The real deficit

Norm Farrell left this in the comments of the previous post. I think it’s worth elevating:

I grew up in Powell River when thousands of union workers earned good livings (and good retirements) in the pulp, paper and lumber mills. There were good wages, strong apprenticeship programs, employment for young people in post-secondary schooling, aid to programs in sports, music, arts and other elements that create vibrant communities.

Once upon a time British Columbians in towns like Powell River had a clear path for economic security. Yes, there was boom, there was bust, but in general they could plan their lives with relative confidence in the outcome.

This path – and this confidence –  is disappearing, if it isn’t gone already.

Of course the nature of an economy changes over time. Nothing is forever. But a new path that British Columbians can bank on has not been forged.

One of the political parties in this province – who will say anything on the campaign trail – but who represent the “business class” that tells us in no uncertain terms we can…

  • No longer afford job security we once knew
  • No longer afford decent wages we once knew
  • No longer afford pensions we once knew
  • No longer afford social programs we once knew

and who…

  • Imports workers from other countries in greater and greater numbers

Yet we are also told simultaneously by the same folk we live in The Greatest Place on Earth or some other trite catchphrase. And then there’s what common-sense and our own eyes tell us: British Columbia is one of the wealthiest places on the planet.

There is a disconnect.

The other political party only tepidly defends the above. In many ways they too have bought into the underlying scary assumptions put forth by the lords of the realm that we can no longer afford the things that made us great.

Then there’s this factoid, from The Sixth Estate:

One of the most important things that people should realize, and generally don’t, about the present state of Parliamentary democracy in Canada is that we have a structural, steadily growing democratic deficit which continues to increase regardless of voter turnout levels, regardless of how responsive political parties are or are not to public opinion, and regardless of how much or how little freedom of speech is granted to backbench MPs by party leaders. The problem, quite simply, is that we do not have enough MPs…

… In 1867, if you were an actual voter, you were one of about 1500 people to whom your MP was accountable. Today, you’re one of almost 50,000. Given this fact, is it any surprise that we feel as though our views are not represented in Parliament?

There is democratic disconnect. There is democratic deficit.

Why don’t people vote?

Quite frankly, why bother.

P.S. They’ll say – If you don’t like it, get involved in the process and change the system! Ah, but you see we can no longer afford the 8-hour work day either so that means I have to dedicate more of my diminishing free time to an endeavour of dubious outcome. Or my employer will fire me for my political activity. Or I can’t afford the financial investment to back the candidate of my choice. Or I’m splitting the vote.

Or any of the growing numbers of impediments to participation in a gamed system.