Friday, May 30, 2008

Stuff about which I wonder these days

Main Street Rosthern

Stuff I wonder about©

by George Epp

In order to be a contributing citizen in a democratic country like Canada in 2008, it seems to me I should have a basic grounding in the facts pertaining to a number of key issues. If you have answers to any of the questions below, or if you have found a good source for their exploration, please email me at, and I’ll post your contribution for anyone who wants to know.

Information is what I need, not propaganda.

  • Does the trickle-down principle in economics really occur, and to what extent? In other words, is it good news for the masses when the powerful are doing really well for themselves? More particularly, should I (who live on a fixed income—more or less) herald or dread the economic boom in Western Canada?
  • Could the fouling of the environment appropriately be treated as a crime, like arson or sabotage?
  • What alternatives are there to the present energy-hungry economies? Would an accelerated move away from carbon-burning fuels impoverish our country? Will the time come when a dollar’s worth of wheat requires a dollar and ten cents in energy to produce? Should I be shopping for a strong team of horses?
  • Could hydro, wind, tidal and solar power supply our basic energy needs, or are we “tree-huggers” just whistling through the graveyard?
  • Is a certain share of the fruits of the economy a birthright, or must it be earned, and if it must be earned, who should decide how?
  • How much medical care are people entitled to, and how can we prepare for the crises that will come when we can neither afford nor supply anymore what is demanded? (Assuming that that’s the road on which we’re traveling.) Should palliative care be the only medical service available to the elderly, besides basic nursing care? (Who is “elderly” these days?)
  • Does an individual have the right to climb a dangerous mountain, and then request rescue when things go wrong? Are there equivalents to this in the area of harmful habits and practices? In other words, does the community have an obligation to save individuals from themselves? (Needle exchange facilities spring to mind.)
  • Constitutionally, should the government be able to take us to war without first asking us for our consent?
  • Is it appropriate for “special interest” groups or persons to finance the political parties that purport to share their values? Should all political campaigning be financed through taxes?
  • Is a fetus a person? Is there an ethical process for deciding this question outside of religious prescription?
  • Is sexual activity between (among?) consenting adults always a private matter?
  • Is the family the basic social unit in our culture, or is that a stupid question? What is and what is not a family?
  • What is the rehabilitation benefit of incarceration on deviants, and are there viable alternatives? (Shaming, flogging, wrist slaps?)
  • What, in fact, do the treaties with Canada’s First Nations legally bind both parties to?

At present, I hold opinions on all these questions, but an opinion is often just a stance we hold until we get around to educating ourselves on a subject. My education on these subjects is still lacking; my opinions often clash remarkably with friends who grew up much as I did.

I look forward to your responses.

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