Saturday, December 31, 2011



Amazingly enough I finished reading two books on a single day. There are two more rather technical books that I am still reading, but probably few would be interested in them. The first book I finished was the collected fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. I've already mentioned said book here. The second book is Garry Wills' 'Papal Sin'. You can read it yourself here at Google Books. I hope the referral is right. I often make mistakes in long addresses.

I have to say that the book surprised me. From the title and a brief perusal I expected this book to get into the gritty details of medieval and Renaissance Popes with all the neat stories about simony, nepotism, sexual impropriety and political treachery. Nope. The network of deception that the author heads for began in the 19th century with Pope Pius IX. There is, however, more than enough dogs' dinner in the last 1 1/2 centuries to satisfy the most ardent critic of the Papacy.

Wills is hardly the most ardent. He is still a very devoted Catholic, whatever his heretical opinions. He denies the 1870 Vatican I promulgation of Papal Infallibility from the point of view of Church tradition in addition to the thuggish schemes initiated by Pius to gain the acceptance of his infallibility.

I must say that I enjoyed this book immensely, especially considered the recent death of my Sister Ann who was a nun with heterodox opinions. Wills begins his book with chapters showing the "bad faith" and lies of the Catholic Church. He saves his own reformist opinion for the latter chapters where he contrasts the views of the Church Father Augustine to modern Papal opinion.

Along the way he scatters gems such as the fact that the apostles were married; that there were no priests in the very early times of Christianity and no bishops until even later. He emphasizes the democracy of the early Church and suggests that this should be a model for today's Church.

What can I say here as an ex-Catholic and an atheist for over 45 years ? This book is obviously addressed to other Catholic believers. It makes an appeal to the "winter soldiers" who continue to resist foolish Papal pronouncements.I would recommend it for believers as an eye openers to the fact that there can be dissent in the Catholic Church. Perhaps even unbelievers could profit even more by reading this book. It may allow them to formulate their objections at a higher level.

Monday, December 26, 2011



Last Wednesday December 21 the Province of Manitoba finally moved to evict Occupy Winnipeg from Memorial Park at, of course, 7:00 am. According to what I read Occupy Winnipeg was the last Occupy camp to be evicted in Canada. Not bad strategy on the part of the City and Province actually, especially considering the dispute about who is responsible for "peace"-keeping on Provincial land within the City. In the end Manitoba Conservation and the Winnipeg City Police outnumbered the hardy souls, three in number, who were still braving the cold in the early morning by 10 to one. Once more the mosquito was swatted with a sledgehammer.

Unlike other cities Winnipeg (along with the Province) elected to let cold and the street demons deal with their problem which they did in the end. Other jurisdictions elected to apply the iron fist much earlier. As can be seen this delaying tactic was, from the point of view of authority, much less damaging to said authority than showing off earlier. The final decision to evict was because of what I believe was fire number three at the site. The most likely arsonists are the street demons, especially those who were previously booted out.

The wife and I actually visited the site only three times, twice to bring food and once for a failed offer to cook Christmas dinner for them. On the last evening visit I saw evidence of the security patrols that they had instituted to try and prevent further arson, though Molly thinks that a weapon is better to clear thugs than a dragged along kid (for sure). If Occupy here and elsewhere want to attempt this tactic again in the Spring instead of moving on to new things as many have done they're going to have to be a lot better at security next time around. That, however, may be beside the point as many (most ?) locations are already doing new things. For local updates you can still check out the Occupy Winnipeg Facebook page.

Saturday, December 24, 2011



In the countries where anarchism is a tradition the idea of "anarchist subcultures" is definitely a peripheral matter. Even in countries where anarchism is not a large tradition but where historical memory has been preserved anarchists are well into moving beyond subcultures. But in countries such as Indonesia (and many others) anarchism is being introduced via the "punk subculture". This may not be the optimal way to introduce the ideology, but it is the way in reality.

