Saturday, 2 December 2017

From People's Car to "corporate car"? - update on the threat to Ontario's original non-profit co-op


Despite a narrow recent vote to continue with the transfer of all Community Carshare (formerly People's Car) assets to a for-profit corporation dissident carshare members have come together to fight the takeover and maintain a democratic local carshare in their community. Stay tuned to this space for ongoing developments and/or contact postmaster@TorontotheBetter.net










TorontotheBetter 's 2017 Holiday Message. Consumer Choices: v. Real Choices for a better world

Buy Less and Buy Better - Support a "Real Growth" economy
 "CHOICES": cars, pets, appliances, cosmetics -  things that  support "Growth" ..."Santa" may allow some of these to some of us.
 
REAL CHOICES:  Solidarity with the oppressed like these tired workers churning out fake elves to ship overseas. More equality, Environmental protection, Respect for all genders, No export of our waste....These support Real Growth, like clean air, water and land, dignity at work and happiness for all. "Santa" won't give us these; we must fight for them and they're daily, not just holiday priorities.  
* For  anything you really have to buy choose from the many social suppliers listed in our TorontotheBettter Directory, since 2004 Toronto's original online social economy directory. TorontotheBetter has long suppported a no sweatshop economy.As Tom Malleson from York University writes of Consumerism in a recent book, "There is something wrong - indeed pathological - about a society that puts consumption on a pedestal as the ultimate purpose of life." [Fired Up About Capitalism p.64 (available from your local public library or for purchase by email request to postmaster@TorontotheBetter.net]

TorontotheBetter -  Building Toronto's Social Economy since 2004.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Poor, homeless and pregnant...

These were the words of a shivering woman describing herself while dressed only in a T-shirt and jeans on a cold, blustery evening outside my local convenience store at Yonge and Dundas streets in Toronto yesterday. I gave her a dollar. It's not enough. And that's not just the money. She followed me into the store and said the same words to those waiting, They denied the appeal in her words. I am reading a new Canadian book by Ajamu Nangwaya called "Why Don't the Poor Rise Up?". Ignored and rejected the woman left. When I did too, hoping and ready to do more, she was gone.   

Monday, 20 November 2017

"Making China Great Again" - on the Trump visit to China, from TorontotheBetter's correspondent in Shanghai

Here's our November 2017 report from Shanghai. 
It is probably a shame to begin a blog about the People's Republic of China – and its booming economic and cultural megalopolis Shanghai – with a piece on Trump. The objective of this series will primarily be to explore the practical meaning of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Is it a meaningful name for a particular kind of political economy? How is life evolving in the urban centres of the earth's most populous country? What are the priorities of Chinese municipalities? What exactly is the State up to, economically speaking? What are China's green initiatives? How about the sharing economy? And how loud are workers' voices in a land where, theoretically at least, the ruling party still governs in their name and interest? Or, what matters most, soccer or basketball? And then there's education...



            Yet Trump was just here. He's so hard to avoid.


            And it is instructive to consider the manner in which the Chinese leadership greeted him in these days of unremitting, blistering attacks upon the real estate mogul/reality showman/president. For Trump's reception in Beijing, plus all the official and semi-official writing that attended it, tells us something about how the cupola of the Communist Party sees China's place in the world.


            A review of the press (and I mean the English-language versions; my Mandarin is in the beginner stages and may, in a reading sense, never develop much further) would suggest that China is entirely unaware that the U.S. chief is a laughing stock, derided and despised by so many at home and abroad.  Chinese media can be quite sharp in their criticism of American postures on this or that matter, including new missile systems in South Korea, Pyongyang's behaviour and Washington's line on, say, Iran. But there are no barbs at Trump the fool, the narcissistic personality, the buffoon. A recent piece I read on heightened tensions between the USA and North Korea clearly blamed Washington for this state of affairs. But he who crafted – or at least uttered – the war-mongering words Beijing finds so unhelpful to a resolution of difficulties on the Korean peninsula wasn't even mentioned. Donald the mouth gets a pass in China.


