Monday, 28 December 2015
Most of us won't work for nothing except when we choose a cause to volunteer for. But when we accept and carry company branded packaging, whether its shopping bags, buttons or other paraphernalia, that's what we're doing. Don't like working for nothing? Refuse the bags and/or use your own. If it's for a gift the no-commercial packaging suspense is greater for the lucky receiver and we all gain when we refuse to be hands for anything we haven't signed on to. In this case not only aren't we paid, we actually pay the beneficiary! In these days we all have to buy something once in a while, but purchasing is usually not endorsement. Make it clear to yourself and others by denying the baggage when you can.
P.S. Think plain paper packaging is boring? Decorate it yourself. It's the thought that counts the most, after all.
Sunday, 20 December 2015
There is perhaps no surer sign of the decay of an old orthodoxy, in this case, Neo-Liberalism than the emergence of a series of new publications exposing its theoretical shortcomings, Not only has the Neo-Liberal creed of Hayek and Friedman and their loyal footsoldiers Ronald Reagan, Marget Thatcher and Canada's very own now lost and not much lamented Stephen Harper been politically rejected, but reputable economic thinkers like Ha-Joon Chang are now exposing its frankly pretty tenuous theoretical bases.To put this in simple terms it is hardly surprising if politicians find it hard to balance their nations' books when they continue to spend at previous levels, albeit often on armaments rather than social programmes, while relentlessly cutting taxes, especially for the wealthy. Hence the failure of Neo-liberalism to achieve the economic order it promoted itself as representing was all too predictable - faint, if satisfyingly vindictive, comfort for the many in Greece, Spain and around the world who serve as unemployed canaries in the Neo-Liberal coal mine.
But if Neo-Liberalism does not work, then what will? Which brings us to Margaret Thatcher's much quoted quip about capitalism in general - TINA ["There Is No Alternative"]. As a proponent of social economics, a creed at least as time-honoured as the classical and neo-liberal brands, TorontotheBetter has long responded to TINA with TIAA [There Is An Alternative]. The hundreds of variously social enterprises in our Torontothe\Better directory are a concrete testament to the practical rejection of profit at any cost capitalism by many entrepreneurs in Toronto. But now we are favoured by a historical and scholarly study of the many alternatives to mainstream capitalism of the type honoured by the so-called "Chicago Boys". Capitalism and Its Alternatives by Chris Rogers (2014) is an enlightening review of many economic alternatives, including co-operativism and what we may term "commons-ism" within and outside capitalism. As such it moves us from understanding better the problems of the historically unique and still the predominantly current orthodoxy to models for its replacement. That Canada's new government, elected in October 2015, is practicing the Keynesian brand of alternative, if not alternative to, capitalist economics, while another Canadian, Marc Carney, a tacit, rather then publicly extreme, acolyte of neo-liberal economics, has been installed as manager of the venerable Bank of England is, for Canada at least, one of those historical ironies one waits a long time to have the chance to savour.
NOTE TO THE CURIOUS: Rogers' book, like any other in-print title, can be purchased for $22, a significant discount, from our unionized TorontotheBetter book service. Just email postmaster at TorontotheBetter.net with Rogers in the subject line to place an order.
By guaranteeing all its citizens a basic income of 800 Euros monthly, as has recently been reported in The Independent newspaper -http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/finland-plans-to-give-every-citizen-800-euros-a-month-and-scrap-benefits-a6762226.html - Finland will act while Canada continues to procrastinate about the idea of a guaranteed annual income that has been discussed since at least the 1970's. The advantages for people and governments are too many to list here but reducing the anxiety of job loss induced poverty for many and maintaining a basic level of purchasing demand in the economy are two key benefits. Selecting socially purposed providers for one's purchases, as advocated by TorontotheBetter, to avoid many of the ills that mainstream capitalism is heir to, is still vital, but Finland's basic income inclusion of all citizens in their economy by right rather than good fortune constitutes a basic move towards a comprehensive social economy that all nations can learn from.
Monday, 14 December 2015
That not just Canada but much of the world is, maybe, finally reversing out of a political and philosophical cul de sac callled variously neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism and/or austerity was evidenced just before the recent federal election by the emergence in Canada of the Leap Manifesto [https://leapmanifesto.org/en/the-leap-manifesto/#manifesto-content] calling for a kinder, more light treading, Puck-like Canadian economy and society. That this coincided with the political removal of one of the most wilfully backward governments in the developed world - the Harper Conservatives - is what they might call in China "double happiness". Toronto, and Canada, are not there yet, but perhaps we are at least on the right road to viable future. Sustainability torchbearers, including many TorontotheBetter enterprises kept us on that road, even as the now defeated government cheerfully marched towards environmental Armageddon. In the words of the sadly prophetic movie title - the last 10 years of federal government has been "The Age of Stupid".
What we at TorontotheBetter feel most fraternal about in the Leap Manifesto is its conjunction of the traditionally segmented sectors of business and the environment. It was precisely an urgent need to recognize the mutuality of economic and social values that was the motive for the creation of our social business directory back in 2004. Since that time we have been pleased to see more and more citizens and enterprises in Canada, and around the world, understand that there is serious, not to say, inescapable compatibility between economic viability and a sustainable planet. TorontotheBetter welcomes The Leap as a fraternal organization that will help to make this a better world for all.