In Indonesia the area of Aceh has become a testing ground for the Indonesian state insofar as they hope to trade federal tolerance of vicious Sharia law (amongst other matters) for the unity of Indonesia. Thus the religious nutters of this part of Indonesia are allowed to run riot providing they refrain from attacks on the central government. One of their high handed attacks has been to attack the punk subculture present even in this remote Islamist outpost. Here is the call from Indonesian punks/anarchists in A-Infos for solidarity with their struggle.


Indonesia, Worldwide Solidarity with Aceh (anarcho-)Punks

64 young people were arrested at a punk concert in Banda Aceh on Saturday December 11th. A few days later they were taken to a police training school, where their hair was ritually shaved, their clothes and possessions were taken from them, they were forced to pray, and the Acehnese authorities stated that they would be held for 10 days for 're-education'.

Actions in support of the punks have taken place across Indonesia but also around the world as punk communities have responded to the news, after mainstream media outlets broadcast pictures of the mass detention.

---What happened in Aceh?---

After years of war and the devastation of the 2004 tsunami, a peace process was started which resulted in considerable autonomy for Indonesia's northernmost province. Former GAM fighters won the elections. One of the changes they brought in was a form of Islamic Sharia law, which is not enforced in any other part of Indonesia. Currently Aceh is in the run-up to new elections and different candidates are pitching their image to the public.

In nearly all parts of Indonesia there is a large punk scene. Many young homeless kids are attracted by the music and the lifestyle and can support each other in many ways, forming a subcultural community. Indonesian punks often earn a living by busking on buses or at traffic lights, and travel the country for free, hitch-hiking on the back of trucks. But at concerts, which are usually free or cheap and organised according to DIY ethics, people from all backgrounds come along.

The concert on 10th December 2011 was a benefit gig to raise money for orphans. Apparently the event started at about 3pm and it was supposed to continue into the night. but at 21.30, police climbed onto the stage and demanded that the event should finish. The people there tried to negotiate for the gig to continue, but the cops didn't seem to care.

Reacting to the cops' behaviour, the punks started singing a popular resistance song, Darah Juang (blood of struggle), but as it happened, that song seemed to provoke the anger of the cops who then started beating people and arresting them. The arrested punks were taken to the Seulawah National Police School one hour from Banda Aceh city. That's where their hair was shaved off and they were forced into the lake.

Punks in Aceh who weren't arrested have found it difficult to get any communication with their friends, because it seems they are in isolation.


Punks in Indonesia React

Jakarta 17th December:

"Reacting to the repression in Aceh where 64 punks were arrested by Sharhia police, various punk groups from around Jakarta came together for a solidarity action with one demand: Full freedom for the 64 detained Aceh punks. The target of the action was the Provincial Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darusalam representative's building, and then finally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. The action started from Ismail Marzuki Park in front of the Jakarta Institute for the Arts (IKJ). At the HI traffic circle, several people cut their hair into a mohawk as an act of solidarity and a protest at the state's coercive attitude in repressing the arrested. We proclaim our full solidarity and encourage everyone, whether a punk or a sympathiser to get out and show your own solidarity.

Let the people who are behind the iron bars know that they will never be alone.” (translated from negasi blog)


- 19th December

"Solidarity actions against the arbitrary arrest of 64 punks and their detention labelled as reeducation by Aceh's sharia'h police have taken place in Jakarta once again. This time the target was the Indonesian Police headquaters (Mabes Polri) located at 3 Jalan Trunojoyo, south Jakarta. Around 100 people from various places joined this action to “Save the Aceh Punks” (from negasi blog)

In Makassar, Sulawesi, about 100 punks gathered at an abandoned department store on Monday afternoon (19th December) to prepare for a demonstration which took place two days later.

Around the world: Moscow:

“On December the 15th a group of anonymous punks from Moscow decided to act upon receiving news of brutal state repression of Indonesian punk-scene. We consider ourselves anarcho-punks and these news offended us in the deepest sense. We wont tolerate any religion to hold sway over living being’s freedom, especially over our subculture. Thus on the same evening we gathered to express our rage. We chose the Indonesian embassy as our target. For us solidarity starts on subcultural level. We feel that modern Russian anarchists pay too little attention to subcultures of resistance. We wish the news of our action to reach Indonesian comrades. We hope they will have their spirits soar after hearing that in such far-away country there are folks who feel solidarity with their struggle.

