Monday, October 24, 2011

#skvotes and #OccupySaskatoon

I appreciate democracy.  But, I despise elections.  Why?  Well, for example, on Twitter recently I was following a discussion about the NDP promise to raise the minimum wage by $1 to $10.50 and then index it to CPI.  Someone actually commented that it was a crazy idea to give high wages for non-skilled jobs.  $10.50 qualifies as high wages?

I'm as right-wing a Canadian as you'll find (well, maybe not crazy right like Kevin O'Leary), but this doesn't mean I hate left-wing goals.  Now, listen can be right-wing and have the same goals as left-wing people.  I despise poverty.  I despise racism.  I think everyone should have the opportunity to get an education.  These are all supposedly "left-wing" goals.  They are good goals.  But, the way in which we achieve these goals differs from right to left.  I don't think it is our governments responsibility to tackle all of the social issues.  Being conservative means believing that governments role should be limited and non-intrusive.

And this is why I'm against #OccupySaskatoon #OccupyEverywhereElse.  As far as I can make out, #OccupyEverywhereElse is protesting the governments lack of involvement in ensuring the well-being of all.  But, our situation is entirely different from #OccupyWallStreet.

See, in the US, financial institutions took advantage of deregulation and loaned out money to folks that never should have qualified for loans.  The government, instead of backing the individuals who'd essentially been swindled, then bailed out the criminals corporations in hopes that jobs would be created thus allowing the victims public to be able to meet their financial obligations and not lose their homes, cars etc. etc. etc.  This NEVER happened in Canada. Yes, people lost their jobs.  Yes, there are people that make tons more money than other people.  But, no laws were broken.  No Canadian financial institution knowingly abused its power and put a Canadian homeowner in jeopardy of losing their home.

And this is where Canada is completely different than the US.  Not only were our financial institutions not complicit in the market crash, but our government's approach to guiding us out of the recession has been completely different.  In the US the #OccupyWallStreet folks are equally upset at corporations as they are with Washington; in fact, they have a lot in common with the TeaParty folks.  No one is happy with the economic situation.  It's not about changing governments there--the Republicans and Democrats are both equally owned by Wall Street. 

But in Canada it is a different matter entirely.  You may disagree with the current government, but they are not owned by our corporations.  Or maybe you think they which case you work to get another party elected.  Unless you think that the NDP, Greens, Liberals and Bloq are also Bay Street puppets.  If you believe that--then protest away; I think you're completely wrong--and would be interested to see where you think the NDP et al are controlled by corporations...but, protest away.

#OccupySaskatoon is just lazy thinking.  As Canadians, we typically pride ourselves on "not being American."  We're kinder, gentler, more socially conscious...and yet, here is a movement that is basically saying we are the same as the US.  What?

Oh, that's right.  We elected a Conservative government and now they're destroying Canada.  And of course, we can't vote them out because now we're a dictatorship so we must join with the legitimate beef of #OccupyWallStreet because we are now the same as the US.

#OccupyWallStreet is about justice and that's neither a left-wing or right-wing issue it's a human issue.  #OccupyEverywhereElse is about forced redistribution of wealth (higher taxation) and that's a left-wing issue and I am against it. I am not against it because it is a left-wing issue. I am against it because I don't believe the government is the best institution to deal with complex social issues

I am in favour of smaller government (government should enact laws, maintain infrastructure, defense and's a small list in my books) and incentives that encourage people (whether corporations or public individuals) to apply the Golden Rule in their daily lives thus working towards the jointly shared goal of justice (human value).  And, I guess, this is why I hate elections.  We tend to focus on the "what"--$10.50 minimum wage--and if you're against it you end up sounding like a heartless slumlord.  $10.50/hr is a pittance.

The larger question isn't what should the minimum wage be, the larger question is what's the best way to ensure people aren't living in poverty?  More government means more taxes.  Is that the best bang for our buck?  Maybe lower our taxes and incentivize us to give to non-profits who would get more mileage from our donations and then the government could match those dollars.

There's positive change that could happen in Saskatoon.  I don't see any of it coming from #OccupySaskatoon.  I do hope that this larger discussion gets some traction in this coming election...but, if history is any guide, all we'll see is bashing of platforms where real ideas get denigrated to the best sounding soundbite.  And that's really too bad, because the issues that really matter--in this case justice--aren't right or left and their solutions will require the best minds from both sides of the spectrum.

This post is now up for discussion.


  1. Shit man good post, I forgot what a Conservative was when distilled down to its essence.

  2. I wouldn't place all the blame for the financial meltdown on the banks alone, the government is where most of the blame lies,

  3. I said, there is enough blame in the US to go around and, from what I've seen, the #OccupyWallStreet folks want widesweeping change in Wall Street as well as Washington.

    But in Canada, we don't face those issues. We've had a responsible government (whether Liberal or Conservative) that hasn't enabled financial institutions to rape and pillage the populace.

  4. Aristotle's BastardOctober 24, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    I stopped reading when you wrote that Canadian banks, politicians and political parties are not owned by corporations. The fiction that would have you believe this underscores the problem with oligopolistic politics in Canada. Whereas the US is completely bankrupt as a nation from bipartisan crap, Canada appears to be more stable. The banks came out of the recession better than elsewhere, this is true. But no other democracy on earth has electoral laws that dilute representation for all citizens; don't publicly inform the public about a new free trade deal with Europe; and prorogue parliament when convenient.

    Canada is a great country to live in, but it is delusional to believe the capital interests working at the high levels of government are minuscule. in point of fact, they are mighty and erode our democracy.

    by a father from Victoria Bc with 2 wee boys

  5. Thanks for joining the discussion Aristotle. A key differentiator between the US and Canada is the limits we've placed on donations to political parties. This is why I say no political party is owned by any corporation.

    Whereas in the US the one with the most money gets their message out so corporations can throw millions of dollars around, in Canada grass-roots fund-raising is imperative.

    Change is slow and pain-staking. Is Canada perfect? Maybe not, but the system is not skewed--I argue--so that unless you are funded by corporations you have no chance. Look at the Reform Party...why can that not happen today?

  6. Here's why I support the American Occupy Wall Street Protests, the Canada ones not so much.
    by Christopher Pequin on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 3:24pm

    Here is why I support Occupy Wall Street, I think that the USA has some real issues with both their political set up, and their banking system, that Canada does not have. In the USA they still accept corporate donations for political campaigns,and don't have a cap on the size of donations from individuals, this means everyone elected is owned by someone. Secondly, they don't have forced party loyalty like in Canada, which makes it a lot easier for individual members of the House in the USA to be bribed. Thirdly, we have a chartered banking system, that has a lot more restrictions and checks on those running our banks which is why we came out of 2008 fairly unscathed. As Chris Hedges suggested if the USA had let all the banks go under and had started up 10 Chartered type banks with 100 Billion given to each one and let them leverage it out at 10:1 then a lot more homes and jobs would have been saved and the CEO's of all those fallen banks could have went down with their ships. Until these issues are resolved in the USA they will continue to be owned by the Military Industrial Complex, Big Oil, Big Banks, and Big Medical Insurance Companies. My point is, we don't have a lot of these problems in Canada, but if you are out showing support for our American cousins, then that's cool.