Immune to Shame

Conservatives have absolutely no shame. Zip, zero, nada.

Time and again, scandals appear and conservatives just don’t care. They will make excuses, blame other people, or just deny. Then they’ll continue working until the next scandal arises.

Shameless Tories

Yesterday, I read a Guardian article about some of the many scandals from the administration of Boris Johnson:

  • A VIP fast-lane for protective equipment contracts made the contacts of ministers, MPs, peers and officials 10 times more likely to win contracts. PPE prices sky-rocketed: even bodybags were being charged at 14 times their previous cost.
  • Alex Bourne, health secretary Matt Hancock’s ex-neighbour, who won £30m of work producing medical vials, despite having no experience in the field.
  • £564,000 contract for opinion polling, given without tender to Dominic Cummings’ close chum Rachel Wolf, who co-wrote the 2019 Tory party manifesto.
  • Lord Udny-Lister, as deputy mayor of London under Johnson, helped approve £4bn of property schemes for developers – and within months of leaving office went on to work for them. 

And this is just a sampling of the corruption of the Tories from the last two years. Imagine what hasn’t been reported.

And it’s not just the Johnson administration.

Near the end of Teresa May’s time as Prime Minister, it was revealed that the Transport Minister awarded a £13.8m government contract to a ferry company that had no ships and ‘copied and pasted parts of website from takeaway outlet’.

Did the Transport Minister Chris Grayling face any consequences? Nope.

Even if you only judge conservatives on their claim that they are better at running the economy, then they should be fired for the type of mismanagement and outright corruption that comes up over, and over, and over again.

But unfortunately, they have no shame. And they will never apologize or face any consequences for their actions…unless we vote them out.

Shameless in Canada

The first time I voted was in 2008 federal election. 11-year Conservative incumbent Rahim Jaffer was running against lawyer Linda Duncan in the riding of Edmonton Strathcona to become Member of Parliament (MP).

At the time, Jaffer was voted the “laziest MP” and had several drug scandals. Despite this, he ran again in 2008 and only lost by 463 vosts (about 1 percent). Thank goodness that he lost that election because Jaffer’s scandals kept going once he was out of office. Drug possession. Speeding while drunk driving. And improper lobbying.

Three years later, Canada had a new election and I was voting in a new riding: Edmonton East. For 18 straight years, this riding was represented by Peter Goldring–a man with his own run-ins with the law and other embarrassments.

Goldring temporarily left the Conservative party after getting caught drunk driving and refusing to take a breathalyser test. The funny thing about Goldring and his temporary re-branding was this he picked a label of a party that already existed and that he wasn’t a member of. So, he had to change again to an Independent.

What I’m trying to say with these two examples is that Conservative politicians are garbage and have no shame. We need to vote them out and find people with even a shred of decency and respect.

The Shameless GOP

We now move to the Empire of Shameless Conservatism: the United State of America.

Last week, Texas faced extreme cold weather resulting in massive power outages, lack of running water, and caused at least 58 deaths.

And what did Texas’ celebrity senator do? Ted Cruz went to Cancun to get his tan on.

What a piece of garbage. And did he show any shame? No.

After blaming his family for the holiday, Cancun Cruz staged a fake photo-op and posted it to Twitter. Scandal over!

Should we expect anything less from the party that doesn’t care about half a million dead citizens, including their own voters?

r/PoliticalHumor - Wtf is wrong with these people?!

Or, a party that elected and supported a man with no respect for women?

Like so often, Trump issued a non-apology and then moved on. The Republican party and their supporters moved on from this scandal and all the other Trump scandals through the past four years. These people have absolutely NO SHAME!

In Summary

Everywhere you look, Conservatives are terrible government representatives. Why? Because they want to destroy government, scapegoat their opponents, and then use it as a reason to be re-elected…

We need to constantly call them out for their hypocrisy and failings. We then need to use these endless examples of terrible leadership against them in future elections.

Democracy is the greatest tool we have to get rid of our corrupt officials. It worked to get rid of Trump. And it can work to get rid of the rest of them.


