Sunday, November 30, 2008

Flaherty's Fiscal Failure

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters that the Harpocrite neo-con austerity plan aka the fiscal update was not 'written on a napkin, we have planned it for months'.

Oh dear that means all these cuts, the attack on democratic public funding of political parties, the plan to freeze public sector workers wages and take away their right to strike, and the plan to sell off crown assests and privatize infrastructure spending was all planned months ago. Then why didn't they make that known to the public during the election? Because of course it was couched as 'balancing the budget' and 'we won't run a deficit'.

When the fiscal update was released it was anything but....rather it was another example of Harpers political agenda being foisted on Canadians by a minority government intent on neo-con social engineering at any cost. Until that cost was deemed politically too expensive. Then Harper blinked. At least when it came to public financing of political parties.

Government reverses itself on political funding decision

As far as freezing wages, removing the right to strike and privatization that is still on the agenda.

The Harpocrites have no fiscal plan, they have their same old tired neo-con agenda; reduce government. In particular reduce programs that they and their right wing base are opposed to as we saw with their announcement of arts cuts and before that their attack in their first term on womens programs and legal aid programs.

The biggest wasrte of government funding has been Harpers war in Afghanistan, but reducing our involvement and reducing military spending is not on their agenda.Instead they are increasing spending on the military and refusing to withdraw our troops any earlier than 2011.

With unemployment increasing and predicted to get worse,due to the collapse of the manufacturing sector in Ontario, especially with the auto industry, again the Haprocrites failed to come up with a stimulus plan.

Instead the cynical might be forgiven for thinking the this Law and Order government has only one real infrastructure plan given their propensity to imitate the U.S. Increased incarceration means building more prisons, to house the unemployed forced into a life of crime.

Harper is following in the footeps of another Conservative PM from Calgary; R.B. Bennett. He failed to deal with the economic crisis of the Great Depression. Flaherty's fiscal update shows that the Harpocrite government is failing Canadians just as Bennett did.

Neo-Con Industrial Strategy.
Too Little Too Late
WSJ Criticizes Contracting Out
Mayor Of Kabul Says Get Out
Economics 101
Common Sense
Neo-Cons Have No New Ideas
Here Come the Seventies
Auto Solution II
Wage Controls
Arts Vote Cost Jaffer His Job
C.D. Howe Canada's Grand Poobah
Calgary Herald Remembers R.B. Bennett

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dream Machine

Speaking of American Trancendentalism I came across this article in the Globe and Mail about Brion Gysin, Edmontonian, member of the beat generation, creator of the Dream Machine, William Burroughs collaborator and lover, and shaman. He is finally getting his due in a new documentary based on a biography written by another Edmontonian; John Gieger.

Back in the ninties I collaborated with Bruce Fletcher on a journal called Virus 23 published in Edmonton and wrote an article on Gysin.

Gysin grew up partly in Edmonton before leading a typically itinerant beat existence in Paris, London and Tangier. An enigmatic figure, even among Burroughs's coterie, he came up with the concept for the Dream Machine by accident. He was looking out of the window of a bus in 1958 while travelling to an artists' colony in Marseilles, and the flickering pattern of light through the trees gave him a feeling of transcendence.
Later, a young mathematician, Ian Sommerville, another within in the beat circle, helped to build the device. Gysin then spent years trying to peddle the invention to electronics and media companies. Long story short, his invention got no takers and Gysin died in relatively obscurity in Paris in 1986.
Only now is he getting his due. The Dream Machine is widely seen as much more than a mere device, as Gysin himself described it, but as an art piece, blending the Arabic patterns that influenced his work with his idea of a kind of almost mechanical abstraction that ran throughout his artistic work. For instance, Gysin is primarily known (and increasingly being rediscovered) for his “cut-ups,” pieces of newspaper joined randomly together.
What Burroughs and Gysin wanted was to fight societal control, to fight the middle-class normality that pervaded postwar America.
“Remember the transcendentalists in the American literary tradition – Emerson, Thoreau – and this whole tradition of individualism, of taking over your own world, whether it be Walden Pond or whatever,” Sheehan says. “It's often said that the beats were the 20th-century answer or echo of the transcendentalists. Again, ‘Take control, don't trust the Man. The control systems are out to get you. They are blasting at you their television and radio.'”
So Burroughs and Gysin's alternative was the Dream Machine. “And they literally were serious. They wanted to replace the television with these machines in everyone's suburban living room,” Sheehan adds.

Strange and wonderful visions of the counterculture

Based on John Geiger's well-received book Chapel of Extreme Experience: A Short History of Stroboscopic Light and the Dream Machine, Sheehan's compelling documentary delivers a culturally incisive job of unmasking Gysin. That's no small feat, considering the mercurial and spectre-like nature of a man who believed himself to be the reincarnation of the 10th-century King of Assassins and who counted writer William S. Burroughs, singer Marianne Faithfull and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones among his friends and lovers.
Sheehan goes out of his way to prove that, for a man who lived in infamy and died (in 1986) in obscurity, Gysin's influence on today's culture extends beyond rap and dub poetry and into the emergence of audiences as creators of their own computer-made and distributed entertainment. Experts from stuffy neurosurgeons to hip DJs are interviewed in an attempt to shed light on Gysin as a visionary and the Dream Machine as a precursor to anything Apple Inc. puts an "i" in front of and sells to the creative masses: iPhones, iPods, iMovies.

