Canada: An assessment

This is my 3rd time living in Canada now. And in the past 4 years, I've spent about 1½ years here. And I said recently, that the best way to judge a society, is to speak to the people who aren't from there. To speak to the people, whom have seen it done another way, and whos minds aren't clouded by the politics and trivial issues of a country.

I often wonder what would happen, if you plucked a homeless person off the street and put him in charge. Someone, who's thought doesn't revolve around image, who's mind isn't clogged up with politics. Rather someone, who sees things in black and white, and just does something about it. Because in our Western political systems, if you want to be leader, then you have to be someone who got involved in politics back at a young age, and worked up. It's just one of the flaws of the system. Joe Ordinary, will never become prime minister. And you have to wonder how clearly someone is able to think, after playing the game of politics, to get up to where they are. You always hear on the news about political strategies. But should that strategy, in a working society, just be to do what is right for the people? Is that not a leader's job?

Well on paper, yes. But that would be too easy now, wouldn't it.

But I've been here a long time now. I've lived on the East coast. I've lived on the West coast. I've travelled to more places in Canada in 1½ years, than most Canadians have in their lifetimes. So this is my honest and truthful assessment, of Canada, as a society.

The world has never reached consensus over the best "system" in which societies should live by. Whether it be capitalist, socialist, communist, anarchist etc. And the reason that there is no global consensus, is the reason that any tricky decision, is hard to make. And that is that all of those systems, have positives, and they all have negatives. As much as the West would like to tell you that capitalism is the perfect system, I could give a list of examples of where the consumer been on the losing side to commerce that could stretch the trans-Canada highway. The current financial crisis is the most obvious right now. And just today, Intel have been fined 1.06bn euros for abuses in the market place. And for a fine of that magnitude, you have to ask, 'how many consumers have lost out because of such malpractice?' And does that fine even cover Intel's gains for abuse in the market place? Not only have they gained in the past. But their increased market share, due to this malpractice, will have weakened competitors and could go onto serve to maximise Intel's profits for years to come. Their gain can never be truly calculated. And you can go onto look at nearly every industry, to find examples of where the consumer has lost out due to anti-competitive practices. The only difference with Intel, is that someone decided to act. Perhaps capitalism, is the most flawed of all systems. The very fundamentals of it in fact mean that it can never run perfectly. You need perfect competition to have a perfect market. But a perfect market leads to key players, and an oligopoly forms, so you no longer have perfect competition. It simply cannot be sustained. And there can never either be total clarity in products. So a capitalist market, by its very fundamentals, cannot function perfectly.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was enough to convince a lot of people that communism cannot work. Personally, I don't think it's fair to make such a judgement based solely on that one case. But there are obvious flaws there. And then the flaws of a socialist system are obvious. Again today, France's socialist leaning government has signed off a bill, which means that people whom download pirated material, can be disconnected from the Internet. How, in today's technologically driven society, can disconnecting people, be deemed ethical? Who are they protecting with this law? Music companies and film studios who will only profit with millions rather than billions due to piracy? Oh, no other government manages to consistently piss me off, more than the interfering French.

Now I've said in the past my views on the way that a society should run, so I won't get into that now. But the logical thing to do, in a situation like this where no perfect system is present, is to take the best of each system, and try to eradicate the negatives. What I was trying to demonstrate in the 'Sicko' blog that I wrote fairly recently, is that if you combine socialist tendencies with capitalist innovations, then it's possible to envisage a society with little to no poverty. Where the wealth is shared evenly. But at the same time, innovation is rife. That's the ideal scenario of a capitalist/socialist society.

Canada on the other hand, could not have fucked it up more. They have somehow concocted the negatives of both socialism and capitalism, and have just been left with this non-functioning, retard society.

Now don't get me wrong, the people here are pretty nice. Pretty relaxed. But it's perhaps this passive nature that leaves us in the situation that we're currently in.

Poverty here, is a huge problem. I don't know, and don't really care what government statistics say about homelessness or anything like that. I have eyes. And I see it everyday, walking down the street. And this isn't some third world developing country. Rightly or wrongly, Canada is a member of the G8. The exclusive club for rich nations. Just for the record, it's wrongly. And yet on every block of every city here, you see evidence of the rich/poor divide. Far worse than I've ever seen in the UK. It's far worse than I've ever seen in the US. Even in New York. Hell it's on par with what I saw in Mexico. And this is supposedly a G8 country. And when you have a problem such as this, you have to ask why. And you really don't have to look too far.

