Saturday, February 28, 2009

$3 Billion? Who Will Oversee Flaherty?

January's orgy - the Budget -
was full of so many spending
items that it boggled my little-pecker mind.

Who, I wondered, was going to oversee all the spending? Surely Finance Minister Friggin' Flaherty was going to need some Help!

"Okay," I said to self, "No worries, we have an Auditor General and a Parliamentary Budget Officer. What could possibly go wrong?"

THEN I remembered reading this mid-January National Post story:

OTTAWA -- Canada's budget officer Kevin Page says... [he is being 'systematically undermined' in] his work .... Mr. Page pulled no punches in a written plea to party leaders, urging MPs and senators to bring "clarity" to the confusion over his mandate ... [Mr. Page] argues ... interference in the management of his office is preventing him from doing the oversight he believes he was hired to do - at a time of economic upheaval when every dollar counts.... Mr. Page says it's up to parliamentarians to decide what they expect from the post.

"In order for me to fulfill the legislated mandate I require restoration of the PBO budget ... and ongoing and greater clarity from parliamentarians on the independence and operating model of the PBO function."

.... the embattled budget officer says he needs more independence to manage his office. The office deals with potentially politically explosive issues, such as studies into the sale of assets, the auto bailout, and the risks of ongoing deficits, so it needs protection from reprisals if it publishes reports that don't sit well with the government.... Some speculate the hiring delays and budget cut will effectively squeeze Mr. Page out of a job and that it wouldn't be happening without the government's blessing... "

AND now Friggin' Flaherty wants to have carte blanche authority over a new $3 Billion discretionary chequing account??? How do we know it won't be used to fund a Tory re-election campaign? Who is accountable?

To simple Jim's request for a slush fund I say NO! No matter how pressing the recession (you denied existed) gets - no matter how you frame your argument - no matter how you rationalize it - - I say, emphatically ... No Thanks!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Labour - the missing element

During the Great Depression we had a Worker's Unity League. We had Tim Buck. We had voices who spoke and fought for me and you. We saw a 'ginger group' evolve - to speak for others. To the south, we had John Lewis and his brothers.

We witnessed Estevan, Stratford and 'Onto Ottawa'. We saw a solidarity in purpose. And sacrifice. We saw brave one's speak against the madness in their midst ... against capitalism and its vice.

Today? Amid our growing collective discontent and marginalization there is a perverse disconnect - a voice missing.

Labour is mute.

Its leaders, long ago co-opted and bought off by the capitalist machine, now beg borrow and steal to keep their own position's safe and their noses clean. All the while making faux Versailles-lian peace with a morally bankrupt system that is concurrently raping the worker of their livelihood and dignity.

Stimulus this - Stimulus that. Today's labour leaders care not they are abetting the preservation of greed and corporate dynasties. All they care care about is the insular 'me'...

Unlike the 1930s, a voice missing today....

Labour's done and gone away.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Greedy Businessmen: (de)Pressing Times - Eh, Harper?

What strikes one most about our present economic crisis are the paucity of voices from our big-business sector speaking against Tory PM Stephen Harper's desperate stimulus plan.

My, how times have changed.

During the last depression, after his own death-bed conversion, Prime-Minister R.B. Bennett announced before a stunned Board of Trade in St John, New Brunswick that: "I warn you that in the days to come there will be more, not less, interference by government with business."

Years later, Bennett's former private secretary, R.K. Finlayson could not shake the moment, As he recalled, the events of that night stuck because of "the look of horror on the faces of those men hearing such an utterance coming from a man who was regarded as the
embodiement [sic] of big business untrammeled by state interference."**

Funny, eh? This time around Canadian capitalism seem's to be 'on-board' with the Tory programme. No real outcry this time. Aside from the odd dissenter there seems to be virtually no opposition emanating from the economic ruling class. Where's their outrage? Why are they not protesting Harper's abandonment of his principles? Where's their demonstrable fidelity to the free and unfettered market?

Ah, ... but of course this time big-business is guaranteed a bailout!

Silly me. How then could we possibly expect our men of integrity and industry today to react otherwise?

After all, what's better than a government guarantee that will not only protect one's privately-owned corporation but commits to preserving the flawed status-quo that spawned this horror in the first place!

The time for a revolution is nigh? - - - No?

** R.K. Finlayson, 'Life With R.B.: That Man Bennett' (unpublished manuscript c.1967?), LAC (Library Archives Canada), MG30, E 143, (ms.) p.252.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cheney: Fear Monger Extraordinaire

The man just can't help himself!

Out of office only two weeks, this fear monger knows no shame.

former Vice President Dick Cheney predicted a “high probability” of a nuclear or biological attack in the next few years and said the Obama administration was approaching a “tough, mean, dirty, nasty business” of keeping the country safe from terrorists too timidly." - NYT's, February 4, 2009.

Thanks, Dick, good to see your still making the Kool-Aid...