the corporate rights agreements such as the CETA, NAFTA, TTIP and the TTP, which provide the anti-democratic, unconstitutional, and illegal, legal framework for the global corporate empire, and which give corporations powers over and above democratic governments, and essentially render democratic government null and void, or eviscerated and destroyed. These are the simple facts of the matter, and we must be clear about them. We cannot afford to be distracted or muddy in our thinking, or we are lost.

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The activist group, Avaaz, recently involved itself in the question of whether Britain should leave or remain in the EU. And I have never seen a worse muddying of the issues. Avaaz framed the issue as a question of xenophobia versus love — if you favour love, then you will vote to remain in the EU, but if you want to leave the EU, then you must of course be xenophobic. Not only is this a radical oversimplification of the issues, but it is thoroughly misleading, and has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. It is appalling behaviour for an organization that claims to be one of the world’s leading activist groups, or even, ridiculously, the leading activist group in the world.

There are good reasons, and very valid reasons, for wanting to leave the EU, and none of them have anything to do with racism or xenophobia. Moreover, just because some people who are xenophobic have argued for leaving the EU, does not mean that any person who wants an exit from the EU must therefore be xenophobic, or that if we are we not xenophobic, we must therefore wish to remain in the EU. An eight year old can understand such distinctions. And we should too.

We must separate out the issues of racism and xenophobia from the issues of democracy and freedom. The EU is now antithetical to democracy and freedom, and has proven that it is in fierce opposition to democracy and freedom, as its actions in Italy and Greece have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt. To remain in the EU, considering these undeniable facts, would, for this reason, be foolish in the extreme. And that has nothing to do with xenophobia.

Donald Trump apparently favours Britain leaving the EU, and therefore, much of the left feels compelled to take the opposite position of Trump, out of a knee-jerk reaction. But such reactionary tendencies are infantile, and foolish in the extreme. The left is general clueless, and only slightly less so than the right, so we should have no concern for what the left thinks about anything. Following the crowd is for pre-pubescent school children, not for thoughtful adults. And a narrow-minded thinking that presumes guilt by association is equally foolish. We must judge issues on a case by case basis, and not simply follow this camp or that, follow the herd, or form our opinions based on reactionary thinking.

Just because some orange-haired, racist and xenophobic buffoon takes on a certain position, does not mean that we must automatically take the opposite position. Sometimes even morons get it right, even if they get it right for the wrong reasons. Trump is right in calling for Britain to leave the EU — he is just wrong about the reasons why Britain should leave. Democracy, freedom, sovereignty and self-determination are the valid reasons to leave the EU. And even though Trump is a fool, he is right in calling for an exit. And to call for an exit from the EU does not mean, to belabour what should be an obvious point, that one is therefore, by necessity, either xenophobic, or a supporter of right wing crackpots like Trump.

I’m not sure how much more clearly it can be spelled out. The issue of the EU and whether to remain in or to leave it, seems to have become so clouded by dim-witted reactionary gibberish — from the left as well as the right — that it is difficult to clear away the fog. But we must try. And as I have said, this is merely the beginning of the debate on the nature, viability, and desirability of the EU, and not by any means the end.

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When the European Union was first tabled publicly as an idea, as a proposal, I followed the debate about it to some extent, and reflected on it deeply. And I concluded then, that the European Union would be an over-centralization of power, and the result would be an undermining of both freedom and democracy. And that is exactly what the EU has proven to be. Now, with the ECB, the banking elite and the troika clearly in charge, the EU has proven beyond all doubt that it has no allegiance to either freedom or to democracy, but only to the interests of the ruling corporate elite, and in particular, to the banking elite. To be unaware of these facts, or to deny them, minimize or gloss over them, is the height of foolishness; and it is a very dangerous, as well as irresponsible and dismal state for one to be in, at that.

When power in society is highly concentrated and centralized, then freedom, democracy, and the self-determination of the people, the ability of people to shape their own lives and choose their own destiny, become hollow, meaningless, and lost, as oligarchy, empire and elite rule replace democracy, freedom, and a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Therefore, if we value freedom or democracy, we should oppose all forms of excessive centralization or concentration of power in society, because that is antithetical to both freedom and democracy. This should be politics 101. These things should not have to be said, but it seems they do.

