I will be talking to Matt Rainnie on CBC today about More Space.
You can download audio files and pdf's from the More Space Site
I will be talking to Matt Rainnie on CBC today about More Space.
You can download audio files and pdf's from the More Space Site
Well Quebec separating is back on the agenda. What is the rest response to this from the rest of Canada?
20 years of sucking up does not seem to have helped. Sucking up? In all the Fed/Prov deals - Quebec has successfully played the "If you don't give me more - I won't play" card and we have all gone along. Will giving Quebec even better deals - vis the Early Years agenda or another $500 million in equalization really convince Quebecers that they should remain in Canada? Quebec invariable gets a better deal and we put up with it because we hope that this will turn the tide. We all support bilingualism for the same reason. This special treatment is not healthy for any of us and will only increase bitterness on both sides. It widens the breach rather than closes it.
Being tough doesn't seem to work either. Who will knuckle under because of a threat? Threats make a people stronger.
There has to be a third way.
There has to be a new deal for all Canadians. Is it only Quebecers who feel that they do not have enough say? Canada of 2005 is not the Canada of 1867.
Many will say that we are bored with constitutional issues. But I assure you that if Quebec chooses to separate then constitutional issues will not be boring. Better we all take the initiative and think of a deal that will help us all.
Let's consider setting up a more adult Canada where each region and its people have as much control as they can have for their own destiny without Mummy Ottawa treating us all like kids. For accepting that we are kids has meant that what passes for government today are childish squabbles about who gets what. What passes for leadership is bribing us with our own money or in making excuses that Ottawa is the villain.
What would an adult Canadian Confederation look like? I think that at its heart would be the principle that Communities rank first - this is where we live, where our kids go to school, where we go to our doctors where the roads that we travel daily exist etc. If we gave the citizen and the community most of the power, it would mean that we would have to have to reverse the tax system to start with communities where we live. Most Canadian live in cities. Cities provide the economic engine for the provinces and for the nation - yet we have a system that was designed to represent a rural Canada of 150 years ago. This is a true revolution. Imagine citizens would have to be responsible for most of what happened where they lived rather than begging the province or the feds to give back their money. What would this responsibility do to people?
Regions come second. Atlantic Canadians share a culture and an environment that is different from Quebec that is different from Ontario and so on. We are all "Distinct" in this context. This is where a common approach to education and health makes sense. This is where a common environmental and energy approach makes sense. Not at a national level.
The Feds come last. What do we need a federal government for? Surely it is to represent all of us in areas such as Trade, Defence, Foreign policy and the infrastructure that supports our common economic and social interests. Over the last 30 years, the Feds have done a poor job here. They have beggared the CBC and have walked away from rail, roads and air travel. They have kept our defence force at pathetic levels. They continue to perform poorly in trade and Canada's international influence is weaker than at any time since before 1914. Instead they have been playing games with the provinces and with so called economic development. What has ACOA done for Atlantic Canada? Is there any sign that all its efforts will turn the corner? What has equalization done but to create further dependency?
In this Canada we would all have to grow up. In our communities we would have to invest wisely. In our provinces, we would not longer be able to blame Ottawa. In Ottawa we would be accountable for the few critical national systems.
How will this happen? I doubt that we could ever even begin this debate unless Quebec points a gun at the nation which they might well do. Until then let's stop the sucking up and the threats and let's start talking about a grown up Canada where we drop the child/parent roles and the co-dependency.
Target announced yesterday that it was not able to hit the sales mark. Wall Street stumbled and there is fear that we could have a poor retail Christmas.
Am I alone in wondering what a strange world we live in when it is Shopping that defines the value of what we do?
What a strange world that is built upon a worship of consumption of things that most of don't even need anymore.
We then have to go out and do work that is drudgery to pay for our habit. We go into debt to keep on buying and become slaves to a system and we don't even know that we have lost our freedom.
I know these thoughts are not new - but in a way they are for me. I have known how odd this has been for many years. What is different for me is that now I feel it so keenly. What about you? If you step back and touch base - does shopping as a life force seem an odd centre for our lives?
I was going to attempt to describe last night's excellent debate but found that Alex had been so thorough that I had to link you to his instead. He not only reviews the discussion but he includes everything you might want to know about about how MMPR works.
The Queen Street Commons will be hosting an evening of lively discussion and debate with representatives from both the YES and NO sides of the issue, Mark Greenan and Gordon Cobb respectively. The proposed MMPR model will be on the table.
