Monday, February 28, 2005

The danger of nationalism

If there were a coin with a head of socialism embedded on one side, the insidious countenance of nationalism would surely be on the other. Together these make the prospects of growth and liberty a mean handicap. Each is a violation of the liberty we are granted as individuals, but nationalism is an underestimated foe of humanity.

Although religious intolerance appears to stand high and mighty as the single most threat to the liberty of our world's most challenged people, even the most obvious cinder box - the Middle East - is being inflamed more by the outmoded sway of nationalism. Yes, the same nationalism that brings the Lebanese people to the streets, that ignites the Palestinians, and perhaps inspires the Syrians to regime change - all are falling into a trap that hardly resolves the real problem that plagues these people.

Indeed, for all the energy that goes toward state building in Palestine - the "two-state" vision - it is hardly an economically viable one. Better that the peoples of the Middle East look to establish values of liberty and economic self-interest in a system of political and economic union. What sense the nation, if the economy that lives under its shackles cannot thrive? Yes, religious intolerance divides these people, but nationalism will eventually kill their dreams. Indeed, Iraq would best set the proper economic and political tone for the region by embracing federalism. Is there sense in making divisions where they need not be?

Europe stands as the best example of a modern effort to diminish the tone of nationalism - the European Union frail, but concerted toward economic and political union. There, we hope, the future is full of prospect. But the Middle East? What if by some miracle there is peace? Surely, the economic interests of the region are best served by abandoning division and working toward a customs union and perhaps a Pan-Arab state - one based on liberty and democracy and inclusive of Israel. Surely, that must be the vision? Unfortunately, the currency of these times still rings of nationalism, in all its small-minded forms.

So too, in Canada. Canadian nationalism continues to hold our people back. Canadians continue to hold on to a history that is flawed. And it costs us dearly. The opportunity costs of not addressing the failing of our nation state charade will become increasingly clear to Canadians - both in a domestic sense, and a foreign policy framework. We will be handicapped economically as surely as our international stature will continue to collapse. The current fiasco over missile defense and the embarrassing failure of Canadian tsunami relief execution are just the most visible recent tarnishes. The more we look like ineffectual hypocrites and free-loaders, the more the world, not just the U.S., will see us for what we are. In some cases, we will simply lose the international respect we once commanded, in other cases we will open ourselves up for abuse.

Better we start to dismantle the rhetoric of the nationalist. Better that they and their socialist mouthpieces begin to answer to the failings of this country.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Our lame duck prime minister

It might be easy to forgive a minority government for lack of conviction, but our Liberal government has already made it clear in previous majority incarnations that they are captive to paranoid nationalist sentiment - regardless of whether the issue demands heartfelt and true leadership. Instead, the Liberal government continues to shirk responsiblity. Look no further than the issue of national defense.

In a world that poses serious security threats to Canadians, we would expect that our national government would take to its proper duty and address vulnerabilities to our dominion. So what of missile defence? How does the current governments attitude really comply with its responsibility to the nation? How can this government turn its head on missile defence?

I would expect that the U.S. response to this cavalier Canadian attitude will further erode our important relationship. Too bad. This is not the time or place to play politics. A missile launched over the heads of Canadians - no matter if it is directed toward New York or Washington - is of grave concern for the population below its path. And who is to say Toronto might not be in its vector? No, I should think we should pay heed to the fact that there are ballistic missiles that could threaten Canadians as much as Americans. We should view continental security as the important foundation of Canadian defence interests. And we should use missile defence as an important leg of an incresingly integrated security and defence infrastructure shared with the United States.

Prime Minister Paul Martin is clearly a creature of politics - not nearly the bold leader we need now. But this seems to be a consistent problem in Canada. I would anticipate that the U.S. will continue to call Canada to stand up. Again, Canadians act like irresponsible citizens. The U.S. Ambassador is right to warn us that we risk our soveriegnty of defence - but we have long been doing that. I hope that behind the curtains real Canadian involvement is being promoted and executed.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Defence - our common interests

Too often Canadians are misguided by the luxury of irresponsibility. The liberal delusions about international law and peace are easy to promote in a country where our liberty, should it ever be tested, will rest in the hands of the United States. We are, as Canadians, behaving like adolescent children. We want independance, the rights to form our own policy; yet, we are not prepared to responsibly enact the machinery to effectively assert it. This is very naive.

Currently, Canadian Defence expenditures account for about 7% of total federal government expenditures. On a per capita basis, Canadians spend less than $US 315 per person on our defence budget. By comparison, the the world's superpower to our south spends about $1,400 per capita on Defense, accounting for 18% of total federal government budgetary outlays. What do Americans get for their commitment to security? They are the world's greatest military power, their hegemony protecting liberty not just for Americans, but for the free world. Canada? We have a military incapable of meeting even the barest obligations of a sovereign nation. Our forces are minimal, their resources embarrassingly inadequate.