Conservative Snowflakes

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

Frank Wilhoit

Urban Dictionary defines a snowflake as “a very sensitive person. Someone who is easily hurt or offended by the statements or actions of others”. Urban Dictionary then clarifies that a snowflake can be a liberal or conservative, which is true, but for different reasons. It goes on to say that it “has nothing to do with politics”. Except that it does!

Politics today has a lot of mud slinging: calling your opponent names. The worst of this is found online.

Leftists are labelled ‘social justice warriors’ or ‘snowflakes’ who need ‘safe spaces’. All of those labels might be true, but they’re missing the point. And, worst of all, hiding the real truth.

As Wilhoit’s quote above states, conservatism is all about in-groups and out-groups. In-groups that create a system that protects them and doesn’t hold them accountable. (Google ‘Trump insurrection’ for a great example of this.) And out-groups that receive little to no protection from this system.

Out-groups have cause for their anger. They have ligitiment grievances and reasons to be hurt.

In-groups don’t have this right. They don’t have honest grievances when they are the ones who created the unequal system. They don’t have honest reasons to be hurt or offended. (Google “Karen calls the cops” for endless examples of this.)

These conservative snowflakes are finally facing accountability for the system they created and accountability for their actions. It’s time to break them out of their safe spaces, and into the real world.

Political Snowflakes

Conservative Move is a real estate company helping fragile conservatives run away from liberals who might have a different opinion. Literal safe spaces for conservatives to hide from debate.

This is conservative fragility: having an ideology that is too delicate to defend.

In the video above, Sarah and Tamir Barkan say they’re “fed up” and “tired of being surrounded by liberals”. Their three most important conservative issues are:

  1. Guns;
  2. Taxes; and
  3. Abortion. In that order.

“That’s not how California aligns,” Sarah Barkan exclaims. Except…California does align with conservatives.

In the past half century — the past 54 years — California has seen 32 years of Republican governors, including 8 years of Ronald Reagan and 8 years of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 22 years of Democratic governors. The vast majority of California politics — 3 out of every 5 years — was lead by a conservative.

Even with this conservative advantage, people like the Barkans cut and run. They fear that other people — the out-group — may at some point in the future have their say, politically, and the Barkans can’t handle that potential future. So, they ran to a literal safe space.

This says a lot about American conservatives and their feelings towards “minorities”. They fear that they might become a minority and fear that the hatred they have been spewing for 250-plus years might come back to bite them.

Economic Snowflakes

Billionaires have nothing to complain about. So, why do they cry when people look at them negatively? Maybe it has to do with their wealth hoarding and the god-like level of power that comes with it.

Economic snowflakes, like their political cousins, have created a system — capitalism — that they profit from every single day. Yet, we hear people like Elon Musk complain from behind his billions of dollars.

Conservatives use their power to distract the majority of society from their ill-gotten gains. They created a system where they profit from our labour and write laws that protect that profit.

They use their media companies to brew hatred amongst the people so that they don’t wake up and see who really is in control.

Religious Snowflakes

The most dangerous of all the conservative snowflakes are the religious ones.

As the clip above from the 2006 documentary Jesus Camp shows, many Americans are afraid to send their children to school to learn ideas outside their religion. This rejection of contrasting ideas limits the ability of children to think for themselves. It makes them more likely to follow people in charge and less likely to have their own beliefs.

Religion is the strongest conservative element because churches, mosques, and temples are able to reinforce these beliefs in their followers every week.

Extreme Snowflakes

In Pakistan, 97 out of oevery 100 people are Muslim. The other three are likely Hindu or Christian.

Yet, the leaders of Pakistan feel the need to pass blasphemy laws to protect their religion from debate. As the video shows, extreme conservatism leads to violence, even daytime lynching by vigilante mobs.

These laws don’t even protect Muslims, as they are the biggest group of victims. So, why do these laws exist?

What Do Conservatives Fear?

Pakistan and the USA are not the only nations where conservatism rules through religion, politics and economics. Any nation that values the ideas of the past more than the potential of the future is at risk.

I read online that “conservatism doesn’t look forward. It is inherently a lazy ideology.” I would have to agree. They fear change.

All three forms of conservatism — political, economic, and religious — look backwards and try to conserve the past or the status quo.

