Responding To Our Responders

February 19, 2011

So we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke received, if not a deluge of comments to our post from a couple days ago, A Plea to Conservatives Everywhere, let’s call it a handful. A good percentage of which were from almost exclusively well-behaved self-described conservatives taking exception to much of what we’d written. It would’ve been time-consumingly impossible to respond to each one individually. Instead, we’re lumping them together into a single response post which, undoubtedly, will look as if we’re misrepresenting what everyone wrote and deceptively framing the terms of debate in order to make ourselves seem much smarter than we actually are.

Alas, the burden of ultimate editorial control.

There seemed to be four currents of argument running through the anti-comments that came in. When we asked to be shown “…how further corporate tax cuts will kick start our economy,” we got a lesson in the theory of corporate taxes. Yes, we understand the concept. We just weren’t sure where the proof was that cutting them further at this particular time was going to help. Unless you’re one of those anti-Keynesian absolutists, reducing spending along with taxes in such an anemic state of recovery doesn’t make a whole lot of economic sense.

Besides, we’ve been hacking away at corporate tax rates both federally and provincially for a few years now, haven’t we? When should we expect to see positive results? And if corporate tax cuts are such an effective weapon in stimulating the economy, why not lobby for their complete removal? Eliminate them entirely. If 13% is going to help, why not 0? Point to a jurisdiction with significantly lower corporate tax rates than ours are currently and say, see? They work. And if I can’t find one, like say Mexico, that counters your argument, I’ll lay down my sword.

A number of commenters suggested the burden was on me (or the entire Left) to prove that de-regulation and less oversight was the source of the global financial meltdown. I thought they already had. Google Nobel Prize winning Paul Krugman and see what he’s been saying over the last couple years. Or Jeffrey Sachs if he’s more to your economic taste. Check out Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone for the naked criminality at the very heart of the meltdown. Read Michael Lewis’s The Big Short or Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail. Watch Charles Ferguson’s documentary, Inside Job. The case has been made quite definitively. You dispute it? You refute it.

And on a couple little side notes. One commenter asked if we wanted to return to the days of the Glass-Steagall Act “…which limited credit growth and therefore slowed down economic growth…” Errr, am I wrong in remembering that the full repeal of Glass-Steagall occurred in 1999, at the height of one of the biggest economic expansions in history? So how exactly did it slow down economic growth? The commenter then went on to point out that no Canadian banks failed due to smart regulations — which, while in opposition, the current Conservative government fought against — and kind of proves my point for me, doesn’t it? We missed the brunt of the financial shitstorm because of government regulation and oversight not because a lack of it. Or am I missing something?

“Prove this whole trickle-down theory to me,” I taunted. “How rising tides raise all boats.” That brought forth a litany of indignation, mostly in two forms. One, things were much better now than they were 100 years ago, owing to the miracle of free market capitalism. OK, sure. But my line of attack wasn’t necessarily directed at the idea of free market capitalism, only how it’s been conducted in the last 30 years or so. Cast your minds back, 50, 60 years ago, to the more immediate post-War era. Where governments taxed the richest of the rich more prodigiously and spent massively on things like infrastructure, established universal health care and sent men to the moon. An era when a single bread winner could buy a house, raise a family, put the kids through college and retire comfortably.

A picture, I’m sure, more idyllic than it actually was but one that is a pipe dream nowadays. Much of our prosperity is built on a mountain of debt. Two income households are the norm. Post-secondary education has grown into an onerous financial burden that is increasingly failing to deliver on its promise of leading to better lives.

Secondly, please, please, please stop bringing up China and India when attempting to defend modern day capitalism. Yes, millions of people are climbing their way out of poverty. And yes, China in particular has turned away from its Maoist past and heartily embraced aspects of the free market. But as another commenter pointed out, both countries remain planned economies, control highly centralized. If our governments here attempted to intrude into the economy the way the Chinese and Indian governments do, conservatives would howl in outrage before soiling themselves and passing out. Witness the reaction to the various stimulus packages.

