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Friday, 27 November 2015

"Ethical Santa" ends another year of consuming

A "non-traditional" Santa's hand is in the air as he greets "green" consumers in Denmark. But prhaps what he should be doing is raising his hand to say Stop, as in "Stop buying".  

The Santa that most Santa-lovers love these days was invented in the nineteenth century, largely as a device to encourage shopping. In other words, the Santa we know is a commercial salesman and what he is selling is a consumerist winter. That there is now a multitude of choices, if you have money, for making your gift-giving spree "green" or "ethical" blindly ignores the fact that buying for buying's sake is the problem, not the colour of what you buy. Check out www.enough.org.uk to strengthen your anti-consumerist resolve. Think of the buy less message as coming from a Santa in an old hat he's keeping for another year (whether red or green doesn't matter at all) who has saved at least a few more carbon molecules from warming our atmosphere unnecessarily.   

         

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

TIA - There Is An Alternative - TorontotheBetter movie audience agrees

Contrary to the neo-liberal mantra TINA [There is no Allternative] of advocates like the now thankfully dispatched Stephen Harper the audience at TorontotheBetter's Nov.24 movie screening on economic democracy agreed that there is an economic alternative, one that gives workers rights in the oeganizations they labour for. As a programme of a worker co-op TorontheBetter agrees. We walk the economic democracy talk and encourage others to do the same. Talk to your fellow-workers about democratization. Everybody benefits as our movie "Can We Do It Ourselves?" showed.   

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Not a Santa Claus Parade

Despite the happy vibes being dished out by the many red-coated ones at this time of year, economies are still chugging along in the aftermath of the entirely avoidable collapse of 2008. Our economy is not some force of nature beyond human control, despite the mystifications of many, including economists.The only key question is how to control economies for the good of all, Check out the new and other listings in our TorontontotheBetter directory [www.torontothebetter.net] to learn about many who are already managing their enterprises socially.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Direct Action/Democratic Economics. Tues. Nov. 24th, 2015 8pm at 427 Bloor St. West [Trinity St. Paul's Centre ] - a PWYC Movie and Discussion (rescheduled from October 20)

Now that the Canadian election is over and a new, less "mean-spirited" regime is in power at  the federal level, the question is, "What will really change?". Our movie - "Can We Do it Ourselves?" - and our discussion, on Tom Malleson's "After Occupy: Economic Democracy for the 21st Century" - are about progressive/social economies where you don't have to depend on the occasional nice boss to get through the workday (if you have a job at all). In democratic/social economies workers are in charge of the workplace and sustainability (social, human and organizational) is the name of  the game. 
                       Join us to  see how it works.   

Title:             Direct Action/Democratic Economics  [movie and discussion]
Date/Time:    8pm/Tues.Nov.24
Location:       427 Bloor  St. West (Trinity St. Paul's Centre)
                    TorontotheBetter annual movie series 
                    [a programme of Libra worker co-op] 
                    "Building Toronto's social economy" 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Middle Class...Middle Income?... Canadian Federal Election a Battle for Democracy Consumers


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Image:Stephen Harper (Official Photo).jpgTom Mulcair

All these Canadian politicians have shared a lot in recent months. Not just the media spotlight but the language they used when in it. Class made a comeback in Canada's recent federal election, after many campaigns which had seemingly subscribed to the belief that history was over and with it class differences. One class, the idolized "middle class" has made a grand return to the spotlight in Canadian political discourse. The others? You could be excused for thinking they had disappeared because they were barely mentioned. And thereby hangs a  tale.   

But certainly one of the most "middle-class" obsessed of the 3 leaders challenging for the recent federal election brass ring handily won the election, so the phrase must have some appeal to those who voted. So appealing have become the middle class to the victor, the new prime minister, that other traditional classes were assigned a kind of middle class wannabe status, or as he calls them "those striving to be "middle class". Sounds way more positive than being poor or shiftless, or working for that matter. As for the rich, they didn't seem to exist much either, because apparently to even mention them might deflect from the populist approach adopted by all three parties vying to unseat the unashamedly pro-rich Conservatives.

Among  the many tedious semantic details lost in Canada's federal election discourse is the fact that middle class is not what the politicians were really talking about: middle income earners. Though middle income earners may ultimately get some of the possessions of the middle class, what they will usually never get is the habit of power, i.e. being in charge. It is with that, not simply the middle income that middle class status goes. Some workers may acquire "middle" incomes if, in these times of dwindling membership, they are fortunate enough to be unionized and in a non-precarious trade (preferably a profession) but they will know they belong in a different class the first time they try to walk into the local golf or squash club. 

What the Canadian election proved then was that all the talk of class actually obscured real class divisions.The party that triumphed was the one that more effectively sold a youthful political brand to the middle income electoral consumers campaign strategists recognize as their target. Don't worry, was the mantra, be happy if you can buy stuff like other middle income earners. And if you can't all you have to do is strive harder to be like those who can. Class status is not so easy to acquire if you have the money but not the habit of power.                    

And until the social enterprise we support at TorontotheBetter is better able to supply goods and services in forms those outside the middle class can acquire it will experience the consequence of targeting and winning middle income earners without changing a class structure that perpetuates inmequality. Whole Foods still means, unfortunately, pretty much "whole pay packet".