You don’t need to be Einstein to know that there is something very wrong with the world we live in. From socio-economic inequality to rampant climate change to reality television, it almost feels as if we, modern existers, are basking in blind disregard of the future. It’s easy enough to give underdeveloped nations a pass, especially when you consider that the vast majority of western ones have a lot of work to do. So, I’m going to keep this close to home and focus on North America.
In the US and Canada, the rights of the individual are valued over all-else. We have the right to vote, the apparent right to free expression, and the right to live in relative comfort compared to most places in Africa/Asia. However, these rights lose some of their value in that they are extended beyond the sensible and granted to the likes of corporations. Corporations that possess few qualities one would generally consider human; unless you were to look at them from a psychological perspective, in which case they would probably exhibit the characteristics of a sociopath. Rather than people, corporations are more like demigods with lower taxes.
We don’t have to look very far to see that these unelected overlords function with the utmost distaste for (wo)mankind, while benefitting from the protections that North Americans receive. For example, this holiday season, fully aware that they have damned many of their employees to a life of poverty despite profits in the hundreds of billions, Wal-Mart has started a food drive asking their low-paid employees to donate to their other low-paid employees. Not one to let ol’ Wal-ly embarrass himself alone, McDonald’s, while we’re lovin’ the free coffee, is advising their grease-stained minions to hold onto the gifts they receive and sell them as a measure to stay out of debt. Both of these examples prove that corporations have just as much leeway to be total assholes as individuals do.
“Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”
The obvious solution here, having states and provinces raise the minimum wage to ensure everyone makes the bare minimum to survive, is nowhere to be seen. This sustained inequality may be due to a fear that fair pay would cut into the bottom-line of our demigod cousins too much and they’d pull out of our countries faster than an over-excited teenager losing his virginity. But is this concern justified? It is exactly what Wal-Mart did when one of their stores in Quebec decided to unionize, but what if we they were forced to pay living wages everywhere in established nations?
Mega-corporations are going to profit regardless of what they pay their employees. Fair wages work for Costco and Publix and can work for others too. As with any great sea change, it’s just going to take someone with power to show some teeth, stop worrying about special interest groups and demonstrate concern for the general interests of the population.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Humourlessly enough, unjust employment standards are just the tip of the iceberg in our severely discombobulated first world. Even the Pope has come out to spread Catholic guilt onto capitalism as of late. Think about that for a second. The leader of what is quite possibly the most globally oppressive organization in recorded history, The Catholic Church, has a problem with what modern economics is doing to our humanity.
A study recently published in the journal Climatic Change found that two-thirds of man-made global warming was caused by just 90 companies, half of which occurred in the past 25 years. The significance of the study isn’t just in the extent of the research but the fact that it points out exactly who is responsible for the excess carbon emissions jeopardizing our environmental stability in the name of profit. This is not meant to shift the onus from any ‘reasonable’ country in their obligation to do everything possible to shift our over-reliance on coal and oil to sustainable forms of energy. Instead, the study points out which corporate executives (demigods) are likely responsible for the current, dire direction human beings have set the Earth upon. Apparently, it’s about two busloads worth.
If you are someone who is unclear or still skeptical as to what the big deal about global warming is, I’ve included a 4-minute video below for a brief education.
When it comes to environmental protection, Canada is the worst. Almost literally. We are listed as the 27th of 27 OECD nations in the category, and with good reason. Despite being a country replete with a bounty of natural resources in all forms, our government… excuse me, The Harper Government has absolutely no interest in preserving or protecting them. We withdrew from Kyoto in 2011, slashed $60 million from Environment Canada’s budget in 2012, continually increase oil production, make decisions about new energy projects based on the completely biased environmental assessments of the companies wishing to profit from them, and like to pretend that climate science doesn’t exist.
Canadian Environment Minister, Joe Oliver, went as far to appeal to the EU not to impose additional tariffs on crude tar sands oil last month. He essentially stated that standard crude is also harmful to the environment. As most who have read more than a paragraph on the subject can tell you, the major problem with Tar Sands oil is that it is known to cause 20% more greenhouse gas emissions in its extraction process. Part of Joey’s speech included “Canada supports the EU Commission’s objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions for transportation fuels but believes it must be based on science and facts…” Have I mentioned that his government doesn’t believe in science or facts?
So, here we are. The developed world isn’t developed enough to know what’s good for itself and… Hang on, this just in: Canada let the US spy on G8 and G20 nations when their summits were held in Toronto back in 2010. This is in addition to recent revelations that Canada was spying on Brazil because new oil was found there that could serve as competition to our own. We are also spying on environmental organizations and activists who pose no threat to national security. This is a country where we share information with corporate demigods like Enbridge and shut the public out of having any say on projects that affect their communities. This is a government that we probably legitimately elected, despite a Robocalls conspiracy where automated robots directed non-conservative voters to the wrong polling stations.
No wonder Russell Brand doesn’t vote!
Say what you want about Mr. Brand, he surely still seems like a drug-addict and kind of comes off as having a skewed-existential perspective in other interviews, but he’s right. Humanity needs a revolution.
Matt Damon agrees…
With all of this information, all of this passion pushing us in the right direction, why is it that people still don’t seem like they want to change? Why is it that the same five friends are always inviting me to public protests on Facebook? Why do I almost never go even when I agree with the cause?
The real conspiracy in all of this (and the plethora of other man-made wrongdoings in the established world) is that we, the people, are complacent. We’re damned-near complicit even. The world is a growing catastrophe and with all the tools and technology available to us, we still don’t care enough. Sure, online petitions and social sharing are creating a world where we can express our opinion publicly while sitting on our asses, but it is not enough.
Why is it that one inappropriate $90 thousand dollar cheque to a Senator is what might bring down the Harper Regime in Canada and not any of the above? Is there any particular reason we allow ourselves to be manipulated to the point where we know the world’s climate will shift drastically in less than 30 years unless we do something about it, and we’re still buying SUVs? How do middle-class people justify giving Wal-Mart any money?
The answer is simple: It’s easier to think we care than to show it. It’s also easier to digest what’s spoon-fed to us by mainstream media as opposed to scrounging for morsels of a reality that may end up being much harder to swallow. We are given the power, en masse, to choose our various levels of government, but we continually rely on our gut instincts to guide us over reason. Coincidentally, as voters our guts tend to lean toward people who use the term “lower taxes”. It’s a shame, but the majority of Canadian voters have decided against making their decisions by utilizing our base-abilities to seek out information and read it. We’ve totally forgotten that we were educated for a reason. Not just to help ourselves succeed, but to make the world a better place by using our minds to make good decisions based on knowledge and compassion.
Odds are that your grade three teacher is very disappointed in you right now.