Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And There's That Silver Lining

After the devastating results of the last election, I have been trying to find some good news. From punk rockers to teeny boppers.

But learning that many of the new NDP MPs, are union organizers gives me hope.
... the front benches of the second party in the House—traditionally seen as a government-in-waiting—will feature many tough-minded former union leaders. “We have some pretty major labour folks,” says veteran Vancouver NDP MP Libby Davies. “That’s a connection to a very solid base of activism, an understanding of politics and how it works.”
If there was ever a time to have activists and organizers in the House of Commons, it's now. Because that's probably all we're going to have in the next four years or so, as Harper implements his neoconservative agenda.

Under the "austerity" banner, labour forces are being threatened everywhere.

In Saskatchewan, the government of Brad Wall, a spin-off of the corrupt Grant Devine neoconservatives, was given a special condemnation from the UN for its labour abuses.

Several U.S. states are scaling back unemployment benefits and suspending collective bargaining.

Erin Weir reports on a study conducted by economics professor Engelbert Stockhammer, where he analyzes the effects of a pro-labour strategy to a pro-corporate strategy.
The pro-labour strategy aims to increase wages by promoting collective bargaining, raising minimum wages, etc. and to redistribute income through progressive taxation, social spending, etc. Given higher propensities to consume at lower income levels, a larger wage share and more equal income distribution generate more consumption spending. Greater demand for goods and services then prompts more business investment.
On the other side of the argument:
The pro-capital strategy aims to increase profits by deregulating labour markets, cutting corporate taxes, etc. Higher profits produce more business investment, and lower business costs increase net exports through greater international competitiveness. More investment and exports then increase demand for labour, which translates into more jobs and higher wages.
Stockhammer concludes that a pro-labour strategy is more effective and the fable of "trickle down" is just that. A fable.

But try telling that to Harper and the gang.

I predict that there will be a lot of social unrest over the next four or five years, similar to that we experienced in Ontario under Mike Harris.

So the cloud does have a silver lining when there is a large group representing the 60% of Canadians who did not vote for the Harper government, who know how to handle activism properly.

I think this will be an interesting session of Parliament.


  1. I hope you are right, Emily. I hope there is a strong labour base and I hope they demand to be heard.
    I remember when the NDP was very closely associated with the labour movement, much more so than it is today. I was a member of the International Typographical Union, a large, progressive, democratic, anti-discrimination body with a distinguished history of leadership in the union movement.
    Unfortunately, the ITU no longer exists due to automation of most of the jobs in its purview. I was a newspaper compositor. So, too, was the late Joy Langan, a former NDP Member of Parliament, who kept her fellow union members, as well as her constituents, informed and in touch with federal politics.
    As you know, I now live in Alberta, in a Conservative stronghold, where there is little, if any, real information available to the voting public. The world has changed, Emily, in many, many ways.

  2. And not for the better. But as history moves in cycles maybe labour will once again become a driving force. I have to hold onto any hope.

  3. Forget about cycles and a four-year hunkering-down period. The Conservative machine and the corporatists behind it have the bulldozer already fired up and ready to level everything in its path - including elections and democracy as we have known them. They have a not-to-be-missed, unfettered opportunity and aren't about to let some dewy-eyed regard for things like the greater good put them off their zealots' path. That's why threats about recurring cycles and future elections don't and won't cut it. They're well on their way to re-engineering the entire landscape, ridding it of all such pesky trappings. We have to anticipate and adapt to that, not in four years' time, but right now. And we can't be looking for things in living memory that might have been effective before to be effective now. For present generations, this is a whole new game, one being played by harsh and unfamiliar rules. And it's already afoot. Stop dreaming about four years from now; long before then it will already be too late. Start focusing on the here and now; for we haven't a moment to lose.

  4. Sadly I think you're right. But the only thing that keeps me going is hope. I have two grandsons and am terrified of what the future holds for them.

  5. Despair not, Emily. What might be happening is that the conditions necessary to foment the kind of fundamental and positive change that has been long overdue in our society are finally being set. Too often in the past have we settled for half-measures and piecemeal progress; and now we're being forced to face up to where that course has led us. It will take courage and sacrifice to effect that change. But far better those precious attributes be spent in its pursuit than felled by the yoke our oppressors would force upon us.

  6. Excellent comments that I totally agree with Capt. Daylight. I salute you, and bow once again to Emily for standing up and speaking out. Revolution will soon be afoot I fear because there is no way 60+% of our population are going to sit by while the HarperCONS both sell us out and tear us apart for the sake and greed of corporatocracy.

  7. Actually John Prince most of that 60+% probably will just sit by and watch. Some people might protest or something but I kind of doubt the vast majority of people can even be bothered to rise up rather than just sit and watch. Unfortunately a lot of people are just too apathetic it seems.

    Besides now that the Conservatives have full power I'm sure they could easily crush a small uprising. They would probably then throw those people into one of the new mega prisons they want to build.