Chomsky has said that at this point in human history, with an environmental crisis growing rapidly and exponentially, literally ever day, and with the ruling corporate powers blocking all serious change, democracy becomes, not only a value to be preserved, but in all likelihood, a matter of survival. I could not agree more. And we had better realize the fact sooner than later, or we are finished. Whatever is blocking authentic, functioning, constitutional democracy, must be shattered, moved aside, abandoned, rejected, or otherwise overcome, or we are going to see a dark age ahead, followed closely by human extinction. Again, these are the simple facts of the matter, and we had best be perfectly lucid, unflinching, and clear about them.

Thomas Jefferson and Aldous Huxley, two of the most astute political writers I have ever encountered, both said that if we value freedom or democracy — as we should, if we are at all sane — then we must prevent any form of excessive concentration or centralization of power in society, for that surely is the road to tyranny, and the destruction of both freedom and democracy. Yet we have allowed exactly that to happen, slowly, over the past two hundred years since the birth of modern democracy, and in particular, over the past four decades since the birth of neoliberalism and corporate globalization.

And what are the forms of excessive concentration and centralization of power in the world today? Well, the obvious one is the global take-over by big business and the corporate elite. And closely related to that global corporate coup — which we can still reverse, and overturn, if we have the presence of mind and the will, the spine, to do so — are the organizations and agreements which serve to expand and consolidate corporate powers, over and above democracy and the power of the people.

The major forms of excessive concentration and centralization of power in the world today are the organizations and agreements which in general serve the ruling corporate oligarchy, and which in practice, though not in rhetoric, function to expand or to consolidate global corporate powers and global corporate rule, and of course, with the result being the effective death of liberty, democracy and constitutional law. These include the EU, the SPP, the Bank for International Settlements and the private central banks, including the Fed, along with the IMF, the World Economic Forum, and the corporate rights agreements which are being driven down the people’s throats. And all of them should be opposed — must be opposed — if we value either freedom or democracy, as we should.

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Liberty, equality, solidarity, and democracy are values worth preserving. Without them, we will have only tyranny, and a hastened rush towards self-destruction and global ecological holocaust. It is not now, liberty or death, in the sense that liberty is precious enough to risk death — but more starkly, liberty or death have become our only alternatives. We need to reflect hard and deeply on this, and now, because we are losing all that we have struggled for, over the past 200-some years since the birth of modern democracy; and worse, we are losing everything we have gained over the past 800 years, since the signing of the Magna Carta. The stakes could not be higher, and ignorance and illusion must be shattered, before we destroy ourselves, as well as our liberty, completely.

While the people of the United States decide which demagogue, corporate puppet or psychopath they will elect as president, or whether, if they are sensible, they will elect a genuine populist, and friend and servant of the people, the people of Europe must contend with one central question above all, and that is, how they will respond to the troika, which represents the new Royal Court, at least for the region, of global neo-feudal corporate rule. The choices, in both cases, I would say are abundantly clear. And there is no time to delay in our response.

JTR,
June 17, 2016

Post-Script:

Neoliberalism is the ideology and agenda of the unfolding global corporate coup, and the de facto, global, neo-feudal corporate rule which is emerging from it. It has to die.

Constitutional democracy may be severely flawed, but oligarchy, or plutocracy, is most definitely far worse. And as Mussolini said himself, corporatism is the proper term for fascism, which is the merger of business and the state — and that is what neoliberalism, and the global corporate empire that it upholds, represents. We should have no illusions about it.

Neoliberalism, in essence, is the ideology of global corporate rule — and the corporate globalization which is driving us into a neo-feudal global corporate rule. It must be resisted, opposed, firmly rejected, and relegated to the trash bin of history. It is an ideology which is under attack, under heavy criticism, and which is dying. But it is still dangerous, and it still has the support of the ruling class, which is the billionaire class of the international business elite, and their prostitutes in political office, academia and the media. And it is an ideology which must be killed, before it kills the planet, and all life on it.

Yes, the power elite always want to protect themselves and their interests, and a major component of that is to deflect criticism. That’s why we have the “war on terrorism”, and a state of permanent war, as Orwell understood very well. And the loyal servants to the power elite, such as the corporate media, along with much of the academy, play that role routinely and habitually, slavishly, whether they are conscious of it or not.

We all have both power and responsibility, but clearly, some individuals have more power than others, and thus, a greater responsibility for the crimes and injustice we see in the world.

An example may help to clarify. I think the other role for such a web site as the one recently created by CNN, titled, Slavery Footprint, which is indicative of the problem, is to accustom people to the idea that there are slaves and there are the privileged – and that is perfectly acceptable, we are supposed to believe, or come to accept. It is an assault on compassion, empathy, human solidarity and community, and on all moral sentiments.

