The power of one vote

Vote Nobody

On the contrary, voting can bring about great social change

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” ~ Malcolm X

With the upcoming Ontario provincial election I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a member of the electorate. I firmly believe that the greatest power that we hold as citizens is the right to vote.

But few of us in Canada exercise a privilege residents of other nations have killed for. Foolishly we take our democratic rights for granted, and we shouldn’t because the framework that Canada was built on is crumbling.

Democracy is possibly the greatest revolutionary idea the world has ever seen. It gave the poor the vote. Democracy is a revolutionary idea because if you have power you use it to meet the needs of your community.

Governments know this, and in a world where 1% of the population controls 80% of the world’s wealth it’s mind-numbing that we allow them to get away with it. We could have stopped it long ago, with the vote. We can stop it now. By informing ourselves, and voting.

Corporations and governments have been working tirelessly together in an effort to demoralize the poor. One only has to look at the work force to see how this plays out.

A typical university student will graduate with an average of $27,000 worth of student loans to pay off. Then they’ll most likely get married, then they’ll buy a home. Already, in their early twenties they are shackled with debt. They need a job to pay off this looming burden, and every employer loves to employ someone with insufferable debt because it means they won’t cause any trouble.

As an employer you can get away with almost anything if all your employees are dependent on their steady pay cheque. The fear of termination surrenders an employee to almost any type of treatment, and believe me, it’s usually poor.

If you’re shackled with debt you become hopeless and hopeless people don’t vote. Keeping people hopeless and pessimistic controls them, it frightens, and demoralizes them.

And that’s what’s happening throughout the Western world. Unions are busted, pensions and benefits rescinded, salaries decreased, hours increased while a handful of people, always at the top the corporate hierarchy, who work the least, earn millions. It’s absolutely crazy that we let them get away with all of this deception.

We’ve come to believe that CEOs and board members are somehow smarter than we are. In most cases they have gotten where they are through nepotism, cronyism and because they were born with more advantages than the average person.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have power. An educated, healthy, confident people are more challenging to govern. To get around this problem governments, now largely controlled by corporations, will do anything, stoop to the lowest level, to keep you, its people, disenfranchised. They mostly do this by controlling the media, and the news that you receive. Just look at Fox as evidence of how ignorant most Americans are.

I mean, Americans have to be ignorant for its leaders to get away with such malevolence. Maybe most American citizens are unfamiliar of their governments actions because their televised media does not accurately report the news? To get the truth they have to go outside of their own country, to news outlets like the CBC and BBC to know what’s really happening. But most Americans don’t do this because they’ve been raised on flashy screens, pharma commercials, sex-kitten-like female anchors and pundits who yell, but don’t listen to each other. They hear a good sound bite, repeat it, and think they know something.

To keep Americans in the dark the media has perfected the art of distraction. Make them feel insecure for not possessing. That way they’ll go out, buy crap, make old white men rich, and remain poor. Or it can be even more blatant, lead the news hour with celebrity marriages. Americans are more concerned with Kim Kardashian’s third wedding than the corruption of power that has repressed them.

And I don’t mean to pick on America. It is however, a nation that is run and operated by greedy corporations, more than any other country in the world. It’s a falling empire, and at the moment the world’s only superpower. Politicians are only too quick to profit along with the CEOs of these toxic companies.

Their health care is a great example of what I mean. Most Americans don’t even know what socialism is, they’ve been trained by propaganda promoted by their own elected officials, to believe that it is evil. But almost every Western country has adopted socialized medicine. And it’s far from evil, in fact, it’s loyal to what Jesus preached.

I hear American pundits trash Canadian health care all the time, but none of them have ever experienced what it’s like. As a Canadian, I can assure you that I have never had a problem with our system, and believe it to be one of the best in the world. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.

Despite all the knowledge of how effective universal health care is, Americans allow insurance corporations to make decisions for them. Who receives coverage, what procedures are covered, are all determined by companies trying to save money. That’s ludicrous! And with 30 million Americans without health insurance, it’s criminal.

Citizens allow all of this to happen out of fear. They’re afraid of socialism, but don’t know what it really is. But that’s how most of America has operated for decades now. Keep people afraid with simple repeated messages, and they’ll do almost anything. As a government, you cannot respect your citizens if you continue to lie to them.