            Of course, politically aware and not-so-politically minded Chinese know a fair bit about the real  human being/politician. Admittedly I have not conducted or read a poll. But I teach at a public secondary school in Shanghai; some of my Chinese colleagues roll their eyes at his mention. My older students laugh at Trump tales. But who doesn't? The regime, Washington's 'superpower' rival, is utterly straight-faced about him and if General Secretary Xi smiles, it is in welcome. People's Daily referred to the State visit as “unprecedented with great significance.” What, beyond a reminder of the ordinary customs of diplomatic politesse, does this tell us?


            Part of that answer can be drawn from another essay that recently appeared in the press, in this case Global Times. It was a not-too-long commemorative analysis of the 1917 Russian Revolution and encapsulated, in my view, the Chinese Party leadership's most optimistic sense of its own role in history. Xi and associates regard themselves as the true inheritors of Bolshevik power.  As distinct from the Soviet leadership, whose mandate crumbled with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Chinese leadership not only knows where it comes from but where it is going, in the words of the article's author. It has a plan for the system founded in 1917. The Russians went doddery and stumbled off the path.


            That path, or plan, is being laid out in a world considerably different, however, from the world of Kennedy, Khrushchev, Reagan, Brezhnev and other Cold Warriors. Our globe is an interdependent one, with massive economic investment running both ways, shared ecological challenges and crises, and of course a common interest in the avoidance of nuclear war. In this sense, I think, the Chinese are squarely in the tradition of Gorbachev. Although contemptuous of his abandonment of political power, which consigned the Soviet Communists to near irrelevance, they have taken much of MG's teaching on peace and shared values seriously. 'Contradictions' and disputes between the two systems were given too much weight during the Cold War, CCP theorists say. We need each other. We hold your debt. We need your investment to help China develop further. It isn't primarily a matter of one side against another; we agree it is best if North Korea does not have nuclear weapons and will collaborate, in a reasonable fashion, toward that end. In sum, China and the world are better off if the relationship between Beijing and Washington is reasonably harmonious.


            So why mock Trump? Why annoy him? Don't take the bait and snarl when the Hairman blames China for American economic problems or says Xi could solve the Korean nuclear issue over a weekend,  if only he wanted to. Whatever else he is, Donald sits in the Oval Office. That's all that concerns the Chinese. We must work with him and even excuse tweets and rude speeches. After all, that illness of not measuring one's words before they are uttered is not a disease we suffer from. We have a plan.


            That plan includes recognizing real rivalries, but not accentuating them. China's armed forces will continue to be modernized. Xi will tell his officers to ensure soldiers are prepared for combat. Beijing will be tough on themes like Taiwanese and Tibetan independence. China will stay tough on regional security issues. When Western capitals tell China to adopt liberal democracy with a multiparty system, Xi will politely tell them to go to hell... and might do worse to Chinese who make that case in a persistent fashion. But generally, interdependence determines foreign policy. So China will work with Mr. Trump.


            But... The party leadership believes it has an alternative to advance, one that grows from the soil of 1917. Against the American model it presents one in which the State unreservedly and without apology drives the economy through massive investment and public enterprise. A model which rejects budgetary austerity as a policy panacea, as it does “nationalist,” protectionist strategies. One which, its designers maintain, promises political stability and gradually deepening “socialist democracy” without the perceived chaos of the Western party system. It includes a promise of extensive investment in, and infrastructural links to, other developing countries on a “win-win” basis (See One Belt One Road). To poverty-choked Africa, for example, China says, We won't preach. We'll just build railways and plants. And both sides will come out ahead. And you can copy our system if you want. Here it has lifted over half a billion souls out of destitution.


            A kind of global struggle persists. But today the Chinese prefer one played mainly with 'soft power'. So Donald, and whomever enters the White House after the Trumps stumble out, is welcome in Beijing. The systems and their respective populations need each other. And one day, think some, all will figure out that “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” which isn't really an expression of nationalism after all, is best for the species as a whole.
           

