06/27/12

3rd period of Oh Canada, where art thou going ?

In between periods our dressing room was pretty quiet, a pretty frustrated bunch. The fans meanwhile, though they had multiple things around them to keep them distracted, were becoming board, but as the 2nd period had run down, more of them began to notice that there was a game being played on the ice. And as more watched more became frustrated at what they were seeing.

Especially how Harper arrogantly skated around calling all the shots and he and his team had no intentions of playing by the rules or with any sort of integrity. Though his team had been selected by the fans to represent them, they didn’t seem to represent anybody other than their leader. Regulated by obscene pension packages, pay and perks to follow his lead and under no circumstances were they to speak out against any of his decisions and policies or heaven forbid vote against anything he says.

By the end of the second intermission, all around the arena, cellphones began to be turned off. The concourse began to empty, as people went back to their seats, now interested in the outcome of the game. They knew who we were, for we were them and because of that they were unwilling to ignore the unfairness anymore.

This period, the final period, we have collectively decided to put aside anything to do with our egos and play for each other, our loved ones and all Canadians. And if our best is not good enough we will lose and go home to dry out our sweaty gear and make what is really important to us, important again; our lives, families, relationships and communities. Because after watching and playing against the Harper government we have seen the blatant disregard of their responsibilities to the people of Canada, and how they operate with no worry of being held accountable. It is very obvious in the arrogant way they play and move their lips that they cannot be relied upon anymore to fulfill our needs at the provincial and community level. While in many cases the teams that represent the provinces are unable and unwilling to meet our needs either. So it all comes down to community. Where we don’t need to have a team, we just need each other.

Drafting another government team, to simply operate in the same broken system, isn’t really much of an option, considering Liberal or Conservative policies on the whole are very similar. The battle between them is waged by pointing out the few differences each have and throwing everything they got at that. The system is what’s broken.

The only power we have over our government is voting. Federally, the majority of Canadians forfeit this right and people get elected who become a member of parliament and cease to represent their constituents and who instead represent only their leader of their party and the policies that come out of his office. In between elections, we the people have no say at all in what the government is doing. As a matter of fact MP’s obviously don’t either, throwing their consciences and what’s good for the country easily aside as they do.

If one was to be looking at selecting a team amongst the most developed and richest countries in the world, one would want to look at their performance and competitive nature.

The French based, international economic organization, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), formed in 1961, compares policies, economic progress and world trade of the 34 most developed and richest countries on the planet. They try to co-ordinate the domestic and international policies of its members and keep track of the world’s countries’ GDP (gross domestic product). Though the GDP does not fully define social and economic well being and how we are doing as a society because it defines only the total market value of goods and services produced by a country in one year, and really has nothing to do with if one is happy in their life or not, it is interesting to look over the OECD’s global competitiveness rankings of 2011 and see how Harper’s Canada is doing.

Of the G7 countries, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States, Canada is 2nd worst after Japan in global competitiveness. As to the GDP performance of all OECD countries, Canada’s GDP growth is projected to be equaled or surpassed by Chile, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Turkey. Our unemployment rate is just below the OECD average. Countries whose deficits are smaller, as a percentage of GDP than Canada’s, include Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

OECD also rates Canada 22nd in poverty, and 25th in social spending, Though Canada prides itself as having the 9th largest GDP in the world, it is rated as such; 22nd in poverty, 25th in social spending and research and development, 21st in tax load, with the 4th highest in personal taxation amount. Meanwhile, in 2006, Canadian banks made a profit of $89 billion and paid only 15% income tax. Canada is 54th in the world as to doctors per 100,000 patients. Cuba has been under a blockade for over forty years and has twice as many doctors per 100,000 patients. As far as spending on education as a % of GDP Canada is ranked 91st in the world.

The horn goes to start the third period; we throw our legs over the boards and are off to the races.

