Examples of Phoney-Liberalism
Israel, an apartheid regime, painted its fighter jet pink in October of 2016 for Cancer Awareness Month while denying Gaza cancer patients access to treatment.1
Alaa Masoud, a 25-year-old mother living in Jabaliya refugee camp, has also been diagnosed with breast cancer. She recently had her right breast removed at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
Her doctors have stated that she now needs to see specialists working in Israel or the West Bank. So far, she has made five requests for permission to travel through Erez, the Israeli military checkpoint on Gaza’s northern boundary. All five of her requests have been rejected.2
[Image: Two-year-old Mumen from Gaza who is suffering from leukaemia had to travel with a stranger to the West Bank to get proper medical treatment.]
Palestinian children with cancer are suffering from the siege of the Gaza Strip as the construction of what is meant to be the first public pediatric cancer department has ground to a halt due to import restrictions.
Israel and Egypt's continued embargo along with the growing political infighting between Hamas and Fatah have made things so complicated for doctors and patients that even diagnosing which type of cancers the children have cannot be done in Gaza.3
[Image: Captain Shachar, the first openly transgender member of the Israeli Defense Forces]
Justin Trudeau said the Energy East pipeline will be the greenest, most feminist pipeline the world has ever seen.
"That's why we're going to make sure Energy East is the greenest pipeline in the world."
In front of the mighty St. Lawrence River, Trudeau explained that he instructed the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to approve TransCanada's Energy East pipeline with "tough new criteria with teeth" that include low-flush toilets along the 4,600 km route and strict requirements stipulating that any expansions must use parts made from at least 85 per cent recycled materials.
He also promised that this pipeline project, unlike the ones from the 1950s, would be very feminist.
Critics have questioned whether a pipeline carrying 1.1 million barrels of bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Atlantic Ocean will help Canada reach the climate targets it pledged in Paris last year -- irrespective of the construction materials.
"Is that seriously what he said?" Author and avid stand-up paddleboarder Naomi Klein asked incredulously when told of the prime minister's plan. "That's bananas."
Trudeau still faces stiff resistance from provincial governments, First Nations, mayors, energy regulators, scientists, environmentalists, millennials, pet owners, cyclists and a majority of Canadians. But, he said, having TransCanada execs over for an intimate, $12,000-a-plate dinner with him and his cabinet would make it all worth it. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne looked on approvingly.8
People who call themselves progressives are trying to block basic income to maintain the abusive welfare state. Their argument is that basic income is not progressive because some right-wing individuals support it.
For some time now, the radical left has been dipping its toes in the waters of universal basic income (or unconditional basic income, depending on who you talk to). The idea is exactly as it sounds: the government would give every citizen – working or not – a fixed sum of money every week or month, with no strings attached. As time goes on, universal basic income (UBI) has gradually been transitioning from the radical left into the mainstream: it’s Green party policy, is picking up steam among SNP and Labour MPs and has been advocated by commentators including this newspaper’s very own John Harris.
Supporters of the idea got a boost this week with the news that the Finnish government has piloted the idea with 2,000 of its citizens with very positive results. Under the scheme, the first of its kind in Europe, participants receive €560 (£473) every month for two years without any requirements to fill in forms or actively seek work. If anyone who receives the payment finds work, their UBI continues. Many participants have reported “decreased stress, greater incentives to find work and more time to pursue business ideas.” In March, Ontario in Canada started trialling a similar scheme.
But UBI also has some unlikely supporters, most prominent among them the neoliberal Adam Smith Institute – Sam Bowman, the thinktank’s executive director, wrote in 2013: “The ideal welfare system is a basic income, replacing the existing anti-poverty programmes the government carries out.” He added that UBI would result in a less “paternalistic” government.
From this perspective, UBI could be rolled out as a distinctly rightwing initiative.9
This argument is as foolish as a self-declared liberal saying that gay marriage should be banned now that some conservatives are okay with it.
UBI cannot be a progressive initiative as long as the people with the power to implement it are hostile to the welfare state as a whole.
In their incendiary book Inventing the Future, the authors Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek argue for UBI but link it to three other demands: collectively controlled automation, a reduction in the working week, and a diminution of the work ethic. Williams and Srnicek believe that without these other provisions, UBI could essentially act as an excuse to get rid of the welfare state.
Getting rid of the current welfare state is the whole point and one of the major advantages of basic income. The welfare state is terrible.
[Image: ‘In January, MEPs voted to consider UBI as a solution to the mass unemployment that might result from robots taking over manual jobs.’ Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters]
- 1. Horowitz, Adam. "Israel paints fighter jet pink to raise breast cancer awareness while preventing cancer patients in Gaza from receiving treatment." Mondoweiss, 28 Oct. 2016, http://mondoweiss.net/2016/10/preventing-receiving-treatment/. Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.
- 2. Algherbawi, Sarah. "Israel blocks Gaza women from breast cancer treatment." The Electronic Intifada, 5 Dec. 2016, https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-blocks-gaza-women-breast-c.... Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.
- 3. "Gaza: Siege adds to suffering of cancer patients." Al Jazeera, 26 May 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/gaza-cancer-patients-1605261945316.... Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.
- 4. Bearak, Max and Darla Cameron. "Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death." The Washington Post, 16 Jun. 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/13/here-are-th.... Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.
- 5. Annett, Evan, et al. "The secret Saudi memo: Dissecting how the document contradicts what Ottawa has said." The Globe and Mail, Last updated: 18 Apr. 2016, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/the-secret-saudi-memo-disse.... Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.
- 6. "They Enjoy Killing Civilians." http://en.minguo.info/blogs/panoramics/american_imperialists_and_their_a....
- 7. Compton, Julie. "Israel’s First Openly Transgender Soldier Paves the Way for Others." NBC News, 5 Apr. 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/israel-s-first-openly-transgender.... Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.
- 8. Stewart, Michael. "Trudeau greenlights Energy East on condition it's built using recycled materials." rabble.ca, 23 Jun. 2017, http://rabble.ca/news/2016/04/trudeau-greenlights-energy-east-on-conditi.... Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.
- 9. Mae O'Hagan, Ellie. "Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for." The Guardian, 23 Jun. 2017, theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/23/universal-basic-income-ubi-welfare-state?CMP=twt_gu. Accessed 23 Jun. 2017.