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Ontario's original non-profit co-op Community Carshare is threatened - Urgent carshare news


At a special General meeting accessible in Waterloo and Hamilton on Wednesday Nov. 22 non-profit co-op carsharing pioneer Kitchener/Waterkloo based Community Carshare members will  decide on whether to dissolve the co-op and sell its assets to private carshare corporation Communauto. For more info and/or assistance to attend the meeting contact  info@communitycarshare.ca. Stand up for our social economy and  local democratic control of progressive transportation options. TorontotheBetter, created by worker co-op Libra Information Services, supports co-ops and other social economy agents at all times, especially when threatened. A threat to one is a threat to  all.     

Saturday, 11 November 2017

"Water Is..." unfortunately not for all


Canadian Nina Munteanu's recent (2016) book celebrates water (nibi in Anishnaabe language as celebrated in this song https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K3yHiJqZXFc). The title of the book  - “Water Is…: The meaning of  Water”  - makes the degree of her estimation clear and it’s not an overstatement to say this expression of her liking is oceanic. The 583 pages of the large format text are appropriate to its theme, that is, the most common and important element on our planet and one that is threatened as never before. There is a very serious message and purpose here.

Munteanu is right to recognize that water is a commons that belongs to all on the planet earth. As an expression of the breadth of her engagement the 12 chapters approach different aspects of the subject, from Water is Magic in chapter 1 through to the happily concluding Water is Joy of chapter 12. In between these book-end characterizations, water appears as Life, Motion, Communication, Memory, Rhythm, Vibration, Beauty, Story, Prayer, and Wisdom. Interspersed with Canadian anchored photos depicting the above themes there is something for most water appreciators.

In the Afterthoughts section which culminates her flow  Munteanu notes that her mission is connection, maybe “matchmaking” it could be said, and as for all passion borne writings hers should pull many who encounter it. To wonder whether those without a similar passion will venture into this labour of love is not to question the project. Love Conquers All Things, it’s true, we trust, but for most loves it is the chance personal glance that opens the space for rapture. In a world once more seized by strife for the possession of land (and water) we at TorontotheBetter hope that the “quantum entanglement” the scientist in Munteanu invokes as what moves her, manages to grab many of those that as yet have remained static when made aware of the global rape of resources that we are living through. Inhabitants of many of Canada’s first nations reserves that after 2000 years of colonial rule still lack clean drinking water are unlikely to encounter the book in their local libraries, if they have them. Not Munteanu’s personal responsibility, maybe, but they might wish that at least one chapter, if not the whole, was pervaded by the original inhabitants' very special relationship to water in the land now called Canada. After all, the standard term for electricity here in Ontario is Hydro, in recognition of the source of the province's energy in its aboriginal lakes.  
A call to arms has it over a rhapsody most times, but rhapsody can still be an entangling attraction for those fortunate enough to have the luxury, while swimming, of waving, not drowning. Given the fundamental nature of quantum mechanics to all existence none are separate from water's pull. Here's  hoping that many minds tangle at the same time as any hands that lift this weighty book. Though Munteanu honours the centrality of water in First Nations' spiritual worlds her reference does not appear until Chapter 11, Water Is Wisdom. The Joy chapter follows, but a Water Is Power chapter is missing in the first edition.

Other recommended Canadian publications about water: Blue Gold/Maude Barlow & Tony Clarke, and Eau Canada/Karen Bakker.  To find a copy of Water Is... check your local library; to buy a copy contact postmaster@TorontotheBetter.net.  

Friday, 3 November 2017

"Amazon bid shows how far we've come" - Really?

The above headline for an Oct.30 article by Toronto Star's Royston James mentions, (discreetly, of course, like these brackets) that Toronto's response has been "composed, poised, level-headed and unruffled." James compares this with Toronto's sluttish efforts to win a previous Olympic Games. But the reality is everybody knows that Toronto, like most other cities during the continuing dominance of austerity-based investment withdrawal by Western governments, is desperate for private investment as a growth tool. That it is relatively tempered in the style of its desperation does not change the fact of the desperation itself. This is like a plain suitor stressing their plainness as a distinction over their half-naked and panting competitors. However superficially controlled, the suitor is involved in the same game, whose name will  be withheld here to comply with Toronto's level headedness.

