An impotent society
In Halifax driving to work takes longer: the town council responds by proposing restricting access to cars.
A few people die while driving their bicycles: the governments introduces mandatory helmets legislation..
People get killed by guns: the government introduces mandatory gun registration.
Alcoholism in the young? No drinking before 19, an age when many of the kids are already parents, can vote and if in the army can use lethal weapons and kill.
Drug addiction? Criminalize possession and use of drugs.
To every issue the answer is the same: restrictive legislation. Creative solution are not even considered.
In 1966 to reduce traffic congestion the town of Montpellier introduce the “public cars”. Small cars, conveniently located in mini parking lots across the city, available to all citizens. The system did not succeed then but is Iprobably viable now and certainly tomorrow with the advent of the 100 Km electric car..
A fleet off 8000 cars (one for every electric 10 worker) and peripheric parking lots would have traffic flowing through streets of Halifax like blood through the veins of a 20 years old. Expensive? Not really, and the bonus of the development of a new industry, consulting services, etc.
Bicycles accidents? Simple education after school and some ads in the paper for the old. Some people will still die – people do die – but why deprive all of us of the pleasure of cycling with the wind in our hair?
Killing from guns? The criminals will always get their guns, registration does not affect them. Family quarrels are resolved with all kinds of weapons – axes, hammers, knives, screwdrivers, boiling water, …: registration or absence of guns will hardly make a dent – see the death statistic in countries with ferocious registration criteria. Accidents can be avoided by allowing access to guns and teaching the young and the old that a gun is not a toy or an ornament but a dangerous tool to be treated with respect. A young person who has been taught how to use a gun, or how to box, is a much safer person than the one who gets his bearing from television action programmes.
Alcoholism can be fought by eliminating the cache of drinking, easily achievable by making booze available at every corner store.. In Italy there are practically no controls and wine and spirit are sold at any food store. Alcoholism in the young is less common than addiction to chocolate.
When drugs were available without much difficulty very few people were using them and – not a minor matter – there was a very small drug industry. With the “war on drugs” the industry (which includes the manufacturers and distributors, the police and legal profession, the courts and the penal system) has a turnover higher than the GNP of most countries.
Alternatives with the potelial the better our quality of live have been conceived, restrictions and coercion are the easy way out for gutless politicians and bureaucrats, always ready with the ultimate blackmail “you would not like your child/wife/husband, … to die because ….”
The beauty of positive change is that it will be adopted without coercion: after all we use the phone instead of pigeons, eh!
We Have become impotent not only because we are unwilling to be creative but because we have lost the kind of visions which made Canada the best country in the world. Men of vision created universal social services, medical care, old age security. They did build networks of roads, airports, telephone lines to tiny hamlets, ….
Now we are back to petty taxation – my MTT phone bill shows a “nova scotia government 911 fee” of 43 cents, we have toll roads and bridges, charges for every possible service, passport renewal, soil testing, …. To ensure we do not misuse the service? Sure, we would ring 911 all day long if it would be free!
The old Canada invested in giving every Canadian a phone line, and ensured air connection to every town; the new Canada wants to charge more for telephone lines in rural areas, is allowing us to be gouged by providers of internet and television connection and has allowed most communities to fall in the hands of one monopolistic airline.
And 50% of our income goes back to the government as taxes.
The inability of the government to identify priorities and to deliver is killing us, as the shrinking loony demonstrates. Like drooling imbeciles our leaders play with their beads, letting the world go by.
Even more worrying is the dropping-out movement. In a recent seminar where I suggested that the job of building hiking trails could be better performed by the government than by a bunch of “community groups” the irate comment of a friend was “do you want us to let the same people who cannot maintain our roads to be responsible for our trails?” A very sensible comment, but then why to we keep on paying for government services? Many good people are taking to home schooling because of the poor performance of the public school system. Others are volunteering time to supplement staff in hospitals, …
Voluntarism is nurtured by government and praised by the media. Unfortunately it is also a tragic signal of failure of our government and of a dangerous disengagement of the citizens from public life. The parent who teaches her children at home has given up on the perfectibility of the public system and is depriving the system of a powerful critic and force of betterment.
It makes no sense to give our money to an ineffective government, then go back to the same to obtain grants in order to perform – as volunteers – the work the same government is unable to do.
Instead of spending our energies building trails, raising funds for them, begging for grants, we should be kicking asses in the department, get them to shape up and maintain our roads.
Maybe the problem is higher up, the department does not get enough funds. Let us repeat the same process at that level and get an answer on what happens to our gasoline taxes.
Instead of holing up in our homes to teach our children, we should be forcing school boards to screen teachers, introduce rigorous teaching, enforce discipline, in one word educate our children not muddy cuddle them.
And while we are on the subject of school boards, when are we going to force a review of our ridiculous government structure, based on four layers of government – six in some lucky locations? What is the use of school boards? Do we need municipal structures to serve 800 people? Should large urban areas, like Toronto or Montreal, have provincial status? After all they are 30 times bigger than PEI!
Then let us work at priorities: as we have to choose, should we fund multiculturalism or free internet access? Gun registration – by the way a financial disaster – or airport security?
We are impotent because we have grown old, fat and petty. We have not seen a generous idea in government for 20 years. As citizens we have abdicated our duty to control our government and allowed mediocrity to take over. It is time for massive doses of social viagra.