Monday, 27 February 2012

Something to think about....

I like to read the newspapers and look at the different news stories. I have become fascinated with the development in our Capital Ottawa and the different new ideas for urban renewal. I also follow what goes on in other levels of government at the Provincial and Federal level. As a country, as we approach the 150 anniversary of our union (1867-2017) I see many changes in the composition of the country and in the shifting of political and economic influences towards Western Canada. Though economically we are stable, have a very low crime rate similar to what we had back in 1974, we are doing quite well compared to other G8 nations, little National debt, with modest growth economically, lots of cheap imported labour in our growing service sector, job growth in the service sector at minimum wage. The dark cloud is the growing debt of the average Canadian family.

A certain hysteria has griped the country because of the economic crisis largely because of news from Europe in the Euro zone and a slowdown in China due to a maturing of its economy, we are told by various conservative think tanks that Canada could face economic problems with catastrophic consequences tomorrow, again the sing song of Conservative politicians. This little refrain we all heard it now for the last 6 years and I do not find it credible in the least. In my humble opinion it is all smoke and mirrors to keep us all on the edge of our seats like at the movies when Godzilla is about to eat Tokyo.

Every day a senior Bank economist or the Parliament budget Officer points out that we are not facing the sort of economic problems the government would like us to believe. Its a political strategy to make everyone believe there is a fire and in the end, if you repeat it often enough the people will believe it.

So to explain away this dire situation we need to draw-up a list of people who are responsible for this state of affairs, an enemies of the State list so to speak,  it goes like this: We have an aging population, by 2030 about one third of our population will be over 55 years of age. People live longer up to 84 years of age now in Canada compared with 65 years of age in 1971. This means more pensions and benefits of all kinds to pay out to aging boomers who by the way have paid into the programs for years, while they worked. The refrain goes; If the boomers had saved their money maybe there would not be a problem, poor young generation who will have to support them.

So enemy number 1 is the elderly and they are a target of a lot of political posturing. Some politicians have suggested in public speeches to young audiences that it is so unfair to them that all these old people are such a bother. This is why we need to rearrange the public pensions of Canadians, though there is no visible reason to do so. Maybe we can put the elderly on an ice flow to ensure a better future for the young.

Then at number 2 you have anyone who is concerned with the environment, you don't have to be a tree hugger, just concerned that our environment is being degraded by pollution. Be opposed to big Oil and big Tar Sands development. Environmental stations are being closed, they monitor the Ozone depletion in the far North. We are told again by some Conservative politicians that these activists opposing pipelines and oil are fanatics financed by foreign money, just short of terrorists.

Then at number 3 you have just about anyone who works in a government position, they are lazy and well they are too numerous and we don't need them, the government can be self-service or drive through like at McDonald's. The simplistic approach to deliver every program with no one to deliver them, computers and consultants will do it all, but we are assured that you will still have access to the services, though it may take 6 to 10 weeks to have access.

Then at number 4 you have anyone who disagrees with the government on any topic, just choose one. That is quite a few people, what to do with all these malcontents. Well monitoring the Internet like the Communists government in China does would be a good start, there is a bill in Parliament right now on that topic.

At number 5 you have the poor in general, who are largely marginalized, too bad we no longer have Work Houses like in the golden age of Queen Victoria. On this topic a 5% tax has been suggested by leading economists on all food items to raise revenue, the difference in price would probably force many poor people and elderly to the edge, but according to said economists that is the price to pay for efficiency.

Then at number 6 is the Judiciary, any judge is a target, they are depicted continuously as soft on crime, unwilling to do their job and being dangerous activists willing to strike down laws found unconstitutional. There appears to be a misunderstanding, in Canada there is a separation between branches of the government and that the Judiciary is independent. There is such criticisms of the Judiciary by senior politicians in government that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court took the steps to speak up in a rebuke the critics.  Some judges have refused to give out mandatory sentences ordained by the current government because the mandatory sentences were deemed cruel and unusual punishment. Just to have the Justices rebuked in the House of Commons the very next day by the Prime Minister.

Not much harmony in our little Dominion. I wonder who is left now, it seems that the list grows longer with each passing day. It really is a sad state of affair. What is sadder still is the fact that the public does not appear to care or understand what is going on. The latest Nanos poll shows that the public is bloodthirsty for major budget cuts, however when asked if they understood what would happen if the cuts where to happen, said public had no idea of the consequences. Ignorance is bliss.

Finally today in the House of Commons the opposition called for a debate on the robo-calls made on or before election day last May 2011, directing people to the wrong polling stations, in the hope of swinging some ridings where the vote was close or too close to call. Quite the shock to our democratic system. Some editorials speak of a Nixonian moment, reminiscent of Richard Nixon and Watergate. The quest for power turns quite a few heads. How can anyone have any faith in such a system. Some 40 ridings are involved, the election was also the lowest turn-out ever in a National election, not exactly a strong mandate.

Plato in his book The Republic presents the five types of government, a cycle of politics, none are best, except that Plato liked the Aristocratic phase.

  • Democracy: government by the many  (what we are suppose to have now)
  • Oligarchy: government by the few
  • Timocracy: government by the honored ones
  • Tyranny: government by one for himself
  • Aristocracy: government by the best (Plato's ideal)

But it seems to me that though we live in the illusion of democracy, we are in the process of morphing into a mix of three elements. We have oligarchs in the very wealthy, the business class, the one per cent, who constantly agitate for lower wages and higher profits and lower corporate taxes. We also have the honoured ones, academics, experts and other who present themselves as thinkers or think tanks, mostly right wing and ultra conservative. Tyranny in the power resting in the hands of one man, the Prime Minister who is more powerful than the US President. So we are sliding out of Democracy and into a mix of the three driven by autoritarian ideology. Quite a change but who will notice, in a population who refuses to believe or show interest as long as their selfish consumer goals are unaffected.

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