Punk is not a crime.

Religion is fascism.

Fight for your looks.”(from act for freedom now)

In London there was a demonstration outside the Indonesian embassy with 25+ people showing up.

In the United States there have been actions at the consulates in San Fransisco and Los Angeles.

Even in China, punks are collecting mixtapes to send over to Aceh when the punks get out.

Video Links:

Thursday, December 22, 2011



I've reached the age where I see my siblings dying, something quite different from having your parents die (many years in the past for me). Just this week I have been to Calgary for the funeral of my sister Anne. Sister sister actually. She had been a member of the Congregation of the Sisters Of Charity of St, Louis for many decades (since 1959), and had actually been Sister Superior on two different occasions. My sister died in the Calgary airport. For some inexplicable reason I want to attribute her massive heart attack to running to make a connecting flight. I don't know why I want to insist on this. It was indeed chance. Perhaps I want to be assured that the dice of chance were really loaded against her.

In any case I will miss her tremendously. I always enjoyed argueing religion with her, no matter how upset her and I may have been at the time. She was actually one of the people I have met in my life who could make a reasonable argument for the existence of God. Her political views were a strange mixture, containing great sympathy for the semi-anarchist Catholic left such as the Berrigans, along with justification of the evil done by the Catholic Church vis-a-vis the first nations of Canada. To her credit I did see a certain antipathy to the Jesuits (I survived five years of the bastards). Too bad I never heard her views when she was teaching theology in Edmonton.

My sister: Four degrees. A PhD in English literature which led to a few arguments about post modernism. She was open to it. My own position, based in empiricism, was that it was nonsense through and through. She was on her way to Montreal to deliver a paper when she died. Actually I never saw evidence that academia had poisoned her taste for literature which postmodernism has a great tendency to do. On the other hand our tastes in literature were quite different.

In any case she was a remarkable woman whose career spanned Canada, Europe, Africa, the Caribean and the USA. While we often disagreed we loved each other and had great respect for each other. Memorial tributes, according to her will, may be made to a charity supporting women's education in Kenya. She herself taught there under the sponsorship of Canadian Crossroads International.

Sunday, December 18, 2011





The news tonight is that the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il has gone to join his unlamented father in apotheosis. The Korean regime has in fact gone well beyond the bizarre mutation of a Marxist hereditary monarchy. It has become a modern day version of the Egyptian Pharaohs or the Roman Empire with the happily deceased (to those who were losers in the power plays) elevated to Godhood. Even Stalin at his worst would never have imagined the heights of glorification that the Land of Eternal Famine ,the North Korean state, has bestowed on its head executioner. There is little doubt that Marxist philosophy can lead its believers to strange acts of tyranny when in power and strange acts of justification when not in power. Still it would hard to imagine anything stranger than North Korea.

The NK regime will probably survive, but even that is uncertain. What is sure is that there is only one remaining "communist" dictatorship left in the world- Cuba. I wouldn't count China , Vietnam or Laos because they have retreated from totalitarianism and are now merely "authoritarian". The Cuba regime has much less chance of surviving a visit from the Reaper than North Korea does.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



Well, this probably counts as non-news as nobody should be suprised that a Conservative Party wants to gut the power of organized workers to fight back. The following articles (English and French) from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) warns of this desire. I think the most significant point made below is that union books are already open to members, the only openness that should count. The government, of course, sees this as merely an opening salvo in a long term campaign to deprive the NDP of union support. Now I'm also not too thrilled by the chains of gold that tie unions to the NDP, but my idea of union independence would be from the ground up, with more democratic and active unions. NOT by repressive measures on the part of government. Here's the CEP's article.

