Sunday, January 3, 2010

My god! Could I truly be becoming a neo-con?

OK, so I'm being a bit alarmist. It's really a sensational headline meant to draw attention...

But seriously folks: Is big govt necessary? Should government be responsible for the people's welfare? Do we really need them to take care of us? Is having a government which provides some great services and safety nets, such as universal health care, really worth it when we know that the majority of what they take from us in taxes is either being wasted or used to fund things that we don't agree with and/or which do nothing to help the average citizen? (Ex: bank bailouts, unjust wars, private chauffeurs, corporate tax breaks, etc...)

I realise the irony of me asking such questions, given my love of universal healthcare: I've participated in several discussions on-line, particularly during the US healthcare debate, where I championed Canada's healthcare system. And when the issue of "taxpayers money" is brought up I have stated on more than one occasion that I'd be willing to pay 50% income tax, if those taxes went to the right things, such as free post-secondary education, or the type of dual-parternal leave offered in such countries as Sweden and Norway.

But even though I like having governmental safety nets like unquestioning health care coverage, I'm beginning to question putting one's own welfare into the hands of the government, especially since government is so deeply intertwined with private/corporate interests and rarely puts the welfare of its people before said interests.

During a New Year's visit to my parents' place, I was discussing with my family about what is known as the Freeman/Natural Person/Sovereign movements and how some people have chosen not to contract with the government and in doing so have relinquished their Social Insurance Number (SIN), have stopped contributing the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) etc... She then asked what the majority of the Canadians would do without the financial assistance of CPP in their later years. And this is a good question. I responded with the idea that the elderly should not have to look to the state for care, and that we should live in communities which take-in and provide assistance and support to their elderly in their latter stages of life. And people should be able to decide for themselves what they want to do with their life's savings and not be forced to give a certain percentage to the government to save for them the way that the government sees fit. Not to mention the fact that, with the way the economy is going, I don't think my hard-earned CPP will even exist when I get to retirement age...but more on that later.) The thing is, I also realise that we in the Western World are becoming less and less likely to take care of our aging parents directly. We've started to convince ourselves that having to interrupt our own lives to take care of our parents is a burden. Even our aging parents themselves speak of not wanting to be a burden; that somehow they have failed as parents if their children are forced to take care of them.

As for the likelihood that I or most of those reading this post will ever see our CPP: With the fiat money and fractional banking system being used around the world, it will be impossible for us to ever pay off the national debt. Impossible. Like, mathematically impossible. If you would like to learn how that could possibly be true, you should really watch a relatively short film called Money as Debt. You'll find a full version on Google Video or you can check out my You Tube channel where I have a playlist including Money as Debt and its sequel, Money as Debt II. Believe me, usually I see or hear anything related to finances (or anything to do with numbers really), my brain starts to shut down. It's like my brain has hands which it's placing over its ears while it shouts "La-la-la! I'm not listening! La-la-la..." However, you should also believe me when I say that Money as Debt is a fascinating and eye-opening look at our money system, what it is based on and how we got into this mess. It explains it all in very simple terms -- kinda like fractional banking for dummies. I'm also starting to understand why my brain reacts to this seemingly imaginary, arbitrary, convoluted world we call investment banking and finances. Because it is just that; Imaginary, arbitrary and convoluted! We've become a slave to a system that only has power over us because we believe that it does. It's bloody nuts!

Then there is the whole concept that the government works for us, not the other way around, and that income taxes are unlawful, and that truly human beings are not subject to statute laws -- they are only being applied to us to generate revenue. (I'll get into more of this stuff later as well.)

So have I got any magnificent ideas for a better system? Of course not, but I am looking into what others are proposing. I think a good start would be to rely more on small community systems of governance, as well as barter and trade systems that don't rely on a fiat currency. We need to go back to a time when one helped -- hell, when one even knew -- their neighbours. A community which helps those in need within their community, because in doing so one improves the state of their community.

Unfortunately I'm no Poli-Sci or Economics major (remember what I said about my aversion to all things financial?), but I think taking the attitude of "well, that's the reality and life sucks; just accept that we are just forced to use this inefficient system" is not only lazy, but silly. WE have created this system of governance -- all of us -- whether we run the system, work for the system, or profit from it in any way. And if the majority decided tomorrow that they didn't want that system, it would simply cease to be. The same goes for our monetary system. It's all a construct. This isn't ideology, it's the truth.