People are being managed by their governments, to fit into the system rather than the opposite. The world is now run by corporations, not political leaders. People have become cynical and voter turn out is low in an attempt to reverse the power, and the purpose of the vote.

And that’s a shame, because with the vote comes tremendous power. A cross on a ballot ticket can destroy a government without killing anyone. That is insane when you think about it.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that we’re not living in a real democracy. Political leaders are continually cutting corporate taxes, preferring instead to gouge the poor. How do they get away with this? It benefits them, let us not be distracted by that. Power corrupts the moment a person is elected. Anyone who covets power is corruptible. We’re electing the wrong leaders, the ones who see money as their primarily goal.

These are common sense arguments that I’m presenting. A healthy nation is in the interest of all of us. Same with education. I benefit by the training of my doctor, the bus driver, etc. Educate people, and we could solve half the world’s problems.

Rather, we commodify people. The word customer is all the rave now, you hear it being used all the time. The ticket collector on the train now calls you a customer. But you’re not, you’re a passenger. Customer is only for people who have money. And what if you don’t have money? You’re no longer a person. Economic language classifies according to our money and not our need which leads to unhappiness. It dehumanizes the poor.

But wait. You’re unhappy, so here’s a pill you can take. It’s a vicious circle that makes zombies out of all of us.

Our values are currently made up of who is strong and weak, not right or wrong. Money is not a key to happiness, it is a corruption. Its focus is to compete, and to compete you must defeat someone. The human race will not survive on this ideology, and it isn’t thriving at the moment either.

We as people need to wise up to all of this. We need to stop being distracted by shiny objects that we can possess and regain power of the world. We’re now living in the age of the working poor. People are terribly unhappy, rates of mental illness are on the rise, obesity, diabetes, and a host of other chronic diseases continue to increase because we feel beaten by our governments.

We come home, we sit on the couch, we turn on the television, we self-medicate, and we zone out. With one vote, the power of that vote, if used in unison, can change the very way our world is run. It will give power back to the people, but first we need to change our priorities and learn to think for ourselves.

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Am I anti-American? Maybe…

AmericanFlag

A few of my readers have sent me emails claiming that my posts over the last couple of months have been bordering on anti-American.

Though I have no issues with Americans themselves, I am constantly annoyed by American culture. The main problem I have is the claim that America is the home of the free. You don’t even have to read the fine print to realize that this isn’t true. It’s the home of the free if you happen to be born into significant wealth, are white, heterosexual and a man.

Whenever I hear an American say that every person in America is born equal, I want to shake them and say, “Except black people, gay people, the disabled, all other minorities, and women!” I mean, who are they fooling with this statement?

I guess what irks me most are the blinders Americans tend to have in respect to other countries, and how they have achieved equality without the mud-slinging, rhetoric and hyperbole that goes on in the U.S.

Just take the gay issue for instance. Gay marriage is now recognized in over 15 countries. Hell has not frozen over, straight people are not getting divorced (no more than they used to); in fact NOTHING has changed except that their societies are more inclusive.

In specific American states, people can still get fired for being gay, are forbidden from adopting and/or fostering children; cannot marry, and therefore can’t visit their partners in the hospital, even if they are dying; can be refused service because of their sexuality and the list goes on and on and on! That’s not the end of the inequality for gay people in America. In this respect America is no better than Russia, and other nations it purports to have moral authority over.

As a Canadian we’re inundated with American culture and politics. The issues that are being fought for in America have already been achieved here in Canada. I still can’t believe that gay people don’t have equal protection under the constitution of America, I mean how is that possible? I still can’t believe that in America children are allowed to bring guns to school. I still can’t believe that over 30 million Americans (the population of Canada) are without health insurance. I still can’t believe that Americans are debating a woman’s right to choose! These arguments have been going on since the 70s, how divisive is this country still?

How can any religious country, especially America, who prides itself on its generosity, be so heartless to its own people?

Make no mistake, America is a great place to earn a lot of money. If that’s your main goal in life, then by all means, move there and try to make your fortune. But as American corporations — with the government firmly on their payroll — continue to erode the middle-class, creating an even bigger divide between the rich and the poor, your chances of finding the “American dream” are decreasing by the day.

It’s catastrophically unjust that the men who were responsible for the 2008 economic crash that ruined lives all over the world, have never once been incarcerated, or charged. Instead, and much worse, they were given bonuses, and received government bailouts, which is the same type of socialism they claim is evil.

