Scott Chats Up the Gray Hairs

A vague recollection, by Brian Sanderson

What sort of crazy old fool would blow his Staturday morning by going down to the Kentville Town Hall for a frank discussion with Scott Brison? Well, this old fool, and a whole lot of other gray-hairs. OK, there were a couple of early-onset gray-hairs, as well. Before going any further, it is pertinent to note that gray hair follows the demise of melanocyte stem cells. This explains a lot, I think.

It was a wide-ranging discussion, flipping from this topic to that and back again as one would expect from a room full of pseudo-random gray-hairs. The absence of participating youngsters was early on the agenda. Apparently, this had something to do with a "democracy deficit". Ever the diplomat, Scott explained that really the youngsters are very engaged about the issues, but they're just not interested in voting. Apparently, the kids are living in a different world from us old farts, an "online world", says Scott. It's a testable hypothesis. Perhaps the kids are running a whole bunch of political chat groups and webinars that we just don't know about? Not!

There is a possibility that some might not vote because they know the Nanny-State either too well, or not well enough?

Of course, this was not a partisan meeting, there was to be no whine and sleeze nor playing of the Harp. Nevertheless, no bleeding-heart meeting would be complete without the manadatory bleating about a certain lack of civility at Question Period. Apparently, two out of three Canadian's are offended by the rough and tumble of Question Period. We are reminded that the Chinese also "value politeness", so all 1.3 billion Chinese are totally unimpressed by our Question Period. Some non-partisan discussion ensued. Surely, it was the bad manners of certain (non-partisan) politicians that was keeping the hordes away from voting booths! Yeah, just like all those good Chinese manners have emptied prisons of political dissidents... What hypocritical twaddle! I say: political correctness and demands for civility in political debate mostly serve to preserve the social pecking order and to prevent public scrutiny. I am reminded of Prime Minister Paul Keating, who famously said of John Howard, then Leader of the Opposition, that: He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up. That's the problem with politics in both Canada and China --- it's gutless and devoid of the passion that inflames people to argue, to think, and to vote.

If politicians and the elites really wanted us to vote in a democracy then they would dump Royal Assent and subject legislation to a vote by all Canadians. Efficient mass voting is possible using modern technologies. After parliament has debated and approved a bill, the bill would be subjected to the will of the people. If a clear majority of Canadians won't support a bill then it is not worth having. Indeed, this may be one way to get rid of a lot of government and reclaim the right to run our own lives instead having to kowtow to heavy-handed bureaucratic whimsy.

It is compulsory, of course, for all Canadians to gaze upon our Healthcare System with total starry-eyed wonderment. Why then, was there so much concern from the floor that this system might be unsustainable? There were polite suggestions (complaints?) that "the system" might not always meet the needs of this or that person. Fortunately, we had in our midst a physician who was on the local Health Board. He said something very close to this: "Our Health System puts its focus on the health of the general population rather than the individual". I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. A few nights previously, I had been reading an ecology text book in the bathtub. (Reading is a disgraceful habit, I agree, but not nearly so bad as writing.) The ecology text explained how populations are maintained in a more healthy state when predators kill off the old, the injured, and those that have been infected with parasites. That sounded a lot like me...

More consternation was expressed regarding the Demographic Deficit. Who was going to support all us baby boomers through our declining years? But, I objected, it's the young that are overwhelmingly underemployed. An old gray-hair muttered, "that's because they are poorly educated". I agree, to some extent. But not everyone has what it takes to become well educated. Once upon a time, when I was young, there was gainful employment to be had even if you were not well educated. This is no longer true. We have exported all those jobs to China and India. Nowadays, our young men are left to blow in the wind, or take a government job, in Afghanistan.

Speaking of government jobs overseas, there may be many more of them in the offing. As Scott says, "We have to continue the mission in Afghanistan or we will lose Pakistan." Heck, I never knew we "had" Pakistan. I've got news, the Pashtun people have always fought very hard to be their own men. If Scott wants them to be his men, he may need a very much bigger army. Scott also says that we need to upgrade our military aircraft (in a non-partisan sort of way). Frankly, I don't think the real power players even start to take you seriously until you have intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with multiple thermonuclear warheads.

Eventually the assembled mass turned to non-partisan commentary about the lock-em-up and throw-away-the-key agenda of sheriff Harper. Enlightened heads seemed to be all in agreement. The solution was not more jails, rather we needed more education, more social support programs, etc and so on and so forth. Everyone seemed to be in agreement, the government should be funding their favourite socialist program instead of wasting money on jails. Thinking to disagree, I said, no, it's jobs that matter. If you don't keep the young men gainfully employed, they will get up to mischief. Scott stymied me totally --- he agreed!

Having failed once, I tried again. I suggested to Scott that the government does too much, and should consider limiting itself more to setting the broad parameters rather than having a program for every detail of everyones life. He didn't disagree with me. You just can't pick a fight with this guy!

Then Mayor Corkum jumped in for his whine. It seems that Kentville has a bridge with a flooding problem... and they missed out on that sleezy stimulous funding. My mind flashed to the Wolfville face-lift, and I smirked. Yep, government isn't fair. That's why I prefer to have less of it whereas others, seemingly for the same reason, want more of it.

Pumpkin hour arrived. A carriage awaited to wisk Scott to his next engagement. Too bad, I felt that I was on the verge of finding some way of being disagreeable. You see, it's not the objectives that divide us, rather the real differences of opinion are to be found in how those objectives might be achieved. On that, I hope, we don't agree.