The best tool we have to fight this anti-progress ideology is dissent. Dissent means speaking truth to power and holding people to account.

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Political conservatives want to hold onto power. This is why white men prevented women and people of colour from voting for so long. This is why ‘legal’ marriage in the West banned inter-racial marriage, then same-sex marriage, for so long. Conservatives will limit civil rights for as long as possible, so they can maintain power.

Economic conservatives want to hold onto capitalism for as long as possible. Capitalists use government and religion, as well as media, as tools to maintain this power.

Religious conservatives are probably the worst of them all, since it pretends to have the blessing of God. Racism, homophobia, sexism, and transphobia can all be legitimised thanks to their holy book.

But counter these conservatives with a different opinion — even a mild dose of dissent — and they melt like little snowflakes, running back to their mansions, or behind their police goons.

People in power use words to their advantage. Conservative politicians will call ‘leftists’ snowflakes to silence debate on civil rights. Rich people will call socialists snowflakes to silence discussion on workers’ rights. And, religious groups will call anyone (even people that believe in the same God) snowflakes to silence discussion on equality outside of the Church.

We need to recognise their hypocrisy and call it out. We need to recognise this hypocrisy as a tool of the powerful.

We need to speak up and stop remaining silent.

We need to fight back.


Dragons Are Eating The Middle Class. It’s Time to Fight Back.

A world where billionaires exist next to starving children is the grotesque consequence of a society gone wrong, a society that promotes greed over compassion, and wealth over humanity.

Long ago, we were told that the middle class is what made the West so great. I’ve got some bad news: The middle class is dead. And nobody was kind enough to write the obituary. Here’s my attempt.

A Tale of Three Class Rooms

Mystery Suitcase / Historical Association

Follow me on a short thought experiment, into a land with three rooms.

Room #1 is massive; 1,000,000 people live here.

Room #2 is slightly smaller than the first. Only 1,000 people live here, so each person has much more room.

Lastly, there’s Room #3, which only has one inhabitant. The man who lives there (let’s call him Bill) has the most amount of room of all.

One day, a briefcase lands in each room and determines the wealth of the inhabitants. Each briefcase contains $1,000,000,0000 (one billions dollars) worth of wealth.

Overnight, Bill becomes a BILLIONAIRE. (Like most people who call themselves billionaires, Bill didn’t earn it as he had the luck of being born in Room #3.)

Next, we have Room #2. Each person now has $1,000,000 (one million dollars) and become MILLIONAIRES.

Lastly, we have the people who make everything in society–the WORKERS. They each get $1,000 (one thousand dollars) of wealth.

This unfortunate tale, sadly, is the world we currently live in. There is no more Upper / Middle / Lower classes. There is only the Billionaire / Millionaire / Worker classes.

WORKERS create all of the wealth is this system but only enjoy the bare minimum, the crumbs. The are our plumbers, teachers, assembly line workers, farmers, taxi drivers, and anyone else that makes products and provides services.

The exploitation they experience – the wealth that is taken from them and not shared – is due to the class of ENABLERS who live in between them and the richest people on top. The Millionaire class has become the ENABLERS of this system. They’re politicians, lobbyists, celebrities, landlords, and everyone else who either makes the system, profits from the system, or distracts workers from the reality of the system.

This is our current reality:

  • THE BILLIONAIRES, who sit on top of their wealth like dragons.
  • THE ENABLERS, who control a system that creates billionaires and rewards them with millions.
  • THE WORKERS, who live their lives in debt and work paycheck to paycheck to create wealth for those above.

This is the land called CAPITALISM.

But this land used to have another name. Before, it was a land called FUEDALISM.

Not so long ago, right before the Industrial Revolution, when most people were farmers, we had a similar grouping of people. There was a KING, who hoarded the wealth of his land; ARISTOCRATS, who protected the king and subjugated the people; and PEASANTS, who worked the land.

(1789) This picture shows a peasant carrying a clergy man and a noble. They each respectively represent the Third, First, and Second estates. The First Estate was comprised of clergy men like priests, bishops, cardinals, etc. They are represented by...
It’s time for the rich to get off our backs.

