An invitation to join in creating Thursday Activist Reader lists
The Thursday Activist Reader is designed to be an online readers’ pick compilation of reading and discussion for a better world. You are invited to join in the discussion as well as in sending a list of one or more articles from your reading that you think would be informative and interesting to Comox Valley activists.
Driverless Car Poll Finds Canadians Almost Evenly Split On Issue
“With companies like Google and major auto manufacturers obtaining permits to test autonomous technologies, these vehicles could be a reality in the next few years,” said Andrew Lo, chief marketing officer and tech expert at online insurance marketplace Kanetix.
Driverless car? Is there no place where we stop and ask the seminal question, What are people for? This reminds me of a film I once saw where some unfortunate person had become immortal by having his head attached to a vast machine that sustained his thought making processes long after his body had gone away. Is the point of technology really to take over all bodily functions? This is clearly the slippery slope to living a disembodied life. It is clearly time to step aside and consider our assumptions about what human life is about. As Wendell Berry ponders:
“We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world – to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it. And now, perhaps very close to too late, our great error has become clear. It is not only our own creativity – our own capacity for life – that is stifled by our arrogant assumption; the creation itself is stifled.
We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it. (pg. 20, “A Native Hill”)”
― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
This is not a rhetorical question: What do you think people are for?
TransCanada’s $15-Billion Lawsuit Against Obama Fires Up Anti-Free Trade Movement
TransCanada believes it can trump democratic decision making through the use of NAFTA investor state clauses. This is being informed about as it so clearly demonstrates the absurdity of these free trade agreements that aren’t about trade but about handing corporate greed power over efforts by democratic governments to protect people and our environment from the destructive greeds of investors.
It’s Not Just Shkreli: Another Pharma Giant Hikes Drug Prices
Pfizer kicked off the New Year by quietly jacking up the costs of over 100 drugs
How many times do we have to be reminded of the critical difference between “markets” and Capitallism. Markets work wonderful things when they are reglated to serve the public interest. If the cost of gas at the pump were $10 a litre with $1 going to pay for the cost of extraction and $9 going to build a sustainable society, almost every one of us would ride our electric bike to the bus stop where busses stop every 10 minutes to pick up the hordes of people using public transit as their primary mode of transportation. We by our collective decisions in the market place would solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. But when markets are undirected, the direction is to over feed the fat and starve the hungry. These drug price increases are simply what the unregulated market will bear and these investor state “free trade” agreements are about taking away even the possibility that our democratically elected governments can regulate this hideous greed.

It’s Time To Excommunicate Public Catholic Schools
Excellent article on the absurdity of the public paying for private education especially to promote the views of one particular religion over all other religions. Clearly it is time to ask, What is public funding of schools for?

Katimavik’s return urged in petition signed by 10,000 Canadians
PM Justin Trudeau, who had ties to Katimavik, made election pledge to create youth service program
I include this in this Thursday Reader because I was once involved in the outdoor education aspect of Katimavik and I have seen, first hand, the astounding transformation that Katimavik has worked in the lives of young people. I am deeply moved by the idea of a program that so cherishes the well being of our young people. Please sign this petition. It would be a wonderful statement of hope and caring for our young to bring this astoundingly wonderful program back.
The Earth Will Defeat Capitalism by Catholic Theologian Leonardo Boff
There is an indisputable and sad fact: capitalism as a mode of production and its political ideology, neoliberalism, are so thoroughly established globally that it seems to make any real alternative impossible. It has in fact occupied every space and aligned almost every country to its global interests. Since society has been commercialized and turned everything, even the most sacred things, such as human organs, water and the capacity of flowers to be pollinated, into an opportunity to gain wealth, most countries feel obliged to participate in the globally integrated macro-economy and much less inclined to serve the common good of their people.
According to Oxfam Intermon, in 2014, 85 members of the super-rich had the same amount of money as 3.5 billion of the poorest in the world. This level of irrationality and inhumanity speaks for itself. We are living explicitly barbaric times the solutions put forward by the countries that have hegemony in the global process are always alike:more of the same. a degrading social injustice with high unemployment and growing inequality; and a threatened ecological injustice with the degradation of whole ecosystems… In this optimistic article Catholic theologian Leonardo Boff argues that the whole systems function of the Earth will defeat the capitalist system– the cancer that threatens to metastasize throughout the whole organism of Gaia. The question for us is do we want to be defeated along with our cancerous economic system or will learn to love and care for our Earth and live to be part of the healing of our planet.