Roadmap to Making Canada a World Economic Powerhouse in the Information Age24 Jan 2016
Honourable Members of the House of Commons and Senators, Ladies and Gentleman,
As another parliamentary session starts following the 42nd General Election, we need to reflect on the real state of our nation. Canada remains a strong economy relative to other nations in the world. We remain a free society that people from some nations could only aspire to. However, it would be negligent on our part to dismiss and downplay the real conditions and challenges that we are facing right now. Our economy is in decline with the flight of jobs to cheaper labour markets and the continued fall in oil prices. The fall in loonie is leading to inflationary price increases in food and commodities. This would hurt Canadians at a time when a lot of personal debt burdens are already increasing as most people continue to struggle to make ends meet. Retirees will also suffer as their pension money loses value.
Unemployment remains high as income needed to sustain life continues to dwindle. More Canadians are turning from Middle Class into Precariats as full time and secure jobs are increasingly harder to find. Our economy’s over reliance on resources only threatens to create a perfect storm for stagflation. A stagnating economy combined with increasing grocery prices that tax Canadians even more. We cannot rely on devaluing money by overprinting it. Nor will our economic troubles be solved solely by one time expenditures on infrastructure with no long term plans.
There is a simple, proven solution supported by economists and political leaders across the political spectrum. The solution does not create inflation through an artificial increase of a devalued money supply. The simple solution simply distributes the money more effectively to the economic driver of a nation, its people. It could serve as a permanent, non-interventionist and non-discriminatory stimulus for our economy.
Our laws are increasingly written to favour the few to the detriment of the public interest and its well being. Laws that create more unsustainable conditions and costly government interference, or laws that create burdens on the progress and development of new technologies. This is evident especially in the copyright and patent area of the legislation. Our internet bandwidth and wireless speed remains low compared to other developed and developing countries, while the cost to consumers remains much higher. This is despite the fact that our city’s densities and customer base are comparable or higher than some of these nations.
Keeping Canada Strong AND Free
There are several laws from the last session of Parliament and the Senate that have included provisions that are anti-privacy and violate the democratic due process. These bills includes:
The Senate’s S-4, an act that violates the democratic expectation on protection of personal information by private companies.,
The C-13 bill that revamped the infamous child pornographers bill into a so called anti-cyberbullying bill – a bill that creates loopholes for government to bully and violate people’s privacy.
The C-24 ethnic profiling citizenship revocation bill, where one government MP suggested could be used against the opposition leader of the time if he becomes a “traitor”.
The C-51 anti-terrorism bill that is fraught with violations of rights and freedoms guaranteed by our constitution, and
The fast tracked C-59 budget omnibus bill that enables expansion of surveillance and privacy violations along with breaching the charter right for collective bargaining.
No government that respects our rights and freedoms could let these bills stand as is. They should be repealed and a more focused anti-bullying bill should be introduced. This would include provisions for anti-harassment, pro-whistle blowing and investigative journalism, and pro-due process and privacy protection bills to replace those offending bills. It is Utopian to think a law with so many loopholes for violating rights & freedoms will not be used for that purpose. To combat cyber-bullying, we should look into heavier fines and criminal prosecution for those intentionally using explicit images or videos of someone to blackmail them for personal or political purposes. Criminalize revenge porn and unauthorized recording to distribute explicit video chat that was meant to be private.
Digital rights is nothing new. It is simply an application of our traditional rights and freedoms into the digital sphere. Application of basic democratic principles that have allowed our free society to endure all trials and attempts to compromise it. An indication of a society with healthy digital rights is one where our new medium and information infrastructure, which is used for connecting, trading, and communicating, is non-discriminatory and not unduly restricted or compromised. These digital rights should include:
That our information structure remains neutral, open, accessible and decentralized.
That restrictive technology such as digital locks do not become standard to limit the public’s access to information and data.
