#158 – A Leap of Bullshit

The last political party with a brain in Canada just opted for a lobotomy because feels. With that Canada’s entire political system at current is dominated by Parties of Feels: the Butthurt Reactionary Feels Party, the Caker Feels Appreciation Party, and now the Party of nu-Left Feels, which apparently seeks to build itself on solar panels and cam-girls as per the Leap Manifesto. This document, not unlike the embarrassing “manifestos” written by angsty teenagers either in name or content represents what can only be called the most slack-jawed of leftism. Featuring calls to shut down entire industry towns and retrain rural bumpkins to the tee-hee carbon free school of making money for doing…something related to caring, I guess, the document’s implications would be Orwellian if they weren’t so hilarious.

This is going to be a bit different from usual postings. We’re doing what all the hip youths do and making a listicle, so here we go with the 6 stupidest lines in the Leap Manifesto!

6.

so we need to leap.

Fuck you and fuck your Wordart. How do you shit this up in the first paragraph? It’s not like much of importance was said in the first paragraph – basically imagine the Jetsons but with more people of ambiguous racial background – but you can’t expect to be taken seriously when you think angling letters helps to make your case. Did Marx sign off with

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No? He didn’t? Maybe that’s because the content he was actually writing was more important to him than making a cheap visual metaphor after a paragraph of flowery nothingness, you mental midget. You just told me that you’re going to design jobs – that’s the quote: “jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality” – and your explanation for how to do this is WordArt. Fun fact – nearly 1 million people live in one-industry extractive towns in Canada. Hope you can create 1 million jo-oh, wait. Didn’t Ontario elect Evil Orville Redenbacher again (see?) because one guy promised to make 1 million jobs and sounded like an idiot? Now do that but this time only create work in low carbon settings: “caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public-interest media”. Yeah. Good luck with creating teaching jobs.

Well, if you wanna pay me Shit About Canada has been proudly low-carbon since inception. I’m too poor to even own a car, guys – I’m basically Jesus over here! The new economy: screaming into the digital void and hoping some chuckles come out. There’s a basis for a global economy right there. That’s why Sweden calls Pewdiepie a national resource, right? And why America set up a strategic Game Grumps reserve? How about being a little more specific as opposed to suggesting that we can swap mining for being a let’s-player?


5.

There is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. The new iron law of energy development must be: if you wouldn’t want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard.

So we can’t upgrade this aging pipeline under the Great Lakes because it locks us into increased extraction decades into the future. Obviously waiting until there’s a critical failure is wiser than deigning to acknowledge that we may still be needing pipelines in the future.

Pipelines aside, it’s very obvious that this hasn’t been thought through when we take an example like power lines. That’s new infrastructure, and it locks us into increased extraction even if they’re moving power from solar panels. Should we not put any new lines up then? What about upgrading power stations in the face of rising usage? I don’t want overhead power lines in an urban environment where burying them (called “undergrounding” because planning is sometimes kind of metal) is practical and desirable. Does that mean the guy living in the house below needs his lines undergrounded too?

“Yeah, slap some solar panels on there and you’re #21stcenturyready!”

 

Of course not. Context is important and absolute statements like the one above just make you look and sound stupid. Highways increase consumption, as does our ancient freight rail network. How do we intend to move goods if we can’t update infrastructure because it induces increased extraction through both the need to consume (i.e.: you need a car to drive) and through product availability (i.e.: I’ll buy more if the product can travel more cheaply, which is something trains are good at)? Is this how you’re employing the 1 million you turfed from resource-towns – as rowers and pack mules?


4.

We want a universal program to build energy efficient homes, and retrofit existing housing, ensuring that the lowest income communities and neighbourhoods will benefit first

So you want to solidify shitty low-density housing and poor neighborhood design, both incumbent to poverty? That’s awesome! Why recognize that our urban spaces are promoting poverty by isolating and alienating pedestrians and social gatherings through car-centric design? It’s worth noting that the words pedestrian and cycling appear nowhere in this document despite both being exactly the kind of low-emission transportation method you’ve been crowing about having. Urban planning? Why do that? Planning is for chumps! Magic public transit for everyone!!

Now, I do get the logic from an environmental standpoint – the poor have less access to Priuses and other consumer goods that wash away the guilt of consumption-addled morons, so this is a “dramatic step”. Too bad it’s also an idiotic step because it entrenches exactly the design choices that leave people impoverished and in the situation where they either have to *gasp* consume inefficient goods or go without. Fuck off, poor person – consumption is for the middle class! Your comfort and well-being are secondary to you living and dying without impacting the world for the rest of us.

Let’s take this awesome neighborhood:

jane-finch-air
Source

This is Jane and Finch, the armpit of the city of Toronto. It’s a food desert. It has nothing interesting to anchor the neighborhood, unless you think petrol storage is worth making a trip for. It suffers from overloaded transit as people try to scrape a living from the city. The tower-as-housing model of the early 60s, a disaster of a plan that leaves people alienated and stressed, is on full display. And to fix this we…make it green. And do it really fast. Recognizing the complexities of neighborhood design affects the nu-left’s ability to use feels like a battering ram so out with that shit and in with the greenwashing!


3.

Since so much of the labour of caretaking – whether of people or the planet – is currently unpaid, we call for a vigorous debate about the introduction of a universal basic annual income

I like how the words universal basic annual income are bolded but the bit about “vigorous debate” isn’t. This is especially sneaky because by their own admission caretaking doesn’t pay. But are they prepared to step in and fund the kind of jobs that they said that they’d design so us country bumpkin-types can understand your book-learnin’, crazy city-slicking ways? Well, they’ll debate it. At the riding level there’s going to be a debate over debating the concept of a universal income, which sounds almost like homeopathic “medicine” in how diluted and useless it is.