Feb. 2012. Harper Government abandons, the $1 billion to establish, Long Gun registry because it claims it is an invasion of privacy. All gathered information pertaining to non-restrictive firearms to be destroyed. Same month, they introduce legislation to allow police to read e-mails and view surfing habits of any individual. Bill C-30 would require telecommunication companies to hand over customers’ personal info to police without a court order. Supreme Court of Canada ruled such a thing is unconstitutional. Bill was passed after being tweaked to make it indeed mandatory for police to let you know you’ve been wiretapped, but only after it is concluded, and which could go on for years. Supreme Court of Canada was happy with that.

Canada’s continuing disconnect between the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10), which is expected to increase population of Canada’s prisons with its priority being “tough on crime” and reality. Bill C-10 is a prison promotion strategy not a crime prevention or rehabilitation bill. Yet expected cuts to federal Corrections will be more than $295 million, $85 million in 2012 alone. Though there is more overcrowding in prisons with less staff, the Harper government has no intention of building prisons. Responsibility of warehousing any prisoners has been simply passed onto each province.

Bill C-10’s amendments include more mandatory sentencing. Thus judges are to ignore specific circumstances of the offender and the offence. These new laws (passed on March 12, 2012 by a vote of 154 for, 129 against) have created such things as; if found growing 6-200 marijuana plants will give you a mandatory minimum of 6 months, but not more than 2 years, with a maximum of 14 years. While someone sexually assaults a child or forces a child to have sex with an animal will only get a minimum of 1 year and not more than 10 and if a person admits guilt of such an offence, upon summary conviction will be given, not more than 18 months and a minimum of 90 days.

And because that great pendulum of life never stops swinging to both ends of its arc and never slows in the middle, Bill C-10 dictates that if you are growing five marijuana plants in your garden as an herbal medicine, whether sick or not, will put you in jail for a minimum of 6 months with a maximum of 2 years less a day, the same sentence for being found guilty of publishing child porn and distribution of. While any sexual interference, invitation to sexual touch and sexually exploit any child will give you a mandatory sentence of only 90 days on summary conviction, 1 year on indictment.

March 2012.  Major reductions of environmental oversight, including closing of BC’s Command centre for emergency oil spills. In all, $3.78 million is cut from the Environmental Emergency Program. Environmental emergencies will now be nationally co-ordinated. How emergencies will now be handled is, if in need of assistance in a disaster, any advice or assistance the Harper government can give us will now be by telephone. Across Canada emergency response personnel are being slashed in half, the rest are being relocated to Quebec. Environment Minister Peter Kent says the program will function just fine with a reduced staff and without six of its regional offices, including ones in Vancouver and St. John’s. The Harper government’s response to questions pertaining to oil response plans, usually end with conceding that “successful” spill cleanups, recover 10 to 15 per cent of the oil.

Internationally respected Nova Scotia-based scientist, oil spill expert and the executive director of the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Kenneth Lee, is informed his position will be terminated.

Overall and across the country, more than one thousand workers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada have received the same notices. “I’m no longer surprised but I’m increasingly angry and I’m also extremely wary of what the future means for Canada,” said Jeff Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University. “The government’s decisions lately are reducing our governmental scientific capacity and what that means is that it’s reducing or seriously compromising the ability of science to contribute effectively to those decisions that affect the well being, the safety and the health of Canadians and their environment.”

April 2012. Five and a half thousand Federal services jobs cut, predominately in Health Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Agriculture Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Investment Development Agency, Citizenship and Immigration, Canada Heritage, Veteran Affairs and anything to do with monitoring the environment.

Also in April, Vancouver and the Lower Mainland’s population of over 2 million people lose the domestic and international, Emergency Disaster Response Team, due to budget cuts. The Response Team had been setup and trained, with the tools and skills needed to respond to an earthquake or such disaster and quickly act to save lives. But was not able to show any profit I suppose.

Back in the game, we are all sitting on the bench or leaning over the boards, waiting through yet another delay. One of Harper’s players, the Public Safety minister, had been playing an atypical stay at home defenseman’s role all game, but in the third period he and the goalie, a senator, had built up a brick wall in front of their net, with only a couple of holes where you could see twine showing through. Once again winning another one-on-one battle, we had managed to get the puck out of our zone, crossed center ice and dumped the puck deep into their end. The Public Safety minister was caught unawares as he was shooing the goalie to the bench, for they didn’t need him anymore since the brick wall in front of their net was now completed. Anyways, the puck came rifling into his zone and with a brick in one hand and his stick, upside down, in the other; he quickly got up and skated hard for the corner to retrieve the puck but lost an edge and crashes into the end boards. We swore he was out cold. The officials huddled around him and medical personnel were soon scurrying across the ice to his prone body. Put on a stretcher, he was wheeled off the ice, one arm slowing rising with a thumbs- up. The crowd cheered, without malice, only in support and hope that it was not too bad an injury and for a healthy recovery, because well, we’re Canadian.

One of our coaches returned from checking out the extent of the injuries to tell us that the injured Public Safety minister was in his dressing room, awake now and obviously concussed by his screaming that tomorrow he will table changes to the rules of hockey to include yield signs embedded along the blue lines at three foot intervals, stop signs to be plastered across the glass at both ends and there was going to be a speed limit as to how hard one can skate and shoot the puck. At least we hoped he was concussed. We guffawed; yeah right we pretended to say.

Their injured player was then replaced by an elderly Chinese fellow, who strangely enough had skates on but never took a shift and wore an impeccable black business suit. Whenever Harper went to the bench to take a breather, the elderly Chinese fellow would lean into him, whispering into his ear.

In 2005, as a lowly Member of Parliament, Harper opposed an omnibus bill the ruling Liberals were trying to shove through. “In the interests of democracy, I ask how members can represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote on a block of such legislation”, he raged.

May 2012 Changes to 70 different laws are put forth by Harper government, of which there will be minimal debate, all under the “Jobs, Growth and Long Term Prosperity Act”, Bill C-38 (Omnibus bill). Passing omnibus bills are speedy and efficient because there is no discussion or research or considerations of the evidence and impact. Right up a government’s alley. Bill C-38 is passed 157-135 on June 19th, 2012 and contains over 400 pages. Many in the press and even Cabinet doubt many members of parliament know what they even voted for or what is actually included in the bill, but all do know enough to admit that most of the changes have nothing whatsoever to do with economic performance.

Environment Canada which protects Canada’s environment through conservation, including providing weather and meteorological information has its Ozone monitoring division shut down. Environment Canada’s total budget is $1 billion per year but will be cut down to $854 million with 11% of their staff to be terminated. Comparatively in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is $10.3 billion, their National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agency’s budget is $5.5 billion. Funding for any programs that inform Canadians about state of environment, including monitoring of heavy metals and toxic contaminants are slashed. Public funding for environmental sciences for Canadian universities has run out of money and expected to end in 2012.

The smokestack pollution monitoring specialist team of Environment Canada is also being dismantled, compromising the department’s enforcement capability and credibility of environmental reports on greenhouse gas emissions and indicators of environmental sustainability in Canada. Harper government feels they can save $718,000 per year and instead rely on sources of information such as the U.S. In June 2012, Environment Canada’s top bureaucrat, deputy minister Paul Boothe, announces he his taking early retirement and stepping down after what he describes as a “very challenging” past couple of years.

The non-partisan, Canadian Environmental Network, which was the best two-way communication channel between public and federal government on all matters environmental is shutdown, yet only needed $536,000 in funding. Were muzzled because what they are proposing goes against present Harper government policy.

And the puck keeps getting whacked about; Canada repeals Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, the global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions; Harper’s federal cabinet will now have the authority to approve any new pipeline projects as well as the ability to set limits for regulatory reviews. If the National Energy Board, which oversees such projects, disapproves any of them, cabinet can now force it to reconsider; changes to how permits under the Species at Rick Act are authorized; changes to Fisheries Act include that they will now only focus on major waterways and not every single body of water, such as streams and small-river fish spawning grounds; to offset less enforcement capabilities, stiffer fines for industry players who break environmental regulations and laws. Not that they can’t afford it.

