Saturday, 27 July 2013

Detroit Wants Robocop!

Movies, while providing a source of entertainment, also possess the ability to inspire us, move us and provide an example of the direction our society is moving in. Robocop among many memorable movies of our youth or general collection, gave us an image of a city named Detroit suffering from extreme crime, poverty and corporate management from what appears to be a multinational corporation.

While the movie employs common language and themes found in a typical 80's film setting, it was dead on regarding the advancement of science and also the potential direction American social conditions could take. You see, Robocop isn't a movie about a man robot so much as it is a glimpse of what society can become if we allow our greatest fears to overcome us and consume us. Crime is so bad in the movie that the police force has been diminished to cannon fodder...that is until our mechanized hero comes into play.

If you haven't guessed what the theme of today's post is, then you might have missed that Detroit recently declared for bankruptcy. Yes, that is correct, an American city that was once known to be the mecca of automobile manufacturing and prosperity, can no longer afford to pay it's own bills. While the demise of Detroit has been a known reality for some time now, it opens up a plethora of questions that challenge both American and Canadian ideas of development and stability in the year 2013. The 80's faced a severe war on drugs, which is most likely why the creators of Robocop decided to make severe crime and drug manufacturing such a key aspect of the movie, but something many miss is that the very company that created Robocop, also included some of the most dangerous characters increasing the crime in future Detroit.

Currently Detroit faces immense poverty and unregulated drug use. While there is a police force currently serving the city, it suffers from a lack of population as well as a very large income gap between social classes. We as a people should ask ourselves how such a prosperous city at one point has now been diminished to a bankrupt ghost town? If banks and the "big three" auto companies were to big to fail, how is it that Detroit, an entire city was allowed to? How can a government allow it's own citizens to live at a third world level, while it continues to support and increase the profitability of private multinational companies.

I wouldn't be surprised if the universe that allows Robocop to exist becomes a reality in present day Detroit. I mean, all of the conditions are there and the setting is perfect for some large company like Google or Apple to move in and take charge. When you have homes selling for $1.00, yes that is correct, one American dollar, you can figure the potential in real estate investment alone. Never mind the house sitting on that land, view the potential property for a future factory, R&D facility or private headquarters.

While the prospect of Detroit becoming governed and practically owned by a third party private organization worries me, when viewed from the American point of view, this potential reality is nothing out of the ordinary. I mean Americans live on a premise of free market enterprise, which in the case of Detroit would welcome potential investment and private management from a large company that is financially secure.

I want you to imagine however an alternative reality to the current scenarios I have provided. Imagine if, the government invested with it's stimulus money and began building American versions of what we Canadians refer to as "crown corporations." A method of employment for the many unemployed residents of Detroit as well as a beacon of hope for others who currently cannot find employment living in other cities or states. Many Americans would call this socialism, something that is very bad in a free market system, but these many Americans are also the ones currently benefiting from the status quo and aren't locking their doors and windows every night with five to ten locks just to keep out the druggies (Yes, believe it, this is actually the case for many people).

While Detroit now holds the record for being the largest city to declare bankruptcy, it may also prove to become a historic landmark for future generations. The beginning of the corporate take over, when a private company becomes the main stakeholder in a city and instead of investing into it with the cooperation of the government, it becomes the governing body. Plus, if the situation in Detroit does happen to possibly get worse, it wouldn't be to long until the local government and the remaining people living there cry out for someone to bail them out, if the federal government isn't there, a private one is the next thing in line.

One thing is for sure, if Robocop and his foes become a reality, you can bet a fine penny that Stephen Harper and his government would be buying up the defective killing machine that doesn't even work in the first movie. Robocop handled that thing like a charm, but Canada would then be facing the F-35 issue once again!

50 units without even knowing the cost? You and I are going to be great friends Mr. Harper!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

An Essay On Egypt

       Fireworks blazing, people chanting and crowds form amid the sound of tank tracks moving into position. While many people watching the news are looking to Egypt with uncertainty, the essence of democracy appears to be laying it's foundation among the Egyptian people. A time of decisions and conflict is continuing within Egypt and with this the future of the Egypt as a country is being formed. While the current situation in Egypt appears to be teetering on the brink of war, there are still many signs that Egyptians will come together and maintain a loud peace in the coming months and years. Democracy does not happen over night and Egypt provides an example to those living in the "West" of exactly what our own country has gone through upon the adoption of democracy and freedom. Egypt is more than just a conflict zone waiting to happen, it is a glimpse of our past through a lens pointed toward the future.

