There IS a better way....
If you think life in Canada in 2004 is about as good as it gets, if you think the Canadian government and Canadian MPs are really great and are really, really working to make your life better, if you think the health care system is working really great, if you think the education system is great, if governments claiming "greater efficiency" undertaking cutbacks leading to situations like Walkerton or the SARS crisis in TO last year are cool by you, or McGuinty, claiming "poverty", slaps a premium on health care is fine, if you see no problem with paying banks and "investors" over a trillion dollars of Canadian tax dollars while your government STILL owes over half a trillion dollars to them on claims of some huge "national debt" while telling you there is not enough money for hospitals or schools or doctors, if your job security and future and state of your mortgage and other bills is fine, if you think creeping closer and closer to full amalgamation and subservience to the US is great and engaging the world in "Wars" on drugs and terror with more police and less freedom and "Star Wars" "Missile Defence" and Darthvader troops are the best future we can hope for, and you think being led (forced) into all of these things and more by pseudo-majority governments winning fixed elections means we live in a "democracy", etc and etc - well, go somewhere else, Survivor or Much Music or the local mall or whatever turns your crank, there's nothing for you here.
BUT - if you have a sneaking idea things are NOT as good as they could be, even ought to be, in Canada, and seem to be getting worse rather than better, but but can't quite put your finger on the problem - maybe you can get some ideas here. You surely won't in the Canadian corporate media - Insight 1 - the Canadian corporate media are a BIG part of the problem - most of the important stuff you're going to read if you carry on you will NEVER see in the Canadian corporate media.
How would you like a 20 hour work week, at a decent job with decent pay and future security - and you and your spouse did not both have to work to support your family? At least 3-4 months off a year to pursue other interests, travel, write, garden, spend time with your kids or others in your family, whatever? Good, fast, available health care, all drugs, dental, nursing homes, everything covered, and no ridiculous waiting times to see your health care provider? Good education for your kids (or yourself for that matter if you wanted more) - all free, all high quality. Good, reliable MPs who actually did what they promised during the election, and never brought up all kinds of crap right after the election that they had never talked about during the campaign (like voting themselves a big pay raise, for a job they've barely started!!)? MPs, for that matter, who actually represented most Canadians, rather than the "majorities" we usually get who are actually supported by 20-25% of Canadians? Never having to listen again about the floundering economy, the horrible national debt, necessary cutbacks to your services, privatising your health care system, closing schools and hospitals, etc and etc?
Sound like a crazy dream? It doesn't have to be. All that is required is that we take back our government from the banks and "investors" (read rich people or, more accurately, trolls) who have bought it on the black market the last couple of decades, and start running the country for OUR benefit, instead of letting them run it for theirs. What we have to do is to stop the skim whereby most of your production and tax dollars are stolen (to use an honest rather than polite word) by the trolls running the country. The reason we are facing increasing problems the last 20 years is that the trolls have gotten fatter and greedier with more hangers on and wannabe trolls being produced by their moral-less example, and aren't content any longer with a small skim, but want more and more and more and more. Sort of like the Ceasars in Rome a couple of thousand years ago in the "declining" phase - in modern parlance, they're just losing it - inbreeding and arrogance and stupidity taking the place of strength with some idea at least of "lese majesty", which they had during the 50s and 60s - more decency all around in those days - think of leaders like Bill Davis and Lester Pearson - not perfect, but contrast them with people like Mike Harris and Jean Chretien and they look pretty good. But now - they're losing it - and We the People are paying the price. And will continue to do so until we wake up and take control of our country away from these unstable people (you cannot have stable people who believe that lying and stealing and violence are appropriate ways of running their country - it's just an oxymoron - and, unfortunately, as go the leaders, so goes the country, as the children look to those who are successful in their society for their role models ....).
Think about it - Canada is a very wealthy country, in natural resources and the infrastructure that has been built over the last couple of centuries, brick by brick, mile by mile, by our grandfathers and fathers and ourselves. We have a large, intelligent, well-trained work force, able and willing to work hard for their living. We have peace and security (don't get too concerned with the terrorist bogeymen in the media - you seen any lately? No, of course not.... think about it - and most of the "crime" is intentionally manufactured through things like the drug laws, or criminal cigarette taxes, or poverty, and could be cut to virtually zero overnight with a government that WANTED to do that... but crime is needed to justify cops and courts and jails....). So why can't we manage to have enough hospitals and schools, enough money to maintain our transportation system, a reliable power supply, responsive and honest politicians?