Stating what Amazon should do to clean up its act if it wants to impress the city with its offerings would be a more honourable approach but in these times of market triumphalism honour is a concept so old-fashioned as to be almost quaint.Now there's an idea for that might work with the MBAs in charge of such things: modesty as the fairest seduction of them all. We will be be "unruffled" enough here to ignore what in a former age would have been called a contradiction:profit v. probity. Setting some progressive standards for Amazon of the kind embodied in different ways by the enterprises listed in the TorontotheBetter directory is an idea that seems not to have occurred to the City's oh so composed representatives. Pre-nuptial demands in the service of  a better life are not the same as acceptance of the suitor as is, with the by no means honourable baggage of Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.

Honourable or not, the objective of the City is to win a groom and to provide the post-coital flattery, unstated but slavish, that must and will follow if the advertised financial benefits are to be more than short-term titillation. James has played his uncritical part, we must assume, unwittingly.                     

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Business fantasies - Benefit Corporations and other thought excursions

In the wake of the latest economic breakdown many have been attempting a facelift for capitalism and the so-called B-corps are one of the latest out of this reformist gate. Simply put, they seek to  rehabilitate private for-profit business by registering those among them who do various good things. There is much that enterprises can do to make their operations more durable and socially beneficial, but if they wish to remain corporations there are several things they legally can't do, within their overall requirements of "fiduciary duty" and fiscal  responsibility, i.e. make as much money as possible for their shareholders, who are motivated by self-enrichment.

Recent changes to law in the U.S. that have been welcomed by B-corps allow them to evade the shareholder benefit maximization provision but whether enterprises in general choose to do that is permissive. As a result, corporations are not required to embed anything like worker democracy, community programming or environmental sustainability unless they choose to. And given the benefits that arise for money-motivated shareholders the majority of enterprises will avoid the administrative overheads of the stringent B-corp registration process.  To believe otherwise, as the B-corporation movement wants, to is to believe in a fantasy, something no self-respecting, let alone other-respecting, enterprises should do.

For now, social economy promoters like TorontotheBetter are left to urge enterprise change hopefully, but at some point comprehensive social economies require more affirmative action akin to the historical accretion of business health and safety requirements. For instance, if democracy is to become more than a periodic ritual it must be built into daily workplace life. Power comes from doing it, not  as a privilege but as a right. The B-corp initiative risks further elitist separation of the fortunate few from the huddled masses of workers. More B-corps are welcome but serious political change is the necessary condition of society-wide "B-corporatization". A simultaneous embrace of necessary social enablers like healthcare, educational rights and environmental protection for all, as well as B-corporate transformation, are the necessary conditions of an empowered working life, i.e, real democracy.         

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Jobs - the thievery of an issue

Once upon a time, jobs were the issue of progressive forces in market economies. Recurrent depressions and recessions removed their means of living from workers, aka "wageslaves", who depend on work for everything from social status to food  and shelter. Since the advent of the neo-liberal counter revolution way back in the previous century an insidious  development has set in in political discourse: appropriation of the formerly progressive jobs/employment subject, of which the more jobs the better was the mission, was appropriated by rightwingers whose primary motivation is to entrench power elites, that is private employers. The engine of  this appropriation was the reduction of job availability, through the demonization of government spending and the proliferation of a work environment in which all jobs are scarce so any job looks better than none. The latest grovelling for Amazon jobs by major cities, including our own GTA urbs, Toronto and Mississauga, is just the one example in a long  thread.

The logic is simple: if you want jobs, which,  thanks to  neo-liberalism''s attack on government investment, are redefined as essentially private sector phenomena, you must make yourselves attractive to private sector employers. There are many ways of doing this but of course opposing unionization and minimizing taxes are popular with right wing job champions. The sad result is that all who seek not any employment but good employment environments becomes prey to anti-job smears.

It's time for more progressives to reclaim the job issue. The alternative is just more of the temporary, benefit-less, union-less and undemocratic workplaces that are the new normal. The solution: an expanded progressive discourse on building a social economy that combines employment and social value, avoiding the false and superficial appeal of purely financially defined work.The problem is clear; the power of enterprises focused on profit is vested in narrowly financial definitions of work, supported by underclasses, be they immigrants or the young, without alternatives. More on the how of opposing this predicament will appear in future posts. Talk of the knowledge economy and the need for workers to transition to new skills is a red herring which blames workers and calls for them to change or disappear (or both).

