Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The 'so what should I do?' post

I don't like this question, 'what should I do?' though I understand why some folks have been asking me. It's too absolute, and from what perspective are you asking? To achieve what goals? My goals? A new government? A reparation to a specific corrupted portion of the system? A new system altogether? Or perhaps one of many other things. I'm not an expert in anything but programming, and pattern analysis. I don't like the term "expert" either. It's disingenuous in it's common usage.

I understand why some folks have been asking me though. Direction is comforting. It's comforting to know that somewhere, someone, has a plan. Even it's a shitty plan, still, it's a plan. Plenty of people throughout history have followed dudes with a shitty plan simply because there seemed to be nothing better at the time, nothing confronting the corruption or problems or perhaps even admitting that they existed. The rise of many dictators.

If you really want to break it down, the only thing in life you should do, or more accurately have to do, is die. That's it. Everything else that is along the way is an option. The real question being asked is what should you do to have the outcome you desire?

Mound of Sound, over at the Disaffected Lib, has asked his take on the question in general and the responses have been very diverse. I weighed in as well. Some commenters believe very strongly in the current system where change can be boiled down to increased taxes and new laws, for instance. For some it's about who to vote for, or a lesser of three evils. One guy even attacked Mound's post as a voter suppression tactic. Of course these are just my quick takes on them please go read the comments and views for yourself, it's important to absorb views from all places even those that may be seemingly negative. All very diverse views, along with mine which to further my points along this post I will have to delve into a bit.

While everyone has differing views, I think mostly everyone has similar wants such as peace, happiness, wealth, and prosperity. In general our views are an avenue to those wants, some may believe a certain "right wing" arrangement of laws and the system will provide it, and some may take a more "left wing" approach. Some perhaps blend the two as a "center approach".

I bill this blog as non-partisan because it has no bias towards any political party. None of them have publicly shown me that they understand the situation we're in well enough, or if they do understand it as I believe is the case with Stephen Harper have publicly indicated they are not acting with the best interests of Canadians and the longevity of a sovereign Canada at heart.

Non-partisan goes beyond political parties, because the pressing issues of the day go beyond political parties. They are issues in everyone's interest. It doesn't matter what political jersey you wear you should be extremely concerned of the events that took place at G20 and the billion dollars of tax money wasted while the G20 dignitaries privately and "Securely" exclude the public while taking advice from the B20 twin crony convention. As a Canadian, whether a "Liberal" or a "Conservative" you should be outraged at the surrender of Canadian sovereignty in the name of capital markets and the damage the corruption within them may do. As a Canadian you should be concerned about peak oil whether for the economic or environmental consequences. None of these are partisan issues. They are people issues and they are also complex issues and just some of many that I cover here and view as the main drivers of events that are either currently affecting Canada or will be at some point and which the powers driving events would rather you not think about.

Complex issues require complex solutions. Not easy solutions, and solutions which are collaborative, not lead. No single person has the capacity to address everything all at once. You'll notice my posts don't follow the atypical article structure where a simplistic solution is then offered at the end within a narrow box to fix an overly complex issue. Everyone loves a happy ending but a few paragraph solution to be sold isn't going to fix or even begin to address the deeply rooted problems within the core of our societal design.

I focus on the issues I do because I believe they are key events and comprise a larger picture in which disparity, environmental destruction, financial corruption, inequality, divisions, and many other issues, each significant in their own right, fit within. Everything is connected, all of us are connected, no issue is independent from another everything coexists and effects everything else. I try best as I can to convey this in a meaningful way.

There is one common theme amongst all of our politicians. "Restoring growth". They all want to "restore growth". Bigger growth, better growth, maybe green growth, or rapid growth and cancer growth which means inevitably health care growth. In the end it doesn't matter growth is growth is growth. Fuck growth. We're not going to be growing enough for the dangling carrot of "better times", whatever it is you think that looks like, to ever materialize.

The reality of our situation is that whether we voluntarily want to, or not, a big change in the way we do business is coming purely due to environmental constraints and much of the problems we're facing now, and will be facing soon in the future are a direct symptom of the status-quo's attempt to fight, and deny that these constraints exist. The question actually facing all of us, whether that person may be aware, or not, is 'What are you going to do when that time comes?' because it is coming and the signs of cracks in the system foundation are already showing.

I don't see any point in lobbying the government at this point for crumbs and to fix the problems. I personally, and I want to stress personally, no longer believe in voting (as in the implementation currently, not the general practice of voting). All I see from the political class in service to the banking sector is 1 option: more attempts at infinite growth.

Any real change in direction of the scope and scale needed is also a serious risk. A financial risk. The way banks keep Government's on a leash though in our fiat currency system is through ratings agencies. It's not a "conspiracy", it's done right in the open, right in front of you and while yielding control of our currency to private banks provides the banking and "pro-growth" sector (which is needed to finance their global loan fractional reserve Ponzi-scheme) some control over policy direction in the name of more growth to pay the debt and interest on that debt free trade deals yield sovereignty over the people's resources to mega corporations and also help destroy localized business with globalized prices. Free trade deals are not about jobs, they are about surrendering control. The status-quo is only interested in one method of economic organization: growth.

