Preoccupied With The Occupation Of Occupy Wall Street

Let me say this first: the Occupy movement has already failed.

In the first handful of days at the Occupy Wall Street event, there was something interesting going on – there was a hopefulness that a message could be made loud enough to catch the much-derided 1%’s attention at the top of the capital food chain.

It seemed like a situation that could spark to a sort of Arab Spring uprising that would force changes.

But… the message was quickly lost as everyone (and their dog) who had ever had a grievance with the system of capitalism showed up with a cardboard sign.

Immediately, the movement became a hodgepodge… a cohesive mess of the needy that lacked any sort of focus.

Just as quickly as the Occupy movement spread to other cities, this terminal protest disease spread out to the new locations… and nobody seemed to notice or was willing to do what was necessary to heal the organized group organism.

Instead of a single, collective voice calling on the rich to change their ways, the Occupy movement mutated into something that required not just the ears of bankers and investment brokers, but the attention of every sort of executive that had ever been in contact with money: bankers, investors, insurance agents, HMOs, Hollywood types, retirement fund operators, school board trustees, mayors, execs at restaurant chains, dental surgeons, toy makers, taxi operators, and the list goes on almost indefinitely.

In a few quick and easy steps, the Occupy movement had gone from relevant (good) to super relevance (bad).

To have an effective message, it has to be concise and to the point… something that can be carried by the masses with a unified voice.

The Arab Spring protests succeeded in overthrowing the governments of countries like Egypt because every person who picked up a stone to throw at the government’s forces in the streets wanted the same thing:  they wanted the ruling party and it’s corruption gone – end of story.

It’s a model that could have made the Occupy movement truly revolutionary and the Western world would be on it’s way to change.

But, instead, the Occupiers maintain an incredibly fractured front with nearly every person at these protests wanting a different form of change… and it’s that kind of behavior that those in power can effective ignore pretty much forever.

It’s sort of like someone on Facebook creating a group that sets out to draw attention to one thing that would seem very important – let’s say the abuse of raccoon dogs in China – and then proceeds to flood the group with links about Nike sweatshops in Thailand, the amounts of trans-fats in KFC chicken, and the failures of the American political system.

That Facebook user meant well, but is left wondering why he or she doesn’t have anyone joining their online cause and it’s simply because they couldn’t stay on message.

It’s the same in politics: the politician who’s most likely to win is the one who has a set number of priorities and then hammers away at them on the anvil of the public stage  – instead of jumping around from issue to issue as each voter mentions a problem during the campaign.

In fact, in the brief history of the Occupy movement, there’s only been one time that protesters got to the verge of getting some concessions made.

Several days ago, a group of Occupiers from the Los Angeles movement managed to shut down one of the United State’s most important ports by sealing off the entrance: trucks that would normally have picked up goods made in China and hauled them away to Walmarts across the nation couldn’t get in or out due to the mass of protesters standing in their way.

This ‘stand in’ lasted for about 4 hours before the Occupiers drifted away to their usual encampments… which is quite unfortunate.

Four hours may not seem like a long time, but when you take into account the amount of freight that goes in and out of the Port Of Los Angeles, even seconds of inefficiency cost shippers and receivers millions of dollars in lost revenue because those lost seconds propagate forward through time and can eventually turn into minutes and then hours.

So, when you make a four-hour stand, the collective sphincters of shipping magnates and the companies like Walmart or Target – who depend on their goods being delivered on time – clamp shut hard and then those execs start sweating as they start seeing the money they normally make slow down.

If those Occupiers had maintained their presence at the Los Angeles docks, and then got protesters from movements in other port cities to do the same, the very people who the Occupy movement is supposed to be targeting would become very uncomfortable – and would start thinking of ways to assuage the angry mobs.

Of course, that would depend entirely on the commitment of the people in the Occupy movement since those billionaire executives would put pressure on elected officials (that most assuredly received campaign contributions from companies controlled by said execs) to crack down on these protesters via legal means through the deployment of riot squads or military personnel.

If the Occupiers are willing to be arrested, pepper sprayed, tased, shot with high-speed bean bags, hit with sound cannons, bombarded with tear gas canisters, and beaten with billy clubs – all in sufficient numbers to completely overwhelm the legal mechanisms that were deployed on behalf of the 1% – then they could indeed successfully create change.

Governments that are freely and democratically elected have no stomach for bloodshed in the streets, especially at the behest of billion dollar corporations that could afford to lose some money if it meant that people’s lives would get better.

But, no.

The Occupy movement lacks that focus… that honest desire to change things.

The extensive camps across North America have become love-ins for the economically disenfranchised… meccas for every hipster, Gen X slacker, unemployed teacher, and general malcontent that doesn’t have anything better to do.

For these people, the message is the act… instead of the message leading to an act – which is why Occupy will eventually fail.

Media outlets focus on the Occupy movement mostly because it’s become a sideshow, but also because it provides some political drama as various city councils try to cope with the public disruptions.

In fact, the media are the only people honestly paying attention to the Occupy movement since the 1% have decided the Occupiers present no threat to themselves and their money-making empires.

