Faultless Observations, Rotten Determination

During the election that brought Rob Ford the mayoral office, I was strongly opposed to him becoming Mayor. Though I agreed to the frame work of his campaign: “Stop the Gravy Train”, I didn’t have confidence in him to be an efficient, effective leader of a multi-cultural flagship city of Canada. I had less confidence in his opponents. George Smitherman, despite escaping any accountability for it, was largely responsible for the nearly 1 billion wasted on the E-Health program, as it all took place while the Ministry of Health portfolio was under his stewardship. Joe Pantalone was my choice, believing that having someone who would continue the work of David Miller would probably do less damage to Toronto than the other two. Meaning, that he struck me as the least harmful option, but not a good one.

When Rob Ford was elected, I posteded two statuses:

I think the last few weeks of his mayoral tenure have proven my initial gut feelings towards Ford correct. In less than six months, he has managed to stumble and roll in a downward spiral that is quickly exposing him for the big idea, little ability candidate I believed him to be. I’m not going to get into each and every decision he’s made, because frankly I just don’t have the time. Here’s a quick highlight:

  • Gay Pride

    If this were your only discretion, Mayor Ford, I’d say it was enough to hurl you out of office. Your behaviour towards Gay Pride was and is disgraceful. You’re the mayor of the city that is a mecca of gay pride and marriage in the world. This is a world class city. A flagship of Canada. A multi-cultural mosaic that embraces people from all places and all lifestyles. I don’t care if you are gay, are homophobic, or somewhere in between. You slap on a pink tie and dance your melon-shaped ass back into shape on the largest, fruitiest float you can find. You heard me, I said dance.

  • Jarvis Bike Lanes

    Re-spending $400,000 dollars to undo what a long-term beautification plan put together over the course of several years is neither democratic or un-Gravytrain like. There is a gridlock problem here in Toronto, and the way to solve it isn’t by re-opening one reversible lane on a half-street that only cuts partway through downtown. It would be to increase and encourage public transit and bicycles by adding more dedicated bike lanes, increasing bus and subway routes, and dedicating lanes for buses. It’s not a ‘War on the Car’ – it’s a war on senseless abuse of the privilege of driving. People who could be funding this province and city silly with public transit fares are sitting for hours in their car simply because they can. You need less cars on the road. Not more.

  • Bag Tax

    I’ve talked about this already. Bottom line – the tax is little more than annoying deterrent. EXACTLY WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE. Leave it the hell alone.

  • Transit City

    So, Ford scrapped the plan in favour of a smaller service area subway, at a higher cost. Big Win. « sarcasm »

  • TTC

    Now that they are an essential service, and can’t strike, watch what happens when the next round of wage negotiations happens. Thanks for that. They’re bus drivers, not highly trained Emergency Response workers. You’ve basically just glorified them.

  • Tax Repeals, Tax Freezes

    This is why you were elected. People wanted to stop paying money. People never want to pay money. You offer it up for free, and they’ll take it. Now you have to figure out how to run the city for free. Good luck with that.

  • Labour Layoffs

    Boy, that worked out well for Mike Harris, didn’t it?

I haven’t the words. So, I’ll turn it over to the omniscient and arrogant Dr. Perry Cox of Scrubs:

B33P! B00P!

Anonymous at Scientology in Los Angeles

So, there’s this hacker collective known as Anonymous. Clever, right?

I’ve been abstractedly aware of their existence for some time, I guess. I recall a few of their exploits bubbling to the surface of the mainstream media, but I’ve never really investigated much further than that. It honestly wasn’t until LulzRaft and LulzSec started making waves earlier this year that I started paying attention, and I’d like to – very humbly, mind you – make some observations. I’m a little concerned.

I want to preface my comments by lauding the overall enterprises of the Anonymous Core. While the majority of the attention they’ve been getting from the media has been overtly focused on their (somewhat) negative activities, I think some praise and attention needs to be brought to their more positive works: attempting to bring freedom of information to those that are denied it, fighting unnecessary censorship, attempting to sift through mountains of data to expose corruption, largesse and administrative abuses by financial institutions and more. From finding cat abusers right up to hacking government websites, the overall impact of their work seems to be incentivised by positive motivations.

I want to be honest in my ignorance – I don’t completely understand what they are. I’m not sure I understand the differences between AnonOps and PLF or LulzSec and LulzRaft, or how individually named hackers versus anonymous groups play together. It seems that there’s sometimes a cohesive voice for them, and other times hard to pin whether or not they’re responsible for anything at all.