That our critical network infrastructure and wireless spectrum and supporting technology, which includes security enabling system such as VPN and encryption, are not weakened to satisfy Geo-blocking, throttling, censorship, and the surveillance needs of government and monopolistic entities. Those compromising acts would threaten Canadian’s personal private data, financial information and security, thereby leading to increased instances of fraud and criminality. There should not be mandated weakening of security for surveillance purposes. This could prove costly for businesses and the security of their data, leading to flight of businesses to more data secure, friendly locations.
That digital sovereignty is strengthened by ensuring no political body, monopolies, individuals nor government can own and dictate how the internet or its network functions. Nor should they be able to dictate how traffic, content and information are controlled and limited. We must preserve the original design of the internet, one that promotes openness, decentralization and accessibility without censorship and interference from political and corporate bodies.
Technology is not a cancer that needs to be controlled, forbidden or destroyed. Undemocratic mass surveillance and censorship will not solve the problems of extremism nor circumvent predatory business practices. There is growing opposition and realization to the folly of ever expanding copyright and patent terms and the criminalization of the sharing of information and culture, or monopolistic restriction using digital locks, and criminalization for accessing data and tinkering to innovate and research.
We should use technology to further advance our society into one that is more inclusive, more open, more tolerant and more sustainable. It should not be used to cause the opposite effects.
Those who fear advancement in technology and actively work to block its progress are like someone who surfs against the waves instead of harnessing the power of nature to move forward. It is similar to someone who curses and fears the natural chaotic order of nature, failing to adapt and put its power to good use.
Make Every Vote Really Count
Any political party that was paying attention in the last election would know that electoral reform towards a fairer more proportional system is a priority for a lot of Canadians. It is time to modernize our democracy by implementing a more proportional system that does not marginalize the independent candidates and those who reside in rural areas. The new system should also not allow a few parties to dominate. Otherwise, it could lead to gridlock, lock down, and voters not having any real alternative choices like what has happened in the U.S. It should do away with the need for strategic voting and instead make every vote really count.
To avoid delay in implementing the new system, the use of a tabulating machine that is open source in both software and hardware should be initiated immediately. A way to speed up vote counting while not doing away with the manual audit or counting, and poll watchers. This is not the same as online voting or e-voting, which we remain opposed to at this time, due to security concerns and its lack of a non-coercion guarantee that a voting booth provides.
We would encourage everyone to start discussing and debating the various systems or come up with a new and better system. Join the discussion at our forum at http://remixgov.ca or another similar forum online.
C.R.I.S., A New Direct Voter Engagement and Free FOIA & Open Data Platform
During the last election, we also proposed the creation of a Constituents-Representative-Interaction-System (C.R.I.S.) which will serve as a new online platform for empowering Canadians while at the same time holding our representatives to account. Each eligible voter will receive an anonymous online ID or pseudonym with no personal identifying information. These IDs and the site would be maintained by Elections Canada to allow free expression and exchange of ideas.
User friendly graphs and summary
The new online platform will have various metrics presented in easily understandable graphs and charts, including a summary on government spending and all data, with the exception of information that is classified for purposes of protecting national security or a private individual’s data. This classification to be assigned by a non-partisan body with proper security clearance. The appropriateness of classification to be reviewed by the office of the Auditor General.
Free & Retroactive Freedom of Information Access (FOIA)
The new online platform shall serve as the portal for government data where all data is filed online by default. This will provide the public with free and immediate access to the data. It will eventually make the paid FOIA request obsolete so that Canadians do not have to wade through red tape to obtain this data. This will speed up scrutiny by the public, experts, investigative journalists, and independent auditors. Any wrong doing, irregularities, costly negligence and misspending could be caught early on.
Representatives’ Track Records and Metrics
The online platform will also serve as an online repository and collection of information related to each representative’s voting record. This would include accompanying research data they have garnered to help them come to a decision on voting for a specific bill. A record of justification and explanation of the rationale for the vote shall accompany each vote. All meetings with lobbyists and interest groups inside and outside of parliament must be recorded and be part of “possible conflict of interest disclosure” for relevant bills. The summary and data shall be presented in an easy to understand graph that makes it easy for the constituents to scrutinize and judge the soundness of the decision. Various performance metrics shall also be included such as an unofficial poll of voting intention among constituents in the C.R.I.S. system compared to the actual vote of the representative. Election promises shall also be tracked and justification given for any promises kept or broken. All records shall become permanent records and easily accessible for review during and after elections.