A hit when it screened earlier this year at Toronto's Hot Docs Festival -- it was awarded a special jury prize for Canadian Documentary -- the film explores the life of Gysin, who was born in a Canadian military hospital in England in 1916, raised in Edmonton and lived the impoverished-yet-glamourous life glorified by the Beat writers. He left Canada for Paris, where he fraternized with the Surrealists and later lived in the Beat Hotel (where William S. Burroughs finished Naked Lunch and Allen Ginsberg wrote Kaddish); worked as a spy during the Second World War; and co-founded a restaurant for the expat community of Tangier, Morocco. A renaissance man, Gysin was a writer, an artist, and, perhaps most of all, an innovator; he was the originator of the "cut-up" technique (the literary process later used by Burroughs and others in which text is literally cut up, rearranged at random and reconstructed to make a new work). Sheehan, though, chooses to focus on the life of Gysin by filtering it through another one of his inventions: the dream machine.

Chapel of Extreme Experience: A Short History of Stroboscopic ... - Google Books Result

Interview with John Geiger
Author of Books on Brion Gysin and the Dream Machine
John Geiger is the author of four books. His first two concerned Arctic exploration. His next two,
Chapel of Extreme Experience: A Short History of Stroboscopic Light and The Dream Machine and Nothing Is True - Everything Is Permitted: The Life of Brion Gysin, concerned the Beat movement. In an age when many authors opt for specialization, publishing book after book on the same topic, the range of Mr. Geiger’s publications might strike the casual observer as odd. Here’s a guy who is a Governor and Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. What’s he doing writing about the Beats?
Impressed by the Gysin biography and curious to know more about the juxtaposition of Mr. Geiger’s interests, RealityStudio prepared the following interview questions and Mr. Geiger graciously agreed to respond.
RealityStudio: What first drew you to study Brion Gysin, William Burroughs, their peers and their era?
Geiger: I had written two books concerned with geographic exploration, and — at the time — didn’t want to write a third. I was interested in Gysin and Burroughs both as another kind of explorer, of inner space… I was also intrigued by the idea that someone like Gysin, a bohemian, gay, had come from Edmonton, Alberta, which was a small conservative town in the 1920s. He was such a fascinating creature, Brion: how is it that such a barren landscape — then — could produce such a harvest? But the idea for the book came from a lovely guy, James Grauerholz.

Interview with John Geiger(Pataphysics)

You’ve been working on this book for many years. What was the thing that really began your interest in Brion Gysin?
What surprised me was the discovery that Brion Gysin grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, which still has some very ‘old west’ sensibilities about the place, so you can well imagine what it would have been like in the 1920s, when Brion was there, growing up and receiving most of his schooling. It was a very conservative, small frontier town perched on the edge of the great forests of the North. It struck me as being remarkable that this kind of person could’ve come out of that kind of place. I think that exploration in our own time has been undertaken by people like William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, and I think in the case of Burroughs, a book like The Yagé Letters is very much a narrative of exploration, in the same way Ernest Shackleton’s narratives are. So to me, I was just conducting research into another very different manner of exploring. Those things together caught my interest. I was already aware of Gysin, but interestingly not throug! h Burroughs so much, although in hindsight I had seen his name obviously—you can hardly read Burroughs without seeing Gysin’s name or some reference to his ideas—but it was really through Paul Bowles that I first discovered him.
It’s interesting that right at the end of Semiotext(e)’s Burroughs Live, in a discussion with Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs mentions that Brion was a potent shaman. Certainly he had an erudite involvement with magic, and his availability to intuitive principles seems quite advanced. How did you take those things into consideration when you were writing the book?
When I first spoke to William Burroughs about the biography—he was an enthusiastic supporter—he made it very clear to me that the approach should be a conventional biography, and he felt that Brion needed to be taken seriously, and that there had been enough homages and remembrances, that really someone ought to just examine his life very carefully and set out the facts of that life. So, obviously his interest in ‘the other way,’ in what Burroughs called ‘the magical universe,’ was integral to Gysin’s character. I mean it’s something that he learned from the very earliest moments of his life from the Indian people he was encountering. Brion Gysin was always different, he wasn’t a normal child anymore than he was a normal adult, and consequently he found himself hanging out with people who were marginalized, even when he was a child. In the context of Canada in those years and p! robably even to this day, those people were aboriginal people, they were North American Indians. It was through those interactions that he first took magic mushrooms—that was when this interest really first took hold and he was introduced to an alternative approach to life and thought.

