I have to confess that I have an inherent mistrust of all of the “free trade agreements” started by Bill Clinton and given new life by Barack Obama, further compounded by Stephen Harper, Conservative Prime Minister of
Canada. The shroud of mystery surrounding each of
them and the secrecy that seems to play an integral part in the process is, I
believe, cause for concern by all of those who are likely to be affected by
them. Its alliance by the parties
thereto seems to exceed the bounds of what we have come to accept as simply
Chiefs of State as colleagues, but, rather, what smells more like an alliance
of those serving big money interests in each respective country of
participating members. Rather, someone
is coming up with the short-end of the stick in all this and, I rather suspect,
are the citizens and working people of each participating country. The constant echo of “trust me” is pause for
keeping our backs to the wall and a response of “show me” before any agreement
becomes codified and binding.
I am particularly uncomfortable with the close association of President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. How is it that Harper seems to manifest an inordinate amount of power and influence in these matters, particularly the Keystone XL pipeline and of more concern is the role Harper seems to be playing in determining how that project evolves, even to determining the value to be placed on the land to be expropriated to make way for the worst polluting petroleum in the history of the continent. It just doesn’t pass the smell test.
I, also, have haunting reservations about what kind of a Chief of State this Harper really is. Why, for instance, did he remain silent when Michelin recently gave 900 of their Maritime workers their walking papers without so much as a peep from Mr. Harper? If he did what he should have done, in my humble opinion, would have been for him to hustle his buns to Nova Scotia to convene a personal meeting with the powers that be at Michelin and asked them just what they were doing and justify the rationale for their actions. 900 unemployed in one fell swoop is not a minor issue, by any stretch of the imagination. The massive influence of the oligarchs in the
is well known. However, it would seem to
me that Mr. Harper is well qualified to assume his rightful place among that
less than august group of the super rich and powerful. What role have Canada’s oligarchs played in all
this, and at what cost to the environment? I think it bears careful scrutiny by
legitimate watchdogs before any precipitous action is taken to make it a
reality that cannot be stopped or reversed.
I am mystified by the extent to which we, like so many civilizations that have preceded us on this planet, have so readily acquiesced to power, influence and great wealth without even so much as a whimper by all of those who are likely to be adversely affected by the actions of those who perceive themselves as members of some elusive and undefined superior stratum of society and, indeed, the world. Where did even the most basic principles and foundations of control by and the consent of the governed go? We have given up all that underwrites equality for the people to those who simply take control and claim the spoils for themselves and those of like makeup and ambition. That seems readily apparent as the complete antithesis of a democratic society “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
How can anyone abandon the inescapable fact that this entire planet belongs to all those occupying space on it? This piece of real estate is not for the exclusive use and ownership by other mortals who may have more money, power and influence just by their status in life and their ability to con the rest of us out of what is, and always will be, rightfully ours by Divine right. Insofar as intellectual property is concerned, I fail to see why that could not be addressed by society to ensure fair and just compensation to those who have given the world a better mousetrap.
However, one aspect of all this remains sacred, and that is the welfare and will of the people. Nothing should abrogate that inescapable fact of our common existence. That should always be the foundation of any action being considered for the welfare of society and those we have deemed to be our public servants – the acid test for it all being, does it serve the interests of the governed? No amount of money, breeding, power or force should ever trump that essential part of who we are and what we are as a people and a civilized society. No one element of that society should ever be a second-class citizen or claim veto power over the governed. Moreover, every political party should always serve the social contract in some fundamental way; never the vested interests of any one or more factions within that society.
The days of emperors, kings, queens, dictators and any notion of an inherent superiority over those to whom the world belongs are over. Let them earn what they claim as theirs, just like the rest of us. Let them be accountable to the people, just like the rest of us. Equality is universal and it is time we all got used to that fundamental fact of life. It may not be easy, but it is possible. If we, the people, want it to happen we can and will make it happen.
We can start by making every election based on what the electorate sees as the common will of the people, not when some selected group forks out a fortune to convince us that they have come up with a better mousetrap that just happens to give them and their ilk an edge over the rest of us; always couched in the rhetoric of some deity and admonition from a divine power that makes us tremble in our boot straps.
Is this world government? Not by any measure. We are all different by virtue of our birthright and a whole host of familial and societal influences. But, as rational and intelligent beings, we can discern what is the best deal for the majority of us, and go for the gold.
Every platform of every political party should be published and commonly understood by the electorate. Every election should be publicly financed and any form of private financing deemed against the law. We should encourage everyone to actively participate in elections, but no one should be allowed to buy the votes of anyone voting. A conflict-of-interest by any other name is still a conflict-of-interest. It doesn’t take a judge in black robes to figure that one out. End of story.
The end game must always be that nothing is adopted for or by the people without the expressed consent of the people by a vote of the people. The “expert” has yet to be born who can trump the common wisdom of the governed. To believe otherwise and, more dangerously, to defer to that belief is the death knell to democracy. We cannot, now or ever, succumb to any hint of the notion that anything better is possible or desirable.
It is time for us to take off the rose-colored glasses and stare reality squarely in the face. Our tastes and desires are the exclusive result of the efforts of business, commerce, the entertainment industries, network news organizations, and producers of every kind of electronic gadget imaginable. They determine what we see, hear, and want and all they feed us simply numbs the brain and reduces our ability to think critically and discern the difference between reality and fantasy. We have become automatons that exist for the sole purpose of increasing their wealth, enhancing their power and growing their influence. They are the most evil force the world has ever had to face. They will sacrifice limb, life and, yes, the very planet on which we live in order to simply acquire more, more and more at the expense of human life and the world in which we live.
There is not one elected official sitting in offices in government, or in industry, finance and raw power in all its forms that has one ounce of integrity and human compassion in his/her whole being. Make no mistake about it; we are all expendable in the pursuit of their insatiable lust for greed, power, money and all that goes with it. There is no redemption for any aspect of their being. Moreover, they have no ability to see what they are creating. They are blinded by their own lust.
If there was ever a time to revisit our finer angels and the best about our human nature, it is now. Time is not on our side. This world belongs to all of us and necessity dictates that we must reclaim it for the common good, not for the ambitions and greed of the few.
Real democracy and the welfare of the majority is our only hope. Together we can make it happen. Divided we will disintegrate before all the gods of wealth, power and privilege. Hopefully, come 2016, the nation will relegate Hillary Clinton to her proper place in history and welcome Elizabeth Warren as the nation’s first Madam President.
It is imperative that all of us vote, know what we are voting for and realize that it is the people of this country who work for a living and carry the weight of their responsibility as a citizen with pride in all that they are and all that we are. It is not those of privilege, wealth and power who will make the difference. It is you and all those like you.
When anyone says that he/she “works for a living,” it should be with pride and a badge of honor.
The Sagebrush Philosopher
March 21, 2014