Archive for the ‘Canadian Manifesto’ Category

Getting the short end of the stick in Canada

January 28, 2009

This may be the greatest poem I, or anyone, has ever written. I wrote it for the anti-Harper facebook group Stephen Harper Poems, where I was the conservative poet-in-residence. Sheer propoganda – I even worked in Harper’s primary election message, that he stands up for the people who “work hard, pay their taxes, and play by the rules”. For authenticity points, I tapped it out on my cellphone in spare moments at work. It’s more than a little snippy, but hey, at least I didn’t call anyone fascist for increasing arts funding insufficiently.

People like to say Harper was divisively making a play for the votes of a particular section of Canadian society at the expense of a group unlikely to vote for him. Considering that he was painted as such for a general increase of arts funding it seems to me that the pointy edge of this wedge we hear of actually faces the other way. What really bothers me about it is that there are people who work brutal jobs in the oil patch – away from home a week or two weeks at a time – and their tax money goes to fund artists doing work that they don’t value and that for many people is a hobby they’d like to have more time for. I don’t care to cut arts funding, although I think there’s a lot that could be done to improve it. But even considering the point of view of that guy in the oil patch is automatically “divisive”.

That guy gets the short end of the stick in Canada every time.

Avant Garde; Derriere Noggined
“works hard” Steve they’ll be floggin’

they live in channels straight and narrow
blind hostile to neighbor harrow’s
call classic liberal evil monster
needed foil to the Good People
he honoured Dalai to Stronach’s sigh
but better
“play by the rules” and no one gets smeared

now wonderin’ just what’s so progressive
’bout paying for Statements
with my labour’s sweat

and livin’ off middle class “pay their tax” fascists.

post script.

Say come to Alberta, welcome able body
Try a hand with your hand
Try labourer’s sweat
Make a working man poetic
Say skip The Dialectic!
Taste the other narrative
And then make comment


I’m not as patient as Mike Brock

January 23, 2009

Mike Brock wrote a post earlier this month about “transistory libertarianism”, explaining why he supports the Human Rights Commissions – less the censorship article – for the time being.

I made a related and perhaps more radical argument that resembles progressive libertarianism way back called Will Alan Borovoy go all the way?

a system with the power to punish an employer for dismissing a person if it is supposed to have been done for discriminatory reasons damages the employment prospects of the very people it is supposed to protect. This dynamic is plainly demonstrated by the high unemployment rate in economies such as France where restrictive firing laws force employers to be very careful in whom they hire. This kind of system, “progressive” in intent, forces employers to discriminate against young and inexperienced people – and has a severe effect on new immigrant groups. Sarkozy’s government attempted to pass a law making it easier to fire young employees in order to increase the ability of employers to hire them. Imagine the consequense if French politicians passed laws to make it harder still to fire young people and immigrants instead. Yet this is exactly what our Human Rights Commisions are doing – in Canada the only people we discriminate against in this way are those named in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The basic problem with the commissions is that they assume that an employer or landlord will get rid of a minority or disabled person for discriminatory reasons after they’ve already hired or rented to them. How likely is that? What kind of person would hire someone with a disablility, find that they were capable of doing the job, and then fire them?

“Well James, I’m happy to say that I’m pleased with your work and the value it adds to my bidness. However that wasn’t why I hired you. That was just so I could then discriminatorily fire you and start my search for an employee over again. Now. HAHAHAHAHAHA! F-ing retard!”

It strikes me as unlikely. And the problem is that, as I argued in my excerpt above, the commissions are probably actually detrimental. The trick is not to ask what the intention of a law is, but the effect. I referenced in my original post a column by John Stossel about the actual effect of the American Disablilities Act on people with disabilities. Stossel cited a study that found lower employment after it came into effect and quoted someone involved with hiring who said that people with disabilities became lawsuit bombs – you couldn’t fire them for any reason. So they don’t hire them.

And that’s why I’m not as patient as Mike Brock. Liberals see the fact that disabled people are employed at a lower rate than others and because they have confused equality with sameness assume that this means there is discrimination. I grant that discrimination is possible in hiring – employers might not want to take a chance on someone different or actually discriminate on the basis of race. But I believe that the commissions make it worse by actually disincentivizing the hiring of the people who are supposedly protected. Instead of leaving the commissions until later, they should be replaced now. It will never be a winning issue to get rid of “Human Rights” commissions. It could be to replace them with something more effective – call them “Human Rights” incentives: a hiring bonus for disabled people that does something like estimate potential costs in employing that individual and possibly a general rent subsidy for low income people in order to mitigate potential discriminatory effects.

I am not so libertarian as Brock. But I want it now – in general, a reincentivizing of the welfare state to make it leaner and more effective which in the long run will make it less and less neccessary, politically or morally.

