Thursday, August 18, 2011

Like Moths to the Flame

There are a lot of ideas floating around out there about strategies for changing the composition of the Islands Trust with fresh and thoughtful new candidates this fall. I liked the TAG team's book idea that might be used to explain the Islands Trust in layman's terms to the general voting public. If you are part of the non-voting majority who are not 'into' politics, believe me, you would hardly know the role of the CRD, who your MLA is, your MP or what Trustee goes with which bureaucracy, so maybe at least an in-the-mailbox pamphlet of some kind might not be a bad idea.

The hierarchy of governance and the idea that Salt Spring is different and creative enough to come up with something unique is now seen as an almost impossible task without legislative changes at the Provincial level. Despite what former Bowen Island mayor Lisa Barret floated to us during our last incorporation study, the Province's ministers are pretty adament that if we want local change we have to work within the existing Trust/CRD structure.

So what is the best approach? Personally I think ALL ideas should remain on the table since we are now a multi-tasking society. We can accomplish in shorter order any number of things through the existing technological network and in that we are indeed unified.

As the panorama of blogs increase exponetially it is clear that self-expression and networking presents us with the challenging concept that 'disunity can be a force that unifies us', Expressing and sharing what we are thinking and feeling individually benefits an increasing community awareness that reflects on itself. This will result in change for the better simply due to a broader sampling and exposure to diverse opinions.

Afterall, Look at recent events on the island of Iceland!

Oddly enough our 'unified disunity' has inadvertently caused a rethink of important changes to the RAR bylaw 449. It has also observably changed the way our Trustees treat 'we' the rest of the community and exposed deficiencies in a Trust mandate that cannot represent all our needs and services requirements. Neverthless we should still make every attempt to elect candidates who will be onboard with a better balance of environmental, economic and social priorities.

In our particularly rural perspective, from the extreme notion that "you can just get offa ma property' to the more expensive thrust of recent court challenges, we have made it clear that we are not amused by what is happening to our property rights!

Across the spectrum of our intellectual understanding of what we think is needed in governance, sadly bureaucracies epitomize the eternal fight with 'city hall'. I still don't really buy that incorporation would change this dynamic or the cost but a broader mandate of representation is critical at this point.

So be careful all you moths who might choose to fly close to the flame of power, assimulation seems the better part of valour once you are in the driver's seat as an elected representative. The fickle public who thought you were so great to vote in, inevitably will turn and toss you out with barely a thank you. See Obama Optimism 101.

That said I wish to thank our local Trustees for their public service and wish them well in their retirement this fall. I am sure they did the best they could under the circumstances of our broken governance structure, a structure that as yet has no mandate to speak for the economic and social problems we face in the future. No matter who we vote in, we cannot give our Trust representatives powers they don't have, they already presume erroneously to expand their mandate. It's a mandate that needs legislative updating or we need to become a municipality.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Robots Should Pay Income Tax too!

Off topic... Perhaps it is time that robots paid Income Tax too... I mean, mechanization hardly adds anything to the community otherwise... would it not be fairer to ask robots to pay their fair share too? We are taxed when we work, why shouldn't mechanized robotics contribute too? This is an area where the economy absorbs a bunch of invisible dollars that are no longer circulating in the community, yet the work is still being done... products are still being created... profits are up.

It used to be that more people had day jobs, they left work, stopped off at the grocery store or picked up a new item of clothing or whatever... machines don't do that, they just keep busy producing the stuff we consume and yet why don't they pay an Income Tax on what they are 'earning'? Seems extremely unfair, especially since they would hardly care or notice.

The tax collected could be used to pay people for a lot of evolving new 21st Century jobs that have yet to be acknowledged or compensated for. Like uploading globally accessible data to the Internet, photos, videos, writings etc. ad infinitum. This is obviously the 'new work' so many people are doing and they are adding immensely to our cultural and societal enrichment. Now that the information and content is digital and forever, it has its own intrinsic long term value to all of us who love doing a Google search and benefit from the results.

I think it is time we recognized the time and energy people put into adding to this global database and I think we can fund it by creating an Income Tax for all the robots, all those mechanized entities that earn but don't contribute back to the community.

Afterall it was the promise of the future that we would only have to spend a few hours a day working and the rest of the time doing what we love to do. I say NOW is the time to look at innovative strategies for redefining what "work is" and compensating anyone who is adding something to our cultural enhancement. I certainly appreciate the vast wealth of data I have access to and I hope it grows. An income tax for Robots would provide the funds to eliminate this illusion we have that there is an unemployement problem when in fact people are still working... they are just not getting paid!

We need a new employer, perhaps a "Ministry of Content and Information Dissemination" (actually why not just rename Ministries of Social Services and Unemployement Benefits?). And we do not need further value judgements on the value content and of work whether it is home-making a family or uploading a video for all to enjoy. Work done that benefits others is work that should earn a wage, a minimum wage at least! Extraordinary effort should be rewarded more of course.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Great, yea, super, but...

So the Trustees did manage to pass Bylaw 448 without too much caffuffle, holding a public hearing timed as it was on a beautiful summer evening in August (luckily my car battery had died when I went to try and attend). I think the community can thank the few others who showed up to oppose aspects of this bylaw for coming out and ACTUALLY INFLUENCING our Trustees to change their tune a bit! Thanks Norbert and Drew especially for pleading our case, economic needs and desire to see the Trust work with us as opposed to agin us.

Notwithstanding their compromise, I still believe the Trustees are over-reaching their original land-use planning mandate once a permit to build is acquired. I do no accept nor regard any attempts they make to pass redundant noise bylaws, already covered by the CRD taxes we've paid, or more importantly, who and how many people may be employed in a home-based business. Just how many complaints have warranted the expense to us for this bylaw adventure into social engineering?

Since all my employees are 'virtual' I doubt it will ever affect me personally but I still hope the general public is not just accepting these over-reaching bylaws as anything more than additional, unchallenged, presumptive, Islands Trust policy notions. I think most of us can see that they have stretched themselves pretty thin here trying to make work for themselves and their planners as the Budget clock approaches 3 million tax dollars spent since March 11th...

Attacking businesses like Mr. Blaire Howard's is an unconscionable waste of our tax dollars. It is not Mr. Howard's role to be policing who signs up for his services. If the Trustees feel a property is being rented to vacationers illegally then they should have the responsibility to challenge the land-owner individually, not a business that is merely a liaisoning service and one that indirectly infuses our economy with much needed tourist dollars.

And speaking of extremism, why on earth is this case inconveniently being heard in North Vancouver? Is this the Islands Trust's strategy for keeping individual challenges to a minimum and expenses high for unfortunate individuals caught in their web of mistrust? If so I would say "Bring the Trust Home" so we can all witness their inappropriate spending of our tax dollars while attacking productive members of the community.

When are the Trustees going to stop trying to criminalize, contain and restrain the energy needed for healthy community growth? Would it be asking too much for them to stop imagining worse case scenarios and rather show the community a little Trust? This last bylaw compromise may have seemed like an olive branch but it really only re-inforces the notion that their mandate extends now to internal business operations, employees needed etc. One wonders during the harvest if 10 grape pickers would now be considered 'illegal'?