Direct voter’s input
The online platform will become a forum for constituents to directly interact with their representatives. Another performance metric will be the representative’s record of sharing or responding to their constituents with the necessary information that they have gained while carrying out their duty. The constituents can use the forum to vote and create polls to show their sentiments on various issues. The platform could also be used to offer front-line ideas and input to help their representatives.
The online system could potentially be used to initiate a non-binding petition to “recall” a representative. But to avoid waste of money in running a by-election, a statistically significant poll (i.e. sample size or other factors taken into account) will be a prerequisite for Elections Canada to launch a by-election for that riding. This and other features can easily be integrated if the parliament choose to legislate and put mechanisms for recall of representatives into law.
Modernizing the Economic Structure for the Information Age
The need for change
Our current economic structure is unsustainable. Welfare with the “welfare wall” and reliance on election timed tax credits adds a tremendous cost and burden to our government leading to constant increases in taxes from municipal parking tickets to federal taxes and fees. Hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate subsidy have not lead to creation of more jobs but are instead hoarded and become what former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney calls “dead money” for the economy. Or worse, flight of capital as companies which have received these subsidies packed up and moved to a cheaper labour market.
Government have become so centralized and intrusive it can easily be corrupted by lobbyist and rent seekers. A more decentralized economic structure supported by Open Democracy would see less pork barrel and subsidies that tend to be based on favouritism, cronyism and getting re-elected in selected government MP’s ridings.
Canadians struggling to make ends meet are increasingly taking on more debt. Youth looking to get into the job market are stuck in precarious jobs. Seniors instead of retiring, stay in the workplace longer or use their retirement money to help their kids who can’t find a decent job.
The drop in oil prices is leading to an increased suicide rate in Alberta where both provincial and federal government are responsible for lack of planning and diversifying. Progressive Conservative Peter Lougheed pledged to set aside 30 percent of Alberta’s energy revenues and invest in diversifying the provincial economy. Decentralization and diversification of the economy would have offered more opportunity for growth, and damage from bad government policy and judgment would have been more limited. Other than borrowing to spend and take on a deficit, our government needs to have a longer term strategy to make our economy sustainable without the ever increasing debt and taxes. It is time to upgrade and improve our economic structure.
A better way
There is a better way than the constant offloading from the Federal to the Provincial and Municipal levels, as well as the constant begging from lower levels of government for revenue to pay for decaying infrastructure. The constant tax credit increases to buy votes that does not really help those who need it the most. The constant subsidies to boost the economy that only leads to deficits without really sustaining the needed economic growth in the long run.
A better alternative has been supported by prominent leaders from all sides of the political spectrum. From the United States Founding Father Thomas Paine, American Economist and Nobel Memorial Prize awardee Milton Friedman, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At home, this system’s vocal proponent includes Former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal and various Canadian economists and academics. The system is a guaranteed income, basic income, citizen dividends, mincome or negative income tax. Names and degree of implementation vary but the basic concept is each household or person of eligible age receives a fixed income enough to survive and live decently.
Promising Real Life Results
This democracy grant (demo-grant) system and its variant are nothing new and have been tested in various studies. Most studies did not show significant reduction in those who work. People with good jobs continue to work. Those who have bad job seek to better themselves as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. predicted in his last book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”. More recent implementation in communities in Uganda, Kenya, and India are showing positive signs of increased entrepreneurship as economists have predicted. The false notion that people will stop working if they receive a dividend amounting to just enough to survive proves unfounded.