A central driving force of the propaganda system, as Chomsky has said, is not just to sow fear and division — following the central maxim of all empires, which is to divide and conquer — and to isolate the people from one another so that they will be disempowered and thus easily controlled; but also, to destroy their sense of compassion, empathy, human sympathy, love and mutual aid, so that no such unity of the people can arise to oppose the imperial powers.

So the ruling power elite, as the great sociologist C. Wright Mills phrased it, who are the global corporate elite, along with their puppets and propagandists in government and the media, promote narcissism, nihilism, materialism, consumerism, vanity, egocentrism and callousness, as well as fear and division, illusion and distraction, demoralization and mass disempowerment of the people.

It is simply an evolution, or devolution, of the ancient imperial strategy: divide and conquer. Dehumanize, demoralize, disempower, distract, delude, and divide the people, and they will be easily manipulated, and the power elite can rule as god-kings. That is the basic game plan, and that is the truly sociopathic thrust of the brave new world of global neo-feudal corporatism under which we now live.

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Avaaz does good work. It is also in the wrong at times. This is one case. The EU has been taken over by the ECB and the banking elite, as the banker’s coup in Italy proved, where the banking elite overthrew a democratically elected government and installed a government run by and for bankers, as Gerald Celente has said. To remain in the EU is not an act of love — it is an act of foolishly misreading the situation, and dangerously so.

The banking elite run Britain too, along with the EU and most of the world, but to allow a further continuation of hyper-concentration and over-centralization of power in society is disastrous, and the road to tyranny. The best chance we have to halting the slow-motion global corporate coup is by restoring the powers of constitutional democracy within nation states, and to stop the dissolution of nation-states and national democracies into globalist power blocks, such as NAFTA, the SPP and the EU.

Allowing power to be ever further removed from the hands of the people, through an ever-greater centralization and concentration of power in society, will only aid the infantile, yet extremely dangerous dreams of global empire, which the new corporate elite, like their predecessors, hold dear.

We need to bolster the power of elected constitutional democracies on the level of the nation-state, the provincial or state level, and the level of municipalities and local governments. What we do not need is a further centralization of power. Power is already overly centralized, and already concentrated in too few hands to be either safe or democratic. And a further concentration and centralization of power, as is happening in the EU as well as with the so-called trade deals, is only helping the banking and other corporate elites to further their agenda of global domination and anti-democratic, neo-feudal elite rule.

For these reasons, the EU, as it stands now, which is as an instrument for elite corporate powers — along with the IMF, WEF, BIS, and the corporate rights deals such as CETA, NAFTA, TTIP and the TPP — must be rejected, and abolished.

Solidarity, yes. Cooperation and trade, yes. Openness and friendly relations with all, yes. But, grossly excessive, unaccountable, and undemocratic centralization of powers in the hands of a tiny global elite? No. Absolutely not. Therefore, the EU must go, and the people must reject it.

Justin Trudeau and the Continuing Saga of Canadian Apathy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2016 by jtoddring

A recent poll shows strong support for the Trudeau government in Canada, and I have to think, once again, that it is surprising to see that Canadians can be so uncritical and unquestioning of their government.

Yes, Harper was defeated, and yes, that was a good thing. But the current government under Trudeau Jr. is deeply flawed, and criminally negligent, at best – and that is the best you can say about them.

Trudeau Jr. is still subsidizing big oil and the fossil fuel industry, still pushing for oil pipelines, still blocking serious action on the environment. And we are still waiting on serious action on the lack of safe drinking water for 120 native communities and 1,600 municipalities across the country – in one of the seven richest countries on earth, with the means to provide all Canadians more than a decent standard of living, and certainly vastly more wealth and resources than is needed to simply provide clean, safe water for all. And further, the Trudeau government has so far refused to cancel or reject a plan by Ontario Power Generation to bury radioactive waste in the Great Lakes basin, even though every radioactive waste facility ever built has leaked, and despite the fact that the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people. And all of this entails what can only be called criminal negligence in the extreme.

Beyond that, the Trudeau Liberals refuse to raise corporate taxes to reasonable levels, say, where they were in 1960, at roughly 40%: and as a result, must work with a self-inflicted short-fall of revenues, meaning that health care, education, social and environmental programs cannot be properly funded.

