G20, HST, OMGWTFBBQ

There’s a few hot topics in the Toronto papers I’m having trouble caring about.

First, the HST.

Not being a parent or a home-owner, it barely affects anything I spend money on. I don’t get massages and I don’t subscribe to magazines. I don’t go camping, play hockey or golf. I don’t take trampoline lessons or die (funeral services go up 8%).

I do however get $300 back over the year in rebates. I’m having trouble being concerned. I suspect the whole “beating th HST” craze is a disguised stimulus plan orchestrated by the Feds to get Canadians out buying cars or houses or TVs or whatever it is that’s supposed to save the country. I guess I’m not very patriotic.  My $300 will probably go towards my monthly metropass.

Then there’s the G20 shenanigans

Apparently I’m supposed to feel my civil liberties have been impinged. I keep being told by the Internet that my right to free assemblage was at stake last weekend. That means the right to stand in the rain ineffectually holding placards which vaguely protest… something.

Nevermind the Black Bloc hooligans, I’m not sure anyone really knew what they were supposed to be protesting at the G20. People seem to feel the need to rage against the machine, but the machine is so complex I’m not convinced a single person really knows where to direct their rage. Countries? Corporations? Consumers?

I’m against the rampant capitalism which has a stranglehold on our society, and the world, as the next guy. Actually, probably a lot more than the average Canadian. But unless a million (I mean literally a million) people were to show up, overpower the cops, break down the G20 fence and make a ruckus directly outside the talks, there’s no point in assemblage—free or otherwise.

A few thousand kids who look like they don’t know why they’re even there aren’t going to make Harper, Obama or the other 18 leaders think twice about anything they’re doing. In fact, it pretty much reinforces most Canadians are okay with their policies. Especially when the Black Bloc paints any legitimate protests with the paint of moronic douchebags.

Some blame a general apathy on the demise of protesting as an engine for social change, others on the antics of groups like the Black Bloc eroding the legitimacy of the tradition. But I believe both are symptoms of a deeper sociopolitical shift.

G20 politicians know, without a doubt, that in the 21st century they don’t have to fear a violent revolution and people are still going to vote for them so long as they make promises of more jobs and lower taxes come election day.

The days of militant idealists such as the Black Panthers and the Symbionese Liberation Army are long gone. All that’s left today are parodies of parodies. So-called modern radicals like the Black Bloc are only cosplayers pretending to be revolutionaries. It’s a game, it’s halloween, it’s the Zombie Walk with slightly higher stakes.

Which is why I can’t take what happened this weekend at the G20 seriously. Ultimately, people got what they wanted. A taste of the police state. Something tangible to rally against in a etherial world of infinitely complex issues. It’s a chance for liberal arts students to be the romantic Hollywood caricature of the ’60s generation, make a difference, do something real and matter in a world that has evolved beyond the need for liberal arts students. It’s proof there was something sinister behind the closed doors of the G20.

But there wasn’t really. I mean, other than the billion dollars spent on political smoke and mirrors. The fact the charade of a meeting took place at all is what people should be upset about.

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