The Harperites are at it again, another attack on unions

By Dave Coles
On December 5th Russ Hiebert, Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, B.C. introduced Bill C-377 an act to make union books public. You might remember in early November his previous bill C-317, on the exact same topic had to be withdrawn due to parliamentary procedures and didn’t even make it to second reading. It must have been a big defeat for Mr. Hiebert given he had the coveted 1st spot on the private members bills priority list and now it’s back again (at the bottom of the pile) with a new name and a few changes (he can’t introduce the same thing it’s against the rules).

So, did anyone out there think his first shot across the bow, was it? Does anyone actually really think this is about so called transparency or accountability? This has absolutely nothing to do with fairness or ethics or about making bad legislation better. This is a calculated attack on unions, unfair in its segregation of labour organizations and discriminatory in its disclosure requirements.

What the Harperites don’t understand about unions is that our books ARE open to All our members – it’s the basic premise under which we operate. Furthermore, there are provisions under the existing labour legislation and the Canadian Revenue Act.

Let’s be honest the real crux of the bill is political activity of labour organizations. They don’t like what we do and how we do it. But Mr. Hiebert ‘Political Action’ is one of the founding pillars of trade unions-whether you like it or not. Our members know this, vote for this at all our conventions and support our actions. Furthermore the Lavigne Supreme Court decision of 1991 affirms the rights of Unions to engage in political activity without restrictions that a charity is subject to. So this begs the question, how is it fair that you want us to disclose such information on political activity and lobbying to the tax authority when it’s perfectly legal?

Labour must be on alert and mobilizing now to counter a clear and present danger. As long as Harper encourages and coordinates actions like 377 there can be no business as usual with this government.

Les partisans de Harper recommencent à attaquer les syndicats

Par Dave Coles
Le 5 décembre, Russ Hiebert, député conservateur de South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, en C.-B., a déposé le projet de loi C-377 , dont l’intention est d’obliger les syndicats à divulguer leurs états financiers. Vous vous souviendrez peut-être qu’au début du mois de novembre, son projet de loi précédent C-317, sur le même sujet, avait dû être retiré en raison de procédures parlementaires et ne s’était même pas rendu en deuxième lecture. Ce fut sans doute toute une défaite pour Russ Hiebert étant donné qu’il avait la première place tant convoitée sur la liste prioritaire des projets de loi d’initiative parlementaire, et ce projet est maintenant de retour (au bas de la liste) sous un nouveau nom et avec quelques modifications (il ne peut déposer le même projet, ce qui est contraire aux règles).

Alors, est-ce que quelqu’un là-bas pense que son premier projet était un coup de semonce? Est-ce quelqu’un pense vraiment que ce projet porte sur une soi-disant transparence et reddition des comptes? Ce projet n’a absolument rien à voir avec l’équité ou les principes éthiques, ou même à améliorer une mauvaise législation. C’est une attaque calculée contre les syndicats, une attaque injuste sur le plan de la ségrégation des organisations syndicales et discriminatoire sur le plan des exigences de divulgation.

Ce que les partisans de Harper ne comprennent pas à propos des syndicats, c’est que nos états financiers SONT ouverts à TOUS nos membres – c’est la prémisse de base sur laquelle nous oeuvrons. En outre, des dispositions existent en vertu de la législation actuelle du travail et de la Loi canadienne de l’impôt sur le revenu.

Soyons honnêtes, le vrai nœud du projet de loi porte sur l’activité politique des organisations syndicales. Ils n’aiment pas ce que nous faisons ni comment nous le faisons. Mais monsieur Hiebert, « l’activité politique » est l’un des piliers fondateurs des syndicats, que vous soyez d’accord ou non. Nos membres le savent, votent en sa faveur à tous nos congrès et soutiennent nos actions. En outre, la décision Lavigne de la Cour suprême en 1991 confirme les droits des syndicats d’entreprendre des activités politiques sans les restrictions auxquelles un organisme de bienfaisance fait l’objet. Ce qui soulève la question, comment pouvez-vous souhaiter que nous divulguions de tels renseignements sur les activités politiques et de lobbying aux autorités en matière fiscale lorsqu’elles sont parfaitement légales?

