Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tom Parkin calls out the Libs' latest laughable excuse for breaking their promise of electoral reform - being the threat that a party like the one which just held power for 10 years might win a few seats. Andrew Coyne notes that we shouldn't accept Justin Trudeau's bogeyman as an excuse for doing nothing. And Abbas Rana and Derek Abma report that the focus of Lib MPs is to avoid political fallout from their party's betrayal of voters, rather than to try to live up to their commitment.

- Meanwhile, Susan Delacourt sees the electoral reform farce as a prime example of the Libs using a surface consultation process to paper over their basic lack of interest in actually listening to the public.

- Ellen Smirl examines the conservative voting patterns of many rural residents despite their commitment to co-operatives, credit unions and other collective alternatives to domination by the market. 

- Conor Dougherty hypothesizes as to how our economy would be different - and fairer - if we didn't rely so heavily on housing as an investment.

- Finally, Carole Cadwalladr interviews Daniel Dennett about the costs of declining co-operation and trust. And Trevor Hancock comments on how increasing inequality eats away at both:
“When inequality becomes too great, the idea of community becomes impossible”. If you want to create a healthier community, you need to address this issue head-on.
It’s hard to imagine the super-wealthy, or even the wealthy, having much shared understanding of the situation of their fellow citizens. This is compounded by the deliberate strategy, coming from the right, of labelling people as taxpayers rather than citizens. As taxpayers, people focus on their taxes, and are encouraged to resent paying them; this makes tax dodging and even tax-evasion socially acceptable.

Yet the whole point about community is a sense of shared identity and interest. But when the gap between the wealthy and the poor becomes so great there is no ‘we’, just ‘them’ and ‘us’. And pretty quickly ‘we’ don’t want to pay for ‘their’ children’s education, ‘their’ health care, ‘their’ public transit, roads or pavements.

But citizens, seeing themselves as part of a community, focus on their shared interests, common purpose and the common good. They understand, as US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes put it a century ago, that taxes are the price we pay for civilisation.

Revolution is an understandable response to exclusion and unacceptable inequality. Arguably, what we have just seen in the US is a revolution, although in this case a revolution from the right, as was the case in Germany in the 1930s. But it’s not the best or healthiest way to change society. Here in Canada, we still have time for evolution and reform. If we want healthier communities and a healthier society, we need to embrace that opportunity.

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