Think Outside The Box, Or Get Left Behind

July 1st, 2021 | Spartacus

Many politically inclined people spend their twenties dedicated to some utopian ideology, like libertarianism or socialism, only to find themselves beaten down and realigned by adulthood. After facing real life, many find a different version of themselves waiting for them as they enter their forties. Struggles with money, death, relationships, careers, health and children usually cause a gradual realignment in most normal adults. Some spoon-fed adults may bloom a bit later—when they're finally forced to face reality alone—but it does happento all adults, eventually. This is when we realize that governments, free markets and personal liberty are designed to balance and temper each other. There is no universally positive outcome from having the government run everything, but the same can be said about the free market and true capitalism.

If you started your twenties as a socialist and ended your forties as a socialist, you've probably never left the nest. You're probably still living at home with one of your parents, using the excuse that you “take care of them” in their old age. Meanwhile, they're still paying some of the mortgage, putting gas in your car, cooking your dinners and re-filling the fridge when you let it get empty. We all know who you are. You're one of those pathetic adults who has never had a successful relationship, never held a job for longer than a year and who spends a majority of the day playing video games and jerking off to porn in the basement. You're a Marxist who complains about capitalism, because you never had the drive to compete and to become even moderately successful at anything.

Hold up, libertarians. Don't get too excited just yet. You're next.

If you started your twenties as a libertarian and ended your forties as a libertarian, you've probably never faced any real life challenges by yourself—except, maybe, the ones you created in your own head. You may not be living at home anymore, but your parents definitely had a hand in putting you through school, letting you live at home for a few semesters and buying you a car to help you get around. They may have even co-signed a student loan or helped you with a down payment on a mortgage. You've probably never really done anything completely alone and on your own. Perhaps you had a partner or good friend help you out, but one thing is very likely: real life hasn't taken a chunk out of you yet. But, don't worry, it will. When it does, your libertarianism will slowly become another misguided, adolescent belief based solely on inexperience and ignorance.

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All of you will quickly realize that neither the government nor the free market have the answers to all of your problems.

It's easy to say the government should do everything when you've done nothing. It's even easier to say the government shouldn't do anything when you have never done anything without help, or ever faced the hurdles of reality completely alone. There is a reason why most single mothers with no family or partners don't subscribe to either ideology, and why most moderately successful entrepreneurs and small business owners don't either. Life comes at you fast. When it bites you in the ass and you're forced to put on your adult pants, it makes you a different person.

Real life makes you more reasonable and balanced.

Any reasonable person, with real life experience, understands that there are some things the government should do and some things it shouldn't. A truly free market with no regulations often leads to monopolies, while an over-regulated market can lead to the same kind of diminished competition and artificial pricing. Everything requires a delicate balance for optimal performance. There are things that both sides of the political spectrum should learn to accept when it comes to building a balanced and successful society.

Ending One-Sided Contracts

Ever wonder how a cell phone, internet or cable provider can charge overage fees and threaten to cancel your service for falling behind on payments, but can get away scot-free and without any penalties when failing, themselves, to provide the services they agreed to provide? This happened recently across Canada with Rogers, when millions of Canadians lost mobile services for nearly two days after a botched software upgrade. Millions reported being unable to book vaccinations, make important calls and reach emergency services.

Rogers gave all affected customers a credit worth one day of service. However, service outages on a smaller scale happen often and will continue to happen, with many customers never seeing rebates or credits to their accounts. The only reason Rogers was forced to act in this situation was because the outage was so large that it received considerable media attention. As many Rogers, Shaw and Telus customers know, random outages can happen frequently and refunds are rare.

Many internet customers have experience with being charged overage fees by Telus, Shaw and Rogers when they exceed their limits. If they fail to purchase the more expensive “unlimited” package that is unreasonably priced by Canada's top three monopolies, they are charged fees when they exceed the provider's stingy GB limits. However, when they experience lag or outages for long periods, they're lucky if they get an apology from a clueless customer care representative on the phone. Many can't even shop around because they've been forced into a two year contract—which is standard across Western Canada due to an over-regulated market that protects Canada's top few service providers.

Most libertarians will say, “But they signed a contract. The terms were agreed upon by the customer.”

Right, in a market where most Canadians have no more than three companies to choose from on a good day—all of which have nearly identical packages and service contracts. Most Canadians have to either sign a contract or go without service. Canada's market is so over-regulated that competition is scarce and fairness is non-existent. None of this will change anytime soon, but even if it does, there is one thing the government can do to make the market a bit more accommodating to customers.

The government can enforce clauses in all contracts that require the service provider to provide uninterrupted service at all times, along with superior and responsive customer service—with penalty if they fail. It wouldn't be unheard of to have the government impose a series of statutory conditions for service contracts of all kinds. It is done regularly in the insurance industry, where insurance providers are forced to follow strict rules when dealing with customers. The CRTC already has significant control over how contracts are written and handled in the telecom industry.