So I've tried my best to write a coherent post here. I did tend to go off on tangents and I'm not sure that I got to the point, but I'd be interested if anyone out there in the interweb has any thoughts on these matters.

Oh, and by the way, I don't believe in voting anymore. Some of you may gasp at that thought, especially since I was known to espouse the old saying "if you don't vote, you have no right to complain." I realise know I was just being a Repeater. But I'll save my ramblings about voting and democracy for another post.

...And of course just as I was formulating this post, I came across this very apt 8 minute video about the concept of liberty. I'm beginning to appreciate these little "coincidences" or bursts of insight that the universe seems to be throwing at me these days...


  1. Haha in many ways you sound just like the late, great George Carlin.

    Anyhow you would think that the system would disappear if we all stopped believing in it, but that's not correct. It would take brutal force. This is because they employ people to protect them just in case this happens.

    As for advocating revolution, I'd be all for it, but as you say, I have no better ideas. In a city like Toronto, we can't all take care of each's not how a human's brain works...and as for our elderly....if only there weren't so MANY of them we might have a chance. However, since they've been screwing us out of shit since 1980 (the first year that the US gov't spent more money on senior citizens than it did on children...thanks Reagan!) I figure we dont owe them anything. Aside perhaps from sentimental, familial reasons.

    You know, maybe "brave new world" isn't such a bad system after all....hmmmmmm

  2. Carlin...heh heh. Maybe more like Bill Hicks, but I'd take either as a compliment.

    I've found my views on politics, the self and government to have been greatly shaken over the past couple of years.

    There was a time were I might have agreed with you about the Powers That Be and being able to release ourselves from their game, but the fact is there is WAY more of us than them. And their "protectors" be they bodyguards, military, or the police, are also humans. Yes, there are some supreme dicks in all of those occupations, (afterall, who else would you expect to attract to occupations which require you to enforce your will on others?!) but there are some very good people out there in those very jobs, who have friends and family among the rest of us.

    However, I should clarify that I am not talking about taking to the streets with torches. In fact I'm beginning to agree with those who state that protesting does more harm than good. I'm talking about passive-resistance, strategic nonviolent conflict.

    For example, re: my statement about the system disappearing if we stopped believing in it -- Surly this wouldn't be something that would happen overnight and, if we were to all, let's say, tell the banks that we are cutting-up our credit cards and have no intent on paying back our loans they'd be screwed. The worst they could do would be to (gasp!) affect our credit files. They couldn't throw us ALL in jail, now could they?

    We also have to look to successful examples of this in the past. I mean, hell, Gandhi got Britain out of India!!! And do you think the people of India had any sort of fire power to match the power of the English Empire?!! And what about the US Civil Rights movement? In both cases, people just refused to comply: The Indians made their own salt from salt water to protest the salt tax. African American's refused to leave "whites only" establishments. Did these people fight their aggressors with physical force? Nope. Did many of them get the shit beat out of them? Well, yea, and some even died.

    And Brian's point about how people would go to war for one common goal. Ironically I think I'm getting at the same thing.

    Don't you ever wonder why we as a people are not like that anymore? And why the family and communal spirit has all but disappeared? Do you think it's just happenstance? That somehow people in the past were just better human beings? Could it perhaps be by design?

  3. well if you put it that way yeah it is possible, but brian is right that people just don't give a shit. I mean, I'm all for thinking about it, but at the end of the day it would take something very major for me to really attempt to change the status quo. But then I'm very firmly middle-class. Since the middle-class is disappearing, it is quite possible to see something along those lines happen....once the money runs out completely, once people become desperate instead of just whiny, then we'll see....

    as for why people are less passionate about these things, yeah I think it is at least partially by design. It's biological on the one hand, in that most people now live in big cities and it is impossible for the human brain to cope in that situation, resulting in more and more of us simply shutting out the fact that we're surrounded by thousands of people all the time...but it is also trained into us through media and "peer" be selfish, basically, and to put ourselves and perhaps our immediate family above the greater good. Look at our modern icons....pop starts and actors, people famous simply for being famous....Although I haven't done any research I'm nearly positive that more people in at least the western world would recognize a picture of paris hilton before recognizing gandhi....

    *shrug* i don't know....

    although I do think that the idea about the credit cards is good and is sort of happening....