Les syndicats doivent être en état d’alerte et se mobiliser maintenant pour confronter un réel danger. Aussi longtemps que Harper encouragera et coordonnera des actions comme le projet de loi C-377, nous ne pourrons agir comme si de rien n’était avec ce gouvernement.

Monday, December 12, 2011



2011 was a remarkable year. As revolutions sparked throughout the Arab world the "lower" classes of many other countries also rose up as evidenced in Europe, North America and South America and now even in Russia. In sum there hasn't been so much opposition to power for decades. It's hard to say where this will all lead. As the following article says the year has been quite remarkable, and few (nobody ?) could have predicted its events.

The following article is from the online magazine 'The Indypendent'. The reader should note that "Molyneux" is NOT "Mollymew"

2011: A Revolutionary Year
By John Molyneux
December 11, 2011 2011 will go down in history as a revolutionary year akin to 1848 and 1968: a year in which ordinary people round the world rose up against their governments and ruling elites – their respective 1%s.

Politically speaking, the year began on 17 December 2010 when a young vegetable seller called Mohamed Boazzizi set fire to himself in the southern Tunisian city after police confiscated his stall. What followed was unpredicted by any commentator, left, right or centre. The tone of the first Reuters report make this clear:

Police in a provincial city in Tunisia used tear gas late on Saturday to disperse hundreds of youths who smashed shop windows and damaged cars, witnesses told Reuters.There was no immediate comment from officials on the disturbances. Riots are extremely rare for Tunisia, a north African country of about 10 million people which is one of the most prosperous and stable in the region.

Twenty two days later on 14 January, after riots, demonstrations, violent clashes with security forces and finally mass strikes had spread across Tunisia, the country’s dictator, Zinedine Ben Ali, who had ruled for 23 years with full support from the West, fled to Saudi Arabia. The Arab Spring had started.

Eleven days later on Tuesday 25 January vast numbers of Egyptians poured onto the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. They were, of course, met with brutal repression but they fought back. It was the beginning of the Egyptian Revolution. All the commentators agreed that the Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, would not be a push over like Ben Ali.

However, by Friday 28th, after three to four days and nights of intensive street fighting and many deaths, the hated police were defeated: in Cairo where the people claimed and held Tahrir Square; in Suez where the main police station was burned down, and across Egypt. The police fled the streets. Mubarak was on the rocks.

Then on Wednesday 2 February Mubarak and his regime counter attacked. They mobilised thousands of ‘supporters’ – in reality paid thugs and plain clothes police – to launch an all out assault, on horses and camels, with machetes, iron bars, whips and rocks, on the people of Tahrir. It became known as ‘the Battle of the Camel’, but once again the people, thanks to great courage and great numbers won the day.

Still Mubarak clung on, infuriating the people with speeches in which, despite rumours that he would resign, he insisted he would continue. Street demonstrations became ever larger – it has been estimated that, all told, 15 million people took part. Then on 9-10 February, the Egyptian workers began to go on mass strike. This was the coup de grace. On 11 February the military dumped their leader. It was only 18 days after the start of the revolution, four less than it took to remove Ben Ali.

On 16 February protests against Gaddafi began in Benghazi and quickly turned into an uprising. On the 25 February there were mass protests – ‘Days of Rage’ – in cities right across the Middle East., including in Sana’a in Yemen, in Bahrain, in Iraq (where six were killed), in Jordan and also back in Tunisia and Egypt. At this moment the march of the Arab Spring seemed unstoppable and it has to be said that if the rest of 2011 had continued the way it began we would all be living in a very different world today.

Unfortunately, as well as ordinary people, there are also rulers and ruling classes and they fight back. The Gaddafi regime, in particular, fought back with terrible ferocity. In Tripoli his armed forces remained loyal and he simply mowed the Libyan revolutionaries down in the Square. By 20 February over 230 were dead. The rebels gained control of Benghazi and other cities but Libya was divided and in the civil war that followed Gaddafi’s superior conventional forces gained the upper hand to the point where they were threatening Benghazi. Meanwhile the Bahrainis of Pearl Square, like the Egyptians of Tahrir before them, were in the process of overwhelming their local police force.

