|Montreal, April 12, 2003 / No 123|
by Scott Carpenter
A while back during a recent eight month sabbatical I had a brief communication with an editor who'd been wondering what I was up to. I told him that for the moment I was out of the writing racket – at least the political stuff – and that I had a lot of thinking to do before I sat back down in front of the keyboard again.
It'd been two years since the last federal election in Canada and I'd learned
a lot about what makes my fellow countrymen – westerners in particular
– tick. I told him that I had grown disheartened; not at any lack of enthusiasm
of these fine folks for independence from the long tentacles of the federal
government (the talk of independence for the west continues today) but
rather of their inability to rally behind any political ideal other than
a watered down version of democratic socialism that I like to call Cowboy
Indeed, independence for western Canada has come to mean little more than fewer gun laws, "regional control" of our own tax dollars and a government that is "held more accountable." Which begs the question: accountable to what and to whom?
According to most news reports and other political sources an independent west would have a more efficient socialist health care system and perhaps a stronger military. Moreover, our pension system would be better managed by a western government and power in general would be more "decentralized." Apparently, all of this makes government more accountable to we "the people."
Well. Zippy da do da day!
It sort of begs another question doesn't it? What good is it to "decentralize" power if the principles that got us where we are now remain the same? It makes little difference to me whether Ottawa or Edmonton steals my income without my permission. In fact, as Mel Gibson so eloquently stated in the motion picture The Patriot: "Why would I want to exchange one tyrant a thousand miles away for a thousand tyrants a mile away?"
Even if reducing Ottawa's role in my life did bring some form of "democratic reform," the idea that decentralization of government equals greater personal freedom is still somewhat asinine. In most cases decentralization simply means a greater distribution of coercive power amongst smaller regional governments. And as anyone who has ever attended a city council meeting can tell you, local government can be as abusive towards individual liberty as any other.
If you don't believe me do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of author, Vyn Suprynowicz's, The Ballad of Carl Dregga. It's chockablock full of great examples of how local governments abuse, rape and pillage the wealth of their own citizens. Heck, just try building a small addition onto the back of your house without the "proper permits" and you'll find out in a hurry exactly what I'm talking about.
Nope. The idea that decentralization is somehow anti state is a myth. More often than not decentralization does little more than give every aspiring tyrant his own little hill to urinate from. In the end the only kind of government that truly works is the one that rarely works at all. Spreading the load around does little more than bring tyranny a bit closer to home. And that I can live without.
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