The goal here is to build something that can operate with your TV/monitor and act as a dedicated box for video conferences using any platform you choose including the free and open source Jitsi Meet and Jami/Together. The experience of video calling at home while you sit on a couch or comfy chair is great. The entire experience on a larger than your laptop screen and quality sound really raises video chats with friends to as close to hanging out in your living room as possible.
Welcome to the end of 2020 where a pandemic made the first half of this year unprecedented, and the rest of it unbelievable, but devastatingly true. Last year, my end-of-year reading compilation was titled 'Reading Balzac in end-times'. So this year, I will avoid any attempt to sum up the dreadful, brutal year that was 2020. Here are my 2020 reads.
Decades of neoliberal political narratives have attempted to convince us that the only reason for public ownership is to subsidize private capital growth. Neoliberal economics are focused on the transfer of wealth from the public to private capital through commodification of public assets and services. The result has been a society tilted in favour of profit generation through public subsidies of infrastructure and services over human need.
The best thing a government can do in the height of a recession that is being compounded by a pandemic is invest in the education of its population. Higher education -- when done well -- creates a citizenry who are able to respond to crises and develop the solutions to address the needs of themselves and their communities. Unfortunately, in Ontario we have abandoned support for higher education. Instead, the government is determined to drive an ideological agenda to distort the labour market, make workers pay for job losses, reduce access to higher education, and undermine the advanced education and research system that supports Ontario's economy.
Since the early 1980s, central banks and governments of top capitalist countries have been attempting to save their beloved system. Responding to the collapsing profit rate was their ultimate goal and drove economic and social policy for 40 years. To save our economy and solve the social, health, and environmental crises we now face we must reverse course.
The current economic crisis has led to unprecedented government spending. This spending is funded by borrowing or by 'printing money' (which has an effect similar to borrowing) to support furloughed and unemployed workers to the tune of roughly $80 billion and to subsidize corporate revenue. This has been necessary to prop up basic economic activity in an attempt to delay the impact of the economic consequences of the recession. Unfortunately, neoliberal policy makers are already trying to convince us that giving public services away to private interests is the only way to pay for this debt.
La crise économique actuel a mené à un niveau inédit de dépenses gouvernementales. Ces dépenses supplémentaires, financées par des emprunts publics ou, parfois, en imprimant de l’argent (dont l’effet est semblable à celui des emprunts), secourent les travailleurs en chômage temporaire ou permanent au montant d'environ 80 milliards de dollars et subventionne les revenus des entreprises. Ces actions sont nécessaires pour soutenir l’activité économique essentielle et pour reporter à plus tard l’impact des conséquences économiques de la récession.
Public health agencies have carried the weight of this pandemic for many months now. As COVID-19 cases rise across Canada and the Fall reveals clear signs of a second wave, it is important to remember the role and purpose of public health workers at all levels -- local, provincial and national.
The cheerleaders of neoliberal policy are rising like zombies after the current collection of economic, health, climate, and political crises seemed to bury them for a while. It is not going to be enough for the left to defend the current economic wreck, we must advocate to build something better just to keep what we have. Socialists have the social and economic policy programs to deal directly with these challenges we face. It is time to dust them off and fight for them with abandon.
When it comes to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), I tend to take a rather less aggressive position than some from the classical (Marxian/Marxist) tradition. There are some holes in the theory and its view of the economy is irksome, but others have debated these to their fullest extent (a debate that is at least 100 years old). And, in the end of the day, arguing over the degree to which a theory is wrong is not very interesting. Anwar Shaikh does a very good job of putting the limits to MMT's ideas. Basically, there is a limit to MMT and the question is: what then?