So let me say this to you, Occupiers of the world: change your strategy or go home.

If you’re not actually interfering with the 1% by removing money from their pockets, you’re of no real consequence.

Gather up… firm up your resolve… solidify your message… and declare war on the 1%.

Block access to major ports.

Physically prevent people from shopping at major retailers.

Stop buying Starbucks coffee on your way to the Occupy camps.

Take your money out of the major banks and commit to a local credit union.

Honestly threaten the 1% by taking away their money… instead of being a bunch of dirty hippies standing around clapping each other on the back for a job well-done when you actually haven’t accomplished a single thing.

In the words of my progenitors: shit or get off the pot.

Or… in modern vernacular: get real or fuck off.

Occupy This

Tim Who ‘Dat?

Ontarians – from border to border, and from Hudson Bay to the Great lakes – are on the verge of going to the polls again.

How and who they vote for will shape the government of Ontario for the next 4-5 years, and that is no inconsequential responsibility: North America is pretty much three inches and a market fart away from falling back into an economic recession that will no doubt put further pressure on the unemployment safety net as thousands of workers are let go.

The province of Ontario is a very complex machine… and when a machine breaks down, you want the right tools in your hands to fix it, right?

Unfortunately, Tim Hudak is just a tool (in the most derogatory sense).

During the 2011 election campaign, Mr. Hudak has tried to paint himself with Mike Harris’ left over cans of Tremclad Rustoleum in the supposedly trendy colour of ChangeBlue™… but he’s failed to realize that colour has been out of style for more than a decade.

While LiberalRed™ is still the preferred colour of the Ontario electorate, they’ve also developed a hankering for Andrea Horwath’s truckload of LaytonOrange™ – at least in small doses.

Tim Hudak may be good at mugging for the cameras,  but he’s been overly terrible at public policy ideas – a failing that’s always terminal in a politicians’s case, and one that can make you a laughing-stock at what’s supposed to be your defining moment.

At the start of the campaign, everything was coming up roses for Timmy and his merry band of Harris leftovers because Ontarians thought that change would be nice after 8 years of Premiere Dad – and that’s bound to happen, no matter who’s been holding on to the province’s keys: people like change now and then.

Instead of always getting the pepperoni pizza, sometimes you go out on a limb and get the Hawaiian with extra pineapple.

After a week or so of glad handing voters around the province, Hudak firmly took his campaign off the rails by repeatedly saying the word “foreigners” – and in a province that only grows with the importing of landed immigrants from other countries around the world (because the Canadian birth rate is abysmal), that was just the wrong thing to focus on.

Suddenly, Tim Hudak was all about white guys – despite him looking out over Toronto sidewalks that skewed a bit more towards yellow and brown.

On top of that, the Progressive Conservative party – that’s led by Mr. Hudak – has always been the champion of big business.

So… Tim Hudak is all about rich white guys.

And yes… I’m using white guys on purpose since the PC party has never really been on board the women’s rights train – paying lip service to it when necessary, but always mumbling quietly about finding ways to outlaw abortions.

The funny thing about the “Foreigner” debacle is that, by and large, the immigrant population are the people most likely to agree with the PC platform since most of them have come from moderately- to radically conservative countries… which makes them more likely to drink the HarriBerry Blue™ Kool-Aid.

The idiocy of Hudak’s derailment is based on one glaring fact: they have no serious issues to grab the undecided voter’s attention.

Television advertisements paid for by the PC party have only harped on about taxes: Dalton McGuinty and his Fiberals are supposedly raising taxes every other week and twice on Christmas.

While it is true that taxes have gone up in Ontario, they’re not disproportionate to the rate of inflation… and there’s been a concrete need for any taxes implemented by the Liberal government over their past two mandates.

Evil Tax Number One a.k.a. The Health Care Premium: Do you have any idea how much money is needed to care for the rapidly aging Baby Boom generation?  To care for the existing senior citizens?  To battle health concerns like SARS and swine flu?  Billions of dollars… billions of dollars that can’t be completely extracted from the amount of money brought into public coffers through various levels of personal and retail taxation – so the government needed a way to continue paying for our universal health care without digging itself further into debt.

Evil Tax Number Two a.k.a. The Eco-Tax: More than a million metric tons of used electronics used to go into landfills across the province before the turn of the century, and many still do… but that’s changing under the auspices of the Ontario Stewardship (a program that was itself set in motion by the previous PC government as a way to boost their environmental credentials) – and the money that’s required to start complex recycling programs province-wide has to come from somewhere… and where better to get that money than at the point of sale for the widescreen LCD television that you will discard in the next 5 years? That way, you’ve already paid for it’s recycling long before it’s necessary… instead of the government having to dip into it’s already strained and tattered pocketbook.

Evil Tax Number Three a.k.a. The HST: I’ve already explained why the HST is a necessary evil in previous blogs, so there’s not much I can add here. At the end of the day, Ontario needed to have the HST so it’s businesses could compete with other business entities around the world in our Global Economy because other jurisdictions in Europe, Asia, the U.S., Mexico, and South America already had in place single-point or so-called “value added” tax systems that made paying corporate taxes easier and more streamlined… and therefore cheaper over the long run.

