I went most of my life without ever having been labelled a socialist. It's only been the last decade or so that partisan politics, which used to be fought over policy differences, has fallen to the level where people no longer have a point, they have an ideology. They don't want to hear your ideas because theirs are always right and you are stupid because you don't realize. So since you don't agree with idealogues, they resort to name calling.
More than any other tag, I have now largely been labelled as a socialist. Don't feel bad for me, I can defend my positions very well. If I couldn't I would not have a firm position. I thought I'd run through some of the reasons I've been called a socialist and I'll allow you to decide what label you want to put on me, if any. I actually have a name, you're welcome to use it, or call me whatever you wish, that's out of my hands.
The first time I was called a socialist, I remember well. I had been engaged in a discussion at a party, a group was discussing a fundraiser for local food banks. I join in, since I've seen this stuff first hand and if I can help I will. In the course of the discussion, I remarked it was too bad food banks exist and I wish we could use all our energies fighting to ensure no one needed a food bank. One of the participants looked at me and said: "You're a socialist. It's because of people like you we're in such a mess. The government can't take care of everyone.". I was taken aback. So I replied, "If government is not for the people, all the people, aren't we going against the exact thing government is supposed to do?" . The answer? "Government isn't for all the people, just the winners. You can't make everyone happy.".
I immediately withdrew, in order to avoid what surely would have become a nasty disagreement. I'm passionate about what I believe to be right and I don't wither under any attack, intellectual or ideological. I am as comfortable in a fight for the moral high ground as I am in a knock-down drag-out gutter brawl. If you choose to lock horns with me, I have no problem with whatever tone you set. Bring it on, may the best person win.
This was my first experience in Canada with what I prefer to call the "republican" attitude. I've watched it in the states for a long time, it's a very mature process there and was actually picked up on by Harper and his backers a decade or more before I was first called socialist.
Here, for your own judgement, are some of my core beliefs. If you wish to label me that is your choice. If you identify with me, great, I'm sure we'll be great friends. I don't mind if people have different views than I do, that's how we are supposed to learn from one another. Happy reading. I really appreaciate those willing to comment below, it helps me improve this blog. Again, thanks for reading.
These are things I believe in:
I believe in justice for human beings. Not just criminal and civil justice, but social justice as well. Not because I need social programs for myself, but because I recognize there are people who are neither as lucky as I am, or those, for whatever reason, who are either unable or unwilling to care for themselves. I am not here to judge others, whether it is due to their success, or their failure. That is not my place.
I believe in the equality of all people. I do not believe any person on this planet is any better or worse than myself. I bow to no one, nor do I ask anyone to put me on any kind of pedestal above any other human being on this planet. We all have our own merits and demerits, some similar, some different, but in the end, If you cut any human they will bleed. If a human loses their mother, almost universally they will feel pain, and they will cry. We all feel happiness, sadness, love, and the myriad of emotions that make up the human spirit. These are the unalienable ties that bind us all, regardless of skin colour, country of origin, choice of personal beliefs, sexual orientation, political views, Language, religion, none of that matters for one simple fact. One truth. There exists only one race, that is the Human Race.
We live in an incredibly wealthy country. On an annual basis, in the 21st century, we still allow people to suffer on the margins and in poverty. We have continually watched our own lives go from liveable to the point where we need to obsess over our personal spending in order to maintain our standard of living, not luxurious by any extent. Meanwhile, we don't realize that just considering the staggering amount of annual profits for only the top 50 companies in Canada, a portion of those funds could be used to give every Canadian a better life, a better education, better health care, better infrastructure, and most of all, a better future.
I am not anti business, I am not against wealthy people. I have no problem with those who are successful, however, very few business or wealthy people succeed alone. Business' depend on workers, on consumers, stars of stage, screen and sports depend on fans. I'm not asking anyone to give everything up, just to share enough so no one is in need and so we all have a better society.
I believe if people weren't abjectly poor and uneducated or under-educated we would have less crime. That if all of society, people, business, and government, were kinder and more considerate of the feelings of the lesser among us we would be more peaceful. I believe if we wanted to we could easily have a better society, not utopian, never totally equal, but one in which everyone is secure in the knowledge they won't go hungry, that they will always have some place to live, that they don't have to worry they won't have heat or electricity or clean water, that they have a right to an equal education, and should they desire to improve themselves and our society by furthering their education they should not need enter working life saddled with debt. That no one person is more deserving of the opportunity to enrich all of us than any other, regardless of social standing.
I believe proper health care is a basic human right, applicable to every man, woman, and child residing on Canadian soil. If we set our priorities for the betterment of society, for a better Canada, we will make the biggest contribution to mankind any country ever has in history. We could prove that people can still get rich without the misery of having people who are poor. The more we educate ourselves and our children, the higher standard of contribution we give to the future of our country. If we could change the mindset from whoever has the most, wins, to something more kind and rational such as I have more than I need so I can give up a portion so others don't need to suffer. It's still capitalism. There will still be the rich and very rich, successful and very successful, but by taking an edge off that to go toward building a better society with a brighter future, we become the capitalism we should strive for. I truly believe this is possible, and rather than hurt anyone, it will help everyone and society will actually advance. Others will see the sense of this approach, as happier people are more productive and cause less problems to society.
I just want to leave with a bit of an example. You can check published sources for the profits of the top 50 or more Canadian corporations. I know the total was actually higher, but for my purposes, I'm going to use 100 Billion dollars as the profit number for last year. Knowing how economies work, let's say it's fair to assume some years in the last decade they made less, others they made more, so I'll say in the last decade, corporate profits in Canada have been one Trillion dollars. An impossible number to grasp in your head. I see nothing unreasonable in saying to corporations, as you have the right to do business in Canada, you too have a responsibility to share with citizens a portion of the profits for the betterment of society. In return, you will receive more educated, healthier, happier, more well adjusted people working for you. Threats to your person or business will be greatly reduced when people are not angry or hungry or unable to get the medical treatment they need. We, as a society, want just 25% of what you take from society after all the bills are paid. You still get 750 billion excess dollars, and society has 250 billion to invest into the health, education, and the well being of an entire nation. This year alone, corporations could have taken 75 billion dollars in profits, and what benefits to society could have been had with 25 billion dollars to take care of health and education and ensuring at least basic dignity for our fellow man. The rich still get rich. The only difference between rich and super rich is the numbers, there are a few on earth who could never possibly spend all the money they have in 1000 lifetimes. They accumulate wealth neither they nor their families nor all their friends will ever need yet people starve to death ever day. It's wrong. Rich people are people too. People run corporations. The shareholders who demand ever more profits are people. We need to appeal to the humanity that exists somewhere within all humanity. Only then will we truly move forward as a species.
If those things make me a socialist, or any other label you want to put on me, so be it.
I'm comfortable with who I am and will die with few regrets.
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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy
Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture