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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Governor General's ominous New Year message: “invent new ways of living together”

Governor General Michaëlle Jean’s New Year message contains the ominous suggestion that we “invent new ways of living together.” I’m not sure exactly what she means by that – or who she’s speaking for – but this kind of language reminds me of the rhetoric that always accompanies socialist and fascist schemes to engineer a better world:

As a new year dawns, we are filled with a renewed sense of hope. The days, weeks and months ahead may be whatever we imagine them to be and will be whatever we make of them.

But let us be realistic: the challenges are considerable and have caused a great deal of anxiety. This past year came to a close with the announcement of a global recession—one from which we are not immune—while an unprecedented political crisis shook the country. In December, the number of our soldiers killed in Afghanistan surpassed 100, and the entire country shares the pain of those tragic losses.

What these recent events bring to light is how important it is for us to work together—nations, governments, societies, businesses, organizations, individuals, side by side. The “fend for yourself” mentality has no place in an interdependent world, where the decisions of some have a profound impact on the lives of others; where our fates are inextricably linked. Today, I am calling for greater solidarity between us.

Given the magnitude of the challenges before us, the time has come for us to invent new ways of living together. It is up to us to seize that opportunity. It is in this spirit that my husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, our daughter Marie-Éden and our entire team join us in wishing everyone a year filled with promise and possibilities.

Again, I don’t know what exactly Jean means by the comment “invent new ways of living together,” but I feel safe in assuming that she shares Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s view that "unfettered capitalism" is part of a failed "fend for yourself" past and that the future belongs to some variation of statism and collectivism.

Rather than inventing a new way of living together, though, perhaps we need to return to an old way that was never fully implemented...a way defined by classical liberalism and embodied in the American constitution among other documents. This way is based on individual rights, liberty and laissez faire capitalism. Philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand captured this philosophy for social co-operation with what she called the Trader Principle

The symbol of all relationships among [rational] men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit—his love, his friendship, his esteem—except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread—a man of justice.

Rand is not to everyone’s taste. Her hostility to religion turns many away from her philosophy of Objectivism. But what everyone can take away from the Trader Principle is that we should deal with each other consensually and peacefully in personal and economic matters. All statist schemes – socialist and fascist – rely instead on coercion and violence on a mass scale in order to engineer bloody and unnatural outcomes.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 30, 2008 | Permalink

Comments

I never thought it possible but Jean is even more inept than Dion.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-30 10:44:28 AM


You're trying to read far too much into what are just vacuous platitudes, nothing more than the group hugs and Kumbaya solutions to "normal" nation state interactions.

The Rand quote should be the mission statement for all business schools, a refreshing antidote to the pathological rent seeking ethic.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-12-30 11:06:49 AM


How about we invent new ways to live without the Governor General?

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-30 11:22:11 AM


I found her bit about rejecting the fend for self platitudes more disturbing. Essentially she is using that as a back drop to excuse the massive bail outs that have been happening in the US and now Canada. She is basically saying she is a corporate fascist - we are all corporate fascists now.

Indeed what is occuring is right out of Atlas Shrugs. Corporatism and the welfare state. I don't like Rand's judgemental outlook on religion, but that does not prevent me to laud Ayn Rand for what she contributed to conservatism. She made capitalism respectable again. No apologies. No excuses. Capitalism is superior not based on its economic merits, but on its moral merits.

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-12-30 11:35:48 AM


...without splitting hairs, I'd be more inclined to disagree with Faramir on Capitalism is superior due to moral merits.

Capitalism in the truest sense would leave the poor and weak behind. Capitalism demands shareholders get more.

Capitalism I'd say is due to economic merits based on supplying a good product to the public, not a moral product.

Morals are learned at home and at church. Having those combined WITH economic merits is the best system.

Which, I hope we can return to someday.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-30 12:32:46 PM


...the ominous suggestion that we “invent new ways of living together.”

Does this mean Group Hugging will be a thing of the past?

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-30 12:40:50 PM


She means we should turn that den into a bedroom for a Haitian refugee.

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-30 12:54:34 PM


The Gov General is the Queens' representative in Canada, right? And therefore the Queen is the GG's boss- is that correct?

If so, doesn't the GG have to get her little thronette speech
OK'd by her boss? that is... have the Queen sort of OK the official message to her subjects in Canada for style, content and tone?
If the GG is not a true representaive of the Imperial hand in Canada , then is the GG just a manikin draped in the Union jack doing lefty social consciousness rap?