One major study was conducted right here at home in Dauphin, Manitoba. Dr. Evelyn Forget made a detailed analysis and her study is often repeated by policy makers in Europe and around the world. Her study shows a drop in hospital visits and mental health cases. Another fear concerning a universal dividend is that it would lead to a rise in inflation, but actual data shows when Alaska implemented such a system, their inflation was actually lower than the rest of the U.S. The increased entrepreneurship has also shown to have a deflationary effect as more competition is created in the market.
Cost and Savings
Let’s put the cost into perspective. The cost of an effective Mincome is estimated by economists at about $50 billion. This is the variant that uses mean-test to payout only to those in need. By comparison, the ineffective and vote buying tax credits, what economists call the political boutique tax credits cost us about $19 billion. Social transfer just at the federal level alone costs $11 billion. GST Credit to support low income earners is about $3 billion. The ineffective corporate subsidies paid out over 30 years is about $648 billion, averaging about $22 billion per year. Just those factors alone would give a total of $55 billion per year enough to pay for a Mincome program, that can eliminate poverty.
If we account for all the expenses that go into supporting poverty related health care, criminal justice and loss of productivity, the cost is pegged at $72 billion Canada wide. That is before accounting for the associated payout and bureaucracy from the Federal to the Municipal level. The municipal or community levels are burdened with huge expenses for maintaining programs to support the welfare program. The payout and bureaucracy surrounding welfare in Canada easily adds an additional $185 billion in cost. That is $257 billion in total cost nationwide, more than the economists’ estimated $200 billion to $252 billion needed to implement an unconditional, universal, non-stigmatizing dividend to all families.
A Boon for Open Market, Innovation and Creativity
Implementing a Basic Income Guarantee (B.I.G.) program like one we proposed during the election makes sense. It will provide countless benefits and decentralization effects that would empower communities and usher in Open Market types of innovations, countering the monopolization effect that our current economic structure tends to favour. Not only will we see increased ventures and start-ups, but creative artists will also be freer to pursue their creative endeavours. This will make creative artists less vulnerable to the predatory business practices of copyright monopolists, who often make them surrender the copyright and rights to their work.
This means rent-seeking laws and agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that experts and economists have warned will be very economically damaging, which is also anti-innovation and anti-entrepreneurship and Start-Ups, must never be allowed to pass.
Our environmental sustainability policy could compliment nicely alongside a long term economically viable system of B.I.G. The new energy and information economy strategy would ensure Canada is ahead, or at the very least among the world’s pioneers for the next stage of a post-industrial revolution – the decentralized innovation and information era. An era where pollutions are strictly in check and there is an increased personal independence. A system with a swarm of environmentally aware venture capitalists, start-ups, entrepreneurs, creative workers and innovators. Individuals empowered to pursue the work and skills they are best at.
A move toward the electric car would not only save the public from the cost of constant maintenance of motor parts of an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle, it could also make fossil fuel obsolete. This strategy requires:
Investment in further improvement of battery efficiency, currently already at more than 3 hours travel time per rapid charge.
Investment in storage technology to meet the self-sustaining local energy storage needs of a traditional households.
Development of more storage technology, including fuel cell technology and higher efficiency / lithium-hybrid batteries / higher efficiency solar cells, via material engineering at the atomic level (also commonly referred to as nanotechnology).
Construction of zero emission gigawatt power plants to meet industrial and data centres’ energy needs. These are all possible now with a properly planned network of energy and information infrastructures. For instance, quick charging stations are now capable of charging up to a 300 km range in 45 minutes and breakthrough research is not required to further improve the range and charging time, and that is without accounting for battery swap, fuel cell and other technological improvements. Under our current storage technology, people can now travel 9 hours a day with no more than 1 and a half hours of total charging and rest stop time for that day, or two 45 minutes rest stops for a full charge. Just a bit above typical rest stops for a long distance drive.
High capacity and high efficiency storage technology is the key to self-sustaining energy for most households. Public energy utilities should have open and transparent standards similar to our open government and open data policy to ensure essential energy needs remain affordable and price gouging practices are prevented.