As I've written before, the closest thing to real change we've experienced in a long time was Occupy, I won't go into why here but if you're curious here is my explanation. I don't believe an event and path towards voluntary de-growth will emerge following Occupy and the coordinated nationwide crackdown on the tent cities by police forces putting all that great anti-terrorist inter-departmental policy to good use. Voluntary change will only come from people who acknowledge a sacrifice needs to be made to make that change. A sacrifice of the conveniences offered by the system is the biggest threat to the system.  The real threat lies in not demanding, but simply doing, because we have to do it. Empires collapse, people survive.

Ugh. It's frustrating, I know. I feel like the trends coming at us are a freight train and we're stuck in the head lights. They are so obvious and all I can really do is protect myself, my family, and watch this incredibly slow moving train wreck. Each train wrecks' series of events is different but they largely end the same way. Keep that in mind.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.


  1. Hi, Richard. I've lately been mulling over the notion that the 21st century has brought us into difficult challenges for which 19th and 20th century modes of governance can have only marginal utility. The outcome, I fear, is that, unless we seek new models, we incur the risk of becoming ungovernable both nationally and internationally.

    A couple of years back I wrote a piece about our 'fractional prime minister.' The item noted that, when slightly less than 2 out of 5 voters handed the Harper Conservatives a majority, they invested in him the reins of power, the authority to act on our collective behalf. Yet it became apparent that he was willing to act quite forcefully on certain matters of concern to himself and yet completely ignore or duck other matters of grave concern to the Canadian people and generations to follow us. He dealt with a fraction of the national agenda, hence the 'fractional prime minister.'

    A recent item in Le Monde explored global governance and how its institutions had become more effective than they were in the past. Over time I have come to wonder if the traditional model of the sovereign state is no longer serving us as well as it once did in a different time.

    We both understand the absurd addiction to infinite growth in a decidedly finite world in which demand already far exceeds capacity. That syndrome is today manifested in vast deforestation, spreading desertification, the draining of our fossil aquifers, the collapse of global fisheries and so on.

    There was a time we could squander resources profligately. No more. Now, as we progress through 7+ billion en route to 9-billion and more with out per capita footprint growing ever larger our growth based reality is failing and is being overtaken with an allocation-based model. For the time being, money talks. When China sewed up a 50-year lease on large tracts of the best farmland in Somalia, a country regularly in need of famine relief, that was the allocation model at its worst. What can it possibly produce but a destabilized nation in which dissent will have to be brutally repressed to keep foodstuffs flowing to China?

    Allocation-based distribution has to be governed with regard for equality if it is to be tolerated. War time rationing showed that, while we're remarkably tolerant of inequality in times of general prosperity, we become pretty intolerant of it when the burden has to be shared. How can we expect the world to demand anything less?

    We know, for example, that industrialization has resulted in us using up about half of the Earth's greenhouse gas carrying capacity. That has allowed us to calculate the remaining emissions capacity. The ugly truth is that, were that residual capacity to be shared equitably on a per capita basis, the developed world would have to severely decarbonize our economies and our societies almost overnight. On the other hand, were the industrialized nations to 'buy' the extra quotas of the low-emitter nations, the cost could soar so high as to wreck the carbon economy.

    The chasm is so vast between wealthy and poor countries, First and Third World, the most capable of adaptation and the least capable, that finding balance is going to require some sort of intermediary, some global resolution mechanism which is another way of saying global governance.

    I don't know but I suspect a major reason for why our leaders really aren't dealing with so many critical issues is that they defy the bounds of state sovereignty and require effective global governance. Right now the nations are like cowboys in a wild west saloon sitting around a card table, each guy holding his cards in one hand while his other is beneath the table clutching his six-shooter. This sort of stand off can't go on much longer. We're either going to have to start shooting or we'll have to holster those guns and seek a collaborative approach to decision making.

  2. Hey Mound,

    Great questions.

    I agree that to properly address the problem, global governance is needed. However the global governance those in power are attempting to implement is about bypassing nation states in the name of growth, not to diversify away from it. Because of this national sovereignty is really the only protection populations have against unfettered exploitation. It is through national sovereignty that we "own" our oil and thus why through free trade deals and such corporations are working to control and limit this sovereignty as it stands in the way of "economic growth".

    So I don't disagree, sovereignty is not some sort of magic bullet that fixes our problem, rather the reason I focus on it's importance is it's one of the only avenues left to protect us from further exploitation as had been done to nations particularly in the third world who have already surrendered sovereignty.

    That being said, some sort of global governance regime would be required to actually address the problems as you describe them. If this global governance was founded on open and transparent disclosure of the economic and resource issues which government's and major corporations are having in private already and have been having for years then it would be a different situation.