Saturday, April 21, 2007
The purpose of democracy and freedom of choice Food for thought
What is the essence of sovereign government?
Ultimately, is government something done for us, or done to us? The whole discussion turns on this. In the final analysis, is government to serve or impose?
Social and economic programs, for example, ostensibly represent governments acting “for” us -- whether as an innovative private company or as an indulgent uncle it is never clear.
On the other hand, policing – taxation – licensing of cars, dogs, restaurants and guns – and everything down to standard weights and measures, are typically done to us, or to someone else. They regiment what we all must do and must not do.
Any of these impositions may be absolutely necessary for public order, or may be utterly stupid; but either way, it’s what sets governments apart – their power to impose.
The purpose of democracy
Efficiency is the concern of supermarkets and car dealers. Maximum sale for minimum investment. They have competitors. They must be imaginative and efficient, or perish.
But governments don't. No organization that can compel the entire population to pay for its own overstaffing, irresponsible mistakes and occasional blatant injustices will be creative and efficient, except at imposing its will, because that is its business.
It is a fundamental error to see governments merely as administrative services, like the sales and accounting staff at Walmart. Walmart can't force ypou to surrender 40% of your income for products you can't get and probably don't want.
For this reason, it's best to give the most powerful government as little responsibility as possible, and favour less powerful, more controllable orders of government with more. For the lower and closer sovereignty lies to you and me, the easier we find it to control. But this been said often enough.
Given Ottawa’s usurpation of social sovereignty over the past 50 years – from the unemployment insurance revenue grab in 1940, to the ponzi-scheme Canada Pension Plan in the 1960s, to the straitjacket Canada Health Act in the 1980s – it is surely time to bring the democratic reins back closer to hand and back to the provinces (or the grass roots citizens and taxpayers) where it originated.