Influence Peddling

It would be a rare person who is entirely immune to the blandishments of Madison Ave. to unload his family fortune for some article or service that might increase community or financial status, or allow said person to blissfully ignore the storm of miscreants and their misdeeds that seems to surround us all. As if Madison Ave., and its lesser equivalents in the hinterland, was not enough, we now have internet influencers to fill in the gaps and create new cravings, with the same assurances as to quality and utility of goods and services provided. Perhaps somewhat more pernicious from operating mostly out of public view are the lobbyists who troll the halls of government and like bodies to ensure that corporations can flourish and, optimally, feed copiously at the public trough. Influencers, lobbyists and their benefactors also tend to form up in institutions called think tanks, where much brain power is focused on whatever the central theme of the think tank might be. One of my favourite tanks is the Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives, who pool their ganglions in support of building a society that benefits the broadest possible spectrum of citizens and whose prescriptions seem to be best received by politicians identified with the left, though they themselves are not overtly political. They are distinguished from their opposite numbers by the question of whose interests they serve. There  are many of them, one of which, The Fraser Institute, falls on the opposite end of the social and political spectrum. In my adult life, I have seen more credits to the FI in the press than all other tanks combined, possibly because their greatest influence might be in our region and their greatest impact therefore at the level of provincial, regional and municipal politics. The influence exerted by these organizations becomes problematic when it moves from politics to policy and when the privileged few directing the Think Tanks get to translate their desires into legislation. The little screen capture at the top of this screed, and which is its inspiration, was from Libération, part of the daily read-around. You can find it here.

Montaigne has been chosen as a symbol of rational thought, an iconic figure of the Renaissance in France, to legitimize the view of the institute and to ensure the widest acceptance of the policy that stems from the institute’s influence. It would seem that there really isn’t anything all that original, apart from reference to contemporary challenges, but that the answer for those challenges is likely to result in More Of Same, emerging from pandemic restraints into as close a mirror of “before” as possible.

…un agenda à faire rougir de plaisir les entreprises : assouplissement du marché du travail, subventionnement de l’investissement, libéralisation des soldes, augmentation de la durée du temps de travail, réduction des dépenses publiques structurelles…

 

… an agenda to make businesses blush with pleasure: loosening of the labour market, subsidizing of investment, loosing restraints on remuneration, extending work hours, reduction of structural public spending…

Nothing to displease the FI crowd, nor the CD Howe bunch or any of their analogs. French President Macron has much in common with our PM in this, and so many other ways. Rien de nouveau sous le soleil.

Olympian

Head Under Heels

Newest Olympic Sport

 

 

 

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash

Mount Olympus was held to be the abode of the Greek gods, from which comes the idea that something olympian is of great stature, lofty, admirable and worthy of the aspirations of the best of humanity. So why is it that every time a new sport is added to the Olympics, I get the feeling that the Olympic Movement has devolved into a marketing board for cheap distractions, tawdry displays of gaud, and colossal misappropriations of public funds?

This is how I felt when baseball and tennis were included, with a grudging nod to the ubiquity of some pursuits. This is how I felt about beach volleyball with its yahoo culture and skimpy get-ups…why not do as the wrestlers apparently did back in the origins and go full monte?

I also hear disturbing rumblings of the coalescence of a group looking to bring the Olympics back to Vancouver. We have had no meaningful reckoning for the binge of a decade ago nor a cost-benefit analysis of the temporary glow of winning some medals and the costs (still sealed) in money and disruption caused by the supporting infrastructure so that the IOC could bring its Spendy Circus to town and say the usual trite things about what wonderful hosts and suckers we’ve been. Tamp it down! There are several layers of more pressing issues that should be on the agenda.

Oh, and break dancing? Yet another marvel of one-time innovation, athleticism, and culture. No worries there, just that the IOC needs to work on the idea of universality and appropriateness as represented by the rings.

 

Visionary? Really?

 

Last fall i had occasion to be on the UBC campus for the first time in a decade and the visit was revelatory. The view I had of the campus had been almost entirely submerged in new construction, and a whole new city had sprung up on the Endowment Lands to the south of campus, including the rising spires of the temples to real estate speculation. My guide, who taught at BCIT and who lives in one of the older developments on the EL, pointed out that only full-time tenured faculty could actually afford the rents/mortgages in the neighbourhood. So I had to have a rueful laugh at a headline on the landing page of the Times-Colonist this morning mourning the passing of the real estate visionary who revolutionized UBC housing. I suspect that the visions were likely that of pecuniary symbolism pasted on his eyeballs.

Look What Crawled Out Of The Woodwork!

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash, with thanks.

 

So, as Huffpost opines, Justin Trudeau and a new star candidate for the fall election: Terry Lake, former minister of Health in the BC government of Christy Clark.

