Tag Archives: welfare

Asimov, Vonnegut, & Wendy’s: I For One Welcome Our Robot Overlords

Last week saw an announcement from fast food chain Wendy’s that they’d be rolling out some 6,000 “self-service kiosks” in their restaurants. This follows rulings in California and New York that would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 an hour, and as you might imagine the connection has not been lost on people.

Of course, when I say “people”, I mean the ranks of bougie suburbanites who have been gleefully cackling over Wendy’s decision. It is these folks who I’d like to address directly today.

<Ahem>

****. You.

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Seriously, what kind of demented, spiteful people are you?

After decades of stagnant wages and crippling poverty. After years of broken promises and betrayals by their supposed liberal representatives. After months and months of fighting and campaigning finally the poor have a victory.

And your response to Wendy’s giving their jobs to robots is “Serves ’em right?”

Did I say **** you yet?

Well, **** you.

You guys sound like mustache-twirling caricatures from some turn-of-the-century political cartoon.

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“Oh I say, my dear Montressor- that’ll show those filthy proles! Now let us adjourn to the smoking room for cigars and brandy!”

Livable wages?

What are they going to ask for next? An eight-hour work day? Paid lunches and sick leave?

Only for all your cantankerous whinging, you’re probably not some festering slumlord or monocled oil-tycoon. So why are you bent out of shape? Continue reading

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The Trans Pacific Partnership: A Threat to Canadian Taxes, Food Security, Democracy, and More

My name is Jonathan. I am 26 years old and living a typical Canadian life. I can honestly say that I spent the majority of my life wanting “the dream”: money, fame, and fortune. I believed that everyone had a chance to get that dream, especially living in a Country like Canada.

After I graduated from high school, I moved to the city. I learned about myself and experienced new people and cultures. I partied, shopped, and socialized, then went to work so that I could go out and spend more money and time with people. I was living the life but something seemed empty about it all. Everything in my life felt like it revolved around spending money.

We may talk about things like homelessness, world hunger, climate change, environmental pollution, wars, and diseases, but as a whole, my society isn’t worried about this. We are concerned about making and spending money, we feel obligated to go out and work those 40 hours every week so that we could have the means to pay for our consumer lifestyles.

What many people don’t realize is that the North American lifestyle wasn’t always this kind of rat race. In many cases, it used to be possible for a middle class family to support themselves on only one income. However, after the introduction of the NAFTA agreement many of those dependable unionized jobs moved to Mexico, where businesses could exploit workers without unions getting in the way. Since then, our economy has become much more dependent on debt. Not to mention that since the 2008 housing crisis in 2008 purchasing a home in many cities is now nearly impossible.

Currently, Canada is looking to introduce a bill that could have just as wide flung effects as the NAFTA agreement: The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

What is the TPP?

Right now our nation is at a crossroads. Recently, our government signed onto the The Trans Pacific Partnership. This agreement threatens many of our rights and freedoms. If it is ratified, we will be allowing corporations to make decisions for us, but with the priority of profit over the welfare of people.

This agreement is quite a bit like the North American Free Trade Agreement that Canada signed in 1994. NAFTA allowed a lot of wealth to be made, but by corporations, and not the people of the countries involved. The new Trans Pacific Partnership may have even worse consequences than NAFTA, as the video below highlights.

While the video explains the general problematic aspects of the TPP, I’ve addressed several aspects below that will directly affect us in Canada.

1. Canadian tax dollars are being spent paying lawsuits to Corporations

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Art courtesy of Jon Marks

Companies within NAFTA are allowed to sue countries whose policies affect their profits. Canada has already paid out around $160 million to companies for lost revenue. How much will Canadians have to pay in the future to satisfy the Companies suing for lost profits?

Policies that are meant to protect Canadians are being challenged just to boost profits. The health and job security of Canadians are not a corporate priority, and the TPP will only further threaten their safety. Canadian policies or decisions can be legal, fair and designed to effectively protect the environment or public health, yet they can still face corporate lawsuits demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. A powerful tool of corporate rule is already undermining our democracy. Why would Canada want to willfully sign up for more of that? 

