(Cartoon by Tina Michaud)
The tectonic plates of the world continue to move and shift disrupting and ending the lives of many through the earthquakes that this process causes.
A parallel is the human and societal shifts taking place, as people are impacted by the detrimental policies being imposed by governments of all persuasions across the world.
Once people overcome the fear of their governments and their flawed policies, economic, environmental or political, they galvanize into action and take charge as best they can.
There are winds of change in the air; perhaps greater than any which can be imagined or predicted.
This contagion of people power has become rooted, albeit in different forms and in different ways. Where people have been attacked militarily or economically many are fighting back, while other take flight under the most arduous of circumstances.
We are seeing the greatest wave of human migration in the history of the world, and tragically, the highest toll on human lives.
Once people are faced with probable death, the means doesn’t really matter; their hope for life is not easily dispelled.
The most democratic countries are facing a decimated middle class, marginalized youth and impoverished seniors as a result of policies and programs being forced by politicians of all stripes.
As hardship grows, especially among the young, elderly and marginalized, a cloud of uncertainty, fear and hopelessness engulfs much of society.
We are witnessing this in Canada at the moment, as the failed economic policies of the conservative government teeters an economy, mostly resourced based.
A balanced budget has only been accomplished by political and economic maneuvering and a smoke and mirror approach to its presentation. History will most likely point out a lost decade for most in Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador, despite an enriched era of oil and gas revenues, which brought the province to the table of the “haves” appears on the brink of bankruptcy.
The current leader without a public mandate and hardly an overwhelming show of support from his party is following a pattern of many politicians. He has attacked the electoral system, targeted those most vulnerable and focused on constraint and cutbacks.
He has neutered the education system, already decimated by cutbacks and its flawed and centralized approaches.
He has promised to privatize much of the health care system, putting it in the hands of those who have a focus on greater profit and not care for those ill or infirmed.
Then to compound this hurt he has increased the HST, which will further push many out of the middle class, reduce the funds available to youth to get higher education and severely punish the majority of seniors, who live on small fixed incomes (in excess of 75% live on basic pensions).
To add insult to injury, a pollster suggests that Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are somewhat delusional (perhaps governments are) about the state of their economy. He suggests that government should look at cutting services to rural areas and fostering immigration.
Perhaps he missed the fact that this province has experienced the biggest wave of out-migration in its history these past twenty years or so years of oil development.
Talented and well educated Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have beaten a path to other parts of Canada and to other areas of the world to make a living and make a life over this period.
There needs to be a rethink of our economy, what is considered opportunity and how we create an environment that supports all of those who would like to work, no matter their age or status.
It appears that little thought went into economic development, economic planning and the key ingredients necessary to make a more productive and healthy economy during the oil “boom”.
If one were to study the ingredients of a sustainable economy, one would find that a well developed and supportive education system is mandatory, a productive and efficient health care system is necessary and total utilization of all the skills and talents of those in society, including the elderly is required.
It is time for a change. This refers not to a change in political parties, but a complete change in our system of governance and economics, where all people are considered important; the young, old, middle aged and the disadvantaged.
Everyone has a contribution to make in a society; not just the “chosen” few.
For this to happen people need to be heard and not frightened, supported not undermined, and most importantly, they need to feel that the government is working on their behalf, not to their detriment.
This takes me back to the contagion of power that is evident in the world. It has taken root and it is growing. The message is growing louder in democratic countries “we elect you to represent us, not to control us and we will not tolerate irreverence”.
It is up to politicians whether they choose to listen or decide that they know best.
Written by Bill Pardy
May 18, 2015