Friday, February 29, 2008

Racing to the Bottom

The level of political discourse has been sinking in the last decade or so to the level of schoolyard taunts and bullying, not only in our own House of Commons, but almost anywhere you care to look. From the American administration or Houses of Congress to your local municipality, civil discourse, much less thoughtful discussion of the issues, is a rarity.

My take on this is the stakes are now so high due to the ever expanding reach and influence of government power. To take one example, the Paul Martin government gave a $4 billion dollar ministry to Belinda Stronich for crossing the aisle, and another 4.5 billion in the budget to the NDP party (abruptly canceling long planned business tax cuts). In return, they stayed in power a bit longer, controlling hundreds of billions of dollars worth of spending, vast areas of the economy and maintaining their personal perques as well. Not a bad return for an 8.5 billion dollar "investment".

I don't see any party or person as being immune to this level of temptation. Conservatism (Classical Liberalism) attempts to solve this through strict boundaries and limitations of government power, and alternative measures such as term limits could also be used to reduce the problem, but clever people always find ways to overcome these limitations. The solution on the Left goes all the way back to Plato's Philosopher Kings, with the idea some sort of elite will be able to efficiently control all resources and power due to some sort of innate superiority of thought, ethics or will.

Given human nature, this problem will always be with us. Readers of this blog can take matters into their own hands by becoming politically active and doing all they can to limit the powers and activites of governments at all levels. Speaking up, writing letters, starting petitions, supporting candidates (or opposing them) or even stepping up to the plate yourself to run for political office are all options, and far more effective than sitting around and complaining at home.

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