Recently, I watched a documentary called Poor Us: An Animated History about the history of world poverty, and it got me thinking about what I’ve been wanting to say over the past few years.
In the economic heart of this fair “country” of ours, Toronto has a serious problem: there’s too many condos being built. These ugly buildings made of glass and steel are houses in the form of apartment complexes which, in turn, creates no profit for the owners of the building. This isn’t creating jobs either here, nor anywhere else in Canada.
The only solution to poverty is employment. Not just that, but employment with good wages, enough for a decent living. Maximize profit without it being at the expense of the environment or the rights of the worker or the needs of the state. But condos don’t create jobs. Factories do. Because once a condo’s finished, what happens? Do we just keep building condos for the imaginary broad number of affluent people out there? These condos, constructed entirely out of concrete and glass, won’t even last ten to fifteen years!
Toronto itself should either hire local companies who are in good standing, or form its own construction company, with workers who are able-bodied and of sound mind (even going as far as literally picking them from off the street and paying them in cash), and after vigorous training and organizing unemployed people into public construction workers, give them the task of building at least two factories and one apartment complex near them per year, and that the property of these factories are owned by the City. Not just factories, but also all public buildings within the City, be them libraries, schools, subway stations, hospitals, etc. Now, of course, schools aren’t actually public but run by the churches
The only way this can be achieved is with political willpower and public pressure, two things that Toronto lacks. Petitions, protests, even civil disobedience, should be only the beginning. Local elections are important, because it affects us the most directly. We need to organize, and not just elect active, energetic and dedicated politicians who represent the needs and interests of the people, but also be part of the political process, going as far as running for office. Those who don’t should either be bribed with the promise of re-election if they act (regardless of their conviction), or dump their ass and replace them with someone who would act on the people’s behalf. We need to remove those who are corporate whores out of office, and put in those who want things to work for the benefit of all.
If I were city councillor, I’d push for three things:
- Focus on building factories that would be owned by the city and rented out to companies who’d be willing to pay the rent of a fair rate per month;
- Slash TTC fares and passes down to affordable rates (for example: $2 adult, $1.75 senior; $10 day pass; $100 adult metro pass), then impose a requirement that in future, only raising rates of TTC fares and passes must be approved by at least two-thirds of all members of City Council; and finally
- Impose a luxury sales tax of one cent for every item of at least $500 sold, in exchange for Toronto to be given the right to allow stores here to sell their goods HST-free because, well, we’re the capital of Ontario.
This should be the bare minimum of any local politician’s agenda, and a realistic yet worthy cause to push for. Though more extreme ideas, such as scrapping the HST altogether, and providing free TTC, should be considered. Personally, I’d like to see the TTC fares (for adults as an example) be slashed down to $1, Day Passes to $5, and MetroPasses to $75, but we should be realistic in our goals. While free is tempting, we also got to be mindful of the problem of population control in the city, an issue I’ll get to at another time. In the meanwhile, let’s begin change at home.