Is This Progress? This Is Progress.

What Is Kaputall?

Oxford defines Kaput as "broken and useless; no longer working or effective" - similar to our unbalanced economic system. This is a page dedicated to the intersection of capitalism and social, political, and environmental problems.

Friday, 15 April 2016

An Interesting Comparison

The two most salient national stories this week have to be yesterday's introduction of new right to die legislation and the revelations earlier this week that there is an urgent crisis in northern communities regarding lack of access to adequate mental health services. So far as I can tell, nobody is talking about these two stories together, which I find remarkable given the connections.

In the case of the new legislation, there has been a rush to come up with suitable modifications to the criminal code in the wake of last year's supreme court ruling. While it is clear that more than 75 per cent of Canadians support some form or right to die legislation, there is a strong disconnect politically as crafting legal frameworks is (by definition) tricky business.

The Liberals have been busy since the election drafting their proposed fix, though the result has been (by many accounts) disappointing. Instead of sweeping change, the legislation gently broadens the circumstances under which doctor-assisted death may occur legally. There will be a lot of room for interpretation around suffering and duration which will lead to serious precedents being set in the near future. The result of these changes has been to continue to restrict the right to die for people who have are suffering.

We are all familiar with the moral arguments around end of life care. Our legal system, particularly in criminal law, is predicated on long traditions of western morality.

But we should be asking ourselves, if we are not accepting of doctor-assisted death, then why are we so complicit in a First Nations reservation system that, without a doubt, condemns those in it to poverty, suffering, and death?

Morality is, of course, highly subjective. Moreover, it is intrinsically self-contradictory in its application. But if we are truly going to live in a society that we can be proud of, then why aren't we focused on dignity?

In both cases, the failure to focus on dignity reduces the suffering of people who are trapped in system - health care or reservations. Desperation, whether due to the decay of the human body or due to systemic racism manifests itself similarly: in the will to end that struggle.

It is patently disingenuous to be so preoccupied with preventing someone from receiving doctor-assisted death but not concerned for the epidemic that is suicide in northern communities. We all deserve dignity, whether in the pursuit of life or at its end.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Underwood and the Future of American Democracy

Media attention in the democratic race has been focused so far on, primarily, Sanders and Clinton. Despite the fact that Clinton has been very close to securing the nomination over Sanders, few have been focused on the outside shot. I'm talking of course about Democratic nominee Francis Underwood. Regardless of the fact that he doesn't have a chance at winning delegates this time around, it's worth considering what could occur with the superdelegate count in June. I'm going to argue here that I think Underwood, while an exceptionally improbable victor, would be a disaster for America.

A South Carolina Democrat, Underwood has been serving as a congressman since 1991. Since then he has spent time as party whip and Secretary of Education. Underwood has shown exemplary initiative by most accounts, having risen from relative obscurity since 2013.

The controversial education bill he worked on failed to pass through the legislature and he also attempted to push through protections for women in the armed services. He intends, if selected, to carry out a mandate on ''America Works'' which is part austerity programme and part faux-socialist, as it is a programme designed to achieve full employment, and old tactic of Soviet regimes.

He has been known to have a wild temper, something which the media has yet to see, but can be confirmed through interviews with key insiders, most notably former teacher union leader Marty Spinella, who is perhaps better known for having hit Underwood himself after a bout of rage. The charges of manipulation and blackmail by various members of Congress have intermittently become the content of back pages, but there is no denying his mystique and broad appeal.

Where I see perhaps the greatest struggle will be on questions related to foreign relations. So far as I can ascertain, he has limited experience in diplomacy, and despite his personal relationship with the Russian president, there isn't much to go on. His positions on global terror are most certainly unclear, something which Americans deserve to have clarity on before electing him to the highest office.

My worries are that Underwood is willing to do whatever it takes, and his ethics are indeed beyond questionable. Considering that he is relatively out of the contest, these issues might be unimportant, but I would argue that (like all other candidates) his background, his personal logs, relationships, and so on should be scrutinised more carefully. Underwood is, in my opinion, what is wrong with American politics - the blackmail, manipulation, message control, backroom deals and so forth. Again, these contrast largely with his election messages.

Overall, I'm not surprised at the failure of mainstream media to focus much attention (if, frankly, any at all) on Underwoods candidacy. However, with all the uncertainty around the Republican nomination, it would not surprise me if the Democratic Party were to have an outrageous upset itself.