If so. maybe we can get that Royal CEO job done a lot faster, cheaper and better if this was an elected position- or have that symbolic position put up for bid- Criteria: glad hand rhetoric and the occassional nod to a Prime Minister who wants to refrigerate parliment for a month or so..like this isn;t a holy job to spread a universal message of unity - its a Public Relations position. - any well dressed straight faced college grad could do it

Posted by: 419 | 2008-12-30 1:14:25 PM


The morality of Capitalism, as Rand defined it, was individual liberty to trade, or not trade, to imagine, to design, to create, to market - all without the heavy hand of big government trying to tell us with whom we should share our individuall efforts.

Anything else is statism - is the denial of individual liberty. All else is on low moral ground. The ground of tyrany.

Too many conservatives had been caught apologizing for the "self interest" aspect of Capitalism and left with defending it purely on its merits of wealth creation. Rand hated those sell outs, and said self interest is not a dirty word.

Think of your family unit. Is creating a product and selling it for the best price you can get, so you can feed and clothe your family - is that something really that horrible?

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-12-30 1:17:26 PM


...without splitting hairs, I'd be more inclined to disagree with Faramir on Capitalism is superior due to moral merits.
Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-30 12:32:46 PM

Also without splitting hairs...
I would tend to agree with Faramir's and Rand's analogy that Capitalism is indeed a system based on morals. To say that it leaves the poor and the weak behind isn't necessarily true, it just doesn't make welfare cases of them.
We all get up everyday to improve our lives through skills and efforts that we bring to the market place that others are willing to pay for.
To be rewarded for those efforts is moral. (as opposed to being forced to do so for no reward, as is seen in slavery or tax rape)
By doing this, we are not burdening, but contributing to society and we are contributing to the interaction of all others who are naturally interdependent on the same economy.
As human beings we are freer and richer and more able to contribute to worthy charities of our own choosing. As opposed to having our money stolen by an inept bureacracy and redistributed to others who are in no way worthy of our charity but can collect anyway.

When you say morals are learned at home and in church, (not to put words in your mouth) do you mean morals or natural laws? Thou shalt not kill, etc. Those are natural laws.

In my mind, morals have more to do with the notion that we are responsible for our own well being at whatever level our talents allow so as not to burden others. To defend our own lives and those of our family with extreme force if necessary is also moral. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach these morals at home though, as our school system does its best to teach kids to rely on government. And that in "my mind" is is extremely immoral.

Its a subject that many books have been written about. Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" being one of the best.

And I can gaurantee you our Governor General has never read it.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-30 1:25:59 PM


o_O I'm going to have to start following this blog. Nice O'ism shoutout.

Posted by: akston | 2008-12-30 3:34:52 PM


Faramir and JC - hear! hear! This remains a hard thing to understand for those indoctrinated with wealth redistribution always packaged as the "kinder society" as opposed to the "selfish society".

Posted by: Alain | 2008-12-30 6:37:33 PM


Every attempt to "rob Peter to pay Paul" is redistributionist. It seems good at first, as Peter is not hurt that badly, and Paul benefits greatly, on a percentage basis. But what Peter loses, eventually hurts his ability to grow wealth, a skill Paul lacks. Over time all the Pauls, find wealth even harder to acquire. While the Peters are still quite wealthy, though less than before, they are unable to grow. It is the PAULS who suffer first. That is, the very people for whom wealth redistribution is supposed to help, are the most harmed!

Socialism is not just immoral, it is wicked. It destroys the very people, the beneficiaries, whom it dupes in order to obtain political support. The only real beneficiaries are those who gain political power over both the rich and the poor. The poor, as usual, lose the most.

Posted by: Richard | 2008-12-30 8:23:08 PM


My previous comment is also a direct response to Faramir, who neither understands Capitalism nor Socialism. He writes:
"Capitalism in the truest sense would leave the poor and weak behind. Capitalism demands shareholders get more."

No, under Capitalism, the poor benefit enormously. It was under capitalism that America became the most powerful nation in the world. It was through Capitalism that America's poor became wealthier than the middle class of almost every other nation. The data are clear, both over time and over political boundaries.

Capitalism is,truly, the unknown ideal.

Posted by: Richard | 2008-12-30 8:32:02 PM


hmmmm.... maybe I could move into Rideau Hall with her?