In a hockey player’s head, where the game is 70% mental and the rest in his head, it’s real easy to figure out that if an industry makes a mess on the planet, they pay to clean it up, get fined millions and the CEO goes to jail. No raises in salary, bonuses, bailouts or subsidies to be paid.

May 2012. Cuts to the Canadian Coast Guard, especially on the West coast, includes shutting down Kitsilano Search and Rescue center, as well as three Marine Communications Centers in Vancouver, Comox, and Tofino. The Kitsilano Rescue center has saved over 55 lives so far this year. Last year they responded to over 285 emergencies. The area they cover is one of the most congested marine areas in Canada, year-round. The area includes Howe Sound, English Bay, Vancouver Harbour, Indian Arm and parts of the entrance of the North arm of the Fraser River, with over two and a half million active people surrounding their area of responsibility. On a daily basis, night and day, they are there for everything from swimmers to stand up paddlers, kayakers, sailors, power boats and sail, jet skis, cruise ships, freighters and soon to be, twice as many oil tankers. It is estimated that there will be 50% cut to response ability to all emergencies, often times instances where every second counts.

Joint Emergency Preparedness Program established in 1980, which helped cover the costs of emergency preparedness, such as developing municipal emergency plans, conduct local exercises and purchasing of generators and rescue vehicles is cancelled, along with shutting down all operations at the Canadian Emergency Management College, which offered training to emergency responders since 1954. Provinces, municipalities and fire departments across Canada are now expressing their concerns for public safety.

Also in Bill C-38; forty departments and agencies, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which does environmental reviews, is cut back to three, as in 3. “To speed up approvals for projects that will bolster Canada’s economy.”  Included in these cuts are the job losses of Canada’s only marine-mammal toxicologist, Peter Ross and his team, almost all employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada and the entire Department of Fisheries and Oceans contaminants program, which will be shut down in Apr 2013. Overall, the Fisheries and Oceans Department will be slashing about 400 positions from its 11,000-strong workforce. The Harper government’s chest is puffed out on this one, proud that the cuts between Fisheries and Canadian Coast Guard will produce about $79 million in savings for Canadians.

Once again thinking like a hockey player, does this mean that each one of us, nearly 35 million Canadians, gets a cheque from the government for two dollars and twenty-five cents? After all these cuts, job losses, responsibilities to our environment taken away, where no one is personally accountable and our health and welfare thoroughly compromised, it just doesn’t seem like a good deal. That’s not even the price of two litres of gas for gosh sakes.

Crazy period, the third: after play had resumed, the Harper team wasn’t even trying to score anymore. But then considering they were up 16-6 and their net was bricked over, why bother? We did. We’re Canadian.

With ten minutes to go, the Harper team just either sat on the boards with legs dangling over or sat on the bench, having conversations with a surprisingly large number of men in business suits who had crowded around their bench. They watched and laughed at us at first but soon grew bored. You see, once we realized they were not going to even attempt to score again, we being Canadians, thought fine we’ll keep trying. We wasted precious moments all lined up in front of the bricked over net and with slap-shots from ten feet out tried to break that wall down. But then one of our best players, a two-tours in Iraq and two-tours in Afghanistan combat veteran had simply had enough. With a blood curdling scream he smashed his stick to pieces on the ice and charged the brick wall. He skated full out and hit the wall with the best shoulder check I had ever seen, and the wall moved. Three of Harper’s minsters were watching and in unison, raising their arms, pointed at us and yelled, “Hey, look at what they do”.

With one more shoulder check into the wall it began to give. We all dropped our sticks and raced in as one and literally threw ourselves at the wall. It was ugly. We didn’t realize that the brick wall was actually really weak and not built very well and it gave pretty easily, with nearly all of us receiving some sort of injury. Skate blades were thrashed from stepping on the bricks, arms and bodies cut and bruised from the posts and crossbar, with seven players actually entangled in the net, took forever to extract them.

By the time the eight officials could pull us off the pile and get things sorted out. Harper was proposing an end to the game, clearly perturbed. But before any actual decision was made, the crowd began to boo. The decibel level was incredible; we were startled when it started. After five minutes of this immense, uninterrupted and passionate sound, the game was allowed to resume.

