mardi 16 juin 2009

Our Control Freak State

Forget the “Nanny State” to run our Canadian lives, we’ve got a “Control Freak State”. The current political and legal culture in our country is centered on a lack of trust that runs straight across the board and deep into our minds. This lack of trust comes mainly in two forms. Firstly, laws and government programs are created to limit personal freedoms and responsibilities due to a fear that we cannot manage them. This continues to the point where every move made within elected bodies and the organizations they run become so short-sighted that few even come to term or they are so watered-down that they become useless. The respect between citizen and elected assembly has all but disappeared and neither believes the other has any good intentions. As this continues, Canada’s reputation as a progressive and innovative society will disappear. The “Control Freak State” needs to let go and let citizens and useful government programs lead us forward.

Over the past 50 or so years, North American legal institutions have conscientiously eroded both personal freedoms and responsibilities. On the one hand, laws are created which take away our right to do anything which might inconvenience our neighbour, such when the City of Ottawa limits the amount of bars downtown because they make too much noise. At the same time, the courts have interpreted individual stupidity as thought it were societal commonplace by awarding money to people who get burned by coffee because it’s hot and they claim they didn’t know. Though this has increased the workload for lawyers and judges and given police the chance to hand out more fines, serious issues are rarely addressed. Rather than focusing on firearms or violent crime, which are of utmost importance, regulations are pilled up limiting how we can carry alcohol.

Not only do governments no longer trust the citizens to take any actions, they no longer trust themselves. A few occasions of relatively minor corruption have led to so many controls and watchdogs that no one has the confidence to make a decision which could seem suspicious. Those in opposition parties scrutinize every decision that is made to avoid any possible hint of misspent public funds, which is technically part of their job. However, this does not mean that they should distrust every single action that the government makes and assume the intentions are bad. Every government has good intentions, either to serve itself or its people, but a little more trust and leeway in a strong democracy could make programs more effective. For example, a program for human resources development may be so watered-down - for fear that it will be shut down -that it will be useless. Another program will be scrapped because it was started by the previous party before it was able to start being effective thus wasting millions of dollars spent on its creation without any results. By trusting the reasoning behind the creation of certain programs, those who come into power in the “Control Freak State” can work more effectively and keep the best projects rather than starting anew each time the government changes.

For Canada to continue advancing, the government needs to trust its citizens’ abilities to manage more freedoms and responsibilities. These citizens must also trust the government to work for them. This will increase productivity, reduce scepticism and advance social projects as we feed off each other’s ideas and projects to return to the glory of the recent past.

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