With that Evil Tax Trifecta, surely Hudak could have made a better case for lowering taxes for the masses, right?

No… he couldn’t – and didn’t.

The HST couldn’t be revoked without activating a ‘poison pill’ scenario that was inserted by Hudak’s Conservative cousins in the federal government: if the province of Ontario were to revoke the HST, it would have to pay back $4 billion dollars in equalization money that’s already been sent to majority of Ontario citizens by those four special cheques you found in your mailbox over the past year – which would immediately be added to the province’s debt load and sinking the S.S. Ontario further into the Sea Of Red Ink… and would necessitate a rise in income taxes.

The best Hudak could promise on the HST front (and to be fair, Horwath has said the same things) was a modification of items that were included on the list of items taxable under HST – mainly removing the federal portion of the taxes on heating oil and electricity bills.

I suppose that would be nice, but hardly practical since it would cause a headache for the taxation department – a department that would eventually find a way to make up the difference from some other way of taxing you.

Onto the Health Care Premium.

Has Mr. Hudak said he would do away with those?

Nope. In fact, he’s said – very quietly and far away from voters waving little blue flags – that he will keep those in place because they do what I said they did a few paragraphs upwards from this one.

At the end of the day, the only one of those three Evil Taxes that Mr. Hudak and the PCs could tamper with in any meaningful way – and the meaning wouldn’t be necessarily good – would be the Eco-Tax.

However, as I hopefully made it clear up above, that would simply be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul – letting you off the hook at the point of purchase and then raising your personal taxes to maintain funding for the recycling facilities for your disposable iPods, Blackberries, flat screen televisions, and laptops… and to also pay for the water purification plants that remove the chemicals you put down the drain every day.

Outside of he Evil Tax Trifecta, Hudak doesn’t have a platform.

Healthcare? It can be argued that Ontario’s health care system is in the best shape it’s ever been in.

Yes… there are still crowded emergency rooms at hospitals across the province, but the wait times are getting better on the whole – especially for surgeries that can change people’s lives… or let them continue their lives as whole persons.

A few years ago, I was in serious bicycle accident and I snapped my leg in three places – something that would have been seriously debilitating in decades and centuries past…. even so bad that amputation would have been considered in more primitive times.

Guess what? The accident happened just after 1 o’clock in the afternoon… and I was in surgery to have a titanium rod permanently inserted down the middle of my tibia with attending screws and other hardware required to regain structural integrity – allowing me to walk on it again within several months – at 6 o’clock in the evening on the very same day.

So, I went from mangled to mostly fixed in five hours… and I didn’t have to pay a single cent – not even for the ambulance ride.

No… our healthcare system may not be perfect, but it’s still pretty damn amazing when you consider how much it has to struggle when it comes to finances.

The Progressive Conservatives, during their last stint as the province’s controls had taken a slash n’ burn approach to healthcare – firing doctors and nurses, and closing nearly twenty hospitals across the province… which caused such systemic damage that Ontario’s healthcare system was amongst the worst in the country, and it’s only now (2011) that it’s gotten back to the top.

Hudak & Pals don’t have any where to go with education, either.

The Liberals under Dalton McGuinty have made some radical improvements to public education in Ontario.

More students are sticking it out all the way through high school, graduating with marks that they can be proud of.

Smaller class sizes have helped students get the attention they need from their teachers, which means they get the help they need if they need it – either in that same classroom, or in more specialized learning environments.

The biggest change, of course, was the implementation of full-day kindergarten for all youngsters – which had two effects: the first being that children started experiencing a constructive learning environment sooner than most other children in North America… and it eased the financial burdens of working families that would have otherwise had to pay for daycare or babysitting services.

There’s very little to complain about when it comes to Ontario’s public schools.

In fact, there’s very little for Ontarians to complain about on the whole as the province simply works.

Compared to the Mike Harris years – an era where nearly every public sector union in Ontario was on strike – that Tim Hudak clearly yearns for deeply, Ontario is firmly planted in the Garden Of Prosperity.

Yes… there are many people across the province who are out of work because of the current global financial climate that isn’t particular to Ontario.

However, there are many people who’ve either regained or retained their employment because of programs that the current Liberal government forced into being with their majority… programs that cost many billions of dollars, but had very clear and tangible results.

Sure – the bailing out of General Motors and Chrysler (now owned by Fiat) was a popularly unpopular move… but it kept those two massive companies who employed thousands of Ontarians (either directly or through companies G.M. and Chrysler depended on to build their cars and trucks) alive.

The manufacturing sector in Ontario – and the world at large – has taken a beating as money becomes tight for consumers.

Companies that face certain peril if they don’t downsize their workforce have no choice to let employees go… and this is not the fault of the Ontario government.