Key to Hallucinations Found

Almost fifty years ago, the beat poet Brion Gysin (1916 - 1986), described a visual hallucination that he experienced while riding a bus:
...Had a transcendental storm of colour visions today in the bus going to Marseille. We ran through a long avenue of trees and I closed my eyes against the setting sun. An overwhelming flood of intensely bright patterns in supernatural colours exploded behind my eyelids: a multidimensional kaleidoscope whirling out through space. I was swept out of time. I was in a world of infinite number. The vision stopped abruptly as we left the trees. Was that a vision? What happened to me? (Brion Gysin, 21 December 1958)
Gysin, a writer and performance artist, though known for his discovery of the cut-up technique, which inspired writers like William S. Burroughs, was also the co-inventor (along with scientist Ian Sommerville) of the Dreamachine, a stroboscopic flicker device designed to be viewed with the eyes closed and produces visual stimuli.
At the end of his documentation, Gysin asks, "Was that a vision? What happened to me?"
According to Dominic ffytche of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, and author of 'The Hodology of Hallucinations,' a study recently published in an issue of Cortex, "Fifty years on we are able to answer Gysin's question." Gysin's hallucinations were quite similar to what Jan
Purkinje (1787-1869), the father of contemporary neuroscience, experienced as a child.
"I stand in the bright sunlight with closed eyes and face the sun. Then I move my outstretched, somewhat separated, fingers up and down in front of the eyes, so that they are alternately illuminated and shaded. In addition to the uniform yellow-red that one expects with closed eyes, there appear beautiful regular figures that are initially difficult to define but slowly become clearer. When we continue to move the fingers, the figure becomes more complex and fills the whole visual field. (Purkinje, 1819)
When Purkinje moved his fingers, he simulated an effect similar to that of Gysin's Dreamachine.
Because of the brevity and unpredictability of hallucinations, up until now, surprisingly little is known about brain changes that occur during hallucinations—one cannot anticipate when a hallucination will occur. The chances of capturing a hallucination during a brain scanning are small.
However, it has long been recognized that flashes of light at particular frequencies, like those experience by Gysin and Purkinje, produce hallucinations of intricate patterns and vivid colors. Indeed, these stimulated visual patterns are described as Purkinje patterns. For anyone who's confused out there, the Purkinje patterns ffytche describes in his paper are much more complicated than the stuff everyone sees after a camera flash or when we stare at the sun too long without protective eyewear. They're actually much more than that.
"They are more complex...entirely unexpected the first time you encounter them. At slow rates of flashing through closed lids you experience exactly what you might expect, a dull red light pulsing with each flash. At the critical frequency the whole thing changes and colours, patterns and forms appear. The Beat poet Brion Gysin's description puts it better than I can."
Most people have a rough idea of what a hallucination experience might be like, but when it comes to defining a hallucination, that's more difficult. If a hallucination is defined as 'seeing or hearing something that is not actually there,' then dreams and imagery would be considered hallucinations.
According to ffytche, visual hallucinations, (people do hallucinate with other senses), "are located in the world around us, not in the mind's eye. They are not under our control, in the sense that we cannot bring them on or change them as they occur. They also look real and vivid, although the things one sees may be bizarre and impossible. Purkinje phenomena meet all these criteria and can thus be considered true hallucinations.
However, Purkinje phenomena are induced by experiment rather than occurring spontaneously as in the Charles Bonnet Syndrome, an eye disease that causes patients to have complex hallucinations. ffytche points out:
"We are only beginning to understand just how common this Syndrome is, partly because patients have been unwilling to admit their hallucinations for fear of being labeled as having serious mental illness. Charles Bonnet Syndrome patients almost all hallucinate patterns and geometrical forms identical to Purkinje phenomena. Many also see figures, objects and faces, the types of experience we generally associate with hallucinations. The hope is that what we learn from the Purkinje phenomena will also apply to these other hallucination experiences."
ffytche also adds that "most people will experience Purkinje hallucinations under appropriate conditions of visual stimulation, although their clarity and ease of induction varies from subject to subject. I have only encountered a few subjects who do not seem to have the experiences for reasons I do not fully understand. I assume the visual systems of such 'immune' subjects are wired up in a slightly different way."



New Age Libertarian Manifesto

100 years of the Avante-Garde 1905-2005

Kenneth Patchen

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Henry David Thoreau Weeps

The father of American Transcendentalism , individualist anarchism and environmentalism would weep. A pond is such a small thing and yet it reveals the seriousness of climate change and the ensuing mass extinction of species caused by capitalism.

For the past few years, Davis and colleagues from Harvard and Boston University have been perusing the notebooks of the famous naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, using his notes about his sanctuary at Walden Pond to uncover the drastic effects of climate change. With his graduate student, Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, Primack stumbled upon Thoreau’s observations of changes in plant flowering times and species occurrences over time. “It became the gold mine,” Primack said. “What was great was that Thoreau was so famous and that his records were the oldest we found in the United States.” Together with his graduate students, Charlie G. Willis and Brad R. Ruhfel, Davis compiled an evolutionary tree of the entire community of flora that had existed in the Concord area in the mid-19th century. “Using phylogenies to think about interesting patterns of bioevolution and global [climate] change just seemed like a perfect avenue to think about this pattern of species loss using a novel evolutionary perspective,” Davis said. Primack and Miller-Rushing had observed that the plants around Walden Pond were producing flowers on average more than a week earlier than they were in Thoreau’s time, when temperatures were 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit lower. The shift in flowering times, however, was not uniform—some species groups were flowering more than three weeks earlier, while others were flowering “like clockwork around mid-May,” Davis said. Applying these data to an evolutionary perspective, the researcher--s found that the species that adjusted to the changing climate survived, while the “clockwork” plants had declined in number. “The real downer about this all is that the groups that are being hardest hit are our most cherished temperate flowering species: orchids, buttercups, roses, dogwoods, violets,” Davis said. “These are the kind of species that people go out on botanical forays to see, and now they can’t see them.” Davis said that about one-quarter of the plants Thoreau observed in his notebooks have become extinct, and that 36 percent now are in such low abundance that they are “hanging by a thread.”

Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.
White Pond and Walden are great crystals on the surface of the earth, Lakes of Light. If they were permanently congealed, and small enough to be clutched, they would, perchance, be carried off by slaves, like precious stones, to adorn the heads of emperors; but being liquid, and ample, and secured to us and our successors forever, we disregard them, and run after the diamond of Kohinoor. They are too pure to have a market value; they contain no muck. How much more beautiful than our lives, how much more transparent than our characters, are they! We never learned meanness of them. How much fairer than the pool before the farmers door, in which his ducks swim! Hither the clean wild ducks come. Nature has no human inhabitant who appreciates her. The birds with their plumage and their notes are in harmony with the flowers, but what youth or maiden conspires with the wild luxuriant beauty of Nature? She flourishes most alone, far from the towns where they reside. Talk of heaven! ye disgrace earth..

Basic Premises:
1. An individual is the spiritual center of the universe - and in an individual can be found the clue to nature, history and, ultimately, the cosmos itself. It is not a rejection of the existence of God, but a preference to explain an individual and the world in terms of an individual.
2. The structure of the universe literally duplicates the structure of the individual self - all knowledge, therefore, begins with self-knowledge. This is similar to Aristotle's dictum "know thyself."
3. Transcendentalists accepted the neo-Platonic conception of nature as a living mystery, full of signs - nature is symbolic.
4. The belief that individual virtue and happiness depend upon self-realization - this depends upon the reconciliation of two universal psychological tendencies:
a. the expansive or self-transcending tendency - a desire to embrace the whole world - to know and become one with the world.
b. the contracting or self-asserting tendency - the desire to withdraw, remain unique and separate - an egotistical existence.
This dualism assumes our two psychological needs; the contracting: being unique, different, special, having a racial identity,ego-centered, selfish, and so on; the expansive: being the same as others, altruistic, be one of the human race, and so on.
The transcendentalist expectation is to move from the contracting to the expansive. This dualism has aspects of Freudian id and superego; the Jungian shadow and persona, the Chinese ying/yang, and the Hindu movement from Atman (egotistic existence) to Brahma (cosmic existence).

Thoreau's clay-mixed graphite wasn't entirely original. The Germans had used something like it a few years earlier. It's not clear whether Thoreau had any inkling of the German process. But what is clear is that he transcended it. He developed a new grinding mill. He developed all sorts of process details. Historian Henry Petroski adds to the list of Thoreau's inventions -- a pipe forming machine, water wheel designs. They probably never told you in your English class that Thoreau often signed the words "Civil Engineer" after his name. Yet Thoreau was content to walk away from an invention without making personal profit of it. He was, after all, the same man who wrote ;... the seventh day should be man's day of toil ... and the other six his Sabbath of the affections and the soul -- in which to range this widespread garden, and drink in the soft influences and sublime revelations of Nature ...

Many readers mistake Henry's tone in Walden and other works, thinking he was a cranky hermit. That was far from the case, as one of his young neighbors and Edward Emerson attest. He found greater joy in his daily life than most people ever would. He traveled often, to the Maine woods and to Cape Cod several times, and was particularly interested in the frontier and Indians. He opposed the government for waging the Mexican war (to extend slavery) eloquently in Resistance to Civil Government, based on his brief experience in jail; he lectured against slavery in an abolitionist lecture, Slavery in Massachusetts. He even supported John Brown's efforts to end slavery after meeting him in Concord, as in A Plea for Captain John Brown.

Referring to the American government, the greatest American Anarchist, David Thoreau, said: "Government, what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instance losing its integrity; it has not the vitality and force of a single living man. Law never made man a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well disposed are daily made agents of injustice."

Ziga Vodovnik interviews Howard Zinn — Rebels Against Tyranny.
There is, of course, much with which to disagree, but overall, it's a valuable read, especially the parts about the philosophy's American history:
One of the problems with dealing with anarchism is that there are many people whose ideas are anarchist, but who do not necessarily call themselves anarchists. The word was first used by Proudhon in the middle of the 19th century, but actually there were anarchist ideas that proceeded Proudhon, those in Europe and also in the United States. For instance, there are some ideas of Thomas Paine, who was not an anarchist, who would not call himself an anarchist, but he was suspicious of government. Also Henry David Thoreau. He does not know the word anarchism, and does not use the word anarchism, but Thoreau’s ideas are very close to anarchism. He is very hostile to all forms of government. If we trace origins of anarchism in the United States, then probably Thoreau is the closest you can come to an early American anarchist. You do not really encounter anarchism until after the Civil War, when you have European anarchists, especially German anarchists, coming to the United States. They actually begin to organize. The first time that anarchism has an organized force and becomes publicly known in the United States is in Chicago at the time of Haymarket Affair.[....]Well, the Transcendentalism is, we might say, an early form of anarchism. The Transcendentalists also did not call themselves anarchists, but there are anarchist ideas in their thinking and in their literature. In many ways Herman Melville shows some of those anarchist ideas. They were all suspicious of authority. We might say that the Transcendentalism played a role in creating an atmosphere of skepticism towards authority, towards government.

