Monday, June 20, 2005

Seven Questions You Can't Ask In Canada

Last week when I came home I happened to tune in to "Countdown" with Mike Duffy on CTV Newsnet, and they were having a panel discussion of the title of this post. I didn't know where it came from, but thanks to BBB, I was able to find the source. So now, I would like to write down Ms. Wente's questions, and fill in my own answers.

1. Margaret Atwood writes some really awful books.

I recently finished "Surfacing", which in this light I could say that it was a meandering, boring book, but mercifully short. I've read only a few of her books but considering the volume of her work, even if she has written some all-time classics, she has probably written some stinkers as well. Even the best have their off-days, although I'm not qualified to say if she is or not.

2. Recycling is a waste of time and money.

Well, I keep hearing new things all the time, the latest being that you should just throw out the tops of cans, when for years I put them inside the cans after I washed them, because workers kept getting cut by the jagged edges, and also, the recycling triangle you see on most plastics, if the number is higher than two, they don't bother recycling it. I think of it as a work in progress, and I like to think that it is helping the problem with finding landfill space, unless someone would like to correct me. Also, seagulls don't hang around dumps anymore, it's a change, but is a sign of good change?

3. Only private enterprise can save health care.

Well, to a point, we already have some privatized health care, and I can definitely say that public health care simply can't go on the way it has been. Too much delay in service.

4. David Suzuki is bad for the environment.

It only goes to show, if a person or organization turns out to be wrong enough times, or wrong more times than he's right, then people will stop listening to this person, and in my opinion, people would be right to tune out. It's like those stories about Chicken Little, or more accurately, the Boy Who Cried Wolf. If Suzuki has been right a few times, it would not make up for all those times that his predictions turned out to be fallacious, and like that Boy, if he is right, no one will believe him. What I think the Green movement needs is more people like Julian Simon, someone who can inject a little healthy skepticism, so we could get to the ultimate truth as to what is wrong with the environment.

5. The Group of Seven are overexposed genre painters.

I have to admit here that I do not have strong, educated opinions about painted works. I do get prints from famous artists and photographers now and then (my favorites are from surrealists like Dali), and one year, I bought a Group of Seven calender. I can only say that very little stood out for me.

6. A national daycare program won't do anything to help poor kids.
I have to excuse myself from responding to this, because I really haven't a clue about this one way or the other.

7. The United States is the greatest force for good that the world has ever known.
I'll definitely agree that the US is the greatest force the world has ever known. I may even go out on a limb to say that the neocons and their world agenda have only the best of intentions. BUT... the questions that I would have is, do they really know what they're doing? Do they really have one iota of a clue about how foreign policy works? I would answer both of my questions with an emphatic NO! I believe that the Bush administration suffers from a form of what I consider to be a form of neo-hippie idealism, that if you offer someone freedom, they will gladly accept it and be eternally grateful to you. Part of the problem of this mindset is that "changing" or "saving" the world is a mostly narcissistic motivation, no matter who is doing it or why. It's one thing to try to make the world a better place, it is another to try to "save" everyone. And if their intentions are less than pure...


Tommy Steele said...

Couple of Comments

1. I have only read Oryx and Crake by Atwood and it is one of the best books I own (see my book meme post).

7. I wish I could be as forgiving as you to assert that american motives are coming from pure places. Every action taken has strategical or political outcomes that just happen to coincide with American policy. Further, the consequences of justifying a statement like #7 has detrimental effects, even for Canada.

angela said...

1. atwoods books annoy me.

2. recycling vs chucking? its all the same to me. its like throwing it in a different garbage. meh.

3. private healthcare blows. the only place with a semi-decent hybrid scheme is singapore, and canada is pretty different. i have a friend whose retina fell off or something and she got surgery for it at home in canada, singapore, and the uk. vancouver general hospitals competence and efficiency compared to the pay hospital and the nhs surprised her.