Our team, now bleeding, sore, covered in brick and mortar dust and rolled up gauze sticking out of our noses and seriously looking like true Canadian hockey players, were ready. Each player was very aware and focused on the job at hand. We scored right off the face-off to make it 16 to 7.

Hardly noticeable at first, but as we lined up for the face-off after the goal, a rumble began. It wasn’t necessarily loud but it had a deep mid-range resonance to it and was passion felt. We could feel it on our bums when sitting on the bench, and in the diaphragm in our throats. The crowd, all Canadians and of many colors and representing all three coasts, were repeatedly chanting one simple word, “We”. It felt and sounded like a pulse to us and it made each one of us a little bigger, faster and better. The Harper team acted like the classic deer in the headlights or very similar to how one looks watching TV with a remote in one’s hand.

We scored, on average, one goal every 37 seconds to tie it up. This was pretty good no matter what level of hockey, but considering various sorts of gas had been rained down on us from the rafters and from whence came clubs, spikes and rubber bullets, we were pretty proud of ourselves, an effort for the ages. Harper’s team had finally been called on a few infractions and for the final 30 seconds anyways, actually seemed to care what they were doing. No one scored and the game ended a tie.

As we headed for our dressing rooms, we noticed that police in riot gear had moved in and were amongst the crowd, forcing everyone, under the threat of being pepper sprayed and fined thousands of dollars, out of the arena. We made sure our loved ones and friends were safely leaving before anything got ugly, and headed to the dressing room to prepare for overtime.

The adage is, in overtime anything can happen. But our team had a bad feeling about this one.

 

 

10/19/11

The Occupy and Fed Up and Can’t Take it Anymore Movement

“Evolution does not unfold in a neat, linear fashion; it is a messy complicated affair.” Palaeontologist Adam Yates

 

The Occupy Movement that is spreading around the world is the merging of people concerned about globalization, concentration of wealth and power, erosion of basic human rights and the economic and social marginalization of the majority. Our once progressive nations are now becoming regressive, where our current economic system isn’t working for the majority anymore.  Since we became viewers instead of doers and consumers instead of citizens the road that our governments are pushing us down is the road to totalitarianism, where sooner than we think, most all aspects of our lives will be subject to state control.

The issues driving this protest are diverse; corporate greed, environmental sustainability, social inequality, income disparity, homelessness, poverty and the erosion of fundamental human rights. It is a rising up against a system that benefits the wealthy elite at the expense of the working class, with citizens feeling excluded from the decisions that are extremely important to their lives. It is about the financial mismanagement that continues to push us further into economic recession and how corporations control and influence the political agenda, for any system that promotes greed does not include accountability, with the underlying issue being the lack of morality and no ethical leadership.

This is why many, especially anyone making over one hundred thousand dollars a year, are not getting it and are confused over why the protests are happening at all. It all comes down to basic human nature and the ego. Many of the top 1% who possess the majority of the wealth,  besides thinking irrationally that no matter the problems with our societies or of the degenerating environment, they will be insulated and unaffected from it and will be able to buy their way out, also possess unhealthy, excessive pride, which gives them over-confidence, arrogance and contempt. They are overly vain and become snobs, because they feel they are above others, who are to them “lesser humans”. This excessive pride does not acknowledge that others outside of their immediate circle are of equal worth. On the other hand, natural and realistic pride gives a person the confidence to recognize that the world contains natural hierarchies of both aptitude and attitude.

Many of the problems today, whether social or environmental, are caused by the globalization of market forces, which also drives income inequality. The riots in Britain this past summer were caused mostly from the barely contained anger of an unequal society. The crashing of global markets in 2008 was caused by greed and bad decision making by the principle players, by not understanding the moral implications of strategic decisions. Their problem was how they viewed their roles and as the 2001 accounting scandals that brought down Enron and others proved, they have no ethics either.