What this means is that the Liberal Party is no longer a liberal party, as it was up until the government of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, in the late 1970’s. For more than thirty years, the Liberal Party of Canada has been yet another party of neoliberalism, which is to say, another party run by and for big business. And central to the neoliberal, pro-corporate agenda, is austerity for the people, with giant subsidies, bail-outs, “stimulus” packages and tax breaks for the corporations and the rich. This is why we have inadequate funding for health care, education, social programs and environmental programs in Canada, as in the US and Europe, despite the fact that Canada is one of the richest countries on earth: neoliberalism and a corporate agenda have taken over – and the Trudeau Jr. government is just the latest expression of this criminal posse of neo-feudal corporatists, gouging the people to further line the pockets of the rich.

At the same time, the young Trudeau signed the TPP, which effectively spells the final death blow to Canadian sovereignty, and democracy in Canada. Few actions could express a greater or more utter incompetence, or criminality, depending on how you want to view it.

And while talking about “a principled foreign policy,” Trudeau Jr. approved the arms deal signed by Harper to ship more arms to the Saudis – the most brutal regime in the Middle East, and one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

Saudi Arabia is also the country which is the primary arms provider and source of funds to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Principled foreign policy? This is not only criminally negligent, at best, to be sending more arms to the Saudi dictatorship; it is also a disastrous and extremely foolish policy which is guaranteed to blow back in our faces, as Saudi Arabia continues to fuel terrorism, even while it proclaims it is fighting it.

And along with arming the Saudis, Trudeau continued the bombing in Iraq and Syria, not only breaking his election promises, but violating international law, and thereby committing what are under international law, nothing less than war crimes. Yes, principled foreign policy indeed. Only now has this criminal and foolish behaviour and disastrous policy been halted – one point for which we can be glad in an otherwise dismal reign to date.

(And yes, it is a reign, when 40% of the popular vote can give you 100% of the power in government, and a four year coronation.)

And finally, Justin Trudeau promised to bring in proportional representation, to fix our quasi-democratic electoral system, and bring it into the 21st century, or even the 20th. So far, we have seen no action on this critical issue of democracy, and another Trudeau promise goes either broken, or simply ignored and abandoned.

Those were just election promises, right? Nobody takes those seriously. Well, clearly they shouldn’t when it is either the Liberal or Conservative Party in question.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May, the only political leader in the country at the federal level who deserves to be called a leader, or who has any clue as to what is going on, apparently, or any spine, or integrity, or vision to bring to bear on the issues we face, is largely ignored by both the media and the people.

Are Canadians clueless, or are we simply a people that cannot seem to shake off a long tradition of public apathy? I think the latter is the case, and I do not know what will rouse them from their slumber, or bring them to their senses.

During the recent federal election, there was a wave of political passion across the country – which is to say, as passionate as Canadians get about anything other than hockey, beer and Tim Horton’s – as we the people decided to remove a much reviled Conservative government from power. Then we all went back to sleep. Or at least the majority seem to have returned to slumber land. What does it take to get Canadians to shake off their long-standing habit of apathy and complacency? I truly do not know.

JTR,
March 2, 2016

 

The real costs of fossil fuel-powered vehicles – and the alternatives to them

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2016 by jtoddring

 

There is some rising concern, and at times vitriol, about electric car drivers not paying their fair share, because they buy no gas, and therefore do not pay gas taxes, which go to maintaining roads. While this is true, it is only a sliver of the bigger picture. The more salient fact is that health and environmental costs from fossil-fuel-burning automobiles, along with subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, are vastly greater than the cost of maintaining roads – and electric car drivers are not contributing to these far greater costs to society, thus saving us enormous sums of money. We should thank them, not scold them and wag our fingers.

In the US each household pays roughly $1,100 a year to subsidize automobile drivers, in the form of subsidies to road construction and maintenance, in addition to gas taxes and tolls. Automobile drivers are heavily subsidized by drivers and non-drivers alike. And this does not even count the health and environmental costs of automobile use, which far exceed the cost of building and maintaining roads.

It also does not count the cost of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, which the IMF has recently stated are at $5 trillion a year globally – more than all health spending by all governments in the world combined.

These are shocking figures. Our society is deeply, and disastrously, out of balance – clearly. We need clean, renewable mass transit infrastructure now. It is safer, cleaner, does not destroy the air or the planet, and is also far cheaper than an automobile-based transportation system, which is positively Jurassic by comparison.

