This is a political truism, though - folk you once thought done for do pop up in the strangest places...
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Saturday 13 June 2015
Friday 12 June 2015
The Conservative Government has spent millions to convince us that they're working in our interests. In truth they've hung the middle class out to dry while helping out the country's wealthiest. Over the next 3 months, we have the chance to change the conversation.
Dear Canadian middle class:
The Conservatives are shafting you. Get mad! Tweet a prepared message to your network letting everyone know how bad and truthy they are!
This non-partisan, independent project aimed squarely at Canada's middle class may call itself Engage Canada, but so far it's making no attempt to actually engage Canadians. Instead, we have a familiar barrage of attacks, prompts and self-promotions.
Where's the engagement? Where are the channels to solicit ideas from Canadians? To empower Canadians to fact-check for themselves?
There are so many great examples Engage Canada could copy, if engagement is their goal. Look at what Ontario did with Budget Talks, encouraging Canadians to come forward with their own policy ideas. Look at Ontario's Open Data Directive - a shared doc on Google Drive that literally anyone can comment on (essentially, co-writing a government directive that will be sent to every Ministry and agency).
With the push towards Open Data, data visualization and so on, there are powerful platforms available to help Canadians make sense of facts ranging from traffic patterns to foreign investment. Heck, people are making decent money creating government data-based tools like Map Your Property or iamsick.ca.
Private sector partners (especially looking at you, Cisco, Microsoft and Socrata) are pushing for open data and tech in schools and communities that would help empower even the most marginalized residents to get some real skin in the nation-building game. Civic engagement groups like Rexdale Lab are working hard to find innovative solutions that bridge the gap between community and policy.
Look at truly non-partisan efforts like Shape My City, trying to build communities of cross-pollinated engagement online that lead to real-world activity or Neptis Geoweb providing platforms for people to map out real-world health, traffic, employment, etc. patterns and the policy that impacts them.
An initiative really meant to engage Canadians would be inspirational, aspirational, and encouraging - not narrowly focused on making one party look bad.
Truly engaging Canada isn't about them, Engage Canada, nor is it about you - that's how traditional partisan wedge-politicking operates and it's why so many Canadians have lost faith in government as an institution.
So long as Engage Canada looks at the people as a passive audience to be cherry-picked from for support instead of a community to be actively brought into the nation-building process, we're still not in the picture.
UGC, folks. Learn to love it. It's the non-partisan independent projects that do who will win in the long term.
Tuesday 9 June 2015
The Senate, en masse:
Through the senators' responses, there's a sense they feel the Auditor-General just doesn't get how important they and their work are, and what they're entitled to because of it.
Then there's this guy:
Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam plans to formally ask a U.S. judge to throw out his 11-year prison sentence and void many of the 14 counts for which he was convicted in his insider trading case.
And yet it's just a new thing that Toronto is talking about an end to carding - though whether it actually happens is another matter.
What's the lesson in all this?
Powerful people bend or break the rules; apparently, their ability to weasel their way out of consequences and their ambivalence to their impact on others is what drives their success.
While marginalized people face persecution just for being themselves.
Add in the fact that the only reason we've learned about rule-breaking position-abusing elites is due to investigative journalism conducted by journalists who work for papers that are dying off because no one is buying them any more.
Laissez-faire is social psychopathy, which involves a lack of empathy, which means an inability to see the big picture. It's that inability to see the big picture that has always, and will always be our downfall.
Monday 8 June 2015
Princes and democratic majorities are drunk with power. They must reluctantly admit that they are subject to the laws of nature. But they reject the very notion of economic law. Are they not the supreme legislators? Don't they have the power to crush every opponent? No war lord is prone to acknowledge any limits other than those imposed on them by a superior force... In fact, economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics." Mises 1998, 67)
Machiavellian political machinations are quite common these days. The bolder (or more ruthless) the politician, the closer they get to implementing the lessons Machiavelli himself laid out in The Prince.
The Prince, of course, is all about how to gain and hold dictatorial power. It's not a book that promotes democracy, nor does it really pay much attention to broader concerns - certainly not the ones that have emerged with globalization.
If you follow the threads of history back, you'll be surprised how many modern conflicts have their roots in Machiavellian political machinations. To crush today's foes, we arm tomorrow's opponents. We "pick fights" as though we're gods on high, completely removed from the ground-level consequences.
You might suggest today's conservative leaders - like that Machievelli fan, Stephen Harper - are utterly respecting the law of economics, and therefore are breaking the cycle. You'd be wrong, both on the economics front, but even more importantly on the behavioural economics front. We're seeing the slow and steady fallout from the increased centralization of power, neglect of evidence and the downloading of consequence and responsibility.
And winter is coming.
Is this what you call aggressive negotiations? Dany's got the white, Missandei has the midriff. Could use a couple lightsabers, though.
From the sky - Yogon!
Well, at least Yoda took his peeps with him. Unlike some "leaders."