Tuesday, October 19, 2004

More Boring US Politics. Read If You Dare!

First, props to the lark' for shamelessly using her webfame to sucker people into reading my senseless trash. Nothing says friendship like....

Regarding the philosophy of politics in the U S of A: (I promise I'll abstain from talking about this stuff for a week after this post)

I find it hilarious that in the states', the word "liberal" is a swear word, and people have actually succeeded in creating a mass paranoia tied to the creation of labels that identify someone as such.

It's the exact opposite in Canada. When our imperfect Liberal Party wanted to get re-elected, they drummed up the image of the right-wing nut-job Conservative party, and managed to scare half the undecided voters of Canada into voting for them instead of letting the Conservatives in to office. Incidentally, I thought it was a pretty cheap way to go, and it should have cost them the election, but it didn't.

I just thought it would be interesting to point out.

I think it also speaks to the fundamental differences between Canada and the United States, and to the reason that most Canadians are hoping and praying that you folks will turf Bush. We're a 'liberal' leaning centrist country. Uh-oh. I guess that means that since we are closer to embodying the values of that evil John Kerry than that of St. Bush, we would clearly have massive deficits, be victims of multiple terror attacks resulting from weak leadership, have an inefficient and pathetic health care system, a poorly educated society, and have a ridiculously high crime rate.

Oops. We don't. One of the best health care systems in the world (public at that), one of the best education systems in the world, respect from most of the world as peacekeepers, BUDGET SURPLUSSES, a much lower crime rate than the USA, etc..... (believe it or not, I'm not trying to toot my country's horn, I'm just trying to point out that liberal stereo-types are pretty flawed at the core, and yes, I know, the US is bigger than us and the leader of the free world, but that doesn't mean that they can't still learn a thing or two from others)

All of these successes were delivered under the umbrella of a predominantly LIBERAL ideology and government. Hell, the name of the party is the same as their location on the political fence. It's a miracle that we haven't become a haven for terrorists or something. What's my point? To paraphrase Kerry, labels only work if you're trying to scare the electorate into voting for you. Bush has, in his term, achieved the same budgetary results that he is certain only liberals can do. That's just one example. Yes, yes, I know that 911 played a big part in it, but that's my central point. The Bush administration uses 911 as a scape-goat on one end, and then turns around and parades it as a symbol of their war-time prowess (which isn't really that great), and the existing Republicans and uninformed/undecided/fear mongered voters lap it up and declare him re-electable. Amazing how they try to have it both ways. The Bush boosters of the world have consistently ignored his very real errors and gaffes and tragic mistakes, and instead have focused on.... oh my.... Kerry's voting record. Has it ever occurred to them that if the man's voting record has changed over the years, that it doesn't automatically make it a bad thing?

Bush pre-empts half his speeches with "The world changed after 9-11" Fair enough, but if the world changes, shouldn't the way people react to that world, and vote in that world also change? In general, I don't run my life the same way as I did ten years ago. I still have some core principles that guide me, but I don't mindlessly apply the same techniques to different problems. I change and adapt as needed. A good chunk of GW's current administration served under his father, and applies a disturbing number of similar principles to the current administration. The doctrine of pre-emption is not new here, folks, it has been used by the US for decades (a good portion of South America, for example). All that the current crew has done is taken preemption, and applied it to a very different environment. No wonder it's not working.
The bottom line is this: If I had done my job in the last four years the way that Bush had done his job, I would have been fired, and the dude down the hall who had made a few errors for the last twenty years, BUT LEARNED FROM THEM, would have been quickly shuffled into my place.

Whew. I'm done for now. Looking forward to some more worthy philosophical discourse, part of which will be facillitated by the lark.


fineskylark said...

props, eh? you frigging mislinked me!

but considering I haven't actually got you a proper link yet, I guess I can forgive it.

fineskylark said...

oh look, another comment...maybe I should have read your post as opposed to simply mocking your inability to link properly.

Simply, I take exception to your description of both our health care and education systems...to describe either as excellent, or among the best in the world is a pretty ignorant, self-congratulatory thing to do, especially since you give no particular criteria for making these gross generalizations. You've also conveniently neglected to mention that both of these departments are provincially run, and that to universalize them as federal isn't accurate.

Our health care system is a great idea in principle. (I'm speaking about Ontario, because that's what I know.) I believe quite firmly in free health care. Unfortunately, in Ontario, we suffer from chronic mismanagement of funds, which has led to hospital closures and lay offs across the province. In BC, hospital workers have been striking. If this is one of the best healthcare systems in the world...that's pretty scary.

Ditto education. Again, I'm going to speak from an Ontariocentric perspective, and I'll try not to generalize to the rest of Canada. The spectre of the new curriculum introduced by the Tories is one that I believe has damaged education in Ontario. In some ways, it has helped, I won't deny that--but by removing the concept of failure from the system, are we not doing kids a disservice? If you can get to grade seven without HAVING LEARNED TO READ...doesn't that say something about the problems that we have?

Also, our postsecondary system continues to face problems of corporatization, and inadequate funding across the board. Our own alma mater is a fantastic example of this, strait.

the lark...sniding it up with strait to hell since 2000

PS - I think Stephen Harper did a pretty good job of scaring off voters on his own, right wing nut job-style...I suspect that the abortion gaffe was only the tip of the iceberg.

Straittohell said...