But, we still live in the stone age with regards to our transportation system, and in many other ways. We had better get it together and make some very big changes soon – as in, now – because currently, we are only driving toward an ecological cataclysm of our own making.

And in the meantime, while we make the transition to a more sane and truly sustainable transportation system for the 21st century, based on electric and solar-hydrogen trains, buses, light rail, taxis, shuttles, ferries, ships and subways, we need to switch immediately to electric and solar hydrogen cars and trucks. To refuse to do so, with all of the evidence now before us, is simply unconscionable, as well as flatly suicidal.

JTR,
February 24, 2016

 

Electric-Car Drivers Don’t Pay Their Share? Actually, No One Does

Revolution and Uniting the People: Bernie Sanders, Thomas Jefferson and FDR

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2016 by jtoddring

 
I would say that Bernie Sanders is not only a good candidate for US President, and beyond that, the only serious candidate for the people, since he is the only one who is not thoroughly indebted to the Wall Street money masters, owned by Wall Street, and in service to Wall Street; but he would be the best US president since FDR, and arguably, since Thomas Jefferson.
 
Of course, it is Congress which holds the greater power, and not the President, but having a true populist progressive in the White House would be an enormous stride in the right direction – especially when it is one who is so passionately and fiercely determined to reign in Wall Street and get big money out of politics.
 
I realize that conservatives tend to despise FDR, or at least despise his policies, but they should remember that it was FDR’s policies which got the US out of the Depression, put millions of Americans back to work, and, along with the labour movement, helped to create the middle class – which is now being systematically eliminated by the neoliberal/neo-fascist/globalization policies of the super-rich billionaire class of business elites, the very people that both FDR and Bernie Sanders so fiercely oppose.
 
(And no, war did not end the Great Depression, as some people imagine. The policies of FDR, and his very real stimulus package, which built or re-built the US infrastructure and put millions of people back to work (unlike the current neoliberal “stimulus” packages which rob billions and trillions of dollars from the treasury and the people and give it to the super-rich banking elite) is what began the long road to US and global economic recovery. Once the economic recovery was underway, WWII began, and the US prospered from it – mainly for three reasons: one, the US did not suffer the disastrous effects of waging a war on its own soil, as the European powers did; two, after the war, the US emerged as the world’s “first truly global super-power” and globally dominant power, precisely because war had left the great powers of Europe in ruins; and three, because US business elites profited handsomely by trading with the enemy, (that includes George Bush’s grand-daddy, Prescott Bush) and by selling to both sides – for example, IBM providing the office machines and data management for the extermination camps and gas chambers. War is disastrous to economies invariably, except for these very unusual conditions, and in any event, the economic recovery was well under way before the war even began.)
 
More to the point, the majority of Americans, well over 70%, are not conservatives, but center-left in their views, as poll after poll has shown for decades – so if Bernie Sanders does become the next President of the United States, conservatives will simply have to – pardon my expression – suck it up.
 
But it is also a fact that many sensible conservatives, and even many sensible Republicans – and yes, there is such an animal, believe it or not – support Bernie Sanders, or at least respect and admire him for his integrity, and his honesty and courage. They may not like all of his policies, but they realize that he is the best choice available at this time, and the only candidate who is willing to stand up to the greatest threat facing the country and the world – Wall Street and the international corporate elite. The more sensible also recognize that the Republican candidates, along with Hilary, represent the interests of the same crypto-fascist (and more and more brazenly fascist) corporate oligarchs and plutocrats. In short, Bernie is not only the best the people have at this time – he is all the people have at this time, at least in terms of presidential candidates.
 
“Before you Republicans and Hillary supporters say anything about Bernie, let’s look at his history. He was the only one in Senate to stand up for gay soldiers in 1995. He actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement along with Martin Luther King Jr. He voted against the Iraq War. (Which Hillary still considers a “mistake”.) He practically predicted the Wall Street Crash of 2008.He has been consistent with his political views for the past 30 years [and] ever since he joined the senate. He is the longest serving independent in Senate history. He believes climate change is the most threatening problem we have today. He has over a million individual donations from actual people donating whatever they can to support the campaign without any Super PACs. (Rest of the candidates would be struggling to equal Bernie’s collections without SuperPac money.) I just have to say Bernie is the real deal. Believe it or not.” – Arnav Garg
 
Actually, it’s 2.5 million individual donations now, which Bernie has raised, averaging less than $30. (And Bernie is setting all new records for the fastest rate of raising individual donations in US history.) All the other candidates are deeply indebted to Wall Street, and in service to Wall Street. Bernie is the only serious candidate for the people. Period.
 
