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Things Are Good: 3 Day Weekends Can Future Proof Work

A more efficient work week comes from rest, relaxation, and working less. We’ve looked at the idea that a more relaxed approach to work makes things better for everybody before (maybe to the point where I sound anti-work). Now there are more arguments for a shorter work week that are worth looking at. For one, […]

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Politics, Re-Spun: Jokers to the Right

It’s time we learn more lessons from Archie Bunker. While the right wing continues to become increasingly clownish, we need to go back to Norman Lear’s classic 1970s sitcom, All in the Family, to get re-acquainted with Archie Bunker’s willful embrace of ignorance and bigotry to learn where he’s coming from and how to protect … Continue reading Jokers to the Right

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A Puff of Absurdity: Wild Women in Temagami – On Doing the Heavy Lifting

I had a dream early in the summer: I was getting out of a tent on the rocky shore of a lake on a misty morning just cool enough to warrant a sweatshirt. Jack Nicholson was there – the Five Easy Pieces version of Jack – just sitting alone, quietly enjo… . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: Wild Women in Temagami – On Doing the Heavy Lifting

A Puff of Absurdity: Wild Women in Temagami – On Doing the Heavy Lifting

I had a dream early in the summer: I was getting out of a tent on the rocky shore of a lake on a misty morning just cool enough to warrant a sweatshirt. Jack Nicholson was there – the Five Easy Pieces version of Jack – just sitting alone, quietly enjo… . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: Wild Women in Temagami – On Doing the Heavy Lifting

A Puff of Absurdity: Avoiding the Lesser of Two Evils

It’s not my country, but what happens in America affect the world. And we’re right next door. The Left Forum had a panel discussion a couple weeks ago with Glen Ford, Chris Hedges, and Jill Stein, chaired by Linda Thompson, that’s worth… . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: Avoiding the Lesser of Two Evils

A Puff of Absurdity: Avoiding the Lesser of Two Evils

It’s not my country, but what happens in America affect the world. And we’re right next door. The Left Forum had a panel discussion a couple weeks ago with Glen FordChris Hedges, and Jill Stein, chaired by Linda Thompson, that’s worth a listen. It’s two hours long, and a feat of tolerance for all the chattering and cell phones in the audience, so I summarized some highlights below.

In a nutshell, Clinton is just as scary as Trump, so everyone who hoped to vote for Sanders, should vote for the Green Party or any independent party if Sanders doesn’t win in the primaries. The Greens are unlikely to win, but it will send a clear message that there are enough Americans who care about reform, that they won’t fall for the ideology that there are only two parties running. Here are their arguments heavily condensed and slightly paraphrased:

Hedges on the Façade of a Two-Party System:

“Once the neo-liberal ideology is no longer able to hold the loyalty of a population, those regimes will collapse. Mechanisms that defend power are no longer willing to work on its behalf. That process of revolutionary change is slow and often invisible. The facade of the superstructure remains in place. That is precisely where we are in American history. It’s incumbent upon those who care for the socialist society, that we step outside these structures, even if we remain a minority, so that we provide an alternative to this power.  

Nationalism is a disease which has infected both parties. It deifies the military. It sucks people into its orbit; it has at its disposal powerful forms of indoctrination that stokes the kind of proto-fascism we see at Trump rallies. Democrats are as culpable as Republicans at creating this toxic environment. Clintons are built on loyalty to corporate power and white supremacy. They passed the three-strikes law, massively expanded sentences, expanded the prison industrial complex, pushed through the first trade agreement. John Ralston Saul called Bill Clinton’s administration a corporate coup d’état.  

Sanders was okay with Israelis bombing Palestinian communities. He’s an AIPAC wind-up doll. He’s been in the pockets of the Clintons for a long time; he campaigned for Bill Clinton in 2004. He’s got a faustian bargain with the Democrats, and he’s naive to think he could compete fairly in the primaries.  

We owe it to our children to step outside this system and begin to fight back. We’ll never achieve power through political parties. All of our energy has to be invested in movement. We have to knit groups together (anti-fracking, black lives matter, fight for the minimum wage…) and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience. The ability to reform from within the structures of power has been taken from us.