If ever there was a waste of taxpayer money, it would be for a defence that provides us no security. Surely, if we are resting on the good fortune of having U.S. self-interests protect us from national threats, then it would be worth asking in what ways we might amalgamate our military under a U.S. command. Efficiency goes beyond economic consideration: the integration of defence command and homeland security would improve our security immensely. And surely it would allow for even broader economic benefit by allowing for unrestricted border crossing between the United States and Canada. It would also allow Canadian military personel the opportunity to move into the 21st century with the U.S. military and its technological infrastructure. Canadians would be able to make military careers that make a difference in the world. More importantly, Canadians would be actively involved in their own security in a realistic way.

The current U.S. initiative for a joint missile defence program should be an important starting point, but truly, it is imperative that Canadians look at the big picture. An amalgamation of defence interests with the United States should take on a formal structure. I would sooner our tax dollars for defence priorites be directed to a new joint command with the U.S. We currently spend about $12.4-billion dollars on defence...we could get a lot more for our money by dispensing with the nationalistic pride that continues to obstruct us from being responsible to ourselves and the international community.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Sponsorship Scandal

Millions of dollars for promotion of Canadians! A government policy of apeasement of Quebec separatists by way of hush money. Whether there is abuse, pork barreling - even out-right theft - surely Canadians have got to start looking in the mirror. Is this the basis for a nation? Subsidies. Equalization payments. Infrastructure doggie-bones. A vast nation we cannot even defend. A political culture dominated by self-interested politicians, welfare provinces and corporations. When will this insanity end? Does anybody dream of something greater? Are there Canadians who would rather stop this charade? I cannot be alone. I cannot stand the socialist mentality that pervades our country. It is a shame that that our youth cannot learn they value of responsibility, the power of liberty. Instead they are corrupted by the fear-mongering of the socialists/nationalists. Indeed, Canadian nationalists are guilty of living the great lie. And it costs us greatly. Our culture of government, so entrenched, is slowly killing us.

What do Canadians really need? A brave leader who tells the truth. We cannot afford Canada any longer. Let us make a bargain sooner than later to join in a customs union with the United States. Let us take the U.S. greenback as our currency. Let us disband the Canadian military and join America in a joint-North America military and defence perimeter. Let us open our border to commerce and labour mobility. Yes, we need a leader to take us to the future before we pay too much.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Nationhood: what be thy cost?

That people are fearful of change is not surprizing. Yet the forces of nature are constantly at battle, reaching for a shifting equilibrium. Nature is full of change. So too are the economic forces that shape our civilization. Individuals struggle to survive in a shifting economic landscape, and the laws of nature guide us through this evolution. With the burgeoning globalization of the international economy, we are confronting culturally and economically threatening change. Livelihoods once taken for granted are lost forever to the laws of comparative advantage. We have a growing population of people left on the fringes and whose economic well-being is threatened by the forces of capitalism. More threatening, for many nationalists, is the insidious integration of peoples and cultures within the the increasing sphere of the American political economy.

Canada, whose exports to the United States account for about 83% of total exports and over 1/4 of GDP, has always been vulnerable to the American destiny. But now that destiny, thanks to the emergence of the Asian economy, and the growing stature of the European Union's economy has placed the Canadian economy at a watershed. Canadian economic integration with the U.S. market is well underway, NAFTA just one level of formalization of what must inevitably become a Union of the nation states in North America. Security threats and currency issues will further bring the Canadian dominion into the American fold. The question will remain: at what price is Canadian nationhood? Equalization payments, subsidies, and other nationalist programs administered by our federal policy makers will continue to come under painful scrutiny. Canadians - specifically young Canadians - must come to grips with individual, and regional self-interests weighed against the price of nationhood. These costs will increasingly come to the forefront. It would be of great benefit if economists and politicians started to give the Canadian electorate a clearer picture of the costs of the current reality. The costs of nationhood for this and future generations should be enumerated.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Voices begin to resonate

The U.S Ambassador to Canada, Paul Celucci, mused publicly about the prospect of an open border between out two countries - a future where Americans and Canadians can move freely as labourers and consumers. It will be interesting to see how the political will for this development unfolds. Certainly, the bordering states and provinces where considerable cross-border traffic already occurs would like to see reciprocity and duty-free commerce. The National Post article makes clear reference to the precedent of the European Union. Will Canadians begin to see the light?