Category Archives: video

(1239) Struggle Street

Suburban poverty has its own awful Australian TV show.  Great! It looks like some of what is often called poverty porn found on UK TV and must surely generate similar feelings.  On one hand this kind of thing brings attention to issues of poverty and social difficulty under neo-liberalism in a resource-research country (sound familiar Canada?).  On the other hand does it change anything, help anyone?

(1234) On the lighter side…


”Action is what matters.” -Gene Simmons, 2017

Two comic efforts at understanding North American economic reality brought some laffs to the suburban-poverty.com bunker complex this week.  Unintentionally hilarious, but no less instructive for that, is a hot new self help book from KISS front man Gene Simmons. The second, a sharp strike from Rick Mercer.
To understand Gene’s book, picture an elevator shaft as black as On Power’s faux leather cover at the bottom.  Ayn Rand chugs a mickey of rye whiskey on an empty stomache, takes two or three hits off a crack pipe and tosses herself down the elevator shaft.
Mercer’s rant about Ontario’s coming move to a higher minimum wage is a little more to our liking.  Together, the two efforts tackle powerful myths about life here.
editor’s note: let’s give Gene props for urging us to read books and self educate.  He’s right, there are no excuses when all the knowledge of the world is available to us on the screens in our hands.

(1214) Bagels & Bentleys: undercover with the temps


Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed in today’s Toronto Star. The paper sent a writer to work at a large industrial bakery in Toronto recently.  Her findings should shock us.
Wages are low.  The pace is fast.  Safety is a hit-and-miss affair in a profitable establishment making bread products for corporate clients.  There has been loss of life at the plant where most of the workers are female newcomers.  Their employer has received grants, loans and praise from the government.  The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board gives them rebates.  Through their lawyer the owners say that safety is important.
Temps pick their wages up in cash at a payday lending office thirty-five minutes away by bus.  Their employer drives a Bentley and lives in a mansion.
On Twitter alone, mentions of this feature have grown steadily all day.  This feature deserves a wide audience and is exactly the kind of reportage the Star should be coming up with.
Undercover in temp nation

(1202) A major socio-economic reality so poorly understood and discussed


Any discussion of economic relationships and the character of society needs to fully consider the reality of prostitution or it remains incomplete.  Initially, this can be a fraught undertaking but the honest citizen observing social difficulty with a conscience is obliged to make an effort given the implications of prostitution and human trafficking for women, youth and children within what is a very large, global business.
The essence of prostitution is the purchase of temporary access to the body of another, mostly by a man, for the purposes of penetration and gratification.  While such a transaction seems simple enough it is usually accompanied by a societal smokescreen of ignorance, opinion, financial interest and emotionalism such that the reality remains obscure with a subsequently frustrating effect on creating a general perspective, let alone helpful social policy.
With this difficulty in mind we are lucky to have a generation of individuals giving us their efforts and words.  Some of their urgency about prostitution is a response to recent legalization efforts in a number of countries.  While considered sensible and well-intentioned at first these legalization efforts appear to be resulting in more harm than good.  Prostitution seems to become industrialized where it is legalized.
Simple legalization ignores the direct reality of selling one’s body and little accounts for the behaviour of the male buyer.  This blog recently came across the work of three women activists that offer a high-level starting point for considering this topic.  Their Twitter accounts are a quick way to find and learn from their articles, websites, activism and books.  Natashe Falle is in Toronto (see also her site Sex Trade 101).  Rachel Moran and Julie Bindel are in Ireland and the UK respectively with Caitlin Roper Australia-based.
Through varied paths these women seem to have arrived at a common appreciation for what needs to come after legalization of the kind seen in New Zealand and Germany as well as other countries.
Here is a recent item from the website of UK magazine The Spectator by Julie Bindel with a podcast and other links.
Most ‘sex workers’ are modern day slaves.  Prostitution is rarely, if ever, a choice
(audio 12:17)
Over sixty percent of Canada’s reported human trafficking activity takes place in the Greater Toronto Area.  This CBC piece describes a recent case in Mississauga.  The dull image of a row of motels on Dundas Street, a major artery used daily by a huge number of motor vehicles, gives no indication of the human risk encountered by trafficked women and youth in such places.  While most of North America’s sprawl does not have ‘traditional’ red light districts like those of Amsterdam, for example, these communities are still home to sexual exploitation, pimping and prostitution.
‘Anyone can be a victim’: Canadian high school girls being lured into sex trade. Toronto-area teenager recounts how she was recruited into sex work by peers at 16
cbc.ca/news
Recent attention to the so-called Nordic Model in which the criminalizing of paid sexual activity is transferred to the male buyer has generated enthusiasm and backlash.  Canada is considered a Nordic Model country but it would seem there is still plenty of work to do on all of this.
Taken. I was a teenage runaway struggling to survive when I met a man who promised me love and security
torontolife.com
On prostitution, can Canada learn from the Nordic Model?
thetyee.ca (2012)
The new era of Canadian sex work
vice.com (video 34:41)
image: Victory of the People via Flickr/CC

(1196) Unequal Ontario [CCPA report]


Ontario needs to find a better balance when it comes to wages and economic relationships.  A new report finds richer Ontarians doing well while their low income neighbours keep sliding.
Labour market doing ‘no favours’ for low income families
thestar.com
Poor Ontario families getting poorer. New research says bottom half of families in Ontario are earning less, while richer families earn more
cbc.ca/news
Ontario’s middle and working class families are losing ground
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – links to 32-page .pdf file
Minimum wage hike needed as half of Ontarians see wages shrink
huffingtonpost.ca
Ontario minimum wage increase good for workers and business: economist
bnn.ca (video 8:14)