One immediate solution is a redefinition of work which, in many cases nobody wants to do but has to, to survive. Fewer hours, be it through job sharing or a guaranteed income has little or no impact on productivity. Why don't we do it? The right wing rhetoric of jobs, jobs, jobs and the politics of austerity is the reason. Reading a book is a more socially productive use of time than many jobs. But avoid the many vainglorious books issued by the Trump clan and other such family fortune fueled "self-made" entrepreneurs.       
                          

Sunday, 22 October 2017

"Poor" Bill Morneau - he can't help it


Of course real poor he aint. Here's the quaint location of his villa in France. It's not that the sad federal Minister of Finance, who represents a downtown riding in Toronto  containing lots of real poor people, is much worse than other rich politicians who could not run and get elected unless they  were rich; it's just that as the minister in charge of Canada's financial affairs a neutral observer might expect from him a little more honesty and probity than is apparent in his transparent attempts to hide his conflicts of interest.
Of course, the real  problem is much bigger than Morneau, it is that there is a fundamental  contradiction between shielding one's wealth and serving the public good. In other words, to use the words of another rich man politician, the political  process is "rigged" (he knows cos he's doing the rigging). How can business people who make their money out of various forms of human distress and are appointed as candidates by mainstream political parties largely because of their wealth, honestly work for the interests of those their riches are extracted from? The answer is they can't. And in Morneau's case it is clear he doesn't.
The only way  out of this contradiction is to ensure that businesses serve the broader public good by, for instance, ensuring that the wealth  they make is shared democratically with those who contribute to making it, and this requires worker management/ownership. And the only way of doing this is to  ensure that all workers have a democratic right to determinine  how enterprise revenues get distributed. It's called worker ownership  and it's  one of the values we celebrate in our TorontotheBetter Directory. Future blogposts will explain in detail the other criteria we apply to choose the enterprises in the Directory. A better world requires better ways of creating wealth.           .       

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People Tries to Extract a Response from Trudeau

From the blogger: https://miningwatch.ca/blog/2017/10/12/mexican-network-mining-affected-people-tries-extract-response-trudeau

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People Tries 

to Extract a

 Response from Trudeau


Leaflet | OSM Mapnik
Jen MooreLatin America Program Coordinator Jennifer Moore works to support communities, organizations, and networks in the region struggling with mining conflicts.

On the eve of Prime Minister Trudeau’s first official visit to Mexico, the Mexican Network of Mining Affected People (REMA by its initials in Spanish) has issued a communiqué to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to live up to his commitments and stop the devastation of Indigenous and campesino communities that has enabled Canadian mining companies to make big profits. Canadian investment in Mexico - the principal destination abroad for Canadian mining investment after the U.S. - is expanding precisely in the most deadly places for anyone to get by on a daily basis, let alone speak out in defence of their land and wellbeing. As the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement is uncertain and Trudeau seeks to shore up a bilateral relationship with Mexico, its time to put words into action and answer for lives and livelihoods destroyed or at risk around Canadian mine sites. 
Our English translation of the original communiqué follows. 

Canadian mining is dispossessing Indigenous peoples and campesino communities in Mexico

