March 21, 2016 • No. 9 | PDF Previous Issues
Need for Human-Centred Discussion
on the Economy
On March 22 Finance Minister Bill Morneau will table the Liberal government’s first budget. The presentation is accompanied by much nonsensical discussion about helping the so-called middle class, investing in infrastructure and “long-term growth.”
Getting embroiled in this nonsensical talk will not help readers understand economic affairs. To do so, they need to begin from what human-centred economics says about the economy and what the analysis reveals and less with the so-called disputes the corrupt politicians and their retinues have concocted between themselves. These disputes are for purposes of getting Canadians to completely ignore what is going on in the economy, what Trudeau and the Liberals are doing in practice and what new direction is needed. Canadians also need to concentrate on the measures in the budget that can be identified and analysed to determine what effect they will have on the economy and people.
The corrupt politicians and their retinues have become past masters at spewing nonsense to describe what they are up to. The effort to deal with the capital-centred talk exhausts the people. Instead of repeating the nonsense readers need to cut to the chase and analyse whatever measures the government is putting into practice or in many cases not putting into practice, and elaborate a new direction that can inspire the people to take up practical politics which changes the situation.
Readers who are interested in the economy need to study human-centred economics. They need to analyse and deal with the ideological considerations surrounding economics. To help readers, Renewal Update will discuss, amongst other things, specific infrastructure projects by presenting the ideological considerations over matters of how they are paid for. This issue discusses a project of the political elite in Ottawa, for which they have organized a series of public meetings on how they want to make the people pay for infrastructure. What is going to happen at those public meetings in Ottawa? Working out the necessary ideological considerations is crucial in mapping out the practical politics. If this is not done, one can predict what will happen at the public meetings.
The way the issue of paying for infrastructure is framed will put people in opposing camps. Rural residents will argue they do not want to pay for services they do not use and be vocally annoyed that the city is planning to pick their pockets. The neo-liberal line of user fees will become dominant. The so-called progressive forces who are constantly looking for more money will argue everyone should pay their share to make the public infrastructure possible but there will be squabbling over the fair way to do it, for instance, based on property value rather than a flat rate and other things of this nature.
The working people and youth can intervene to provide these discussions which are happening across the country with useful orientation if they keep grounded and work out the ideological considerations and unite people to think things through and analyse economic problems and argue and point the way forward in a practical way. It can be done!
People need to refrain from getting themselves embroiled in the nonsensical talk surrounding the impending budget and repeating the objectionable ideas of the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Canada or others in their retinue. This too can be done!
The pending federal budget is an opportunity to broaden the discussion on taxation. The present taxation system is highly prejudicial against the working class. Not only does it put the burden of taxation on individuals but distorts the essence of the economy and how value is created, realized and claimed.
How governments raise public funds is connected with how they spend the money because both revenue and expenditures are governed by the same capital-centred outlook. The methods of taxation targeting the working class with income tax, payroll taxes, sales taxes and user fees are part of the same system of pay-the-rich schemes and lack of investments in social programs and public services regarding government expenditures.
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Taxation policy is closely connected with the lack of conscious control of prices. The determination of prices through a modern formula would include a conscious determination of all the inputs in production of goods and services, and all the claims on the value workers produce. A human-centred outlook in examining the economy would sweep away the confusion, distortion and nonsense of the present system of taxation.
To assist the discussion Renewal Update encourages readers to read extracts from the work, The Production, Reproduction and Transfer of Value and Its Realization by K.C. Adams to be published by TML Weekly this coming Saturday, March 26. Renewal Update readers can subscribe to receive TML Weekly by joining the CPC(M-L) mailing list above.
The example of the kind of ideological considerations which can guide people to take a practical approach to organizing on infrastructure spending concerns a proposed stormwater management fee for amalgamated “rural” Ottawa plus the petition to lower electricity rates for “rural” Ottawa presently served by Hydro One.
The stormwater system is a collective system that is necessary for the community to survive. It cannot and should not depend on individual taxation such as property taxes, fixed user fees or user fees tied to consumption of water or any other aspect of infrastructure; it should depend on the realization of its value in exchange with the economic units, public or private, which are active in the socialized economy. The economy needs the stormwater system to survive as a collective interrelated economy essential to the community with a thriving working population. The value from building and maintaining the stormwater system should be realized in exchange with value produced within the economy from its active economic units including all federal, provincial and municipal public service units.
To depend on individual taxation as a means to realize the value of the stormwater system or the water, sewage and electricity systems means an uncertain future, such as the water supply system in Flint Michigan, which degenerated into poison because the people in control of the economy and its economic units, the ruling imperialist elite, refused to realize the value from the socialized water supply in exchange with value workers produce, reproduce and transfer in the economy, which the owners of social wealth control.
