Wednesday, 30 November 2011

To all the Arab Spring enthusiasts:

Screw You.
  It was bad enough I had to listen to ridiculous talking heads prattle on about how the muslim brotherhood is a secular organisation, or that the protesters were fighting for the pursuit of happiness, but to have so many supposedly intelligent people confuse democracy with freedom really turned my stomach. So now all you supporters (and the untold millions in the 'I don't know, but I am hopeful ' group can see what democracy can lead to in an arabic country. Egypt WAS our ally (of a sort) and WAS one of only two countries in the Arab world to recognise Israel. It IS now another islamist hole, bent on it's own destruction and that of the only free nation in the Middle East.
    Take a bow.

A lesson for Goverment Spendaholics.

I hear a lot about Italy and Greece these days. One of the things we hear is that Greeks and Italians don't pay their taxes. This moral failing is oft cited as a major reason for the countries being in the state they are in. I suspect it is vice versa. If my government were as prone to giving away my money as the Greek and Italian govts. are i would cheat on my taxes too.  Think about it. Who are the people cheating on their taxes? People who make money and who have opportunities to cheat. That is: private sector employees and small businesses. Who are the folks that the government spends all their money on? Public employees, bureaucrats and the unwashed masses who, as a rule do not make enough money to owe taxes. So where is the incentive for honesty here?
   Here in Canada things are more moderate. Our government has not yet completely spent us into the poor house, public sector employees make up less than half the workforce and people generally don't try too hard to cheat the tax man. But make no mistake. every time we read about billion dollar G20 summits, or lavish Governor General expense accounts, or any other profligate waste by our government or bureaucracy it has an effect.
   People don't really understand billions and trillions of dollars. It has no real meaning. We understand wealth in terms of what we could expect to have or dream of spending. So when some government fat cat spends 100 grand renovating or travelling or partying , the average joe thinks: "shit. that's about as much as i can save up in 20 years, gone in a day".  Or when the government tells Joe's dad that they are going to have to index his pension in order to make a dent in the deficit, the old guy thinks :" how many pensions do you need to claw back to pay for Strombolopolus to throw a music awards party  at my expense? " The two men then start to see their obligations to pay their taxes in a different light.
    Faced with  morally bankrupt government spending of taxpayer money, the moral argument against cheating on ones taxes goes out the window. The more the government wastes, the less inclined we are to give them money, and the more inclined we are to break the rules in order to do so.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Punting the ball

  While a lot of folks are heralding the BC supreme courts ruling on polygamy as a major victory and an affirmation of everything from Canadian values to women's rights I beg to differ. Set aside the fact that the ruling is just a rehash of the usual fear mongering that goes with the FLDS. The fact is that this is the BC court, punting the case to the Canadian supreme court. That's where the authority is and that's where the decision will be made. I believe the BC court is playing it safe.
    Hopefully the Canadian court can see the forest for the trees, or perhaps the trees for the forest. Polygamy or polyandry is already practiced by thousands of Canadians  right now. The current law against it covers anyone involved in more than one committed relationship. It could be read to include people who are having a long term affair. Even an unenforced law should be in the interest of the public at large. This one isn't. Polygamy between consenting adults has no victims. Gay marriage not so much (ie kids ). Polygamy does not include child abuse, forced marriage or incest. Those are all crimes already and should be punished accordingly. To suggest that plural marriage necessarily leads to such behaviour because of the examples in FLDS communes is like saying the concentration of natives in small communities causes incest, alcoholism,  drug use and domestic violence just because these things are present at high levels in some of our reserves. If people can see the problems with the latter example, surely the learned judges can see the problems with polygamy example. Well, they could if they actually turned off their TVs and used their heads.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sometimes It's Hard

to know whether to worry or not. Given our short life spans it is difficult, even for an old guy like me to get perspective. How do we know whether we need to be concerned by the 'disasters' facing us? I think it is natural to assume that things will continue on as they have been. For our parents (well my parents) the world would be a huge place, filled with the risk of tragedy and disaster forever. For my generation, 'progress' will continue unabated, as it always has. We will get richer, life will be safer, the US will be the bastion of western strength and stability, and we will retire into the world we know.
   In the long term none of this seems likely to be true. My parents left a Europe in it's typical shambles. They left a class system that kept them where they were, in a country that told them what to do. During their lives Europe's old rivalries were usurped, and a soviet spectre arose and then faded away. The expectation of war also receded.  They retired in a world completely unlike their parents' , one that follows few of their worlds rules of conduct or sensibilities. The same could be said for many generations in the last few thousand years, even for those who lived their whole lives in one place.
   So what will change in my lifetime? What already has? I was born in the cold war. My house had a bomb shelter (a nasty, dark place filled with my sister's evil dolls). Apocalyptic movies had the taste of reality and the world still held vast wild lands where white people (we still were allowed to specify color back then) had never fared. I wanted to be like my dad, and expected to live like my parents. I went to church, and believed in God as a default, then as a choice. Already I can see much of what was is no more. The cold war is gone, war has become an economic consideration and religion has become almost taboo.
    So what will change next? What is too far fetched? Global warming? It's a poor substitute for nuclear annihilation apocalypse wise. I mean 2 degrees in a hundred years? I find it hard to picture Charleton Heston on the beach, yelling 'damn you all to hell' at the people responsible for the water lapping a full 2 feet higher on the sea wall than it did in pre-industrial times. Of course if we actually try to do something about it we may succeed in lowering our kids lifestyles a little but i suppose they will still be replete with big screen TV's and even better gadgets.
    Should we worry about economic crises? Will the US fail and be replaced by China? Would we notice? The EU could fall and the US slip into depression and I suspect we could still muddle by, again with less wealth, but is it really a game changer?
    I think I will worry about cultural drift. We are losing our varied western cultures in favour of some sort of dynamic western way. This would be ok (or is ok in theory) so long as the replacement is a strong, durable culture. The problem is that I don't think it is. European cultures are the products of centuries of history, a common ethnic identity and strong religious ties. The replacement is none of these things. We are not linked by common ancestry, and we never will be. We share very little history, as most of us are first or second generation Canadians. We have pushed religion to the sidelines. Well, our traditional one anyway. I can't see anything good coming from this