    Over the past few weeks, I have been following news reports showcasing the removal of Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi and what many argue is a coup d'etat by the Egyptian military. My first impression upon seeing the military move in was naturally that a general or some high ranking military officer would step forward and assume control of the country immediately after removing the president. What shocked me more than anything else is the reality that this did not happen. While the military is currently controlling things from a distance, it appears their influence is mainly within the background. While this still does not make their actions any more democratic it does enforce the fact that the military believes democracy within Egypt is occurring or at the very least a possibility. People tend to forget that an interim president was selected by the Egyptian courts to resume until elections could be held. This further shows that some form of stability via Egyptian institutions still remains within the country and as a result further enforces the hope that a civil war will not commence.

The situation in Egypt allows for an important example to western countries because it gives us a glimpse at the early workings of a democracy, many people with many voices pushing their way to gather some say in the direction of a country. In Egypt, it appears the division currently faced by the people is between the Muslim Brotherhood and the more secular general population. Like many other countries in history, Egypt is showing us what happens when you have two identical groups gathered at a crossroads and dividing themselves based on the factors that garner a uniqueness among them. Realistically, the only factor that appears to be dividing Egyptians is religion, everything else is a spinoff of this blatant point. 

While it appears right that religion be kept out of politics within the country, it also appears very wrong that an elected official be taken out of office at the request of the military, whom in reality is in place to serve such an individual on behalf of the national security of the people. Can we argue that the removal of Morsi did in fact serve the national interest of Egyptians? I would probably say yes, only because if anything the military has saved Mohammed Morsi from assassination by those who opposed his prospective amendments to the Egyptian constitution.  

Egyptians need to remember that their revolution is still very fresh and that just because an election was held does not mean they have reached democracy! If anything, the election that put Morsi into power reflects more on the definition of a true democracy than it does in enforcing that a democracy actually exists. For example, many allegations have surfaced that people were fed to vote in support of Muslim Brotherhood candidates. While these allegations remain rumours within the conflict, it does ask you to reflect on the foundation that a true democracy rests. A democracy is generally defined as a system of freedom and equality that attributes one vote per person, but while this definition is important as a general description, it fails in properly including economic factors into the equation. If someone is starving on the street and cannot support themselves or their family, are they truly in a position to say they are free? While their vote does count equally as anyone else in their society, how can we argue democracy has been achieved when the majority of the country is unemployed, underemployed, undereducated or simply outcast?

What Egypt needs more right now than another election is an action plan that can gain consensus from all parties on how to mitigate the issues plaguing their economy. Lets face it...if it wasn't for the majority of youth unemployed and bored, Egyptian rebels may not have even garnered the appropriate support that led overall to the overthrow of Mubarak. You cannot argue against this point because realistically what the Egyptian revolution (Arab Spring) relied upon is the exact issue plaguing our current political system in Canada. We have a disconnection between Canadian youth and the political system that they so heavily depend on, but do not realize.

I am not surprised that president Obama has not only not chosen a party to back in this conflict, but also takes caution at the idea that a military has taken it into it's own hands to remove an elected official. The military has made this revolution to good to be true I would argue as a result of their actions. If enough people gathered once again and eventually pushed Morsi out, alright, we have the people speaking their voices and pushing for a proper change. However, now that the military has taken the move to act on behalf of a certain portion of the population, they have not only derailed the possibility of positive democratic development in Egypt, but have also created a rift between Egyptians, further separating them. One can only question if Mubarak supports within the military still exist that may have led to this possible outcome.

Egyptians need to form solid and legitimate institutions within their society before they can properly proclaim that they have founded a democratic political system. Until then, any progress made by the current system of politics will fail as it has in many other countries who have been in a similar situation. You only need to look at Soviet Russia to see how well it worked out when the military began dictating political decisions and the eventual outcome. A system broken and a country starving as corruption filled the void left when freedom and individuality were taken away by AK-47's and tanks.