On the occasion of Justin Trudeau’s state visit to Mexico, the Mexican Network of Mining Affected People urges Canadian mining company invasion of Mexico to stop and withdraw 
October 11, 2017
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has presented himself on the international stage as a democrat, a supporter of human rights and freedoms, and committed to fulfilling the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although on this latter point it is important to mention that the government has taken a weak position, limiting its support for the declaration within the scope of the Canadian constitution, [1] which is not minor, particularly if Canada continues to refuse to ratify Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization and fails to respect the self-determination of Indigenous peoples in practice.
Trudeau’s visit to our country has been announced as an opportunity to strengthen commercial ties between Mexico and Canada, which is bad news for those peoples and communities who have been seriously affected by Canadian mining activities. Today, Canada has become the biggest source of foreign investment in mining around the world and in Mexico, to such an extent that 65% of foreign mining companies in Mexico are listed in Canada. For Canada, Mexico has become the second most important destination for Canadian mining investment abroad, after the U.S., such that 11.3% of Canadian mining assets are in Mexico.
The power that Canadian mining wields in Latin America has been openly and arbitrarily promoted by Canada’s entire diplomatic corp along the lines of its ‘economic diplomacy’ policy through its embassies. Like good colonialists, they continue to propagate racism and hatred toward Indigenous peoples and campesino communities when they encourage mining investment in an area such as Guerrero [2] - where there is tremendous Canadian mining investment -, and then issue alerts to Canadian tourists to avoid traveling to the same place, [3] given the violence and risks that people live with there.
The political and financial weight of Canadian mining companies and the government is a reality that has been used to influence the promotion of constitutional reforms, laws and regulations in the extractive sector to help facilitate foreign investment, as well as to weaken and deny redress for harms, tax payments, or any other condition that might affect company profits.
In Mexico, this has led to an unconstitutional legal framework that violates human rights because, among other things, it gives mining priority above all over activities, which despite being undertaken pretty much exclusively by private companies is also considered in the public interest. This has meant dispossession and forced displacement of legitimate landowners, who when they try to defend their rights, these are denied by the very same companies or through the structures of illegal armed groups or in collusion with diverse actors in the Mexican government.
Health harms, environmental contamination and destruction, criminalization of social protest, threats, harassment, smear campaigns, surveillance, arbitrary detentions and the assassination of defenders are the formula for progress and development that Canadian mining investment has brought to our country. To counteract its brutality, in the media and among the spheres of power, companies gloat about their corporate social responsibility, clean industry certification or safe cyanide use, or their adherence to absurd standards of “conflict free gold” that are supported and certified by organizations largely created by the very same corporate sector. To substantiate claims of dispossession, pillage, displacement and violence caused by Canadian mining companies, it is enough to visit the communities of Carrizalillo [4]and Nuevo Balsas [5] in Guerrero, Chalchihuites [6] and Mazapil [7]in Zacatecas, the northern highlands of Puebla, [8] Tetlama in Morelos, [9] or Sierrita de Galeana in Durango, [10] as well as Chicomuselo, Chiapas, [11] where Mariano Abarca was murdered for his opposition to a Canadian mining company, prior to which the Canadian embassy in Mexico was alerted to the risks he faced as they monitored the conflict.
The abuses of Canadian mining companies have been ongoing, repeated, and have violated human rights such as rights to territory, property, a safe environment, participation, consultation and consent, lawfulness and legal security. For example, we have seen the same company (Goldcorp) break the law repeatedly by purchasing collectively owned lands, first in Carrizalillo, Guerrero and then, three years later, in Mazapil, Zacatecas. Today in Mexico, Canadian companies are operating 65% or over 850 mining projects at different stages from exploration through to construction and extraction.
It is important to mention, Mr. Justin Trudeau, that the only thing that mining investment from your country has ensured for us is dispossession and the risk that thousands and thousands of communities and persons could lose their culture and identity as a result of destruction of their territory; the arrival of organized crime (whether or not companies are signed up to the bombastic conflict-free gold standard); as well as the escalation of violence, repression and criminalization of those who defend their territories and life.
In this context, REMA calls on the Canadian government to stop institutional and political support provided through your diplomatic apparatus to enable private Canadian companies to accumulate profits through dispossession. We also demand that you stop promoting policies and weak laws that legalize the activities of these mining companies, among them voluntary codes of conduct known as Corporate Social Responsibility, in place of mandatory compliance. Instead, corporate accountability is urgently needed to put a stop to the ongoing atrocities and illegalities that violate the human rights of Indigenous peoples and campesino communities.
In addition, beyond the positive accounts of the business sectors and government officials in defence of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it is important to mention that this pact has only helped to legalize dispossession, enabling more wealth to be accumulated by already wealthy sectors, as well as the gradual displacement of both products and local economies to stimulate a new form of accumulation and control, an increase in the deregulation of land ownership and dilution of protections over the public interest and public good, further enabling private pillage. In sum, the principal objective of NAFTA has been to disappear the countryside and campesino farmers.
Finally, Mr. Trudeau, we would like to remind you that well over a year ago, on April 26, 2016, various organizations including ours sent you a letter [12] in which we requested you to kindly bring your attention to the context of human rights violations of Canadian companies in Mexico and Latin America, just shortly after you had assumed your mandate as Prime Minister when you committed yourself and your party to support human rights. To date, we have never received a response to this letter, nor seen any concrete actions to better protect human rights.