Two faces of Toronto and the European We

January 11, 2009

“Hitler didn’t do a good job” (a liveleak video of an anti-Isreali marcher in TO, from SDA)

The guy that said that hits the camera of the guy who asks him what Hitler should have done better. So that’s positive – he isn’t proud of his hatred.

So I wonder why it is that opposing immigration that includes cultures with people who will hold rallies and yell things like that is automatically racist in some people’s eyes.

Yeah, it can be. The first comment to that Small Dead Animals post refers to “savage Arabs”. There’s racism on the right. Yet I am far more comfortable to be conservative, and in terms of racism and racial thinking more than anything else. This started with Jim Pankiw’s run for mayor of Saskatoon. Pankiw is a pretty unpleasant guy who is barred from the Conservative party. The major flashpoint of the controversy around his run was a pamphlet he put out titled “It’s Clear Who The Real Racists Are” – a collection of racial and, to be honest, racist quotes of a few native leaders in Saskatchewan. I don’t like Pankiw and it’s pretty clear that his campaign against any special preferences for any racial group was as the voice of white resentment. Yet. In truth I decided that while I rejected Pankiw’s motivations and his tone was ugly I was and am more comfortable even with Jim Pankiw and the people that voted for him than the people opposite. It actually mattered to Jim Pankiw that an aborigional leader would say racist things. Now, Jim cared as a white person – he didn’t like having those things said about him and it frustrated him that white people always get the racist rap when there were aborigional leaders saying things no white person publicly would. I think it is fair to say that Pankiw’s motivation was racial, and arguably racist from the perspective that he was demanding a level playing field without reference to the pretty obvious fact that native individuals are generally born into disadvantaged circumstances.

The thing is this – I realized that the people that didn’t care at all that there were aborigional leaders who had said racist things didn’t care as white people. I noticed that there was always this unspecified reference to a “we” that clearly didn’t include natives. It’s the European We in the Canadian discourse that is specifically and almost unconciously white. And the people speaking as the European We didn’t care at all that there was plain racism on the part of some aborigional leaders. They cared very much that a white man named Jim Pankiw was advocating for no racial preferences in Saskatchewan and that he got 10% of the vote for mayor.

If it matters to “us” that even Jim Pankiw’s level of racial thinking got 10% of the vote for mayor of Saskatoon it should matter to “us” when plain racism is voiced by an aborigional. If it’s important for “white” people not to be racist it should be important for aborigional people not to be racist. We all know that racism hurts the culture or individuals who are racist as much as the people they are bigoted towards. It can debilitate a culture into always  blaming someone else for their problems when the truth in the long run is that nobody can help or hurt you as much as you can help yourself. To be completely unaffected by aborigional racism is the definition of soft bigotry, and the racially chauvanist message that soft bigotry sends – that it’s all and always “our” fault – is more damaging than all but the hardest bigotry of the far right. I believe that this is the difference between Canada and America for natives – we have soft bigotry and they have hard bigotry. American natives are better off and it’s because Canadians are racist in a worse way. It may not be worse for our souls but our souls aren’t my first concern.

And the European We even make issues like reserves more about white people than the people that actually live there. My heart sunk listening to a caller say on Sonic 102.9’s vent your spleen feature that “we” should be ashamed to even think of ending the reserve system. “We” took their country and to take the reserves too would be truly shameful. To “us”. How incredibly disgusting. This person was evaluating the merits of rethinking the reserve completely on the basis how it affects white people. The European We think people should be kept on reserves because of how it makes “us” feel. Whatever the arguments about reserves, at least let them be based first on the people that actually live there.

… I had no idea I was going to take this post this way. What was I talking about, Toronto? Because Toronto has another face that is much, much more appealing. It’s not quite safe for work maybe although it’s all video of public areas ; ) It’s vibrant, it’s alive and Canada can do with a bit of that…

Why I nominated ‘no feminist’ for best feminist

November 30, 2008

Says Sara Landriault of Choice for Childcare: “I have been nominated for the “best feminist blog”, which totally confuses me because in my heart I am no feminist.
To put it totally bluntly, I am just me and I am very proud of that.”

When I was in high school I read ‘The War Against The Family’ by William Gairdner. It was one of the first political books I read and of all the controversial topics it broadsided one thing really stuck with me – that when the advocacy group REAL Women of Canada applied for the federal women’s groups funding they were turned down because they were “not promoting of womens rights”.

Who is anyone to tell women what it means to promote women’s rights?