After much work, many lands (not all) were able to replace their kings with democratic systems where rule of law was made equal to all. Unfortunately, wealth has remained in the hands of the powerful. But hopefully not for long.

Reality is Worse Than Fiction

This thought experiment–with silly briefcases and impossible rooms–while not prefect is a pretty fair representative of the reality of the so-called “developed” Western world.

Take, for example, the G7. Seven highly industrialized, democratic nations that rebuilt their societies over the past 75 years, following World War II. Together they have a population just over 750 million. These seven countries have over 900 billionaires, according to Forbes, or about one billionaires per 825,000 people.

The greed leaderboard, or greed-erboard.

Unlike my thought experiment, the world’s billionaires average over $4,000,000,000 in wealth.

On the other hand, the average American worker has to balance $40,000 in savings with $51,900 in debt.

In between these two groups are the enablers who run government, business and the media, and tell us that they system is working great. “Have you seen that the stock market is up today!?!”

What can we (the workers of the world) do about it?

The first thing we must realise is that the REALITY of WEALTH INEQUALITY is much worse than what we think it is, as this video below illustrates. And what we THINK it is, is still not close to what the vast majority of people WANT.

Two Futures

We can either do nothing. Or we can do something.

We can act to make a better future. Often on TV, an enabler of the current system will say that the Left wants to go out and steal your money (through taxes). That socialists want to steal every dollar from those hard working billionaires. But that’s not true.

What I’m advocating is for a new system. We forget about the past, and all those briefcases of cash that wrongly when to the people at the top.

Imagine tomorrow, three new briefcases arrive. Should the wealth be split the same way as the past: creating one or two billionaires, an thousand millionaires, and millions of people with almost nothing? Or should we tear down the walls that divide these rooms, and split the wealth more equally and, more importantly, more democratically?

What if everyone got $3,000?

Every worker would have three times as much wealth, overnight.

But we would lose our one billionaires. (How sad?) Bill could still work and enjoy society but he won’t have a room (i.e. tax haven) filled with gold, sports cars, and yachts, unfortunately.

And what of the Enablers? We would lose them too. For everyone one thousand people, we would lose one enabler. Like the ex-billionaire, each ex-enabler can still work (except lobbyists and propagandists, who would need to find new jobs) and enjoy the society they supposedly love. They should welcome the peace and (shared) prosperity that this new world provides.

Or, we could do nothing.

Tomorrow, more briefcases arrive. And the enablers decide where they go, replicating the Inequality of the past.

We need to decide if we want the ENABLERS to keep hoarding OUR wealth, or if we’ll continue to let them sit on it while we suffer.

Final Thoughts

Inequality was made worse in 2020, thanks to COVID-19. During this year of pandemic, the Billionaire class has seen their wealth rise by more than $10,000,000,000,000 (ten trillion dollars), while tens of millions of workers are now unemployed and we’ll soon record more than 2,000,000 deaths worldwide from COVID-19.

Post image

However, even before COVID, the Enabler class was making things worse. Rather than creating societies where health systems are funded adequately, political enablers have passed tax cuts for the rich. These Enablers and their Billionaire donors have created a system where corporate profits are up, but taxes are down. Tax cuts for the rich don’t help workers. And underfunding health care doesn’t allow pandemics to be overcome.

Additionally, I think this thought experiment for wealth inequality holds try for the Global South as well as for wealthy nations. Low-income countries might not have many billionaires, but they definitely have many multi-millionaires, who live lives of luxury. And those multi-millionaires are enabled by the same people in government, business and media, who live next to people in extreme poverty. Millions of people around the world live in extreme poverty, with barely enough to feed themselves.

The scale might be different between high- and low-income countries, but the inequality is just as bad. Enablers living lives a thousand times better than people at the bottom, and enabling people at the top to have lives a thousand time better then themselves.

We need to end this system. Today.

No more billionaires. No more enablers of poverty.

Podcasts, Society

Podcast Picks 2018

Another year of great podcasts!

Below are a dozen new podcasts I’ve enjoyed in 2018, split equally into three common themes. Some podcasts have an open-ended structure, while others take on a single issue. I found that each podcast helped me to understand our complex world a bit better.