Lots of folks used to insist that Clark’s idea of a Liberal was different from the Federal Party, but the lat three-and-a-bit years of Trudeau’s reign will have solidly put paid to that notion. In fact, there are pictures of CC and PMSH seated side-by-side where it seems it would be easy to substitute the the-PM for our current cardboard cutout. While Lake seemed to be less aggressive in his pursuit of the bent dealings that characterize most of what happened during the Campbell/Clark years, he was still a willing participant in the shenanigans and is unlikely to be terribly constructive in the context of a Federal government. This reminds me a little of the revolving door between Federal appointees and Industry, both here and south of the border. Anyone exercising a modicum of neural networks will know that it doesn’t much matter who the Libs and Cons throw up in front of us as a candidate because policy isn’t formulated in cabinet: it comes from the board rooms of Bay Street and Oil Alley in Calgary (also SNC, Irving, Davie, various Pharma and Ag giants…). So Sad.

Another dead giveaway that we’re seeing an opportunist supporting other opportunists? In the above link, it states that it was Trudeau’s Climate Plan that brought him to filing for candidacy, and we’ve had ample opportunity to discern that said Climate Plan is full of lovely rhetoric, and no action, or actions that no sane person would include in a plan to scale back the destruction of the planet’s life systems. Interesting how groups of the like-minded mendacious find each other and connect.

 

Like A Well-Run Corporation?

 

BC Ferries is quoted this morning, in the Times-Colonist, as having said that he’d love to build the billion-dollar-plus fleet expansion locally, but that it would force a 25%  rise in fares. In his chat with the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Collins used the appropriate corporate language to detail how it is much more expensive to build in BC without ever mentioning what it is that forces the extra expenditure. Take a guess: might it be labour costs? Do Polish shipyard workers have the same benefits as those in Canada?

This puts Collins and BC Ferries squarely in the camp of those willing to shop away and live on benefits locally, altogether typical of our current globalized business system, and with Collins’ way of doing business, anyone who uses the ferries, anyone who pays taxes in BC, becomes complicit in this scheme where costs are reduced on the backs of others and benefits accrue to the few, including Mr. Collins himself, who feasts at the public trough. There is a cost to run a just and equitable society, and the globalist routine glosses over that cost, inciting citizens to consume ever larger quantities of shoddy imported goods whose primary purpose is to generate profit margins on externalized costs rather than providing goods and services of proven and durable utility.

 

BC Ferries is a utility, despite whatever the “corporation” might do to mold itself into a cruise line and vacation package provider. Its core business is transport of people and vehicles across stretches of local waters as an extension of the highway system, a definition that seems to apply to ferries in the Interior of the province, but that seems to have been forgotten when it gets to the Coast.

It’s interesting to note that there is a company working partly out of Richmond, BC, that is helping to produce battery-operated vessels for cruise outfits in Norway (they also have an office in Oslo, it seems): Corvus. In addition, we also have considerable shipbuilding and maintenance facilities and the skills to run them in both Vancouver and Victoria areas, although the principals in question declined to comment on Collins’ remarks, per the Times-Colonist piece. It would be interesting to see a triple-bottom-line audit on BC Ferries’ projects with both the costs and benefits of building locally in a chart side-by-side with the globalist procurement chain, and please, let’s include the federal taxes that the previous government forgot to include in some of their overseas purchases.

How Many AAAs does it take? (Corvus Website)

Is It Illegal? Just Hang On A Sec!

The Centre of The Liberal Universe

 

(http://deadder.net/   https://www.thechronicleherald.ca)

While it is deemed that economic impacts may not be considered in the implementation of a DPA, it seems we can always find a way around any roadblocks inhibiting special treatment of our special friends in business.

The above is from the paper of record (for a lot of folks) and hints neatly at how the PMO can do it’s due obeisance to SNC so as to preserve votes in Québec. The law doesn’t do what we want it to do? The law, slack as it is, might cut SNC off the public trough? Wait, we can change the law, and deem it retroactive to the time of Methuselah, just, y’know, to be sure.

(with the gracious permission of the author: (http://deadder.net/)

Who publishes at:

https://www.thechronicleherald.ca

Is This The Best We Can Do?

To no one’s great surprise, the NEB put its stamp of approval on the “revised” application for the construction of the TransMountain Pipeline, even the ‘new-and-improved’ model looks an awful lot like the original shabby sham of an oil-lobby grease job. This represents an utter failure of governance in Canada (not to mention the effect this will have on our atmosphere, oceans, storms, wildfires, sea-level rise and the rest of the disruption catalogue). None of these parties seems to get that, for our society to continue to exist, we have to leave this gunk safely buried in the ground, and, while the time to begin the process of weaning ourselves off our present addiction was several decades ago, we didn’t do that, so that makes now the next best option.

Justin Trudeau, campaigning in the last general election, deployed the full-spectrum Liberal strategy of saying most anything to get elected, particularly at the expense of Tom Mulcair, knowing that many were just so tired of the Conservative wet blanket of the previous decade that they would go to great lengths to unseat the Harper crowd. All those glowing campaign promises and the soaring rhetoric that filled the earliest of the sunny days disappeared into a morass of same-old, same-old once the rubber hit the road. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party settled on a brand new face for the same blood-sport capital sell-out that characterized the Harper years, but with dimples and a complete lack of either gravitas of intellect. The New Democrats turfed Mulcair and replaced him with Singh, a seemingly decent guy who seems to need to check the weathervane before making a policy pronouncement, and even then, doesn’t necessarily stick to it.

These three stooges have taken centre stage in Canadian governance against the backdrop of an economy that serves only a relative few, a frayed social fabric, simmering internal divisions, and an environment that threatens to become entirely inhospitable to life in general, and specifically a teetering technological human society. All three major national leaders continue to play in the sandbox of Canadian politics as though it’s 1950 and a new era of prosperity and progress awaits us, rather than recognizing the crises into which we’ve already entered and educating  us as citizens as to the necessary steps in mitigation, adaptation and revamping that will be necessary to ensure that the numerous offspring of the Trudeau and Scheer households have a shot at a decent life. Instead of mining more goop from the tar sands, why not put those yellow vests to work doing something constructive, building renewable energy infrastructure, reforestation and agricultural rejigging to ensure that we all get fed and that more people can work the land in a regenerative fashion?

This isn’t happening because none of our leaders has the courage to say what many of us know and then to take the steps necessary to throw off the ties that bind them to their handlers and the people whose interests the handlers represent: banking, pharma, Big Ag, the arms dealers, tech companies and, above all, fossil fuel concerns. Those whose good gigs are suffering because so much wealth has already left the country and even the slightest steps toward sanity feel like persecution. No one has been able to decouple a good living from the insanity of the oilfields, and it’s unlikely at this point that people are going to lend much credence to anything that comes from the mouths of our most august leaders.

Elizabeth May stands out as the only leader to do the right thing: she went and got herself arrested protesting TMX, and so need say little else. It would be too much to hope for a minority government next October with May and several colleagues holding the balance of power. Ephemeral though it might be, it would at least have a chance at airing some serious concerns in the kabuki theatre that is the Commons.

 

A Hopeful Sign From the Press? Though Far Away

It seems a matter of routine that Frederich Hayek and his crowd get cited when some economist of another wants to echo the championing of what we wishfully call the Free Market. Hayek built some of the foundation for the Friedman/Buchanan/Thatcher/Reagan/Etc/Etc philosophy of the golden shower trickle down theory of economics used so frequently to stock the Kochs’ larders and kiss DJT’s posterior.

Hayek had an evil twin, Karl Polanyi, who, along with Hayek, was graced with a “Nobel” in economics, but whose book, The Great Transformation, has been mouldering away in corners of libraries, collecting dust, when not being used as fire starter, bird cage liner and more ignominious uses by the victims of Hayek’s triumphant selfishness. Simply, Polyani posited that collective action was more likely to produce general prosperity than rugged individualism. I read this twenty years ago following up on some things I had read in Linda McQuaig’s works, and I had to read it in French because that was the only copy available on inter-library loan.

This all comes up because Manny Mac over in the Elysée Palace is having to come to grips with some economic/social, hence political. conundrum, and imagine my surprise when I saw this as a head on the front page of Libération:

 

My concern, of course, is that the whole planet could spiral down the crapper even in the infinitesimal amount of time that the sharpest of French minds would consume in reading the Polanyi treatise. Too bad, so sad, but we could perish knowing that help might have been headed our way.

 

(Intentionally?) Missing The Point

Methinks Dame Cathy and her Court have missed the lectures on climate disruption, but are still willing to attempt to score political points trying to wrap themselves in a cloak of the greenest of fig-leafery. In this race, the Crudeau crowd wants to win by taking six giant steps backward before the opening gun goes off. Sadly for them, and well and good for the rest of the planet, there are others who have been tortising along for a couple of decades and have splendid results to show for it. But, hey, we’ve got a crud oil pipeline and fossil fuel subsidies and Alberta has found the magic spell that’s keeping Canada working, or at least those in the advertising industry who are best at half-truths and outright fabrications. It’s a good thing that Scheer’s goose steppers are going to start talking about abortions again so that Justin can get re-elected on a raft of recycled and new promises that he can then break. So sad.

End note: It’s good that we now know (via the Lancet) that we can commit slow and blissful suicide by single malt.