It’s the fault of American banks and financial institutions who squandered and pissed away more than a trillion dollars in crooked investments and other equally worthless endeavors – actions that had a ripple effect across the entire world of stock exchanges and investment banking from New York to Tokyo.

The current hard financial times facing Ontario are not something that was caused in Ontario, and is most definitely not the fault of the McGuinty Liberals.

However, Tim Hudak has done his best to blame Dalton McGuinty for it… and in the end, the blame hasn’t stuck.

Maybe because the average Ontario voter is smarter than that… and I would really hope that’s the case.

However, I think the Ontarian electorate is sticking with the Liberals because Ontario is in a better place than a lot of jurisdictions in North America – and even the world.

Dalton McGuinty goes on television and shows you all the  good things the Liberals have done over the time they’ve been in charge – most of which I’ve discussed here.

…And Tim Hudak challenges McGuinty and Horwath to a BBQ cook-off.

If that wasn’t a sign of non-existent political platform, I really don’t know what is.

No, Timmy.

No you can’t.

The Canadian Crossroads

So… here we are in 2011, and us Canadians are faced with a dilemma that couldn’t have been foreseen even 3 months ago.

Great swaths of Liberal voters – who had never even thought it possible – are heading to the polls in the early summer heat of May… ready to vote for more Stephen Harper.

How the hell did this happen?

Where did the Liberal party go so wrong that those who had vowed to die fighting the Blue Meanies would willingly put an ‘X’ next to the name of their local Conservative candidate – desperately trying not to vomit while doing so?

In a word? Iggy.

Michael Ignatieff has turned out to be a blunder of almost Biblical proportions… a goddamn Greek tragedy in motion.

You see… the Liberal body of voters (especially the card-carrying party members that attended the last Grit leadership convention) were duped into thinking Iggy was the next Great White Hope – someone who could embody the intellect and flare of great Prime Ministers of times past, and to be more specific, Pierre Trudeau.

On paper, Ignatieff had a lot going for him: international experience, academic fortitude, and lots of time doing public speaking engagements – which are all good ingredients when you want to promote yourself as being the central figure of Canadian politics.

However, the Iggy Experiment has failed.

Despite endless opportunities provided by the Harper Regime, and chances to interact directly with the Canadian people through much ballyhooed Liberal Express road trips, Michael Ignatieff has never come across as anything other than a stiff, awkward presence that seemed more apt to be a university professor than a man who would be king.

Worst of all to the Liberal faithful – and much to the delight of Conservative election engineers – Iggy has settled into a routine filled with arbitrary whining, pompous airbaggery, and snide opportunism… none of which are pleasant to behold and all are contrary to endearing yourself to a Canadian public who are just getting used to more prominent place in the global community after years of mismanagement by previous Harper rosters.

As much as the recent recession sucked for the world’s citizens on the whole, the economic meltdown played exactly to the Conservative’s business acumen: spend yourself out of it wisely (by surging money to public infrastructure projects that both put people to work and took financial stresses off municipalities), and then make Canada a very attractive place to set up your business by lowering corporate taxes to a rate that’s extremely appetizing when compared to other jurisdictions.

Also, the governmental officials that were responsible made sure they kept their hands firmly on the rudder… steering our economy in the opposite direction of many of our G8 neighbors who ended up drowning in boiling red ink.

The final part of the public’s redefinition of Conservative cronies is that Harper & Co. have been much more reactive to the concerns of the electorate: intervening in headline-making business deals like the Potash debacle… enabling Canadians to have more choice in the cellphone market by allowing Wind Mobile to set up shop in spite of questionable ownership… and taking the CRTC on directly over the ‘usage based billing’ decision that would have drastically altered the Canadian internet experience for the worse.

All of these things look very good for Harper & Co. when you string them together… portraying them as people who care about Canadian national identity issues, and what we feel like as citizens that are being raped at every juncture by money-hungry corporations that could honestly not care less about us.

Yes, it’s true that the Conservative Party Of Canada feels entitled to do whatever the hell it likes – regardless of rules, regulations, and political mandates.

If the Harper government doesn’t fall on the 2011 Budget text alone, it definitely will fall on the current Contempt Of Parliament issue that it can not shake… because, honestly, the opposition parties are practically foaming at the mouth in their hurry to throw an election party – even as non-governmental polling suggests that the Conservatives could possibly squeak by into majority-rule territory.

Why Iggy and Layton are so eager to get egg in the face is beyond me.

Well, maybe I can understand Jack Layton’s view: the floundering Liberals could mean a bolstering of NDP seats come the May election since they could position themselves as the least whiny alternative – providing that Layton can shake his socialist image (and it wouldn’t take the greatest Photoshop artist to manipulate Layton’s head back and forth with Lenin’s).

Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois never really need a reason to support a federal election as they’re Canada’s more civilized answer to the IRA (minus the bombings of course – at least not in 30 or 40 years) and whose sole function is to break apart federalism at the seams so Quebec can go it’s own way to whatever future they’re deluded into thinking exists.

But… this all rolls back to Iggy.