2. It threatens Canadian Food Security and Health Security

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Courtesy of Food Security News

We live in a globalized world. We have a constant supply of food, a wide variety of options, and goods are cheap. The often overlooked problem with this system is that our world is not a stable one, there are wars, famines, droughts, floods. The Climate is changing dramatically and fast.

We are almost completely dependent on imports for many food and goods that could instead be grown and produced in Canada. At the same time we are exporting our natural resources. If global trade were to stop, Canadians would be ill-prepared to deal with the food and goods shortages.

The TPP opens more markets to Canadians, which pushes down the prices of everything, leaving little motivation to have more expensive Canadian-made products and food. It could even threaten the few industries that are still protected here in Canada, like dairy and poultry. And any dairy farmer could tell you that the difference between our dairy standards and those in the United States are staggering.

The TPP also opens up opportunities for companies to challenge food labeling. Since labeling where food comes from, or how the produce was grown (i.e. GMO) could affect profits, companies could sue Canada for requiring labels.

Personally, I want my food to be labeled so I can know where my garlic is grown and whether my tuna was caught without killings thousands of dolphins. Consumers should have the right to know where and how food is produced. Cost shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.

3. It Threatens Canadian Socialism

Canadians think that we live in a socialist country. We have free health care, employment insurance, and we would like to think it’s a fairly even playing field when it comes to finding a rewarding career. We are told that we have opportunities to become successful, that there’s a piece of pie for everyone. We are told that our lives are best.

Unfortunately, reports and studies continually state that the world’s wealth continues to stay with the 1% of the population and the rest of us are getting poorer.

Canadian corporations have tax havens of up to $200 Billion, which keeps money out of Canada and costs regular Canadians more taxes. Canada should make laws preventing these loopholes and recoup the ‘stolen’ money.

Canada, with countless resources, should be a country of bounty. We shouldn’t have widespread homelessness and poverty shouldn’t be such a problem. People shouldn’t have to decide between supporting themselves and receiving a post-secondary education.

Canadians pride ourselves on universal healthcare, but many medical services and products aren’t actually included under that coverage. This could get even worse if the TPP is passed, since it includes excessive patent protections and other intellectual property rights that are guaranteed to make medication much more expensive in Canada. Call me a socialist, but I believe medicine should not be a profit-focused industry. I think pharmaceuticals should be heavily regulated by the governments, with the goal of bettering mankind, not just the stockholders. The health and wellbeing of humans should not just be seen as an opportunity for profit. Unfortunately, Global News has already reported on certain Pharmaceutical companies dramatically increasing drug prices.

Canadians need to decide what we want our future to be like.

We can allow the TPP to be signed and continue the corporate and banking invasion of our country, allowing rich corporations to benefit at the expense of the rest of the population.

Or we could stand up to the corporate world and demand that our country protect our rights and freedoms. We could see our governments take down economy-destroying banking systems and regulate corporations to once again benefit humans before profits. We could work towards health and food security, only selling or sharing surpluses with other countries. With less focus on profits, we might be able to solve many of the problems plaguing our world.

It is not too late to challenge the TPP. It may have been signed, but it is not yet ratified. The recent election was a political shakeup; it could allow Canada to rewrite our embarrassing trade, environment, and social policies.

So what will you do? Say nothing, and allow the TPP to pass? Or stand up and contact your MP to let them know that you care about Canada’s future. You can tell Ottawa that Corporations have no right to rule Canadians. We are a free country, we are a democracy, and we will not go down without a fight.

The time to decide is now. You have everything to lose.

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Courtesy of The Council of Canadians acting for Social Justice


JON Marks is a 26-years-young, flamboyant, micro-writer who works in the garden and irrigation industry. He is a hobbit at heart and loves a good cup of tea. He is often a quiet fellow, but some situations can cause him to voice his opinions. He has no problem dishing the T.

Explaining American Politics To Non Americans – Part III: The Democratic Party

And so we’re back, dear readers, with another installment of “Explaining American Politics to Non Americans”, in which yours truly attempts to guide you through the strange, savage, and unforgiving terrain of our nation’s government. Today we cover the other side to our two-party system: the Democrats.

