Letter to Local Government

Sam Pawlett rsp at uniserve.com
Fri Mar 22 14:26:48 MST 2002

March 19, 2002

Dear  Hon. Christy Clark and Hon. Gordon Hogg,

  I would like to draw your attention to the dire situation in rural and
semi-rural communities throughout British Colombia. Put simply, these
communities are dying and the people becoming ever more desperate. The
forest industry and other major employers which rely on BC's natural
resource base have been decimated, leaving tremendous waste both human
and otherwise in their wake. Families are being torn apart, divorce is
rampant and domestic violence is ever present not to mention drugs and
alcoholism.  I know from experience that there are  elementary schools
where two thirds of the students  are from broken (i.e. single parent)
homes. Not exactly an environment that fosters education and the
confidence and self-esteem a young person needs. The government must
address these problems and the socio-economic conditions which create
them. Steps to ameliorate the problems and real solutions will require
creativity, courage and not mere reliance on what has been "tried and
true". I'm afraid the policies of your ministry, government and the
(rather flimsy) underlying social philosophy of it will only exacerbate
the problems. So much so, that you risk not only alienating a  great
percentage of British Colombians from public life, but are risking a
serious social explosion with a great deal of people frustrated to the
point where they would enjoy turning the political system of British
Colombia upside down. If you doubt what I am saying, I only reply that
you should live in one of these communities for awhile or go on a
speaking tour through them. Be sure to inform everyone that the
so-called free market will take care of everything so you need not
worry. We have had the "free market" for one hundred years in BC and it
is not working for the majority of people, yet a small minority are
profiting handsomely. Can't you see that or do you care?

        Your aggravation of labor and social relations within in the
school and education system will only be to the detriment of everyone
involved. Teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn in an
environment where labor and management are at each other's throats.
People are tired and know they can do much better than a Liberal Party
which isn't liberal but very conservative. If New Zealand is your model
and Roger Douglas your brains, consider that neo-liberal New Zealand
came to have the highest female teenage suicide rate in the OECD (Kelsey
p295). Further, between 1974 and 1990 the rate of male suicide rose by
288%, with the greatest increase in the late 1980's. (Ibid.) Not
surprisingly, convictions for violent crime increased by 50% between
1982 and 1991 (Kelsey p294). Is that your idea of family development?
The recent governments of New Zealand have been trying to undo those
immensely destructive policies, the product of a shot gun wedding with
IMF style capitalism.  I point you in the direction of New Zealand law
professor Jane Kelsey's writings, which you should read for yourself.
Better yet, have her debate one of your people. Here is a taste of her

"The structural adjustment rhetoric talked constantly of the need for
stability–but always in terms of the economy, never of people's lives.
The strain of constant change fostered uncertainly and insecurity, and
made it impossible for people to plan ahead. ‘Labour market flexibility'
meant going to bed not knowing if there would still be a job the next
day. ‘Price stability' meant sudden hikes in interest on mortgages and
loans, and risks of induced recession. ‘Fiscal responsibility' meant
continual cuts in income support, benefits, and social services.
Privatised state services meant having to choose which essential service
to keep on, with no one being held to account" (Economic Fundamentalism

Shot gun weddings and divorces aren't very good for people or social
stability in general.

Selling off BC Hydro is a silly and very stupid idea. Haven't you
studied what happened in California? I'm sure most British Columbians
don't want *them* running the energy supply and system. *Think* before
you act. Closing court rooms and jails, will only add the already
unmanageable backlog of cases as well as number of prisoners in
pre-trial centers. The police are already frustrated with the inability
of the court system to process those charged with crimes.  Your
reorganization of the tax system was nice too, shifting the tax burden
further on to the working class. For it is the working class who pay the
most with consumption and flat taxes. Your basic principle seems to be
that the rich aren't rich enough and the poor not poor enough. You
reduced taxes and thus revenue and then claimed the government couldn't
afford the services it had been offering! Good one. Do you think people
are that stupid?  Or as JK Galbraith once put it ‘to get the rich to
work harder you have to give them more money, to get the poor to work
harder you have to take money away from them.' What is your guiding
moral principle or is that it? What is you Aristotelian summum bonum?

 The philosophical and ideological underpinnings of your government are
very old and have been proven wrong. I mean supply side economics?
Lowering taxes will increase government revenue? And doing this in midst
of a recession? That has been tried and it doesn't work (e.g. in
Reagan's America). Your philosophy of possessive individualism,
meritocracy and hyper-capitalism have been around since the 17th
century. Witness Bernard Mandeville:

"Vast numbers thronged the fruitful hive;
Yet those vast Numbers made'em thrive;
Millions endeavored to supply
Each other's lust and vanity
Whilst other Millions were employ'd
To see their Handy-works destory'd
They furnished half of the universe;
Yet had more work than laborers.
Some with vast stocks and little Pains
Jump'd into business of great gains;
And some were damn'd to Sythes and Spades
And all those hard laborious trades;
Where willing Wretches daily sweat,
And wear out strength and limb to eat"
>From Fable of the Bees, pub. 1704

And Thomas Hobbes (17th century):

"The Value, or Worth of a man, is as of all other things, his Price;that
is to say, so mush as would be given for the use of his Power: and
therefore is not absolute; but a thing dependent on the need and
judgement of another...And as in other things, so in men, not the seller
but the buyer determines the Price. For let a man (as most men do) rate
themselves at the highest Value they can; yet their true Value is no
more than it is esteemed by others" Leviathan p67.

Your administration's lack of imagination, lack of foresight, its 300
hundred year old cliches about privatisation and individualism , and its
anti-union, anti-working class policies and  attitudes betray ignorance,
philistinism, an unwillingness to look at implications and a lack of
consideration that reminds one of a WW 1 general or the Charge of the
Light Brigade.  What are your moral principles? And what is your summum
bonum? As far as I can see, your government's philosophy lacks any
recognizable moral principle for its justification and legitimation. Yet
clearly, many very wealthy people are or will be benefiting. They also
happen to bankroll your political party and pay for your electioneering
(I can supply a list).  One can ,then, only conclude that selfishness is
your guiding principle. Your opposition to unions, public ownership,
progressive taxation, public health and education and indeed public
service itself has no other rationale but your own selfishness. Again, I
urge you to tour BC and bring the lamentable Gordon Campbell with you. I
would also urge you to stop Gordon from listening to his brother whose
"thought" and "intellect" consist in regurgitating the ideological
nonsense of third rate hacks like George Gilder. In sum, the effects of
your policies can only be summed up by the old street adage "what goes
around, comes around".

     Last ,but not least, if you want to avoid outright war, leave the
indigenous people alone.

Sam Pawlett

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