"Real life makes you more reasonable and balanced."

Currently, most contracts are one-sided. Customers are given a bigger series of obligations than the companies that provide the services. We are forced to stay below limits, make calls at certain hours, pay long distance fees, pay service fees, pay late fees and wait on hold for hours when we experience outages and service problems. Not to mention the high prices that are fixed by Canada's top service providers.

And how about those lease and purchase agreements for cars? Loan and lease contracts lock a customer into a term that can only be broken by paying large fees or taking a hit to their credit scores. This is all fair, until a greasy car salesman sells you a lemon or lies about the product he is selling. Sometimes it can take months before your brand new car begins to chronically malfunction and you have limited recourse because you signed a binding contract. You might be able to get out of the contract after spending thousands on legal fees and lawsuits, but that's never a guarantee. If the person or company on the other end of the contract is uncooperative and unsympathetic, you might be as good as fucked.

Even on most brand new cars, warranties are limited and they don't always cover everything.

The government has the power to impose statutory conditions on every service and purchase contract. When it comes to contracts where a massive company or corporation is offering services and selling products, the government can put an end to one-sided contracts by imposing clauses and conditions that allow customers to terminate or void a contract without penalties. If a dealer sells you a lemon, you can return the car, cancel the loan, or force them to fix or replace it without any additional cost. If Shaw and Telus go down, you can void the contract. If Rogers goes down for a full day, you can terminate your contract immediately, or be refunded for every minute you were unable to make a call, or both—your choice!

No service, no contract.

Expanding Maternity Benefits

In the United Kingdom, unemployed mothers can qualify for maternity benefits. Employed mothers can get 80% of their salary for six months. In Canada, a mother must work 600 hours before qualifying for 55% of her normal salary, which maxes out at a certain amount. Unemployed mothers in Canada are lucky to qualify for anything, except maybe a few welfare cheques from their provincial governments.

For a country that is trying to grow its population and to counter a decline in birthrates, it sure is difficult for most mothers and parents to raise a family in Canada. After the pandemic, we will have spent more than a trillion dollars pulling our economy out of the shitter, but we still refuse to invest in a strategy to grow our families.

At this point, Canada is so far in the hole that we may as well throw billions at expanding maternity benefits and creating incentives for young Canadians to start families.

By eliminating the maternity portion of Canada's Employment Insurance program and creating a separate national program, we could invest billions into maternity benefits for mothers and fathers looking to start a family. Creating an entirely separate national program would re-direct labour and resources to focus strictly on maternity benefits, relief, welfare and growth in Canada. It might also relieve the country's heavily burdened Employment Insurance program.

How would we pay for that program? With a new 1% “family tax” added to every luxury consumer purchase, like the GST. Alternatively, we could create a new payroll deduction that amounts to 1% or less. Other alternatives include cutting and abolishing other wasteful programs and having the new maternity program fully subsidized by the federal government.

These are just ideas, but Canada is in dire need of better maternity benefits. Supporting native population growth and supporting young parents in ways that keep them out of poverty is something both the right and left could get behind. Rather than support a national daycare program, the federal government should focus on making it easier and more affordable for parents (at least one per family) to stay home with their newborn kids, without being stressed by a tight budget or an uncertain future.

With automation and artificial intelligence eliminating more jobs every year, there is no valid argument against taking more potential parents out of the workforce so they can raise a family. There is also no need to support depopulation, as technology will continue to solve many of our problems and to enrich our lives.

Support New And Wild Ideas

All Canadians, from all sides, should be more receptive to new ideas. Strange and exotic ideas can sometimes trigger small changes that lead to big successes. As technology rapidly expands and automation becomes the new normal, we will need to find new ways to create and spend our resources. Labour could eventually become a thing of the past, creating an economy that can continue to produce and sustain civilization in ways we haven't yet imagined. The elimination of human labour will come with some dramatic reforms, many of which might not be as bad as we think.

Inevitably, things like a universal basic income, monetary reform and renewable energy will become more palatable as we face new challenges. With a majority of people unable to work, a universal income—that is fuelled by a powerful, profitable and automated resource industry—could work very well. With it could come a complete revolution in how our economies and monetary systems function. As we continue to grow and expand, expendable fossil fuels will run out, leading to yet another revolution in how we sustain ourselves and manage our output and consumption.

Change is inevitable. If we refuse to accept new ideas, those changes will come too fast for us to handle—leaving us defeated and wallowing in a cloud of dust, in the same way the internet and computers left Baby Boomers defeated and unable to compete.

Change won't wait for you. Buckle up, open your mind and be ready to accept new ideas.

© 2021 Poletical