There is a mendacity (untruthfulness) in politics today that demands a return for politicians like one of Canada’s heroes. Tommy Douglas understood the United Nations Gross National Happiness Index (GNH). He understood the wealth of a nation, of a society, can’t be measured purely by economic factors. Tommy Douglas understood the need for a social democracy. Tommy Douglas understood that healthy people are essential to have a truly great nation. Tommy Douglas was the ‘Father of Medicare’ and Canada’s conscience to remember people mattered.
In our quick fix mind-set of today where news through twitter, social media and sound bites of the hot issues of the day it is difficult to have the kind of discussion about where our country, province and city needs to be, needs to go. The kind of society we need to have. Politicians and business leaders do not want to enter into dialogue about the unfairness and inequalities of current economic policies.
In today’s Great Recession the rich seem much more complacent. They can afford to be. We’re not experiencing a recession for the rich, only a recession for the rest.
Canadian and American politicians and business leaders want us to believe everyone has an equal opportunity to be successful or as our neighbours to the south say ‘Live the American Dream’. Over the last 25 years the mobility between lower, middle and the wealthiest Americans and Canadians is minimal. The poorest citizens have gotten poorer, the middle class or working class have been hit hard during times of economic crisis while at the same time the top 1% of the wealthy have gotten richer. During the economic crisis and recession of the early to late 2000s it was the working class that lost their pension investments, houses and spiraled into debt searching for that elusive dream. Seniors are working longer as private pensions went belly up. Fewer workers have private pensions are often non-existent, making the likelihood of working longer for most people essential. Bankers and businesses were bailed out or often bought out as the wealthiest financially benefitted from the recession.
Canada did not suffer to the same degree as our southern neighbours mostly because of our regulations that provided a protection for our housing market. There is an untruthfulness to the rhetoric being told ‘we must remove red tape’, we must develop policies that make it easier for business to be successful. Why Social Democracies (based on United Nations Happiness Index) work is it creates a society with a balance of power. A power to create strong and healthy economy as well as create a healthy and educated society. A society that provides regulations to protect us from business leaders and politicians wanting us to be concerned about the day-to-day issues rather than the true economics of what is happening.
Think you live in a country dedicated to fairness and equity? Think again. Recent data on wealth and poverty in Canada is stark and deeply disturbing
We need to look no farther than what is happening politically in our city to recognize the untruthfulness to the rhetoric. A removal of the safeguards (red-tape) essential to doing business with our city has led to city contracts that appear to be more concerned with friendships rather than what is good for the people of Winnipeg. A series of mismanaged and over-budget projects that has resulted in a mistrust of politicians and a need to raise taxes. There is an untruthfulness to the idea that having the Private Sector take over Government essential services will provide savings. How can a for-profit business provide as low-cost service as a non-profit?
A social democracy recognizes what those essential services are? These social services be it health, education, water, road repair, city planning and structural organization must be available and affordable to everyone and don’t fall victim to supply and demand.
So ‘Where in the World is Tommy Douglas’ or the people like him who stand up for a civil society and are the conscious of the government. Where are the newspapers and media providing the truth to the propaganda our politicians who are telling us about what we must do to make things better for big business, will also be better for everyone? The research and certainly the reports from the OECD do not support what we are being told. The evidence of homelessness, seniors working and inequalities can be seen if we dare to look.
Social Democracies may have higher taxes but they also have less crime, less mental health issues, education for everyone (including University), public health care, high life expectancies, and according to the United Nations are happy.
More important, in any capitalist society most people are bound to be part of the middle and working classes; public policy should focus on raising their standard of living, instead of raising their chances of getting rich
Our current answers to our societal problems can be defined as quick fix at best but are reinforced by the untruthfulness of politics. A strong society, a strong city needs to develop policies that support healthy educated people. A strong society needs to have strong and vibrant communities. A strong society needs a return to the voice of one of Canada’s heroes. We need a voice for the people. We need a Tommy Douglas who brought a morality and honesty to our politics. We need someone to be a conscience to our government and bring truth to the mendacity of politics.