He’s the one who aches to be the guy standing before the world leaders gathered at the United Nations… to be the Prime Minister who puts the gallery to sleep by finding 1,000 ways to iterate how civilized Canadians are (it’s true – not saying otherwise), and how we disagree with violence and want to give half our clothes to strangers on the streets.

Sure, Iggy, those are all nice things to say about us… and we wish somebody who had actual lectern presence could get up and reaffirm our place in the world… but that’s not and never will be you.

We’ve all had time to watch you flop around, flailing at just about any issue you think you might be able to get some traction on – going on long-winded diatribes about things that, in all honesty, aren’t on the average Canadian citizen’s radar.

In fact, the biggest issue that Michael Ignatieff has been able to attach himself to is the future purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – which is somewhat an issue due to the $16,000,000,000 – $30,000,000,000 price tag – to replace our 30-year-old batch of CF-18 fighters that are starting to fall out of the sky for no particular reason other than they’re quickly reaching their Best Before dates.

To counter any argument that the Liberals might make on the F-35 purchase program, let me put forward two things:

1. The F-35 Lightning II is the most technologically advanced fighter available to the open market i.e. not limited to purchase by the U.S. military like the F-22 Raptor – and is designed for multiple roles in the combat and patrol missions that our Armed Forces take on (please see current mission over Libya, or semi-frequent intercepts of Russian bombers that test our defenses periodically).

2. The last time the Liberals canceled a military aviation purchase, it took nearly 20 years to find another suitable aircraft: in fact, the replacement of  50-year-old Sea King helicopters aboard our navy ships is still ongoing – leaving Canadian sailor-aviators at the mercy of 700 worn-thin spare parts flying in unison. WE DO NOT HAVE 20 YEARS TO REPLACE THE CF-18.

In the end, the Liberal election platform is going to be based on the notion that we’re sick and tired of paying so much money to the government in taxes when Big Business pays so little.

It would be a good platform in the 80’s or 90’s – maybe even in the 2000’s – but this is more and more a society that deals with information in a point-blank fashion: the internet and other forms of media has made the average Canadian more insightful (you’re reading a blog after all) as to what is working and not working from coast to coast.

And, right now, we’re all very aware of basic facts: our dollar is strong enough to top the mighty U.S. greenback… our banking system is the healthiest among all G8 (maybe even G20) nations… our employers are healthy enough to generate jobs at a rate higher than our southern neighbors… and however cynical it may be by design, our federal government seems to be interested in helping us in the face of Big Business.

Those things are all tangible indications of progress (but not of progressiveness, naturally – they are Conservatives) that has made our lives a bit better when compared to peoples in other countries, and even to ourselves when compared to a few years ago.

I fear that we as Canadians have no other option than to give Harper & Co. another mandate since they are doing what’s in our overall best interests… while overlooking their institutional inclination to be dicks.

The best we can hope for is another minority government that will be held in check by the Opposition – an Opposition that will finally wise up and take care of their Iggy problem after a trouncing.

So… sit back for the next 45 days or so and watch the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP duke it out over our airwaves in endless TV attack ads and televised debates.

It should at least be entertaining.

Me?

I might actually vote Green… as I can’t stand the local Conservative candidate.

And now… a word on Usage Based Billing.

Let’s get something out of the way first, shall we?

Internet service is NOT like a utility service such as electricity or natural gas – and therefore can not be billed in the same fashion, nor should it be.

When your local utility service provider runs a meter on your electricity consumption or how much natural gas you use to heat your home, they do that for a very specific reason: it’s costs money to generate that electricity via power dams, windmill farms, solar power arrays, etcetera… and it costs money to develop that natural gas from the sources deep in the earth – you have to pay people to run the drills, process the elements, sail the natural gas tankers, or build the pipelines.

Now… I’m not saying that it doesn’t cost money to string wires and buy network switches – but in no way, shape, or form does it cost anything near what it costs to develop utility services.

In Canada, the largest internet service providers are trying to implement a “usage based billing” scheme upon their subscribers in the same way that you’d be billed for leaving your lights on at home all the time – except with the difference being that you’d have a flat rate up to a certain gigabyte level that you’ve agreed to in a package deal… and then, when you’ve passed that level – let’s say 60 gigabytes, you’d have to pay a steep overage charge of between $1 and $5 per GB.

The things that you should keep in mind going forward is that – according to network specialists that don’t represent Bell, Rogers, or Shaw – it costs anywhere between 0.0013 and 1.15 cents to send one gigabyte of data through Canada’s internet infrastructure – which is nowhere near the 100% to 500% markup that the large ISPs are demanding.

These ISPs had hoodwinked the Canadian Radio And Telecommunications Commission (the equivalent of the F.C.C. in the United States Of America) into agreeing to allowing these companies to charge their own customers these exorbitant fees PLUS forcing independent internet service providers (who purchase their internet backbone access wholesale from Bell Canada et al) to pass on UBB charges to their own customers as of the beginning of March 2011.

This would, in effect, remove all of the unlimited internet use packages available to subscribers of the smaller ISPs – which was, and has always been their major advantage in attracting internet customers away from the major ISPs who tend to offer firmly defined data caps (60GB, 125GB, 200GB, etc.).

