Some of my side projects and personal interests.
We spend most of our lives in buildings and we spend a sizable portion of our money on housing. What is Housing – an investment? a shelter? an expression of oneself?
I believe that housing should first and foremost be affordable, healthy an inspiring. To help address the affordability element, I created MonLoyer.Quebec (now called Registre des Loyers), a site that helps enforce rent control laws in Québec. The site is now managed by Vivre en Ville and I no longer have any involvement, but I still support the general concept.
Ultimately, the solution to our housing problem is simple: Build (way) more houses. In Canada, we should be building 500,00 houses per year to try and catch up with our housing debt.
See Globe and Mail article on how many houses we actually need to build and the CHMC proposal to build 3.5 Million homes by 2030.
In Canada – housing costs are a massive problem that no politician is really working on (more on that later).
I used to support Basic Income, but I no longer think it is a good idea.
In 2015, we started Revenu de Base Québec to advocate for Basic Income in Québec, Canada.
I still support pats of the work that UBIWorks, a Canadian advocacy group for basic income in Canada, does. Notably their work on a National Dividend scheme.
Under the model referred to as Universal Basic Income, all citizens would receive a monthly cheque for a reasonable amount of money (say $1,000 to $2,000). The amount would cover basic needs – food, shelter – allowing you to survive, but not stay idle. Citizens would still need to conduct some form of work and those that earn enough would ultimately pay-back this stipend through various tax reforms.
This policy proposal is gaining increased interest in these times of Coronavirus and economic turmoil. Personally I prefer a dividend form for creating and distributing the money. The revenues would common from common assets such as land tax, telecommunications spectrum sales, crown corporations and other “commonly” owned assets and enterprises. This is well outlined in Peter Barne’s book, Liberty an dividends for one and for All.
Here are some of my posts on the subject:
COVID and Basic Income
Basic Income as a Problem to Capitalism’s Structural Problems
How to Build a Citizen Movement for Basic Income
On Basic Income
The possibility to change institutions is only possible if we can mobilize people. To mobilize people, we need to demonstrate the true inner-workings of certain institutions – corruption, manipulation and a desire to retain power. That is why government and corporate transparency are so important.
In Canada, we were largely behind the United States and the United Kingdom, but thanks to the hard work of many we are slowly catching up. My hometown of Montreal was also a laggard in Canada, but is slowly catching up too.
From August 2010 – 2014, we created and ran Montréal Ouvert a citizens’ action group that successfully pressured the City of Montreal to establish an Open Data Policy and office.
I was the co-founder Open North, which began in 2011 to improve government transparency and citizen engagement. I served as Chairman of the Board of Open North from 2011 – 2019.
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The conflict started in the late 19th century with the influx of Jewish settlers, hoping to start a better life outside of (mainly) Europe. The flow of immigrants increased and shortly after the second world war and in 1948, the Jewish immigrants declared themselves to be an independent state, Israel. Ever since, conflict with both the local Palestinian people and neighbouring nations has threatened the lives of all involved. As a Canadian Jewish person I decided to become involved with Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) that advocates for equitable peace in Israel and Palestine. There are equivalent organisations in other countries such as Jewish Voice for Peace in the United States.
H.G. Wells once said, “Human history has become more than ever a race between education and destruction”. I firmly agree.
The question has become whether we can educate the world about civil liberties, agriculture, technology, infrastructure and education fast enough to remove dictators, solve environmental problems and remove the oppression of woman and minorities.
Ted Talk: Clifford Stoll on Education
TED Talk: Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativityPublished on March 15, 2009