Sunday, March 27, 2005


Just found this thanks to a posting on MFD

CLAWS: Creating Livable Alternatives to Wage Slavery

Welcome to
at We're a pro-leisure and anti-wage-slavery group of people dedicated to exploring the question: why work? This site provides information, support, and resources for those looking for alternatives to traditional employment...

Saturday, March 26, 2005


The neoconazi Liberal Party govt. of Quebec has just announced that it will be building a $1.1 billion Francophone super-hospital in Montreal. It also intends to spend a further one billion dollars on the proposed Anglophone McGill superhospital. Polls show that the people do not want mega hospitals. Doctors, trade unions, Medicins sans frontieres are all opposed. These projects result from bureaucratic empire-building, and are not derived from any real need.

The mega-hospitals will centralize the power of the health care bureaucracy even more than it already is. And as someone who works in health care, I can tell you that they have enough trouble running the system now. (These bureaucrats would have trouble managing a hot dog stand.) Further centralization will only magnify their incompetence, with possible disastrous results for the patients.

This, by the way, is the same govt. which cut $100 million from student bursaries and seeks to destroy the living standards of thousands of support staff by corporatization of services. I have a saying about this behavior. "When it's something WE want, there is never enough money available. When it's something THEY want, the sky is the limit."

Ironically, hospitals would be an ideal place for introducing worker-self management. They are not owned by a corporation, and supposedly belong to the community. They have a highly educated staff. A council composed of nurses, doctors, technical, trade and support staff, elected by mass meetings of the groups concerned would be the best form of management. For sure such a group would not come up with a crack pot idea like a mega hospital!

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Deregulation and privatization was sold to the public as a means of improving services and reducing costs. This has not been the case. Privatized rail in the UK is a disaster, privatized water has meant increased water-rates. Aside from long-distance phones, deregulation has not worked a whit better. Deregulating of the airlines has meant a sharp deterioration in service, the dereg. of the financial sector in the US gave created the Savings and Loan Scam, one of the biggest swindles in history, costing the tax payer upwards of $500 billion. And then there's Enron and the California electricity deregulation fraud.

What happened? Why did things turn out so differently from the proclamations of the neocons and the vulgar libertarians?

The central concern of any corporation is to make a profit. Anything which interferes with this profit making is eliminated. When this rule is applied to services, most particularly those 'natural monopolies' like electricity, water, rail transport, and 'human services' like hospitals, the results can be highly negative. Profitable, 'high traffic' areas are serviced, while less profitable are not. The wealthy get health care, the poor remain sick. In the old days, rural areas were not electrified because it cost too much. City districts with a lower population were not served with tram ways because it wasn't profitable.

Beginning at the turn of the century, such services as water and public transport were municipalized, and in many countries electricity and rail were nationalized. The motivation was service, not profit. Thus, the profitable areas subsidized the unprofitable. Everyone had access to electricity, water, public transport, and with the exception of the USA, health care.

At the same time people had to endure, among other things, lousy working conditions, pollution, racial and gender discrimination at work, adulterated food, corrupt landlords and dishonest business practices. One possible solution was to do away with corporate capitalism, but this idea was quickly suppressed as dangerous radicalism. Regulation became the necessary compromise if you wish to retain corporate capitalism. Do away with those regulations, without limiting the power of the corporations and you end up back in the very situation that caused the regulations in the first place.

So what happens when a service like water is privatized? The new corporate owners have to pay dividends to shareholders and high salaries to executives. Right away, you have an added expense, since the old municipal water works didn't have to do this. Then, the corporation has a debt, the amount it had to pay to the city for the water works. To pay for this debt, employees are fired and rates increased. Since the industrial users are charged low rates, the people least able to afford the increases, small business and home owners, will pay the balk of increased costs. The consumer and the worker end up paying for the purchase.

Suppose the corporate water system decides to modernize its equipment. They will have to borrow money to do so. More workers will be eliminated, or their wages cut, and rates will increase. Under the municipal system, and this was another reason for its existence, the city would issue bonds, or take the costs directly out of tax revenue. Since nothing comes for free, the public would still pay for these improvements, but it would come in the form of a small tax increase, which wouldn't effect the ordinary person as much as a steep increase in water rates would.

Rail, public transit, electricity generation, water and sewage treatment represent hundreds of billions of dollars of tax payer money invested over the last 90 years. To this figure must be added lands expropriated or given as gifts to build dams and railroads. Privatization hands all this wealth - that we tax payers in theory own - to corporations at a cut rate, for if they were sold at their true cost, no one would buy them.

The policy of deregulation and privatization was never designed to improve services, it was designed to loot. Unable to generate enough profit from 'honest' business, corporate criminals have cobbled together a coalition of political shills and naive free market advocates. These latter are ideologues whose blinders don't allow them to see the corporation as the creation of the state and the greatest single enemy of free markets and private property that exists today.

