Monday, September 15, 2008

Food for Thought

- In the world of the super rich, Toronto is a great place to be. There,$25 million will get you a super prime condo. In New York, that’s a downpayment and in London it doesn’t even count where condos sell for $11 800per square foot. A house in France reportedly sold recently for $775million and in India they are building a one billion dollar condo. That would be the one being built for Mukesh Ambani and his family of 6 whoneeded new digs when infighting with his brother over their father’s wealth made living in a 22 story building impossible. This new one is 27 stories but equivalent to sixty. It is in Mumbai, built on land bought way below market price from a trust that originally planned to build an orphanage for Mumbai’s countless orphans. More than half of the residents in Mumbai live in slums. (Toronto Star 16/08/08)
- That contrasts wildly with “The High Cost of Low Wages” (Toronto Star,22/08/08) which asked the question, “Why should billion dollar corporations be allowed to pay poverty wages in Canada?” (so the superrich can pay for billion dollar condos, stupid!) More than a million workers in Toronto earn less than $30 000 per year. As the economy shrinks and pinches the workers, big oil and banks report record profits.As we continually point out, don’t expect capitalism to work for the workers.- Capitalism also forces people to act in strange ways –
1.Jazz Airlinesrecently announced that in order to save weight, and therefore fuel, they were removing life jackets from all its planes, including those flying over water. Now you have to hang on to your seats, literally!
2.The high price of gas – a Kentucky woman was arrested for trading sex for the pricey commodity.
3. A German purse thief escaped a would-be captor byexposing her breasts and yelling rape.
4. A man is arrested in San Jose for breaking into a small airport and siphoning airplane fuel into his cargas. tank.
5. Police in Peel Region (near Toronto) arrested two men and confiscated fake high-end labeled goods worth $10 million.
6. In Toronto thieves make off with 14 catch basin (road sinks) covers for scrap value and leave gaping holes in the roadway edges. The rest are being welded on.(mostly taken from “Proof the World is getting Worse”, Toronto Star).-
On the environmental front, Clayton Ruby (Toronto Star 16/08/08)reports that the Alberta Tar Sands Project is the ‘single most destructive fossil fuel development in the world.’ There are 207 countries in the world that track the emissions they emit and the tar sands alone out performs 145 of them. Each day the project uses 300 million cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 3 million Canadian homes. Each barrel produced in Alberta produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions of a conventional barrel of oil, yet $50 billion a year is being invested there instead of developing new clean technologies. Is there a better example of how capital slavishly follows the path of greatest profit now, without regard to humans or their environment? Harper’s intensity targets which reduces emissions per unit while letting overall emissions rise freely on greater volume, Dion’s carbon tax that allows trading of carbon credits,and Layton’s ‘make the polluters pay’ (as if!) don’t even begin to address the problem, just as you would expect. Our government did go to Washington to tout the green energy (sic) of the tar sands. Unfortunately for them,while there, a large flock of ducks landed in the ever-growing tar ponds, died en masse, and hit the headlines.- In the 1990s, Big Tobacco was in a life and death struggle to retain market share as cigarette prices soared to $50/200. The answer was to work through Canada’s native reserves and smuggle cigarettes in at cheap prices. They got caught and the resulting civil settlement reported onAugust 1 (Toronto Star) said that Imperial Tobacco and Rothman’s, Benson &Hedges paid out $300 million. On the second of August the same newspaper reported that the federal government paid out compensation to the tobacco farmers, who are being squeezed out of the market by a diminishing customer base, to the tune of …$300 million! John Ayers

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