The flaws of capitalism are more evident here than anywhere else I have seen. Abuses of dominant positions by business. Just plain obvious collusion between companies. And nothing... nothing, gets done about it. And when that happens, what is the result? It's the exact same thing that happened when Russia adopted an unregulated capitalist system. A few, will get very, very, rich. Whilst the rest struggle to accumulate the funds to pay for a bed for the night. As is evident as I walk around Victoria. Or Vancouver. Or any other city, seeing this mass exodus of homeless people.

The homeless have no power. And I guess the middle-classes, seeing all these homeless everyday, count themselves lucky that they can pay for a car, get a mortgage and can afford a cell-phone. So they do nothing about it either. And after being here all this time, having spent the rest of my life living in a still far from perfect, but much more effectively operating market, this just becomes so, so obvious to me. Banks are raping people. Supermarkets are raping people. But you don't have to guess where I find this more evident than ever. Cell phone companies, are raping people.

All these damn farmers are still calling me. And I cannot be fucking bothered talking to them anymore. They don't get back to me for 4 days! What do they think I'm doing? Just sitting around, waiting for them to call? So I'm sending them to voicemail. But I'm noticing that before I'm even listening to my messages, they're costing me about a dollar each. I'm not picking up my phone. The process of someone else leaving me a message between the hours of 8am and 8pm, is seemingly costing me about a dollar each time.

And if I want to listen to that message within that 12 hour time period, it's about the same cost again. So here I am, shopping at charity shops, eating shit, to save money. Soon I'll be working for just board and food. Hitching my way around, to save money on bus fares. And yet Rogers see fit to charge me $2 for a damn voicemail. And this is when I'm in Victoria. Imagine the cost if I went somewhere far away, like, I don't know... the park. Well according to Rogers, if I'm in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, I'm in the US. And roaming charges apply.

And the reason I've come to the conclusion that this is an absolute abuse of a dominant position. That this is an absolute demonstration of a market failure, is that the variable cost for me to make a call. Or recieve a voicemail. Or send a text, is virtually zero. It costs Rogers, nothing. So they have no justification for charging me anything like that much.

And it's the same deal with all this long-distance cell phone crap they have here. For me to call someone in my dorm, or for me to call someone on Vancouver, will cost Rogers exactly the same. But yet they will charge me long-distance rates, to call Vancouver.

There is no better demonstration of the absolute failures of the market place, than by this blatant abuse by Rogers, and collusion by all the major phone companies, to keep prices high. They know that people will buy cell phones regardless. So they keep prices this high, to take as much money out of the consumers pocket as possible. And this is to me, the most obvious example of such failures. But here in Canada, you can see it almost across the board. Perhaps there are a few select industries where this isn't the case. Pizza shops for example.

On damn near every corner in Victoria, you'll find a shop selling pizza by the slice. And they all brag about their low price. So you can pick up slices for $1.50. And that's if you're feeling extravagant. But it's hardly a significant industry. In the main, the market place here operates nothing like an effective capitalist market should operate. And the result is that a few people are getting rich. And the levels of homelesses here, are just staggering.

I don't know the stats on it. But governments will manipulate stats. I have eyes. I can see it.

And it's got to the point with cell phones, that when my credit expired in 10 days, I'm not even going to bother topping it up. Expiring credit is another example of the market not working. That's just ridiculous. How does it expire exactly? Has the recipt I got when I bought the credit decomposed already, so the credit is no longer valid? I just don't see how they can justify expiring credit. Another demonstration of the market not working. So is paying to receive a call. What is that bullshit?

But it's got to the point, where I'm going to not even be earning money. Rather I'm going to be working for food and board. Am I really willing to pay $2 to receive a fucking voicemail message that hasn't cost the phone company a single cent? Fuck that. I'd rather live without a phone again. Whatever trials that may cause me as I try to continually arrange work on varying farms.

So there is no doubt in my mind in the flaws in the market place here. Some were obvious to me back home. But here, they're so much worse.

And whilst government should be spending their time regulating the market. Cracking down on companies like Rogers, fining them billions of dollars as happened to Intel in the EU today, they instead choose to interfere on the most insignificant issues. And it's right here, that they have managed to take the negative aspects of socialism.

Downstairs in this hostel, there's a bar. I call it a bar, it's smaller than the average living room. It's probably smaller than my dorm. And in this bar, separating the two sides of what cannot be wider than a 1-yard gangway, is a metal rail. If you're on one side of this metal rail, the bar side, you're allowed to drink a beer. This side of the rail, is classed as sitting at the bar. On the other side however, you cannot drink, unless you buy some food as well. Because this, is classed as a restaurant.