Democrats are, like it or not, usually seen as the good guys by plenty of folks out there in the wide world. More diplomatic, less rapaciously capitalistic, more secular, less imperialistic, and so on.

Or so the image goes.

But is that reputation an accurate one?

The answer might surprise you.

No, It’s Not

Okay, I guess that wasn’t really a surprise.

I’ve made no secret of my contempt for the president and my fundamental issues with liberalism in general. But my own irritations aside, the facts must be faced- Democrats aren’t the glorious heroes that the world (or they) imagine them to be.

Let me break it down here.

Democrats Are Still Incredibly Right-Wing

And that’s going to be weird for a lot of the world. Pretty much everywhere else on the planet, there’s a comparatively broad range of political discourse, though even relatively conservative parties still tend to endorse free(ish) healthcare and education. The Democrats seem to get mistaken as being simply an American version of what many beyond our borders take for granted- a center-left party advocating universal healthcare, free education, environmental protection, and championship of the poor and working class.

That’s just not how it is.

First, let’s start with healthcare.

Don’t get me wrong- there are plenty of vocal liberals within the party (we’ll get to them in a second) who advocate the principles I mentioned above, the party has more often than not capitulated to these demands, rather than having fought for ’em.

The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, as it’s more commonly called, serves an example of this. While it’s absolutely an achievement (credit where credit is due), it’s about as far as possible from the systems used elsewhere in the world.

Now I’m not going to presume to know where you’re coming from, dear readers (Canada and Northern Europe tend to be big hits for us here at CWR), but I’m guessing that wherever it is, you enjoy some degree of universal healthcare. Chances are that you’re healthcare system is subsidized through hefty taxes, if not owned outright by the state. The present state of healthcare in the good ol’ US of A, however, works like so:

Since Obamacare’s legislation, all Americans are simply required to “have” health insurance. While certain points of the law keep insurance companies from preventing people with pre-existing conditions from getting service, these are all still private companies. Some programs exist to assist the extremely poor in getting some assistance in paying for insurance, but most everyone has to pay for it on their own (and it is not cheap, folks).

Does you cell phone bill equal about half of your rent? ‘Cuz that’s about how an insurance plan actually costs…

And that’s it. The hallmark of healthcare reform in this country.

The end. Continue reading

Why I’m Not A Liberal

…and yeah, that’s from the point of me speaking as a rabid Marxist.

And speaking as a Marxist, this has always been a peeve of mine. With the way politics often gets portrayed, plenty of folks (both liberal and conservative alike) get the misconception that Socialism is just a ‘roided up version of Liberalism and Communism is just a ‘roided of up version of that, with the state getting more and more powerful, larger in size, and more invasive in scope as you progress along that line.

That’s absolutely not how it works, and while that picture’s wrong, I’m not really here today to correct that.

(Though just for the record, this’d be a more accurate picture of the political spectrum…)

I’ve been playing around with this post for a while now, and it’s coming from more than just a desire to clear up my own stance. I truly do think that of the two major forces in American politics and culture, Liberalism is actually the more insidious (I’m not saying that Conservatism is better, but it does seem a lot easier to confront). I’m writing not to just talk about why I’m not a liberal, but why I don’t think you should be one either.

That said, let’s bring up the obvious:

I’m not going to try to address all Liberalism- that’d be a tough task for a book, let alone some blog post. I’m not going to try to attack hypocrisy either, those accusations can always be dismissed with the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Instead, I’m going to try to hit what I think are the core flaws and paradoxes that the ideology rests on. Continue reading

The Truth About Welfare (From Someone Who Works In Welfare)

I don’t talk about my work much. Partly that’s due to the fact that I tend to be pretty paranoid and partly because there’s not a ton of stories I can tell that’ll produce a reaction other than this:

I work at the intersection of nonprofits, social work, and welfare, and in spite of the relatively complexity (chaos might be a better term) of all that, I would still like to try to clear some things up about the system I work in and the people I try to serve.

