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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:18 pm

Individualist Individualist:

The trouble with Dave's use of the term "libertarian" to describe me is that it can be interpreted as meaning I support some kind of free-for-all society in which the strong take what they want from the weak without any central authority being able to intervene. I am not a libertarian in that sense.

Distribution of wealth is a tricky subject, not the least because both the right and the left have good points to make, and the truth is somewhere between the extremes of each side.

Applying the statistical terms used to describe a normal (or "bell curve") distribution (for simplicity's sake), the right tends to focus on the "mean", in this case the average income. They argue that a higher mean (brought about by an efficient economy with healthy incentives to produce) results in a wealthier society overall. And they are correct in that macro sense, but a greater overall societal wealth does not translate to everyone being prosperous, despite the commonly used expression "a rising tide lifts all boats".

The left, on the other hand, focuses more on the "standard deviation", which indicates the width of the curve, and represents in this case the variation in income between the very wealthy and the very poor. The left wants to narrow that variability to the greatest degree possible. The problem there is that equalizing economic incomes creates less (economic) incentive to be productive and to utilize one's talents fully. So narrowing the standard deviation too much in this cases causes a reduction in the mean.

So while wealth is not a fixed pie, neither is it a bottomless well. A balanced approach is required. It is possible for someone to take too much, to the point that there is not enough left for others. That's where sensible income redistribution and reasonable regulation in the public interest (both of which I support) should come in. And these concepts can be described in individualist terms. An individual's rights end where they start to impinge of the rights of other individuals.

The problem is that many on the left are not content with simply adjusting a society built on individual freedom to manage such trade-offs and collisions of interests. They want to build a "perfect" society, in which there is equality, but measured not so much in individual terms, but statistically across the groupings they consider significant - social class, skin colour, ethnicity, culture, gender and sexual orientation. Every board of directors, cabinet room, party caucus, police station, fire hall, oil rig crew, hospital, service club, etc. needs to be a perfect microcosm of the larger society along that narrow set of groupings, or else it is a place of discrimination and oppression.

That's where the social engineering comes in. Individual human behaviour and decision making cannot be counted upon to align with that, lets face it, impossible goal of perfect representation along these identity dimensions in every human endeavour. The more difficult the goal is to achieve, the more coercion and centralization of power the social engineer is willing to use to attempt to realize it. Everything becomes a lever for social engineering, be it road construction/maintenance, transit, electrical generation, water treatment, housing, social policy, regulation of business, academia, the arts. Urban planning in places like Toronto under Jennifer Keesmaat has become so synonymous with social engineering that the entire discipline should simply change its name to the latter for the sake of accuracy.

If an individual is no longer looked upon as an entity in its own right, with its distinct interests, desires, abilities and goals, but rather as simply a marker or chip representing his/her social class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. for the purposes of measuring statistical parity, you are essentially dehumanizing that individual. Each of us is more than just the sum of our statistical categories.

So be careful how much power you're willing to give "Big Brother".

Your comment about how similar your views are to Dave Ruston's in many ways can just as easily be be said by me in referring to your views. While I can support tax and spending increases when I feel they're necessary, I also recognize that sometimes the government needs to cut spending and taxes, and step back and let individuals resolve their own problems.

Along with the problems you cite in the accumulation of state power for social engineering purposes, there's also the danger of an "in-group" mentality where anyone who doesn't sufficiently toe the line of acceptable ideology risks becoming seen as a traitor, a comprador, un-Canadian, anti-American, or any number of other slurs. This has been the big problem I've had with the writings of guys like Mel Hurtig and David Orchard, and conversely it's the same thing with the likes of Stephen Harper and Ezra Levant, who both come across to me as though they'd hold a grudge against me for the rest of their lives if I dared to disagree with them. When it comes to guys like Preston Manning and Brent Rathgeber, we could have a passionate debate one moment and then spend the next consoling each other as watch the Oilers lose. :wink:

Social engineering through the state is obviously a problem, but for me there's also the fact that some of these wealthy institutions and individuals seem to think as though they are above being held to account for their actions or even just having their agendas being opposed, and so they transfer power from elected governments to unelected trade tribunals and organizations in the various "trade" agreements governments have been signing for the last 20-plus years. These large and powerful entities get access to avenues ordinary citizens and smaller companies do not, using their lawsuits, or even the threats of these lawsuits, to try and overturn governments that are trying to fulfill their democratic responsibilities.

It's one thing to use a national constitution to overturn an unjust law-these constitutions are part and parcel of the country itself, and they enshrine the rights of all their citizens, not just a few powerful organizations, in addition to providing means for allowing different individuals to express their views and hold their leaders to account. They also have various checks and balances, such as the Charter's "notwithstanding" clause.

However, it's quite another for a few powerful, unelected and unaccountable individuals and entities to use international treaties to try and overturn the decisions of a democratically elected government acting on what it perceives its citizens' demands to be. Where is the accountability? Where are the checks on their authority? Are we simply supposed to take for granted that this power will always be used lightly and responsibly? Why is it a bad thing when left-wing activists use the courts and the Charter to supposedly overturn the will of Parliament, but it's somehow alright when a few large entities use powers reserved just for them to often do the very same thing?

"Nations were now formed by the agglomeration of communities having kindred interests and sympathies...It was a benefit rather than otherwise that we had a diversity of races."-Sir George Etienne Cartier, February 7, 1865

"I am a Canadian. Canada is the inspiration of my life. I have had before me as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day a policy of true Canadianism, of moderation, of conciliation."-Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 1911.

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