The super-rich of the 1920’s lived on income that came from holding assets; today the super-rich accrue their wealth from paid compensation. According to a survey carried out in Canada, in April/2011 by BMO Harris Private Banking, 94% of respondents with investable assets of $1 million or more said they have made their money on their own, either as self made professionals and/or business owners, with only 6% inheriting their wealth. Nearly 80% said  that they enjoy greater wealth than their parents and 70% said they are currently the same or better off than they were before the 2008 financial collapse. Surprisingly, less than 58% felt their children would be able to manage their inheritance.

In 2009 Canada’s highest paid executive. Aaron Regent, the Chief Executive Officer of Barrick Gold, earned over $24 million in wages. The same year the median income for a single Canadian was $22,800. Over the last 20 years, the income of 80% of Americans has stagnated while the top 1%’s income has nearly doubled, with the richest 1% of Americans taking in 25% of the income and controlling 40% of the wealth. Startlingly, the pace of widening between those who have and those who do not is rising faster in Canada than in the United States.

In Canada, over 33% of the wealth created in the past 20 plus years has gone to the richest 1% of Canadians, about 246,000 people, with most of their wealth gained from 1998-2007. But then the bubble burst, which it will always do, for as far as capitalism goes its flaw is that it is a system based on unlimited, infinite growth working within a finite framework. Canada’s once progressive approach to social programs and tax policies aided in keeping the disparity in income in check. Now that we are becoming more regressive, minimum wages have stagnated, with real income after inflation barely increasing. Unionization is decreasing. There is tighter access to unemployment benefits and lower welfare payments, while the tax rate for the richest 1% has dropped from 80% in 1948 to about 38% in 2009, with them paying about 18% of total taxes paid. From 1976 to 2009, the richest 20% of Canadians doubled their income difference over the poorest 20%, from $92,300 to $177,500, while the median income of the other 80% of Canadians rose only 5.5% over the same timeframe. With the top 20% of earners receiving 51% of total income earned.

In a nutshell, the 246,000 Canadians whose annual income is $200,000 or more are the richest 1%. One-tenth of a per cent of these individuals make over $2.8 million a year. Anyone earning $100,000 or more annually is in the top 5%. Globally, anyone making $53,000 a year or more is included in the richest 1% of worldwide income earners.

A huge fallacy has been countries using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to show that an economy is doing well. GDP is used to measure a country’s total economic value. It measures total output produced within a country’s borders, whether produced by that country or not, in a given period. GDP per capita is not a measurement of but is considered an indicator of a country’s standard of living.  Countries base many of their legislative, financial, social and economic decisions on the GDP which seems ludicrous considering the facts that the GDP does not include assessment of quality of life, does not indicate growing economic and social inequalities or for variances in income, or for such things as household production, volunteer or unpaid services. It does not account for any “underground” economies or account for the value of all assets in an economy. It also does not account for amassing objects of value, increase in wealth or creation of wealth. It does not adjust for quality improvements or new products, does not include environmental and social impacts, costs for environmental clean-up and restoration nor for births and deaths. The GDP is what props up the world’s financial plutocracy and the concept that with capitalism, especially in the banking sector, people don’t matter. It robs us of any financial democracy. But then we are in societal denial about many things, especially thinking that we can continue to try to fit the square peg of our self-indulgent, consumer society into the round hole of the environment.

During the first decade of this century, under the guise of the GDP indicating a rising standard of living, steady growth in the world’s economies, very little oversight and hardly any reform 2008 came along and the proverbial shit hit the fan. The global financial market imploded. Corporate controlled media had been giving the story that we were in an age of wealth, while in reality it is the age of debt. Marketing, spending, entertainment, sports and politics have kept our eyes diverted, while drugs and alcohol keeps us occupied and complacent. It is no wonder that the worlds #1 health problem will soon be the state of our mental well being.

There was no public inquiry into the causes of the crash and no calling to account of those responsible. They were allowed to simply walk away from the crash, uninjured and would be actually compensated very well for their inferior and irresponsible driving. To bailout their greedy and irrational behaviour they were paid from tax revenue diverted from medical care, education, social security, jobs creation and addressing climate change. Many corporate leaders were given multimillion dollar bonuses, with the added dividend that the speeding up of the dismantling of public service resources makes populations dumber and more controllable. Incredible amounts of public money were paid to save the system without fixing it. The United States bailed out their villains on Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion, about the same amount they spend on their defence budget annually ($670 billion), and about the same amount they owe China, their largest foreign debtor.