When the Conservative government shifted that advocacy funding to concrete programs meant to promote women in Canada through shelters and other things it was a blow for equality. The paternalism of the Liberals in both assuming that Canadian women needed funding for their voice to be heard and their chauvanism – which deserves to be called misogynist – in presuming to choose for Canadian women what qualified as promoting their rights were finally ended.

Since then the Conservatives have restored the funding – I hope it wasn’t taken from the programs. But they have left a more lasting legacy on this field. For me, the most important accomplishment of this government is choice in childcare. I like economics in a bit of a nerdy way and because of economic arguments I was always going to prefer a child tax credit to a bureaucratic model. But that is such a small part of why it’s important. The Liberal plan was simply the paternalism of their advocacy funding done large. Beer and Popcorn is all I need to say – which just happens to be in Sara’s ‘about me’. And it’s more than just general paternalism. We haven’t gone from the dark days of male chauvanism straight into the light. I have this picture in my mind of the partial tragedy of what we call feminism. I see a bunch of good old boys gathered round, smoking cigars, they’re yakking and backslapping:

“Good work this week on the chauvanist front, lads!” – a portly red faced fellow in tails

“Aye! Just this morning I patronized the old gal – patted her on the back and said it sure was nice to come home to a clean house where I don’t have to worry about Important Happenings” – portlier and redder faced

“Well I ‘ave to admit I’ve been a tad remiss,” says a third, “I’ll get on it this very evening… lemme see, a bit of The Singular Importance Of What Men Do aught ‘a do the old trick, or just your standard letting her know raising up the kids is simple stuff that I’m proud to leave to her to do up on her pedestal”

The fourth man has been leaning back like a cucumber – cool. There’s a smart look on his face as he speaks his piece. “Gentlemen, we’ve got it good. The girls do the drudge stuff, we do the big stuff. But we can do better.” The others can hardly imagine this, giving involuntary jerks of their heads in his direction as he goes on. “Look boys, it’s simple – we take a lot of trouble puffing up the importance of what we do and running down the stay-at-home stuff and all I propose is that we get the women to do that for us too.”

And so modern feminism was born. A lot of good done I’m sure, although I’m too young to appreciate that, but there is an element to feminism that acts as though they just internalized the put-downs of the chauvanists and took it further. They despise stay-at-home moms far more than any male chauvanist ever did and they act as if the only important work is policing, firefighting, and big business. You know, what used to be known as man’s stuff. There are good reasons to dislike the idea of Sarah Palin as Vice-President but there are bad reasons too, and these “feminists” were all over that – mocking her for having been in a beauty pagent and for having had such well used reproductive organs. For some feminists, having five children made Sarah Palin too much a woman. Instead of fighting for both the freedom to achieve success in a career and for respect for more “traditional” roles they chose to honour the chauvanist slurs and assumed that equality had to mean making women more like men. Because men did the Great Things.

What did any of those things ever matter if nobody was choosing to have children? What does it matter to build a country if there’s nobody to build it for, and nobody who will keep building it? A woman or man who lives one life to the hilt can never have the same impact as one woman who has one child and sets in movement a thread that could be part of history for a thousand years. It’s incredible that anyone should ever look down on someone that does that.

That chauvanism trickled down to us with feminism. It was in the Liberal plan for childcare that would have taken the taxes of Canadian families and said “you can have that back if she puts the kids in our daycare program and does Real Work”. That is why someone who says “I am just me and I am very proud of that” is my choice for the kind of true feminism and real equality that Choice for Childcare stands for.

Will Alan Borovoy go all the way?

May 6, 2008

how conservatives can make abolishing Human Rights Commissions a winning issue.

Kate Macmillian and Kathy Shaidle are among my favorite bloggers. When I disagee with them it is usually because they have thrown out decency with political correctness and I would rather they do that than allow that albatross to hang on their minds. One of my burrs when I was thinking of writing this blog was some of their views, but ever since the free-speech attack was launched on them I have been reading almost exclusively the blogs and writing of the people under fire. And my attitude of sometime disapproval is about gone. I must break it to the anti-haters that they have made heroes out their targets – too bad they aren’t the type to beleive in the unintended consequences of government action!

The fringe progressives in our country have established themselves in “Human Rights” commissions where they prosecute heresy against Immaculate Homosexuality, infringe on religious expression, harrass what they see as the leftovers of our bigoted past, outlaw blasphemy on the behalf of the “other”, and bend reality to their will. There is a lot in this – an inherent Machiavellian aspect, a belief in their ability to recreate reality by speaking the Word of their ideology through commission and legislation, and what I can only understand as a suicidal instinct – largely focussed on the “likely to expose” article that I will post more on and that anyone with a head on their shoulders will take issue with.

But repealing Article 13 is not all that should be done. The Human Rights Commissions should be repealed outright, for the very reason the man who helped establish them still defends them.