With Admirers Like These…

In the week between Jack Layton’s death and his funeral, I heard a lot of ‘While I disagreed with his politics, I admired the man’ sentiments. A nice — generous even – way of saying that you could like a person without ever agreeing with them politically. The much sought after bipartisanship in a time of official mourning.

Watching the proceedings on Saturday and digesting all that was said over the flag draped casket on stage at Roy Thompson Hall, I began to wonder about the above view. I admired the man but disagreed with his politics. What was there to disagree with?

Yes, yes. There’s always a reflexive dismissal of the concept of redistribution of wealth, fear of the cessation of mindless tax cuts, class warfare in a real pinch. All those left wing bogeymen that are dragged out from under the bed to scare us with. Slogans most but even those with a modicum of truth to them are simply means to an end, processes toward a goal. That goal sits at the heart of a person’s ‘politics’.

And Jack Layton’s politics?

Reading his letter to Canadians and listening to the words spoken in eulogy, his politics sought ‘a more inclusive and generous Canada’ with ‘greater equality, justice, opportunity.’ According to Stephen Lewis, Jack Layton wanted ‘an economy that would embrace equity, fairness, balance and creative generosity.’ Jack Layton represented the ‘politics of respect for all, respect for the earth, respect for principle and generosity.’

Again, what’s not to agree with?

I guess there are those out there who dismiss all that as pie-in-the-sky fantasy, naïve, granola crunchy utopianism. Pure sophistry in some cases. For them, inclusiveness, generosity, equality, justice, fairness and respect are all either not achievable or desirable. Thus, they disagreed with Jack Layton’s politics.

I could be wrong and simply give my fellow Canadians too much credit but I assume that those holding such beliefs are in the minority. That most of us, ultimately, see such things as respect, fairness, justice, equality as not only desirable in theory but absolute necessities for a society to function at its highest level. When we say that we disagreed with Jack Layton’s politics, what we mean is that we disagreed with the methods of achieving all those lofty goals.

Fair enough. But I think it’s well past high time that those disagreeing with the politics of Jack Layton start laying out their plans on how to create a more just, equal, fair and inclusive society because, after nearly 30 years of decidedly non-Jack Layton politics, we are further from those qualities than we have been in a generation. We’ve been told how tax cuts create jobs which, in turn, increases government revenue. We’ve been told how open and unfettered global markets create increased opportunities both at home and abroad. We’ve bashed unions as obsolete. We’ve been assured that a rising tide will raise all boats.

Looking around at the evidence, I’d suggest we’ve been sold a bill of goods. The global economy teeters on wobbly legs sinking into part two of what could be a double dip recession, brought on by unregulated financial behemoths run amok. Income concentration is at the highest it’s been in some 80 years. We’ve gutted our manufacturing sector and, not coincidentally, our middle-class, exchanging good paying jobs for cheap consumer goods. Yet, household debt is perilously elevated. University education – the cornerstone of our future well-being, living as we are in the information age – is becoming more and more of a luxury item. Even our public school system is creeping toward a have versus have-not status. Pensions, once a rock solid contract between employee and employer, are now viewed as relics of past prosperity, unaffordable in these days of austerity.

We live in society that has become less generous, less fair, less equal with fewer opportunities for fewer people. Pretty much the exact opposite of everything Jack Layton stood for. So it’s all well and good to wrap yourself in the admired the man, disagreed with his politics warm and fuzzy coat but it’s ultimately facile to the point of meaninglessness. By disagreeing with Jack Layton’s politics, you are, in fact, in agreement with systemic unfairness and inequality, injustice and a blatant disregard for the well-being of your fellow citizens.

So admire away. But it would be better for all of us if you put more thought into your politics.

submitted by Cityslikr

16 thoughts on “With Admirers Like These…

  1. Your graphic of Mr. Moneybags should also be a reminder that when government spends money for programs and runs a deficit, it is borrowing said money from Mr. Moneybags and the financial institutions that have “run amok”. So, the desire for an equitable, economic world still requires Mr. Moneybags and governments are beholden to Mr. Moneybags because they have to borrow money to keep those programs and support that equitable world.

    • Or, the government could make Mr. Moneybags pay a socially appropriate level of tax, and pay for services without borrowing money. Then we could start paying off the debt of a half-century of tax cuts for Mr. Moneybags and his banker friends. They’ll still be just as rich, but the rest of society will be much less poor.

      • Problem with that, is the Mr Moneybags will pass on the higher taxes onto the depositors and account holders. Most of the government debt is actually held out of the country by foreign investors who actually have money, i.e. the Chinese.

        What is socially appropriate level of tax? Social engineering and social justice for corporations doesn’t work. Tax the working class and you remove the incentive to work.

  2. I lined up 2 hours to get a wristband and later 1 hour to get my seat; all to be part of the State Funeral that was very different as a Celebration! When Lewis was talking about Social Democracy,. Harper did not clap. Though it was amusing to watch Chretien get his groove on to “Rise Up.”
    Spoke to and saw a lot of familiar faces from the local scene. For a political junkie got to meet Dion for the first time.
    I think it is wonderful to have Altruism as a goal. Imagine!

