February 29 2004
Dear Mayor Miller (and Mr. McMurtry),
I was most interested to read of your initiative to tackle the growing problem of youth violence in Toronto (Panel on youth crime praised - McMurtry took job on the condition that police weren't involved, Miller says), and I would like to offer the following thoughts on the situation (I would appreciate it if you would forward this letter on to Mr. McMurtry as well, whose email address does not seem to be available anywhere that I can find, at least).
This is, in my opinion, a systemic problem rather than some localised phenomena, and must be dealt with from that perspective. I say this because I believe that the "social contract" if you will that our generations (those of us born before, shall we say, 1960 or so) grew up with, that set out, in both written and unwritten ways, the general guidelines of civil behaviour and interaction among all of us - those fortunate enough to be born into or work their way into positions of power and privilege, and those of us destined for more mundane but still decent and fulfilling lives - has been under attack now for the last twenty-plus years - the origins of this attack go back, indeed, to the early 1970s, but it has only been since the mid-1980s that most of "we the common people" have been feeling them in a sustained, detrimental way. The so-called New World Order, often referred to as the "Neocon" movement, has decreed (through their behaviour and policies - one won't often find this kind of thing in writing, but as we all know, actions speak louder than words, especially in our era of spin-doctors and "managed" news and entire divisions of corporations and governments devoted to "PR", etc) that their new world shall be much less civil, much more a world of winners and losers, wherein the "winners" - those who come out on top of the game in which making a lot of money is the single imperative, the single criteria of win-loss - shall be gifted with the wonderful lives made possible by all of the modern technical marvels, and the losers - those who for various reasons do not acquire a lot of money - shall more and more revert to the lives of drudgery and insecurity and poverty of older, much less civilised times, as the benefits of a truly civilised society that our ancestors worked so hard to create are stripped away from those of us unfortunate enough to be part of the majority "non-elite" members of our society.
The young people understand this well, at least in essence, the effects they see around them, although they may be unable to articulate it well, as the "education" system has also suffered greatly under the New World Order - the lies and hypocrisy they see all around them on a daily basis do not impress them much as the mandarin bureaucrats of the government and media tell them that their health care will be lessened and their families and friends allowed to die in waiting rooms or while waiting in long waiting lists for lack of attention, and the universities increasingly closed to them, and so on, because there is "less money" for the government programs that used to help the less well-off of their communities (although they understand that large amounts of the earnings of their poor and middle-class parents are being taxed away - for what??) - they understand this for the lie it is - they see the huge wealth generated by Canada, and have been brought up to understand that ALL Canadians contribute to that wealth, and thus it should be used to provide a basic decent standard of living more equally for all of us, but they see that in reality, all government propaganda aside, most of this wealth goes to the people with access to the top floors of the Bay St Towers. While the government tells the poor and next-to-poor middle class that there is no money for the hospitals and schools, the wealthy drive hundred-thousand dollar cars, live in million dollar homes, and spend their winters in exotic locations around the world - and demand lower and lower taxes while the hospitals and schools close for lack of money, and students learn from 20-year old textbooks because there is no money - they are told - for new ones. You can't lie to young people - although they lack sophistication, they aren't that stupid - they see that there is lots of money in the country - it is just not available to them. And they make choices at their young ages - and, as young people full of hormones and a desire to be all they can be will do, they choose to fight rather than give in - they choose to pursue what they understand to be the "good life", the life that HAS money rather than the life that doesn't - and they understand well, by the examples they see, that to achieve this life, it is necessary to be bold and violent, rather than tame and docile.
And so they are, and so they acquire guns and kill one another in the pursuit of their dream, and increase the violence in our society.
