By Dr David Laing Dawson
Just once I would like to hear a Canadian politician say ideologies make bad government.
We have now had sufficient history and experimentation with democratically elected governments to know that unfettered, unregulated capitalism is a horror for all but the rich, and ultimately destructive for them as well, and that ideologically driven socialism is a disaster that fosters corruption and gives birth to tyranny. This history lies before us from Venezuela to Russia to Cuba; from the USA to Greece and Chile. In Ontario we already enacted these dichotomies (in moderate Canadian fashion) with Mike Harris and Bob Rae.
But we are neither an ant colony nor roving bands of sharks. We are human.
So this means our shark genes are always in conflict with our ant genes. Our impulse for self preservation and self aggrandisement conflicts with our empathy for others, our social impulses. We want to help ourselves and help others. We seek both hierarchy and equality. We are Donald Trump and Mother Theresa.
So we need both a system of governance and economics that allows us each to pursue a pot of gold, an invention, success, membership in an exclusive club, achievement, and at least a comfortable life, and a system of governance that oversees the ethics and morality of these pursuits while ensuring we are all at least well fed, clothed, educated, housed, protected from predators, and kept healthy.
And a system of governance that ensures we don’t destroy the planet in our pursuit of the former, and don’t bankrupt the province and nation in pursuit of the latter.
It was disheartening to hear Doug Ford mouth a ridiculous Trump hyperbole: We will cut taxes and you will see the economy grow like “nobody has ever seen before.”
And equally disheartening to hear Andrea Horvath say they would do away with back to work legislation.
We’ve been here before. Cutting the taxes of the wealthy and well-to-do does not cause trickle down. It causes trickle up.
Without back to work legislation in place as a last resort our government becomes beholden to the tyranny of the collective.
Both of these ideas are driven by ideology rather than one hundred years of experience.
My unelectable ideal politician would be saying, “We need a mixed economy. We need rules and regulations that foster invention and entrepreneurship while providing all of our citizens a comfortable life and protecting them from corporate greed. To do this we need to keep many services within the public sector, paid well and monitored carefully, while creating an atmosphere in which the pursuit of wealth, of entrepreneurship, of excellence, and the greed of a few, can benefit all.
We continue to need a mixed economy with a complex set of rules and regulations. And we promise to tweek these as best we can based on experience and knowledge over the next five years, with a goal of bringing health and prosperity for all.”