Why I say humbly, is because to speak negatively about them seems to evoke a penchant for petty retribution – a character trait of the overall collective that seems misinformed against the loosely defined goals that Anonymous is supposed to be working towards. Some of these are probably simply oversights of the people involved in those actions, and some of them might simply be acts of blatant ignorance with no way for them to know the dangers of what they’re doing. I have no real condemnation of the idea of ‘Hacktivism‘ – I just think, like most protesters, they’re not really sure how to use their power of the collective in a way that will affect positive change, which is where I’m I trying to zero into here.

It’s not enough to simply vandalize. Bottom line, basics of what most of what they’re doing – DDoS, hacking websites, posting fallacious stories – all funny, but essentially pointless vandalism. All that does is sour public opinion, and does little to fix any of the real issues beyond perhaps someone patching a security hole they found. I don’t think this is productive. It’s destructive criticism, at it’s best. It’s a model that a lot of activists fall into. And that’s where the problem lies – people gather to hack and hew at the actions of their elected leaders, their captains of industry, their friends and family and do little to actually improve the situation. If they really want to change it, there has to be an effort to make the criticism constructive. But it’s hard to postulate whether or not they really do. The overarching appearance of the Anonymous collectives and branches is one suffering from ADD, cruel psychosis with a penchant for justifying their mayhem by mostly directing it at organizations that are more and more despicable. Or randomly leaving them alone.

Here’s the thing: It’s not enough to just say “That Sucks!” Or, post a picture of a troll with “WE DID IT FOR THE LULZ”. Which in my mind, is the same thing. Saying that you hate the way something is, isn’t enough of a motivation to change the thing in question. Again – if change is what Anonymous wants. It’s hard to say.

Because they can be scary too. They’ve crossed some pretty hard lines. Lines that are dangerous, and not just abstractly dangerous like taking down a website, or reporting that the president is dead. I mean actually dangerous. Exposing people through passwords, releasing credit card information, opening people up to identity theft? That’s a bullshit move. And it’s criminal. Innocent people who may barely know more than how to get into their email are now exposed to the unscrupulous because they wanted a few ‘lulz’? That’s not cool.

We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

– Anonymous

I would hope at some point that as a collective there is a decision to create some boundaries, or some sort of criteria for the actions they take. They’re getting to a point where they may have to, as the allure of their notoriety may start attracting an even less desirable and less ethical sort than the average hacker. To pretend that they don’t need to take responsibility for their actions – collectively or individually – is churlish. They’ve reached a point where you have grown, and can no longer be as willy-nilly as they’ve been. To put the onus on the average netizen to investigate their purposes and properly interpret their actions is ludicrously näive.

Although I don’t totally ‘get’ the entity that is Anonymous, I do think that I’ve got a fairly good grasp on mass communication and marketing spin. It might seem incongruent with the conception of the meme of Anonymous, but there may be value in evolving the concept to add some basics to their structure to help secure a more positive public image. Calling themselves a ‘friend of the people’ is one thing. To act as such is another. Friends don’t go punching each other in the gut in order to illuminate truth – and the average netizen isn’t going to respond well when you freeze their ability to purchase a tattoo for their baby. As strange as Anonymous is, it barely scratches the surface of what the general population is capable of.

So here’s the humble suggestion: Create some guidelines for the membership activities. Things like “Attack entities, not individuals”. The wording for positing positive alternatives to the negatives they’re attempting to disrupt and destroy might be “Replace bad beliefs with good ideas.” I think if they have a working criteria checklist, we might see more pointed hacktivist attacks, with better outcomes and bigger changes. And if they started taking their failures and success and tracking the data, they might even become far more effective as an activist entity. Right now they are a heavy blunt instrument. They could be as precise and accurate as a surgical scalpel with a little bit of focus.

Frankly, I’d love to see them take something within their domain. Why these guys haven’t decided to stop spam, I don’t know. Because I truly believe they could. Entirely. I’m betting that with a fraction of the effort they’ve put into Project Chanology, they could probably drop spam activity to nearly 0.

That would generate some good vibrations amongst the average people. Imagine a world where you didn’t open your inbox to ads for mail-order brides or viagra alternatives?

“Thanks Anonymous!” is what the people would say.

Dear Anonymous: Please don’t hurt me. Thanks, M1S

+/-

Over the past week and a bit, Google was making waves on the internet about the launch Google plus.

I make that pun, because I wonder how many people remember Google Wave? It seems odd to me that Google is coming to the social media table. Mainly because it looks as though it’s almost a decade late – and looking like it’s going to be a dollar short, too.

I honestly don’t know what to make of the tour. While it seems to incorporate some interesting little functionality features, it doesn’t really do much to improve the actual social networking experience. I somehow managed to eke my way into what is still being called the ‘beta’ – but I haven’t seen anything to blow my socks off. Even those that seem excited about Plus, seem to have a hard time selling me on that excitement.

There’s a few things I like. And a few things I don’t. I haven’t had a chance to really delve in and see what I can do – but here’s my initial thoughts:

  • Circles

    I like the idea of having to add people you know to circles first – it’s a similar feature in facebook, but at least this way you do it as the friends add you. What I don’t like is that someone can just add you. I haven’t found a way to really set my privacy settings properly yet, but I’m not really keen on the idea that I don’t have global controls over who can see what. This kind of feeling goes for circles as well – I’d like to be able to set some default levels of privacy for each circle, and then not have to figure it out every time I post something.

  • Third Party Connections

    When I saw the feature that ‘connected’ me to my other social network areas (flickr, twitter, etc), I was pretty excited. I thought Google Plus might become the hub for social networking that I continually held out hope that Facebook would be. No dice. So far it has just produced a series of links down the side. I would love if I could pull postings from multiple twitter accounts, from linkedin, from facebook and from flickr and have it live all in once place.

  • Design

    I like the design. I love that it harkens back to the old days of facebook with the cool edge of minimalist simplicity that Google seems to always manage to embody. I hope it stays this clean.

  • Usability

    Sometimes I click on a photo, and it doesn’t do anything. If it’s not plain black text, and I click on it, it should do something. That’s all.

I’d like to delve into it further, but I haven’t the time right now. But here’s my gut reaction:

The internet is a big place, but there’s not always a ton of room for multiple products. Remember Friendster? Yahoo! 360°?

Or MySpace? It’s like watching people fight over whether or not to pull the plug on a brain-dead coma patient.

There are already so many tools out there for facebook, and the social networks that survive are the ones that find a niche that Facebook doesn’t fill. The only real place people are looking for, is a simpler place to collect all those streams into one place, and allow the minutia of their lives stream along as one giant torrent.

So, Google Plus – there’s not much you’d need to change to get there.

Get there.

Call me a quitter

No smoking! #3

I started smoking when I was 16.

I’ve tried to quit countless times, and I think my best stint at being an ex-smoker is almost two months. I say ‘ex’ instead of ‘non’ because from what I’ve heard and seen from others that have given up the fuming habit, it’s never a mistress you can truly forget you danced with.

I’ve tried inhalers, I’ve tried patches and gums. I’ve done the cold turkey, the daily affirmations, and the weaning process. I’ve read books and tried different diets. I consulted with my doctor, and that was the worst non-starter as he basically suggested prescription pill (an absolute last resort in my book) or all of the other things I’d already tried. I had hoped he would have had some better insights. To date non have really proven effective at culling my cravings or making me feel like I was doing any better than constantly struggling with severe homicidal urges. But I’ve gotten to the point where I have to do something about it. I feel terrible most of the time, I hate myself a little bit every time I light up, I hate the way I smell, and it’s put a strain on my relationship as well as my health. And with my nephew now in the picture, I don’t want him to associate me with the smell of smoke – which is why I try not to smoke when I see him. But it’d be a lot easier if I could just quit.

So, I felt I had few options left: Hypnosis or retrying one of the other routes available. Despite the mystical nerdism of Hypnosis, it’s one of those things I’m not sure I ‘buy’. It’s always seemed a bit new age and hokey. That, and the cost (Almost a thousand dollars) is prohibitive. That, and I don’t want to suddenly cluck like a chicken when the toaster dings. But there is now a far nerdier solution:

Getting shot with lasers.

It’s been on my radar for a few months, and I’ve been pretty excited about it. Some people are calling it a ‘magic bullet’, and it has a really high success rate. Most of the places offering it quote anywhere from 80% to 95% effectiveness. That, and with the price averaging about $300, it felt a lot safer to ‘try’.

