Danes on Ottawa, Monbiot on Toronto, et al…

A couple of articles I read today of interest:

I thought John Michael McGrath’s In Defense of Danish Tourists was terrific, although I suspect people like living in Ottawa more than most other places. We’d be better off concentrating on more pedestrian concerns more often.

I didn’t find George Monbiot’s Sick of this market -driven world? You should be a pleasant read, but I am a fan of Monbiot and he’s made a special request on this one.

This section struck me as relevant to what I’m usually writing on…

If neoliberalism was anything other than a self-serving con, whose gurus and thinktanks were financed from the beginning by some of the world’s richest people (the US multimillionaires Coors, Olin, Scaife, Pew and others), its apostles would have demanded, as a precondition for a society based on merit, that no one should start life with the unfair advantage of inherited wealth or economically determined education. But they never believed in their own doctrine. Enterprise, as a result, quickly gave way to rent.

All this is ignored, and success or failure in the market economy are ascribed solely to the efforts of the individual. The rich are the new righteous; the poor are the new deviants, who have failed both economically and morally and are now classified as social parasites.

The market was meant to emancipate us, offering autonomy and freedom. Instead it has delivered atomisation and loneliness.

The workplace has been overwhelmed by a mad, Kafkaesque infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits, centrally directed and rigidly planned, whose purpose is to reward the winners and punish the losers. It destroys autonomy, enterprise, innovation and loyalty, and breeds frustration, envy and fear. Through a magnificent paradox, it has led to the revival of a grand old Soviet tradition known in Russian as tufta. It means falsification of statistics to meet the diktats of unaccountable power.

Perhaps that reminds me on Toronto because I occassionally pull the figures on curtailments at wind generators – which Ontario’s Premier Wynne arbitrarily decided ratepayers should pay them for instead of enforcing the contract terms where turbines were built where power can’t get to market. While the theme is that renewable energy generators need to be supported, the big beneficiaries of Wynne’s decision are Enbridge, Bookfield and TransAlta(I estimate $20+ million in the first 10 months) . The companies made bad investments to provide low-quality electricity. Kathleen Wynne decided to rob from ratepayers to enrich them anyway. That elite isn’t defined by competence, and those outside that elite are treated poorly regardless of competence.

My take on the winners and losers may be far too rosey a take from Monbiot’s column.

There’s nothing to curdle the blook like hearing of a local suicide, and I was surprised to find, when investigating how common suicide was, that it’s quite common, particularly among our your people. I think Monbiot’s conclusion is worth communicating often:

if you don’t fit in, if you feel at odds with the world, if your identity is troubled and frayed, if you feel lost and ashamed – it could be because you have retained the human values you were supposed to have discarded. You are a deviant. Be proud.

 

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