It is good to see that you have excluded the police from this commission - the police too have, by and large over the last 20+ years, become a part of the NWO, a central part of the breach of the contract of civility that had been created during the twenty-odd years following the last World War. The police that used to protect the people, and be a part of the small communities they served, an integral part of "we the people" and our societal contract, have, by and large, been infiltrated and co-opted and now become to a very significant extent the enforcers of the NWO rather than the keepers of the peace of civil society that we created them to be. The police have (by and large again I say, as there are still good ones among them) have become the same as George Bush's NWO Army, there to enforce the edicts of the powerful and suppress those who dare to fight back, whether Iraqi or Afghani or Canadian patriots fighting for their country - we have seen this clearly in Canada the last few years, from the APEC situation in Vancouver in 1997 where the once-honourable RCMP attacked Canadian citizens violently for the first time (in the post-war era at any rate) in large numbers for daring to express their displeasure at the Canadian government being more concerned with the "right" of a visiting vicious dictator than the rights of Canadian citizens to express their displeasure at their government offering such a person such honoured treatment, through the Toronto Queen's Park riot and then Quebec City a couple of years ago, and many other instances - these were NOT the actions of a police force who saw their duty as protecting the CITIZENS of Canada as they went about their lawful business, but a police force who saw their duty as protecting the Government of Canada - no longer a Canadian government of, by and for the people of Canada, but a client state of the NWO - FROM the citizens of Canada.
The young people also see this, and understand where the power lies, and where the power sees them as fitting in the scheme of things - and, unlike older people who have been more willing to accept their lot in life, the young people do not rest easy with the prospect of a future as one of the endless faceless peasants in the NWO, and choose to fight for a better life. They well understand that in the NWO, as people of low birth, and with less and less money in the public system to help them, their chances of achieving even a decent middle class life are vanishingly small, and thus they take up the role of young males in any social gathering, and try to achieve advancement through showing, through sheer force and violence, that they will TAKE the right to move up the social scale a few notches. For them, Mr. Miller, Mr. McMurtry, they have seen what the gamble offers, and what the possible cost may be, weighed this against the life that the less and less civil society offers them, and chosen the path of violence.
If you are truly serious about alleviating this situation (I must confess honestly to some doubts on this score, as we have seen study after hearing after commission after inquiry the last couple of decades whose sole purpose was quite obviously, in retrospect, to pretend to address things the public were deeply concerned about to quiet them down and appear to be doing something, without making any substantive changes to the ruling order of things, and we have little reason to believe this won't be another such exercise) it is absolutely imperative that you recognize the truth of this - any suggestions made without recognising this will be doomed to fail, as you cannot solve a situation of any sort by measures addressed to the wrong problem. You don't cure a case of measles by putting sweet-smelling ointment on the blisters accompanied by lots of press releases about a new miracle cure and everybody should be happy - you cure measles by a much more direct attack through appropriate drugs on the virus circulating in the blood. And so it must be with the problem our society faces with violence and young people - if you try to attack the surface crime, which is but the visible manifestation of the deeper problem, directly, through greater police presence and harsher punishments, for instance, you are doomed to fail, because you are not dealing with the source of the problem, and as long as the virus is circulating freely in our society, so will the problems it leads to endure. Such measures are not out of place, to create some safety for non-violent citizens in the short term - but along with them you must attack the problem of youth and violence through going to the root - the breakdown of the social contract. And this will take the one most important thing of all - the political will to actually solve the problem.
The roots of this go deep, and it will obviously be beyond the reach of the City of Toronto or even the Ontario government alone to deal fully with them - but you can certainly make a strong beginning, and with the leadership of such bodies demanding the Federal Government take certain appropriate steps to begin to restore a solid social contract, significant progress could be made in a reasonably short time - it will depend not so much on the actual achievement of any specific goals as on the clear and believable evidence, to the people of Canada, that the neocon fantasy has run its course finally, and once again the great country of Canada will be a country that is run for ALL of its citizens, not just the wealthy few, as it has come to be. I believe the people of Canada to be somewhat desperate for such leadership at this time in our history, and would welcome leaders with such a vision with great open arms.
Alright - that was a lot of "theory" if you will about what I believe are the roots of the problem we face, and in general what needs to be done to deal with the problem of youth violence and shootings in Toronto - but what exactly am I talking about when I say restoration of the social contract? What specific things do I think we ought to be doing now, in terms of policy or activities to start to deal effectively with this situation? Well, I mean such things as the following (I won't get into details at this time, as this letter already grows lengthy - but there is a great deal more information available on these things from many sources, to which I would be glad to steer you should you wish more information).