  4. FTFA: "Well, that's the reality and life sucks; just accept that we are just forced to use this inefficient system."

    Seriously though you mention a lot about the way things "ought" to be or "should be". That may have worked for "The Smurfs" or "Care Bears" but this is reality. The truth is we can't go back to the way things used to be using a barter/service system. What I think would help is if the people who were chosen to lead this country were educated people and knew a thing about what their job is.

    I think Canada needs a "visionary" leader. Someone who wants to direct the country towards a goal. This has been lacking. A problem that I see is that we are not motivated to do anything. We keep electing minority governments because we are so bored with things. We have this "Can't someone else do it" attitude. It was funny on "The Simpsons" but ultimately lead Springfield to bankruptcy. We need to learn from this. And I am not talking a vision like winning a gold medal in Olympic hockey or revitalizing the Toronto waterfront. I mean a complete NATIONAL vision. Something that all Canadians can do to give themselves a bit of employment and help to give back for the future....

    I was watching some WWII documentaries last weekend and commented to my father how it was odd that all these people did 24/7 was concentrate on the war. Women would work and sleep in factories to build weapons for the men to use. All available resources were used to accomplish the one major goal. My dad said a war like that will never happen again because people do not have the dedication or the will to finish a job. As a nation we are just too damn lazy.

    I don't believe in having community based governments either like street to street groups because that can lead to fragmentation or conflicts between neighbours which would be even worse than the system now. Plus you really begin to have a situation of the have and have-nots. Remeber the differences between old Scarborough and North York? I swear back in the day everyone wanted to live in North York because of the great services they were able to afford. Besides in order for community based governments to work EVERYONE in the community has to sign up for the idea. That just doesn't happen anymore. We are too isolated in our own iPod like worlds to give a damn.

    Oh and I do fear for what I will do if I ever decide to retire. I do not have a cradle to grave job. The ultimate solution is to better myself, reeducate and change jobs. After all is that not the lesson of the free market economy? We are free to make our own choices and explore any means necessary to achieve our goals. HOWEVER if there any way that my government may HELP me then I am all for paying taxes. Items such as health care, and CPP are things I do not want to opt out of. I just want the money to be used for what it is supposed to be used for. Frivolous taxes such as "$60 tax to drive a car in Toronto" on my car registration are the ones that piss me off.

    To Be Continued.....

  5. Continued from above......

    Another thing is that Canada's banks are not in trouble as this blog suggests. There has been no bailout to them. A Canadian bank is probably one of the safest places to have your money right now. Our banks are very heavily regulated versus our neighbourly American banks. You have to prove an ability to pay in order to get a loan here. So implying that we are just as bad as they are is not entirely true. Canada will suffer but that is only because of our tight economic relationship with the States. We do a lot of trading with them. However I am pleased that we are trying to diversify and move away from that through our billions of dollars invested in China.

    Now if you'll excuse me....... I have a gold medal hockey game to watch. Can the Canadian Juniors make it 6 in a row? That should keep my mind off the state of our government for a few hours. UPDATE: Canada lost. This makes me so angry; just like it is SUCH an outrage to our democracy that our Parliament has been prorogued. Damn government! This is unacceptable! If we only won the gold.....

  6. Thanks for posting Brian.

    I agree, with you on Harper's decision to prorogue. Someone should shop Harper's face over Palin's from her "Going Rogue" book cover and make t-shirts. Dick.

    As for your comments:

    "...But this is reality." I'm always curious what people picture in their heads when they make this statement. Do you acknowledge that reality is subjective? Would you agree that we make our reality? Or do you think that reality is something that exists around us, but is apart from and/or is uninfluenced by us?

    I believe reality is subjective and that we make our own reality. This is proved to me every day in very small ways: Such as how you can say something completely innocent to someone, who then takes your comment in completely the wrong way and thinks you’re insulting them. Or how very attractive, intelligent and talented people often suffer from low self esteem and see themselves as the exact opposite.

    ...So I would argue that what you are actually saying is "But this is the way it is, as I see it." I'm pretty sure (or at least I hope) that you'd agree that what you believe to be true is not always right. There's that old saying: "There's my side and your side, and then there's the truth." (Which I just realised is another example of how reality is subjective!)

    Now, if everyone in the world always told themselves, "this is reality" then we would never strive to change anything, would we? We as humans can do great things if we work together. We've done it in the past and we can keep doing it.

