Down The Rabbit Hole

I sometimes wonder if I am awake or living in some extended hallucination – or perhaps I slipped through the looking glass or fell down a rabbit hole that I was not looking out for. Or better yet, consumed one of those special sugar cubes (that I have never touched…).

There was, for example, some mention in the recent Canadian press that crime statistics continue to decline and we have the lowest rates since sometime in the 1970s. And yet our leaders, elected by a system that does not require the approval of a majority of the voters but just more than the other guys I might add, is embarking on an expensive program to enlarge the prison system. Similarly there was an article about the crisis in Ontario healthcare (another one) enumerating the number of services that are being undermined by the unavailability of hospital beds. And last time I looked we are still an aging population so in all likelihood the demand for medical services will increase over time rather than decrease. And yet the local long term care facility (called ‘Provident’ for some reason) is renovating their wards to reduce the number of beds available. And those goofs in Washington, even the one I voted for, seem obsessed with the deficit they have worked so hard to create and no one seems to be the least concerned about the huge number of people out of work with no hope of return. And yet pretty much everything they seem to talk about will make the joblessness worse.

So down the rabbit hole we slide and everything just gets increasingly curious.

And there has been a lot of concern expressed about the folks in east Africa and the possibility of famine again. So once again the West is being asked for aid to keep these folks from starving – think of the children we are told. But why is it the West that is being asked? Why do the better off states in Africa turn a blind eye or the wealthy states in the Gulf? And of course the local government has expressed the view that this is all a Western plot anyhow. And if we did help them, would we not be adding to the problems in an area where the population has overrun the carrying capacity of the land? There really are far too many people than can be sustained in what is left of the area so, as poor as this might sound, are we doing them a favor by helping them?

Then there is the curious argument about whether oil sands are sustainable. I am confused. Last time I looked, oil sands were dug up and their petroleum content stripped through some messy process, then sent elsewhere to be burned. There is a finite supply, although it seems large now, and if successful over time there will be less and less. Until eventually it is all gone, like the other sources of oil. (Remember, the supply of wood in Ontario was thought to be so large it would take centuries to use it all.)

Further afield there was a huge explosion in Norway. Sounds like another terror group trying to prove the point about how peace-loving their religion really is. In the same way as certain states claim to be Christian and are fond of both concealed personal guns and the death penalty. What was that bumper sticker from a few years ago – ‘Kill a Commie for Christ’, I think. One wonders what the founders of these great religions would think of what their followers have done in their name.

So I don’t know what to think. Except that perhaps there are a lot of very strange new meanings being applied to words that I thought I understood. Maybe the world has always been this broken but I was just too wrapped up in myself to notice. I hope so else why are so many bright people doing such dumb things?

Jobs vs Environment

Was reading an article about the number of oil spill incidents involving some well-known Canadian companies — which the news source was framing as another jobs vs environment tradeoff. Guess that in their minds if one wants a good environment then there will be no jobs, etc.

I have heard this view expressed many times over the years but there seems to be a fundamental fallacy at play. That there is a trade-off between jobs and the environment. I am more inclined to think that the gradient is more along the lines of maintaining a good environment means jobs for a long time. Whereas wrecking the environment may seem to provide more jobs but for a much shorter period. Sooner or later the poisoned air, water and land will catch up with us. It is not like we could just walk over the next hill and start over. So not fouling our nest is really in our own best long term interests. Working towards a cleaner environment would provide more jobs not fewer — after all, someone has to pick up the trash, metaphorically speaking. And the other work still has to be done.

No, I think at the root the real issue is that money spent on jobs is not money going into executive salaries and bonuses. It is the same sad tale of greed and short-term interests disguised as social concern.

And given the huge numbers of unemployed coupled with the piles of cash on corporate balance sheets and an unchecked environmental deterioration, it is a testimony to how degraded a society we have become.