    Sunday, at an evening service for the sharing time I read from 1 Corinthians 13 about faith, hope and love. The greatest being love…

    • Social democracy advocates the creation of legal reforms and economic redistribution programs to eliminate economic class disparities between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. – No thank you.

      • Dear “Rob”; it is the planned Economies in Asia and the Social Democracies that are doing well in the World. For Example, Denmark has low unemployment and less inequality.

        How come the TSX has been lower since the accidental election of a “strong stable Conservative majority government” with 39.6% of the vote?(smile)

      • Okay when Canada heads into negative growth territory it will be because Flaherty has rosy expectations like in 2008! Where the Cons influence the 60something % of the Cdn Economy again. I guess you looked at Denmark’s low unemployment and inequality. Now distract by pointing elsewhere. Alright, the right wing Republican’s control the House in the U$…

        P.S. back to SD if you want to read it

      • Yes, Demark just ahead of Greece in the percentage of debt to GDP at 180, so low unemployment by owing more than you produce as a country is not sustainable.

      • Where I live. The growth rate went from 3.6% to negative growth or -0.1% and if the next quarter would be to fall that would be a technical recession that Flaherty can’t deny!

        I understand that Denmark is 1 of few countries to have a debt ceiling. How much trade does Canada have with Greece OR Denmark? It’s that other country that has a debt ceiling that dragged the World economy down. Are you going to defend the crazy TEA party with unreliable wiki stats.

      • Hope you realize you are touting the work of a conservative government when you prance out Denmark as an example.

      • Yeah Rob; the conservatives are higher at 7.2% unemployment compared to Denmark’s 4.1% OR the 6.4% Canada was at when Martin who happened to be at the above mentioned event lost power…

  3. Maybe I’m just being foolish but here is a list of things that I think could make an effective program to fight back (with apologies to Tom Paine):

    The Crisis:
    1. Executive Council will move to take control of Waterfront Toronto and make the Toronto Port Lands Company responsible for the development
    2. Justified by arguing WT has not found funding for the $634 Million flood protection project at mouth of Don River
    3. Called “Boondoggle” by Doug Ford
    4. Insinuates nothing has been accomplished when in fact, much has been done
    5. Will come to full vote of Council – This is where the fight lies
    6. Counts on ignorance of the project as basis of support, so lets inform!

    The History:
    1. A short history of the disastrous TO waterfront
    2. Why WT was created in the first place
    3. What WT has accomplished to date (use Flaherty’s supportive comments here too!)

    The Solution:
    1. Argue why each of the organizations we contact should support this collective effort
    2. Provide a list of all the positive reasons to support the continued efforts of WT
    3. Provide a cost / benefit analysis
    4. Refute the arguments in favor of seizing WT
    5. Point out why a coalition is the best means to save our waterfront
    6. Outline why the waterfront is important to wards not bordering the water (e.g. Ward 16)

    Who to Contact:
    1. Church/ Synagogue/ Religious and secular humanist groups
    2. Political associations – NDP, Liberal, Green
    3. Library groups
    4. Transit advocacy groups
    5. Poverty advocacy groups
    6. Women’s advocacy groups
    7. Children’s advocacy groups
    8. Nature/ Park/ playground advocacy networks
    9. Retired people’s advocacy groups
    10. Labour advocates
    11. Environmental groups
    12. B.I.A.?

    Perhaps this is best framed as a non-partisan means to protect the waterfront for all Torontonians for generations to come. This is obviously just a sketch, but if properly filled out I think we could make a compelling argument. If we can get a collection of pre-existing (and thus already organized groups) to come together on this single issue, perhaps we can have a bit of political clout. Not to mention it would establish a network for future efforts.

    Ok, So like I said in the posts above, I am a noob at this and Iam just throwing ideas out there – Maybe no one will actually give a shit and I’m just spinning my wheels. I feel like I have to try something though. I Think maybe I’ll take a look at FFT’s scorecard and see which councillors have potential. I suppose it would be easier if people in their respective wards posted possible citizens groups to contact and maybe a master list could be generated. Feel free to make comments or suggestions.

    Or maybe I’m just making a fool of myself.

  4. Great article.

    Just a comment on your sentence “. University education – the cornerstone of our future well-being, living as we are in the information age – is becoming more and more of a luxury item. ”

    -University education is certainly becoming more expensive (rising steadily above the cost of inflation I believe). See: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/rising-university-tuition-fee-burden-squeezing-ontario-families-study

    -HOWEVER – due to significant investment on behalf of the McGuinty government in postsecondary education (his goal is to have 70% of Ontario’s population obtaining some sort of postsecondary qualification – up from 60%, which is still high – to meet the needs of the new knowledge based economy) university enrolment is actually at an all time high this year, surpassing the 2003 double cohort enrolment. See: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/University+enrolment+hits+time+high/5325519/story.html

    So yes, university is increasingly expensive, landing students in big debt, but this provincial govt has done a lot to make it more accessible to more ppl (creating more spaces, making changes to OSAP etc).

    • Beware the rise of credentialism and credential inflation. Soon you will NEED to have a degree of one kind or another just to work at Starbucks. Like in the Incredbiles, “When everyone is super, then no one is.”

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