If you are struggling with this, as I am, or want to have a chance to go deeper please drop by at 7pm tonight Monday 14th November
Queen Street Commons
224 Queen St
Our debaters will be:
Gordon Cobb is a member of the NO to the MMP Proposal Coalition, a citizens group in favour of electoral reform but opposed to the current MMP proposal. The Coalition urges Islanders to vote NO on November 28 in order to have an open, inclusive, and fair electoral reform process in the future. Gordon is a federal public servant and a former political advisor to Cabinet ministers and political party leaders. He presented the PR proposal- the STV-based Island Choice model- in the Guardian on July 28, 2005.
Born and raised in Summerside, Mark Greenan is a M.A. candidate in political science at the University of Ottawa. He developed an interest in politics thanks to lively debates around the kitchen table at home and as a page at both Province House and the House of Commons. Having observed politicians his age behave like children for two years and the ongoing decline in electoral participation among his generation, he become passionately convinced of the need to renew Canadian democracy by replacing our antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system with one that ensure that every citizen's vote counts. He is happy to be taking a semester's break from his studies to be back on the Island as Coordinator of the Yes on MMP Coalition, educating Islanders on the many ways that system would revitalize our civic life.
Johnnie has written I think an important article in a new book called More Space. I first came across Johnnie as a result of another book Beyond Branding that he had a part in. His chapter stood out for me as does his new chapter in More Space.
In this chapter Johnnie gets to what I believe to be the heart of the real new economy. The real new economy is all about being human and hence rejects everything to do with the machine. Machines are complicated but humans are complex. There is a huge difference between Complicated and Complex and those that miss this, miss it all. How does he see the difference?
Complicated - understanding how an engine works - not simple but ultimately knowable
Most organizations seek to know and to control. Management seeks to narrow the options ands narrow the conversation. Hence the stovepipes and the inability to see the whole for the parts.
Complex - Humans are not simple and never fully knowable. Just too many variables interact
In a complex world as J quotes Mihaly Ccikszentmihaly "One of the key tasks of management is to create an organization that stimulates the complexity of those that belong to it."
Most organizations try and see and operate in the first paradigm. This is why as Johnnie tells us that Southwest laugh at their competitors who think that it is all about fleet management. Its secret was in fact all about being open to what everyone needed to have a good life at work.
Most organizations close down instead.
"As organizations grow, there's a tendency to reduce ambiguity by adding to the rule book. In part this is a natural desire to embody the lessons of our past mistakes. But the effect over time can be sclerotic. Look at traffic lights in cities. Over time, more and more junctions in London have been graced with traffic lights in an effort to prevent gridlock and improve traffic flow. The trouble is that while these lights may work in isolation, their cumulative effect is often to make traffic worse. Recent experiments have shown that stripping all the lights out of a stretch of road
has actually reduced congestion."
So how do we get from a machine world to a human world?
Johnnie tells us that the answer is simple but difficult. Difficult because the answer demands that we converse in a different way. Yes the simple idea is that we talk to each other differently. The challenge is that to do this we have to give up some hard wired habits.
What we have to give up is using conversation as a duel or a combat where the dominant player wins and all ideas that don't fit are killed as are of course the divergent thinkers. What we need is a conversation that opens up new ideas and that builds community.
His advice - look at how Improv works in Theatre. The rules are simple:
His chapter then takes the reader though how to use these simple rules in a most engaging and practical way.
It is a gem. His blog is too. So is he.
Imagine it is 2010 - you live in the suburbs of a big city. You teach at York University. Gas prices are about $8.00 a litre (The China factor) and are just going up to $12 as the coup in Saudi Arabia has taken Saudi oil off the market. You wonder how you are going to cope.
Your heating bill (you are on natural gas) is already $2,500 a month in the Jan-March period. You keep the thermostat down to 15c and you wear a lot more clothes. You still have a car. It costs you $400 a month in gas and you keep the mileage way down. You sold the SUV years ago and drive an Echo now. Ford and GM closed their doors in 2007. Daimler Chrysler is in Chapter 11 and is not expected to survive. Your new Echo gets 1,000 k per fill up. You don't see many big cars anymore. People who drive them look stupid. All of the family have bikes and there is a nice new store that has opened up in the neighborhood. It has most of the basics and sells wine and beer. The wine is from Ontario though. It is too expensive to buy imported wine.
You still have to drive to the supermarket once a month. Food has doubled in price and you no longer get those nice California lettuces or fruit from Israel. You are thinking of putting in a vegetable garden in your yard. Your neighbor has chickens. You objected when she did that at first now you are thinking of doing the same. You have just bought this cool book about how the Cubans adjusted to the end of cheap oil and the end of sugar sales in the 1980's. You have the time now - too expensive to travel anymore. You haven't seen your mother in 18 months. She had to take the train. Train travel is way up. Air travel has collapsed. It's not even a cost issue. There just are not many seats for most of the major airlines have gone bankrupt and only a basic intercity service using small planes is available for regular folk like you. Driving long distance is for emergencies only. There is talk of ferries coming back on the Great Lakes and up and down the St Lawrence.