Finally, conservative commenters took exception to our painting them all with the same brush. There were pro-environmental conservatives who believed in anthropogenic climate change. Conservatives who suspected the War on Drugs was a bust. Pro-choice conservatives. Non-Rob Ford voting conservatives.

Fair enough but that type of red Toryism or socially liberal conservatism is hardly in the ascendancy. Your movement has been hijacked by the radicals under your umbrella and they’ve seized Washington, Ottawa and city hall in Toronto. They’re attacking women’s rights. They’re declaring climate change hokum and maybe even beneficial. The federal Conservative government is trying to close down a safe injection site in Vancouver in the face of overwhelming evidence of its positive contribution. At the same time they’re attempting to roll back drug laws to a Draconian state in order to fill the prisons that they are building. These neocons hate government and everything it stands for.

They don’t believe much of anything you’re claiming to believe. In fact, your views sound much closer to my left wing bias. So why are you fighting me and not those who are doing great damage to your conservative brand and giving you all a bad name?

respondingly submitted by Cityslikr


More Michael Moore

November 29, 2010

I don’t make a point of watching Michael Moore’s films. It’s not any problem with him as a filmmaker. It’s his politics.

I tend to agree with him.

He doesn’t challenge my views and opinions. He merely reconfirms them. I am part of the choir he’s preaching to. So, why bother?

But then comes a lazy Sunday afternoon when I probably should be working and there I am, in front of the TV, watching my Toronto Raptors get crushed. I can’t stands it anymore and begin flipping. Just in time for the start of Capitalism: A Love Story. No, no. I really shouldn’t. Really. It’s just going to get me all worked up, mad, angry which, I already am after the Raptors’ drubbing. Suddenly, Iggy Pop starts singing ‘Louie, Louie’ and it’s over. How can I resist? I mean, I’m only human after all. A weak, easily swayed, quick to excite human being.

Sparing you a movie review, let me just say that we need more polemicists like Michael Moore. And by ‘we’, I mean those of us on the left side of the political spectrum.Unswerving, uncompromising, irate, unreasonable, intemperate, pissed-off motherfuckers fed up with having ceded the apparent middle ground to the likes of crackpots from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., talk radio, our very own Toronto Sun, corporate backed think tanks and university economics’ departments, etcetera, etcetera, etc.

Our political and economic discourse has been infected by an ideological mindset impervious to rationality or quantifiable truth. No amount of reaching out and trying to find common ground will succeed. The very act of attempting to have a reasonable debate only gives credence, lends a cloak of legitimacy to what is nothing more than superstitious, mythical lore and cant. It is no longer helpful to engage or participate in such corrupted civics.

People, a lot of people, are angry. They have every right to be. Watching Moore’s film and its agitprop addendum, Inside Job, it is painfully obvious that our economic system is rigged and has slowly over the course of the last 30 years or so poisoned our political system with it. Class war? Hell yeah. And it’s becoming more uneven with every concession we allow to happen in the name of “market realities” or “austerity measures”. We should be angry. It’s just that our anger’s misdirected.

Why?

Because the other side, the evil side, those representing corporate interests over those of the country or taxpayers and customers over citizens, are louder, richer, better organized and more unbending. They’ve seized the megaphone and shaped the dialogue. They don’t seek compromise. They demand acquiescence. When you possess the power, you don’t negotiate. You dictate.

That’s why we need more Michael Moores and his ilk. As direct and aggressive challenges to the status quo and what is embraced as conventional wisdom. While peaceable and fair-minded give-and-take would always be preferable, it’s been some time since any of that has actually happened. The post-war social contract that was drawn up to highlight the rights and responsibilities accorded to citizens and corporations alike has been shredded into pieces, bit by bit, over the past 3 decades. In my humble opinion, we’ve all helped with that by trying to place nice and get along. It’s time that we started to kick up a fuss. Just like Mike.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr