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Will the age of ownership end in 2022? Plus three predictions from the west coast

Commentary

To close out the year, we’ve asked our contributors and staff to make a prediction about 2022. You would think, at least since the early days of 2020, that we’d have learned our lesson about making predictions, but we couldn’t resist. Feel free to save these if you want to embarrass us with them later.


By L. Graeme Smith

There are many bewilderments a new Walmart brings to a small rural town full of long summer boredoms and bereft—until all of a sudden it’s decidedly not—of big-box capitalism. Chief among them, in our home at least, was the five-dollar DVD bin. A wonder. Five or ten dollars here and there and soon you’re building a wall-sized shelf to house the complete Planet of the Apes collection and other wonders of the 20th-century cinematic world.

But nobody owns DVDs anymore. Or hardly anyone. Why would you, when everything is available to instantly stream for just a small subscription fee? Available, that is until it is not. After all, as the fine print is fast to point out, you do not actually own your movies, or TV shows, or music. Or your books, or even your photos. And the things you do have? You increasingly don’t have the right to repair them when they break. 

Paying for something upfront and enjoying its service thereafter is becoming an antiquated concept as the subscription and software as a service model subsumes everything. 

And I truly mean everything. Toyota recently confirmed that moving forward it will cost you $8/month to use your key fob for remote start. Unlocking full rear-wheel steering functionality in your Mercedes EQS requires a $576/year subscription. 

Care about your health? Even your pulse is now pay-to-play. A new Oura Ring heart monitor costs you $399, but the Gen3 model also requires an additional $6/month subscription to fully function. A Peloton Bike membership is $49.99/month. The app just on its own is $16.99/month.

And if you’re young and, like me, yet to own a house? Genuinely, good luck. But don’t worry. A nice beachfront screensaver just opened up in the Metaverse. Surely you’ll be content with that.

As payment becomes more seamless then of course it will become more ubiquitous. If it is fast and frictionless to charge for anything, why wouldn’t you be charged for everything? Mammon is hungry, and once-and-for-all ownership is being consumed by a system of payment in perpetuity.

Is it inevitable that capital will be ceaselessly elevated out of the tangible and into the abstract as our lives and interactions are slowly but surely and bit by digital bit mediated through the online realm? Will 2022 already mark the end of the age of ownership?

I really don’t know, which is what makes this a bad prediction. It is more of a noticing. And I’m just noticing that trends are trending towards a non-fungible future. The water isn’t quite so unbearable yet, but my little froggy feet are starting to feel the fire. 

Am I wrong to clutch desperately at the few actual things still within my reach?

L. Graeme Smith is The Hub’s deputy editor.


Three predictions from the west coast

By Kelden Formosa

1. The BC Liberal Leadership Race Comes Down to Ross and Falcon

Given all the major events taking place in B.C. this year, it was perhaps no surprise that the leadership race for the centre-right B.C. Liberal Party would fly mostly under the radar. The only story that’s attracted much media attention has been the controversial exclusion of popular right-wing commentator Aaron Gunn by party brass. But the race could well heat up before the leadership election in February. Attention is focused on Ellis Ross, the former Chief Councillor of the Haisla Nation and MLA for Skeena, whose folksy campaign has emphasized reconciliation and overcoming poverty in Indigenous communities, defending our beleaguered resource industries, and opposing wokeness and cancel culture, and Kevin Falcon, whose more-polished campaign has emphasized his years of experience as a Campbell and Clark-era cabinet minister. It’s a classic outsider versus insider race, with most of the caucus coming down on Falcon’s side while conservative activists like the aforementioned Gunn and hunting legend Jim Shockey have signalled support for Ross. The other candidates haven’t attracted as much attention, but their second-preference votes will likely decide the outcome, as the BC Liberals use the same electoral system as the federal Conservatives.