Canadian mining investment is destroying our country

Canadian mining companies violate human rights

We will fight for territories free of mining!

Mexican Network of Mining Affected People (REMA)







Sunday, 15 October 2017

Global economy requires new/old style labour solidarity - the message from"Confronting Global Capital" conference in Hamilton, Ontario

 
International solidarity among all workers was the clear message of the important "Confronting Global Capital" workshop held in Hamilton from October 12-14. After decades of neo-liberalism have battered workers in all sectors, from airports to universities and beyond the only way to  hang in is to hang together. Above Steve Tufts of York University introduces Dan Jannsen (seated) of the Toronto Airport Workers Council, an innovative multi-union body created as a united voice for workers at Toronto's Pearson Airport. Reaching out beyond organizational borders, the TAWC has already connected with similar workers in the Phillipines and Turkey. With members unionized by the Industrial Workers of  the World (the Wobblies) TorontotheBetter welcomes solidarity among workers as an important part of a better city for all. We here recognize Toronto Wobbly brother Paul Bocking for his workshop presentation about the impact of neo-liberalism on education workers.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Common Ground Co-op's 7th Annual Bowlathon Fundraiser

Common Ground Co-operative, the folks behind the social enterprises Lemon 7 Allsprice Cookery, The Coffee Sheds and CleanABLE are having their 7th Annual Bowlathon Fundraiser this month.

See their page on CandaHelps here for more information...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

School librarian takes on US president's spouse and gets famous


If ever two unlikely figures were made to share the limelight together it is Melania Trump  [no description or image required] and Massachusetts school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro [no image available at this time], Both are unabashed seekers of fame, the first by a well known marriage and the second by rejecting a gift of books to her library from the first. The fittingly clownish figures that brought them together are Dr. Seuss's children's book characters like Cat in the Hat. The point here is that the Trump disease of self-promotion at all costs and irrespective of  minor dangers like nuclear conflagration are likely furthered, not impeded by acts like Soeiro's that champion her professional status rather than exposing the cynical do-gooder tokenism that motivates the Trump gang and their donations.          

Uber forced to unionize - the beginninng of the end or the end of the beginning for one kind of "sharing economy" enterprise?

First they start up and make profits by evading labour standards that workers fought long and hard to gain, then their workers start to realize they're getting exploited, then...

See http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-seattle-uber-lyft-unionization-20151215-story.html for details and http://socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed/ls362.php for the real struggle
behind the struggle.
 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Free market U.S. government can't live with a little bit of competition from Bombardier


Passengers will be getting off Bombardier planes for good if they have to pay 200% extra thanks to a "Make Ammerica Great Again" ruling by the US.  
If there was still any willingness by fair minded observers to accept that competition was what so-called free market champions wanted, the U.S. Department of Commerce's recent imposition of a massive (+219%) trade levy on Canada's Bombardier should be the clincher [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/27/punitive-export-tariff-placed-on-planes-made-in-northern-ireland.]. Just so happens that Bombardier is in competition with Boeing for similar global contracts of course and that the current resident of the White House has vowed to "make America great again" by rigging markets to create more local jobs. And if boosting the supposedly free market economy takes a little bit of market manipulation and trade barriers then so be it, goes the logic of big power realpolitik. Will the neo-liberal fantasists in Canada's government, who want, they repeat, to "balance economic  growth and nice things like the environment and health and safety standards, be willing to fight their "free market" U.S. allies on this? For the record bleats from Justin Trudeau, Bill Morneau and Chrystia Freeland will have no effect on the ally (aka competitor) they now intend to renegotiate a "better NAFTA" with. That unregulated markets favour ultimately only the already wealthy will once again be demonstrated as any reader of the world's most prominent economic statistician, Thomas Piketty, already knows.Time for Canada to stand up for fair trade and social economy. We're not holding our breath.               

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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