To be honest, I raised my eyebrow when I first heard about it – but if the numbers are accurate, I had to try it. This is the basics of how it works:

Stimulation of auricular (ear) and acupuncture points promotes release of neurotransmitters (endorphins, serotonins, dopamine). The laser raises your endorphin levels that normally crash when you quit smoking creating cravings. Stimulation of auricular points may also change taste thresholds or the perceived taste of tobacco. The taste of smoke generally becomes less desirable and even objectionable, lowering the overall desire to continue smoking. Within 24 hours, your sense of taste and smell will change so you won’t want another cigarette and the nicotine will be cleared from your lungs.

So a few days ago, I made an appointment for after work today, and after filling out some forms and answering some questions, I jumped onto the bed and threw on some nifty goggles. My ‘clinician’ was a funnyish little man with a rotund belly, and a voice pitched that I mistook him for a woman on the phone. But he calmly and soothingly explained what each of the ‘pressure’ points would do after he referred to his ‘how-to’ chart (not confidence inspiring, mind you) – and shot me with lasers. Or made an object beep at me. For an hour.

I can’t say that I know it did anything. I felt warm and fuzzy while it was happening, and I’ve had some habitual moments in the intervening two hours where I’ve reached for my cigarettes, but I don’t really want one. I left the office with this real sense of euphoria, and confidence that I can kick this habit.

So far, I feel pretty good.

Day 91 - Sneezy Spy

YAY I WINZ TEH INTRANETZ

Undecided I’m big on debate.

I like it. Even when I’m wholly unprepared to defend my position, I enjoy getting into a verbal discourse about important – or unimportant – topics. I just like to have ideas evolve and change. I like to challenge belief and have my beliefs challenged. In fact, one of the few things I believe (as opposed to just having ideas about) is that healthy, honest, civil and intellectual debate must be the crux of our civilization. As long as we can challenge one another to continue to innovate and constructively criticize our methodology in order to continually move forward in a positive and impactful manner.

But that enjoyment turned into a bit of a nasty addiction when the internet entered my life. Suddenly I had access to thousands upon millions of potential debate opponents. On top of that, I had access to a growing resource of information – I could literally pick any fight I wanted to, and ‘win’.

Except that there never was a win.

You can’t win on the Internet.

In over a decade of engaging avatars and anonymous posts on the internet, I can count perhaps a half dozen engagements that I would consider resolved where I emerged ‘in the right’. And though there never is a clear winner on the internet – I can say all of us lost. Time, energy – it deflates you. The only win I can think of that I didn’t feel dirty afterwards is when I managed to convince a dog owner to seek training for her dog instead of just giving up on it.

And it’s not like I take extreme positions about anything – I don’t like to think of myself on the political spectrum. I like to think that I can incorporate a good idea into my ideological systems without compromising my entire being. Which is part of the problem with arguing with most people on the internet.

Where I argue from a competitive desire, a lot of people argue from a place of insecurity. The ideas and beliefs that they come on the internet to express, defend or attack with are so integral to the core of their being that to question them, to shake that tree, is not just a threat to an abstract an idea, but a personal threat to their being – metaphysical or otherwise. And in those circumstances, it’s impossible to make one see the err of their ways. If they are so tied up in the abstracts of idea that they cannot tell where the person ends and the ideas begin, then the argument becomes a battle for life – and no one will give ground when it comes to their life.

Either that, or they play the ‘I’m the Victim‘ game. That ones always fun. Republicans are really good at that game.

Or, some people are just mean, stupid and ignorant, and enjoy feeling as though they are making others feel bad about themselves. More than once I’ve been told that something of mine ‘sucks’ – but when pressed for constructive criticism, the response devolves into little more than internet gibber.

Which is how I felt I won the last argument I had – on Reddit, mind you. I Moo’ed. After basically laughing at someone who insulted me and my work without grounds or reason, I just mooo’ed in response. And then he conceded to give me the last word. So I proclaimed victory over the internet.

Lazy Cow - Flatford, Dedham, Essex, England - Sunday June 10th 2007 - Highest Explore position - #1 on June 14 2007.WOW!!.:O):O):O)

So, today, I say no more.

I will not intelligently argue with you anymore, internet. I will reserve my best debates for those I meet in person, those that I can share and challenge ideas with in a face to face encounter. I will save my intellectual time, energies and efforts for those that will benefit from it, and for me to benefit from.

From now on, when you bleat at me some inanity that is clearly wrong, I will simply respond with my new (and supremely satisfying) battle cry:

Moo.

The Orwellian Prophecy, But Worse

If you haven’t read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I’d recommend reading it.

