Wednesday, September 16, 2009

42 Minutes that (did, did not) change the world

Grand Canyon Denizens; The telescope array in New Mexico (where part of the movie, Contact was filmed. Click to enlarge.)

Today, Prime Minister Harper will meet with President Obama for a scheduled 42 minutes. 42 Minutes!?! Considering that Canadians buy more products from the US and sell more energy, wood, grain, meat, iron, nickel, etc., etc. to the US than any other country, 42 minutes strikes me as a bit chintzy. What does the Prime Minister of Luxembourg get when he calls? 1 Minute, 27 seconds? Frank McKenna said on TV last night that the meetings with Congress members are more important than the few minutes with the president. They could hardly be less important if the 42 minutes is a measure to go by.

Which brings up the question of US-Canadian relationships generally, doesn’t it? Our tourist industry is suffering (I’m not sure they know what true suffering is) because Americans now need to be carrying a valid passport TO GET BACK INTO THEIR OWN COUNTRY. I sincerely doubt that Obama can reverse this madness; the signs of a more liberal approach to policy are there, but the bones still have no meat. In the health care insurance debate, we see again the degree to which the fierce insistence on minimal government involvement in the marketplace has been engrained in the population. One would have thought that the current recession would have provided some insight into the consequences of a greed/deregulation regime.

The right wing, conservative thinkers (I use this word advisedly) in the world today are powerful, and it’s understandable why this would be so. Their thinking is simplistic; they need only hold one or two pieces of conventional wisdom in their heads to feel righteous. In the US, the two bits of “truth” need only be “it’s a free country so get the hell out of my face,” and “foreigners are trying to get me, so don’t mess with my guns,” to frame a disastrous public policy like we see around security matters today.

Since the turn of the century, about 360,000 people have been killed on US highways, 4,500,000 have died of cancer and 2,993 died as a result of terrorist acts. For the fiscal year 2008-2009, the Bush administration requested 145.2 billion dollars for the Global War on Terror, but only 70.4 Billion for the entire budget of the Department of Health and Human Services. These comparisons shouldn’t be taken as the complete picture, but they do give an indication of the preponderance of security consciousness in the US, out of all proportion to the reality.

I wonder if Harper will point this out to Obama and to Congress. I actually doubt it.

No comments:

Post a Comment