Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Opposite of Right is ???

Traipsing about some of Craig Chandler's comments on the Project Alberta message board, I noticed his tag line read "The Opposite of Right is ... Wrong!"

So - I thought I'd do the obvious - go through various "Right-Wing" policies implemented around the world, and examine them:

Flat Tax Regimes:

This is a classic piece of right-wing position. Along with poll taxes and medicare "premiums", they effectively punish those at the bottom end of the income spectrum, and have little impact on the higher income earners. Since governments exist, in principle, for the benefit of all citizens, it seems unreasonable for the government to disproportionately impact the weakest of society's members.

Implemented: In Alberta.

Impact: Try living on less than $35,000/year in this province - you'll figure it out soon enough.

Free Trade:

It sounds so good on paper, doesn't it? Take down trade barriers, enable commerce unfettered access to each other's markets. Until you realize that one of the parties to the agreement thinks it's a one-way deal. Canada's involvement in the NAFTA agreement underscores the problems with blind free trade. Constant disputes with the United States over one issue or another, and rulings that are routinely ignored by the United States government. (Which - ideologically speaking should be among the biggest proponents of free trade)

The European model, as implemented by the EU, although filled with incessant squabbling seems to be designed to succeed. Only time will tell, but it appears that for the most part, the EU member nations ultimately wind up coming to some kind of workable comprimise. (Notably, the European countries are typically much more socialist than North American nations)

The point? The very people for whom free trade should be an ideologically obvious thing are on the right wing, and yet, they are the biggest obstacles to it working. Today, NAFTA is arguably a failure.

Implemented: Canada, Mexico and United States

Impact: Lots - starting with the concentration of resource ownership in foreign hands.


Follow-Me Funding:

Often discussed in Alberta with respect to topics such as health care and education. The problem I have with "follow-me" funding is that it tends to divert public funding into private sector enterprise. Along with so-called "charter schools", these models simply dilute the public system to the point of inneffectiveness. The result? A public education system so strapped that only the poor will use it (and only if they must).

The problem? Once you starve the public system to this degree, it rapidly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The mantra is that public services provided by the government don't work. Meanwhile, the same government parties starve the service for funding to the point where it ultimately collapses. Usually the politicians will throw around terms like "unsustainable" without ever defining what that means.

Implemented: Alberta, Ontario (sort of - I'm not sure how far Harris got in imitating Ralph on that front)

In the United States, the problems with chronic underfunding of the public education system is demonstrated by the punitive nature of the "No Child Left Behind" act that George W. Bush brought into play, where "underperforming" school districts are punished (presumably by witholding federal funding).

Social Conservativism

Whether we are talking about gay rights, abortion rights, or immigration policy, social conservativism seems to ultimately be based on ignorance, superstition and pure concentrated stupidity.

Propogating misinformation doesn't solve societal problems; nor does stigmatization and marginalization of people.

Implemented: United States; Alberta

My point? Not that the "Right Wing" of the political spectrum lacks anything to contribute to the political dialogue in this nation, but rather that it is foolish to assume that "Right" in the context of politics means "correct".

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