Monthly Archives: April 2016

Cultural Genocide

We hear a great deal nowadays about third-world conditions on our Native reserves in Canada, and how, for example, there is no incentive for the inhabitants to repair their houses because they don’t own them. We hear that there are no jobs for them, and their teenage children are suicidal. Yet whenever anyone suggests they leave their remote reserves and join the rest of us where there are jobs and decent housing, we are accused of advocating cultural genocide. But haven’t we been down this path before?

About three thousand years ago my remote ancestors were peacefully living in an unspoilt landscape in Britain, doubtless in a culturally sensitive, gender neutral, eco-friendly manner. Suddenly, without warning they were brutally invaded by a bunch of red-headed yahoos from central Europe called Celts. They took our land, they raped our women, they even forced their language upon us. It was cultural genocide in its most blatant form.

We endured this colonial oppression for a thousand years, and then were subjected to invasion from a fascist military empire based in Rome. The Romans took our land, they raped our women, and once again they forced their language upon us. It was cultural genocide all over again. For nearly five hundred years we suffered under this military occupation until the Romans got tired of it and left. But no sooner had they left when a horde of thugs from Northern Europe calling themselves Angles and Saxons descended upon us. Once more they took our land, they raped our women, they forced their language upon us, and all in all, they had themselves an orgy of cultural genocide.

We were just getting used to the Anglo-Saxon invaders when a swarm of homicidal Scandinavian maniacs called Vikings descended upon us. Using the, by now standard procedure, they took our land our women, our language, and generally went the whole hog with the cultural genocide thing.

Meanwhile, their Vikings cousins had been sailing their longboats up the River Seine from the English Channel all the way to Paris, where they enjoyed themselves sacking the city. In the year 911, the French King, Charles the Simple, made a treaty with the Vikings whereby, in return for leaving Paris alone, the Vikings got all the land around the lower Seine (with a name like Charles the Simple, what did you expect?). They called this the Northmen’s Land, or as we call it today, Normandy. In less than a generation the Norman Vikings changed from seafarers to horsemen.

Fast forward one-and-a-half centuries, when the Norman leader of the day, one William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, decided to invade Britain. Perhaps he felt he had a claim to the English throne, but more likely he was just a bloody-minded adventurer who was happy to grab what he could, when he could. Whatever, in 1066 the Normans, descendants of Vikings, invaded us. Guess what. They took our land, they raped our women, they forced their language (French, by now) upon us, and generally had a good time with the cultural genocide thing.

My people, those of us that are left by now, have been brutally oppressed by a series of colonial invaders over a period of two thousand years. I demand a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or rather a whole series of them, whose purpose will be to extract apologies, and fat cheques, from the Celts, the Romans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Vikings and the Normans!

Hang on a moment – didn’t we do rather well for ourselves in the centuries after the last invasion? Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from this. Instead of dwelling on our misfortunes and asking for sympathy, we picked ourselves up and got on with it. Could the same principle be applied to our First Nations?

The term cultural genocide is meant to elicit a sympathetic response from us, with its obvious reference to actual genocide and mass slaughter. But all it means is that you end up living your life somewhat differently than you did before – no dead bodies necessary. The phrase is overused. Most of us live our lives somewhat differently than our grandparents did – is this cultural genocide? If you emigrate to Canada from a country where neither English nor French is spoken, in a generation or two you will probably have lost your original language, together with your ethnic cultural practices such as female circumcision, or whatever it was you did over there. Is this cultural genocide?

Life changes. The world changes. If you insist on living as you think your ancestors lived (apart from having snowmobiles and cell phones), then you are doomed to live in poverty at the edges of society. If this is what you want, then so be it, but don’t expect much sympathy from the rest of us. However, I suspect that many of you living on your reserves with no hope of a good job, or of half-decent housing, or any of the amenities of life that the rest of us take for granted, would really like to join us. Try it, you might like it.

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Tax and Spend

First World countries are generally far wealthier than they were fifty years ago, and taxation levels are generally higher than what they were then. The amount of revenue flowing in to governments, even allowing for inflation, is therefore much greater than it was fifty years ago. And yet, governments seem to be perennially short of money. Why?

The obvious answer is that governments spend, or would like to spend, more money than they take in. The real questions are what do they spend it on, and why do they spend it?

First World governments, by and large, spend the bulk of their money on social programs. There are two reasons for this. First, governments may see a pressing social need and step in to fulfil that need. Second, governments may cynically use taxes to bribe the electorate to vote for them, disguised as a new social program. Very often the two are combined. Politicians desperate for either election or re-election will have no difficulty convincing themselves that the latest scheme they have cooked up really does fulfil a crying social need, and will conveniently forget that world would go on just as well if their scheme were stillborn.