* HONESTY in government is perhaps the single biggest "root" issue facing us today - everywhere people look, they see lying politicians taking advantage of their office to line their own pockets - stealing money from the public purse which, as tax dollars, is meant to be used for the benefit of everyone (and then the great irony and perversity of telling those who are being stolen from that there is not enough money for the things they need!). The stealing of money is, of course, bad - but even worse is the theft of the trust that people used to have for their governments, for the people they elected to represent them - the social contract itself, indeed - yes, there were occasional scandals and whatnot during the "golden age" I refer to after WW2 - but these were the exception rather than the rule, and in general the politicians did their best, imperfect though it often was, to balance the competing interests of the wealthy people around them with access to the corridors of power and "we the people" (where are today's Diefenbakers or Tommy Douglases, pushing for medicare, UI, OAP, etc???? - no, nowadays the politicians are saying, almost to a person, that we need to cutback on all these things - that OUR money must go to the banks to pay interest on the debt, or in tax cuts to the wealthy, etc - what small minded people we have now in sad replacement of the giants of only a generation ago!!!). Over the last 20+ years, that balance that was at the center of the social contract has been almost entirely lost, as the corporate sector has grown more wealthy and open with their bribes, and the politicians more open with the acceptance of such things, and the people no longer have politicians or a system which they can trust to work, at least a bit, for them rather than against them. So to restore the social contract - the trust the people have, MUST have, in their leaders, the people who have so behaved - both the "corrupters" and the "corruptees" - must no longer be allowed to hide behind their privilege and powerful contacts, but MUST be charged with the crimes they have committed against the public trust, and justice TRULY served - there must be jail time for the rich thieves who steal for rich estates as there is for the poor who steal to buy bread for their families, and a significant effort to recover the money they stole, in order to send out a very clear message that this behaviour, this betrayal, will no longer be tolerated - and it must begin now, not later. Recovering the trust of the people in their elected representatives will take a bit longer - but if this first step is carried out so that they can see the era of complete corruption is over and will no longer be tolerated, they will have reason to hope. (I do not speak of the current "sponsorship" scandal in the federal government especially, although that too must be dealt with - but in your own purview, Ontario - the huge amounts (relatively speaking) for the computer fiasco in Toronto, for instance, and the much larger amounts the Harris government handed over to its friends in high places, so obviously nothing more than greedy paws dipping with BIG, obscenely greedy paws into the public purse). When the young people see this - and the many accompanying changes there will be for the better as the social infrastructure improves - they will again understand that such behaviour is not acceptable in those lucky enough to inhabit the upper levels of society, and equally not acceptable among the common people either, as all recognize their common duty to one another of civility and honesty, of peace and honour. It will be a good beginning.
* As a major component of this new honesty, all the talk and whining and sad little excuses emanating from all levels of government about "we don't have enough money!!!" for things the public needs also must stop immediately - everyone knows the high levels of tax they pay, both income tax and separate consumer taxes (consumer taxes that most people understand are considerably higher than they ought to be, because the people who accumulate most of the wealth pay considerably lower taxes than they ought to, fairly) - and that there is plenty of money available - what the public sees, however, is that handouts to the wealthy and perks for their elected "representatives" have been prioritised to the top of the list, and providing the things the people who pay the lion's share of those taxes expected their money to be used for have been shuffled off to the side and largely forgotten. This is truly the behaviour of banana-republic dictators - and the contempt the people of Canada are feeling these days for all elected officials reflects this behaviour, reflects the contempt the elected officials and wealthy lobbyists obviously equally feel for their poorer fellow citizens. Such things as elected officials flying off to meetings around the world to allegedly obtain information that could be gotten by any high school student from the internet in a few minutes, while telling the people that there is no money for new schoolbooks or after school activities or nurses to look after them in the hospital, has to stop immediately. "Consultants" being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few weeks work that regular paid employees could do equally well must stop also - pork-barreling of the worst sort, and people DO know what is happening here! CEOs making tens of millions of dollars, and investors making 10-20% and more on investments, and then turning around and screaming they need lower taxes - while the hospitals and schools are closing for lack of money - must stop immediately. And then, to whatever extent there is a short-term cash-flow problem because policies of the last 10-20 years have reduced revenue beyond sustainable means, just for starters, until the revenue problem is dealt with and ALL people (including investors and corporate "citizens") are paying a fair share of taxes that reflects the bounties they get from this country (and I'm NOT talking about the poor here!!!!!), the Bank of Canada is available and can be used for short-term, essentially interest-free loans, which would free up somewhere between $5-10 billion per year for the provincial government alone in money that currently goes straight from taxpayer's pockets to banks or other wealthy "investors" (if the feds are reluctant to do this, a publicity campaign to the citizens would probably be useful - this is something the feds themselves need to be called on, have for some years, as they have accumulated the entire "odious" National Debt quite unnecessarily - but that is a story for another day, and not really within your purview here - although all things are related, in our society, at this level). There is also the idea of "Community Currency" which could and should be explored - it is absolutely insane that a modern democratic government lets banks create money and then borrows that money from them thus committing their taxpayers to endless debt-servitude, rather than creating it themselves - I understand the feds are legally and constitutionally alone in their ability to create "legal tender" - but there are many ways around this, and with modern computers there are other forms of money that could be created, to be used in limited but widespread situations - but just imagine if your available budget was suddenly increased by 10-20%!!! - so many things that are now a casualty of "we just don't have enough money!!!" would suddenly be possible - and the social contract would be equally strengthened, by the people seeing that their government was trying to help them, not make excuses for their past shortcomings. And the young people, at least most of them, would start to see that, with a government that truly cared for their problems and needs, there was no need to turn to violence.