Stein on the Lesser Evil Agenda:

“I’m most horrified by a political system that gives two lethal choices and says pick between them. This is a reflection of inherent dysfunctions in this system. Both are minority parties, so it’s important that we seize this moment. A report from NOAA last week discussed an Oh my God report confirming that we could expect nine feet of sea level rise by 2050 if we don’t take profoundly different action by then. Instead we get drill baby drill on steroids not only increasing, but accelerating.

While agreement in Paris was being forged, and Obama was celebrating, they were behind close doors, signing on to the end of the oil export ban which massively increases oil exploration. We have a choice of a corporate vision with a smile or without a smile. Both parties are funded by same predatory banks, fossil fuel giants, and war profiteers. It’s clear we can’t keep going in this direction. Climate meltdown has a deadline. By 2050 all of the coastal US cities will be under water and 600 million people will be refugees. The greater evil is the economic meltdown we’re looking at. Banks are bigger than ever.

But we actually have the power. Alice Walker said that the biggest way we give up power is not knowing we have it in the first place. If we don’t fight in the halls of power, then we’re basically raising the white flag of surrender, and we’ll be bulldozed by the stroke of a pen. The great news is that we have the power to stand up. If you take just people locked into predatory student debt, locked into economic servitude, and those people are 43 million strong, that is a winning plurality in a presidential race. There’s only one party who will bail them out if that word gets out. It doesn’t take a whole lot of motivation to see it can be erased with a stroke of a pen if they vote Green. We’re in the polls now where Sanders was six months ago. As Bernie’s campaign begins to fold in a path of sabotage, we can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party.

We need coalitions. Change is not going to happen under Clinton. We need to stand up now if we want to decommission nuclear power plants on the coast because they will flood out. We should be telling supreme court what to do. We did it in the 60s. We brought troops home; brought in clean air act and clean water act. Don’t accept that we’re powerless. We are powerful. And we have the numbers it takes to win the battle. We just need the courage of our convictions. There’s an attitude of cowardice that is unleashed when we’re told to accept voting for the lesser evil. We need to have courage. It’s time to forget the lesser evil and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it, because they do. 

The lesser evil paves the way for the greatest evil and makes it inevitable. People can’t mobilize themselves; witness the beating Sanders is getting. That party is being hijacked. Through the policies of the Clintons, we got the makings of Trump. We got the right-wing populism which is a response to the economic desperation of the people caused by Clinton. In terms of the nuclear threat, the Obama administration withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty which was the main tool to move towards nuclear disarmament, and now the Obama administration is leading a trillion dollar movement towards nuclear war. We know what Hillary will do. She wants to take an airborne attack. Trump is risky, but Hillary is certain death.

Thompson on Some Problems with the Left:

Che Guevara said that revolutionaries are motivated by great feelings of love. The left is bad for getting too intellectual and has problems expressing that love. People have to feel safe abandoning the lesser evil and going for the unknown. Unity is the key. There are lots of little tiny groups of activist that have to unite. 

A lot of the problem isn’t Trump, it’s the corporate media and the 1%. The left-wing media is to blame as well. Amy Goodman has blacked out Jill’s campaign as much as the right-wing media does. There’s a section of Democracy Now where you can say what you want to see on their show. Ask them why she’s not covering these parties. We can’t let them get away with this anymore. Call for a revolution.

Hedges on the Prison System and Fascism:

We have to stop talking about people within the system of mass incarceration and focusing on non-violent drug offenders. There are round-ups of everyone in the room in a drug deal. 94% of the people incarcerated never go to trial. They slap all sorts of charges on you that you didn’t commit. They tell you, if you go to trial, you’ll be charged with all of it, and you’ll never win. But if you accept the plea of 11 years, we’ll cut this and this. 80% of the people in the prison system shouldn’t be there. The whole system lynched them. My students with the longest sentences went to trial because they didn’t commit the crime, and they punished them with 30-year sentences. 