Unfortunately, we also have a group of trolls in the country who are, through various means, stealing half of everything we produce, and have, through corrupting our government (come now, you didn't REALLY think that the banks and big corps were handing out that 12 million $$$ to Paul Martin last year out of the goodness of their hearts, now, did you? - or the leading pols fly around on private jets and the owners of those jets don't expect stuff in return??? etc and etc!!), created a society to maintain themselves in luxury while keeping the rest of us insecure and hard-working. If we get rid of these trolls - well, we're producing enough wealth to allow us all to start working less while enjoying the fruits of our labours more - that's the better health care and education, job security, etc. The unemployed will find jobs quickly as people now working two jobs just to get by can manage on one job, or people working 60-hour work weeks to make ends meet can suddenly manage on 20-30 hours. It would be like a great weight removed from our collective shoulders, to no longer have to turn over half of everything we earn to the taxman, so the taxman can in turn forward it on to bankers and "investors" who have been stealing so much from us for years in the name of this "national debt" scam.
Don't get me too wrong - I believe in work - meaningful work is good for the soul. It just seems to me that a lot of what gets called "work" these days is a great deal closer to something we might call "wage-slavery" than meaningful work - and that kind of thing is NOT good for the soul. Quite the opposite - it deadens the soul, and my community - our community - is the less for it. Dead souls do not make good neighbors. A community of dead souls surviving day to day on Prozac or whatever the latest Soma is does not make a good place to live or grow up.
For those of you new here - and I hope there are many, that is the idea - there are many, many visions and plans for better societies out there - there have been for centuries, for that matter, or even millenia, as some people consider Plato's Republic to be the first "Utopian" novel (others feel it to be a dystopia, but that's another discussion)- stretching through things like Thomas More's "Utopia" in the 1600s to Butler's "Erewhon" a bit later, and dozens of others - you can find em through Google or, for those of you still into hardcover, find the appropriate section in your library and browse around. What most such novels, at least the more recent ones, have in common, is that the basic structure of society becomes more equitable, and instead of a small group of wealthy Kings and Princes ruling a whole herd of impoverished serfs whose lives are "brutish, nasty and short" as one writer put it (Hobbes in The Leviathon), the average people start running their own communities and countries.
Now, many people in Canada very probably believe that - "Hey! We have that here, don't we? The "common" people run Canada, right? We elect MPs and MPPs or MLAs, and they go to Ottawa or wherever and faithfully carry out our wishes, right, and do the things they promised during the election campaign that we elected them to do?"
Hahaha. Well, if you aren't chucking a bit right now at that idea - well, check here for a start. I expect that when you think about it, you will realise that no, we in Canada do NOT actually have a "democracy" of the "common" people, where we tell our MPs etc what to do and they do it, although that is certainly what everyone is trained to believe. As we have seen increasingly over the last 20 or 30 years, our MPs seem to perform more of the reverse function - they go to Ottawa or the provincial capital, and every now and then show up in their riding to tell the people what the government is going to do. And if the people don't like it - well, get used to it, we see the iron fist beneath the velvet glove of the democratic lie, because we're doing it anyway. Right or not?
- and then square THAT with the idea of "democracy" you've been trained to believe we live in.
And then, if you look around a bit more in Canada, under the surface of things, you see that - hey! - there is a small group of wealthy people inhabiting the Bay St towers and central bank offices who seem to get the things they want from the government ("free Trade" WTO, NAFTA, privatised health care, lower taxes, etc), while the "average people" seem to get less and less - our lives may not be quite as sad yet as the "nasty, brutish and short" lives of the peasants of 500 years ago - but on the other hand, they are getting more stressful and less secure, it seems. One would think that in the early years of the 2,000s things might be better than in the 1960s, for instance - but people today, although they might have an SUV in their driveway and a computer on their desk, still have to work longer hours than their parents did, and have bigger mortgages on their homes, and usually have to have two adults working to maintain a house where their parents got by with one adult working.
For my view of what I think would be the fundamentals of a better, truly democratic society, you can check a couple of things.
- well that's some jumping off places. The thing is, I don't want to tell you what kind of society you should live in - I just want you to be aware that our current society is very, very much less than it might be for all of us, and get you thinking about better ways of organising it. If you were a docile sort of herd beast who was content to be someone else's servant, doing what they told you all your life, you probably wouldn't have got this far, so I expect you are ready to start thinking and looking around for better ways, if you haven't already been doing a lot of that.
- Something I put together for From Here to There - What Future am I looking for?
- Greenways - a book I am working on when I get time about how a better society would run - a fictional account of what might happen if a We the People government managed to get elected in PEI (and not all immediately hauled off to a secret jail in Ontario on "suspicion of terrorist activities")
- A document I wrote a few years ago about how to improve the economic problems of PEI - the ideas are as valid now as they were then - Prince Edward Island Revival Plan
Together - we really can make a better country, and start working towards a better world.
The first step, as Gandhi put it so well - be the future you want to see.