Traditional individualist anarchism
Theorists in traditional American individualism (historically called "Boston anarchism" at times, often derogatorily) include Josiah Warren, Ezra Heywood, William B. Greene, Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner,Stephen Pearl Andrews, and Henry David Thoreau. Josiah Warren is commonly regarded as the first individualist anarchist in the American tradition. He had participated in a failed collectivist experiment called "New Harmony" and came to the conclusion that such a system is inferior to one where individualism and private property is respected. He details his conclusions in regard to this collectivist experiment in Equitable Commerce. In a quote from that text that illustrates his radical individualism, he says: "Society must be so converted as to preserve the SOVEREIGNTY OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL inviolate. That it must avoid all combinations and connections of persons and interests, and all other arrangements which will not leave every individual at all times at liberty to dispose of his or her person, and time, and property in any manner in which his or her feelings or judgment may dictate. WITHOUT INVOLVING THE PERSONS OR INTERESTS OF OTHERS" (Tucker's emphasis). Warren coined the phrase "Cost the limit of price" to refer to his interpretation of Adam Smith's labor theory of value. The labor theory holds that the value of a commodity is equal to the amount of labor required to produce or acquire it. Warren maintains, therefore, that the price of labor of one individual must be equal to the production of the equivalent amount of labor of every other individual. And, consequently, that an employer who labors not, but retains a portion of the produce of an employee as profit is guilty of violating the "cost principle" --he recieves payment without cost to himself. Warren regards this practice as "invasive." If an employer is to be paid, he must not be paid unless he labors. In 1827, Warren put his theories into practive by starting a business that he called a "labor for labor store" in Cincinatti, Ohio. Warren, like all the American individualists, that followed was a strong supporter of the right of individuals to retain the product of their labor as private property. Josiah Warren (1799-1874) was an American social reformer and commonly regarded as the first individualist anarchist. ... Ezra Heywood was a 19th century North American individualist anarchist, slavery abolitionist, and feminist. ... Benjamin Tucker (April 17, 1854 - 1939) was Americas leading proponent of individualist anarchism in the 19th century. ... Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808 - May 14, 1887) was an American political philosopher, abolitionist, and legal theorist of the 19th century. ... Stephen Pearl Andrews (March 22, 1812 - May 21, 1886) was an anarchist. ... Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862; born David Henry Thoreau) was an American author, pacifist, tax resister and philosopher who is most famous for his essays Walden on appreciation of nature and Civil Disobedience (available at wikisource) on civil disobedience. ... New Harmony is a town located in Posey County, Indiana. ... His Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was one of the earliest attempts to study the historical development of industry and commerce in Europe. ... The labor theory of value (LTV) is a theory in economics and political economy concerning a market-oriented or commodity-producing society: the theory equates the value of an exchangeable good or service (i. ...

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Today is Buy Nothing Day....yesterday was Black Friday....and it lived up to its name as frenzied American consumers like rogue elephants stomped to death a worker in order to get in on the discount prices. Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death

Like the rush to make a quick buck off the housing boom, this rush to consume is part and parcel of the psychopathology of capitalism. It is the current variation of the emotional plaque; whereby the world is going to hell in a handbasket, so lets consume ourselves to death.

At least one writer suggests that the alternative to these two faces of the same coin(Buy Nothing Day/Black Friday), is to actually produce something, to make your own toys or at least consume locally made goods.

The great myth of the middle class was a social construction of post WWII capitalist economies, especially the growing service based economy, is that we are not producers/workers but consumers. After 9/11 George Bush told America to consume, it is this consumption that results not only in the death of workers in shopping frenzies but the mass exctinction of species on the planet and the climate crisis.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Neo-Con Industrial Strategy.

The Federal Conservatives have a plan to help with the labour shortage in Alberta......mass unemployment in the rest of Canada forcing workers to move to Alberta. As a result of this mass unemployment labour rates will decline making it cheaper to build all those upgraders now on hold. Call it a ne0-con industrial strategy.
Unemployment to rise in 2009, Flaherty predicts
Unemployment is slated to rise to 6.9 per cent next year. While that's still far below the 13 per cent jobless rate in the early 1980s recession and 10 per cent in 1991-93, it will still mean hardships as thousands of jobs are shed in manufacturing, energy, mining and other sectorsFlaherty predicted the jobless rate will rise to 6.9 per cent in 2009 from 6.2 per cent now, but Porter predicted it could creep up to 7.5 per cent by the end of 2009 – with a loss of 50,000 jobs for the year.
As the unemployment rate rises, "you'll begin to see some of the steam come out of wages as the labour market loosens up," Porter said. Bruce Cran at the Consumers' Association of Canada said consumers are more pessimistic than Ottawa and are reacting by cutting their spending "From what we're hearing, it seems the government's a step or two behind the reality of what people are thinking."

Boy you can say that again, they have no plan...because having a plan well that would mean well a 'planned economy' anathema to neo-cons. So what do they offer us instead why the solution that got us in this mess in the first place back in the bad old days of the ninties. A made in Alberta solution that we saw under Ralph Klein. And he had no plan either except slash and burn.

Flaherty's instinct to cut out of step with world
As the rapidly worsening global recession pushes governments around the world to step up spending, Ottawa's first official response is to cut back. The fiscal update presented yesterday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will suck $6-billion out of the economy next year. But it will show the slimmest of budget surpluses, even as his own figures show Canada has slipped into recession. By cutting government spending, limiting its transfers to the provinces and padding its revenues by charging commercial banks to partake in money-market measures, Mr. Flaherty said he will narrowly avoid a deficit. But his moves are exactly the opposite of what many economists recommend in times of recession. Government spending should not be contracting when the economy could use a boost, they argue. In most other developed countries, governments are ramping up multibillion-dollar programs ranging from infrastructure spending to food stamps for the poor.

Progressive economists who have been calling for large stimulus spending reacted angrily yesterday to Ottawa's fiscal update, arguing the government used it to deliver an assault on democratic freedoms, gender, minority and labour rights in Canada."This is class and gender warfare," said economist Robert Chernomas, from the University of Manitoba. "This is the type of economic policy agenda Sarah Palin would have delivered had she been elected president in the U.S." Chernomas is among 88 Canadian economists, sociologists and political scientists who appealed for a stimulus package for the failing economy in a letter last month to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.Members of the Progressive Economic Forum, they oppose the brand of neo-liberal "laissez-faire" capitalism – the markets know best – in vogue until the recent global meltdown.Several economists interviewed yesterday by the Toronto Star said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty let down Canadians by playing politics in time of crisis. They said he failed to offer measures to save jobs or stimulate the economy, despite agreement to do so among the G20 nations – including Canada – at a recent emergency meeting in Washington.

Of course a capitalist goverment has no plan because neither do the capitalists.....

"There is what I believe is somewhat of a perfect storm coming at us," says Liz Wright, practice leader at Watson Wyatt consultancy's Human Capital Group in Toronto.
"We have both recessionary pressures and a talent shortage" that combined, will require a thoughtful approach to instituting cost-saving measures, she says.
The consultancy conducted its annual survey of workplaces in Canada earlier this year to determine companies' preparedness for an economic downturn and workforce preservation.
While the survey won't be released until next month, Ms. Wright says it found 60% of companies surveyed have contingency plans that include layoffs in the event of a recession.
"Some of the top areas they've identified in their plans are organizational restructuring, layoffs, hiring freezes and a slowing rate of salary increases," she says.
However, the survey, titled the 2008-2009 Global Strategic Rewards Report also found more than half of Canadian companies do not effectively undertake workforce planning.
"They don't really understand what their business needs are in terms of the workforce," Ms. Wright says. "Roughly 30% to 40% are conducting an analysis of some sort but the rest aren't."

Economics 101
Neo-Cons Have No New Ideas

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Too Little Too Late

Here is a lesson about the importance of dealing with climate change NOW. Under our so called Green PM; Brian Mulroney, a North American agreement on acid rain was signed. Unfortunately it now seems it was too little too late. As will be the reluctant changes capitalism will make in order to offset the current climate crisis.

Scientists say they have found lakes in Canada that are losing some of the calcium dissolved in their waters, a condition they're likening to an aquatic version of osteoporosis.
The drop in calcium levels is being attributed to the effects of acid rain and logging, which together have depleted the element in the soil around lakes, reducing the amount that is in runoff and available for aquatic life.

Under previously implemented pollution-control plans, emissions of sulphur dioxide in Eastern Canada fell by 63 per cent from 1980 to 2001, according to Environment Canada figures. As a consequence, acidity in many lakes has dropped to more normal readings, but the new findings suggests that even this massive emissions cut hasn't been enough to fully mitigate the damage from acid rain. The researchers believe the sharp drop in calcium has been under way for decades, and began in some areas as early as the 1970s.
When acid rain falls on soil, it quickly leaches out the calcium, and eventually exhausts the dirt's stores of the element, leaving little available to be washed into lakes. In the initial period of acid rain deposition, this effect temporarily increases the amount of calcium entering the lakes, but once the stores of the element are depleted, levels plunge.
Logging is also a problem because trees contain calcium they draw from the soil. When trees are cut and removed, their calcium is taken from the ecosystem. The calcium in uncut forests is returned to the soil when trees fall and decay.

