A few disturbing trends

I don’t have the statistics in front of me to substantiate the claims that you are about to read. However, I have been paying attention, and I didn’t come up with these notions on my own. If you read this, and know of any literature that could substantiate (or discredit) my concerns, please comment. Here are some of the things that worry me.

1. In Canada, interest rates are low, and housing prices are about as high as they can possibly be. If interest rates increase even a little bit, common Canadians, who are stretched already to afford mortgages for overinflated property values, could run into a problem of not being able to afford their homes. If the property values decrease below their current equity levels, get ready for big problems.

2. Corporations are paying their CEOs and shareholders massive amounts of money – more than ever, while workers are getting paid less and less relative to the economy.  This effect multiplies. Fewer people have money to spend, so the retail sector loses out, leading to even more poverty and unemployment.

3. A lot of politicians are getting caught in lies – usually involving sweetheart deals and other conflicts of interest, but they don’t seem to be getting punished.

4. Powerful people are rigging elections. We have seen this in the U.S. for many years with Nixon’s “dirty tricks”, with G.W. Bush’s “dimpled chad” scandal, with Canada’s “Robocalls” scandal, and with British Columbia’s “stolen PINs” scandal in the leadership election. It’s worthy of note that in the NDP federal leadership election, someone launched a cyber-attack on the online voting system, slowing down the process immensely.

5. Governments seem to be ignoring the U.N; Charter to which they’ve signed. This is particularly worrisome when basic human rights and freedoms are denied. Governments are passing laws that violate their own constitutions.

6. Surveillance is on the increase. Cameras are everywhere. Governments now have the power to spy on innocent citizens. They are passing laws that will allow them to hack our emails and phone calls without any judicial process. They don’t need probable cause, or any reason at all.

7. Laws are focusing on punishment. Mandatory minimum sentences make is easier now to incarcerate people for minor crimes. Crime statistics show that harsher penalties do nothing to deter real criminals. Besides the huge added social cost of funding an increased prison population, the increasing harshness (e.g. allowing police to strip search in any apprehension situation, including traffic offenses) seems to be aimed at keeping a population at bay. This sets up a scenario where if dissent is criminalized, the state will be allowed tyrannical control.

8. Public protest, including striking or public demonstration, is becoming illegal.

9. Incumbent governments are spending public money on campaign advertising when there is no election.

10. Education is being funded less, much less, and in such a way that it favours people who can afford private schools. Education policy has increased the use of letter grades and high stakes testing to limit access to higher education. This mainly hurts people of lower socioeconomic status.

11. Intellectualism is under attack. The findings of scientists, the arguments of philosophers, the observations of social critics and artists, are being disparaged – even mocked, while athleticism, jackass behaviour and brutality are being exalted. Intellectuals are being accused of “hiding behind big words.”

12. Mainstream media news is owned by the powerful people who are influencing public policy. Journalists are reporting press releases rather than investigating.

13. News reporters are being monitored and denied access to government, based on the content of their writing. The strategy is to conduct press interviews in a closed door, private venue. Typically journalists who report stories that make the government look bad are barred from these venues.

14. Taxes are being introduced that favor big business, but which have a profound effect on the middle class.

15. In full knowledge that Western societies have an aging population, benefits to the elderly are being reduced, or access to them is being postponed.

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2 thoughts on “A few disturbing trends

  1. #5 – Good current example: insite (safe injection). The issue of supervised injection has resurfaced in Ottawa and Toronto, and evidence of Vancouver’s success is dismissed by anyone who disagrees with the concept (likely based on some unfounded emotional or moral bias).

    #11 – I agree, and #5 bleeds into this. I think you’re right to say that intellectualism is under attack, because it’s not just resentment for the language of high theory or academic elitism, but for an interest in knowledge.

    Gotta be a regular guy to be trusted. US sources, but totally relevant:

    Paul Rosenberg: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/10/2011109112727162598.html

    http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/anti-intellectual-rants-specious-and-kind-of-scary_2012-03-11.html

  2. Nice summation of the post Osama/Bush effect. The realities of oligarchy, the publically paid for, privately owned police forces, the dumbing down (actually I hate that phrase…) the simplification and coarsening of public discourse, the public risk and private profit of the elite gambling class and their political minders. Try this book to make you even more alarmed

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6577631-empire-of-illusion

    and then make sure somehow you support your local Occupy chapter. Good blog, K-Loop. Bookmarked.

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