A real environmental sustainability policy cannot exist without a new energy strategy. It does not have to be an either/or with fossil fuel during the transition. But environmental protection and public health and safety should never be compromised for profit. The Paris climate change agreement will be meaningless without a substantive action. Simply implementing carbon tax will not lead to environmental sustainability.
Social Workers and Support
Social workers who chose their profession even though it is not a high paying job will have more time to actually help people than waste time helping those in need navigate the red tape and complex bureaucracy. A non-stigmatizing mental health care and rehabilitation system must accompany B.I.G. implementation to ensure the residual individuals who still get stuck due to a history of past abuses and traumatic experiences are helped in a dignified manner. Accompanied by a change in tactics on the war on drugs to move away from a prohibition type of system to one that rehabilitates sufferers, we will be able to make drug profiting by gangs obsolete. Instead, sufferers can seek resources, treatment and counseling from non-judgmental and welcoming safe injection and rehabilitation sites.
B.I.G. would take care of senior and child poverty, as well as the disabled and the disadvantaged. It is a child care and income supplement that does not discriminate. It is what welfare and tax credits have tried to do but failed at miserably. B.I.G. is proven to be effective while cutting down on bureaucratic cost. It will move us from a band-aid solution to a more preventative, empowering, and lasting solution.
Sustainable Health Care
Our health care costs is rising, exacerbated by rising drug costs. Meanwhile, coverage for out-of-province medical care still varies from province to province. The 1970s Dauphin, Manitoba Mincome experiment showed decreased in hospital visits. The short term studies do not even include the long term reduction in health care as poverty decreases. New studies have shown that a large part of health care costs can be attributed to poverty and homelessness, which tends to lead to the need for more expensive health services. Studies have estimated that providing shelter to the homeless will cost less than taking care of more expensive sickness caused by not having a shelter. The Dauphin experiment also showed reduction in hospital visits due to metal health problems.
Eliminating poverty would reduce the $72 billion poverty related costs that include poverty related health care costs. The cost of health care could be further reduced by implementing the much needed patent reform to reverse the rent-seeking patent term extensions introduced under the false promise that they will increase research. The federal government’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board’s (PMPRB) own data has shown that investment by big pharmaceutical companies on basic research has actually gone down as patent terms increase. These patent term increases have added billions in extra cost to our health care system.
Similar to copyright term extension, the patent term extension is another example of government passing laws that benefit the few monopolistic companies with tremendous cost to the public. Instead of counting on a few big companies to do the research, the savings from reversing to at least the original patent terms can instead be used to support a decentralized research network. This could include universities where most basic research is done. Basic research is needed to find the next cure or breakthrough for the advancement of the scientific and medical fields. Basic research does not offer immediate revenues and could be costly. This is a primary reason why big commercial pharmaceutical companies have generally focused more on application research, to find another use for their existing drugs to get immediate revenue without the increased spending associated with basic research.
As outlined in our “Fostering Innovation for Researchers, Makers, and Hackers” policy during the election, a Nationwide Research Collection Centre (NRCC) could be created to provide open access to research and data. A network for collaboration among researchers in Canada and the world would hasten new discoveries as independent scientists are able to build on existing knowledge without repeating other discoveries that have already been made.
Health care and drug costs can be further driven down by implementing a Universal Drug Plan to leverage the joint province and territory’s negotiating power. Such a system could also take advantage of economies of scale, which would reduce drug costs for all Canadians.
Decentralization and Empowering Communities
B.I.G. is about decentralization from a big brother, nanny state type of government to a more collaborative framework for all levels of government. For the program to succeed, we need all provinces and territories and their municipalities to work together and see the wider purpose of such programs. The federal government can act as coordinator converting existing systems like the child benefit and HST system to distribute citizen dividends payout and to collect taxes. This can be done without the federal government dictating how each specific sum of money should be spent. This will be good for the unity of the country as proven during the last election when some Québécois, who feel disenfranchised and are leaning toward a separatist party, have voiced support for decentralization under B.I.G. as an acceptable alternative.
