Wednesday, 13 September 2017

"Pull Out all the Stops to Win Amazon HQ bid" says Toronto mayor John Tory ...ignoring Amazon's predatory business history


Or that's what the Toronto Star copy editor made of whatever Tory actually  said in the paper's Sept.8 issue. Words like "gigantic" and "leverage" ripple through the article along with the page 2 headlined "predictability and stability" (identified as Toronto's urban strength). That predictability and stability are the last words one would use to describe the megalomaniacal CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and the contradiction between Amazon values and those that made Toronto once one of North America's most "livable" cities seems to have eluded the Star writers in their eagerness to be seen as city boosters in these continuing neo-liberal times. Predatory capitalism and livable cities do not a happy matrriage make, however many jobs the former promises (and rarely delivers). Better enterprise that promises less quantity and more quality for citizens.      


Monday, 11 September 2017

Think Before you "Skip the Dishes" - you may be missing more than "hard labour"

It's a long time ago when family dinners went the way of extinct species, in that distant past before kids worked several part-times to  pay for school so they can to get a "real job", and before parents worked several jobs to put enough food on the table to give their kids enough nutrition to do the  several part-time jobs they did to get the real job that school was supposed to get them. Those multiple clauses reflect pretty well the degree of displacement from source of the dish-skipping process. In summary let us just note that It would be a sad downer if all this dish-skipping led to no job, or less job than the ancient species of dish doers did.

In fact it's so long ago that most North Americans did daily dishes it's surprising how long it's taken for services like Skip the Dishes (cooked food direct to your door without the waste of the cerebral and physical energy required by dish-making)  to show up. The issue is not so  much the disintegration of the family dinner (and of course the family, nuclear or other, with it). Nor is it necessarily one of quality, though it's hard to imagine quality being maintained when the food making is "outsourced." Quality aka "whole" food is now available, even if the recently Amazon acquired Whole Foods is less and less likely to be the provider and not just because it's too  expensive for the great majority of workers.  

The issue is what is the full impact of dish skipping on the dish skippers. Underlying the whole topic of dish-skipping is, predictably, economics. Those forced to dish-skip by the scant jobmarket will inevitably be less well fed. Dish skipping services are targeting those who don't have the money for decent restaurant food and who, therefore will be paying for cheaper food they know little or nothing about. In other words dish-skipping services are another form of disenfranchisement for the already disenfranchised. When we don't make our cultures, whether its through language or art or food they no longer do what culture us supposed to do - make us a home in the universe. And homelessness of any kind is bad for all it afflicts. A challenge for the many progressive food services in TorontotheBetter's directory, none of which are dishskippers, is to make quality food a personal option. We invite our visitors to check TorontotheBetter food services and let us know who, you think, iis doing the best job of re-patriating food for people.     

Monday, 4 September 2017

This labour Day Polish workers show the way in the fight against Amazon

See this recent English post by solidarity NGO Razem [Together] about resistance by Amazon workers in Poland.[https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1435275606507618&id=1326358534065993]. Amazon is living up to its name and by its recent acquisition of fellow corporate giant Whole Foods it's literally swallowing up opposition. Say no to Amazon's unhealthy appetite for domination  

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A test case for progressive enterprise - the affordable Montreal optician

Recently Philippe Rochette a renegade Montreal optician (seen below in the comfortable home his profession has brought him) has become well-known for doing something markets are supposed to do, charge the lowest price for the goods sold, one that provides a fair price/affordability for the target buyers while covering costs (with profit, of course...) for the sellers.That Rochette's price for eyeglasses is widely less (- 90%) than the norm for the industry should, then, according to the fantasy of market theory mean that eventually all  opticians will soon charge this lower price. Stay tuned to see if it happens. There are too many problems with the theory to list them all here, but to start with we might ask why opticians have been charging so much in the past.