What is the solution? All privatized services and industries must be expropriated without compensation. Rather than returned to municipal or state ownership as before, a new system should be employed. The expropriated industries should be turned into cooperatives, run by a board of directors elected from the people. This board should be composed of: one third representatives elected from the employees, one third representing the consumers elected from; the cooperative movement, small business, consumer and environmental groups, one third from the community, directly elected from the municipality or region. One half of all board members to be women, and the board to include representatives of historically oppressed peoples who live in the region of the industry. Day to day operations to function under workers self-management as found with the Mondragon Cooperative Movement in Spain.

As for regulations? Let the employees of the deregulated industries come together with the customers and figure out what should be done. Give communities the right to democratically regulate development in their areas. Above all a REAL policy of deregulation. Abolish corporate law, abolish corporate welfare, abolish patents and so-called intellectual property regulations.

Radical solutions? You are damned right! But what has been done to us was also radical. We have to take back what is rightfully ours and make sure this pillaging can't happen again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


This excellent article by Peter Demitrov of "BC Politics" shows how cooperatives and other non-governmental forms of social economy could provide an alternative form of development. To read the article CLICK HERE


According to the March Industrial Worker, USian employees are being fired for having blogs with contents their maters find objectionable. But this is only the latest in a series of attacks by the bosses on the supposedly Constitutionally-enshrined democratic rights. During the recent presidential election several people were fired for having Kerry bumper stickers. Then there was the case in Idaho a few years back of a man who lost his job for going to an environmentalist meeting. And just to show what authoritarian slime the Idaho Supreme Court was they backed this outrage. If a person can lose their job over something they do OUTSIDE the workplace, no less, their rights aren’t worth used toilet paper.

What century are they living in down there? Well, better not ask with a population 40% of whom think the universe is only 6000 years old. The only people who will now feel free to speak or write or go to meetings will be the wealthy. Seems they have regressed to feudalism, or the peon system once favored in Mexico, where one had to follow the views both temporal and spiritual of the hacendado or get a whipping.

What worries me is the possibility of this extremely anti-democratic notion moving Northward, as seemingly every authoritarian and socially-regressive aspect of the US system does these days. Yet, I am old enough to remember when what came up from the States was refreshing and liberating for stuffy Canada – rock ‘n roll, the Civil Rights Movement, hippies. That seems like another era now.


(An oldie from my files, dating back to 1996, but still applicable)

Forty years ago, the inhabitants of the small fishing villages of
Newfoundland were forced to move into larger centres. The government claimed the move was necessary because the costs of social services were "too expensive to administer in isolated areas". Today, the provincial and federal governments are shutting down schools, hospitals and post offices in small communities across Canada. The reason? These facilities are "too expensive" to maintain. Villagers say these shut-downs are the final death-blow to their communities, which may well be true.
However, no one ever looks at the costs of centralization. Consider how much tax money has been expended during the last four decades cramming people into a half dozen large cities. Such concentration is not done for free. In the first place, it is necessary to extend sewage, garbage and water systems, police and fire protection, sidewalks and street lighting. Rural and village folk have their own wells and septic systems, volunteer fire departments, no sidewalks, few street lamps and little need (or want!) for the police. The costs of providing these services to the expanded urban areas runs into many thousands of millions of dollars. The growing urban population had to be moved to and from work, requiring the extension of transit systems and the building of expressways requiring countless dollars.
The cost of social breakdown has to be included, since big city people are at least twice as likely to suffer from mental, social or family problems than rural people. Crime is at least 3 or 4 times greater in the major urban areas. Both these problems cost us a fortune annually. Then there are the environmental problems created by vast population concentrations and the inevitable pollution caused by motor vehicles. As any environmentalist will tell you, these costs are astronomical.
Left to "private" capital, the new urban infrastructure and all the "experts" beloved "projects" would have never been built, since all of these are too costly and not profitable. (Virtually all such developments have required constant government subsidy to continue operation.) The state- sponsored building programs were also a job magnet, attracting rural workers to the cities, who then stayed on as part of the expanding population. And without the state-built expressways, there would be few suburbs and little "urban sprawl" that has eaten into our farmland. For utilities to pay a decent dividend, they would have to be based upon cities with high population density. Thus, without the organization and financing of state capitalism, cities would have been both smaller and more compact.
The massive debt load the various levels of government face are partly a result of this state-sponsored centralization process. The money for these projects had to be borrowed and financing was usually arranged through higher levels of government, requiring an increase in federal and provincial debt. Small communities face cut backs because of policies causing a drain of wealth and population to the big cities - a kind of internal imperialism.
The moved toward centralization was backed culturally and ideologically. From the 1920's - when the process really got going - to the late 1960's - when the first rebellious noises were heard - popular culture and the media glorified "bigness" and "expertise" and ridiculed provincial ways. (Can you think of one movie or novel produced during this period which did not denigrate small town or rural life?)
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