Whose neck have your boots been stompin'?
Whose funding did you steal I wonder?
|Alberta Advantage||Nov 7, 2019|
Halloween is behind us, the birds are…not chirping. I’m actually not sure where the birds went. Where do birds go when it gets cold? Geese go south but what about the rest of them? Were birds taken out of the budget? Birds are weird. Next time you see a bird, ask them if they can peck the eyes out of a few people in Edmonton. No names yet, find out if they can be trusted.
The budget is bad enough that the writing ideas vibrate, getting stuck in the door three abreast in one second to falling down in a catatonic heap in another. I'll pare down with my parenting-broken brain and talk about the only thing my hormones allow - babies.
Some might say that whipping the hammer of austerity at literal infants might be amoral. Some weaker humans might even say that, as the most vulnerable Albertans possible, babies and children should come before the soothing psychic nirvana that is a budget balance or, and I'm risking a change of pants here, a surplus. To those people our stained laundry bag of a premier has said hah, just watch me! The Alberta budget is stuck in the snowbank of mediocre Keynesianism, and minors will be the trunk-stored cat litter under the tires of our deliverance.
If the thought of the next generation of Albertans suffering because Calgary Sun subscribers think a Tax Wand can cast a Tax Spell that will increase the price of oil doesn't make you shit blood, allow me to irrigate you further. First out of the wings, swinging a folding chair into the audience to "The Stroke", is the aging legend, the Public-Private Partnership! Sure, Alberta kids are currently taking classes in hallways and teachers are gamely spinning this as "alternative learning environments", but what we need to fix it is shareholders expecting profit growth from math classes! It's a wonder the public sector builds schools at all, what with the outsize efficiency of the private sector covering buildings in Grenfell-cosplay and borrowing funds from their own parent company (probably). Holy shit those are good ideas, I should apply for a job. The chief taxpayer protector has logged on.
Luckily, with a P3 in the mix, parents of Alberta can sleep soundly knowing that their kid being anchovied into a portable with 40 other losers will result in a modest five cent increase in dividend yield for fucking Lafarge or some shit. They'll hire non-union labour wherever possible, charge the boards $5 per roll of single ply sandpaper in the restrooms, and store aerosol asbestos in the gym basement for clients with containment needs. Alberta might slide in key education metrics, but wait until you see these strong revenue indicators! Please take this particulate mask and continue to home economics.
Of course we can't build Facebook Memorial High School without eviscerating school board budgets! When I was in grade six, a kid was given a week suspension for putting a classroom pen into his backpack because the pen had to be purchased out of my teacher's salary. If we can't get back to that kind of economic strength, how can Alberta compete in the global market of dogshit education? It's a race to the bottom and we owe it to our kids, our future, to win that race.
It's always a good sign when trustees and superintendents get up behind a podium and start talking like an elected socialist president warning his people that the CIA has given some splinter general a neutron bomb in exchange for some magic beans. Their faces are ashen but the vein in their forehead is tapping out Morse code that roughly screams "you fuckers voted for this and you'll still call my cell when your shithead kid cries about polynomials". It's honestly amazing that not one public servant has finished their speech by cursing every Alberta voter and quitting on the spot. It would be my first inclination if I was handed such an incredible dysentery smoothie from the people whose kids I'm trying to educate and, in most cases, civilize because their boomer/Gen X vizier parents are too busy weeping to do any parenting while they go through their PVR queue of This Is Us.
But probably the most mind-numbing of the kid side of the budget - which ranks highly among document-mates so pants-on-head stupid you wonder if our government minsters are all afflicted with late-stage CTE - has to be the discontinuation of the $25-per-day childcare pilot program. While officially "under review", a government who skims inflation off the top of AISH just to fuck with people can't imbue innuendo with any believability. That shit is dead as disco, and the pilot locations for the subsidy have been doubling their prices to normal in advance of the grant's end since mid-summer. It remains the strangest hypocrisy of social conservatism to venerate the family and kneecap every aspect of “the family” they find appealing. The nuclear family with a man at the head, a woman at home, allowing the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish, the ownership of your labour and - in true scum circles - the beating back of the Great Replacement with old stock reproduction. Almost as if their values are are a thin veneer!
But set aside the marketing of corporatism through loose Christian values, it's bonkers because we know that cheap childcare shovels more money into the craws of both government and businesses. CityLab has Quebec government flacks on record saying cheap daycare was so successful as to outstrip the costs multiple times over, pushing the program into profitability. So much income tax is coming in from, um, enabling half the fucking population to take part in the workforce the program is paying for itself and then some. It’s impossible to know the economics, pay your daycare bill, and not want to put every Chicago school psychopath in a choke-hold until they sing Woody Guthrie.
The UCP got the okay from the voters to promptly shoot some kids in the face, and the cruelty of the cuts are matched only but the sheer stupidity of every measure. When the PCs were in power it felt as if they could tie almost every austerity measure to a flavour of Christian conservative bullshit, like a stock they braised the red meat they threw to their base. Everyone was doing it, whether you helped bomb Baghdad or not. The UCP, it seems, has caught up with modernity and seasons their bullshit with the latest in pure nihilist umami. Your life can't be easier because fuck you. We also hate revenue, and our only goal is to make it so a shareholder gets a taste of every penny you spend. I am actively sacrificing a goat to the ghost of Ronald Reagan right now, I’m on a Bluetooth headset, I’m multitasking. I hope the graphic designer for the party knows Latin, because I suspect they'll be adding a translation of "eat shit and die" to the logo any day now.
