Monday, June 27, 2011

Ideological fossils, not collaborative solutions, a form of sabotage

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN/GPS, June 19, 2011
Meanwhile, in practice across the globe the world's fastest growing economy, China, has managed to use government involvement to create growth and jobs for three decades.

From Singapore to South Korea to Germany, evidence abounds that some strategic actions by governments can act as catalysts for free market growth.
But conservatives now resemble the old Marxists who refuse to look at actual experience. "I know it works in practice," the old saw goes, "but does it work in theory?"
Republicans often praise businessmen. Well, one of the first steps any business now takes when confronting a problem is to ask, "How are other companies around the world handling this? Is there a best practice we can learn from?" But in any area, from infrastructure to health care to education, to ask these questions is heresy on the right.
It's a shame. I think we need smart, market-friendly conservative reforms that streamline government, cut costs in health care and empower individuals, but they need to be rooted in reality, drawn from best practices around the world and based on practical measures of what seems to work.
What we have instead are policies that are simply recitations of some free market theory taken out of some book based on no actually existing national economy.
It turns out conservatives have become the wooly headed professors after all.
Mouthing the tenets of an ideological script by the "right" continues to confound any who try to make sense of their words. In fact, their words, seemingly, are a deliberate smoke screen for really having nothing new to say.
Demigogues like Kevin O'Leary on CBC's Land and O'Leary Exchange, are a classic example of the kind of empty rhetoric that no broadcast network should even sell ads to put on the air, and, sadly, the Bank of Nove Scotia is one of the principal advertisers of the program. Lower taxes, less government, more military and less support for struggling people...as if this relentless "beat" of the drum of capitalism, by those at the top of the 'heap' in terms of "success" through ownership, throught entrepreneurship, through investing and potentially through saving will simply drown out any other kind of thinking.
Harper talks of a "unnecessary" election, and an "unnecessary" work stoppage at Canada Post, as if there were only one point of view to be both espoused and to be considered as responsible in Canada. Unfortunately, through such ideological fossils come no new thoughts, no new ways of working together, no new bringing the best ideas from all points of view together to create the best possible legislation.
In the U.S., the bond markets are signalling not a mere bump in the road, but another severe recession, with even more people out of work, out of money, out of dignity, out of self-respect and sliding into a position that could be termed, "out of hope." In Europe, Greece is sliding quickly into what could be the worst depression to hit that continent in decades. And, of course, with fiscal belt-tightening comes the inevitable deep cuts to social programs.
The only question I have for the mantra-chanting 'right' is, "What do you intend to do to face the facts that the people who live in motels, and on the streets are more important than any digits on a national balance sheet?"
Or, have you decided that the reverse is true, and those digits are more important, and more to be the focus of our attention than those people who are starving in our midst?
People are not mere digits on a screen. And eventually, people will wake up to their reality that whatever meagre connection they might have had to dignity and self-respect through a decent job with decent benefits has been eroded, at the same time the number of billionaires has quadrupled...and ask themselves, "What are we going to do about this rape of the middle class?"
Political leadership, including political parties have to bring the best ideas to the table, in a spirit of "serving their constitutents from all points of view" and not serving their political power base, those who fund their elections. Several times in the 58-hour debate that occurred in the Canadian House of Commons on the work stoppage at Canada Post, there were serious staements about "co-operating" and "making progress" and even "tweaking" the legislation so that reasonableness could and would prevail. And these came from both the Liberals and the Green Party Leader, without achieving a single amendment to Bill C-6 from the government.
Power brings a kind of certitude, a kind of disdain for other points of view, for the need to co-operate or collaborate...even for the sake of demonstrating that the "system" works.
As one young MP put it, "We are engaged in a dialogue of the deaf" because really no one is listening.
When no one is listening, even to those whose experience and whose knowledge is pointing out the desireability of amendment, and the efficiacy of such changes....then absolute power and absolute certitude trumps even the appearance of working "with" others.
It is this political arrogance that anyone, or any political party, of whatever stripe or ideology, has the only and the best answers for any situation that is the real poverty we face. It is a form of social and political sabotage at a time when complex issues demand complex, perhaps different and certainly creative and flexible solutions and approaches.
It is the dispossessed whose numbers will always trump those of the power elite whose interests are in need of voice, of attention and address, no matter the country, the politics of the country or the political history of the country...and only when political leaders climb down from their pedestal of power and respect all political perspectives through action that demonstrates such respect will the kind of society we need become possible.
And even then, such a possibility cannot be taken for granted, since, like the jungle, the metaphor to which the world is running at full speed, the powerful literally "eat" the weak....and we thought and were taught that we were different than the wild beasts....really?

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