To depend on individual taxation as a means to realize the value of the stormwater system or the water, sewage and electricity systems is in contradiction with the social interrelated nature of the industrial mass economy. The wealth held individually by the working people must not be used to pay for the social and material infrastructure in any form or way, including mass transit. The infrastructure forms a crucial part of the collective economy as means of production and survival for all, and should be viewed correctly as such. Infrastructure should not be dependent on the individual ability of working people to pay as generally their only source of income is the sale of their capacity to work. The realization of the value produced through the infrastructure should be properly realized in exchange with value from other economic units and sectors in the broad economy.
The value used to realize the value of socially produced water, septic, electric and stormwater systems must come from the industrial mass economy and its active economic units. The value is either transferred-value as a material input into production in the economy or social value in the capacity to work of the working class realized in exchange for work-time and reproduced as social reproduced-value that should be realized in exchange with those institutions, public or private, whose workers produce the value. The workers active in the production of infrastructure value should determine its price of production and how much each economic unit should pay in exchange to realize the infrastructure value.
To depend on individuals to realize the value from infrastructure is courting disaster apart from being self serving on the part of the ruling imperialist elite. For workers to use a portion of their individual reproduced-value to realize the value of infrastructure means they weaken the production of their individual capacity to work. The value put into their capacity to work through socially produced infrastructure is social not individual.
The value used to realize the value of social water, septic, electric and stormwater systems must come from the industrial mass economy including the federal, provincial and municipal public service. The value is either transferred-value as a material input into production in the economy or social value put into the capacity to work of the working class to be realized in exchange for work-time, and subsequently reproduced through work as social reproduced-value that should be realized in exchange with those institutions, public or private, whose workers produce the value.
All modern infrastructure must be viewed as a means of production and survival for the economy, collectives and society and not articles of consumption. The infrastructure production, both social and material, should be viewed as destined for the industrial mass economy and survival of all the people, their collectives and general interests of society. All should be concerned for the infrastructure’s proper development and maintenance as all require its value, especially the benefits that accrue to the socialized economy and society. The issue of conservation of the value of infrastructure such as water and electricity, is one of social consciousness not one of compulsion through depriving people of their rights.
As a collective benefit and necessary means of production for the economy and survival, the value workers in infrastructure produce must be exchanged with the value produced in other sectors of the economy as transferred-value or social reproduced-value at least for as long as the economy is based on exchange and not use. Infrastructure, both social and material, should not be seen as articles of consumption. In this way education as a right, water as a right, electricity as a right and all the other rights of a modern world especially the right to be can be guaranteed in a collective manner through the society and its many collectives of working people and economic units.
Individual Reproduced-Value and the Issue of Individual Wells and Septic Tanks in “Rural” Ottawa
Individual (private) water and septic systems are not public infrastructure. They are not public means of production and survival. The stormwater system throughout Ottawa is public infrastructure.
The water under the resident’s property has no value. Workers put value into the water by digging a well and bringing the water to the surface for personal use to survive. The septic is similar in the sense the resident provides a private means to dispose of certain waste without infringing on others. The produced value goes into the members of the family as individual capacity to work.
To say water by itself has economic value without human work involved is similar to saying air has value or sunlight, zinc, copper or any other natural phenomena needed to live or not. Those things have no value in the economic sense and no value can or should be put on them. Their value arises from work-time.
Only an autocrat who wants something for nothing would impose a value on a naturally occurring thing, just as the mediaeval aristocrats did when they imposed a poll tax on people simply for being alive. A poll tax is disconnected from work and the production of value.
Individuals and their families produce the individual value of their capacity to work or pay for the inputs, the exchange-value of those things they buy. This value is realized when they sell their capacity to work within the social relation capital, where they reproduce the individual reproduced-value and receive a wage so that the individual capacity to work can be sustained. The portion of value workers produce as added-value is claimed as profit by those who own or control the economic unit. The portion workers reproduce as social reproduced-value should be claimed by those economic units in the social infrastructure producing the value. The portion of value transferred into production is claimed by those who own and control the economic unit to be used to pay for the material circulating transferred-value and the fixed transferred-value, mainly machinery and buildings, which workers transferred and preserved in production during work-time.
The value workers expend as individuals or within their families to live and survive must be reproduced anew as exchange-value when they sell their capacity to work. The money received in exchange for their capacity to work is used to live and produce anew their capacity to work and its individual value. The money from wages is not available (or should not be available) to realize the value produced in the social and material infrastructure as means of production and collective survival (water, sewage, electric and stormwater systems). The social reproduced-value should be exchanged with the economic units active throughout the economy.
The value used to realize the value of a personal water pumping system and septic tank arises in the industrial mass economy mostly from selling the capacity to work to social wealth within the social relation capital. Also, the material (circulating means of production) and machinery (fixed means of production) used to dig the well and put in the septic tank come from the industrial mass economy.