⛳Alberta has a startling number of Confederate flags. On cars mostly, but at least one person in Montgomery flew that shit on a flagpole near Shouldice for years. If you’re in the American South people might expect you to have crypto-racist views about state’s rights (to own people), but this far north? My friend, you just hate brown people and everybody knows it. To that end, the CBC found that kids here get bullied and assaulted at school more than average, in contrast to a school board investigation that patted itself on the back for keeping bullying in check. In Calgary about 11,000 people voted for the PPC so that’s not too surprising.
👋Jason Kenney gave Encana a $55 million tax cut and now they’re relocating to the United States of America.
🌞In a rare good ANDP policy, they capped energy prices and paid the difference during peak price periods, a direct transfer of wealth to Albertans who struggle with high power prices. In a direct fuck you to those same people, the UCP have decided you will be paying whatever Enmax says you should from now on. The inability of left parties to describe this shit as a tax is embarrassing.
🏬These guys are technically tenants (good) who were sold a false bill of goods by landlords (bad) but also as owners are landlords themselves (bad) and also are small business owners (bad). This is all to say that building a shopping mall on farmland outside of a dying city is a bad idea.
🦵Calgarians voted to kick themselves in the dick and, fellas, the dick kicking has arrived.
🧙Large rental companies are using AirBNB to run a nationwide scam. As a complete aside, Rachel Notley’s former Chief of Staff — and former NDP national director — Nathan Rotman now works public policy for Airbnb.
🏚️Canadian treatment of reserve residents now has an international reputation for shittiness.
👎Prison is bad and nobody should be in prison. On the other hand, anti-vax parents who attempt to create legal precedent should be in prison.
👨Turns out there might be some sort of secret pathology to Alberta separatism/Wexit bullshit. Is that…a hatred of people with brown skin I smell? BAH GAWD THAT’S WHITE SUPREMACY’S MUSIC!
💵Some rich Canadians are begging for higher taxes.
📷Most people take and share nude photographs of themselves, and we better make a democracy/other that can deal with that fact or sex criminals will hold any representative bodies in thrall (to say nothing of primarily male).
👙Spring break is class warfare.
🦖Fossil capital is not about meeting some kind of nebulous ‘demand’ for their product, but rather about creating patterns of consumption.
🔫Our public services are under attack. Militancy and solidarity are the only way we have to win this fight.
📰Once the local media is a gone, there’s a bit of a void. That’s a problem.
👟The market is wise, and its Plan is the way forward for the People. The market will always innovate. Trust the market. Feel the market. Become one…with the market. The market is love.
🙊The Keystone pipeline has spilled more than 350,000 galleons of oil in North Dakota. Funnily enough, this is exactly what Indigenous water defenders said would happen if pipeline construction continued! Imagine the odds.
👛The number of Canadians making minimum wage has doubled since 1988.
🦴Do not look at the dead body. Do not talk about the dead body. That is not a dead body. That employee is resting. We have a robust rest policy. Do not rest like that worker. There is no resting worker.
💳47% of Canadians cannot cover basic living expenses without taking on debt. I never finished my economics degree but this seems, uh, incredibly bad.
🩺I always imagined the future would include some sort of debtor’s prison resurgence, especially with the proliferation of cheap prison labour. I didn’t think the future had arrived.
⚾RIP Deadspin. You were a good website.
🐃Organized care workers in Wood Buffalo used direct action to halve the amount of jobs management wanted to eliminate.
📹Our friends at Climate Justice Edmonton made a fantastic explainer video on the neoliberal hellscape this budget is about to unleash.
✈️After a good number of their employees unionized WestJet enjoyed the second most profitable quarter in their history. It just sucks to see good companies waylaid by the demands of organized labour.
🗳️Jagmeet is good. Jagmeet might need to go.
🖐️When we call each other comrade, we change the world.
👊American gender theorist Judith Butler wrote the most satisfying and delightful evisceration of Bari Weiss’s new book on antisemitism. Get her ass, Judith.
💬Can’t go to jail if you’re afforded an address to the court that never ends.
🚂Nationalize everything. Nationalize Substack. Nationalize nationalization. Nationalize my pants.
💡How can unions build power in between strikes and moments of political upheaval?
🎥Fast forward about a year from today - sometime in the fall a Greta Thunberg documentary will have been released. It will document her world tour and the huge rallies, yes, but at one point it will have her interviewing Canadian band leaders while they talk about how shitty Canada is, actually, when it comes to climate change policy. This documentary will, barring incompetence, be nominated for an Oscar and will top charts on any platform it lands on (Netflix probably, knowing their love of dominating that Oscar category). Justin Trudeau et al will be widely called an ineffectual, lying, feckless band of triangulators for a world audience and you will be able to hear me laughing from here to Cape Breton.
⚔️Can Jason Kenney win a wage war with Alberta’s public sector workers? Fuck around and find out.
🎙️We’ve done two episodes since our last newsletter — first, a sober look at trade unions under social democracy, and second, we examine Alberta’s austerity budget and I almost burst into tears on air.
🤘Solidarity with striking teachers in Saanich.
📉CBC ran a show with Mark Blyth talking about global Trumpism, populism, and the 2008 financial meltdown.
🎧Progress Report aired a fully bonkers clip of Jason Kenney that roots his hatred of non-existent foreign radicals interfering in Alberta politics in colonialism and xenophobia. He should have stayed in university, he sounds like a right-wing SU president.
🔇Turns out the election, like the country, was racist as fuck.
🎚️Citations Needed did a show on how slinging the word “automation” lets capital off the hook for their crimes.
📽️The Canadian Labour Film Festival is having a movie night on November 20! I hope they screen The Incredibles so we can throw copies of The Fountainhead around.
⚔️On Thursday, Nov. 21, there will be a fight the cuts information picket at noon on the University of Calgary campus, in front of the MacEwan Student Centre.