‪#‎FeelTheBern‬
What is more, now that Bernie Sanders has begun to unite progressives, liberals, the left, environmentalists, labour, large segments of the black community, including, most notably, leading black American scholar and activist Cornel West, along with many sensible conservatives – due to his fierce opposition to Wall Street, big money in politics, and the increasingly fascist police state which Bush and Obama have created – Bernie stands a serious chance, not only of winning the next US presidential election, but winning by a landslide – as he should.
This is enormously significant: Robert F. Kennedy, leading black American activist and scholar Cornel West, and now, the major US progressive organization, Move On, amongst many others, including diverse figures ranging from actor John Cusack, UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have come forward to endorse US President – oops – US Presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders.This could be the straw the breaks the back of the ruling political elites and their Wall Street masters, and puts a true progressive populist democrat into the White House. Let us pray we are so lucky – or so determined.
 
“MoveOn has spent more than 17 years bringing people together to fight for progressive change and stand up against big money interests. MoveOn’s fight to give the American people a voice in our political system was reflected in the group’s internal democratic process. I’m humbled by their support and welcome MoveOn’s members to the political revolution.”
– Bernie Sanders, As reported by Fortune Magazine
(I would like to see Bernie seek out and receive the support of Ron Paul, by the way: the maverick, anti-establishment conservative Senator who consistently fought for the people, and against the same crypto-fascist, pro-war, neo-feudal big money interests which Bernie so strongly opposes – a person who has tremendous integrity, and who also has tremendous support among conservatives and many thoughtful people on the grassroots right. This, Sanders should do, and do immediately, and this support he should gain. Someone please notify Ron Paul that his help is needed here, and now.)
I also realize the some people on the left are very critical of Bernie Sanders, feeling that he is not radical enough for their liking. But while such individuals have valid points to make, and useful criticisms, they too will, I am afraid to say, and will bluntly say, have to suck it up, because the policies of Bernie Sanders, while they do not go far enough in some important ways, not only represent a very good starting place, but are also supported by the majority of Americans.
The criticisms from individuals on the left with regards to Bernie’s foreign policy, where he is admittedly weak, are particularly valid and important; but frankly, despite that valid criticism, I think that Bernie’s critics on the left are not only throwing the baby out with the bath water, but are simply out to lunch, and out of touch with reality. And there is one simple reason for that statement.
At this time, when a crypto-fascist corporate oligarchy has taken over the nation, as well as the economy, the financial system, the monetary system, most of the media, the culture and the political process, there are only two options available to the American people – at this moment at least. One is revolution – and as much as I have been urging revolution, I do not think that there is reason to believe that the American people are yet ready for it. The other is Bernie Sanders. Say what you will about Bernie, but he is the best hope for America at this time.
Do I think that Jill Stein would make a better president than Bernie Sanders? Possibly she would. Do I think that Jill Stein has any chance of becoming president at this time? No. Therefore, I will support Bernie Sanders, as the only legitimate choice amongst candidates who stand any chance of winning the election – and again, a person who would make the best president since FDR, if not Thomas Jefferson. Is he perfect? No, but I, for one, am not looking for a messiah, but simply a person who will serve the people, as Bernie Sanders has done for over 30 years, and will continue to do. There will always be critics. Let’s just get the job done, shall we, and get on the with urgent business of creating, at least a starting point, for some urgently needed social change.
What would be wise for Bernie to do is to continue to reach out to the black and Hispanic communities, immigrants, progressives, labour, environmentalists and the left, as well as independents; but also to reach out to sensible conservatives and people on the grassroots right, who share his passionate opposition to the domination of Wall Street and corporate America over the economy, the political process and the country.
If he does this, Bernie Sanders may very well become the next president of the United States. And that, I would say, would be a very good thing, and the beginning of some very hopeful, and very real change.
J. Todd Ring,
January 12, 2016
 
For more analysis and social commentary, see my recently published book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – available now on Amazon.com.