Fascism rises out of a political vacuum. We have to stop getting conned into the personality. We have to see the system for what it is. In terms of fossil fuels, war machines, etc., there will be no difference between Trump and Clinton. Read Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon Wolin to get an understanding of how inverted totalitarianism works. Neither Clinton nor Trump will set up a reasonable environmental policy. In this system there’s no way to vote against Exxon Mobile. 

Ford on Black Leaders

“Some black leaders are still corporate owned. We can’t just vote for people who look like us. We have to support people with values, people willing to stand up against racism and imperialism. We have to get away from skin-based politics.”

Stein added, “The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement put together a plan in the context of an emergency of racial injustice that demands attention.”

A commenter added: “Society can’t be dominated by white progressive and white liberals. There are so many overt displays of white supremacy, that black people don’t want to join them. We need to think of a society where you don’t have control of most of the land, because it wasn’t yours to begin with.”

Hedges on Fighting for Marginalized Communities: 

Within marginal communities the system of capitalism has created a system of perpetual evictions, which has affected the psychological health of citizens and the cohesive nature of neighbourhoods. In the 30s, people would get up and block sheriffs from bringing foreclosures. Capitalism destroys the cohesiveness that make that resistance possible. Men are in prison and women and children are evicted. Marx called this surplus labour. People are preyed upon. They lock you in a cage to generate $40-50 thousand a year. Whole corporate entities (moving companies, storage companies, insurance…) are built around benefiting from systems of oppression. 

We’re not in those community to see what’s been done to crush those people. None of us could endure that. It gets back to the dark system of corporate capitalism. You have to look now at sacrifice zones – at what we have allowed to be done to the vulnerable in society. We’ve gotten caught up in the boutique activism of personality politics. Feminism should be about empowering oppressed women, but it’s about having a woman president and woman CEOs. The bottom ⅔ of blacks in the country are worse off than when King marched. White liberals are caught in the game of diverting attention from horrific, brutal, cruel forms of injustice. I teach in a prison because I wouldn’t know otherwise. These people are invisible. They vanish. Newspapers don’t even have labour journalists any more. 

Ford added: “It’s not just white liberals – it’s those who have become collaborators with this corporate system. In every struggle for independence of colonialist power, we have to kill more fellow African-Americans in order to get to the enemy.”

Stein: “It’s our job, as privileged white people who have enormous benefits from the system, to support the community and struggle in their fights as they define them. They’re already organizing; our job is to help. There have been victories in indigenous land and treaty rights. The support of environmental communities is critical to those victories. This is a model to support.”

Hedges: “In the prisons, they are so far ahead of us politically. They don’t think anybody’s going to overcome the lobbyists. They are organizing a mass prison strike. It’s going on right now across the country. It started in Alabama. I will be cross-country on September 9th, the anniversary of Attica. In system of neo-slavery, no prison runs without prison labour. Don’t go to the state house or the capital to protest, go to the prison house to show us you’re there. These people have so much courage. They broke their strike in Alabama by refusing to feed them. They are a highly conscious politically oppressed group who are rising up with integrity to fight back, and we have to stand with them.”

Thompson: “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We need to re-invigorate the discussion the Panthers started. They already created a 10-point program.”

Ford: “We need to decolonize Puerto Rico and forgive the debts.”

Stein: “We need to liberate the public airways. The president could instruct federal communication to stop the privatization of airways. When the FCC looked at privatizing internet, there was a social movement that stopped it.

Commenter: “We need to be willing to be under the leadership of The African People’s Socialist Party and go to the prisons. It’s the only way to be in touch in a vital, emotional way or else it gets too abstract.  A lot of things we debate are moot.  39,000 strikers are protesting a destructive company that gets 1.8 million per month in a template that’s the demise of the working class. They shipped call centres to Trinidad.

Hedges: “Workers are reduced to serfs across the board. The problem is multifaceted. It’s partly the fault of the unions who made concessions to corporations. But this is what’s going to happen to all of us  It’s a reconfiguration of the economy to neo-feudalism with prisons that feed like sharks off them, where a phone call home costs 5 times the actual costs, and prisoners have to pay from their $28/month wages.”