I. The “Welfare Queen” is a Myth

There’s an imaged that’s been popularized in this country of the lazy, entitled so-called “welfare queen” who does nothing but collects a nice fat check every month which she blows on drugs, luxury cars, and plasma TVs.

This person, for all the outrage and bile she generates, does not exist. Continue reading

Shame Day: Treatment of the Poor

I work with a population the vast majority of whom live below the poverty line in one of tougher zip codes this side of the Rockies. I won’t say it’s the least stressful job I’ve had, but for all sweat shed and sleep lost, if nothing else you get an up close look at a part of life most people don’t want to even acknowledge exists.

Let’s talk about the poor of America, and how you’ve got a lousy attitude about them.

Now you might be thinking “Geez, stop the presses, a Commie is ranting about the treatment of the poor.”

Touché. Continue reading

Shame Day: The British Monarchy

That’s right: the British Monarchy. I’m taking them down.

Again.

Being a radical lefty, there’s no one easier out there for me to bash than a woman making a speech about austerity measures while wearing a golden crown encrusted with diamonds pillaged from war-torn Africa and impoverished India.I have, in fact, done so before on another blog, and got chewed out by a Brit for daring to disrespect “my queen.” I responded to the (presumably) pasty twit that I’m not actually British and therefore am not a subject of an inbred German family.

I have never felt more American

So if I’ve touched on the subject before, why do it again?

Because this is something that really is a shame.

Let’s talk about money.

You can’t really argue with the fact that the money- tax money- used to prop up this family could be put to better use, “better use” being pretty much anything else- from reducing education costs to building new roads. Heck, even studying the mating habits of the sea otter would have more pay-off.

Because they are freaking adorable…

Now I can hear all you romantics and loyalists shriek out:

“BUT GORDON! IT’S NOT THAT MUCH! VERY LITTLE CASH ACTUALLY GOES INTO SUPPORTING THE MONARCHY!”

“Very little cash”? The queen- the queen alone- gets an allowance of a little more than a million dollars a year. Is that a lot of money?

Yeah, it is.

It’s a million dollars per year for having been born into one family and not another. It’s a million dollars that could be spent relieving poverty. And of course, it’s not just a million dollars. Not when you take into account everything else done for her. The security, the transportation, the servants- heck, the freaking A/C for any one of her royal residences probably costs more than I’d make in three years.

“BUT GORDON! WHAT OF THE TOURISM?”

Ah yes, the tourism.

Who could live without this stuff?

Because if the queen went away, the castles, the diamonds, the viking graves, the monuments- those would all just vanish as well. Tourists do not go to Britain expecting to have a face-to-face conversation with the queen. Tourism is not going to die with the Mountbatten-Windsors. Besides, if your entire economy is built on the frail shoulders of an octogenarian, you really don’t deserve to have a civilization to start with.

“IT’S DIFFERENT! THEY’VE GOT A CELEBRITY FOLLOWING!”

So does Honey Boo Boo. So does Justin Bieber.

“THIS OBSESSION CREATES JOBS!”

You think these people’s undeserved fame and fortune winds up creating jobs? Heck, war creates jobs, that doesn’t make it something worth pursuing. Greed, gluttony, envy and cowardice have given us thousands of jobs- some causes aren’t worth the effects.

“DIPLO-“

Don’t you dare say diplomacy. Don’t you dare.

An elderly woman with a funny hat isn’t going to do anything a bunch of children holding hands can’t- heck, Severn Suzuki did more in her five minute speech at the UN at the age of 13 than the Queen has done in her entire reign.

Let’s grow up, people.

Princesses are not from Disney. Princes do not sprout from frogs [I don’t think Gordon understands how fairy tales work. -Evan]. Royalty are inbred leeches draining funds from society that could be used help people who are actually productive. 1 million dollars isn’t much? Tell that to a bum begging for change. Tell that to a ghetto kid trying to get into college. Tell that to a war widow. This drooling over the royal family isn’t simply childish, it’s barbaric. There’s nothing quaint and charming about a handful of human beings enjoying fame and fortune simply for having been born.

No, that’s just a shame.