This alone demonstrates that America is not the home of the brave, nor the free. The only country to come out of the economic crisis of 2008 relatively unscathed was Canada, due to our responsible banking regulations. The average Canadian makes more money per year than the average American. Take that!

In America, equality has a long way to go, and the fact that the American government has made gay people crawl on their hands and knees for their protection and recognition is disgraceful. Hate in America has a national televised forum, under the guise that it’s the exhibition of free speech.

So yeah, I guess I’m a little anti-American these days. Or perhaps, I’m just sick of the hypocrisy that they shove down our throats, and how they demand that we admire it.

Olivia Chow for mayor

Olivia Chow resigned as a Member of Federal Parliament yesterday — an elected post she has held for 10 years — to focus her efforts on unseating Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto.

She has my vote. As an immigrant to Canada, Olivia knows first hand the struggles newcomers to this country experience.

My father is an Italian immigrant, I am a first generation Canadian. I believe in Olivia, her sincerity is unparalleled in this race, and I hope by November of this year she will lead Toronto to a brighter future.

Check out her website here and follow her on Twitter if you wish.

Israel’s New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants

About 60,000 Africans have migrated to Israel since 2006, fleeing unrest in their home countries. On arrival in the ostensibly democratic country, the migrants have faced intense persecution and have been branded as “infiltrators” by right-wing politicians and activists.

It’s quite shocking to see Jewish people demonstrate the same fear and hatred that they experienced from the Nazis during the Holocaust. Has it been so long since the second World War that young Israelis cannot remember how dangerous their belief systems can be?

You know during the Sochi Olympics I kept thinking how stupid my idea of boycotting the Games was in light of the human rights atrocities committed in almost every single country in the world.

So I reneged my decision. I didn’t seem to have this much passion when China hosted the Olympics, or when America did also, and these are nations that have and continue to commit egregious human rights offences, even on their own people.

I had arguments with a few gay friends who said that I was a traitor for not shunning the Sochi Olympics. But I couldn’t see the merits of their arguments.

I asked one gentleman, “Well, where is that last place you travelled?”

“Jamaica,” he replied.

“Do you know that the Jamaican president issued a statement permitting families to kill their gay relatives?”

Silence.

“So by visiting Jamaica, you indirectly contributed to homophobia.”

Silence.

Yep. Hate is hate, no matter where it is. I don’t quite understand when people make a stand against one country, because it happens to be trending in the news currently, and not against a country offering a good holiday package. We’re all hypocrites to some degree.

It just stands to reason that if you’re going to boycott the Sochi Olympics because of their anti-gay laws then perhaps you should boycott travelling to countries with similar laws. No?

In the end, despite my initial claims not to watch the Russian Olympics, I chose to support the athletes, while simultaneously recognizing Putin’s devastating impact on not just gays, but all minorities within the nation he governs.

Israel is becoming an increasingly popular gay holiday destination, but the same individuals who encouraged their peers to boycott Sochi, have no problem taking a trip to the Holy Land, because, hey, their beaches are full of hot guys.

Yep. Prejudice is prejudice and if we’re going to act in an effort to stop it, we should aim for consistency.

The God Delusion

It probably comes to no one’s surprise that I am not a religious person. I am agnostic, which means that I don’t know, nor do I pretend to know how the world came to be and who, if anyone, is in control of it.

I accept a secular view of the world, and do not believe in a God, but rather the important role science plays in answering some of the most pressing questions about our planet and the sentient life that populates it.

Growing up gay and Catholic, who has studied the Bible, admittedly a limited study, I cannot subscribe to any faith that ignorantly teaches that homosexuals are sub-level, deviant human beings in need of correction.

I know first hand how religion can be used as a weapon to shame and control people into obedience, shunning question or thought and promising retribution for apostasy.

I also cannot adhere to any faith that resorts to violence in an effort to prove that they are the one “true” religion for the purpose of achieving moral dominance. To me that is the antithesis of morality.

In fact, there are clear examples of amorality within the Old Testament, anecdotes that have been taken as fact by those with an exclusionary agenda that conscribes them into a literal definition of fallible scriptures for the purpose of demonstrating superiority.

It is their own lack of reason and logic that frustrates religious leaders. They simply have no concrete arguments against those who question, study and based on its apparent moral depravity, reject holy scriptures.