The problem with social programs is that while they are easy to institute in the first place, they so quickly become part of the fabric of life that removing or reducing them causes howls of outrage. Let’s suppose the government sets up a program to deliver a cup of coffee to everyone in bed before they get up in the morning. A vast, nationwide network of coffee preparers and coffee deliverers would be set up, together with their associated purchasing, transport, quality assurance, training, and management teams (lots of the latter, of course), all at full union rates and civil service hours. When the program becomes financially unsupportable, as inevitably it must, and the government of the day announces its demise, the mainstream media and social media forums would join in a concerted outburst of anguish and breast-beating, and would inform us that the coffee-in-bed program is the very essence of Americanism/Canadianism/fill-in-as-appropriate-ism, and tampering with it would lead to bloodshed in the streets.

A program of this nature may win votes for the government in an election, but only on a one-time basis. Once instituted its existence is quickly taken for granted. Next time around the government or government-in-waiting  needs a new program, but of course the old ones cannot be touched. And you wonder why governments are perennially short of money?

When considering programs of this nature, we need to ask ourselves what is the proper function of government. The answer to this is that governments should do those things, and only those things, which we as individuals cannot reasonably do for ourselves, or the private sector cannot do for us. All else is mere vote-buying. Defence, foreign affairs, and policing are areas for which the government should reasonably have full responsibility. At the other end of the spectrum, getting everyone a cup of coffee in the morning is not something that governments should be doing. But in between are large grey areas. Should governments be providing daycare for young children, for example?

The argument for government-provided daycare is that mothers of young children may need or want to go out to work, and that private daycare, for which the parents will necessarily pay the full cost, may be too expensive for them. Far better for the government to provide daycare at a nominal cost, while the full cost will be paid from tax revenues. In effect, the cost of daycare will be spread over all taxpayers rather than being paid solely by those who make use of it.

The problem with this is one of efficiency. Any program run by the public sector has no need to be cost efficient, because it has no competition. Costs can be guaranteed to go up year after year as unions press for never-ending wage increases, and as more and more supernumerary staff are added: supervisors, area managers, regional managers, employment equity officers, dispute resolution staff – you name it, sooner or later they will be there. Programs like this add on nebulous functions like fungi spreading underground. And why not? Cost efficiency is a null term in the public sector. Private sector daycares, meanwhile, must keep overheads down or go out of business.

If we as a society consider that we need to provide financial support to the parents of young children – if – then a far more cost efficient method would be to give the money directly to the parents. Direct cash  ‘baby bonus’ payments to parents of young children could be used to send the children to a private daycare, or might provide enough additional funding to enable the mother to stay home with her children.

Of course, the usual objections will be raised that parents would spend their baby bonuses on beer and popcorn. Yes, this might happen in a few cases (although much less frequently than the patronising mandarins of the liberal left assume) but this would represent a minor inefficiency, compared to the gross inefficiency of a government-run daycare system.

However, this does not touch on the central question of whether governments should involve themselves in the entire area of daycare, whether as a direct provider or by some indirect means such as a baby bonus. We need a framework in which such questions can be discussed and decided, rather than relying on the whims of politicians.

If taxpayers’ money is to be spent on a new social program, then there must be a clearly stated set of objectives for that program to achieve, other than an abundance of happy voters in the next election. In the case of daycare/baby bonus, the reasons might be thus:

  1. To encourage the participation of women in the labour force;
  2. To encourage women to have more children.

The second objective arises because as societies become richer, children change from being economic assets to economic drains. In a poor country, the more children you have, the more potential wage earners there will be in your family, whereas in a rich country the more children you have, the greater your outlay on clothes, sports equipment, computers and so on. In most First World countries today the birth rate is below the replacement rate, and while this may gladden the hearts of environmentalists, it will become a major cause for concern as the number of elderly persons receiving state pensions and medical services eventually exceeds the number of wage earning tax payers who support them.

The tax and spend philosophy embraced by many politicians assumes that there is a bottomless well of taxpayers from which endless funding can be withdrawn. Demographics would suggest otherwise. Tax and spend inevitably results in governments racking up vast amounts of debt which will be left to future generations to pay down. The problem is that those future generations  will almost certainly be smaller than ours, with a correspondingly smaller capability to deal with that debt.

Be prepared to be cursed by your descendants.