Big oil, pipelines, Trudeau, and energy security for Canada

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2015 by jtoddring

Why does the Canadian government continue to subsidize the oil industry with billions of dollars a year when the environmental crisis demands the opposite, and when investment in energy efficiency, conservation and green energy create many more jobs? Why does Canada import 40% of the oil we consume when we produce enough to meet all our needs? Why has the Canadian government agreed to ensuring US energy security, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, but not Canadian energy security? Why is our per capita energy consumption far higher than other northern, sparsely populated nations, like Finland, Sweden and Norway? Why have we done essentially nothing to reduce our dependency on oil as our reserves dwindle, and very nearly nothing to reduce our carbon footprint and halt climate change? Because big oil and foreign powers rule Canada, is the short answer. But it does not have to be this way.

As to the Liberal Party win in this fall’s 2015 federal election, progressives across Canada are happy to see Harper go, but fully aware that the Liberals are only slightly better, and will require massive popular pressure if any real positive change is to come about. The worst have been defeated. The second worst have come to power. That requires action, not complacency.

Trudeau is still profoundly disappointing, and profoundly failing, with regards to energy policy, pipelines, tar sands, big oil and the environment – exactly as expected. We have to put sustained, massive pressure on him to make a shift. So far, he has behaved exactly like the “twerp” David Suzuki said he is. He has said that he is “disappointed” in Obama’s rejection of the Keystone pipeline, and has made no commitment to close the tar sands, or reject the Energy East pipeline, or to shift from oil dependency to a clean, renewable energy infrastructure. This is not remotely good enough.

Getting rid of Harper and the Canadian neocons was step one. Step two is to deliver real change – and that will not come from the Liberal party or Justin Trudeau: that will come only from the Canadian people. Stand up, people. The time is now.

J. Todd Ring,

November 12, 2015

Will Trudeau’s Pipeline Policy Change After Keystone?

As protestors staged sit-ins at Canada’s Prime Minister’s residence, Keystone XL Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Dallas Goldtooth and environmental activist Dimitri Lascaris discuss the grassroots strategies needed to keep the pressure on politicians

November 9, 2015 The Real News Network

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=15061

Gordon Laxer on Canada’s Energy Security. – Novus TV, November 6, 2015

Vote! Get involved, vote, speak, write, raise your voice – and get Harper out

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2015 by jtoddring

Whether you volunteer, write, canvass, talk to friends and family, or in some other way engage in, and promote, democracy in Canada, please do be involved.

Vote, encourage others to vote, talk about the issues, and let’s see a massive turn-out today, along with a lively, and much-needed, thoughtful discussion.

This is our country, and our future is at stake. If you’re not involved, get involved. It matters, and it’s never too late.

The work for peace, for justice, for environmental sanity and for democracy, is, and must-be, on-going. But today is a particularly important day. Make your voice heard.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. You either use your democratic rights, or you will surely lose them.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a walking disaster. He is the most reviled Prime Minister since Brian Mulroney, and one of the most loathed in all Canadian history.

Harper’s record is abysmal. He has been an utter disaster with regards to the environment, health care, social programs, the economy and democracy in Canada.

Stephen Harper has the worst economic record of any Prime Minister since WWII. He continues to attack and undermine environmental and social programs and standards, and seeks to eliminate and destroy all of the protections of the people and the environment which have been won over past decades and generations.

Worst of all, Stephen Harper is quite literally waging war on, and demolishing, democracy in Canada. He has to go. His big-oil, pro-corporate agenda has been a slow-motion train-wreck for this nation. He must be removed from power, and now.

Youth in particular need to vote. Millions of youth do not vote, and the majority of them are opposed to the Harper Conservatives. We need to get the youth engaged. They will inherit this country. Let us hope there is something left for them to inherit. And there may not be, if they continue to be apathetic and involved.

Spread the word: get everyone out to vote – especially the youth.

Today is the day. Let’s make it count.

JTR,
October 19, 2015

Here is a letter from Avaaz – they are not always in the right, but they are right on this: urging all Canadians to make their voice heard.

*****

A handful of razor-close ridings will determine who runs our next government. Person-to-person conversations have the strongest influence on how and whether people vote. Join us in a country-wide call-in to key ridings and help us take back the Canada we love.

I’ll volunteer

Dear friends,

Real change for Canada is within our grasp, but it could still slip away – Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won a majority last election with less than 40% of the vote and they could win again this time.

This election will swing on a handful of razor-close ridings across the country.

We need to win these ridings to win Canada — so let’s come together for a country-wide call-in, telling Canadians where the Conservatives stand on key issues and urging them to vote for a different party instead.

