Being a Canadian gives me a somewhat different view on the political structure of the United States. I have been tossed with disdain into the liberal corner, relegated to a portrayal of the typical bleeding heart. However, those who know me well know that it’s just not that simple. It isn’t for anyone, really. There is no such thing as a typical liberal or a typical conservative. Even the farthest right-wing conservatives don’t want what everyone thinks they want, and neither do the far-flung liberals. In some cases they think they want it, but if they took a moment to understand the ramifications they probably wouldn’t.
Take, for example, the notion that government is bad, and that big government is the problem with everything. This ties in with the idea that big government is the same as communism, Marxism or socialism – which are in fact completely separate things. Communism on its own is an impossible idea. It can’t actually happen. The very definition of communism means that no one can be a leader in any way. It’s all about the good of the whole structure, and when you put someone in charge of that, it no longer falls under the true definition of communism. There would be no actual government.
Another notion that seems to stem from paranoia, and also comes from fear of big government, is that we think everything we do will suddenly be controlled in an Orwellian future. Certainly there are attempts to make this happen, but the attempts always break down. People will stand for oppression only so long before someone gets the bright idea that the masses are stronger than the few that are the oppressors. The USSR is a good example of the failure of both a supposedly communist country, and the oppression of big government. It failed spectacularly. The French Revolution also provides an interesting and gory look at the ultimate results of oppression by big government.
Socialism happens in all developed countries to some extent, no matter how people may try to deny it. The very fact that we have someone to collect our garbage points to socialism. We, as a group, pay into taxes that pay for these social services. They are done for the good of the whole. We pay taxes for roadwork, police, healthcare (of some sort), fire departments, pension plans such as Social Security or Canada Pension Plan, and all kinds of other good things. Without these services, imagine what our lives would be like. Imagine your house catching fire, and there being no one to stop the blaze. Suddenly it’s not only your house that’s on fire, but your neighbours’ houses as well. You can argue that you would have a volunteer group, but that brings us right back to communal living. As soon as we organize a community service of any sort, we are falling back on socialism to some degree.
Extreme conservatism seems to praise the idea of every person for themselves, where capitalism is king. Privatization of all public services become the ideal, but without government regulation to stop giant companies from taking advantage of the citizenry, there’s a huge danger to the freedoms of the population once again. Monsanto is a good example there. They control approximately 75% of food production, and their seeds are genetically modified. They also own a company of mercenaries that they bought about three years ago. Monsanto is worldwide. People look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and get the impression that they’re liberals of the highest order. However, they own a huge portion of Monsanto stock, and Bill Gates just happens to be rich because of capitalism.
Extreme liberalism certainly doesn’t work either. Tree-huggers and bleeding-hearts are completely naive when it comes to the politics of life. Giving money away to ‘the poor’ indiscriminately is not a workable solution. It’s the whole ‘give a fish, teach to fish scenario,’ and giving doesn’t work. The only thing that works is enforcing training and education requirements. Sure, people are disadvantaged and need help sometimes, but helping them to do nothing but remain a charity case is not going to bring society back up off its collective knees. I believe people need help sometimes, but I also believe they should be doing something to earn it and help themselves.
As far as the environmental concerns go, there’s only one way to make a difference. We have to stop allowing corporations to line the pockets of the legislative bodies. When corporations are allowed to give money to politicians, it’s nothing short of a bribe. The politician no longer has the best interests of their constituents at heart. When a person gets paid a quarter of a million dollars by the NRA or Monsanto, how do you think their vote is going to go?
When it comes to gun control, I actually don’t have any problem with people owning guns, either (much to the shock of those who call me a liberal), but only under the condition that they know what they’re doing with them. Allowing people to purchase without knowledge or training is idiocy. It’s not possible to get rid of all guns anyway. The idea is a joke. Criminals will always get their hands on them, no matter what. All we can do is try to restrict and control access. Does gun control work? Well, take a look at any country with strict arms legislation. Canada and the United States have almost identical assault rates per capita. However, Canada has only one sixth of the rate of firearm homicides. Do we have people owning guns illegally in Canada? We certainly do. There’s no getting around it. Do we take guns away from law-abiding citizens? No, we don’t. People are allowed to own handguns here, along with some pretty high-tech weaponry. In fact, the weapon used in the Newtown shooting is legal in Canada. It’s considered a sporting weapon. That same gun was used in a mass shooting, at L’Ecole Polytechnique, by Marc Lepine. Bad things still happen in Canada, despite our gun legislation, but it occurs much less frequently per capita.