Much thanks for blacking up the kettle as always, pot. All apologies for the wrongish posting of your URL, it shall be fixed. Eventually.

Regarding what you took exception to about my article: (which was almost everything)

Muchos thanks for reminding me that education and healthcare is administered by the provinces. I didn't want to go into that kind of detail in my post, but if you insist, I'll go into it now:

I said that the Canadian health and education was delivered under a liberal "ideology", and not a liberal "party". In other words, I'm asserting that on the whole, provincially, municipally, and federally, we're far more liberal than our neighbours. I also stated "We're a 'liberal' leaning centrist country." That is why I generalized the delivery of our education and healthcare as a "small 'l' " liberal system. Considering that the system is predominantly a public one, versus the private structure of the states, I think that further validates my point.

As to the quality of our education and healthcare, this post was talking about how we have managed to do fairly well for selves despite our liberal leanings, which, according to the right-wing-nuts of the USA, is a recipe for disaster. My pumping up of the Canadian system was not meant to be detailed, as it was merely being used as a rebuttal to right-wing crazies who would claim that "small l" liberal governments run high deficits with no results.

Regarding my assertion of Canadian excellence in healthcare and education, and claiming it to be among the best, you rightly pointed that I failed to list criteria. I should not have assumed that you were aware of Canada's overall rankings in quality of life, healthcare, and education by various UN agencies and international tests over the past decade. We have consistently scored either #1 or in the top ten, out of over 160 countries. If that doesn't count as "one of the best" (and I never said we were 'THE' best)then I have to wonder what does.

It is now my term to take exception to what you referred to as my "ignorance" when it comes to the delivery of education in particular. I have a B.Ed, have taught in both Canada and the UK, and have talked with students who attended school in B.C., Alberta, Quebec, and Newfoundland. Despite the regionalism of our country, our systems, standards and quality is realitively similar across the land. In terms of the Ontario system, all of the problems that you pointed out are accurate. That doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't make it among the best in the world. It just means that it has problems. The Tories did mess it up bad, absolutely. Will the Liberals fix it? The jury is still out, but a recent report from at least the funding end suggests they are on the right track. In terms of the post-secondary system, you again scored points, but look to the States, who I was using as a base for comparison. They're hardly funded AT ALL, with tuition averaging almost $15,000 a year per student at best. We may have problems, but again, there are those far worse. In Germany, its free, but Germany's social safety net is crumbling and facing massive cuts because of the nature of its instability. But I could go on.

I agree that our health care system has numerous flaws, and that it is scary that one of the perceived best systems in the world has so much mismanagement, but it is reality. By and large, despite our flaws, we're still among the best, and you are correct, that certainly doesn't speak well for the countries that are below us.

straittohell, uber-sniding and cheap-shotting the lark whenever possible since 2000... here's to many more exchanges....

fineskylark said...

I'll drink (a bottle of water) to that!

Anonymous said...

Technically the pre-emptive doctrine you speak of in South American was under Reagan. GW is much more like Reagan than he is like his father. If he had listened to the wisdom of his father concerning Ira

Anonymous said...

Our politics maybe be boring, but at least they're infantileor is that juvenile? Gee, I guess I'll have to work on my defence a litle bit.

I am not proud to say I have given up on the Demopublican Axis. GWB is clever without wisdom, intransigent without reflection, rich without effort and worse. John Kerry is the best the Dems can find, he passes for an intellectual by virtue of good diction and comparison with GWB.

John Kerry is the lessor of two evils, the choice of the vested interests in the Democratic party. Dr Dean spoke for the rank and file. The GWB Administration is a plain failure, and four more years of the same in spades seems obviously destructive of American interests. I am willing to give the other guy a shot.

In fact I suspect the polls are wrong and this will not be a close election. Polls are not objective and my theory is that there are Republicans out there that won't bad mouth their Party Leader openly, yet will find themselves unable to pull the lever for such a miserable failure as GWB. Kerry wins by a good solid margin that can't be stolen. Probable pickup of the Senate. Possible pickup of the House. The House elections are very undemocratic, almost rigged, so dramatic change like '94 or '74 is very hard to do.

I wish the Kerry vs. Bush contest would turn out like the Chretien vs. Campbell contest. But it's just a wish. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Not to be overly critical of our northern neighbors but the reason Canada can afford many of the niceties which you speak of is the free ride on the US security umbrella for the last 50 plus years.

As stated in the article on Belgravia Dispatch, which you commented on, Germany was able to adopt unsustainable socialist policies on the back of a permanent 'peace dividend' (to use the catch phrase of the 1990's in the States). Such 'bread and circus' tactics don't work without someone else carrying the water. It didn't work for the Romans, either. Canada has had similar benefits but fortunately used them more wisely.

The same free ride scenario can be found in health care where the cost of developing prescription drugs has been predominately carried by the people of the United States. As the recent decision by CIPA shows, at least some Canadians realize that if drug company profits in the US go down, Canadian prices are going to rise.

The bad news is that at some point market pressures are still eventually going to result in arbitraging that price gradient across the US-Canadian border and it might not be pretty.

Anonymous said...

So, can you point me toward a site where I can learn more about how daily life in Canada's differs from or is similar too the USA?


Straittohell said...

Anonymous, I really don't understand your question. Why would you want to know something like this, and what kind of site would show that? Maybe its the long week I've had, but I'm confused.