Religion according to some, especially if you look to those in the United States as an example, has been used to subjugate individuals into archetypal roles that have been detrimental to the advancement of our species. For example, labeling women as either saints or whores to exclude them from being taken seriously.

The end of poverty is simple: Educate women and break the shackles of their religious oppression, but religion says “NO!” Religious patriarchy continues to seminate the belief that the vagina is to be feared, rooted in men’s own personal shame about their failure to control their most basic impulses. Namely, their erect penises.

I have no problem that when I die there is a real possibility that I will cease to exist, that there will be no heaven, no purgatory, no hell. I’m okay with that, it does not frighten me, or compel me to believe in a faith to soothe my worries or fears.

So it comes as no surprise that I enjoy Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late, Christopher Hitchens. It is my regret that I never had the chance to have sex with Hitchens, whom I find to be the sexiest man who has ever lived. Oh well, maybe in my next life. Ha!

Being a gay man, who has been repressed for years by religious patriarchy, I’ve earned my right to distrust religion. We’re continuing to be killed the world over, laws enacted to restrict our worth and livelihood, in the name of God.

That is not God. He’s been hijacked by hate.

#FreeArturo the polar bear trapped in deplorable conditions in a Mendoza Zoo — shame on Argentina!

A polar bear trapped in deplorable conditions at a zoo in Mendoza, Argentina is slowly going insane. Efforts were under way to move the suffering animal to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg, but in typical Argentine fashion authorities there failed to produce the proper medical records required by Canadian regulations.

To bring an animal into Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires specific records dating back at least three years and the Argentines can’t provide them, therefore no permit.

According to the Winnipeg Sun:

“There are very strict regulations that must be met to bring an animal into Canada,” said Don Peterkin, chief operations officer with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. “These regulations are in place to ensure the health and welfare of animals and animal-related industries so without the proper health records in place it’s simply not possible to obtain the permits required.”

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy has been in contact with the Mendoza Zoo in the South American country for weeks, trying to see if a transfer to Canada would help the 28-year-old bear, who is languishing in hot weather.

Assiniboine Park representatives will participate in a Skype meeting on Friday to help assess the bear’s health, and have offered to send a member of their veterinary team in the near future to evaluate his environment and make possible recommendations for improvements.

The Mendoza Zoo has been under heavy scrutiny since 2013 after reports surfaced about the inhumane conditions of the polar bear’s enclosure. Video of the bear shows him in a shallow, tepid pool of water, sweltering in 35 C temperatures, staring at a picture of snow.

“Arturo is in a small cage, with no space to walk, he has no stimulation — and the weather is awful for a polar bear,” said María Fernanda Arentsen, a professor at Université de Saint-Boniface, who spearheaded the months-long campaign to bring Arturo to Winnipeg.

How the Mendoza zoo acquired Arturo is suspect in a country where this type of treatment towards animals is typical. I personally visited Mendoza in February 2012 and can attest that it is extremely dry, and hot, definitely not a place for an arctic animal like a polar bear.

Without medical records I wonder how many times Arturo has been moved throughout his life. All in the name of profit for animal abusers. He is clearly not getting the medical attention that he desperately needs and he is slowly going insane, as you can see in the video that I posted above.

Argentina’s attitudes about animals infuriates me. When I lived there, Argentines frequently explained what a ‘warm people’ they were, but I realized that what they meant was that they liked to have a lot of sex with as many people as possible.

Animals are often neglected, abused and ill-cared for. Definitely not the characteristics of a warm, friendly, enlightened people.

I’ve already written letters to the Minister of Agriculture of Manitoba, the Governor of Mendoza, the conservation park in Winnipeg and the zoo in Mendoza. No one has replied to my messages.

What we can do

  • On Saturday, February 22 there will be a “TweetStorm”on Twitter. Simply write as many tweets as you can with the hashstag #FreeArturo and #MendozaZoo and let’s help save Arturo’s life before it’s too late.
  • Please sign the petition at Change.org now if you can.

Thanks for all your help!

Watch Anti-Gay, Pro-Putin Americans protest in Sochi, Russia

If you’re a pro-gay protester in Russia you’re arrested. If you’re anti-gay protester in Russia you’re rewarded! Watch as these Americans praise the Putin regime’s discrimination of gay people.