2. Education Finally Becomes A Major Issue in Canadian Politics

Potential Omicron-driven school closures across the nation, continuing debates around pluralism, religious freedom, and aggressive laïcité in Quebec schools, efforts to tweak or rewrite parts of the controversial new Alberta curriculum, and renewed battles over the excesses of woke education in Ontario: this could well be the year that Canadians start paying closer attention to what’s going on in their schools. For example, an Ontario teachers’ union recently won a court case where judges ruled a math proficiency test for new teachers was unconstitutional on the grounds that it could have a disparate impact on racialized teacher candidates. How preventing the government from assessing teacher candidates’ math proficiency was supposed to help students was left unclear by the ruling. Look for the Ontario PC government to smell a winning issue and either appeal what seems to be an expression of judicial activism or invoke the notwithstanding clause.

3. Challenges to the Safe Supply Consensus Emerge

Over the last several years, it’s become an article of faith that the best way to treat Canada’s opioid epidemic is for government to provide less-toxic, so-called safe supplies of various opioids to the many people who are struggling with addictions. This was the logical extension of the overall harm reduction approach that provided supervised injection sites and reduced police focus on drug crime enforcement. But as British Columbia, the province which has gone furthest with this approach, suffers yet another devastating year of its highest-ever overdose deaths, questions are finally being asked as to whether we should go further down this path. The Globe and Mail recently published a doctor’s op-ed suggesting it’s not working, while councillors and mayoral candidates in Vancouver have signalled discomfort with the open drug markets in our Downtown Eastside. Meanwhile, neighbouring Alberta has recently promised that addicts who are arrested will immediately be offered recovery-oriented addiction treatment. Plus, opposing drug legalization has generally been a winning issue for federal Conservatives among the Chinese Canadians who abandoned them in the last election. All these factors could help create a real national debate as to whether we want safe supply to be the core of our drug and addictions policy going forward.

Kelden Formosa is an elementary school teacher in Vancouver, BC.

Canada will qualify for the World Cup, and Canadians will fall out of love with their health care in 2022

Commentary

To close out the year, we’ve asked our contributors and staff to make a prediction about 2022. You would think, at least since the early days of 2020, that we’d have learned our lesson about making predictions, but we couldn’t resist. Feel free to save these if you want to embarrass us with them later.


Canada will qualify for the World Cup in 2022

By Stuart Thomson

Three bold predictions for 2022:

  1. Canada’s men’s soccer team will qualify for the World Cup. Like any good sports fan, I’m deeply worried about jinxing our guys as they battle for a place in the World Cup. But consider this an endorsement of the team’s character and an admission of my own cosmic insignificance that I’m willing to risk it.
  2. Justin Trudeau will continue on as Liberal leader. In his wonderful biography of Ulysses S. Grant, Ron Chernow writes about the tantalizing opportunity that incumbent politicians are granted: having the entire country tell you that you’re doing a good job. Grant was miserable as president, but he couldn’t resist seeking that stamp of approval from his countrymen. Expect Trudeau to succumb to this temptation as long as his party allows it.
  3. The Omicron variant of SARS-Cov-2 will hit hard and fast, like a summer thunderstorm, creating a massive spike of cases and a much lower rate of deaths. Again, I worry that my optimistic outlook will only set us up for a horrible disappointment, but I’m basing this on burgeoning evidence about the variant and a desire to inject some hope into the situation. The best-case scenario is that Omicron shoots through the population and leaves us with massive new levels of immunity and relatively few bad outcomes. Maybe it’s time to hope for the best.

Stuart Thomson is The Hub’s editor-in-chief.


Canadians will fall out of love with their health care system

By Samuel Duncan

In 2022, Canadians’ love of our universal public health care system will begin to decline. Canadians will start to voice their frustration with a health care system that has been unable to adapt over two years to manage COVID-19 without resorting to economic and social restrictions. The system is forcing our health care professionals to ration care and advocate for economic and social restrictions instead of creating a functioning testing tracing system or adding additional staff capacity necessary to expand ICU capacity. Neither is it addressing the systemic issues that make it impossible to adapt to the reality of COVID-19.

The constant complaint from the health care system that it is not adequately funded is no longer valid now that provincial and federal governments have increased funding to record amounts and no politician in Canada will argue against spending what it takes to keep Canadians safe. This may be the year when Canadians realize our universal public system is not, and may never have been, the envy of the world.