At this point the forces of Western Imperialism, fronted by Sarkozy, took the initiative. In mid-March, under the guise of a ‘humanitarian intervention’, they mounted a sustained air assault on Libya which eventually had the effect of destroying the Gaddafi regime and handing power to the Transitional National Council, while simultaneously taming and putting a pro- western stamp on the Libyan Revolution. Meanwhile the Saudis, in what was probably a coordinated move, marched into neighbouring Bahrain and crushed the revolution.

Nevertheless the Arab Spring was by no means exhausted. Mass struggles escalated in Yemen and then in Syria, struggles which continue, at the cost of thousands of martyrs, to this day. In both cases the dictators, Saleh in Yemen and Azzad in Syria, clung on with great brutality and determination, and in both cases the popular movement has shown immense courage and resilience with the result that in both there has been a kind of deadly stalemate. At the time of writing the regimes appear to be slowly disintegrating, but so far the revolutions have not yet seen the mass strikes that were decisive in Egypt. At the same time there are rumblings of revolt in Saudi Arabia itself.

On 15 May things took a different turn. The spirit of Tahrir Square leaped across the Mediterranean to Spain when thousands of protesters set up camp in Puerta del Sol in Madrid, proclaiming that ‘They (the politicians) don’t represent us!’ and demanding ‘Real democracy now’. When the police beat the protesters the movement took off like wildfire and squares right across the Spanish state were occupied, with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, mobilised in their support. As they said ‘Nobody expected the Spanish Revolution’.

Next, less surprisingly, the revolt started to interact with the already high level of workers’ resistance in Greece. More mass demonstrations, riots, and general strikes followed as the crisis of Greek capitalism rapidly intensified.

Another unexpected development in the Summer was outbreak of mass protests over housing and other issues in Israel. Then in September the struggle made the leap across the Atlantic in the shape of Occupy Wall St. Again it was police repression, especially the arrest of 700 demonstrators on Brooklyn Bridge on 1 October, which fuelled the flames and led to ‘Occupies’ across America. Crucially organised labour identified with and actively supported the struggle, producing the highpoint of the Oakland General Strike of 2 November.

In Britain the struggle has also been rising. The past year has seen mass student protests, a 750,000 strong trade union anti-cuts demo in March, a big public sector strike on 30 June, the August riots, and now an even bigger strike on November 30. With 2 million workers out this was the largest strike since 1926, won huge popular support [61% according to a BBC poll] and was accompanied by unprecedented demonstrations nationwide, eg 20,000 in Bristol, 10,000 in Brighton, 10,000 in Dundee. In Northern Ireland there was the important development of 10,000 or so Catholic and Protestant workers uniting in Belfast. The week before there was the small matter of a general strike in Portugal.

While all this has been happening the Egyptian revolution has deepened and developed. From a struggle against Mubarak it has become a struggle against the military, the independent unions have grown and – so far- all attempts to crush the movement by force have been heroically repelled.

The explanation for this global tidal wave of revolt is essentially very simple. The international capitalist system is in profound crisis and the 1%, the ruling class, everywhere is trying to make the rest of us pay for it and in place after place people are fighting back. From Tahrir to Oakland we are feeding on the inspiration of each other’s resistance. Confidence is rising and for the first time in a generation revolution is back on the agenda.

For us in Ireland this raises a question. We have been hit harder than most by the crisis and attacks of the 1%, so why has there not so far been mass revolt? In February we saw an expression of mass discontent at the ballot box with the election of 5 United Left Alliance TDs but there have not yet been masses on the streets. The answer seems to lie in the interaction of three factors- the legacy of the Celtic tiger, the years of trade union/government social partnership and the shameful refusal of the union leaders to initiate resistance – which together have led to a certain mood of bitter resignation.

