Sunday Oct 21

Front Page Articles

"Crazytown" is no longer a state of mind in the Untied States, it’s actually an inside-the-White House appellation for a physical place: the Washington, D.C. of President Donald Trump. Really, I guess it’s more than either a state of mind or a physical reality, because Ontario under Rob Ford (see Anderson’s column!), Westminster and Brussels in the throes of Brexit, tariff “wars” whatever and wherever those battles might be, and a dozen other examples from the Middle East to the Philippines, Myanmar, India, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain and an endless list could all qualify. Meanwhile our contributors try to pull the pieces together and make sense of it all!

Starting on a positive note, various authors from the Immigrant Workers’ Centre in Montreal detail the progress they have made in organizing precarious temporary agency and immigrant workers and winning reforms in their labor standards. Unfortunately, it is hard for us to maintain that positivity when we hear from Drummond Pike, the legendary founder of the Tides family of organizations, about how big financial entities have increased inequality and escaped taxes by perverting the purpose of donor-advised-funds. Compared to David Clohessy, former director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Pike is positively upbeat. Both Pike and Clohessy though are very clear about what should be done to achieve reforms where they have spent decades struggling to win changes.

Who can make sense of the conflict in the Middle East and the tragedy of Syria? Could it be a little known American political philosopher named Murray Bookchin who straddled anarchism and deep environmentalism? Moshe ben Asher and Khulda bat Sarah were tasked to puzzle out the affection the KKP has for Bookchin and came back with the answer: No, very unlikely that Bookchin has the keys in that part of the world or many others, as interesting as some of his arguments are.

Continuing to try to make sense of the senseless, we offer excepts from recent works that look at the many faces of these problems. Tracey Shildrick unpacks the conservative propaganda that has come to dominate policy discussions about equality and poverty. Stephen Crossley examines how insiders prevented even worse outcomes in the ill-begotten and misdirected Troubled Families Programme in Britain, reminiscent of the anonymous op-ed writer/s from Trump’s White House. Matthew Hayes documents how gentrification works when it goes global, not
just in money-parking schemes in London, but in the imbalance of retirees and tourists from the global north repurposing and exploiting, even if inadvertently, some of the jeweled cities of the global south. Speaking of equality, Malcolm Torry, long the director of the Citizen’s Basic Income Trust in the United Kingdom, provides real world examples from Alaska to Iran on how experiments with a guaranteed annual income have worked.

Torry is the perfect lead-in to James Mumm’s survey and review of a number of recent works that look at universal basic income from Andy Stern’s vision of a way out of the tech dystopia to Sam Pizigatti’s argument that we should be looking not simply at raising minimum wages
and redistribution, but capping maximum wages, if we are do deal with inequality seriously. Ruth Rinehart and Mariama Eversley offer an exacting view in their bothsides-now look at Kerrwiden Luis’s Herlands, a book about the women’s collective back-to-the-land movements of the late 60s and 70s and what it says about contemporary issues perhaps even more loudly than the historical notes.

Phil Mattera in his usually insightful column brings attention to the flip-the-script trick the Department of Labor is trying with enforcement – or the lack of it – of wage and hours laws by moving to a passive rather than an ostensibly active enforcement and substituting an assumption that violations are management booboos rather than wage theft. John Anderson reminds those of us in the middle of the North American continent that the virus is spreading and our calm and collected view of Canada is being torn apart at the seams by Rob Ford, the new Ontario premier. Finally, in Backstory, I look at an exacting critic of NGO and billionaire do-gooders that are slobbering all over us as wolves in sheep’s clothing while exacerbating inequality.

Speaking for all of our contributors, we’re hoping this issue helps many of our readers find a quiet space in the crazytowns all around us and points some directions to take in finding the path forward.

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