President's Message

Prosperity:

Is it at the corner of Main Street and Union Way?

October 26, 2012

Some say that we’re all in this together. But are we really? Disturbing trends have brought us watered down democracy where one set of rules apply to the wealthy while a different set apply to the rest. How did this happen?

It starts and ends with economic inequality. Money is always linked to political power. It has brought a special kind of democracy to the 1 per cent with corporate autocracy applying to the rest. To boil this down, it means more for them and less for us.

How do we stop it? Inequality can only be addressed by leveling the economic playing field. But it isn’t easy, not when they control the rules. Let’s look at Ontario.

Despite his stated intent to step down we still have a Premier, using deceit and illusion, to shut down our legislature. That smacks of absolute power. McGuinty can now do whatever he wants without the prospect of having to answer to the legislature or voters. That’s Dalton’s democracy.

His prorogation decree has provided his minority government with the majority he couldn’t win or buy at the general election or the byelection in Kitchener Waterloo.

Without having to face the legislature he avoids questions, scrutiny and accountability. It’s not only a lockdown of democracy, it’s a lockout. MPPs are tossed from of their workplace by a government swimming in scandal and mismanagement. If those we elected to represent us are powerless, is it any wonder working people are isolated from political process?

So while we wait for economic recovery, the economic elite keeps playing the crisis card to keep us in our place. Their message: don’t rock the boat; don’t ask for an equal share; keep your head down. Remember, times are tough!

How tough is it? Well just last week the media reported the auctioning of a 55 year old bottle of scotch for more than $50 thousand. For the 1 per cent times have never been better. For the rest, times are tough indeed.

We are increasingly a society of “us and them” with the left and right; workers and bosses; the 1 per cent abusing the 99 per cent. That causes crisis. When it comes calling certain measures and reactions are inevitable.

Crisis brings the majority less freedom, more rules and intrusive measures. We are told that reasonable needs of common folk cannot be sustainable while there is a deficit. We’ve heard repeatedly that we can no longer afford “entitlements” without really being told what these “gifts” are. Guess what? They see entitlements as food, shelter, a job and maybe a pension.

The same rules never apply to the privileged class. They paint themselves as great job creators. They call for less red tape, more freedom, less interference and the absence of regulation. They shout that when they thrive the rest of us will thrive as well. When the horse eats oats, birds rejoice! Right!

In fact, when compared to nations, the average corporation has the life span of a shad fly. They are born, they live and they die, yet they claim that government should be run like a business. No thanks.   

Back in tier two, working people get wage freezes, roll backs, precarious work and the right to work until old age, if our health lets us get that far.

In a telling testimonial of how the right wing thinks, conservative Alberta Wild Rose party leader Danielle Smith tweeted it was a shame to waste all the E coli tainted meat from the now infamous XL plant. She suggested we feed it to the province’s poor and homeless. Just cook it really well. Who needs qualified inspectors to guarantee food safety when hungry people will eat anything? I guess the right wing really is brilliant and so very thoughtful.

For most of us this is an attitude that is difficult to understand. What we want for ourselves we want for others. That contrast with their creed which insists that what they want for themselves, they want all to themselves.

We want to fulfill needs while they look to fulfill greed. Their attitude spills over to their view of the world. Ours is a world of infinite hope while theirs is a world of “nope”. We believe that all ships rise when the tide comes in. They want us to struggle in their wake. 

Yes, we have our work cut out for us. We must continue to stick together. When democratically elected governments can routinely lock their doors, something has to give. Something also has to be done!

 

Change is coming. Will it come as a result of revolution or resolution? Look around the world at societies where they fight back against austerity. There is blood in the streets. It really can come to this.

To step back, democracy and capitalism can also co-exist. One does not negate the other. For this, there must be fairness built into the system. The game can’t be rigged. This is when government through public ownership, regulation and taxation can play a role. These powers can level the playing field and provide fairness.

We can see that in Canada and Ontario tax fairness has been undermined while many claim the less regulation the better. Why? Bay Street, Wall Street and their regressive friends have had their run. They have sold their spin. They have also been wrong at every turn.

The solution to political and economic inequality will come from working people who believe that by working together society can be stronger, happier and safer. That voice will be heard at the corner of Main Street and Union Way where democracy lives and working people gather. That’s a corner where prosperity will begin to grow. The time for action is now.

In solidarity,
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President


Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 100 Lesmill Rd. Toronto, ON M3B 3P8  (416) 443-8888

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