In the wake of the ‘social media justice’ extravaganza surrounding the Vancouver Riots, some remarkable things have occurred. I’m sure a few unremarkable things occurred (not including my six and half minutes of fame), but I’d like to pontificate about what I see as a tectonic shift in perspectives around social media, the power of the crowd source and our inconsistent indignation in regards to privacy.

As I watched the live footage unfold, late at night through traffic cams, I had the natural disaster porn response: fascination. It was a fascination mixed with disgust though – and a lack of surprise. But we’re all aware of the horrible nature of the riot, the outside public’s condemnation of it. It’s what started happening immediately afterwards that really caught my attention. At first, I was duly impressed with the accuracy, expediency and velocity at which participants in the vandalism and violence were being identified. In the same time it took for me to express my ‘editorial’ commentary on the rioters, several of them had either come forward (in light of peer/social pressure to do so) or were named, shamed and exposed on the internet. Even in the initial chaos of it, it almost became self-organizing as people gravitated towards certain sites, began grouping their discoveries, and working in probably what was one of the largest incohesive efforts for justice. It was astonishing that offenders were being catalogued right down to the second in which they appear in the hundreds of videos that have been posted.

But at some point, it became something a little uglier.

What we witnessed here is the double-edged sword of the … for lack of better phrasing – the power of the internet. Throw around whatever colloquialisms you want: “With great power comes great responsibility” or “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. On one hand, a huge collective self-organized itself on to clean up the city (thousands turning out) the next morning. Thousands. And we had dozens of the worst rioters identified to police and being appropriately charged, and still more coming forward before the internet could expose them.

People dug a little too deep, and began posting private details about some of these people – a good number of them minors that technically should have had their identities protected under the Young Offenders Act. It had gone so far that Nathan Kotylak’s father had to shut down his medical practice and flee their home because of threats. Somewhere along the line, those seeking justice had been caught up by the fever pitch of the movement that they had in turn, become exactly what they were hunting – a mindless mob causing destruction. I think that counts as irony.

What I find interesting is that this – I hate to use the word again – power is that it’s no longer in the hands of elite and shadowy hackers or computer anarchist groups like Anonymous. It’s both scary and exciting – because we have to learn how to use this power appropriately.

While the debate has now begun about appropriate punishments for YO’s and other rioters – let me be very clear about this. Vigilante justice, making personal threats against family, friends and businesses that had previous association with them is not cool. The world wide Webbers should have stopped at passing on evidence and identity information to the VPD. Though a cursory reading of my ‘photo editorial’ might appear otherwise, I meant it as a hard-edged joke. I hope that they are all persecuted prosecuted under the law fairly, and that they are given the chance to make amends for a collective effort at mindless destruction. And being that some of the number of people seeking justice on the internet went that far as well, I hope that we can look at the justice they will receive with a little perspective on the potential for anyone to be caught up in the mob mentality. I’m not advocating leniency. Just perspective.

The other thing I think has been completely overlooked here is something that can be viewed as either a positive shift in privacy and personal responsibility, or an ugly realization in authoritarian monitoring. I’m leaning more towards the former, but there will be a few that once it hits home will probably start shouting something about a conspiracy.

Here in Ontario, and in North America, there has oft been resistance to the idea of being under surveillance; Photo Radar, CCTV – any kind of authority with constant monitoring ability has been balked at. And yet – in this incident, or the G20 in Toronto, people have volunteered their photos, videos, data and more importantly their time to combing through all of this data to find and deliver offenders to justice. Not only have we suddenly become comfortable with this idea – it’s what we participate actively in everyday. Our social media habits have turned us into a society that parallels that of Oceania in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

We have become Big Brother.

Big Brother is often the literary measuring stick against government tyranny and control, but at the end of the day – the people themselves are the real fuel for fear. The philosophy of Big Brother, the concept of him, doesn’t work without the compliance of the masses. And in effect, the people become a self monitoring system, snitching on neighbors and friends, turning over family members – all for the good of the many. That’s what we did here to the point where it was dangerous.

Should we be afraid?

No, don’t be stupid. It was only a book.

We have to be cautious though – our ability to peer deeply into others lives is something that we need to respect and use only to the extent that we are working within the framework of the law. Remember – my right to swing my arm stops right before your nose.

Value Your Work. Value Yourself.

While working in an above-the-line agency, I learned a very valuable lesson from a very kind colleague that I did a sideline project for. In doing up a quick poster for his band’s regular gig, I made a grievous error that I had been making a lot. I offered to do it for nothing.