Of course, it is because they could and that is because opticians as a group  were happy with their gross profits. Now that somebody has broken ranks we have a test case for progressive, if not exactly social, enterprise (price is only one factor,  and arguably a subsidiary one, among social business criteria). But at least Rochette has identified a gap - affordable eyewear - which has prompted TorontotheBetter to explore other gaps in our social enterprise environment in Toronto. To check our current coverage look under the TorontotheBetter Product/Services listing here - http://www.torontothebetter.net/2tgbd-sh.html- and email what you find out to postmaster@torontothebetter.net. We have several food and travel listings but is there a socially responsible security firm or hairdresser out there? If so, we don't know about them...yet, As for opticians, after Rochette, let them prove  to us the rationality of markets by lowering their prices en masse.


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Papal endorsement of Social Economy...?!

Revolutionaries  of the past must be rolling in their graves. We live in extraordinary times when it takes a pope to say what most politicians, schooled in neo-liberal orthodoxy refuse to, which is that the liquid modernity of transient engagements and mobile, consumer motivated attachments is bad for our social health. Progressive sociologist Zygmunt Bauman coined the "liquid" descriptor to capture the essence of consumer society. By comparison, a social economy as advocated by Pope Francis, where human values are built in throughout the economy, appears the best economic option available to us.

A mixed, private/public economy where the state is used to deal with problems such as sickness, unemployment and inequality left by the a-social, and anti-social character of private industry, had been an evolving  compromise option since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Whittled away by 30 years of neo-liberalism we now find ourselves with reduced caretaker states and increasing privatization. The only way towards a more solid, "social" economy, as advocated by Bauman (and the Pope and other "postcapitalist" voices like Paul Mason) is to "socialize" industry, by building social values into industrial norms instead of taking short-term gains at the expense of long term pain, which has been the norm in mixed economies. TorontotheBetter encourages a strong state along with an increasingly commercial enterprise sector, by championing those enterprises that make the leap from pure profit-making. A comprehensive social economy requires an engaged state to address basic needs such as health and education in addition to a social enterprise sector that will prevent problems such as unhealthy workplaces and unemployment before they occur.

There need be no contradiction between private and public sectors provided the private sector embraces  social as well as financial goals. We are not there yet. Until we are we must, and will, work for ecnomic socialization. Geting there is something TorontotheBetter will continue to identify ideas for, by championing those in  Toronto that have made the jump. All economies are social, it's just that some are anti-social...       

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Reaching out from city to city: TorontotheBetter supports the Common House project in London and commons movements everywhere

 www.commonhouse.org.uk

We recently received an appeal from the Radical Librarians Collective to support an important  community initiative in London where the horrific Grenfell Tower block fire recently killed and severely injured hundreds of inner city tenants. In solidarity from another city TorontotheBetter calls  on all to inform their networks others about initiatives like London's Common House, described below, that build commons where people are connected to others for the common good.
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TorontotheBetter [www.torontothebebetter.net ] - building Toronto's social economy sine 2004
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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [RLC-DISCUSS] Fwd: [radicaleducationforum] Fwd: Save the Common House - Emergency Crowdfunder
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2017 19:00:54 +0100
From: Radical Librarians Collective
To: RLC-DISCUSS@JISCMAIL.AC.UK
From: "radicaleducationforum" (via radicaleducationforum Mailing List) <radicaleducationforum@lists.riseup.net>
Date: 22 July 2017 at 20:26:34 BST
To: radicaleducationforum <radicaleducationforum@lists.riseup.net>
Subject: [radicaleducationforum] Fwd: Save the Common House - Emergency Crowdfunder
Reply-To: radicaleducationforum@riseup.net
Dear all,

As you may or may not know our radical community space The Common House is under threat. The loss of a large grant that was making up the majority of our funding mean that we urgently need cash in order to keep the space open.

The Common House provides space to a number of amazing groups and continues to provide a place for peer support, political organising, creating and learning across radical communities in East London and beyond.

We think it's important to maintain this space and not be driven out to some inaccessible margins. Today we are launching an emergency crowdfunder to keep us going in the short term while we source more sustainable funding through grants and other means.


Please help us by spreading the word, sharing widely through your networks and contributing if you are able.

In love and solidarity,

Common House emergency fundraising crew
For more details visit radicaleducationforum.tumblr.com
To get in touch, please email radicaleducationforum@riseup.net
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