The residents (working people) with private water and septic tanks exchange value they have received from selling their capacity to work in the economy to realize those systems as means of survival because those systems were not supplied as infrastructure means of production in the outlying communities of now “rural” Ottawa. Why not, is a question, especially in the newer subdivisions. Why are the water and septic systems considered individual means of survival for those new communities when the roads to the front door, the water for parks and fire suppression are material infrastructure, the schools in the area are social infrastructure etc?
A community without concern for the well-being of all can end up like Flint, Michigan and countless other U.S. communities (lead in the water causing mass poisoning from corroding lead pipes).
The Ottawa municipal government says, “The City will not be placing water meters on private wells and septics.” How big of them. In fact, the country is moving towards a poll tax, which the autocrats imposed on the people in parts of mediaeval Europe. In Vancouver, the ruling elite want to impose a toll on all vehicles crossing every bridge or driving on every street, restricting movement of those who cannot afford such a thing or forcing them to find another means to move around Vancouver either by foot or bicycle or public mass transit, which should be a freely available infrastructure but is expensive for individuals as the economic units benefiting from mass transit refuse to realize the value it produces.
The service the peasants and others supposedly received in return for the poll tax was allegedly protection from other autocrats and their marauding armies yet when a village or town was under attack, the peasants had to do the bulk of the fighting. Funny how a lot of the ideas the mafia and now imperialist politicians developed for squeezing money from the people originate in medievalism (the protection racket, tolls etc).
Canada Expands Mission in the Middle East
Coinciding with the 13th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq which began on March 19, 2003, Canada is expanding its military role in Iraq and the Middle East. The government argues that these actions are in line with what it calls Canada’s history of peacekeeping. In this way, it covers up that so long as Canada belongs to NATO and NORAD its peacekeeping missions are either part of imperialism’s plans of “no war, no peace” as in Palestine which causes untold suffering, or as part of the U.S. striving for domination which has been the case since the interventions in Yugoslavia.
The placement of the hundreds of additional Canadian troops to Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan as well as the role they will play was discussed recently at a conference with U.S. Central Command and “partner nations.” Canada’s expanded military role is being “developed in close coordination” with the U.S., the National Post reported on March 14.
“A lot of positions were vacant within the coalition structure. We are picking up some of them,” said Lt.-Gen. Steve Bowes, the head of Canadian Joint Operations Command, one of two commands in the Canadian Armed Forces alongside the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
“At the moment, in what they call the building partner capacity sites, they are oversubscribed in trainers and undersubscribed in troops to train, but the mission will evolve. So, in a year’s time, who really knows,” Bowes said. The “building partner capacity sites” refer to Canada’s placement of troops in Jordan and Lebanon, whose mission is unclear but “will evolve” according to Bowes.
According to Bowes, Canadian Brigadier-General David Anderson will command a “coalition team” to work with Iraq’s “security ministries” in Baghdad to prepare battle plans for the “long-anticipated offensive to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant out of Mosul and northwestern Iraq.” The reports indicate that as many as 12 other Canadians will be part of the “team” although it does not indicate who else is part, or under whose command Anderson will be.
Reports also say that some Canadian forces being sent to the Middle East will join the staff of a U.S. army major-general in Baghdad, alongside Canadian Brig.-Gen. Greg Smith. Others are to be part of an expanded “Canadian intelligence capability” or “tasked with supporting troops in Iraq by expanding the logistics footprint in Kuwait.”
Four Canadian Griffon helicopters, commonly equipped with Gatling guns, are being sent to Iraq are to be deployed exclusively with “Canadian Special Forces Operations Command” troops. These forces are reported to be “advising and mentoring” Kurdish peshmerga forces, Bowes said.
Although the Liberal government has repeatedly referred to the mission as “non-combat,” Bowes presented the increasing presence of Canadian forces and heavily armed helicopters as a response to the threat of ISIS. “The enemy, ISIL, Daesh (its acronym in Arabic), has shown an ability to metastasize and change tactics and we try to keep abreast of them,” he said.
“For example, how they have been converting dump trucks, putting armour plates on them and creating vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. That shows the degree to which they are capable of taking anything and changing it into a weapon.”
It is necessary to pay attention to how the government of Canada is embroiling Canadians in U.S. imperialist war preparations carried out in the name of peace and peacekeeping. Canadians need to establish an anti-war government that will take Canada out of NATO and NORAD and make sure it is a factor for peace.
On March 15, Minister of Heritage Mélanie Joly announced the Government of Canada’s vision for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. While promoting a chauvinist vision of “shared values” the government announced that it will pay a private organization to approve and disburse funds for official celebrations on this basis. None of it is conducive to a serious discussion on how to modernize Canada’s constitution and political system to bring them on par with the needs of the times.