Municipalities and community level government and leaders should be provided a permanent source of revenue outside the limited sources and constantly rising parking fees, property tax and taxi license fees. Some cities with limited revenue resources have instead passed restrictive and regressive laws rather than get rid of obsolete business-crippling fees for taxi operators. They pass laws to restrict emerging technologies that offer an alternative business model to taxis.
Land value tax is one of many possible permanent sources of revenue that could be provided to local municipalities or pooled together at the provincial level to also help rural and smaller communities. It could replace gas taxes as we switch to longer range electric cars and a new energy economy. But the revenue should go directly to the lower level of government and to communities. A good source of permanent revenue could allow communities to implement their visionary plans and create a more sustainable living space suitable for this century and beyond. This could include free transportation to increase connectedness and ease of mobility. While the benefits might not be as obvious as those of a direct fare payment revenue system, the more vibrant and accessible community that it creates would lead to indirect and substantial economic benefit. The land value tax system has long been proposed by prominent economists and could reduce urban sprawl and property speculation. Property speculation has led to unhealthy increases in economic costs to housing prices in places like Vancouver.
Infrastructure bonds with sharing of revenue (e.g. revenue from the first few years of project completion) with bonds investors is another viable source of revenue for big capital projects. A revenue source that is voluntary but with monetary incentives, in contrast to the mandatory imposition and permanence of taxes.
These revenue sources are just a few examples of the unlimited alternative means of raising revenue in a decentralized economy.
Attracting Investors, Innovators, and Creative Workers
We can establish our country as the favoured destination for companies looking to setup their data centres by ensuring we highly respect the privacy of individual and business data, and that our information infrastructure is next generation and leads the world in speed, capacity and security. That means no law-mandated backdoor or weakening of encryption and security. An uncompromising standard to create a business climate for data safe haven.
To encourage innovation, we must ensure that the original intent of patent and copyright is upheld. This means reversing the rent seeking laws that have been implemented. This includes copyright and patent term extension at a time when the production and distribution costs, as well as the time to reach the consumer is now much lower and cheaper. This is a time where shortening of terms makes more sense to allow more rapid flow of information and the culture to hasten its advancement.
Rent seeking laws have reversed the original intent of the copyright and patent laws. It is now instead an enabler of monopoly that adds cost to the public while keeping research data, information, and culture out of reach for a longer period of time. The original patent was implemented to promote the sharing of information as opposed to the inaccessibility of trade secrets. A modest patent term is by design a differentiating factor to that of a trade secret. Prolonged patent terms make the benefit moot and makes it no better than a trade secret, which is inaccessible and unreproducible.
Copyright monopolists falsely claim that the international Pirate movement is pro-theft. When in fact, the major U.S. studio that lobbied for ever increasing copyright terms, to suit their expiring copyrights, are the ones who stole the rights of the work, denying the public access to these works. Works that these monopolistic studios did not originally create but simply derived and remixed. The wider public and independent artists are denied their creative freedom. Patrons of creative works are criminalized instead of being granted a medium for easier access at a reasonable cost more reflective of modern realities. When innovative companies work to satisfy those needs, they are met with throttling, bandwidth discrimination, and Geo-blocking. These overly intrusive measures are regressive and should have no place in the new information and knowledge economy.
Stigma and Misconception
Last, but definitely not the least of the positive effects of a decentralized and distributive economy such as B.I.G. is in solving the welfare state problem that has been stuck in its old early industrial revolution state. A system that is ineffective and unsustainable. It has become the elephant in the room that no politicians want to mention even during the election.
If anyone is so tempted as to summarily dismiss a homeless person, or rile against someone on the street who is suffering from mental problems, as having brought it on themselves, should try putting themselves in the shoes of the less fortunate. They can imagine themselves and their family falling on bad times through no fault of their own. Perhaps it was being born to parents who have been abused in a residential school and the trauma that led them to alcohol or substance abuse. Or perhaps being born to poverty in an environment of violence and gangs. Or having been forced to run away from an abusive and harassment filled home or neighbourhood. As storm, rain, wind, snow or ice fell, instead of being sheltered in a warm home they try to survive anyway they can in the nooks and crannies of the cold damp street. If that were you, would you still forsake those who are suffering and trapped in what the economists call the “welfare wall” of our failed welfare system?
