Thursday, October 09, 2008

Leader's Debate

I watched some of the Canadian leader’s debate the other night, in preparation for the October 14, 2008 election. What I saw frustrated me, both in the format of the debate and the content.

Clearly something was off with the format. It involved 80% of the time devoted to the opposition blasting Harper, and 20% of the time Harper defending himself. True, my percentages might be a bit off. The piranhas did take a few swipes at each other (like Layton going after Dion about 43 opportunities to bring down the Conservatives. The media is wrong by the way about this sounding the death knell for Dion’s political career. His career will be over the day after the election). However my basic premise holds; we had four people attacking Harper with Harper only getting a fraction of the time to defend himself. More fair would have been giving Harper 50% of the time to make his own points and his rebuttals. As for Harper, he did a good job keeping his cool and looking balanced.

However some of the content frustrated me even more. It became very clear how dangerous the loopy views on the left really are. For a long time I thought those on the left were nice but naive. But I’m starting to see that they are not only naive but dangerous. I say this because they would take a wealthy nation, lead it to economic ruin, and thereby defeat their own social and environmental policies.

Jack Layton made an impassioned plea for the family, by demanding the creation of jobs in the communities where people are already living, not out in Alberta. Frankly I was sickened at how out of touch Jack Layton is with reality. No government can afford to create jobs where there is no economic opportunity. From time immemorial, people have been migrating to where the work is. My grandparents did it when they came to Canada. And I did it when I graduated from a computer science program and found no jobs for computer programmers in Sudbury. Maybe I will need to do it again some day. And if that time comes, I won’t like it but I will do what I have to in order to provide for my family. And I sure won’t be demanding that the government make a good paying job for me in a place where there are no jobs.

So why do I say “they would take a wealthy nation, lead it to economic ruin, and thereby defeat their own social and environmental policies.” That they would lead us to economic ruin is clear. Capitalism is a marvellously efficient system; so efficient in fact that it can be tapped to pay for all sorts of crazy ideas. But there is a limit to a good thing. A capitalist economic system can be bled by socialism to the point that it starts to fail. At that point unemployment starts to go way up, increasing the demand for social programs at the very time that the revenue stream paying for those programs also fails. At that point you get social chaos.

But there is one other effect of socialism strangling capitalism, and that is the failure of environmental initiatives. Poor people can’t spend the money to be environmentally responsible. They need to heat their homes with whatever is available, not the most environmentally conscious choice. They can’t afford to fix their smoking automobiles. They can’t pay money to have electronics recycled in a responsible manner. When your personal finances are going under, you don’t have environmental choices. Likewise for companies. When a company is economically weak, it can’t afford more efficient equipment. It can’t afford anti-pollution equipment. It can’t afford CO2 scrubbers. When a company is unprofitable, it can’t include environmental considerations in its decision making process. Only a wealthy nation with profitable companies and prosperous people can safeguard the environment.


Anonymous jgriffin316 said...

Hi Shawn,

You made several points that need to be addressed.

First, there is quit a bit of debate about the debate. Not on the format, everyone agrees it's horrible. The real debate is whether the moderator should be included as part of the opposition.

My own thoughts on a future format would be:
1. The moderator presents the question or topic.
2. Each participant gets two minutes to make comments.
3. If a participant asks a question or makes an accusation, the accused automatically gets two minutes for rebuttal when the inquisitor's two minutes are finished.
4. Rude behaviour, such as interrupting can cost you your two minutes.

Second, I disagree with your views of the loopy left. As far as I can tell there are two kinds; those that are entirely sincere in their beliefs and desire to "do good", and those who desire power for themselves. Of those two kinds I actually prefer the latter to the former. The latter will adjust their stances according to the realities of the moment which means they can be reasoned with. The former will ignore all logic and reason in order to achieve their goals, not because they are obstinate or malevolent, but because they are sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

My own opinion of Jack Layton is that he does not actually believe what he says. He simply believes that saying it will buy him some votes.

Third, Capitalism as it exists today, is not efficient unless you mean as a tool to accumulate power and wealth for the privileged few. Look at the conditions, or lack of, on the Wall street bailout for an excellent example of this. The purpose of democracy was to distribute power and influence across the population in general so that ruler ship was by consent of the governed. Capitalism is currently being used as a tool to circumnavigate this principle. If Capitalism were truly efficient there would be no need for a bailout or if there were a need, the bailout would benefit the governed equally, not favour the few at the top.

Fourth, companies do not become more efficient when times are good, only when times are bad. When times are good there is no need for a company to become efficient, there's enough money to go around so that everyone is happy. When times are bad, that is when companies tighten their belts, modernize and innovate.

I agree with you on your point regarding adding costs onto individuals and corporations when times are bad. During bad times individuals and corporations are already working hard to reduce costs which will reduce effluents as a side effect (assuming that correct environmental regulations are already in place.) When times are good individuals and corporations will have the capital to change their behaviour.


P.S. Welcome back!

12:32 AM  

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