A very modest thought about political economy

Lately I've been thinking about the economy.
The basic concept of the economy is that it is the essence (nouma) of the home (ekos), but in practice what is referred to as the economy (at least in its capitalist iteration, which is what I am in the middle of here in North America) is mostly about exclusion. Those who control the levers of the economy maintain their privilege and power do so by controlling access to the goods and services. This of course means limiting access.
I've been thinking: wouldn't it be good to have a basic way of thinking that includes and validates everyone?
So why not have a real full-employment policy? Everyone has a role, a place in society, so everyone is employed. If there is no employment in the "traditional" sense, then people would create their own employment.
It's a way of implementing a guaranteed annual income.
I'll have more to say next time about the need for democratic control of the labour market and how that could be a basis for such a full-employment policy.




These are some links that I find interesting - I don't necessarily agree with all of them


Not the Country Club


The Next Agenda: For Progressive Canadian Politics

Dion Almaer's Home Page

Google Code Blog

Funny Statistics


Western New Democrats - Conservatives’ third tainted blood promise offers little hope

Accidental Deliberations: Political climate change

Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

Progressive Bloggers

Tyee Home :: thetyee.ca

NDP Outsider: Dion Confusion

Vuze by Azureus - High Definition Movies and Videos

BBC NEWS | Technology | BBC moves to file-sharing sites

BBC NEWS | South Asia | India warning on globalisation

BBC NEWS | Americas | US seeks 'better Venezuela ties'

Best Blog


A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land

Jane Stillwater's Web Log


This is a picture of Brian Mulroney after he was awarded the giant dildo award in recognition of what he did to Canada for so many years. (http://www.cbc.ca/gfx/Ottawa/photos/mulroney_cp_9864956.jpg)


Québec - An election Dilemma

In three days the election is happening in Québec.
I live in Québec. I am one of the people that feel it is my duty to vote in elections, to exercise the franchise that was won with so much effort by my predecessors.
Never have I had such a difficult choice. Although I have never done it before and I don't feel comfortable doing it, never have I so often felt that spoiling my ballot was the most responsible choice to make.
Here's the dilemma:
I am a federalist. I am a progressive (left wing, liberal in the US sense, or whatever).
On the positive side, the Québec Liberal Party is the only openly federalist party and the Liberal member of the National Assembly that now represents my riding, (I will not say who he is), is a fairly likable and capable person who has tried to implicate himself in the community. The Québec Liberal Party's federalism is, however, one that (for instance) under Bourassa showed that it was quite nationalistic.
If my representative was running as an independent, I would be more comfortable voting for him. I don't want my vote to be interpreted as a vote in support of the Harper government in Ottawa. I don't even want my vote to be interpreted as a vote in support of Jean Charest.
There's the dilemma for a federalist in this province.

I feel uncomfortable voting for the Québec Liberal Party because it is espousing such neo-liberal values as privatising national (provincial) parks, promising to end the cap on education fees and refusing to commit to maintaining the provincial childcare at 7$ per day. The leader of the Québec Liberals is also an ex-minister in the Brian Mulroney government. This government was the government that essentially killed the railway system in this country at a time when it should have been supported and brought to a European-style model. This would have been a really good contribution to the environment. The Mulroney conservative government was also the government that insisted that inscriptions to medical schools across the country should be reduced because there would be too many doctors in the future. This is a big contributing factor to the health care wait times that we are now experiencing. Jean Charest, the Québec Liberal party leader has also shown his close alliance to the present Harper Conservative government. This is a government that is doing nothing to help Québec's aerospace and textile industries.
So, my representative - although a good guy - has chosen to put his lot in with a very unsavoury crowd. There does not appear to be a very progressive wing to the Québec Liberal Party. Many of the more progressive elements in the Québec Liberal Party have decided to retire from politics.

The other choices in the election are:
The Parti Québécois. This party is dedicated to separatism and what was for me its one saving grace has been removed. The PQ used to have a social democratic wing, but the present leader is a true representative of the neo-liberal right.
The Action Démocratique is a retro party. If you liked Duplessis and his regressive policies, then you'll love Mario Dumont. Unfortunately, this political formation is being taken seriously in the present election. Mario Dumont, who was a member of the Oui camp in favour of separation at the time of the last referendum, now says that he is a nationalist not a sovereignist. What is not clear is how he would vote in a PQ minority government.
The Green Party has some possibilities. It is neither progressive nor regressive. Unfortunately, in practice that means that it is regressive. I don't believe it when a party says they are neither left nor right. It is just a way of saying soft right. This, like the federal Green Party, is the political equivalent to the old Progressive Conservatives. Like the Action Démocratique, the Green Party also says that it is neither sovereignist or federalist, but in answer to a question I asked of the party, they answered that they would support a referendum if a large groundswell of popular support was shown.

Québec solidaire is progressive but openly sovereignist. I don't want my vote to support or be interpreted as a vote for sovereignty.

This is not a very promising set of choices. I can't vote for what I believe in, I can only vote for what I find the least distasteful. I guess I'm still leaning toward that spoiled ballot.

By the way the picture is indicative of the faceless choice that Québécois have in the present election. It is also the literal face of Québec voters. As a result of a decision by the Directeur général des élections allowing the full face covering by muslim women, it is legal for people to show up to vote like in the picture. For a story about this follow this link (article in French from Journal de Montréal). This is even more amusing when you consider that Québec has a law that says that you cannot participate in demonstrations while covering your face. So you can't voice your objection to government policy on the street like this,
but you can vote like this.

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More Greenhouse Gas

Well, our Prime Minister has decided to shuffle his cabinet.
His choice for Environment Minister is John Baird.
This is a person who exudes disdain for the environment. He is the political version of a tough guy defence man on a hockey team. He is aggressive and partisan and is constantly on the attack: an attack dog.
This shows that the Harper government is no more committed to environmental action than it was under the window dressing tenure of Rona Ambrose in this ministerial position.
By putting Mr Baird in this position, Mr Harper is signaling that his response to some serious concerns about his environmental policy is a strategy where "the best defence is a good offence."

We can (unfortunately) expect more of the same from this government.



Well, the parliament has ended for this session, and Harper has come out with a big propaganda "talk to the media" fest. Announcements about so-called senate reform yesterday and putting his feats in his mouth today in glorifying the supposed accomplishments of his government.
My mother died shortly before the conservatives came to power, and I can't help but feel that she is lucky not to have to witness this horrible government.
Comme quelqu'un, je ne me souviens pas qui, a dit dans les années trente : "le problème avec les conservateurs c'est que ça commence tellement mal."


The Not Factor

So Stéphane Dion has won the leadership of the Liberal Party.

He will probably do fairly well. He is intelligent, articulate and seems to be "sympatico," but his greatest asset is the Not Factor.

He has a few other things going for him. He is on the right side of the environment debate and this currently has popular support. As a matter of fact he has immediately clicked on to the Liberal's tried and true formula for winning votes (and elections) in this country - he talks like a New Democrat.

The question is will he also follow the Liberal tradition of just talking and not acting unless there is enough of a New Democrat presence to ensure some progressive action?

What Dion has going for him the most, though is the Not Factor. This is what helps politicians remain in power and also (sometimes) helps them to remain popular, in some cases it also works against politicians. Jean Chrétien had the the benefit of the Not Factor for over a decade when he was not Brian Mulroney. Paul Martin got the negative side of the Not Factor by not being Jean Chrétien. Even Stephen Harper benefited from the Not Factor in the last election because the Conservatives were not the Liberals. Now, Stéphane Dion could easily benefit from not being Stephen Harper.

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i'm thinking of putting this into more active use.