By forcing the little guys to bill the same way that the big guys do, the CRTC had completely leveled the playing field – save for those few independent ISPs who had their own internet equipment that did not rely on Bell.

In Bell’s own words as they appeared before the government panel investigating UBB on February 10th, 2011: “…it (UBB) prevents them (independent ISPs) from differentiating their offers from our own.”

Gone would be the all you can eat internet buffet for $50… which an independent ISP could offer to attract new customers, which I’m sure pissed Bell Canada and it’s corporate allies off to no end because their corporate culture was based around screwing their customers any way they could through oppressive overage schemes.

In today’s world of ever-growing data bandwidth, a gigabyte doesn’t go as far as it did in days gone by… even in as little as five years ago.

In 2011, internet users have so many choices available to them online that are fairly data intensive: YouTube, Flickr, streaming Quicktime, Steam, and services like Netflix.

Even those people who like to haunt Facebook and Twitter are pulling down large chunks of data when playing Farmville or watching videos of their nephew’s little league game.

Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Shaw Media, and the other large ISPs are entitled to make money… nobody is suggesting that they should give away internet service for free.

What has caused nearly half a million people to sign a petition, and what most people would agree to when asked on the street, is that the large ISPs should collect fees that reflect the actual costs of doing business – to have their billing practices be strongly rooted in reality.

Yes… there are an increasing number of Canadians using more than 200GB a month, but the problem is that Bell Canada and it’s friends don’t want to spend the money necessary to bolster their national infrastructure to accommodate this rising tide – and instead of doing the logical thing (building new and better data transmission networks), they want to stifle those 200GB+ users though harsh tariffs.

This is purely greed – nothing else.

The UBB pressure is aimed at maximizing profit.

Profit is good, yes… but obscene amounts of profit is simply evil – and the Canadian public is beginning to rise up against this unparalleled cash grab that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the world.

In a word, it’s uncompetitive – but that makes it too simple.

There are so many businesses in the Canadian marketplace that depend on a reliable, uninterrupted, and unlimited internet for everyone.

Do you think that places like internet cafes could remain in business if they’re forced to pay for their customer’s overages? I mean… I’m sure that you can’t offer internet to everybody who walks through the door and not blaze past 200GB in a month with little effort.

How about your local municipal library? Quite a few of them offer free internet access to their patrons… but would that concept still be viable when the library is being charged $5 for every gigabyte?

Don’t kid yourself: city hall would put a quick stop to that in very short order.

However, the biggest problem with UBB from an internet business standpoint – at least for those businesses that aren’t Bell & Co. – is that the UBB policy unfairly discriminates against companies like Netflix and YouTube that rely on their customers/visitors to be able to consume all the data they can put in front of their eyeballs.

This comes in direct competition to Bell & Co.’s own Media On Demand services – which generally have less content available than Netflix-type services – and results in lost revenue for the large ISPs.

So, again, instead of spending money to bolster their Media On Demand services, they want to quash those of you out their who would go to Netflix as a superior alternative by raping your wallets and bank accounts – forcing you to consume their paltry wares instead.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen such a clear-cut conflict of interest… such a blatant anti-competitive attack on consumers who dare to use anyone but the large ISPs and their various media holdings (CTV, Global Television, etc.).

Interestingly, the UBB provisions that the CRTC gave the okay to, are now in limbo as the federal government had told the CRTC to reconsider or be overruled point blank at the legislative level.

I say interesting because the Conservative Party Of Canada – the current party in power – is very, very friendly with Big Business.

To take a stand against the Big ISP lobby is contrary to party beliefs, and can only be interpreted as being responsive to public uproar – and a deft move to head off the opposition parties from gaining a political foothold that’s rooted in popular unrest.

Yes… it may be snide electioneering, but for the time being, the Government Of Canada is on the side of their electorate instead of giving away everything to Big Business.

How long this lasts is anyone’s guess… but I’d wager it will last as long as the Conservatives winning the next federal election – which is going to be sooner than later, after which time they won’t feel as threatened by the average Canadian citizen who uses the internet.

So, for now, do your part in trying to prevent Big ISPs from getting away with murder.

How?

Write a letter to your local MP… write a letter to your local newspaper’s editor… make a video about your views and post it on YouTube… call into a local radio show and tell them – and all the listeners – how you feel about the large ISPs trying to sodomize your cash flow.

Or… simply visit www.openmedia.ca and take advantage of their resources.

But, don’t take my word for it.

Go online – while you can afford it – and see what the average Canadian internet user thinks of UBB.

Newsflash: You’re Fat Because…

…you’ve made certain choices in your life.

Now, before I go on here, I’m going to exclude all those of you out there who have legitimate medical reasons for being overweight from the following discussion – there’s no reason to feel bad about your body if there’s nothing you could/can do to stop your [insert malfunctioning body part here] from making you extra-large.

Everyone else… well, you’re exactly who I’m talking to.

