Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jason Cherniak doesn't know what progressive means

Last Tuesday was an interesting day in the blogosphere, and I learned a couple of things too:

- the left in Canada is alive and kicking
- self proclaimed progressive blogger Jason Cherniak doesn't know what progressive means

Ever since I landed in Canada (in 2002 I moved from the Netherlands to Canada) I have tried to get used to the complete different political landscape here. What struck me most (and still does) is the consent to corporate bias by the MSM and the public at large.

In the Netherlands I considered myself a moderate; I’ve voted for the Dutch Liberal Party (currently more right than ever), but also for D66 and PVDA (labour) en GroenLinks (green left), depending on their platforms and the reputation of their leader (lijsttrekker). But nothing extreme, at least not for Dutch standards. Trying to translate this to Canadian politics, I’m often way of the political radar…(on the left that is)

Tuesday made something very clear to me; it’s not the Canadian people that are different, but it’s those in government who represent us (or, in the case of Mr. Cherniak, those who have aspirations to do so in the future).

The Toronto Star’s article, suggesting targeted solutions for a failed promise by parliament to root out poverty, is indeed a sincere action plan. Implementing it, even partially, will benefit the poor and, perhaps, root out poverty in Canada all together.

But JC had non of it. Nothing else than a “Say No to $10 minimum wage”. According to his blog, proposing $10 minimum wage is “crazy” because a raise of 25% would, well read it yourself:

“To me, the likely result seems obvious - one in four minimum wage workers will be fired.”
Of course Mr. Cherniak does not give references for his ridiculous statement. Apart from some conservative thinktank propaganda talking points (similar to those of the Fraser Institute), no serious data is given. The important reason being; there isn’t any.

Mr. Cherniak assumes, in short, that currently everything is fine; the economy is booming, and the low minimum wage is not a real problem.

Well Mr. Cherniak, everything is not fine. Indeed, the economy is booming. Top incomes of the business elite (and those of the political elite) have been rising exponentially, but, sadly enough, the very poor are still, very poor.

It should be clear by now that a booming economy does NOT automatically result in less poverty, on the contrary. And the reason is simple; it’s because the ideology, as presented by Cherniak and the Fraser Institute is seriously flawed. The wealth of a booming economy does not automatically trickle down to the bottom of the chain. Other powers (did you ever hear of corporate greed, Mr. Cherniak?) keep workers exploited and in poverty.

We know our government has to power to change this. Now is the time we demand from parliament to keep their so far failed promise.

Raising minimum wage substantially is not the complete answer. But it’s start, and it’s long overdue.

But it’s also time we tell Mr. Cherniak that consenting to the current status quo by using flawed Fraser Institute rhetoric is called conservative. I don’t have problems with Conservatives; everybody their own voice, vote, religion, or blog – that what makes democracy great! But I do find it problematic when someone claims to be progressive, when in reality he’s a conservative in disguise. Such a person has passed the level of hypocrisy palatable to me, and given the fierce reaction to his blog (and a dozen other blog entries), many other progressive bloggers feel the same way.

If Mr. Cherniak thinks he’s progressive, then he doesn’t understand what progressive means.


Berlynn said...

There are a lot of men who call themselves progressive who do not know what the word means. I am thankful that you do know what it means.

Anonymous said...

Erik this is a great post. It is fair and it is accurate.

There are many people in the Liberal party of Canada who fit better with the Conservatives ideologically but for whatever reasons, (family, culture, etc) stay attached to the Liberals.

The Libs like to think of themselves as progressive and by and large many are. However, many aren't.

Truthteller said...

Jason is a conservative who just doesn't know it yet. His support for Dion was based on currying favor with his riding president, not because of Dion's ideas (he can't write two coherent sentences on environmental sustainability). Pretty funny that the Liblogs guy is a closet conservative.

Jan_ from_ BruceCounty said...

great post Erik. taking the progressive stance, requires talking and walking the talk. My problem with the Liberals is they sure like to talk like progressives but well, in power, they just don't follow through. Ont liberal govt is a prime example, as they don't mind raising their pay but not minimum wage. They always have the same excuse, whether it is when the economy is poor or booming.

Jason Cherniak said...

I never argued for the status quo. I said I prefer smaller increases over time than one big increase at once.

Anonymous said...


A bit late to getting to your post but my sense is that both Jason and his friends are much more concerned with core economic growth and not at all concerned with the essence of Canada.

This country has a long and unique history of a humanist social democracy that extends back to Robert Baldwin and Louis LaFonataine.

Given that most of his arguments were speculative at best and that he seemed to change his opinion severa times, it's difficult (for me at least) to understand why he really objects to the increase. After all real wages and wealth for the lowest income earners has been declining for decades now.

Erik Abbink said...

"I never argued for the status quo. I said I prefer smaller increases over time than one big increase at once." J.C.

Jason, arguing for no increase in real wages,

("I support further reasonable increases. This way, business has time to adjust to the new rates. Since it is close to inflation, they are likely making enough in extra revenue already that it will be affordable." J.C.)

is arguing for the status quo.

I'm surprised to read you "think" it's not.

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