* There are many individual measures that could be taken to convince the youth of Toronto that violence and shooting are not the answer to their problems, real or otherwise, but if the underlying unity and strength of the social contract is not there as a backbone to everything else, they will continue to behave as if the world they see around them is NOT based on such a contract - if the Bay St Bankers and Investors are perceived as beyond the law, then these young people are going to feel, with reason, that they are only being played for fools if they obey laws that the powerful are not required to - and young men, with lots of testosterone and more than ample reason from the poverty they have been forced into while they see luxury around them, are not inclined to meekly step aside at the imperious commands of those who have already made their money, through whatever means. If they feel that the social contract is so meaningless that violence is acceptable for some, then they will surely feel that who the "some" are must be self-defined - this is something that "winners" understand, and these young people surely do not perceive themselves, regardless of their stations in life as allotted by the NWO, as "loser" - in the wild, in situations without a social contract, many of the young males are going to aspire to be the top dogs - and without a social contract to constrain them, a social contract they see is at least arguably fair, they will do so by the means they see the current top dogs using - and as we see over and over again, the current corporate leaders believe only in winning and greed, and show nothing but despite for the "losers" in their game. So if we do not provide these young people with good opportunities for them to achieve some reasonable approximation of "the good life" - then it is understandable that they would say to hell with everyone, and take the only path they see that might give them that approximation - the life of the outlaw, the shooter - get the prize or die trying. It is a very sad and telling commentary on how tattered the social contract that we grew up under has become, that there are so many out there who do not recognize it at all, and are willing to go around shooting like this with no care or concern for innocent victims.
But where do they get this attitude from? Look at our governments of the last ten years - handing more and more tax breaks to the wealthy - while cutting more and more people off of the small social assistance they had - with no care for the victims. No care that food banks were springing up all over the country, no care that people were dying in ERs for lack of staff to care for them, no care that after-school activities were being cancelled so the rich could pay lower taxes, no care that people in Africa with HIV-AIDS were dying in huge numbers when the only bar to drugs that could ease their misery was the profits of multi-national drug companies - etc and etc and etc and etc - it is a cold world, this NWO, and the young people see that too, and understand it clearly. When the young people see this - they have little choice but to believe that whatever the "social contract" is in the NWO - it doesn't do much for poor people, and winning is all. And if winning involves shooting a few people - they'll undertake that challenge too.
And we all lose.
So, in summary, Mr. Miller, Mr. McMurtry, this is the challenge - restore the social contract that the globalisers, the "free traders", the privatisers and deregulators and lowertaxers have torn asunder. Restore the Social Contract so that EVERY member of our society feels they have a role to play in keeping our society healthy and safe and happy - and equally EVERY member of our society is recognised and cared for through that Social Contract. This is not a "one shoe fits all" socialistic idea - there will still be people starting out, and people who have fewer job skills than others or people who choose to pursue other lifestyles than trying to be rich, and we will still have high-achievers who make considerably more money than "the average" if you will - but we MUST turn away from this NWO idea of life and society being nothing more than a big casino, with a few obscenely wealthy winners and a lot of poor losers - that is NOT a social contract of the people, but a much more barbaric system - a system that creates the type of violence you are no so concerned about.
I hope you succeed in your efforts. We really need to return to more civilised times.
-------Your faithful servant etc etc etc