Dear Mr. Trudeau,
May I call you Justin? I guess I just did. I feel like it’s ok though, because you’ve gone out of your way to make yourself believable to Canadians. Just another guy, with the same hopes, dreams, and fears as the rest of us have. Even if you’re not. But I digress.
Here’s the thing I want to say to you, as plainly as I possibly can. We need a revolution. Not one with guns and bombs and burning tires in the street; but one that will usher in a completely new set of rules. One that will turn our country away from despair and disaster, and toward Liberté, égalité, et fraternité !
I know. That clarion call to the barricades has already been taken. But I so want it to be true for once, that I will risk the consequences to expropriate it, because risk, is what this is all about.
Risk has been around since the first day that humans stood upright and began their long trudge toward civilization. And, marching in lock-step, insurance, has been there almost every step of the way, as a way to mitigate or eliminate risk. The first written references to insurance reach back nearly two thousand years before the Christian era and, since that time, we’ve been less and less willing to take risks, with every passing century. In fact we’ve been so reluctant to take real chances, that we invented reinsurance to insure the insurers. Risk? No thanks. We’ve got a belt, suspenders and garment clamps that tack the hem of our shirt to our trousers, just to be sure that we’re never caught with our pants down.
But risk is what we need. Risk is what prompted explorers to sail oceans, visionaries to build trans-continental railroads, and dreamers to climb on board a gargantuan firework, that would lift them in a tiny tin capsule, to the moon. Risk has always been behind the significant forward steps of humanity. Risk created vaccines and medicines; automobiles and aircraft; new frontiers, and nations. But we aren’t into risk, anymore. The mantra now, is to avoid risk at all cost. And that cost, is crushing us.
In a world where laws decree that business entities must legally provide maximum profits to their shareholders, or face legal action and ruin, is it any wonder that those same companies have adopted a philosophy of ” can’t afford to fail” and sit virtually frozen upon their assets, fearing to invest in anything new unless there is an absolute guarantee of success, and profit?
In a similar vein, Universities, Colleges and post-secondary institutions are no longer centres of discovery and debate, because uncertainty, experimentation and innovation are costly. Better to stick to the known parameters that have defined us for decades, and tailor course offerings to what the students seem to want, in order to maximize the number of applicants and available tuition dollars headed to individual institutions, rather than risk them going elsewhere.
( As a personal aside, Justin, I am a former journalist. One who both took journalism at college, and taught courses in the subject, later in life. From personal experience I can say unequivocally, that post secondary institutions have been stealing money from each new crop of journalism students, by expanding the number of spaces available to train for an industry that doesn’t need most of those bodies, and indeed, is rapidly contracting. There is little, or no hope that any of those graduating with a newly minted journalism degree will ever even work in their chosen field, let alone make a career out of it. And that, is just one simple example. But who cares? Give ’em what they want! )
Risk aversion, and focus on maximized profit is also behind the now endless stream of international trade deals that are decimating our economy, and destroying the traditional middle class, by removing good-paying jobs in manufacturing and technology, and moving them to nations where labour is cheap, benefits are few, and unions virtually non-existent. While NAFTA, GATT, TEP or TPP make it cheaper and easier for businesses to do business, and maximize profits, they disrupt or destroy traditional national economies, dilute, damage or destroy what were once standard labour practices, and bulldoze the economic potential and opportunities of common wage earners.
None of this makes sense, Justin. If you take away the earning potential 0f the vast majority of your citizens, and refuse to raise corporate taxes to compensate for the declining revenue from income and consumer taxes, ( After all, you get no HST on a purchase that is never made ) where will your society end up? Where will the money come from for infrastructure, health care, pensions, or even the basic every day consumption of goods, that keeps the whole thing afloat in the first place? How will you combat racism and xenophobia on a global basis, if every nation sees the other as an unscrupulous rival “stealing” its traditional livelihood and way of life?
If you need any proof that this has begun to happen on a very large, and serious scale, look no further than the recent Brexit vote. Older, more traditional citizens, fearful that their pensions, health system and traditional life was being swept away by a flood of cheap immigrant labour that either stole their jobs, or drained the benefits well dry, led to the most narrow-minded, knee-jerk political decision in British history. And if you think this negates my previous contention about the global cost of free trade, you’re not seeing the root of the argument: when you systematically deprive your citizens of hope, opportunity, and advancement through policies that benefit the few, and harm the many, desperation and anger arise very quickly. What results from that desperation and anger, is not always the most logical, or constructive response.
And if you further believe that these global trade policies improve the lot of millions of poverty stricken, third world residents, let me ask you to consider for a moment the sweatshop fire that killed more than 100 workers in Dhaka, or the factory collapse that killed more than a thousand in Rana Plaza; many of them children. Or, stop and think about this one; there are suicide nets in place around the apartment buildings that house the Chinese workers in the largest manufacturing complex, producing electronic goods for Apple. If that’s an improvement in the quality of life for these skilled workers, how awful must things have been before Steve Jobs came to town?
Make no mistake about it Justin, anger among the electorate who lately find themselves economically disenfranchised is growing globally, and rapidly. Especially among the young, who face a mountain of debt before they even begin to search for the non-existent jobs for which their useless degrees have qualified them. Despite the jokes, there’s nothing funny about living in Mom and Dad’s basement, at the age of 30. Let’s just hope the level of anger we’ve seen in Britain, doesn’t become a North American import before the second Tuesday in November, or …
Well, I guess we’ll cross the “Trump-Plaza Bridge Over The Wall”, into a new and frightening future when, and if, we have to.
But before that Justin, I’m asking you to take a risk, and it’s a big one. I’m asking you to reject the Trans-Pacific partnership promptly, and with extreme prejudice. Please don’t bind more ballast onto the backs of Canadians who are struggling to tread water as it is. Give us a chance to derail, or at least delay “le droit du seigneur”, before it becomes a runaway train of plutocratic exploitation. ( Or, in simpler terms … don’t let the elite one percent continue to screw us, until our repeated violation simply becomes accepted common practice. )
Show us that behind the charm of your Cheshire smile, there is a backbone of iron ready, willing, and able to help change the course of our destiny for the better.
After all, that’s what risk-takers do.