A government news release says, “the 150th anniversary of Confederation gives the Government of Canada an opportunity to engage and inspire Canadians in their communities. It is also a time to come together to celebrate our shared values, our achievements, our majestic environment and our place in the world. The vision seeks to bring people together and inspire them.” Speaking specifically to the themes the Liberals will promote for Canada 150 Joly indicated that celebrations and events will focus on “diversity and inclusion, reconciliation from nation to nation with Indigenous people, youth and the environment.”
“The 150th anniversary of Confederation is an opportunity that communities throughout the country should seize. I invite all Canadians to dream about what the future holds for them, to contribute to our country’s growth, to bring about significant changes, and to leave a lasting legacy for coming generations. Join the celebration!”
Minister Joly also announced $10 million for the organization Community Foundations of Canada for its project, the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th. Community Foundations of Canada is a private organization which its website says “focuses on building community.” A press release from the organization indicates that it is playing a catalyst role in convening national organizations interested in Canada’s 150th and inviting Canadians to join them in the countdown to 2017. The Alliance was started by the Community Foundations of Canada and is currently inviting groups and individuals “to the table to build new networks and strengthen those that already exist.” It appears to be a web-based organization which any groups participating in Canada150 events can register and interact with in various ways.
The funding for the CFC “will be used for local activities and initiatives that will help bring Canadians together and encourage actions already put in place by communities across the country for the 150th anniversary of Confederation,” the website says.
During the announcement, former head of Research in Motion Jim Balsillie, and hip-hop artist Kardinal Offishall were named as ambassadors to “encourage Canadians to get involved in the 150th anniversary celebrations.”
During the week Joly made a similar announcement in Montreal.
On March 18, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that he will recommend the appointment of seven new Senators to the Governor General. The new Senators will fill two vacancies in Manitoba, three in Ontario, and two in Quebec. The statement indicates that over the last three months, an “Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments” undertook “broad consultations” in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec and provided the Prime Minister with a number of non-binding recommendations. From that pool of candidates, the Prime Minister selected the seven new Senators he will recommend to the Governor General who he says are “independent.”
Trudeau also announced that he intends to appoint Peter Harder, the head of his “transition team,” as Government Representative in the Senate. Harder is one of the newly appointed “independent” Senators. His role will be to act as the Government’s Representative in the Senate to facilitate the introduction and consideration of Government legislation. He would also be sworn in as a Privy Councillor.
The seven individuals who will be recommended for appointment to the Senate are:
Raymonde Gagné (Manitoba) Former President of Université Saint-Boniface (USB) from 2003-2014. According to a profile on USB’s website during her time as President of USB “she worked to establish tighter controls and improved accountability while optimizing management and governance processes. In order to ensure a steady rate of enrollment, she developed a successful international recruitment strategy to attract students from the francophone countries of Africa and Europe.”
Justice Murray Sinclair (Manitoba) First Indigenous Judge appointed in Manitoba, and only the second in Canada. Co-Chair of Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Former Chief of Staff to former Manitoba NDP Premier Howard Pawley while he was Attorney General of Manitoba.
V. Peter Harder (Ontario) Former Senior Policy Advisor to Dentons Canada LLP, one of the biggest law firms in the world. He is also head of the Canada-China Business Council. Prior to joining Dentons, Harder served in various Deputy Minister posts in the Government of Canada. First appointed a Deputy Minister in 1991, he served as the most senior public servant in a number of federal departments including Treasury Board, Solicitor General, Citizenship and Immigration, Industry and Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Frances Lankin (Ontario) Former NDP MPP from 1990 to 2001. Lankin is also former president and CEO of United Way Toronto and was appointed Co-chair of the McGuinty government’s Social Assistance Review Commission that recently released a report about “transforming social assistance in Ontario.” The report sought to justify reducing social assistance benefits in various ways by restructuring the manner in which funds were allocated. Lankin was also a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee which reviews the activities of CSIS from 2009 to 2016.
Ratna Omidvar (Ontario) Founding Executive Director and Adjunct Professor of the Global Diversity and Migration Exchange at the Ted Rogers School of Management, at Ryerson University. Chair of Lifeline Syria, a Toronto-based organization that works in resettling Syrian refugees in Canada. She is also a Director of the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH), The Environics Institute, and Samara.
Chantal Petitclerc (Quebec) Paralympic wheelchair athlete and gold medalist in many Paralympic games.
André Pratte (Quebec) La Presse journalist and former editor-in-chief. In 2005, Pratte was among the group who signed the manifesto “For a clear-eyed vision of Quebec,” better known by the French title “Pour un Québec lucide” and critical of the social democratic so-called Quebec Model.