Give credit for labour empowerment where it is due.

modelt

We live in a fantastic time. Our standard of living is the best it has ever been in human history and in general, it is only getting better. Despite this self-evident fact, there will always be a number of luddites who idiotically try to fight and condemn the very things that have led to our comfort and happiness today. Anti-vaccination kooks are a fantastic example of this trend. Another foolish but growing anti-progress group is the anti-automobile movement.

We (as usual) are paying a heavy price for our electoral apathy, particularly on the municipal level. Despite the vast, vast majority of people in North America happily owning and using personal automobiles, many municipal governments are taking on an outright anti-automotive stance on development. Despite need and demand for improved automotive infrastructure, municipal governments focus on initiatives designed to hinder automotive use with no visible benefit. Calgary’s ridiculous and barely utilized downtown cycle track are a prime example. Tens out thousands of autos have been displaced for these tracks as lanes and parking are lost while hipsters numbering in the dozens use these tracks. That is fine for Nenshi’s council as the goal was never to facilitate bicyclists. The goal was to hinder cars. Traffic calming measures, ridiculous pedestrian strategies and the constant choking of parking reflect this ideology as well.

This anti-automotive movement can be far more damaging to us than simply some inconvenience in commuting. If we allow more collectivization of transportation, we will begin to lose individual rights.

The personal automobile was as responsible for the empowerment of workers as labour unions were, if not more so.

In the last few years, I spent a great deal of time working on oil exploration programs in the “Rust Belt” of the USA in the last few years. There are countless small, single factory towns squirreled around Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. One that stood out for me was Avonmore Pennsylvania.

avon

Avonmore is a town of about 800 and is in the Kiskiminetas River valley about 40 miles from Pittsburgh. The town population peaked in 1910 at 1262 and has been on the decline ever since. This is typical of these types of towns as their industries decline. Many Pennsylvania towns have long histories and some great old architecture. Avonmore however is somewhat plain and it can be seen even in the design of the small downtown that this is a planned and company town. There is one large steel mill in the town and a small number of supporting businesses. That has always been the nature of this town.

avon2

Being in a deep river valley and being so dominated by one company, one cant help but imagine just how dependent workers were in a town like this at the turn of the century. The only route out at that time would have been by rail (controlled by the company), or by wagon (slow and expensive). The dominant company in these towns often owned the associated businesses in the towns from the general stores to the local hotel and often the housing. It is this dependency that led to a great deal of labour abuse. While unions had made strides at the turn of the century, in towns such as this they had little power as labour was essentially captive. What would you do if you were fired? Move? How much do you owe the company store? Back rent on the house perhaps? Can you get all your belongings on the train? Does the company control the train? Can you shop for a new place?

This all changed in 1914 when the Ford Model T took America by storm. Suddenly a factory worker could buy a family automobile with just four months pay. A worker could now commute to other workplaces should they choose to. A family could travel and broaden their shopping options. Employers and services suddenly faced a mobile workforce who could and would commute or relocate if need be should they find themselves abused. A mobile workforce becomes a commodity and supply and demand now could apply to them. Reality set in and work conditions throughout the entire continent improved not with strikes and labour actions but through employees exercising their ability to take their services elsewhere. With Pittsburgh and other industrial communities being only a short drive away, the companies that controlled Avonmore and countless other communities were forced to change their practices in order to retain their workers.

We often take that personal mobility for granted as we allow municipal ideologues to chip away at this important individual right. Aside from labour mobility, the contributions that personal transportation make to our general standard of living can’t be understated. While municipal leaders often chide people to take the bus or ride a bike, how can this reasonably apply to the parent of a few kids who needs to go grocery shopping. Should they simply walk to a convenience store and pay the premium that comes with that? Do we really expect senior citizens to suddenly choose to ride a bike to the pharmacy?  What do we think will happen to the price of consumer goods if people can no longer broadly shop around? Personal autos also allow a possible escape for people in abusive relationships.

We need to be vigilant as ideologues try to take away or limit the very important right of personal mobility and nothing provides that right more effectively than the personal automobile. We have to thank the automobile for so many great things we enjoy in life today and to oppose personal automobiles is pure and simple foolishness.

We can get by just fine without labour unions today. If we lost the personal automobile however, we would all suffer on a number of levels. We should always celebrate this great innovation that has empowered us all.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

You didn’t build that farm!

It has been a sad spectacle watching Notley’s NDP floundering around wondering just what the hell happened this week as the province has exploded in protests against their ham handed attempt to ram Bill 6 through the legislature with essentially no consultation with farmers.

Airdrie NDP candidate Chris Noble demonstrated the profound, arrogant ignorance of the Notley regime when it comes to agriculture in the posting below.

Nobel

Homesteaders crossed the planet with scant belongings and preparation in order to settle those 1/4 section parcels. Many of those homesteaders died of starvation and disease as they broke their backs for an entire generation to try and turn barren land into the productive agricultural land that it is today. Trees were cut by hand and rocks were picked by hand in hopes of scraping a crop from the land before long winters settled in. These people languished in literal sod huts for years while they tried to survive in Alberta only a century ago.

To have an asshole such as Chris Noble dismiss that entire history and go on his repugnant tirade about what he feels the current land is worth is nothing less than repulsive. One can see his gross attitude in looking at all land as actually being the government’s and that people using it should consider it to be a gift to big government. He feels that farmers owe a debt of gratitude to big government and should not hesitate to embrace legislation that could put their entire living and lifestyle at risk. Chris should read up on how collectivism works in agriculture. While socialism fails in most settings, the failure is most profound and proven on farms.

Shortly after the screen shot of Noble’s idiocy began sweeping through twitter, his facebook page was suddenly and predictably pulled down and closed as somebody wiser than Chris likely made a frantic phone call to him.

Make no mistake though. Chris Noble reflects the view of most NDP members on agriculture.

Listening to interviews with NDP cabinet ministers in the last two days as they try to figure out just where the hell they went wrong (they remain clueless), it is almost frightening hearing how little they know about agriculture or even their own bill. The ministers cant even answer simple questions about their own legislation yet they are determined to ram it through.

The NDP sees farmers as just one more evil corporate entity to be regulated to the point of eventual unionization. Farmers represent everything the NDP despises. These people are individualists who don’t want government running their lives. These people won’t vote NDP thus the NDP doesn’t really care if they offend farmers or not (though they underestimated the degree of pushback).

Well, those folks on that “free” land built this province. Many urban folks understand this as they or their parents had initially come from farms. Notley and her gang of fools had better realize this and soon if they are going to have a hope in hell of gaining a second term in power.

I don’t hold out much hope though as the New Democratic Party of Alberta’s display of utter ignorance of our agricultural producers is nothing less than shocking and despite this backlash, Notley was promising just this morning from her trip to Paris that she was going to force Bill 6 through the legislature this fall.

There should be at least an apology made by or on behalf of Noble for his repugnant statements. I won’t hold my breath though. The NDP still don’t get it.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,