When you wake up every morning and look yourself in the mirror, do you loathe what you see because your body is statistically extra-large?

Guess what got you there?

You don’t know? Or, do you think you do know?

As a blogger that is always trying to be helpful, I will explain to you why you’re fat in terms that I hope you understand – but it’s going to take a very healthy dose of reality checking and honesty with yourself.

Also, this blog is somewhat aimed also at the Sally DoGooders who live in the proverbial land of milk and honey – the United States Of America – who are taking it upon themselves to sue every purveyor of delicious food in the public retail spaces of malls, plazas, and corner shops all across the land.

First, let me get straight to the facts of the matter… the complete and total truth, no matter who might want to argue:

1. McDonald’s hasn’t made one single human on this planet fat.

2. Burger King isn’t responsible for making your neighbor chubby.

3. Wendy’s had no part making that guy at work rotund around his middle section.

4. Hostess – the maker of the venerable Twinkie – can not be held accountable for shut-in video gamers being so big that they have to wear a muumuu around the house.

5. Little Debbie is not at fault for your Type II diabetes.

6. Neither Coca-Cola or Pepsi (and their Frito Lay snacks division) is on the hook for your massive stored energy deposits.

7. Hershey’s is not answerable for your pudgy fingers.

8. And finally, the local movie theater is not to blame for your adding a melted stick of butter to your popcorn.

Wait… how can that be?

You hear every day on the news that So And So is suing these companies for making people fat… so surely there is some merit to what they’re paying public interest law firms to make a case for… right?

No.

Not a single claim by these people can be born out in a court of law without the court itself being corrupted by social shortsightedness.

See this guy here?

Fat dude eating junk.

Not a single corporate employee or company policy is responsible for him being a fat tub of lard – and let’s be honest: he most likely doesn’t have a thyroid issue.

Nope… he’s fat because of what he’s doing in the photo i.e. stuffing his face with food that has very little (or completely zero) nutritional benefit.

As much as society would seek an easy scapegoat for it’s rising number of obesity cases, there is not a single person to blame but himself.

Look at that photo very carefully.

Do you see anybody forcing him to chow down on that massive burger? Is there a representative from The Burger Shack holding his family at gunpoint, promising him that they’ll be released without harm as soon as he consumes all those fats and carbs?

No.

Chubby McFatass there is using his own, God-given free will to consume that sandwich.

So tell me – please – why The Burger Shack, McDonald’s, or Little Debbie should be held accountable for the choices that YOU make?

Yes… the retailers make products that you feel compelled to eat – either for their taste or their affordability or both – whenever hunger strikes you, but in no way are you mandated by law to consume their wares.

You, the consumer, have every bit as much power to consume a bowl of fruit salad as you do eat a box of Chicken McNuggets and a side of delicious McDonald’s french fries.

The fact that you opt for the Mickey’s fare is completely on you.

Television advertising makes you eat it? Hmmm…. okay – let’s look at that.

Pundits would say that the commercials you see on TV up to 100x a day have brainwashed you into being constantly wanting fast food or the kind of junk offerings you find at the neighborhood convenience store.

I suppose this could be held out to be true… if there wasn’t a whole lot of other crap on TV that’s being marketed directly to you that you blissfully ignore: how many of you out there order everything you see in infomercials?

Raise your hand if you’ve compulsively ordered the Snuggie For Pets? C’mon… it’s only $9.99! Who can resist that kind of deal?

Or… how many of you ran out and bought that Head On headache reliever? You know… the stuff you apply directly to the forehead?

I’m going to wager not a lot of you did either of those things because you were smart enough to realize the products were pure crap – choosing not to waste money and hurt your pocketbook by being stupid.

Yet… you CHOOSE to eat vast amounts of fast food that you know are pure crap and are going to hurt your body in the long run.

Why is there such a disconnect between choice and result?

There is nothing simpler than what’s going on here: it’s cause and effect – one of the most basic scientific concepts.

You do one thing and you get the predicted effect – in this case, you stuff an entire 12-inch pizza in your face in a single sitting which causes the effect of you gaining a few pounds.

Of course, this is assuming you’re not a professional athlete like Michael Phelps that consumes massive amounts of calories to fuel their workout routine.

Which is the backside to this issue: your buttocks take up two seats on the airplane because you refuse to do to the physical exercise required to burn off all of those calories you consume.

You’re choosing in your life to eat a Double Big Mac, large fries, large Coke, and two apple pies – without also choosing to engage in the physical exertion necessary to scrub all of those calories and saturated fats out of your system… which leaves your body no choice at all but to store those things as fat around your middle/butt/legs/arms/neck/chin.

Sure, there are pharmaceutical alternatives to exercise… substances that will make your body burn calories at an accelerated rate, but they are no substitute for using your own muscles to naturally do what that pill does nowhere as efficiently.

And yes… there are radical surgical procedures to physically limit how much food you can eat.

But why?

Why take these pills? Why go under the surgeon’s knife?

When you can simply CHOOSE to not eat these things in such great amounts that you become the size of a small Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon?