While there will always be cheaters and unproductive people, the majority of those in poverty are not there by choice. A lot of them are working poor, working multiple jobs and longer hours for less pay.
Many other benefits
The previously mentioned points in this proposal, are of course just some of the benefits that a system like B.I.G. would provide. We would like to invite everyone to help crowd-source implementation of a B.I.G. program, including auditing the various costs and implementation methods. Join us at http://remixgov.ca
We call on all government to hold an economic summit to plan implementation of B.I.G. including fee-less banking or banks meant for remittances, where those grants / dividends / income are guaranteed and protected from being used for collateral and from debt collectors.
Beyond Our Borders – Creating a self sustaining free and open world
Neutralizing the Growth of Extremism
We live in an interconnected world and the Syrian refugee crisis has shown that any nation who falls and becomes a failed state will have a far reaching effect way beyond its borders. We as a nation should be a positive contributing force to the world. Taking in refugees if we can but at the same time promoting justice and Open Democracy to prevent corruption of government and persecution of those who fight for a more open and freer world. As such, we should not sell deadly weapons to undemocratic and authoritarian regimes. We should not support “friendly dictators”, for the effect of that in Libya and Iraq is still evident to this day. Supporting dictators plants the seeds for violent extremism. Even if we eventually remove the dictators, the void it creates will quickly be filled by these malignancies, thereby creating a failed state. The only way to turn back the tide of that injustice is through sincere and generous rebuilding efforts like those of post-World War II Japan and Germany. Ambitious rebuilding efforts to help prevent these countries from becoming failed states. And allow these countries’ self determination with the four freedoms declared by U.S. President Roosevelt to be equally applicable to those countries. To create a world that is just. With freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion (beliefs and non-beliefs), and freedom from want and fear, which could only be realized with the elimination of poverty and social injustice.
We see rising injustice becoming a cesspool of a recruiting pool for ever worsening extremism from Al Qaeda, to succeeding worse incarnations now and into the future. Instead of fearing what a democratic middle east could bring and preferring the military dictatorship, we should have supported the educated Egyptian youth of Arab spring, who were not aligned with religious fundamentalists. They simply wanted freedom and an end to corruption, not caliphate. Instead we continue to supply arms and prop up authoritarians who prosecute women, and behead non-violent political dissenters and protesters. How are these oppressors different from the ISIS? While we condemn through words the execution of dissenters, we support it through actions with weapons to excuse these injustice acts..
We should not be afraid of discussing the causes of extremism. This does not mean justification for those hateful and heinous acts. By discussing causes, we can find ways to prevent and limit the reach of extremism.
Mitigating extremism requires an active campaign against social injustice at home and abroad. Front-line support and intelligence to crackdown on recruiters and inciters of hate crimes and extremism from religious fundamentalist to ultra-nationalist groups. Relying on a system that is devoid of due process like the U.S. Patriot Act, C51 or mass surveillance will not make us safe. It will only lead to more Maher Arar, or the C.I.A.’s heinous anal torture that has led to the jailing and arrest of the innocents based on false confessions. Such actions do not make us safer, they only provide the extremist with fuel for their propaganda.
We need to fight a strong, strategically smart battle to set us clearly apart from intolerance, hatefulness and injustice. A battle fought with compassion and precision instead of senseless mass surveillance and summary arrest. Staying clear of ethnic profiling and bombing or drone campaigns that kill civilians indiscriminately similar to those that have been exposed by Private Manning. For using or condoning these extra judicial actions risk blurring the line between fair justice and the delusional radicalization based on hate.