    Unfortunately, I think the problem with our current society in the West is that it is built around telling us that we are all individuals with the ability to become "a success" and to "get what's mine." This was somewhat reflected in your statement about how the free-market economy. I agree we should be free to pursue our own goals, but by "our" I mean not only the goals of ourselves and our immediate family, but society at large. I think that this kind of individualistic "everyone can be a success" is misleading and has lead to a breakdown of society. I mean, who strives to be a garbage man, or a person who cleans public toilets, or a dishwasher in a restaurant? If we were all meant to succeed individually and to only do what we wanted to do, then who would do all of those not-so-fun, but very important jobs in the world?

    Which brings me to your statement about talking to your Dad about WWII: While I'm not one to argue that laziness is rampant in Western Society -- in both the physical and the moral/ethical sense -- I'm not so sure that a "war like that" or any cohesive effort on such a grand scale is less likely to occur due to lack of dedication or effort in people today. There are people all over the world with great creative energies, but for the most part they are focussing those energies on self-serving efforts or efforts which benefit the very few -- I mean just look at the US space program, or the amount of manpower and resources sucked in by Hollywood and television production. And have you seen how much porn there is on the internet?!!! Holey crap! (Misspell intended...)

  7. The reason why I think we don't get together for common goals on the scale of WWII is partly due to what I discussed about the push to succeed on an individual level. But I also think it's because we no longer see our personal goals extending past our own deaths. We have no sense of legacy. We no longer look at life as doing the best that we can for our children, and our children's children. Instead of sacrificing our children's happiness by spending 8+ hrs a day away from them while we go to work/school to better ourselves, to have a successful career and get our kids the nicest clothes, the latest toy and a house with bedrooms and televisions for all family members, maybe we should be living as meekly as possible so as to afford the best possible upbringing of our children so as to assure that they become well-adjusted, well-rounded individuals -- individuals who will in turn do the same for their children, and so on, ultimately with the goal of the betterment of society.

    You also stated "I don't believe in having community based governments because they can lead to fragmentation or conflicts between neighbours...and a situation of the have and have-nots." we not have that now? If the prospect of having conflicts were to deter us anytime someone suggested that we organise, then why would we EVER organise? And I have to think you would agree that the government/financial system has actually lead to an increase in disparity between the rich and poor since our forefathers came to Canada. In addition, the voice of the average citizen does not nearly have the weight of corporate interests when it comes to decision making in government. And the government is supposed to serve the people, not the other way around. I also would rather have conflict with my neighbours than not knowing them at all, which is the case for the vast majority of us, including me.

    As for fragmentation, that's a toughie. People always seem to like the security of having a group to be part of and to find another group to have a rivalry with. However, at least in smaller, communal government settings people tend to have more of a say in what goes on. I also think it is actually easier on a disparate and national scale to decry other groups of people (ex: "those damn lazy Maritimes always living off pogie" or "those damn Torontonians who think they are the centre of Canada" or "those damn Quebecers think they're so damn special.") I think it's easier to get into rivalries and to criticize large faceless groups, than, for example, opposing Billy Bob from the farm next door, vocally, in front of the rest of your community.

    You also state Canada's banks are not in trouble like they are in the US, but the problem goes way beyond the risky loan practices recently perpetrated in that country. For example, unlike the US, Iceland's financial crisis wasn't caused by sub-prime loans. The problem is the fractional reserve banking system used by almost all countries in the world; it is mathematically impossible for the national bank to print up money, lend it at interest and expect it to be paid back. Impossible. There is not enough money in circulation to pay all debts, so a bank will NEVER regain all that it has loaned out. NEVER. There isn't enough money to repay it, let alone at interest! Why the economies of the world haven't all crumbled already is beyond me.

    So in the end, do I have any solutions past "oughts" or "shoulds"? Unfortunately, no. But if I come up with any I'll let you know.


  8. i stopped trusting in gov't when they ran the referendum to see if we wanted to live in a mega-city, were told that NO we do not, and then went ahead and did it anyway...

    oh and why would a bank WANT all their money back? Then they stop making interest and become doesn't matter that it is made up, as long as there is no run on the bank which I don't think there would be...

    however I do think that it would be neat to see what would happen if every country and every person were all just forgiven of our debts. I'm willing to bet that we'd all just run them up again anyway, tho'....