But here we need to remember that in any wave of struggle, 1848, 1968 or 2011, there are always places or times when little seems to be happening – not just Ireland but Sweden and Russia for example (though there is unrest growing in China) – and this can easily change.[Since this was written, as if to prove the point, mass protests against Putin have erupted from Moscow to Vladivostok} ‘Nobody expected,’ Tunisia or Egypt or Spain or Occupy Wall St. And resignation is not agreement, it suddenly turn into its opposite when an unforeseen spark gives people the confidence that what they do will make a difference.

One thing is certain the year and years to come will see many such sparks. The economic crisis of capitalism, merging with the crisis of climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis of the whole of humanity. So the great slogan of Tahrir Square ‘Revolution until Victory!’ has the potential and need to become a slogan for us all.

Saturday, December 10, 2011



Most of Molly's "action" is now over at her Facebook site. Over there there is an interesting "debate" if you can call it such. The substance concerens the "torching" of a cop car by supposed anarchists at a recent demonstration about the rigged Russian election. Anarchists certainly took part in the demonstration against the rigged elections. What I await confirmation of, given the police set-up that led to the torching of three police cars in Toronto, is verification from the REAL anarchist organizations in Russia. We'll see. If it is true it is an act of stupidity. If not true it is one more example of how low the Russian government can sink.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011



One thing I am certain of about the Occupy Movement (much more certain than how it will all end up) is that it has finally leapfrogged over the leftist concerns of the last few decades and their petty territorial politics. Those who are not leftists will be puzzled by this formulation. Others who are comfortable in leftist ghettos will be offended. Many of us who identify with a "left tradition"will be more than happy that someone has broken the silence.

What do I mean by the puzzling formulation above ? I mean that the "left" in the past few decades has surrendered any hope of reaching the majority and has become quite comfortable with drawing academic income (or worse quango income). For its personal comfort it has abandoned any idea of large scale social change and has become satisfied with the- let's call them for what they are- "opportunities for corruption". All that is required is to continue to pump out the same old propaganda about the "unique oppression" of social group a to m.

Yeah it makes money for some, but that's all it does. Suddenly there comes a political movement out of nowhere that deliberately tries to address the vast majority of the population and their concerns. WOW; it's like being transported 70 years into the past.

Will it last ? Your guess is as good as mine. The Occupy Movement walks a tightrope between the hell of political co-option and the opposite hell of ineffective militancy. It's a golden mean. Wish them luck.

Monday, December 05, 2011



Oh my, is this "news" ? During good times the rich pull ahead as they manage to grab the fruits of expansion. In bad times guess what ? They keep pulling ahead. Good or bad they will get their paws into the till. Here's an interesting item about the widening of inequality here in Canada.

Canada’s wage gap at record high: OECD
tavia grant
From Monday's Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Dec. 05, 2011 5:00AM EST
Last updated Monday, Dec. 05, 2011 7:56AM EST
The gap between Canada’s rich and poor is growing amid shifts in the job market and tax cuts for the wealthy, according to a study that shows income inequality at a record high among industrialized nations.

A sweeping OECD analysis to be released Monday shows the income gap in Canada is well above the 34-country average, though still not as extreme as in the United States.

Income inequality is a hot topic these days, as mirrored by the Occupy movement’s concerns over the growing gap between the rich and the rest. Protesters aren’t the only ones preoccupied with the disparity; prominent figures from Warren Buffett to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz have also fretted over the growing gap, exacerbated by the recession and weak recovery.

“Income inequality increased during both recessionary and boom periods, and it has increased despite employment growth,” said Stefano Scarpetto, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s deputy director of employment, labour and social affairs, during a presentation of the report.

A growing wage gap carries significant economic consequences. Countries with greater income inequality tend to see shorter, less sustained periods of economic growth, an IMF paper this fall concluded.

“Greater inequality raises economic, political and ethical challenges as it risks leaving a growing number of people behind in an ever-changing economy,” the OECD paper said.

