Is it at the corner of Main Street and Union Way?
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
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
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
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President