Society needs to give it’s collective head a shake and stop trying to blame others for our choices in life.

You can not sue Burger King for your own laziness.

The fat guy you see mowing his lawn – wearing shorts and a wife beater tank top – can’t seek damages from Dairy Queen because he can’t be bothered to get on an exercise bike.

In closing, let me make this abundantly clear, in case you are still confused:

Nobody other than you can blamed.

So stop trying to take kid’s Happy Meal toys away because you think they’re what cause childhood obesity – it’s the parent’s choice to buy them the little box of fats and carbs and then let the child sit around the house all day playing video games instead of running around outside for 20 minutes.

Take some fucking responsibility for your actions in life, and leave people alone who are trying to make an honest buck.

Dear Fast Food Retailers: An Open Letter

How are you?

Everything good? Money’s okay and everything?

Great to hear it.

Your fiscal health is very important to us… your valued customers.

Remember us? How we give you money for food and the occasional toy/promotional item?

You know why we do that?

There are three reasons why we go to you and buy Big Macs by the billions – or millions and millions of Whoppers – and the golden brown french fries that go with them… oh and the drinks, pies, shakes, sundaes, or whatever the hell else we want in our meals.

Reason Number One: Your food tastes good… and you know that.

Every food item on your menu is designed, engineered, focus grouped, and test marketed solidly until you’re completely sure about that product’s cost vs. income future. (Well, Arch Deluxe and McPizzas aside).

Reason Number Two: It’s convenient.

Sometimes we’re just too busy with our lives to go all the way home and cook up a meal, or we’re just too lazy, or we feel like treating ourselves to a cooking-free meal, or any combination of the above.

Reason Number Three: It’s food we can’t have at home.

Sure… any dumbass can go down to the grocery store and buy hamburger patties, buns, condiments, a bag of frozen french fries, and a bottle of Coke, and take them home to form the basis of a meal – but it’s not going to taste as good as your Big Mac, Whopper, Baconator, or Flamethrower Burger.

We just don’t have the resources and time it takes to formulate the right combination of ingredients, spices, and preservatives to match your delicious wares.

It would be incredibly easy for you, McDonald’s, to team up with a company like Con-Agra or McCain’s to release a frozen, take home version of your french fries and even charge a marginal premium over and above what you’d make selling the same fries in one of your franchise locations – but that would make the masses have less of a craving for your beef-tallowed and special salted offerings at the local Golden Arches.

Or maybe you, Pizza Hut, could team up with the Pillsbury Dough Boy or Nestle’s Delissio Division and devise a pizza that we could come home and toss in the oven?

Maybe the ghost of Colonel Saunders would haunt the product research department over at Kraft’s Shake N’ Bake division?

No… no… no.

These things won’t happen because you want to protect your point of sale… controlled by ill-educated high school girls at computerized checkout terminals so that we have greater options, especially enforced by “Do you want fries with that?”

We as the fast food consuming public never begrudge you this… as you can tell by every purchase of an $8 ‘value’ meal.

Even when you spread out into such ‘healthy choice’ options as chicken salads and low-carb wraps – ostensibly to care for our well-being, and we’re touched that you care about us so deeply.

However…

We have to draw the line at oatmeal.

Yes… you read that correctly: oatmeal.

Stuff we have zero problem obtaining in our daily lives.

Most of us have a half-used box of Quaker Instant Oatmeal in a cupboard somewhere, our a bag of Quick Oats that can be thrown in a pot on the stove if we’re feeling so industrious as to slow cook our breakfast.

Some of us might actually like Cream Of Wheat as well… but don’t get the idea that we’ll pay for that gruel.

We honestly want to know where you get off trying to sell to us for three dollars that we can have at home for something like thirty-five cents per single-serve portion?

You put berries or other fruit in it?

Oh my goodness! Where, oh where could we get these berries and other fruits?!?!

Surely there is no other store in our neighborhood that would sell us these things in bulk… so where else could we get oatmeal with fruit in it other than the Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s just a short drive from our homes?

Why… you’ve surely developed a product that can’t be matched!

***sigh***

Honestly… what the hell are you thinking?

It’s oatmeal.

Plain, ordinary, run of the milled oats OATMEAL.

The only way that this makes sense is that the oatmeal itself is ridiculously cheap, and so easily prepared in factory machines that the profit margins are high enough to justify it’s niche status on your breakfast menu.

Who is the customer you’re marketing oatmeal at?

Old people? Rushed business types? Health Hippies? Ironic hipsters?

Your bread and butter customers want NOTHING to do with something so completely ordinary and lowly as oatmeal.

Let me repeat this unless you weren’t paying attention earlier: we can go home and have oatmeal… that we bought at a store… put in a microwave… in our home.

Please, for the love of whatever gods you believe in, stop sullying yourself in attempts to both make money and pander to whatever crowd you think is going to buy this crap.

It doesn’t suit you, Ronald… Timmy… and whomever else wants to follow suit.

We as your adoring fans expect more from you.

Now… with that said… pass the McMuffins/Crescent Sandwiches.

Yours truly,

The Public.