Its 400-page analysis, entitled Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising, a follow-up study to one released in 2008, delves into reasons behind the growing gap.

Canada in particular has seen a widening chasm since the mid-1990s. OECD research shows the average income of the top 10 per cent of Canadians in 2008 was $103,500 – 10 times than that of the bottom 10 per cent, who had an average income of $10,260, an increase from a ratio of 8 to 1 in the early 1990s.

The richest 1 per cent of Canadians saw their share of total income rise to 13.3 per cent in 2007 from 8.1 per cent in 1980.

Moreover, the richest of the rich – the top 0.1 per cent – saw their share more than double, to 5.3 per cent from 2 per cent. At the same time, the top federal marginal income tax rates tumbled – to 29 per cent in 2010 from 43 per cent in 1981.

Two factors explain Canada’s growing gap: a widening disparity in labour earnings between high- and low-paid workers, and less redistribution.

“Taxes and benefits reduce inequality less in Canada than in most OECD countries,” the study said.

Shifts in the labour market are a key reason why the gap is widening, Mr. Scarpetto said. The prevalence of part-time and temporary contract work is eroding wages. Technological progress has been more beneficial to high-skilled workers, while the gap in men’s earnings in particular is growing ever wider.

The gap in hours worked is growing too, as in other OECD nations. Since the mid-1980s, annual hours of low-wage workers in Canada have fallen to 1,100 hours from 1,300 hours, while those of higher-wage workers fell by less, to 2,100 from 2,200 hours.

Rising self-employment also played a role, as the self-employed typically earn less than other full-time workers. This explains more than one-quarter of the increase, the report said.

Taxation is another factor. Before the mid-1990s, Canada’s tax-benefit system was as effective as those of the Nordic countries in stabilizing equality, offsetting more than 70 per cent of the rise of market-income inequality, the report said. The redistributive effect has declined since then, so that taxes and benefits now offset less than 40 per cent of the rise in inequality.

The OECD report isn’t the only analysis of Canada’s growing income gap. A September study by the Conference Board of Canada found income inequality has been rising more rapidly in Canada than in the U.S. since the mid-1990s. Its analysis of 18 countries found that Canada had the fourth-largest increase in inequality between the mid-1990s and late 2000s.

There are social implications too, with more academic research linking income inequality with poor health outcomes. Last month, a study by Montreal’s public health agency found an 11-year difference in life expectancy between men who live in its poorest neighbourhood and those its richest.

The OECD report makes a slew of suggestions on how to narrow the gap. Taxing the rich more is one, along with closing loopholes and ensuring compliance with tax rules.

More importantly, the report said labour market outcomes could be improved by investing more in people – through education, skills training and job retraining programs. “More and better jobs, enabling people to escape poverty and offering real career prospects, is the most important challenge.”

Saturday, December 03, 2011



Thursday, December 8, 2011
5:00pm until 8:00pm
James W. Burns Executive Education Centre , 177 Lombard Ave (2nd floor), Winnipeg, Manitoba
Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres will be served.
What Does “Occupy” Mean to Business and How Should Businesses Respond?
The I.H. Asper School of Business is pleased to invite you to two interactive public forums on Economic Inequality and Business. In the backdrop of public debate on economic inequality, these forums will discuss the relationship between Businesses and Societal Inequality.The public forum will feature a panel of experts speaking on the issue, followed by a moderated discussion with the audience.

-Art DeFehr, Founder, Palliser Furniture
- Alan Freeman, Economist
- Michael Benarroch, Dean, Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba
- Hari Bapuji, Associate Professor, Asper School of Business, Uof M
- Reg Litz, Professor, Asper School of Business, Uof M - Moderator
5:00pm - Doors open and reception begins 5:30pm
- Program Begins 7:00pm
- Program concludes and reception resumes
RSVP to Scott McCulloch at 474-6482 or Space is limited, so please RSVP early.For more information, contact:Judy WilsonDir Marketing & CommI H Asper Sch of Business Phone: (204) 474-8960