You and some friends have set up a local school. The regular schools have shifted the year to the summer. They can't afford to heat in the Jan- April period. You have to pay a bus diesel supplement or take your own kid to school. You and many have opted to take your kids out and school them in the neighborhood. You have the time to do this now as you spend most of the week at home.
Some of you still have jobs but few go into town to work much anymore - you have to telecommute. Nearly all your courses are now taught online. Students found that their costs of attending class were higher than the fees and they demanded an online alternative. Thank goodness because you had the same cost issue. It was costing you more to go to work than it was worth. The York campus is like a ghost town. Enrollment is dropping like a stone though. Kids are going to trade schools more than University. You are part of a task force looking at how to offer a radically cheaper and better online alternative that students can take part time.
The economic and employment fall out has been widespread. The stock market crash of 2007 has taken the bloom of investment banking. The Saudi coup has only depressed investment even further. Thousands of well paid people in the sector are unemployed and are mainly unemployable. Who needs their skills? Worse, the housing crash has locked everyone into their houses and has made moving very difficult. The one good thing is that the Housing Protection Act brought in by the new NDP government makes it all but impossible for banks to evict defaulted owners provided they pay something every month. The banks agreed because it gave them the fiction that the housing assets need not be written off completely. This act has been pivotal in preventing a complete collapse and has helped bring back life to neighborhoods and has taken the worst of all worries off the minds of most people who feared being made homeless.
In this context property taxes were way out of line. The great strike of 2009 when activists mobilized a 4 month witholding of tax has forced the cities hands. Of course this has lead to major layoffs in city staffs and services. Garbage and road maintenance were the first services to get cut. you are coping with the garbage better than you thought you could. First of all you are not buying a lot and secondly everyone is composting at home now. The roads are a concern. At some point they will start to degrade and then what will happen?
Most middle class people have had to cash in their RRSP's . As many were unemployed the tax hit was not too bad but this also contributed to the sorry state of the markets. Many now wonder how they will make it though their senior years. Pensions have been adversely affected by the crash and most are under water and many have sponsors that are no longer in business.
The good news is that many of the 20 plus year old kids have been forced home and somehow with more hands on deck and more to do at home that keeps life going maybe the family as a valuable social unit is coming back?
You used to shop alot. But now all that you have goes into energy and food. Anyway there is not much to buy. Retail is shrinking rapidly. Most of the independent truckers who were the arteries of the just in time world went to the wall in 2007 now and the Saudi move will be the last straw. Moving goods around is no longer feasible. The economy is flat on its back. The banks are in effect all bust and are kept alive, as they were in Japan in the 1990's, by the government. Most of the assets they hold, houses, trucks factories, planes etc are worth only a fraction of what they were when they became collateral. There are of course only two Canadian banks left - the TD/RBC and the Scotia/BMO. CIBC was bought by HSBC. More than 50,000 lost their jobs in the process.
Of course demand for goods from China has collapsed and you wonder if Wal*Mart will survive. At least demand for oil in China has collapsed too but with Saudi offline prices for oil are moving up again. There is a lot of worry about how China will react to the ending of its own dream. Japan is rearming as the anti Japanese rhetoric builds in Beijing.
Tensions between Canada and the US continue to rise. After being effectively locked out of US markets in 2008 all Canadians know that NAFTA is now a joke. No joke is the growing envy in the US over Canada's water and oil supplies. The US military need the oil sands and they don't care that it costs more to produce that it has in energy value. The water shortages in the South, in the mid west and in California have put water at the top of the agenda. It is easier for US politicians to look for more in Canada than to deal with the shortage at home. Water became a major issue in the election. Will Canada be a target? We certainly cannot defend our selves and somehow we are not the terrorist types.
The Iraqisation plan of course failed as the Vietnamisation plan failed in Vietnam but it was the only face saving way out. Now Iraq is made up of three warring factions. It was bad enough when the fundamentalist took over in Egypt but now they have killed the King in Saudi Arabia the Middle East looks worse than it ever has. Israel is under siege. Extreme Zionists are talking up a Masada last stand and those who can leave, the able and the fit, are slipping away as it is clear that Armageddon is inevitable.
You used to think that your cousin who moved to PEI in the 1990' was mad now you are not so sure anymore ....
To be continued