And every night, you see people come in. They sit down at one of the tables, as opposed to the bar, and they try to order a beer. And every night, you'll see arguments with the bar-staff and the customers, because they won't allow them, to just have a beer. The hostel is so scared, because rather than cracking down on Rogers, the authorities spend their time enforcing these nonsensical laws, which do nothing but make peoples lives more difficult. And out of fear, these "laws" are vehemently enforced by the hostel.

And what was it I said back at the beginning of this blog? That to see the flaws in a society, it's best to ask the people who aren't from there. Well this is a hostel. Most people here are international. And they're used to doing weird things. Like being able to go into a bar, and order a beer. Strange things like that. Not in Canada though. They fail to regulate the market place. But they have regulations coming out of their ass, for a bar the size of your living room. Government is more worried about enforcing these nonsensical laws, than it is about regulating the market and getting the homeless off the street.

Somehow, and I don't know how they could have done it any worse, Canada has taken all of the negatives of capitalism. And they have taken all of the negatives of socialism. And they have concocted this, fucking retarded society. Where the pointless things make everyones lives, just so much harder. This bar downstairs is just one of many examples you see everyday. And yet, due to the unattended flaws in the capitalist system here, homelessness is significantly more evident than in any other Western country that I've been to. And I almost question, how they managed to get it so wrong.

Like I said earlier, the people are nice. But nice is only going to get you so far. Their passive nature has just let this happen. And in any other country there'd be outrage at such retardedness. But here, it's just norm. And perhaps I'm putting a negative spin on it, just because of my anger at the phone companies right now, but this is the honest truth, as to how I see Canadian society. It needs some serious, serious, attention.

And you know another way I'm being screwed right now? My knee. If a Canadian goes to England, they get all the medical help they need. Free. Here though, despite Canadian's getting it free, I have to pay. And I'll be honest, my knee is worrying me right now. The healing has either stopped. Or it has slowed so much that is isn't noticable. Yet every step I take, as has been the case for nearly 3 months now, I'm in pain. I've got used to it, but every step hurts. And if I was in any other country in the world, not including the US, I probably would have seeked further attention by now. Because still ringing in my ear, I have Kasper's story about his knee.

He was a lifty at Pano. He once sustained, what sounds a very similar injury to mine. And 2 months after it, he was playing soccer. Yes, he was playing soccer by the point I'm at in my healing. I can't even straighten my leg fully yet. But he said that he felt this pain. Something didn't feel right. So he went back to the doctor, and after a quick examination, had to get an operation.

Now I wish he hadn't told me that story. Because was it not for that, then I probably wouldn't have this paranoia about my healing right now. But I know how my knee should feel. And something just doesn't feel right. And like I said, if I happened to be in any other country, then I would have sought further attention by now. But seeing as this is Canada; where the retards run things, I'm not willing to do that. I'm not willing to make that financial commitment at this stage.

I still haven't got the money back from my insurance company for the initial claim of this injury yet. I spoke to them this morning, and it sounds like it should be happening soon. They took my bank details. And I wasn't speaking to someone from the claims department. But the girl on the phone said that usually when they ask for bank details, it's because they're going to make a deposit. But I at least, want to get compensated for that claim. Then I'll think about talking to the insurance company again. If they give me the 'ok' to do so, then I'll be willing to seek further medical attention. But like I said, in any other country in the world (except the US), I would have been back at the doctors by now. Because I know how my knee should feel. And something just isn't right.

And it's another example of Canada's failing "system". Michael Moore's Sicko champions Canadian medical. You try being a foreigner over here!

I am hoping that this is nothing more than paranoia. Afterall, this was seemingly a fairly severe ligament injury. And sports stars whom receive round-the-clock attention and all the right treatment, take months and months to heal from ligament injuries. I'm trying to heal with no drugs whilst logging my life around on my back. But Kasper's words still haunt me (ironic). And something just doesn't feel right.

I'm hopeful, that once I get to Galiano Island tomorrow, I can find the time to get to the beach, hopefully everyday. Then once I put my too-thin, second-hand wetsuit on, and brave the cold Canadian waters, that that will make some difference. Afterall, swimming will require me to move the joint in ways I will not have done since the injury. And doing so in water not too far above zero, will hopefully numb any pain that I feel. So I'm hoping that way I'll be able to move the joint in a manner that loosens it, and speeds up healing. I don't know if that's what any medical mind would say would work. But it seems logical to me. And then hopefully, the healing has just slowed. And I don't need any kind of surgery. But something, just doesn't feel right. The pain is all concentrated on one place now. And the fact that Kasper was able to play soccer after 2 months, tells me that mine is a more serious injury. So I'm just hopeful this is paranoia. But in a better country, I'd know for sure.

Unfortunately though, in this G8 country, the Canadian government can't find the money to help me. But then they can't find the money to help their own people either, so what do you expect. I wonder where all that money has gone? I could use my phone to find out. Though I get the feeling that might just make the problem that little bit worse.

Oh and I had an Argentinian couple in my dorm not long ago. They were saying that one of the things they don't like about Canada, is there's just so many crazy people here. Sitting on the street talking to themselves. This, from Argentinians. There's so many crazy people out on the streets that Argentinian's get freaked out. This is how desperate the situation is in this G8 country. It's incredible. Really is!

Also topical to me in the news this week seeing as I'm soon to become a hippy, is the story of the Belgian city of Ghent, which is going to start adopting 'veggie days'. At least one day a week civil servants and elected counscillors will opt for vegetarian meals. And I'm sure the trend will be encouraged to the rest of the population as well. This, as a weapon to combat climate change.

Not many people seem to really appreciate the damage that livestock does to the climate. I don't like referring to them as livestock. They're animals to me, not products. But for ease of announciation here, they're livestock. But the methane gases produced by livestock, particularly cattle, are responsible for approximately one fifth of all greenhouse gases unless I'm mistaken. And I believe that I once heard someone quoting that if the whole world turned vegetarian for one day a week, then there would be no global warming. I'm not sure of the accuracy of that statement, but it's still a demonstration of how easily global warming, could be combatted. At least in the short term.

Now I don't eat a lot of meat. But I still eat more than is necessary. Studies have shown that an average person consumes something like 40% more protein than their body needs to function normally. I can't remember the exact stat, but it was something around there. Evening out that statistic, to eating just what we need, is supposedly how easy it is to fix global warming. And as I've said many times before, there is no bigger issue to me in the world. It is the all encompassing issue that supersedes all that I might talk about. About living the right way. About social systems. About anything. Everything that we do, should be considered first and foremost, for its environmental impact. And although I do more than most people, that is still not enough. I'm sure I still consume too much protein, so I'm not doing enough.

I thought this story was interesting though. Not only for the fact, that people, even if only in the town of "Ghent" in Belgium, are starting to take note of the environmental impact of livestock. But also for the fact, that people, even if only in the town of "Ghent" in Belgium, were taking action. Because I've heard a lot of talk. Leaders make these pledges to reduce gases by X percent by the year 2050. The only problem is they aren't accountable, in 2050. They hopefully aren't even alive. So what fucking good is such a pledge? It's just words. No real action is being taken.

And this, on a day (see how topical this is!), when it is predicted that reefs in the coral triangle. That is the area in South-East Asia, which contains approximately 75% of the worlds coral species, could soon be wiped out. Apparently, in the 0.7% temperature change already caused by climate change, 40% of reefs in the coral triangle have already been lost. So we don't have long to go to finish it off.

And we aren't talking a few animals here. We aren't talking a few species. We are talking, entire ecosystems. Gone. And I personally fail to see how we can wipe entire ecosystems off the planet, without having to face serious, serious, consequences. I don't know what those consequences are. But so far with global warming, we've bent. We've pushed. And there is surely only so far we can bend, until bend, becomes break. I do not think that the planet can sustain much more. And destroying entire ecosystems... that's smells of break to me.

Now I have a question. Why is it not illegal, for major companies to create pollution, that is ultimately going to cause the extinction of species? That has, and will continue to cause, major natural disasters that will kill thousands upon thousands of people? That will wipe out entire ecosystems for fucks sake? How is that legal? But if I laid my hands on these indirect murderers, then I am the one in the wrong. I'm just not too sure the law's got it right here.

How many people died in Katrina? The Asian Tsunami? Burma? I could go on and on. And these disasters, although not totally conclusively, probably would not have occured, or at least would have occured on a smaller scale, were it not for global warming. And global warming, would not have occured if it wasn't for major industry. You could say that it's capitalism's biggest flaw: The destruction of the planet. But yet people can legally pollute, and cause all of this. But I cannot do anything about it.

This is why I don't respect law. Law has not adjusted for the times. It is no longer a valid document. And that, is another flaw to socialism. We have so many rules and regulations, that a document such as law, is too rigid for reality. Not enough regulation in the market. Too much regulation in other places. We did truly fuck up the creation of society. That's as simple as I can put it.

Well this is my last night in Victoria. Tomorrow I'll be sleeping on a giant penis. Let the good times roll!

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