One of my biggest flaws is not being able to adequately assign value to my own work – call it an esteem issue, call it frustration when trying to justify work to clients that undervalue the importance of good design, call it whatever you will – I try to be fair in the cost of my work, as best I can. When I view it as a favor, it’s hard for me to accept money in exchange for it. Or it was.

What he said to me amounted to a lesson in value. Though the exact wording escapes me, it follows summarily as this:

You have to have a value exchange for everything. If you provide goods or services with no exchange, the recipient holds it with no value. If you give me the design for nothing, then I hold it as nothing, and can summarily dismiss it, discard it, or misuse it. By taking money from me in exchange for your talent and effort, I’ll take this away with a sense of having purchased something, even uniquely owning it in my own way. I’ll use it more wisely, think harder about it’s development and deployment, and in turn hold you with more value.

Some people will appreciate a designed piece, or artwork for what it is. But everyone gains a sense of value for it from the act of exchanging hard earned money for the service or product you provide. To others, it might even be subconsciously insulting to receive your hard work for free.

Always ensure that you receive something in exchange for your work. Barter, trade, haggle – but if you’re putting in your time, your experience – that’s worth something.

The first step is to figure out what your time, and your experience is worth. The next hurdle – and this can be the harder one- is being able to communicate how your work will add value to your clients business. It’s not always enough to say that you’re a creative problem solver or a strategist. Being able to try and quantify and qualify your work is important.

Way to go

Like most Canadians, I’m pretty disappointed with the behavior of the Canuck fans after their Stanley Cup loss. I’m pretty dissappointed a Canadian team didn’t win the Cup too. But that doesn’t make me want to go and burn the city down. I love hockey. I played for most of my youth. But I understand that it’s just a game.

However, as a nerd, I am stoked about the amount of coverage and the viral response to the riot – twitter a flutter with people begging the rioters to stop (though, I don’t think a lot of them were checking their accounts while they were smashing in the windows of London Drugs), The news spreading fast – but most of all I’m impressed with the volume of photographic and video evidence of people committing crimes. I’m pretty sure that most of these people will be caught and face charges, and that makes me happy that the crowd can now overpower the mob. Good job guys. This is something I started whipping up when I had a few minutes lull in my work, and finished off a nice round of em later. I’m tapped out though now, so enjoy. Click on any of the images to open a full-size gallery.

Want to make your own? Download the PSD file I used here: Ass Hat Template

How not to stop a Gravytrain

Yesterday, Mayor Ford announced that he would be upending the *controversial* 5 cent plastic bag tax that currently *plagues* Toronto, an initiative started by the previous administration nearly two years ago.

I’m not a Rob Ford supporter – I don’t like the way he ran his campaign, I don’t think he has the charisma to effect positive change without creating a lot of animosity, I don’t feel he has a good grasp of what the cities future needs, and his behavior can be downright deplorable.

I do agree and encourage the theme of his mayoral campaign and reign – Stop the Gravytrain. I’m all for culling waste within the system, holding government employees accountable for their actions, restructuring services to reduce costs while improving them, getting rid of unnecessary taxes and privatizing certain services. But I don’t like his methods, and I disagree violently with this proposed action.

Even he said he can see the merits of the program. I think all Torontonians can, if they open there eyes a little. There has been a drastic reduction in wayward plastic bags since this took effect.

I don’t know whom he consulted about this, or where the anti-bag tax movement came from. It’s a relatively easy tax to avoid (Use reusable bags), nor is it that high. On the rare occasion I do forget to bring my reusable bags, I don’t mind paying the fee. It’s a terrific deterrent, which is what the program was designed to do – reduce waste by deterring people from consuming it.

His arguments against it don’t really hold water, either. If his problem is that he doesn’t know where that money is going, changing the tax to a collectable fund for Toronto to redistribute to environmental programs seems like a pretty viable answer to that program – or simply mandating that it go to a specific, Toronto approved green-initiative aimed at cleaning up litter or reducing waste would work as well. It also doesn’t require ‘inspectors’ or ‘regulators as crony Doug Holyday suggested as a sound bite last night on the news. There are already systems in place to ensure that the money can be collected and used approrpiately. Even if it is being done by the retailers, donated or pocketed – the aim of the system is working. It deters use of waste.

That means a savings in garbage collection, garbage transport and landfill costs. The answer here isn’t to get rid of the tax, it’s to extend it to other items that are filling our landfills.

Like Paper Cups.

Please note, use of asterisked quotes should be read as sarcasm.