Do these people not realize what a dagger to their own hearts this is? The private sector clearly isn’t paying, and the public really might for realsies think about it. So the income needed right now for these folks to live on comes from…where? NGOs? YouTube AdSense revenues? Carnival games? Way to incentivize a shift to a feels-economy, guys! I can only assume that if you’re debating paying for the new economy we can debate about the merits of paying inflated rent costs on retrofitted turd-stacks.

But don’t worry – we’ll debate paying rent vigorously.


2.

High-speed rail powered by renewables and affordable public transit can unite every community in this country

Only the caker-left could take a project I love and pile-drive it into the ground with stupid. This is an atomic suplex of idiocy. Every community, guys? You know that high-speed rail needs a certain density to work, right? Canada absolutely has this kind of density in some areas and there’s no reason save typical Canadian whinging that Canada doesn’t have a bullet line from Windsor to Quebec City, which is *ahem* by and away the densest part of the country. But Thunder Bay doesn’t have that kind of connectivity. And “affordable” public transit won’t do shit to change driving habits if that transit takes a fucking epoch to get from A to B because it’s busy stopping at Goosefuk and Ass Lake on the way to civilization. Awareness of these issues? Nah. The bullet train is green so no other commuting causes pollution anymore. Never mind that buses can actually be less efficient than carpooling if few people use the route.

Your stated goal of connecting everywhere is kneecapping your ability to provide a comparable service to a motorcar; so long as you continue that you won’t get people out of their cars. If a trip takes less time by car than by transit and the person can park their car reliably, three guesses what people are going to be doing. And the poor? Well, fuck them. They’d better enjoy scenic tours of nowhere on their way to work because a near-empty bus (i.e.: what happens when you run routes with few stops) is stupidly inefficient and subsidizing that motherfucker is political Kryptonite in Cakertown.

Affordability is one part of a functioning system, and speed is another. You’ve listed both separately and pretended that they can Fusion Dance their way into a coherent transit policy while ignoring tiny considerations like reliability, frequency of service, or connectivity to other networks – all of which also determine whether a system can convince people to use transit or not. OC Transpo runs right near my friend’s house and stops right at his workplace – he still drives to work because he can’t rely on the bus showing up on time.

And then there’s the greenwash. Solar panel production is toxic; wind turbine wastes ends up in a lovely spot in Inner Mongolia described by this reporter as “the worst place on Earth”; dams in Canada have a fun tendency to fuck over the Indigenous and piss off environmentalists. Transit in the near future will require extaction, pollution, and waste both to build and operate. The equipment needed to build the bullet line doesn’t teleport and runs on more than the good vibes of the operator. The pollution-free bus fleet and planning infrastructure and administration that doesn’t fleece its customers has yet to be invented in Canada.


1.

Moving to a far more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil, and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.

Ever had fresh Saskatoon produce in January? Of course not, because Saskatoon looks like this in January:

The car run-off crop is coming in brilliantly!

This is where the patchouli stench really gets to be too much for me. Much of the whole “eat local” movement is populated by useless hipsters who like local food but aren’t prepared to acknowledge some ugly truths: local production can actually be less environmentally-friendly than massive farming operations because of economies of scale, and to feed the world with the locavore’s techniques would require an asston more land and pesticide use. Of course, there’s the water draw from evermore polluted sources that we’ll need to use, presumably being cleared of pollutants by magic alongside the marginal left-over soils in urban centers that would have to be used.

Local food does taste better – I’ve had the joys of local corn growing up for decades and there truly is nothing like a cob of Southern Ontarian corn in the dead heat of late summer and early fall. Few fruits are more divine than Northern Ontario’s blueberries when they’re in season. Fuck – Ontario should be a global powerhouse on the culinary scene because frankly it kicks ass at growing shit. But I’m not going to pretend that Dawson, YK or Dildo, NL has a similar growing potential to Southern Ontario. To pretend that magic-science can make the above scene feed 222,000 year-round is the height of folly.

Not to mention that your cooking habits impact how much your dinner pollutes, too. And guess what? That organic rutabaga and turnip in your #localfoodbox doesn’t cook easily or quickly. And the gas range you’re using to boil that fucking thing until the Second Coming of Christ so it doesn’t shatter your teeth on contact? Yeah, that’s pollution. Whipping up a sweet potato pie with those yams, I see? Your oven isn’t exactly a paragon of power-sipping. And if you want to smoke that brisket you’re a fucking monster pumping the acrid screams of dying lumber into the sky.

The common theme to my complaints, if you haven’t noticed, is that these are all middle-class fever dreams, the kind of semi-thought-out leftism that grinds conversations to an awkward halt at the kinds of dinner parties I’m not invited to. Whether it’s magical free power or magical economies, the externalities of these policies are ignored or shoved onto the poor or out of the country while the massive complexities and indeed contradictions of the stated plans are sanded off. It’s dishonest, badly-written, and imaginary. And I have a better, more realistic solution – we can all grow wings and develop the ability to photosynthesize. Do I know how to do that? No, but these guys are just as clueless and it doesn’t seem to stop them.

The Leap Manifesto thus represents the most Canadian left imaginable. Imaginary radicalism for a country built on make-believe – flawless.

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