Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let's put citizens back in the frame

A few days ago, I read a heartfelt post by Katie at Creepy Query Girl, about the results of the elections in France, and worries about what this might mean for the future.

It got me to thinking. Whoops! Dangerous!

Now, I'm not going to start pitting one political ideology against another, nor am I proposing capitalism over socialism or any other "ism", and I'm certainly not qualified to talk about the prospects for France sinking into the self-destructive turmoil that's consuming Greece.

My topic is about why there is such fear underlying so many aspects of our lives. Why, for example, do so many Americans live in such fear of anything that smacks of socialism? Why do we, the "little people", feel so threatened by governments, by multinational corporations, by religions, by all these out-of-control organizations that are, when all is said and done, nothing more than collections of other individuals?

And what prompted the Wall Street Protests last year?

This is back to a line of thought I've ranted about before, but not explored in any systematic way.

My premise is simple: Early human societies developed to benefit their members. Our institutions have grown so complex that they have lost touch with this purpose. Nowadays, they seem to serve practically everyone and everything but the ordinary citizen.

Politicians and governments live to gain and stay in power. Political parties also put ideology ahead of welfare. This is dangerous, no matter what the ideology. Unthinking dogmatic socialism is just as dangerous and discredited as unfettered capitalism.

Companies exist to push their products and make profits, and to hell with the man in the street.

Even organizations we look to to safeguard our welfare are pressed by ulterior motives. Healthcare, for example, tends to be more interested in pushing drugs and procedures and cutting waiting lists than in actual, ummm, health.

The solution is equally simple to state: Put citizen's back in the frame as majority beneficiaries in our own society.

Simple to state. Finding a workable path to that goal is less so.


  1. I agree. Corporations and government have gotten so big that we forget the most important thing: us. I don't like big government, but I also don't like someone being able to own 50 cars and tell my mother that she can't have necessary surgery because he's got a bottom line profit to worry about. Don't know. Just my two cents. Great post. :)

  2. It all boils down to money. Money, money, money. No one does anything if it doesn't make them money in some way, shape, or form. Directly, or indirectly. From the single individual up to the largest multi-national conglomerate. Nothing is ever done for the benefit of our fellow human beings that doesn't come with a price tag. Healthcare, church, charities, outreach programs . . . none of it is about helping people so much as making money.

    Yes, I'm very cynical about this. But I've yet to find anything to prove me wrong. Everything is about money. It's just something you have to accept in life. Nothing will every change this.

  3. Hi Ian .. sadly selfishness rules, and nations - a lack of cohesion between north and south in Europe .. it will be interesting to see how it all pans out

    Cheers Hilary

  4. Melissa: That's the kind of imbalance I'm talking about, for sure.

    David: The strange thing is that a lot of people do in fact do things that don't make them any money. Volunteering is huge here in Victoria. Maybe this is unusual, but many individuals do care about other individuals. The challenge is to find ways to bring that to operate at the corporate level.

    Hilary: I think this level of selfishness is a learned cultural trait. Maybe I'm just idealistic, but I reckon it can be unlearned too.

    There will likely be more posts expanding on this theme in due course.

  5. Recently, it made Yahoo's headlines that Monsanto (GIANT corporation) bought the leading bee research company on the planet. Monsanto is a producer of chemicals that are suspected to be a cause of bee colony collapse disorder. Conflict of interests much? This is representative of how things work now. Greed ahead of what is good for the world. And that was just one little underhanded move that made headlines. Just imagine how much wheeling and underhanded dealing never sees the light of day?

  6. Oh, got so danged caught up in my rant that I forgot why I visited. :-) I am passing the Kreativ Blogger award on to you, Botanist :-) There is a post about it on my blog. :-)

  7. "Dogmatic socialism is just as bad as unfettered capitalism"--couldn't agree more, Ian. There's one thing that appeals to me about Hollande's (proposed) policies--the more-integration part. Europe has become increasingly intolerant of cultural diversity over the past two decades, and if Hollande comes through on this issue, it may help to swing the pendulum back towards a more median stand on immigrant problematic.

  8. I like the style of your rant, sir, plus, you have a hedgehog :-) New follower!

  9. Teresa: Glad to have made an impression :D And thank you for the award. It might take me a while to respond, but I will get around to it.

    Guilie: I always thought the Dutch were quite open and welcoming, but I know there's something of an immigration backlash across Europe. I hope something good comes of the new policies.

    Lily: Thank you, and welcome!

  10. You've put a lot of thought into this, I don't have a head for politics, but think there's a great basis for a novel set in the near future!
    Wagging Tales

  11. Most of voters usually choose the person and secondly the political movement that person represents. I personally disliked Sarkozy's aggressiveness but..French know it better :).

  12. Charmaine, I didn't think of this as political, but I guess it might be. I have a lot more lines of thought to chase down yet :)

    Unikorna, the biggest problem with voting, and democracy in general, can be summed up as: the people who most want to get elected are usually precisely those who shouldn't be in power.

  13. "Nowadays, they seem to serve practically everyone and everything but the ordinary citizen."

    Wise, wise words. I ought to use that line someday. I think Americans fear socialism because we've been bred to think our way is the best and every other way has something wrong with it.

    How very close-minded.


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