The funny thing is, with all the paranoia about Obama coming to people’s doors and taking their guns, nothing has happened. Nothing will happen either. The legislation that was put forth last year had absolutely nothing to do with taking anyone’s guns. It was meant to close the loopholes that allowed people to purchase without registration or background checks. There were jokes going around at the time that the terrorists were traveling to American gun shows just to buy their weapons. The fact is, they could easily have been doing that. All of the paranoia resulted in one thing only – more profits for gun manufacturers. People went out and started buying more guns. Stockpiling, just in case. And for what? The upcoming zombie apocalypse? I will never understand the need for a weapon that is capable of firing upwards of 900 rounds per minute, though that is admittedly severely limited by the capacity of the magazine. Even thirty rounds seems excessive. The last time anyone had thirty people coming at them, trying specifically to kill them, they were in a war or a revolutionary riot.
The extreme liberal perspective doesn’t work with gun control either. It’s very naive to think nobody should have a gun. Having grown up out in the boonies, we had two bolt-action rifles in our house, and they were kept loaded. Our biggest concerns were threats of a four-legged variety, and I remember them happening. We needed to have those rifles. When you’ve got a ticked off moose coming at you, there’s not much else you can do but shoot it and make it count. If you’ve never seen a moose, trust me, they’re huge. And mean. We were also prepared for a two-legged threat. Living a half-hour’s drive from the nearest police station, and no patrols being made out to our area, we needed to be able to deal with a threat on our own.
There is no utopia to be found in either extreme. Nobody wants to go back to a lawless old west unless they’re one of the lawless, so governmental agencies are a necessity. Nobody wants the government telling them what they’re allowed to eat or drink either. Having our choices taken away ‘for our own good’ is a huge invasion of our rights as human beings. What we do in the privacy of our own homes is our own business. That applies to what we eat as much as who we sleep with. As long as harm is not being inflicted on another person, what right has anyone to tell us what we can and can’t do?
Sure it’s good to have warnings about the food we eat, and quite frankly I’m ticked off that GMOs aren’t being labeled as such. There’s a huge difference between hybridization of food, which has been going on for centuries, and the genetic modification that’s happening now. A hybrid fruit, such as a grapefruit which is a cross between a pomelo and an orange, is still comprised of two natural ingredient, both fruit. Genetically modified foods are not. So, I think they should be labeled, as should anything that presents a potential risk to human health. Should the government be telling me I’m not allowed to have salt on my food, or sugar in my diet? Absolutely not. It’s my choice.
In some ways I wonder if anarchism isn’t the answer. In a way it’s almost an extreme conservative view, but is in direct opposition to the general religious fervor one often finds in extreme conservatism. Religion is another area where I oppose any control whatsoever. There’s some cognitive dissonance there in the conservative realm when it comes to religion. The extreme right, combined with fundamentalism, is a scary thing. Suddenly they want to overthrow the rights of anyone not following Christianity, and alter the U. S. Constitution so that the entire country is forced into following an official religious doctrine. The problem there is that the country was specifically founded to get out from under that sort of oppression. Not to mention the fact that conservatives supposedly don’t want government control, so why do they want the government to have religious control?
Extremism is gripping the United States in a giant, tightly closed fist. People are arguing and yelling at one another over things that make no sense, and aren’t even something that’s actually happening. So many people are taking things at face value, without doing any fact-checking. Critical thinking has gone out the window, and people are looking to newscasters who are legally allowed to lie about the news they’re presenting. Why are we listening to mainstream news sources? All mainstream media is controlled by corporations that have their own interests to protect.
Rage has come to dominate our debates about the future. We’re no longer listening to anything ‘the other side’ has to say. Our ears our closed, our brains are shut off, and our mouths are wide open. Is this what we want for ourselves? A closed mind gives the impression of stupidity and ignorance. Intelligence requires that we think for ourselves and always be open to the possibility of new information. Bullying someone who doesn’t share our opinion is not going to change their minds. Name-calling is even less effective. Anger is not the solution. Digging in our heels and drawing lines in the sand will not help. We need to erase those lines and kick up those heels, so we can all dance to a better tune.
Latest posts by Rain Stickland (see all)
- The Hypocrisy in My Fellow Lefties Needs to Stop - November 16, 2016
- Windows 10 Just Made Life Easier for Hackers - September 6, 2015
- Economic Lessons We Teach Two-Year-Olds, but Forget Ourselves - August 18, 2015