Until Muslims within Egypt join hands with their secular brothers and extend a hand of peace to other secular nations willing to assist them, progress in Egypt will not commence. A democracy must be free and with that commitment, it must also be unbiased and free from religion and military rule. This is no small pill to swallow, but is crucial in the development of Egypt's political stability and economic revival. If the country is to proper, it needs to come to a consensus on which direction it wants to head in and how it plans on supporting the requirements needed to fulfill this change. I can tell you with utmost certainty that this upcoming election will not quell the rage people are currently feeling regarding the identity of their country, but realistically in any democratic country, can we expect everyone to remain happy with the decisions made and the people elected? Of course not, but we can expect that when these people voice themselves, they do so with the freedom of knowing their voices count and that their security is confirmed regardless of their political allegiance.

Change is coming to Egypt as a country and Egyptians as a free people, what needs to happen between now and then is the what has happened in any free and democratic country, what remains important is that Egyptians not only step back and look at themselves, but also who they want to become.

Until Next Time!    

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Adult Assembly Required: Bottled Water

Like many out there, I consume a fair amount of bottled beverages, whether we are talking about my insane addiction to diet coke or my love of bottled carbonated Italian water, it is a guarantee that money is being spent to supply me something contained in a plastic bottle.

Apparently, the ocean is filling up with microscopic pieces of plastic...the result of human waste being tossed and sliced by the natural waves, while these pieces of tiny plastic may not seem real tough, they are apparently leeching chemicals into the water that are not properly recognized. So foreign are these chemicals that our bodies are apparently deciding that they resemble something closer to estrogen, which creates a legitimate risk for all males that consume water contaminated with this chemical.

In urban street language and to put it bluntly, we have an example here of tainted water that is threatening to destroy your junk men! That means no babies and to an extreme...a damaged love machine.

I recently had the pleasure of having my world crash around me and fill with fear after watching a documentary called: "chasing ice."

All I have to say is that this documentary shouldn't be labelled so....for in reality we should be referring to it as a wake up call. I can imagine all of the climate change/global warming deniers finding this amazing piece of art a very good fabrication, because the evidence it portrays cannot be argued.

We as human beings have come to the point in our existence where we need to make hard decisions. These tough choices have been around since our incarnation, however now we really need to open our eyes and analyze what exactly is going on around us.

How is this relevant to The Political Road Map? Well, it seems that our current direction with handling the balance between our environment and our own personal convenience has become astray.

While I enjoy drinking carbonated Italian water from a plastic bottle, I cringe at the thought of the domestic bottles of water also for sale in the same aisle. How our government is allowing these private firms to purchase water from our natural water tables and sell them in plastic death traps. I looked up some figures recently and while I cannot vouch for their validity, I am not surprised if they are in fact accurate. Companies are purchasing aquifer water/spring water for as cheap as $0.40 a megalitre. I may have just created a new word there, but the price is ridiculous!

While this water is attained for next to nothing, these same companies are bottling it and selling it back to us for a very nice premium. I pay more for bottled Italian water than I do for gas, mind you the water is travelling overseas...hmm....but this price is not as far off as the same water we purchase from domestic sources.

It is getting quite ridiculous, when we face a generation that suffers from obesity, but scratch our heads when trying to figure out why most people turn to bottled beverages like Coca Cola as opposed to simply water.

One part of this is mass marketing, which makes us believe the drinks we consume are good for us...either socially or literally physically...vitamin water as an example of such BS. Next though is the price of the alternative, if our government really wanted to curb obesity, they could investigate initiatives that you know...promote the healthy stuff. Instead of allow companies to drain our natural water sources and resell it for a premium, maybe socialize these sources and contain the amount we suck out of them and offer the water for free?

If you have the choice on a hot Canadian summer day, one of the approximate 2 months we get of the stuff, would you be tempted at a FREE bottle of Canadian water from a reusable source rather than a costly beverage of Diet Coke or other pop?

This may not be the solution to all of our immediate problems both health wise and regarding the environment, but for the sake of The Political Road Map, it would be a move in the right direction.

What do you think?

Until Next Time!