07 August, 2015

The Silly Season

We are in election mode.

My readership numbers tank whenever I get political. I understand that. Politics seems boring and irrelevant to a large number of people; to another subset of people, nothing I say is going to sway them from their candidate of choice. A third set already agrees with me, and...well, there is no other set.

So why bother?

Because like everything else, I take my politics personally.

I am a creator, a consensus-builder, and a rank idealist, that last to a fault. People have often called me naïve, and that's the one criticism that, for whatever reason, I'm able to shake off relatively easily. Sometimes my idealism backfires on me. Sometimes it doesn't. I still find it preferable to a philosophy of cold and cynical pragmatism.

I believe in power with, not power over; that people are fundamentally good (though often shortsighted) and that the word "profit" has more than one meaning. And furthermore--here's where the idealism comes out--I believe that governments ought to have a larger role in our lives than corporations do. I don't trust entities whose sole motive is to maximize short-term (monetary) profit at any cost, and the describes the vast majority of corporations.

Take the environment as an example. Corporations like to ignore the environment in which they operate, to the extent they can get away with doing so. The logic is sound from a purely economical perspective: externalizing your waste product costs, for example by, say, dumping your waste into the nearest river...well, it increases your profit margin, and it keeps the price lower for your customers. Win-win, right? No, not really. Because those costs you've dodged just get passed on to everyone who lives downstream. In Ken-world, governments would have, and use, the power to prevent this. In the real world, it doesn't happen near as often, nor to anywhere near, the extent that it should, and that is because corporations are larger than governments.

A similar effect is in play with wages. My blood boils every time I hear someone say that ___s make too much money. The statement is applied to everyone from  (unionized) retail cashiers to teachers to factory workers. Strangely, I don't hear it applied to hedge fund managers.

Retail cashier pay at one of my former employers is capped at thirty cents an hour over the minimum wage. I know people who have been stuck at that wage for fifteen years. You can say that those people should go to school and make themselves more marketable, and I'll ask you: using what for money?
Teachers: there are so many misconceptions about what teachers do and how they're paid to do it that the people spouting off really aren't qualified to have an opinion. Besides, if you believe teaching is such a cushy job...why aren't you a teacher?
Factory workers: the unionized ones do quite well, the non-unionized ones tend to make minimum wage or close to it. Same, or similar job. But it's always that the union folks make too much, never that the others make too little. I have always found that perverse.

You know what minimum wage is? Minimum wage is "well, we'd pay you less, but regrettably the government says we can't." Again, keeping wage costs low looks good on paper. Until you realize that your minimum wage workers can't afford to buy the products you produce, or contribute in any other meaningful way to the economy. Henry Ford, nobody's left-winger, understood this implicitly. There are a few today who do as well...but not many. It's a race to the bottom, and we're all losing. Who can arrest it, or at least slow it? Surely not corporations.  To turn a famous political quote on its head, corporations are not the solution, corporations are the problem.

From what I have written here, never mind what's in the rest of this Breadbin, it's pretty obvious I don't support our current government. The funny thing is, I don't doubt for a second that Prime Minister Harper truly believes he has the best interests of Canadians in hand and in heart.  He comes from a place of conviction...enough of his government's been convicted, after all.

Sorry, cheap shot.

I truly do not understand how anyone can support the man. Even if you agree with every policy of his government, the way he enacts those policies should greatly offend you. There is literally zero room for any competing viewpoint....on anything. Particularly if that viewpoint comes from an educated person. He has muzzled scientists, crippled his government's ability to collect data (supposedly in the name of privacy, which he later abolished under C-51), and he proudly, even defiantly, flaunts the Constitution. He will not take questions from Canadians unless they have been thoroughly vetted...and no more than five a day of those. He's shut down Parliament twice to avoid sticky situations. He routinely hides completely unrelated legislation in huge omnibus "budget" bills. I can go on and on, but I'll stop here: His solution to criminal wrongdoing in the RCMP was to rewrite the law and make it retroactive. 

That kind of behaviour is unacceptable in a leader...and I'd say that just as forcefully if it was a leader I had voted for myself. (Full disclosure: I did vote for Harper...once. I didn't like either of his predecessors much, either, and Harper initially campaigned on transparency and democratic reform. Ha. More fool I.)

The biggest problem in our country today, what really holds us back from getting anything done, is that if you disagree with me you're evil and if I disagree with you, I'm an idiot. What we need is someone who can work to bring differing viewpoints together.  

I will give my endorsement closer to October 19th, which is an insanely long way off, yet. In the meantime I will try to keep the political chatter in the Breadbin down to a dull roar: people do seem to like my personal posts more. But please understand that for me, the political is personal.

No comments: