Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some Crazy Guy Claimed the World is Flat Today at the World Economic Forum

Apparently, some people simply don’t believe what is obvious and clear to everyone else. Clearly, the world is not flat, and dedicating effort to live in a flat world is wasted effort. However, there was some crazy guy (some may call him a ‘radical’), who gave a keynote address to the World Economic Forum about how the world is flat earlier today.

But he didn’t going to just make this claim, and let it be at that. Oh, no. He gave a lecture on how he is coming up with solutions to living in a flat world and try to show everyone how great his own county is doing, living in this flat world. He told everyone else that they are fools for even considering that the world might not be flat, and that all we need to do live within the restrictions of a flat world and all will be fine.

For example, he is declaring that his own country is heavily involved in researching anti-gravity boots that will allow us to walk on the underside of the planet. He is also proposing putting up barriers at the edge of the world so that people don’t fall off accidently.

Even the head of the World Economic Forum, a strong believer in a flat world for his entire life, has declared that maybe, just maybe, the world isn’t flat and we should look at solutions to live in a round world.

Of course, the World Economic Forum isn’t going to be discussing if the world is flat or round – we all know that. They are going to be discussing the fact that free market capitalism doesn’t work – of course, we also all know that. Founder and president, Klaus Schwab set the tone by declaring that the move to the free market hasn’t worked as it was supposed to and declared that “A global transformation is urgently needed.”

The crazy guy isn’t just some random person; it is the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. And although he isn’t proposing solutions to live in a flat world, he is proposing solutions to living in a world that where free market capitalism works for everyone – which is every bit as untrue as declaring the world is flat. Coming on the heels of his governments declaration that environmentalists concerned about new oil pipeline’s are ‘radicals’, I’m sensing a trend that this is a man who refuses to accept the world we are living in and would rather live in some fantasy world where pollution, poverty and inequality don’t exist.

Rather than finding solutions to live in some fantasy world, we need to find solutions to the real world – one where pollution, poverty and inequality do exists and one where we need to do something to solve them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

3 Ways to Treat Corporations as Regular Citizens

As a follow up to my previous article, suggesting that corporations should get a public holiday, but only if they are subject to the responsibilities of other citizens, I’m going to take a look at how we could actually treat corporations as citizens by sending them to war, imprisoning them and executing them.

Sending Corporations to War

Now, we all know that most corporations are patriotic endeavours - It serves to reason that they should also support the American way of life by enlisting in the military. The process would be quite simple. The corporation would simply relocate all its assets to a war zone (say, Afghanistan) and carry out whatever activities the American military needed them to. You might think that this is similar to the way that corporations currently serve the military. However, this will not be so – when a corporation is enlisted in the military, they would only be paid what a normal soldier would be paid when enlisting.

Of course, any damage to the corporations assets that occurs, would of course, be the problem of the corporation. Much like when a soldier comes home from war, they (and their families) must deal with the psychological effects of the war pretty much on their own, corporations would have to deal with the damages that they incurred on their own.

Imprisoning Corporations

Obviously, it is not possible to send a corporation to jail – although in many cases we should be sending those running the corporation to a jail. However, we can still mirror the effect of a prison sentence on a normal person. Being sent to prison essentially suspends life – one can’t work and can’t have regular relationships. Imprisoning corporations needs to have the same effect. To do the same thing to a corporation would simply be suspending its right to do business. This suspension could last, depending on the crime, from a few days to life in prison (essentially revoking their corporate charter).

Executing Corporations

A famous sign from the Occupy Wall Street Protest read ‘I’ll believe a corporation is a person when Texas executes one.” It’s time to work out how we would do that. Before starting, I’d like to say that I am not a proponent of the death penalty for either individuals or corporations. However, since it is a law that exists for us, in certain places, it needs to exist for corporations, in those same places.

So, here’s how I see it happening: Gather everything the company owns that can be easily transported into one locations (preferably the corporation’s head office) and burn it all to the ground. We can sell tickets, as well as television and advertising rights, to the event, and use the proceeds to pay employees anything they are owed and a generous severance package. Just think about how many people would pay to get front row tickets to see the American headquarters of BP burned to the ground. How much would the TV and advertising rights be? You could sell sponsorship – “This burning of BP is brought to you by Jack’s Lighter Fluid – if it is a building or just your barbeque you need to start you can count on Jack’s!”

It may seem a bit extreme – and it is – but the death penalty is always extreme and it should be no different with corporations.