Posted by: philanthropist | 2008-12-30 9:44:23 PM


Economics was always presented to me as a branch of moral philosophy. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher at a time when "economics" was a term used to refer to household management. That being the case all economic decisions are "moral" decisions. They involve choices and those choices involve morality. It is not morally correct for me to "force" you to contribute to anothers welfare.

Posted by: DML | 2008-12-30 9:44:58 PM


Economics is NOT moral philosophy. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources; moral philosophy is a theory for living right or well. Economics is a descriptive / predictive discipline; moral philosophy is prescriptive.

When "economics" becomes prescriptive, it is properly referred to as "political economy." That is a sub-category of political philosophy, which is a sub-category of moral philosophy.

As Hume observed, people slide from the "is" to the "ought" almost imperceptibly. This is as true of "economists" as it is of everyone else. But we should not lose analytical clarity by giving up and abandoning the distinctions.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-12-31 1:02:42 AM


Economics is NOT moral philosophy. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources; moral philosophy is a theory for living right or well. Economics is a descriptive / predictive discipline; moral philosophy is prescriptive.
Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-12-31 1:02:42 AM

Understood Grant. I still think its fair to say that "Capitalism" is moral, while Economics is a science. (?)

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-31 6:41:40 AM


...back to the hares. JC (and Richard I believe you were directing your post to me with the quote).

I tend to disagree with both of your statements in the fact that we will always have the poor. Capitalism or Socialism or even Communism it is just the way we are geared, fallen mankind.

Without laws we'd have anarchy, and without morals we'd be drones, and without faith in God we'd be a sterile nation. Sterile not meaning clean either.

For Richard to say that the poor would benefit because of Capitalism, that alone is a huge oversight on the real cause of the matter - society morality.

Remember, it is what a country does with its poor is a reflection of its moral backbone - not how much money it makes or has. Take Saudi Arabia for example, awash in money but morally bankrupt because of religious laws.

JC I believe you are greying the area between naturalism and morals. I'm not talking Socialism either.

'Natural laws' and morals are two different ideologies.

Natural laws from one angle is strictly physical, and from another angle is a theory.

The "thou shalt not kill" which was given to us because we were killing right from the get-go, even the more so if one tends to believe their great-great-great grandfather swung from trees!

As well "To defend our own lives and those of our family with extreme force if necessary is also moral" - well I can see what you're trying to say but that isn't moral, it is self-preservation, which to me, would be a natural law so to speak.
Would sharing be a natural law or a moral? Put two babies in a crib with one toy and you'll see the which one in progress.

You mentioned also that Capitalism 'just doesn't make welfare cases of them'.

Well, not sure if you've been to the States, but they have a lot of welfare cases. Something called 'The Projects' for starters.

But I digress.

Back to Richard, America is blessed because of its moral backbone and coincidentally happens to be the largest Christian country which coincidentally has the largest per capita givers of aide and coincidentally has people going into poorer countries to teach and help, which coincidentally is mostly comprised of religious organizations working with NGO's.

Do you see a coincidence?

America became the most powerful country because of their faith in God, namely the one true God. America was born because people wanted to escape religious persecution and RC dogma prevalent in Europe.

Canada, on the other hand, is a Roman Catholic nation and like other RC nations they are Socialist for some reason. Maybe because of religious oppression and control that exists within the framework of that particular religion?

Back on topic, yes the US, with all its troubles, scandals, Hollywood xxx movies, and drugs still has a lot going for it in those who look after their fellow man, the poor, weak and despised and not because of natural laws, but morals.

But, with the creeping in of moral decay into our school and justice systems sadly, we shall see a very natural law coming into effect in a very short while.

The one I'm speaking of is God's natural law: sowing and reaping.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 7:12:59 AM


...just a quick definition:

Capitalism:
"an economic system based on private ownership of capital"

Captial:
"assets available for use in the production of further assets"

One and the same. No morals here. What you DO with the assets is the real moral of this story.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 7:16:13 AM


One and the same. No morals here. What you DO with the assets is the real moral of this story.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 7:16:13 AM

Tomax, thanks for the response.
Couple of things...
I believe the poor will always be with us as you say. However I also believe that they will be kept poor under a welfare state as all opportunity for advancement becomes non existent.
Ergo: Capitalism works better than mandated/legislated charity. My wife and I still manage to sponsor a bunch of kids through school every year in South America, and if we weren't so strained under the weight of oppressive taxation, we could do more here at home. Fact is we can afford to sponsor kids in S. America, we can't afford to do it here.
It is my belief that prosperous, happy people are more likely to be charitable than those just barely paying the bills.
As for the "projects" in the States, I've seen some of them and they are a result of the welfare state's intervention, not free entrprise.
The welfare state "needs" things like the projects in order to justify itself and its tax regime.
Its all about "control" my friend.
:)

