Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Beginning of Something: First we had the little page that would. Now we have the journalist who could

Last time I checked Kai's Nagata's blog, Why I Quit My Job, there were well over 100,000 views and 1000 responses to his coming out essay. Most of these were supportive, arguing in effect that Kai is an inspiration offering those of us living outside the walls of Harperland considerable hope for change. But there were detractors on this blog and elsewhere, most of whom, as always in the blogsphere, said silly things, trying hard to be witty of course, and several who, quite frankly, just didn't know what they were talking about - another common characteristic of the blogsphere.

These terms came up frequently in the detractors' discourse: "fiscally prudent," "efficiencies," "fiscally conservative," this last concept used accurately by Kai himself in conjunction with the concept of taxing capacity. As always, in Harperite language - the language of Harperland - these terms are euphemisms for 1) the cutting of jobs and/or further exploitation of employees with fewer if any benefits and less wages in the corporate sector in the interests of profits and 2) budget cuts to our federal insititutions and government departments - which, more often than not, also involves job cuts.

The detractors also use the terms "leftist" and"rightist," but I'm pretty sure they've never read either Hegel or Marx, though I might be willing to get up from my chair on this last point if evidence were to be discovered otherwise. These terms are seldom used with precision or historical context in a Canadian context, for they appear to be in the beholder's eye in politicians, most political commentary by journalists, many of whom should know better, and amateur political pundits who frequent the byways and dark alleys of blogland and the twitterverse. Can we, for example, really call the NDP a leftist party when they have embraced capitalist ways with such fervour in order to maintain whatever power they might have? Of course not, but many continue to do so. Supporting the odd social policy here and there does not constitute the definition of a leftist party.

It seems to me Kai's point about government spending is quite simple: if, as a government, you have accumulated a considerable amount of money that you've received by taxing your citizens, you then have a moral responsibility to use that money wisely in the interest of all Canadians, who gave you, let's not forget, the money in the first place - either through established institutions respected by Canadians in general or social or economic initiated projects that Canadians can embrace with a consensus - not just the ones you like.

This is one of the fundamental problems so many Canadians see as a issue with the Harperites. They take money away from projects they don't like and only spend money on projects they like - Kai cites airplanes and jails - not on projects, except incidentally, that might benefit all Canadians. It takes a fair bit of absurd logical twisting to argue that we need more jails and tougher sentencing given the statistics on crime and soon to be obsolete planes (unless we're planning a few more wars that I haven't heard about), but we do know why the argument is made. It serves the Harperites' base. In fact, we've known for quite some time - since the pattern is so obvious - all policy decisions made by the Harper regime are grounded in politics first and only, on occasion - perhaps by happenstance - for Canadians in general. We seldom if at all see goodwill towards all Canadians from the Harperites. When they speak of "what Canadians asked us to do," for example, that's Harperite speak for "what our base asked us to do." This is not an insignificant distinction - one that has alienated the majority of Canadians who actually care about the direction in which their country now seems to be heading under such an authoritarian regime.

Kai is not remotely alone in his perspective on this issue or on the soul-sucking power and profit motives driving Big Media news organization (I can think of only two journalists in Canada who speak truth to power, though several come to mind who think they do so because they've been critical here and there of the Harperites) and the ineffectual actions of political parties, who by nature consistently seek self-preservation as an entity first and abuse their grass roots membership all too often.

What Kai says in this essay merely expresses - but with eloquent detail, meaningful passion, and sophisticated rhetoric - what countless Canadians have been thinking all along. This is why Kai joins the little page in the slow but eventual march towards the walls of Harperland.

First we'll take Manhattan.

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