Mulroney's regime demonstrated environmental rhetoric but with questionable consequences and little follow-up actions.In 1988, the Mulroney government was involved in the "Changing Atmosphere Conference" in Toronto, where government, industry, academics and NGOs exclaimed the following:"Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequence could be second only to a global nuclear war. The Earth's atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from depositions of hazardous, toxic and atomic wastes and from wasteful fossil fuel use ... These changes represent a major threat to international security and are already having harmful consequences over many parts of the globe.... it is imperative to act now, (Climate Change in the Conference statement, Changing Atmosphere Conference in 1988).Even after this deep concern was expressed, Mulroney did not begin to act.In June 1992, Mulroney signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention, ratified the Convention in December 1992, and then proceeded to ignore the obligations incurred under the Convention and to never enact the necessary legislation to ensure compliance.The Mulroney government incurred obligations, not only under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, but also under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Tories Acid Rain Solution
Industrial Ecology
Capitalism Is Not Sustainable
The Carbon Market Myth
Saving Capitalism From Itself
Green Capitalism
Climate Catastrophe In Ten Years

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Capital Offers No Solution To It's Own Crisis

Capital's crisis is now fully public..
.Only twice in the past has the business confidence index been lower - in the third quarter of 2001 - during the bursting of the tech-bubble - and during the 1990-91 period, when a recession battered the real estate, financial and retail sectors.
"In both cases, the drops were followed by contracting business capital investment," the Conference Board said in a release.
Capital spending is a major engine of economic growth, combining with consumer and government spending and exports as the main pillars of the economy. Weak capital spending, at a time of falling consumer confidence and government cuts, will put a squeeze on growth.
The Conference Board said "the latest survey, conducted during the first three weeks of October, as mayhem gripped global financial markets, found businesses were "much more concerned" about the economy and their future financial situations than in the previous poll, taken during the summer.
Nearly 70 per cent of businesses responding to the survey believed that the economy would be in worse shape in six months - compared with 12 per cent who expected an improvement.
The net result of that negative view is that only 25.8 per cent of the business leaders surveyed believe now is a good time to make new investments in plants, technology and equipment, the board said.

And it is having a Flashback....

Hedge fund industry enters time-warp in January 1970, pops out virtually unchanged in 2008

Thought recent develops in the hedge fund industry such as poor performance, SEC registration, and taxation were unprecedented? Yeah, so did we - until Nicholas Motson of the Cass Business School (see related post), gave us a heads-up about a fascinating article from the January 1970 issue of FORTUNE magazine. The entire article can be downloaded here on the A.W. Jones & Co. website (yes, that A.W. Jones - the father of the hedge fund industry).
As you will see, the similarities between the hedge fund world of 1970 and that of 2008 and truly amazing - almost eerie in fact. Even the 39 year old Warren Buffett makes a cameo in this piece. As Motson pointed out to us, “…if you re-scale the numbers it could have been printed yesterday.”
The bizarre parallels begin with the article’s very title: “Hard Times Come to Hedge Funds“. It goes on to chronicle the travails of the $1 billion industry (as a point of reference, the US mutual fund sector managed about $50 billion at the time). FORTUNE estimated there were 3,000 investors in about 150 hedge funds by 1970. Most funds were launched between 1966 and 1970 and “the great bulk” were registered in Manhattan (that’s just south of Greenwich, for those who may not remember the old days).

Speaking of flashbacks the solution to this crisis is a New Regina Manifesto for the 21st Century.....

Public reading marks 75th anniversary of Regina Manifesto
'No CCF Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism.'
Ottawa (19 Aug. 2008) - Seventy-five years ago this summer, the Regina Manifesto was adopted at the first national convention of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Regina. The 4,300-word declaration laid out a socialist vision for the country and has influenced the Canadian left ever since. To this day the document remains an emotional symbol for the New Democratic Party (NDP) – which replaced the CCF in 1961 – even though it includes a utopian declaration that no socialist today expects ever to be realized

The former based upon Fabian Social Democratic tradiditons looked to the State and in particular its economists to deal with the crisis of capital during the Great Depression. As such capital was lost, in the collapse of the stock market. Today the same Great Crisis is occuring but what is obvious is that all socialization of capital can be accomplished without the State and centralized planning; rather through public ownership through workers control, a phenomenon denied by the CCF as implausable, impossible, and associated with the 'Imposibilists" of the Socialist Party of Canada.

Today we have the opportunity to mobilise the mass of social capital, the wealth created by workers through the production of surplus value, as well as through workers investments; their pension plans, RRSP's and investments. Share Capital, that the Wall Street pundits proclaim was the new capitalism, was in fact the expansion of the recognition that all capital is the result of creation of the proletariat.

That is when the casino market of investments and movement of fictional captial; finance captial, collapses all that is left to retrieve capital is real prudction; factories and workers. In other words all capital is actually based on two contradictory sources; inheritence, the dead capital of previous generations of workers, and productive capital; living workers and the means of production.

The hedge funds and private capital investors who dominate the financial markets are based upon the former as George Soros ,himself a benfificary of the fictive capita of hedge funds,l takes pains to point out, the obvious, that without real capital; living workers and factories, all other capital is whiffenpoof.

And credit is the ultimate in dead capital, its only real is when it is spent by living workers through consumption and investment. Otherwise it is merely caluculations made by computers being used by international speculators. The use of 'creative' accounting practices by capitalists allows them to discount their losses over a period, to make them disappear, which has led us to this crisis. The real effect of these practices is to create actual unemployment of workers the very source of all capital.

While it may appear counterintuitive the practice worked for a decade as investors shored up companies that cutback workers, however in this crisis it is the reverse that is now required. Investment to be successful must create jobs such as in infrastructure. And the greatest source of capital remains living workers, both their labour to produce value and the capital they have created in pension funds, mortgages, RRSPs, savings accounts and government bonds. Its as clears as the nose on your face. The credit/capital crisis is the fact that Americans and Canadians have no savings, rather they are overextended on credit, they are in debt, so their nations are in debt. Laying off workers only worsens the crisis, since they now become permanent debtors.