For more suggestions, check out my podcasts lists for 2016 and 2017.

Power Corrupts

These four podcasts show how corruption across political, economic and cultural spheres of society and, mostly, in the hands of powerful men can have tremendously bad outcomes for the rest of us.

  • Swindled from “A Concerned Citizen”
    • A true-crime podcast (and my favourite of the year) about white-collar criminals, con artists, and corporate evil. Dow Chemical, McDonald’s and Nestlé each have their part to play. From costly to deadly, Swindled puts these culprits on notice.
  • Bikram from Julia Lowrie Henderson of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Podcasts
    • This five-part series explores Bikram Choudhury’s fitness revolution, how it brought a yoga boom to America and how his guru status enabled increasingly dark behavior. No one should have all that power!
  • Slow Burn from Leon Neyfakh of Slate
    • A historic podcast that focuses on the neglected aspects of well known events. Nobody knew how Watergate was going to end. The first season of Slow Burn tells the story of what it felt like to watch a president fall.
  • Trump, Inc. from WNYC and ProPublica
    • Who’s profiting from the Trump administration and at what cost? This is the question at the heart of this ongoing investigative series, which looks at Trump’s business connections and the grey areas that his family deals in.


(Y)our Fanatics

These four podcasts—each a single series—look at two aspects of religious extremists: Middle Eastern and American. Together, they make us question the propaganda receive and the framing of Us vs Them.

  • Caliphate from Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times
    • From recruiting fighters to paying the bills to when the fighting stops, each of the ten episodes helps explain the rise of the Islamic State and the challenges that lay ahead for the fighters coming from around the globe. Stunning investigative journalism!
  • The Assassination from Owen Bennett Jones of the BBC
    • A ten-part investigation into the death of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. This series asks: what role did Pakistan’s government and intelligence service have in Bhutto’s death at the hand of a suicide bomber?
  • Bundyville from Leah Sottile of Oregon Public Broadcasting
    • A seven-part series chronicling the rise, fall and resurgence of the Bundy family, who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 to assert their belief that the federal government shouldn’t control any land, undergirded by radical Mormon mythology.
  • Standoff from Ruth Graham of Slate
    • Graham explores the tragedy of Ruby Ridge—when hundreds of armed federal agents surrounded a family of white separatists in 1992, leaving three people dead—that’s become a foundational myth for the modern right, and finds some frightening lessons about power and paranoia.


Regular Reflections

These final four podcasts try to understand modern society and current events by examining how we got us to this point.

  • Deconstructed with Mehdi Hasan of The Intercept
    • Hasan unpacks the most consequential news event of the week, while challenging the mainstream media’s tired takes. Focusing largely on American and global politics, Hasan challenges narratives from both the Left and the Right.
  • Anthropocene Reviewed with Josh Green from WNYC Studios
    • Eleven episodes and counting! Each month, Green rates two facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale. Cholera rates low (★) while Halley’s Comet rates high (★★★★★). Canada Geese are a bit more complicated and rate somewhere in between.
  • The Foreign Desk with ​Andrew Mueller of Monocle 24
    • The Foreign Desk is a global-affairs show, featuring​ guests ​and in-depth analysis of the big issues of the week, such as the ongoing war in Yemen and the recent election in Brazil. Their 5-minute Explainers are also a great way to get caught up on global news.
  • Alberta Advantage
    • Finally, something closer to home—a podcast about the past and present situation in Alberta, Canada. From Alberta’s farms to its big cities, Alberta Advantage provides commentary and analysis on local and provincial politics from a left perspective.
Self, Society

My Political, Economic and Religious Self-Education

“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening. And it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.” -Noam Chomsky

Unknown Unknowns

My politicization began roughly a decade ago and has steadily developed since then. When I moved from rural Alberta to Edmonton, I knew little to nothing about the world and how it operated. I didn’t have a political affiliation and was clueless about the fundamental differences between the Conservative and Liberal parties, whether federal or provincial. To complicate the matter, Canadian politics consists of three levels of jurisdiction: Continue reading