4. scientists are full of shit. i know this because dating one has exposed me to their ways. theyre basically social scientists with better statistics, so obviously theyre going to screw up. bjorn lomborg, david suzuki, same diff.

5. landscapes suck.

6. daycares also there to help parents.

7. i dont know what "neocons" are because i generally use the words 'neoliberal' (what you call neo-hippie idealism, a moniker i find unfair since no self-respecting hippie has anything to do with neoliberal theory) and 'neorealist' (war is normal) to pinpoint the toxic theoretical positions that dominate the state department.

Looney Canuck said...

Tommy, you didn't seem to understand the subtext of my post about Americans. To paraphrase, I agreed that the United States had the greatest force the world has ever known, as to whether it is for good, that would depend on who is running it. I did not say that it was a good force or assert for sure that their government's intentions were pure, I was just saying that it's possible, and if it is, they really don't know what their doing, and that they're doing it for self-involved reasons, and they need some form of opposition whether they want it or not.

And Angela, what I meant my "neo-hippie idealism" was the same sort of missionary zeal that hippies had, at least that's what they said, for "saving" the world and throwing around the word "freedom" ad infinitum. That pretty much sums up all the boring old farts of the '60s and the fascistic old farts of today have in common. I don't believe that the neocons say "peace" and "freedom" in the same breath.

As for the other stuff:
1. I am willing to give Ms. Atwood another try, since I think that "Surfacing" had to have been one of her lesser works.

2. I stand by my probably naive belief that it does make a difference.

3. Interesting point about private health care, but bad care is probably better than waiting too long.

4. "They're basically social scientists with better statistics"? An explanation is required.

5. I take it you're not a nature person.

6. Again, no opinion, and no response.

7. See above.

Thursday said...

My favorite fallacy is:

Canadians are better for the enviroment than Americans. We're about the same: there's just fewer of us.

Tommy Steele said...

Mr. L. Canuck,

Well, to misunderstand subtext, it would have to be present, and I thought your post was pretty straight-forward. I agree that I did simplify your position, though, and I apologize. However, I think you didn't understand me. I was not questioning an assertion you did not make, I was questioning your "going out on a limb" to suggest the neocons have only the best intentions. In any event, it matters very little who is running the US, they have their own agenda at heart, and americans are very up front about this. US issues come first. Altruistic motives are merely justifications; moral bandages really.

Tawcan said...

I've only read one Atwood book and it was pretty messed up. I would rather read someone else's book than hers...

Looney Canuck said...

When I used the qualifier "may" before going out on a limb about the nobility of American intentions, I meant that it is a possibility, however far out. And I do believe it matters who's running the show down there. It may not matter so much here in Canada, since we often get pushed around no matter who is in the White House, but I believe it matters as far as international security. It may not matter so much in the way the rest of the world regards Americans, but that's a problem.

Dave C said...

David Suzuki may not be on the money all the time but he sure has people discussing things now, doesn't he?
American foreign policy, before them, British foreign policy, before them, who? Back through modern times, the so-called 'civilized' folk have been trying to 'save the savages', while killing off so very many. They totally, still do, miss the point. They are savages. We are savages.
The only way for change to take place in people and societies, is to step back and see the basic flaws and try to fix ourselves. Doing this, others would follow and we might actually have a chance to save this poor old world of ours.
Nothing conservative [especially the neo-conservative party of canada] would ever give me peace of mind. Perhaps if I ever hear one of them say that business is wrong, then I might, [might] gain a modicum of confidence in them. Personally they scare the hell out of me for all the Joe Who's of the world.
You have joined, it seems, the crowd of what's wrong with our social system, albeit possibly from a different angle. Let's fix what's broke. Build on what is right with it and go from there. As we go about destroying our own system, the Americans are quietly getting ready to adopt what we 'had'.
Politics has stunk from the beginning. Our politicians are just more ripe today.

Looney Canuck said...

Uh, Don, before I respond to your comment, I have to understand what the hell you're talking about, because it seems disjointed and meandering. Care to rephrase it?

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