It is Time to Demand the 28th Amendment

If corporations can’t (or won’t) submit to these facts of life the for the regular person, then they cannot be considered the same as real people. If corporations want to privileges of citizenship, then they must be willing to deal with the responsibilities of citizenship and the same punishments for their crimes as the rest of us. It is time to demand that corporations either be treated as other citizens or not; demand that they are no longer allowed to have the benefits of citizenship without the responsibilities; demand the 28th amendment.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let’s Declare January 20th a National Holiday for Corporations

The Citizens United ruling in the Supreme Court on January 20th, 2010, extended more rights of citizens to Corporations. Perhaps it is time we considered extending other rights of citizens to corporations, such as holidays - however, if we did that, we would also have to hold corporations to the same responsibilities as citizens and we would have to be able to send them to war, and imprison or  execute them for crimes.

January 20th, 2012, is a day to be celebrated. It is, of course, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which extends more rights of citizenship to corporations. Since corporations  are, apparently, just like real people, I think it is time we started treating them more like real people. It is time corporations got a holiday, and January 20th, a kind of Independence Day, when their rights were finally recognized, is the perfect day.

You might be wondering what a corporate holiday looks like. Well, you know how on a holiday for the rest of us, we don’t have to work, but we still get paid? Well, a corporate holiday works the other way around – we still work, but the corporations don’t have to pay us. Or, if we need them to pay us, we can just work at time and a half (obviously having to work 1 and a half times as long as normal for the same pay).

That just made me think of something else that corporations need – overtime pay. So, when we work more than eight hours (or however many it is in your jurisdiction), the corporation has to pay you extra, right? Well, is that fair to a corporation? After all, they are the same as you and me. When a corporation has been working for more than 8 hours in a day, everyone should have to start working at time and a half (again, 1.5 hours work = 1 hour pay) so it is fair to the corporation who has to put in such long hours.

It is time we started respecting corporations as equals, not as something less than ourselves. Just as we look back and are ashamed that in past generations women didn’t have the same rights as men, blacks didn’t have the same rights as whites, future generations are going to look back at us and be ashamed that we did not give corporations the same rights as other citizens sooner. Let us start with this one little thing, giving corporations their own holiday, then we can move on to more important issues like the right to vote, welfare and unemployment insurance.

Of course, if we wanted to extend these rights to corporations, we would also have to extend the responsibilities of citizens to corporations. We would have to be able to arrest corporations for their crimes (I think we’ll need some new prisons), send corporations off to war (rather than letting them profit from it), execute corporations in states with the death penalty (not that I agree with that, but they need to be treated like their peers), make them pay same tax rate that others pay (in other words, actually paying taxes).

What’s that? It isn’t actually physically possible to arrest a corporation, or to send it off to war or to put it in the electric chair? Oh, I guess that is because corporations aren’t people. Guess somebody better tell the US Supreme Court, because they seem to be under the wrong impression.

On January 20th, demand that the US government admits that corporations are not, and never could be, entitled to the same rights as citizens. Demand the 28th amendment.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Conservatives and Other Radicals are Ruining my Country

As the debate over the proposed Northern Gateway  pipeline heats up, Stephen Harper and members of his Conservative government are claiming that ‘radical groups’, such as environmentalists, are trying to extend the public consultation. We must see this aggressive rhetoric for what it is - nothing more than an unashamed attempt to fire up the conservative core against ‘evil’ environmentalists.

In an open letter earlier today Canada’s natural resources minister Joe Oliver referred to environmental groups as ‘radical groups’, when referring to the public consultation phase of the Enbridge pipeline approval process. Seriously, all environmental groups are radicals? What is this guy on? Going even further, Harper himself claimed that foreign money was behind the plot to hold up construction of a new pipeline. When did he become so concerned over foreign interests in oil, considering most of the money from the tar sands flows right out of the country? Then I started thinking about it. It makes complete sense for a Harperite to refer to environmental groups as radical.

One might assume, from the rhetoric coming from the Harper camp, that these ‘radicals’ are threatening to disrupt a potential pipeline, or those who are building it. At the very least, one must assume that they are protesters disrupting the consultation process. No, not at all. The ‘radicals’ are those who have signed up to speak at the public consultation on the project. That’s it. Although there may be a few who want to push a specific agenda unrelated to this specific pipeline, the vast majority are local people with local concerns. Concerns such as the devastation that would be caused by a pipeline leak or oil tanker spill in one of the most pristine natural environments left in the world.

Is it really radical to be concerned with issues like climate change (especially after the train wreck that was the DuranClimate Change deal)? Is it really radical to be concerned about oil spills in your own backyard, oil spills that can affect the quality of life’s essentials, such as cleanwater, as the speakers at the public consultation are? That is not radical. Radical is to think that changing the climate is okay, so long as we don’t have to change the way we live. Radical is thinking that corporate profits are more important than local interests. Radical is thinking that we need oil more than we need water. Humanity survived, even thrived, for tens of thousands of years without oil, but wouldn’t last a week without fresh water. 

The environmentalist groups aren’t the radicals. Stephen Harper and his group of cronies are the ones who believe it is okay to put profits before people, put oil before water and trade short-term gain (but not for you or I) for long-term pain.

But let’s not kid ourselves. This isn’t about the environment or the tar sands or even about jobs and the economy. It’s about getting re-elected and it’s about ideology. Harper knows that most of the people speaking out against the pipeline won’t support him anyway, so he will fight them and insult them to fire up his core supporters, the minority of the Canadian population who buy into Harper’s crooked Conservative ideology and really believe that this public consultation (remember, this is over a public consultation!) is some kind of battle between capitalism and socialism. That minority is able to give him the support and money (mostly the money) to get re-elected. So all Harper is really only concerned about is making sure environmentalists are seen as some kind of threat (even better when it is a foreign threat) to ‘our way of life’.

So I put the questions to you, who are the radicals: the environmental groups and concerned local citizens or the Conservatives?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

7 Reasons Why Iran in 2012 is Nothing at All Like Iraq in 2003

I’ve read a lot lately about the current situation in Iran being a lot like the situation in Iraq in 2003. Sure, America is once again threatening war against a middle eastern, Arab, Muslim, oil producing country, but you if you look deeper, you’ll find the real differences. To prove it, here are 7 reasons why Iran in 2012 is nothing at all like in Iraq in 2003:

1.   Terminology

In Iraq, America accused Iraq of attempting to create weapons of mass destruction. In Iran, they are accusing them of trying to producing nuclear weapons. Obviously, these are completely different things.

2.   Role of the UN

In 2003, the US declared that Iraq was developing weapons, and the UN sent an inspector – who reported that he couldn’t find any evidence. In 2011, the US got much smarter. Rather than making claims contradictory to a UN inspector, they just got someone sympathetic to their cause elected to the head of the IAEA (thank you Bradley Manning – allegedly - for producing the diplomatic cables showing this!), and had him write a report on old information that came to completely new conclusions.

3.   George W Bush vs Barrack Obama

One of them is a warmonger and corporate apologist who gave himself (and all future presidents) the right to imprison anyone, anywhere in the world without due process. The other probably can’t spell either Iraq or Iran.

4.   Supporters

In 2003, the US had the support of Britain. In 2011, Canada and Israel are their main wingmen. This time, they have two foolish ‘friends’ supporting them, not just one (although, one must wonder who is being friends to whom in the case of Israel). Again, they learned from their mistakes and realized that two is better than one.

5.   Iraqis vs Iranians

After the invasion of Iraq, it became clear that the Iraqi people were not happy with their American liberators. It isn’t clear why, but surely Iran would welcome democracy with open arms – after all there have been pro-democracy protesters in Iran over the past few years. Assumedly, this means Iranians would be thrilled when American come and brought Democracy with them.

6.   Link to Al-Qaeda

In 2003, America tried to draw a link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Probably because the link was shown to be unquestionably false, they didn’t bother trying to draw the same link between Iran and a terrorist group. (Hey, it still counts as a difference – it isn’t easy coming up with 7, you know).

7.   Oil

Wait, no they are both major oil producing nations, scratch that one.

7.   Iraq was on America’s list of ‘regime change’ targets

Nope, that one too – they were both on the list of countries that American neo-cons (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz , among others) under George W. Bush wanted to invade and impose government changes.

7.   Culture

Hmmm, both Arabic countries, is the fact that they speak a different language enough?

7.   Religion

Never mind, further research shows them to be both predominately Muslim countries.

7.   They aren’t spelled the same

I-R-A-Q is not the same as I-R-A-N. Knew that I’d find one more.

It wasn’t easy, but I did manage to find 7 ways in which these two situations are completely different – just don’t ask me to come up with 8. Can we please now accept the fact that these are two completely different situations and just get on with the invasion, and subsequent destruction of Iran, along with the 7 years of civil war that will inevitably follow (and the hundreds of thousands of civilian lives that will be lost), so that a non-existent threat can be extinguished?

Interesting Related Articles:

  • Canadian Progressive World has an interesting video on how corporate media manipulates support for international wars, going back as far as the Spanish-American war, and continuing through World War 1, Vietnam and Iraq and how this manipulation is supporting escalating the situation in Iran.