- 100% inheritance tax, increased sales taxes
- I’d eliminate all tax credits and deductions
- guaranteed minimum income- eliminating all other credits and transfers (the very few people who don’t want to work and want to have others pay their way are already doing that- by replacing the absurd and convoluted safety net now that claws back anything earned by anyone who finds themselves at the bottom, people would be free to benefit from more choices and everyone would benefit from people working towards their dreams and helping their families. So, very few people would continue to just take from others, a larger group of people would volunteer and do good things and be satisfied with the minimum income, while others would take a tiny wage to enthusiastically contribute to something they’re passionate about, and many would continue to try to make as much money as possible in a more coherent marketplace)
- This simplified tax system will cut out much of the petty rent-seeking many talented Canadians are tied up with at the moment
- strong focus on freedom of speech and opportunity
- I would also like to see a rating system for all public services- i think it works great for restaurants etc. (People recognize when someone is complaining for no good reason, but a complaint made in good faith needs a timely and specific response)
- Environmental stewardship- carbon tax and protections of crown land, watercourses, and wild places- this is a democracy with future generations tempered by the wisdom we have received from previous generations of what Chesterton called the ‘democracy of the dead’
- Rekindle public affection for what Edmund Burke called our ‘little platoons’ of family and community
It seems that comment threads at the bottom of articles are vanishing, and many bid good riddance for many good reasons. Still, this feeling of a free, wonderful, weird, expansive, disgusting, Wild West of ideas was really more like pure democracy because of the ‘vote’ or ‘like’ feature.
I read many vile comments- I must say, though, the top rated comments on mainstream news articles and editorials were always incisive responses to the ideas and deepened and broadened the conversation. I’m sure anyone who reads opinion pieces has read pieces that have an unbearable need for comment, and it’s unbearably stifling without that outlet.
Alas, for various reasons, some economical some ideological, news sites are either carefully curating and controlling the engagement with ideas or going back to a one way megaphone.
It’s far from perfect, but you remember what Churchill said about democracy, and I reckon, unless something drastically changes, people will look back on that early period when mainstream news began to mix with internet commentary as a brief and unique emergence of pure democracy- never before or since will there be an occasion and a place for so many voices to have an opportunity to engage in sober and passionate dialogue. That kind of dialogue, because of the vote or like feature, really did come to fruition most of the time on mainstream news sites, to my surprise and edification.
4 February 2018: There has always been excessive political correctness or the pressure of conformity , and there have always been identity politics or tribalism of some sort or another, but I hope Obama is right that the arc of history bends toward justice. I fervently hope that we are able to hear more voices, including marginalized voices, because I just as fervently believe that when something good is well said everyone listens.
Still, with elections looming in Canada I’m compelled to ask what is a big difference between the early life of Jean Chrétien and the early lives of the current Canadian political leaders both federally and in our largest province? What all of our current leaders share, and what Chrétien lacked, is money in early life. I gather Andrew Sheer has the most modest upbringing of our major political leaders, but even his was luxurious compared with Chrétien’s (or Abraham Lincoln’s whose family lost their land repeatedly on the frontier, or Andrew Jackson’s who was a poor orphan and later became the seventh president of the US). I gather Jagmeet Singh went to a private school with over $20k tuition; Kathleen Wynne’s father was a doctor; Doug Ford grew up in a wealthy family; Caroline Mulroney and Justin Trudeau, well…
I believe in the universal appeal of virtue and goodness, and that those ideals, not to mention competence, are much more important than these other parts of their identities, like their socioeconomic backgrounds. I also think that everyone is capable of inspiring those qualities of virtue and goodness—so that’s why we need to hear from Every One! The fact all our leaders share a similar socioeconomic background and do not represent all the socioeconomic backgrounds of our population does not necessarily mean that they aren’t the best candidates. I’m still concerned about our political institutions and I think, with elections looming, it’s worth asking the question plainly: is it possible for a poor child to grow up to become a political leader in Canada today?
