Thursday, July 30, 2009

The TO strike and attitudes towards unions

One of the most interesting things I found about the Toronto strike was the reaction of folks to the idea of banking sick days. Many ordinary Canadians resented the fact that TO city employees could bank their sick days. This of course was born of jealousy but it is also indicative of the general attitude towards unions amongst the working people of the English speaking world. We saw the same thing during the lead up to the bail-out of the big three auto companies. The unions were largely and wrongly blamed for their troubles.

The reason of course is many people believe the unions are out of control. They are too powerful.

I find this attitude misplaced and disturbing. The business class of the industrialized world, through their greed and incompetence, just finished triggering a crisis in confidence in the international financial system that was only prevented from collapsing by governments, from around the world, pumping trillions of dollars into it. This resulted in the worst recession since the Great Depression, which has destroyed millions of jobs worldwide (and counting) and is suppressing wages and is reducing the job security for those still working.

Have we seen the working masses rise up and demand the heads of these people? Have we even seen signs of a burning resentment towards these people for the inestimable damage they have done to the economy and the interests of the average worker? Of course not. However, when it is revealed that a group of workers are striking to maintain their right to bank their sick days a bitter resentment comes bubbling up very quickly.

So why would ordinary workers side with the business class over people of their own class?

They say that the price of freedom is vigilance. Well, the same can be said of the hard won workers rights we now enjoy and take for granted.

Of course, in order to be vigilant you do need information on what is going on. The main source of information for most people is the media which we all know is controlled by the same folks who caused this recession. However, there are plenty of other sources of information out there that is not controlled by the media elite and all it takes is a little effort to find it. Sadly that effort is not being made.

So, the result is ordinary workers are not just seeing that the labour rights they have come to enjoy are slowly being eroded away they are actually allowing themselves to be recruited by those who would erode those rights to assist them in working towards that goal. They have actually allowed themselves to be used to work against their own interests.

That is both interesting and disturbing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gary Bettman and the NHL are idiots

It is absolutely amazing that these yahoos can decide to reject a potential owner who has plans to move a failing hockey team to a better market while accepting a potential owner who wants to keep the team in a city where it is losing money hand over fist.

According to reports the Coyotes have lost 10s of millions of dollars since the team was established in Phoenix. To think the new owner will be able to change that is ludicrous. Which means, according to the rules of the NHL, the other teams will be bailing this team out for the forseeable future, probably to the tune of more 10s of millions of dollars.

Every dollar that goes down the desert sinkhole are dollars that do not go into the profits of the other teams. How can the board of governors of the NHL unanimously choose to maintain that position while rejecting an opportunity to reverse that and actually have that team contribute to the common pot as opposed to taking from it?

Of course, the owner they accepted will only keep the team in Phoenix for about a season before he moves it to Kansas City, another hot bed of hockey in the US.

For the life of me, if these bozos, whose combined net worth is greater than the GDP of most countries, can become billionaires by making such bonehead business decisions I am beginning to think that becoming a billionaire really is not that difficult.

Incidentally, I do not care whether Hamilton gets a team or not. I really just dislike seeing business men, who as a class, through their greed and incompetence, nearly destroyed the international financial sector, making these kinds of stupid business decisions. It really makes me wonder why so many people listen to them when it comes to making economic policy for individual countries and the world.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stephen Harper and the long term goal of the Conservatives

What is Stephen Harper's reason for becoming the leader of the government? For many it is to implement the so called "hidden agenda" so that Canadians "will not recognize" their country when he is done. This has been the biggest fear amongst progressives since he came to power. As well, that has been the biggest hope of Conservatives since he came to power.

Of course, both progressive and conservatives have been left a little dumbfounded by what Mr. Harper has done. Although, he has nibbled around the edges he has not fundamentally changed Canada. Everything he has done can and will be reversed. Indeed, he will be the first government leader in a very long time who will leave absolutely no legacy. He will be forgotten.

So why is he being so timid? Part of it is the constraints of the minority government. However, he had a couple of years where he had a virtual carte blanche that he squandered. So there must be another reason.

For a clue of that reason you must look at Tom Flanagan and other conservative thinkers in this country. Tom Flanagan in particular has stated on several occasions the the goal of the Conservatives is to become the new "Natural Governing Party" in Canada. In other words they are thinking long term.

The interesting thing is the country could be ripe for just such a change. The population is getting older and that usually leads to more conservative views on the part of voters. As well, the low voter turnout is mostly fed by the fact the young people in this country have essentially walked away from its politics. That leaves the aging boomers and their kids who are showing signs of becoming more conservative.

So why are the Conservatives failing in reaping this change. That's simple, they have the wrong guy leading them. Canadians may becoming more conservative but the progressive habit runs deep so they are going to have to convinced to break that habit. Stephen Harper is not the man to do it. He does not inspire and he does not cause people who might me sympathetic to his ideas to actually decide to agree with them.

He knows it too. That is why he is so damned partisan. He knows he will not inspire Canadians to see the Conservatives as the "Natural Governing Party" of Canada with ideas and his charisma. Instead he believes that the only way to do it is to diminish the other guys. He believes that if he can keep the Liberals out of power long enough a sufficient number of Canadians will begin to see the merit of the Conservatives to sustain their position as the dominant party in Canadian politics.

Of course, it cannot last. Every government gets tired and eventually defeats itself and no matter what their efforts and the efforts of the NDP, poll after poll after poll has demonstrated that the Liberals are still considered the only real alternative to the Conservatives when it comes to governing. So, it is virtually inevitable that the Liberals will win the government again and if a recent poll is to be believed they could very well win a majority government the next time around.

It is ironic that Stephen Harper, in trying to realize the dream of his teachers in the Calgary School, could very well utterly fail to achieve their long term objectives and, in the process, squander the one opportunity for him to actually make the changes to the country, in the short term, that he got into politics for in the first place.