Thursday, December 29, 2011

Slightly Suspicious Behaviour

I have just bought a few more books on Canadian politics.

No, that isn't the suspicious part.  The suspicious part is the quantity of books on the shelf that have the primary purposes of telling me why our government's policies are so good!

Seriously, people write books to complain about things -- it's not surprising to see criticism.  Criticism, or at least analysis, is something one would expect. However, blatant cheerleading is something I am not used to seeing.  Perhaps it has been too long since I bought a political title at the bookstore.

What I don't like, though I haven't read them yet, is that these books seem to be saying that unfettered greed and capitalism, you know, free markets, provide all the answers. Never mind the issues of corruption and access to power that these forces cause -- we also have to take into consideration the public good.

The public good is always in a state of conflict with private profit. We should be arguing about the level of environmental protection required, for example, not whether or not we need to protect the environment.  Having clean air and water, and leaving the same for our children, is a public good.

When capitalism is at odds with the public good governments step in to balance the forces involved. This balance, though perhaps out of whack in the past, is certainly under attack.

There is only one force that benefits by this attack. It is the force of profit.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love capitalism and have been involved in several start-up companies performing the magic of creating something out of nothing. It's hard work. It's exhausting. It's rewarding. It's awesome.

No, I'm suspicious that money is being paid to promote a viewpoint that leads us to believe things that are against the public good -- but for the good of the profiteers at our expense.

In any case, unlike many of my online friends, I'm not limiting myself to my own viewpoint. Whether left or right there are kernels of truth and value in most viewpoints. Our job is to extract those kernels and find ways to absorb the best of each breed. We can do better than either alone if we can get past the petulant bickering and modern day attack politics.

What did I buy?
  • Fearful Symmetry: The fall and rise of Canada's founding values.
  • The Trouble with Canada... still!
Both of these books are blaming liberal ideas for all that is wrong in the world.

My challenge to my fellow online pundits -- put your brains to work and understand the views of people that disagree with you. Don't fall for the childish regurgitation of trite sayings as if that actually adds value to the debate.

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