Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Food for Thought 2

- How is the War on Poverty going? Carol Goar’s column in the Star is titled “So Much Patience and Hope, So Little Momentum”.
The provincial government is long on talk, slow to act. The cabinet committee on poverty reduction was disbanded in December and its ‘commitments’ farmed out toother agencies, probably to be buried. As social assistance case loads spiked due to the recession, the Liberals began to back off and a split appeared between those who supported public hearings and those who didn’t want the public to hear more welfare recipients describing their lives.Goar writes, “There is a large gap between the government’s intentions and anti-poverty activists’ expectations.
Basically, nothing is happening,then.
- Pensioners, mainly auto workers, worried about their pensions, rallied at Queen’s Park recently to make a statement re pension guarantees that seem to be disappearing rapidly with the health of the auto companies. - Some employers are apparently taking advantage of the recession to fire pregnant women and disabled or injured workers on light duties. As the CBCradio parody went :
Boss: Come into the office for a conference.
Pregnant woman: Is there a problem?
Boss: We are terminating you.
Pregnant woman: You can’t do that, it’s against the law unless you are downsizing.
Boss: We’re downsizing now, starting with you!
- Reforms get us nowhere, like running on a treadmill. Time for theRevolution!
- Examples of how crapitalism functions
– 1. Bringing forward a malariaVaccine – for decades, malaria sufferers have been ignored and have died by the millions because the large pharmaceutical companies (just a few dominate the market) have ignored the problem because it’s not profitableto make drugs that poor people cannot afford to pay for. John Cohen, head biologist at Glaxo-Smith-Kline, is getting close, after 22 years of research (Toronto Star, 25/04/09). The question is, will it be availableto all sufferers, or just those who can pay? The article admits, “It also wasn’t a priority because a vaccine geared to Africa just isn’t amoney-maker for drug companies.” Could anything be more stupid?
2. A Toronto Star article (26/04/09) documents the demise of Toronto’s industrial area and lists the many factories that have closed there. A picture shows an older lady standing beside an electric stove, still operational and looking good, that she helped to build in the 1950s.Today, manufacturers give a one-year warranty and have a life expectancyof five to ten years. Two of the five new appliances I bought four years ago have broken down with major problems. The tendency to cheaper quality goods to enhance profits and damage the environment is plain for all to see.
3. The modern trend in almost every industrial sector, and, frighteningly, this includes prescription drugs, is to let the producer be the inspector of health and safety. A Toronto Star article (24/04/09)begins, “A senior federal veterinarian says Canada’s Food Safety Agency is compromising public health by putting slaughterhouse workers in charge of deciding when poultry is too diseased or contaminated for human consumption.” The proper veterinary training includes in-depth knowledgeof animal pharmacology, pathology, microbiology, virology and pathogeny.By contrast, meat plant workers assigned to reject potentially dangerous poultry are trained for four weeks, at most.
Works well for profit! Capital trumps common sense again!
John Ayers

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