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Beiber & Ford To Lead Peace Mission to Ukraine

bukowskiAre you a Beleiber? Perhaps a member of Ford Nation?

If  you’re a first timer to ANDSHELAUGHS, it may take you a while to get to the point I’m making.

It may take you an awfully long time indeed my dears, but why don’t you, just for the heck of it, pour yourself a little jigger of Beiber’s reported fave cough syrup concoction, or get a big whiff of crack if you prefer Rob Ford’s poison. After all; monkey-see, monkey-do.

For my regular readers, dive into your coffee, bourbon or bubbly and settle in for a Sunday afternoon re-cap of what made very small headlines this weekend.

That’s it darlings, get cozy.

Being this far into the countdown to the Olympics, we’ve all had a little taste of the skimming-the-top-of-what-it’s-like-to-live-in-homophobic-black-market-Russia. The news business knows that we like a little scandal to go along with the glory of the Olympics.

You know, the once-every-four-year-event that brings the best of amateur athletes to the world stage. Pssst…dont’ tell the NHL about the amateur, non-professional athlete part. Yes, it’s the kind of thing that makes grown men cry.

But why  look all the way to cold, socially backward Russia when we have our own little Pan Am Games scandal right here in good old Canaduh? While the Beibs got a full, center spread in the Globe this weekend, the firing of Ian Troop got a lousy 10 inches.

You might want to fill up your glass for this little nugget folks, poor Mr. Troop (according to the Globe article) will receive a paltry $478, 200.00 lump sum as part of his severance package, along with retirement benefits AND medical benefits of $43,100.00.

Now that, my dear Canadians, is a punch in the throat to the millions of folks in this country just trying to get by.  We, like the Ukrainians should be rioting in the streets.

You do know about what’s going on in  Ukraine don’t you?

What about South Sudan?  No?

But I bet you know about old Rob Ford getting a jay-walking ticket in Vancouver though, don’t you?

If this little news exposé has you looking at a map to find Kiev, or  wondering how you can use your art to protest our government’s capitalism-gone-rogue reign of terror on real journalism, social programs, health care, and anything that threatens the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, then I have done my job.

If not, please, by all means, enjoy the bliss of your ignorance, and enjoy your cough syrup and crack.

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Christmas Rant: Part I

The War in the Vendée was a royalist uprising ...
The War in the Vendée was a royalist uprising that was suppressed by the republican forces in 1796 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, ‘Part I’. There may, indeed, be a ‘Part II’ , depending upon how stupid things get before the new year.

Last year the grand ‘we’,  declined to see the value in the Occupy Wall Street campaign, that was staggeringly avoided by major press agencies.

We let the dreadlocked-live-our-values-over-charged-for-our-mediocre-educations-and-under-employed youth, fight it out in the streets for the middle class. The middle class, who are losing their ever crippling grip on the edge of affluence as they march to the hypnotically convincing drum of ‘The Man’.

‘The Man’, yep, that pretty much almost sums it up. Consider two facts from Joseph E. Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality;

“The top 1% earned more than 65 percent of the total national income [in the United States], ” and, ” …the ratio of CEO annual compensation to that of the typical worker by 2010 was back to what it had been before the crisis, to 243 to 1“.

While the media reports on Miley’s junior-miss sized twerking patooty, in above-the-fold-full-colour-coverage, they give about half of that coverage to reports about unions being vilified (by the powers that be), as unfairly over-compensating workers.

It doesn’t take a PhD in maths to know that the statistics mentioned above impact the majority of folks in not only North America, but everywhere on the planet.

When we treat silver-spoon born Conrad Black as a real journalist, and Rob Ford as a misunderstood ‘average guy’, we’re wrong. Dead wrong. Rob Ford’s Escalade is worth 3x that of the average vehicle (a simple Honda Civic) owned by those living in the GTA, and his assets multiply to have net value in the millions.

Toronto has a mayor who openly flaunts the rules, degrades homosexuals, women and anyone else who thinks differently than him, and uses the excuse that the press is too rough on him to get away with it all. Actually, his big bully brother does the talking. The day I knew we’d lost all dignity as a nation was the one that showed Mr. Ford and his compadres dancing like  idiots in council chambers just days after having his mayoral power stripped from him.

Only someone with the wealth of Mr. Black has the gumption to whine about being incarcerated for being a liar and a cheat. Call it fraud, bad accounting, whatever…it’s lying and cheating at the cost of everyone else who shares the same planet.

The worst part is, we let it happen. Yes, read this slowly; we allow this to happen. Instead of rioting in the street, we go to work, pay our taxes, and our over-inflated power, cell phone and health care bills.

Let me get back to the subject of unions. We’ve seen unions vilified by the Conservative government and big business, so much so that we’ve bought into this anti-union perspective.

Unions may have been gauche in the booming 80’s, but today we live a different economic and social reality. The reality is that unions are needed now more than they were needed in the past thirty or forty years. For over thirty years, the average annual income of a full-time worker stagnated, while the profits at the top have multiplied at astonishing rates.

Young adults entering the workforce are under-employed at alarming rates. Not to mention everyone one else. The days of full-time jobs with benefits that sustain a comfortable lifestyle are over. Instead, we have the majority of people working at part-time or contract jobs, unable to sustain themselves, or have any measure of security.

Besides being unable to pay their bills, folks in jobs that are not secure suffer from more illness and social problems than ever before. Economic instability feeds fear, and that creates a downward spiraling quagmire of social issues; homelessness, addiction, abuse, crime, and all of the other wonderful side-effects of poverty.

The top 1%’s after tax income reached an average of $1.3 million in the United States in 2010. That of the bottom 20% only reached $17,000. No wonder big-business-journalism and politics doesn’t like unions. Unions distribute the wealth and offer job security.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are issues with unions too. Look at the billions of dollars of bailout money that went to Automakers with no conditions to streamline their production or offer more affordable, environmentally friendly products. Despite the obvious lazy-barnacles that infest unions (they also infest non-union environments at the same rate though), I’d rather live with unions to ensure more people with full-time jobs, than with what is happening now.

Canada and the U.S.,  live in a world of performing-party-politicking that leaves us without leaders in a wild-western-hemisphere black-hole of civilization.

If we leave the world up to those with no social conscience, and a taste for greed rather than loving-kindness, there will be many darker days to come, than this, the longest night of the year.