Singh, Wynne, and Mulroney would not have had a political voice in Lincoln’s time because of their identities, and Sheer and Trudeau for that matter, because of their Catholicism, wouldn’t be able to lead the US during Lincoln’s time. So, if we gain more voices capable of inspiration, which were lost to the bigotry of previous generations, then we are better for it. What would we lose, though, if a child like Lincoln, born into poverty on the fringe, could not have a political voice in Canada today?
The solution is better education and more citizen engagement. I know that’s hard, but it’s the only way to be confident in our democracy instead of continuing to worry about sliding into oligarchy.
18 February 2018: I feel impelled to start rambling again. I wrote about my worry that Canada is drifting into oligarchy because all our political leaders seem to have grown up within wealth and political influence, and how I thought lack of political engagement was to blame. Still, even though I mentioned that Chretien grew up poor, Canada has never had an Andrew Jackson or Abraham Lincoln–someone poor and on the margins who grows to eventually shake things up.
Andrew Jackson is emblematic of the original American possibilities, constructive and destructive. He was brave and ruthless, and he took on a powerfully corrupt financial system. He took that system on, though, in defense of an agriculture system inextricably linked to slavery.
So, I see both those noble and ignoble incilinations and dispositions in Trump supporters, and it leads me to ask: is our only other option a liberal smart set that entrenches their own ‘middle class’ interests while congratulating themselves for asking more of other richer people with a nod to gender equality and civil rights?
There are far too many politicians who ask less of voters and still promise more, and there are far too many people who vote for them
5 March 2018: we’re somehow making government that is authoritarian without the order and anarchistic without the freedom
I suppose it doesn’t really matter if we have free speech or not because heroic people will speak up about important stuff anyway- and sometimes the shock of that rebellion is helpful
Dear Editor, please consider the following letter responding to Matthew Sears’ piece:
The dictators of the world don’t seem to agree with Matthew Sears that freedom of speech benefits the already powerful. I maintain the hope that when something good is well said everyone listens, even when it comes from a humble source on the margins. I share Matthew Sears’ resolve to listen to everyone; I just don’t see how we can listen, though, and be open to paradigm shifts, without everyone also being free to speak. I’ll add that in this polarized world let’s resolve to use that speech with honesty and generosity.
Stewart Britton, Belleville, Ontario
That’s what temperance does when it works like it should: it’s a kind of balance that strengthens, rather than waters down, both ingredients
I’d like to hear this response from someone on one of those panels of commentators on TV: ‘You make a good point, and it’s true. I think it sits awkwardly beside my point, which I also think is true, but I don’t think either one obliterates the other. So, let’s think on this seemingly imperfect balance, and keep talking about it.’
I read that the The European court has ruled against the Russian ‘gay propaganda’ law- saying, “given the vagueness of the terminology used and the potentially unlimited scope of their application, these provisions are open to abuse in individual cases.” https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/06/european-court-blasts-russias-gay-propaganda-law-as-discriminatory/530925/
I think that’s a good standard for laws and I’m inclined to totally agree with the ruling because the law is only capable of policing certain things. If the law isn’t incisive enough it becomes absurd and oppressive. The court would do well, though, to look at all European and Canadian laws through that same lens (Americans legally have the most expansive freedom of expression).
I can think of a few canadian laws and I gather Europeans have similarly stifling laws that certainly fit that discription of vagueness and potential abusiveness. The Russian law probably targets some speech and expression that is really harmful and misguided but it probably does a whole lot of bullying too. There isn’t a ‘group’ of people on earth that isn’t party to reprehensible speech or insightful speech. That’s the thing: although I would certainly like the government to ban a bunch of things I don’t like, I know it would be bad in the end because the government does a poor job of policing speech or personal ‘propoganda,’ usually just bullying political opponents in the end. The totality of life is too dynamic to police with legislation. The upshot is that the law can’t change hearts. The government can’t coerce people to be virtuous or tolerant- people need to discover and nurture virtue and tolerance on their own, and communities can help. So while Russia has a long way to go to be a free and tolerant country, we shouldn’t be smug and complacent in Canada: Canadians have our own vague laws and need to find virtue on our own.