Basic Income for the World
Countries with sectarian strife and corrupt authoritarian government, propped up by developed and developing world powers in the east and west, continue to degenerate. Countries that are rich in natural resources see their riches benefit only the corrupt government, and their multinational corporation cronies who turn a blind eye to the plight of the disenfranchised citizens of those countries. If we want to cut off and reduce the recruiting base of extremism, we need to reduce cases of social injustice and the masses of impoverished, disillusioned and desperate people. While a Basic Income Guarantee (B.I.G.) program would cost billions in Canada, developing countries that are self-sufficient in agriculture and have a much lower cost of living could get by at a much lower guaranteed amount.
Lifting millions and billions out of poverty is not an impossible task. We can reduce cases of corruption through Open Government and by avoiding actions that tend to embolden this type of injustice. The world will be much richer because of it. Globalization does not have to be a zero sum game of rampaging profiteers with their insatiable greed on the back of a nation’s citizens. Eliminating social injustice worldwide is achievable. We will be better off if we consciously ensure we are a positive force in alleviating these malignancies.
The above policies are by no means everything that must be done in the next four years but it is a start. However, all policies and deliberations for passing a law should strictly follow an evidence-based approach. Using C.R.I.S. to make sure wider input and feedback is sought, and a well thought out policy would be adopted, minimizing unforeseen negative effects for the society. Here are some of the basic guiding principles for deliberations and introductions of new laws:
Evidence-Based – this should be the primary guideline for any legislation. This prevents highly charged emotionally driven decisions, which could lead to legislation based on irrational rage and hatred, and lead us towards a mass surveillance society. This will also minimize cultural and personal biases. An evidence-based approach encourages constant gathering of new information and discovery of new and better solutions. It encourages constant questioning of existing practices and helps efforts to seek out facts. It also encourages better planning and having a sound, defensible plan before actual implementation and spending of any public money.
Supports Open Culture – open culture ensures accessibility to information and tools (affordable, verifiable, reusable, adaptable, shareable, improvable).
Transparent and Open – actions, decisions, government data are made available as soon as possible in an easy to understand format, as well as in raw electronic format for easy auditing and scrutiny of any business being conducted in service to the general public.
Uphold Rights and Freedoms – Oppose any attempts to muddle rights and freedoms in the information age or the digital sphere, or into the future.
Supports Open Market – i.e. Support fair competition and oppose: coercive and anti-competitive practices, programmed defects in the manufacturing system, artificial scarcity, acts of cartel, and rent seeking or monopoly. This includes preventing the use of patent to encumber advancement of competing technology. Or copyright term extensions to shutout access and the ability to remix by independent artists and the public.
Inclusive and Foreseeable – Non-discriminatory and inclusive consultation and public input process. Public interest over interest of the few. Forward looking and planning for the long term rather than just immediate gain. Diversity.
Open mindedness and sensible – i.e. Does NOT put more merit on ideas based on ideologies, politics, rituals, tradition, ethnicity, or dogmatic factors. Willing to challenge status quo while being pragmatic, proportional, balanced and effective.
Frugality and accountability – careful and thorough planning of spending and budgets. Open and ongoing monitoring of contracts, project spending, progress and performance metrics.
Promote whistle-blowing and an independent & free investigative press – encourage reporting of wrong doing or wasteful spending. Fearless reporting of irregularities and questionable or problematic practices. Hefty penalties for those who persecute whistle-blowers and threaten free reporting.
Intolerance of conflict of interest – promote a high standard of checks and balances. Conflict of interest as the threshold for disciplinary actions and dismissal, instead of waiting for expensive prolonged adjudication. This would prevent the use of plausible deniability and mocked ignorance of ethical requirements / anti-corruption measures & rules. Prevent use of tactics that corrupt officials can employ to escape accountability.
Independent minded representative – eradicate the legislator’s whip and centralized dictates from the party or Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Be a true representative and information leader for the constituents.
Decentralized and sustainable – pursue policies that favour decentralization and sustainability. This will ensure adopted policies have a lasting positive effect and a consistent highly efficient base of support.