If we want to win back the Canada we love, all of us need to step up. Sign up for a session using the link below and we’ll give you all the information you need to help:

I’LL VOLUNTEER

Research shows that person-to-person conversations about shared values have the strongest influence on how and whether people vote. With these ridings likely to be decided by hundreds — or even dozens — of votes, it’s no exaggeration to say that every connection we make could have an impact on the future of the country.

On the day of the calls, Avaazers across the country can log-in to a website that will have all the information you need to talk confidently to voters. All that’s needed is a computer and a phone (and don’t worry, no long distance charges!).

Voting can feel very personal and it can feel scary to talk to someone in a totally different part of the country about unfamiliar issues, but by our own small actions right now we can literally change how our entire country is run. The Avaaz community is about working together to courageously close the gap between the world we have and the world most people want. If we let our courage triumph over fear, we can help win back a caring Canada, with a stronger, sustainable economy — one that reflects the hopes and dreams of a real majority of Canadians.

Let’s make it happen:

I’LL VOLUNTEER

The Conservatives have been in power for 10 years. We’re in danger of another 5 years, but not if the country pulls together in key ridings, and makes sure that locals elect candidates who will help us take back Canada. There’s no time to lose.

With hope,

Danny, Ari, Emma, Ricken, Melanie, Evan, Ben, and the rest of the Avaaz team

Authorised by Avaaz

(Go to Avaaz or other sites to see which ridings are most pivotal. But wherever you are, speak up and speak out!)

*****

And here is a letter from the Council of Canadians, urging everyone to vote, and giving details about how to vote, where, and what you will need to be able to vote – as well as giving excellent background information on major issues, and why the Harper government needs to be defeated:

Dear friends,

Millions of people are voting for change.

In the last election, just a handful of voters made the difference in electing a majority government for the Harper Conservatives. This election could be even closer.

The power to decide the outcome of this election is in your hands. Be a voter, and bring as many other voters as possible with you to the polls.

What to vote for

The Council of Canadians is non-partisan and does not endorse any parties or candidates. But if you haven’t yet made up your mind on who to vote for, our voter’s guide highlights where the parties stand on key issues.

After nine years of job losses, health care privatization, falling wages, environmental neglect, eroding democracy, and cuts to public services, it’s time for change. But that will only happen if you go vote for it.

How and where to vote

Be sure to double-check your local voting times – they vary from region to region. By law, if you’re eligible to vote, your employer has to ensure you have enough time on election day to vote.

Remember, because of changes brought in by the “Fair” Elections Act, it’s best to make sure that you have the ID you’ll need to vote.

If you’ve received a Voter Information Card in the mail, you can’t use it as ID to vote, but you can use it to find your local polling station. You can also check with Elections Canada to confirm your polling location.

If you’re not yet registered, you can do so at your polling station. Just bring the same ID you would need to vote.

How to defend your right to vote

Changes brought in by the Fair Elections Act mean it will be more difficult for some people to vote this election. If you’re having problems, be persistent. A friend or neighbour can attest to your address if your ID is inadequate. You can also ask to speak to the Deputy Returning Officer or the Chief Returning Officer.

If you witness anyone being prevented from voting, or if you’re unable to vote yourself, you can report it at our new election monitoring service, VoteWatch. We’ll follow up after the election to discuss your voting experience.

It’s time for change. Be a voter and you can make it happen.

Our democracy is counting on you.

With hope and resolve,

Maude Barlow
Maude Barlow
National Chairperson

P.S. After you vote, take a “voter selfie.” Share a picture of yourself on social media with a sign about why you voted, using the hashtag #ivoted2015.

Going Off-Grid

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 17, 2015 by jtoddring

Off-grid, self-reliant living is a rapidly growing phenomenon and popular movement – so popular that there is now a cable TV show devoted to it, called something like, Off-Grid House Hunters, on HGTV.

It only makes sense. Cut your expenses and improve your quality of life, while lowering stress and saving the planet? Of course! It’s a no-brainer! Why not?

We can build, buy, or live in conventional-looking homes, or something unconventional – the point is that they are environmentally friendly homes, and they are, hopefully, and often so, low-cost homes which don’t break your back financially, or turn you into a debt slave, which most people are; or, they actively free you from being a debt slave – which is something most people desperately need.

Read Thoreau’s Walden, then give some thought to his message: “Simplify, simplify.” These are wise words.

JTR,
October 17, 2015

A secret island where everyone lives off-grid

http://www.ewao.com/a/1-just-one-hour-from-vancouver-there-is-a-secret-island-where-everyone-lives-completely-offgrid