Stein: “The media calls Verizon strikers greedy, but it’s not just about wages. They’re demonized because they’re asking for more than living wage. We’re moving to a system in which a poverty wage is acceptable; it’s important to be vocal to support the strike.”

Ford: “It is all about the cost of labour and the race to the bottom driven by the tremendous wage differentials in the world.”

Stein: “We need social movements. They are the engine of social change. Political parties are able to unite social coalitions. A real political party is an effort to bring people together under a common agenda. There’s not a conflict between working for electoral parties and social parties.”

Hedges: “The next trade agreement will destroy the post office. It says that no government enterprise can exist unless corporations can compete with them. It’s the same reason hedge funds run charter schools. Marx explained that in late stages of capitalism, as you disenfranchise the country, you disembowel the state structures in order to make profits.”

To sum it up: We have the ability to make this change. It feels like there are a lot of issues to address, but there’s really just one: the neo-liberal agenda to profit off the back of the people. And it’s being promoted by the Democrats as much as the Republicans. We need to continue to have candidates run that come out of the movement. And we actually have to vote for them.

  

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Things Are Good: Get Your Fika On

Coffee breaks in North America tend to be more about coffee than a break. In Scandinavia they focus on the break. In fact, they even have a special word for it: fika. They also add baked goods to the mix. The reason the fika concept is important is that Sweden has the happiest workers around […]

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A Puff of Absurdity: On That Time I Fell and Hurt My Head

I fell on ice a few days ago. My feet were swept clear out from under me, and apparently I injured my brain. At the hospital, they said it’s either a migraine or a concussion, and since I don’t have a history of migraines, and since I wiped out earlie… . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: On That Time I Fell and Hurt My Head

Things Are Good: Working Hard Isn’t All There Is

We are often told that the key to success is all in working hard, but that isn’t the case according to new studies. Hard work may get only so far. So instead of sweating bullets at your work, try to find what your good at and apply yourself there. It turns out that people who […]

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A Puff of Absurdity: On Desires and Commodities

I’ve just been reading books and watching films lately. I’ll write again soon. But check out this passage from The Obsolescence of Man by Gunther Anders, first published in 1956: *** The mere fact that I had no car and therefore could be caught… . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: On Desires and Commodities

Politics, Re-Spun: Why I Joined Team Mulcair

After years of concern about what a second Harper majority government would do to eradicate the rest of what I love about Canada, I’ve been able to reject fear and embrace change. But it was a long process that required coming to terms with Tom Mulcair. And I did.

And so should you, which . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Why I Joined Team Mulcair

Things Are Good: Look at Nature and be More Productive

Go ahead and let your gaze look out that window while you work. If you get caught, tell your boss that you’re just getting ready to be more productive!

The challenge: Can looking at nature—even just a scenic screen saver—really improve your focus? How much can 40 seconds of staring at grass actually help? Ms. . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Look at Nature and be More Productive

Parchment in the Fire: Temporary and part-time jobs surge promotes inequality, says OECD | Business | The Guardian

Temporary and part-time jobs surge promotes inequality, says OECD | Business | The Guardian.

Heather Stewart

A surge in self-employment and temporary or part-time jobs over the past two decades has been a key factor behind the rise in inequality in the world’s industrialised countries, according to a major new study by the Organisation for . . . → Read More: Parchment in the Fire: Temporary and part-time jobs surge promotes inequality, says OECD | Business | The Guardian

Politics, Re-Spun: How Do YOU Fight for Workplace Justice?

How do YOU define determination?

One of them gave birth the day before the vote. As soon as her baby was nursing properly and her bloodwork came back okay, she made the trip to the hotel to vote.

via Inside a union drive at The Trump Hotel | Toronto Star.

February 19, 2015 Looking for . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: How Do YOU Fight for Workplace Justice?

Politics, Re-Spun: 5 Things You Must Know About the Internet and Social Entrepreneurs

No one knows for sure what a social entrepreneur is, or supposed to be, or whether it’s altruistic or a PR meme. “Disruption” is very trendy now, in terms of how to smash around organizations to make them better [or weaker, depending on your purpose]. No one reads anything on the internet anymore unless . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: 5 Things You Must Know About the Internet and Social Entrepreneurs

Politics, Re-Spun: Vancouver’s Co-Working Co-op Stimulates Worker Empowerment

Tuesday night in the back room of The Tipper bar/bistro/restaurant on Kingsway at Victoria we are holding our Inception Meeting for a new kind of co-working space in Vancouver, one structured as a co-op.