Believing that some of the bailout money would trickle down is sheer fantasy. Left to the current devices of capitalism money always floods upwards. Politicians simple become cheque writers and do not have the will to stand up to global finance or the wealthy because those are the people they actually work for and represent. Much like all the empires throughout history, as they fall there is inherent corruption within the system. Members of a political party do not follow the concerns of those they represent, they follow the concerns of the party and what the corporate lobbyists, who wine, dine and play them, tell them what the concerns should be, in confidence of course.

The Canadian Government, currently called the Harper Conservative Government received 39% of the votes in the last federal election yet rules by a large majority of the Parliament and is every day becoming a classic case, which time and time again has proven, will eventually rot  from within from apathy, smugness and placidity. Politicians are no longer men and women of the people but men and women of the governing class who preside in the realm where honesty and openness are rarely seen and their false vanity soon becomes cynicism. Eventually they will very nearly believe they have been placed in government by god himself. This has happened more often than not over the past few thousand years.

On certain levels, we the people knew this was going to happen because we could feel the changes in our personal lives. The huge majority of people do not live so grandiose lives as do those in the corporate world. For most of us life is earning enough to eat, having a decent job and having a modest home to live in. Our lives are the daily contacts we have with our fellow human beings, our interactions and our relationships. This year (2011), polling has determined that well over 60% of Canadians are living pay check to pay check.

Politics in Canada and the United States is an affair where few actually vote, especially among the young. Elsewhere in the world people are literally sacrificing themselves, and often dying for even the right to vote. When we do vote we are voting for a party instead of whom one represents.

The Occupy movement is being accused of having no leadership or definition. Instead, so far it is being led by everyone standing up and being allowed to voice their concerns. Though the powers that be have the media clamouring for a definition, they must remember that our current modern age began over five hundred years ago, when our need to understand led to definition. To get the Occupy movement to announce a definition of what they represent now would be clearly skipping the understand part. And once defined, accurately or not, would put itself in the hands of the richest 1% whose primary activities are transaction and consumption, and at which time the cool-aid would be then passed around.

What the world needs now and is craving, is ethical leadership. Unfortunately in the past whenever great ethical and empathic leaders would appear they would eventually become marginalized or killed off.  But that is changing, for there are many wealthy people today who are very concerned about their fellow humans and the environment, there simply is not enough of them. Our banks and our economies may soon sink into bankruptcy, but we should not allow ourselves to become morally bankrupt at the same time. One can only imagine the difference if more corporate leaders, bankers, traders and political lobbyists were actually morally enlightened. Corruption, the stink of capitalism, would be rare. Imagine politicians speaking for and representing the people that they live alongside in their communities and regions instead of living in fear of speaking out against the party and being just puppets, putting in just enough effort and time to receive obscene pension packages. A far changing difference would be having the 10% of humanity who manage the various societies for the wealthy, continue to be educated in accounting and economics but also in the values of self reflection and the study of virtues, such as humanity, justice and courage. Developing responsible business ethics is not the answer we need now, but might be what’s needed to prevent any future damage.

The leaders that are needed today are men and women of good character. Leaders, who will admit their mistakes, humbly seek advice and retain their personal integrity. Such corporate leaders today have led companies that are holding their own through the current financial crisis. They possess a strong value system and with an ability to reflect on these values and tendencies have encouraged better communication and more transparency in their business transactions.

What started as a global financial crises became a debt crises for individual nations, which is now seeping back into the financial system causing further bailout plans. But austerity measures won’t work and will probably simply speed up the downward economic spiral. The Occupy movement has many issues that are important to humanity and how we do things, as well as issues vital to the earth’s deteriorating environment. They don’t have the answers but do agree that something has to be done now, today. And that everyone must start making a difference equally. We have arrived at the point in time of our history where we have become aware that communism and capitalism don’t work. As to what will work is what we need to find out, but we must first understand what we need before defining what it is we need.

