A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Democracy

They understand there’s been an active, conscious, successful class war against them in the United States over the past several decades. As they say repeatedly, they are sick and tired of struggling to make ends meet while 1 per cent of the American population has 40 per cent of the nation’s wealth. Whilst it is not as clear here in Canada there is little doubt that such divisions not only exist but are indeed widening and that many folks are indeed 'struggling to make ends meet'. That the few are getting richer whilst the many are increasingly paying more to multinationals who control much of the basic necessity’s of modern life seems to be the theme that is emerging from the Occupy movement.

What has not emerged, at least not in any meaningful way, is the disproportionate influence that both the rich and the corporate world has upon our democracy. It is this influence that in no small way may well be the reason for the ever widening gap between the rich and the less affluent. After all does government 'consult' with the average Joe on the street or the independent business owner in small town Canada, do large political contributions come from the guy making minimum wage, or the fat cat to whom a large contribution to the party coffers will be but a miniscule percentage of their income.

It is my contention that the very rich be they individuals or corporations have a greater chance of effecting government policy and election results than the rest of us by their choice of party support and thus the funds available for blanket brainwashing via television advertising, and by greater access to those in power than most. The removal of the per vote 'subsidy' is, in my view, a deliberate move to further disenfranchise the lower income voter and enhance the support of those in the upper income brackets.
Given that, according to statscan (2009 figures), only around 5% of individuals make over $100,000 and around 50% of us make under $30,000 is it any wonder that so many folks are not happy with the influence that the upper crust has upon our daily lives.
One of the things that gets many some folk upset is the lack of reliable information on our economy, corporate profits and rising cost of goods. Statscan has many charts and numbers available however many long term records are only available on a pay for use basis (and its NOT a nominal fee but a considerable amount per download, in the hundreds of dollars for any amount of data), once again the average Joe is locked out due to income considerations.

Assuming you get the data it is then open to interpretation, let us take the available data on the consumer price index for instance, as it is on such things that the Occupy movement is in part focusing on.. According to statscan 2009 had a CPI of 116.5% over the past 7 years (2002 being the base year), we all know that the cost of living has gone up more than that over that period just by looking at our bills. From the same chart we see the following , food 123%, shelter 123%, transportation 118% (do you believe that last one, I dont), the point being that the figures that are spouted by those telling us how rosy it is are AVERAGES. A further look at the break down of food prices and we see poultry & dairy 130%, bread & cereal 138%, fats & oils 140%! The point being if you buy a lot of the items whose prices have risen dramatically or comprise a large part of your budget (gas, heating oil and insurance come to mind) and little of those whose prices have remained stable then such figures are meaningless and yet these are what we are told is how our economy is doing or what the AVERAGE wage is or what the cost of living is. Its all a shell game and without open data EASILY and FREELY available we cannot refute the political spin.

That may not be most folks view of a commentary on democracy but to me knowledge is the key to unlocking the door to change.

(For an eye opening series of charts on the U.S. Employment / Compensation / Income gap over the last several years do check out 'Here's What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About...”) , similar comparisons for the Canadian economy could not be found!
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