Public ownership, the socialization of all capital under worker and community control, the creation of workers cooperatives as an alternative to corporations, and by extension the creation of peoples banks; credit unions under workers control, is the elephant in the room, that so terrifies the captialist class who keep telling us this meltdown is not the end of capitalism as we know it. Though it should be.


There Is An Alternative To Capitalism

Business Unionism Offers No Solution To Capitalist Crisis

Auto Solution II

Super Bubble Burst

Your Pension Plan At Work

Gambling On Your Future

The End Of The Leisure Society

It's the Labour Theory of Value, stupid

Workers Control vs Corporate Welfare

NDP And Workers Control

A Peoples Program for Alberta

Left, Right and Liberty

State-less Socialism

Cooperative Commonwealth=Free Market

Not Your Usual Left Wing Rant

Populism and Producerism


Historical Memory on the Eve of the Election

Calgary Herald Remembers R.B. Bennett

Social Credit And Western Canadian Radicalism

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

WSJ Criticizes Contracting Out

My my what a difference a decade makes. The Wall Street Journal today published this. Yes the Wall Street Journal, the voice of Rupert Murdock, the voice of corporate capitalism in America sounding like Mother Jones magazine. The irony is that contracting out government services has created a welfare state for private companies, and an increase in the size of government. The exact opposite of what the neo-copns claimed it would do.

Government by Contractor Is a Disgrace
Many jobs are best left to federal workers.
Back in 1984, the conservative industrialist J. Peter Grace was telling whoever would listen why government was such a wasteful institution.
One reason, which he spelled out in a book chapter on privatization, was that "government-run enterprises lack the driving forces of marketplace competition, which promote tight, efficient operations. This bears repetition," he wrote, "because it is such a profound and important truth."
And repetition is what this truth got. Grace trumpeted it in the recommendations of his famous Grace Commission, set up by President Ronald Reagan to scrutinize government operations looking for ways to save money. It was repeated by leading figures of both political parties, repeated by everyone who understood the godlike omniscience of markets, repeated until its veracity was beyond question. Turn government operations over to the private sector and you get innovation, efficiency, flexibility.
What bears repetition today, however, is the tragic irony of it all. To think that our contractor welfare binge was once rationalized as part of an efficiency crusade. To think that it was supposed to make government smaller.
As the George W. Bush presidency grinds to its close, we can say with some finality that the opposite is closer to the truth. The MBA president came to Washington determined to enshrine the truths of "market-based" government. He gave federal agencies grades that were determined, in part, on how abjectly the outfits abased themselves before the doctrine of "competitive sourcing." And, as the world knows, he puffed federal spending to unprecedented levels without increasing the number of people directly employed by the government.
Instead the expansion went, largely, to private contractors, whose employees by 2005 outnumbered traditional civil servants by four to one, according to estimates by Paul Light of New York University. Consider that in just one category of the federal budget -- spending on intelligence -- apparently 70% now goes to private contractors, according to investigative reporter Tim Shorrock, author of "Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing."
Today contractors work alongside government employees all across Washington, often for much better pay. There are seminars you can attend where you will learn how to game the contracting system, reduce your competition, and maximize your haul from good ol' open-handed Uncle Sam. ("Why not become an insider and share in this huge pot of gold?" asks an email ad for one that I got yesterday.) There are even, as Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, D.C., told me, "contractor employees -- lots of them -- whose sole responsibility is to dream up things the government needs to buy from them. The pathetic part is that often the government listens -- kind of like a kid watching a cereal commercial."
Some federal contracting, surely, is unobjectionable stuff. But over the past few years it has become almost impossible to open a newspaper and not read of some well-connected and obscenely compensated contractor foisting a colossal botch on the taxpayer. Contractors bungling the occupation of Iraq; contractors spinning the revolving door at the Department of Homeland Security; contractors reveling publicly in their good fortune after Hurricane Katrina.
At its grandest, government by contractor gives us episodes like the Coast Guard's Deepwater program, in which contractors were hired not only to build a new fleet for that service, but also to manage the entire construction process. One of the reasons for this inflated role, according to the New York Times, was the contractors' standing armies of lobbyists, who could persuade Congress to part with more money than the Coast Guard could ever get on its own. Then, with the billions secured, came the inevitable final chapter in 2006, with the contractors delivering radios that were not waterproof and ships that were not seaworthy.

Government by contractor also makes government less accountable to the public. Recall, for example, the insolent response of Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater, when asked about his company's profits during his celebrated 2007 encounter with the House Oversight Committee: "We're a private company," quoth he, "and there's a key word there -- private."
So you and I don't get to know. We don't get to know about Blackwater's profits, we don't get to know about the effects all this has had on the traditional federal workforce, and we don't really get to know about what goes on elsewhere in the vast private industries to which we have entrusted the people's business.

The Failure of Privatization
Another Privatization Failure
Moral Turpitude Is Spelled Blackwater
The Neo Liberal Canadian State

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