You can read about the project in The Georgia Straight piece last week, and on the project webpage at Incipe, the . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Vancouver’s Co-Working Co-op Stimulates Worker Empowerment

Politics, Re-Spun: What’s Wrong with Canada? We’re Not Denmark-ish

And I don’t mean we need to become Denmark, but we need to have the dialogue about why they can do what they do and we choose not to.

When Canadians are surveyed, a very large majority of us support these public goods. But those desires get subsumed with corporate, neoliberal, right wing government-cut rhetoric.

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: What’s Wrong with Canada? We’re Not Denmark-ish

Bill Longstaff: Work ain’t what it was—it’s worse

Work is getting worse. In any case, that’s the tale told by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in its Employment Quality Index. The index measures three key areas of job satisfaction: the distribution of part-time vs. full-time jobs; self-employment vs. paid employment; and compensation for full-time jobs. It indicates job quality has been on . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Work ain’t what it was—it’s worse

Things Are Good: Focus Less on Work to Improve Everything – Even Your Job

Stressed about not getting enough done at work? Don’t be. It turns out that you can improve how much you get things done at the office by not thinking about it. Turn your attention elsewhere and focus on things that do matter instead.

But, how can performance at work improve with less attention paid to . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Focus Less on Work to Improve Everything – Even Your Job

Politics, Re-Spun: Being a Better Ally: #IWD

Click me; it’s good for you!

International Women’s Day is a check-in point for me: I try to take stock of what has improved or worsened since last year. Doing so helps me be a better ally.

Our soul as a nation has suffered this past year. It has suffered from the continuing culture . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Being a Better Ally: #IWD

Politics, Re-Spun: You Deserve Better Wages and Benefits

Right wingers want to pay no tax. It’s hard to bleat about that in public without sounding like the greedy, selfish people they are.

Instead, they say that public sector workers are paid too much, and that we should privatize everything. THAT way, governments get to starve themselves to the point where they collect . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: You Deserve Better Wages and Benefits

Politics, Re-Spun: Which BC Corporations Would YOU Like to Euthanize?

Oh, what a list it would be!

Enbridge?

Kinder Morgan [the zombie child of Enron]?

Imperial Metals [fanciful producers of the Mount Polley Mine disaster]?

Other companies that treat workers badly like IKEA or Rocky Mountain Railtours?

Capitalism is all about worshiping Frankencorporations that are immortal, legally a human being, limit the liability of owners . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Which BC Corporations Would YOU Like to Euthanize?

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Robocalls from Real Robots

“mmm…buzzz…. click…. This is your friendly….buzzz…. automated calling device…click…hummmm… reminding you that….mmmm….buzzz…..click… there are only three days left to…. zzzzz…. take advantage of the Black Friday sales at…. mmmm…. buzzzz….. your…. zzzz… Collingwood…..insert box store name…. mmmm…buzzz…. click….thank you…” Well, maybe robotic telemarketers won’t sound like the solenoid robots on Roger Ramjet, but within the . . . → Read More: Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Robocalls from Real Robots

Politics, Re-Spun: Fire Your Boss?!

If you are interested in:

social and economic justice equality and less income inequality workplace democracy and autonomy work-life balance improving the world because you are young and you have the most to lose with a rapidly decaying planet,

Then, read this paragraph. It comes from a document you should ponder endorsing.

If the paragraph . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Fire Your Boss?!

Politics, Re-Spun: Work, Dignity and Living Wages?

A strong union. Corporations that understand the social contract. Corporations that know a tad smaller profit here contributes to more dignity throughout society. Corporations that recognize the value of unions. The living wage in Vancouver this year is $20.10, almost double the minimum wage. The “precariat” are precarious proletariats. We have too many of . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Work, Dignity and Living Wages?