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-31 7:50:28 AM


And to be clear I am a Christian believer, so obviously my moral training began with my walk with God. But I also recognize that the foundational thinkers of the Enlightenment Period, never made a divorce of Christian morality and secular morality. To be sure there were some who saw religion in a hostile light, but many of America's creators were Christian believers, who, in the same breath, saw the moral superiority of the rights of man trumping rule by tyrants. In fact the American Constitution strangely barely even mentions God or religion, but we know, compared to Americans of today, Americans then would be regarded as right wing Christian extremists.

And I would like to repeat what Richard said because he said it so well: "The only real beneficiaries are those who gain political power over both the rich and the poor." Even GWB with his so called Compassionate Conservatism has managed to hobble the poor by refusing them the right to shop for cheaper drugs in Canada. He replaces that with the largest expansion of socialized healthcare since the Great Society.

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-12-31 10:23:32 AM


Tomax, who says Capitalism infers we have no law and order or moral framework? Saudi Arabia (and the majority of greater Islam) is bad example. Political Islam is essentially a collectivist ideology - built on wealth by conquest, not creation. The oil business is basically a state run enterprise. Besides the profits captured by American oil partners, all the oil wealth flows into the coffers of the Saudi government. The Saudi government then builds roads, schools, pays for University, and distributes whatever wealth to the people not spent by the 3000+ royal family. It is not an example of Capitalism.
When Rand used the term capitalism she widened its definition to mean the absence of statism - the freedom to develop, create, imagine, market, trade, as individuals see fit.

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-12-31 10:48:36 AM


Faramir, the American constitution has as the first amendment a loud mention of God, per se in one's seeking of Him.

First Amendment: addresses the rights of freedom of religion (prohibiting Congressional establishment of a religion over another religion through Law and protecting the right to free exercise of religion), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition.

I don't know if the Christians back then would be seen as right wing extremists today, but at the same time, are they walking in the limited light they had back then of the world? If they were, I have fellowship with them.

With regard to the cheaper drugs, not sure what the whole background is on it, but granted while the pharmaceutical industry had influence on the decision, it could also be protectionism and recovery of R&D.

Ironically, Canadians head south because of our inept healthcare, or face the law when they try to do it.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 10:56:46 AM


JC- The welfare state "needs" things like the projects in order to justify itself and its tax regime. Its all about "control" my friend.

...granted that is a morbid look at government, we haven't arrived to Clockwork Orange or 1984.

We knock China and the control they have over the people, but wait till we hit 1.6B's. There is another natural law that comes into effect, controlling mass hysteria takes a stronger fist.

Look at Saudi Arabia again. Or the whole Middle East. Just takes one spark to get the masses all wound up.

While Capitalism coupled with morals is the best route, it can only work if the people under it follow it.

Otherwise, one needs to 'control' or face chaos.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 11:00:46 AM


Faramir: "Tomax, who says Capitalism infers we have no law and order or moral framework?"

The very word, Capitalism.

Capitalism:
"an economic system based on private ownership of capital"

Captial:
"assets available for use in the production of further assets"

Karl Marx considered capitalism to be a historically specific mode of production

For Max Weber, the 'spirit of capitalism' began with the Puritan understanding of one’s ‘calling’ in life and their laboring for God rather than for men.

...basically card meet, horse.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 11:05:20 AM


...card = CART

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 11:05:36 AM


While Capitalism coupled with morals is the best route, it can only work if the people under it follow it.
Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-12-31 11:00:46 AM

Agreed. And this is where I would advocate a strong "justice" system as opposed to the revolving door "law" system we now have.

I have looked at Saudi Arabia (particularly in fact)Its my opinion that they are so easily riled up because they are basically unhappy. And I would be unhappy too if I lived under a brutal dictatorship controlled and influenced by foreign power and money.

Lets look at Palestine for a second...
What I see there is a complete lack of compassion for theem from the rest of the Arab world. I read something back in the 90s that asserted that one day's oil revenues alone would build a house and put a car in front of it for every Palestinian.
While that might not be the best use of funds in helping them build a better society, as it stands there seems very little help for them at all from their insanely wealthy brethren.

Again what we are seeing is not born of capitalism by people... but by government.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-31 11:47:36 AM



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