The budding anarchist/diogenes-style cynic in me wants to be skeptical about relying on the electoral process as a referendum for anything but if we are going to be treated like a safe dumping ground for global capital in the form of speculation (vis a vis money laundering) then I’m all in for a council that will give them as difficult a time as possible: Why Vancouver’s Election Is a Referendum on Unchecked Capitalism. Can this article run for mayor?
While the media might have gotten their act together somewhat since I was railing against their collusion back in 2011, they still give equal weight to supply side economics.
“The supply-side argument has been the development industry’s mantra from time immemorial,” Adrienne Tanner noted earlier this year in the Globe and Mail. But, she continued, “its efficacy as a solution to high prices is debatable.”
That’s because developers, like all capitalist enterprises, exist to make profits, not solve social problems. They earn more money selling high-end homes to wealthy buyers and speculators than building affordable options. The CEO of investment firm BlackRock, Lawrence Fink, in 2015 described “apartments in Vancouver” as a status symbol for the ultra-rich comparable to contemporary art or gold. Though luxury sales went down this year, the social consequences of a market targeted for years towards rich people could be hard to undo — and this is a problem not just in Vancouver, but across North America.
Failure to address the wider economic system is suicide. Unfortunately, one of the candidates talking about this has dropped out: Stroke ends Patrick Condon’s Vancouver mayoral run with COPE.
But because we’ve set up our city as a resort town for the super rich, we can’t just talk about housing as global investment vehicle without talking about wages. We’re basically all bell-hops to billionaires: Vancouver’s One-Two Punch Is Expensive Homes and Low Wages.
What pushes Vancouver to the top of the unaffordability rankings is paltry wages. In Canada’s third-largest city, the median household earns the equivalent of $61,036 a year — in line with Columbus and less than families in Omaha, Nebraska, Kansas City, Missouri and even Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a rural community of 59,000 known for cornfields.
Does corn grow well in empty condos? Does it grow well in bullshit? Because… The deceit that was the BC Liberals’ case for power.
“Former Gambling Enforcement Team leader Fred Pinnock told Global BC this week that the Liberals were absolutely aware of what was going on in the casinos but didn’t act because they didn’t want to disrupt the flow of money into the provincial treasury as a result of it. An explosive charge if there ever was one.
It was Mr. Coleman who gave the order to scrap Mr. Pinnock’s enforcement team in 2009, a move that a recent report into money laundering activities in the province suggested helped criminal elements make major inroads into the province’s casinos. No wonder there are growing demands for a public inquiry into this matter.”
Poor door at proposed Vancouver West End condo tower raises issue of stigma. “When politicians & planners wave ‘social mix’ wand but fail to mention separate Poor doors, amenities, floor plan, elevators & playgrounds. Classist racist fallacy of ‘separate but equal’ in full effect”. – Harsha Walia. As we mentioned in Scout’s Lexicon, if New York can ban them so can we.
You might think that visible poverty — like tent encampments along a bike path — would prompt a tender response from sheltered individuals. You would be incorrect.
In actuality, research has found that increases in visible poverty result in an increase in wealth inequality. The Haves, in this case, are less charitable, less generous and less emotionally drawn to help when they can see just how little the Have-Nots have.
This is, I believe, linked to the perception of scarcity, and the idea that our economy is a zero-sum game. That is, if a poor person were to suddenly become not-poor, they may come for what you have and you might have less.
Indeed, it reminds me of this classic satire from Beaverton: But if we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, how will I know that I’m better than my fellow man?
Or this quote from the late Mark Fisher:
The reason that it’s so easy to whip up loathing for “benefit scroungers” is that – in the reactionary fantasy – they have escaped the suffering to which those in work have to submit. This fantasy tells its own story: the hatred for benefits claimants is really about how much people hate their own work. Others should suffer as we do: the slogan of a negative solidarity that cannot imagine any escape from the immiseration of work.” – Mark Fisher
Of course, it’s all a grand plan by the rich to sow division between the middle and working classes: You Have to Understand That This Is All an Investment.
Of course, like all good investors, they have a back up plan: Survival of the richest: The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind.
That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.
Bonus: Animals Are Becoming Nocturnal To Avoid Interacting With Humans. Me too, animals. Me too.