An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
I am writing as a citizen, parent, medical professional and published author on among other things, the medical consequences of ozone depletion. I am part of the boomer demographic and well off. I do not have any radical agenda nor do I represent a self-interested group lobbying for some personal advantage. You may be surprised to know that people like myself exist.
I believe that the free market point of view can become the equivalent of a fundamentalist religion. I would like to submit to you that anything that has evolved has intrinsic wisdom and aspects to why it has been successful that are complex, multi-faceted and impossible to know completely.
We need to be very respectful of what has evolved and that the more we know, the more we know we don’t know. Please have more respect for the wisdom of our pre-existing laws. Those that protect the environment as much as those that balance the rights of the accused and the limits to what can be accomplished with punishment. Most people in jail are the downtrodden. Many have had head injuries which are very common in abused and neglected childhoods (see: published research by Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis). Most are already self-destructive so that the prospect of harsher punishments have little deterrence as they are impulsive and out of control. Most have been told they are “bad” much of their lives. Admittedly perhaps this is not so with respect to white collar criminals, but this is not who you appear to be targeting. A quick fix making the next quarter look good on a balance sheet or punishing the criminal may appeal to voters who simplistically believe that some people are good and others bad and that you can just get what you want today and tomorrow will take care of itself.
The point of leadership is to not be driven by the short term or the emotion of the mob. Being in a rush to give away our precious fossil fuel to foreign interests, rather than developing our own mid-and downstream capacity to supply Eastern Canada, destroying our ecosystems by gutting our environmental laws (Enbridge, fish habitat protection etc.), civil service (which professionalism and culture cannot be rebuilt as quickly as a new organizational chart) and even the validity of our information gathering about the state of the nation i.e. randomized data from the long form census rather than data coming from a voluntary long form… skewed by likely including mostly the leisure class with time to spare or those with an axe to grind rather than the average family struggling to get by.
I appreciate your undoubted good intentions in smoothing out bothersome and laborious processes that slow down your agenda, however I absolutely disagree with your lack of respect for how Canada has evolved. Its culture, its laws, its civil service: the middle road being the result of respect and compromise. Please also consider being informed about the views expressed in the book The Collapse of Complex Societies by Tainter which describes very well the failings of the late stages in the application of a paradigm (in this case that of a management and economics approach representing the industrial age).
Other views that may be helpful would be those in A Short History of Progress (Ronald Wright) or Unconscious Civilization (Ralston Saul), although I agree that Ayn Rand has a piece of the truth about enlightened self-interest needing to be part of how things are structured. We are at the beginning of a global food crisis and tipping points of no return in the “externality” of climate. No amount of enlightened self-interest will reverse this if not applied before it is too late.