There are a lot of sound ideas out there on what should be done. A huge step in the right direction would be getting away from global and national banking. The enormous profits big banks make do not create new jobs, fund the renewal of our infrastructure, build a new green economy, eradicate poverty or tackle climate change. The new money that is created only enriches the wealthy. Far too many of us are becoming slaves of distant lending and credit card companies. Household debt is climbing drastically, even though we can’t afford it; student fees rising to life-long debt levels, rents and a housing market that is becoming as fantastical as thinking one will be alright as soon as they win 20 million dollars on the lottery. Instead we should perhaps ponder about having local, public savings banks which support small business and ordinary people.

Another need is for more dispersed ownership and control of a nation’s natural, human and financial capitol, whereas the financial industry returns to a more mutual ownership. For example, all print, whether newspapers, books or magazines; publishing houses: television, film and radio is all owned, in Canada and the US, by about 2-3 corporations, which is very scary close to being all owned by just one.

Instead of hiding behind the curtain of the GDP perhaps each community could discuss what each sees as its future and what opportunities are there for locally based businesses and lasting, stable jobs. And to also incubate initiatives among diverse groups that perceive and think ahead to future dangers and make long lasting decisions to correct its course.

As to the gap between rich and poor, the reality is that when equality is greater in a society it brings about such things as; with everyone having at least a decent standard of living with their basic necessities taken care of, it brings about the elimination of poverty, which translates into better physical health thus less health costs. More education would bring higher levels of trust between peoples, which would reduce imprisonment and prisons and also bring about less drug abuse and less obesity.

With rising health costs and the fact that in North America in 2011 the largest wave of the wealthiest, most educated and professionally accomplished people in the history of mankind, the proponents of what is happening today, as well as a majority whose illusions of retiring to a life of leisure is now compromised, reached the age of 65 yrs. This generation has been very lucky in that most of their wealth was gained from a housing boom that saw the average home value rise nearly 80% over their lifetime. Housing values over the next decade is forecasted to either go sideways or decline. The new generation are already in debt and their future will be living in a debited society. With the majority of people in Canada now elderly, it is interesting to note that of the factors determining our health in Canada, only 25% of the quality of the health care system accounts for our good health. For 50% of us Canadians the factors determining our health includes childhood development, education, social status, community connection, income and work history. While for 25% of us our health is determined by biology, genetics and physical environment.

The Occupy movement started with people looking around empathically and finally standing up and saying enough is enough. With lists of issues and needing answers, the dialogue already created is going a long way and is growing with each passing day. The movement is global, for the gap between those that have and those that do not is widening everywhere. People are simply fed up and it’s not that they won’t, it’s that far too many cannot take it anymore, not just what the world has become now, but as to what it will be like for our children and their children. Far too many of us continue to believe in the naive concept that, “My father did better than my grandfather. I did better than my father, while my children, i hope will do better than me”.

The wealth, prestige and respect of a few leaders gives them the freedom to go out into the world and instil change, to care and to stand up and speak for their fellow humans no matter where they were born on the earth. This is their passion and who they are, but as mentioned earlier they are but a few. Others who have wealth have passions as well but it is for the need of more wealth. Instead of being an important person to their family, community and the world they are simply trying to buy themselves the title and the respect that comes with it. The rest of us only want a fair shake and need to realize that for about 70 to 80% of the world’s population, any changes will have to be done collectively and individually.

The irresponsibility and greed of the super-rich have already caused one crash but we the public bought them a new vehicle, which we are once again standing on the sidelines, watching as it speeds headlong for the edge of the abyss sucking everything along with it, with all the principle players fighting over who is going to steer or at least who gets to sit up front.

The collective consciousness of our world is what must be changed and has nothing to do with where and to which environment we were born into. All wise men and women, who we have deemed as being true prophets, throughout the history of humanity, have always stressed the point that each person must strive to create positive change only into their own lives to affect change globally.