Sunday, May 27, 2012

On restricted-focus government

One household in Canada
All the little economies
A recent poll determined that Canadians place higher priority on the economy than on crime. I don’t have access to the question asked by the poll, so it's difficult to decide whether or not it was a reasonable reflection of what the average Canadian is thinking.
 One thing I do know, though, is that asking anyone to rank items in a list like this is a of little value, the result obscuring more than it illuminates. The choice of items for the list, for instance, is in itself a manipulative enterprise in that it must—by its nature—exclude or choose items on it. Furthermore, the implication in this case is that the economy and crime are similar categories between which a choice can be made, or a choice that's already been made can be justified.
            The current government has decided that its focus on the economy is justified both by the results of the election and such polls, as well as by the economic instability around us. They have a point; economies must be tended thoughtfully and must distribute goods and services equitably and efficiently. Ranking this need as the Harper government has done, though, is dishonest. The economy is not separate from crime, or health, or highways, or education, or environment. Seems to me, a portion of our population has been lulled into the thinking that all must serve the economy, including environmental considerations.
            We know intuitively that building a house on a crumbly foundation is foolish, but in the world of politics in Canada today, are we still agreed on what is house and what is foundation? Surely if environment and economy were listed in a poll, most people would choose environment as fundamental, a foundation on which the economy is built. And yet, our government speeds up environmental hearings, pushes the polluting oil sands as if there were no problem there, all as if the economy were foundation and the environment must be built on top of it.
            Imagine a household run like our current government runs the country. “I'm sorry, children, but the most important thing around here is getting as much money as possible into this house, so food, clothing, music, education, recreation (being of less importance than finances by the latest poll) are on the back burner until further notice. And by the way, you've been slacking off so now you're all either getting paper routes, or your allowances will be cut!" (Think EI changes)
            If this metaphor seems out of place to anyone, just a reminder that the word, economy, derives from Greek words for household management and steward.         
A restricted-focus government is no proper householder at all.

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