Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Critiquing Democracy

Any political scientist who believes that our current system of democracy is working generally well should work in customer relations for at least six months to shatter this delusion. Grade school teaches us that our democracy works well because we have elections every few years and that we can get rid of leaders that we don't like. Is that what democracy is all about? Simple elections? We have a population that is so ill-informed about the issues or even how the system works that we actually allow this population base to decide the future for us all?

Well the current system prevents that. The bureaucracy in place informs the current leaders of what is possible and what is not based upon contracts and guarantees signed by previous administrations. The leaders just put a smile on and charismatically inform us that everything is going according to plan and then try to figure out how to budget the shrinking finances. The cynics among us say "business as usual" and nothing important changes. Election ads have little to no substance about any issue. Look at the latest conservative campaign against Michael. He was out of the country for x amount of years..... and that's relevant how? At least with Stephane they pointed out the internal flaws of Stephane's own claim.

So the current system prevents ill-informed voters from voting foolishly by keeping them in the dark with flashy ad campaigns, politicians which are more charismatic than intelligent so they can say nonsense and have the majority swoon over the way they said the pretty words. And whoever is in power has so many checks and balances that they can not make any sweeping change that would help society at large..... not that they could mobilize the population at large to support them. How can a rational explanation that takes 90 minutes to understand compete with the flashy catch phrase of an opponent?

I put too much emphasis on charisma over intelligence? Just look at the speeches from George as President of the US versus the speeches from Barack as President. The Daily Show showed half a dozen excerpts which had both George and Barack saying essentially the same thing. When George said it, he was arrogant and no one would listen to what he was saying.... Meanwhile, Barack says it and we are all enthralled at the wise words and how we should listen to his advice. These are the same people who vote who could not distinguish that both leaders of opposing political parties said essentially the same things about the same issues.

You don't agree with something? Base it upon the text, not upon the delivery of that text. Of course to do that we must change how our current system works. Why do people not bother with reading the text and focus on the feel-good of the charismatic catch-phrases to make decisions? Lack of time is the best answer. Democracy requires every voter to be aware of the issues and not rely upon 3rd party interpretations. The news companies are more interested in selling you the news with sensationalism than with genuine information. A car accident this morning is the latest headline news on this morning's news.... forget the fact that the American Congress is about to vote on a law which will give the police the right to invade your privacy without the consent of a Judge first..... we want to see the car accident..... its sensational, not boring.

Ask random people if they can tell you the latest gossip from TMZ or if they know what 60 minutes was about last week (assuming they even know the show "60 minutes"). A democracy needs its citizens to be informed and educated on the many issues at hand. Currently we work longer hours than peasants in the Middle Ages. The peasants in the Middle Ages did not have political responsibilities and had a lot of leisure time on their hands. We have political responsibilities and we spend most of our energy for the benefit of someone else's profit.... who I guarantee you takes his time to look at the political issues and determines what is best for his pocket book.... and he calls that work, yet this same employer denies us that same time to allow us to educate ourselves of the issues.


Peasant, wakes up does the chores around the home which includes the farming and repairing stuff. In the end he gives a portion of his crop to the Landlord. No one asks his opinion about anything so the peasant does not need to be aware of decisions and he suffers the whims of his landlord.

Today's worker, wakes up and does chores (which are not tabulated as work) around the house to keep things clean and repairing personal stuff. Heads off to work which can take up to an hour to reach (still not tabulated as work), works "officially" (this is tabulated) for a set amount of time where his lunch is measured scientifically and his breaks are counted up to the second to avoid lost productivity. Then the worker finishes his day and heads back home, does more chores around the house (again not tabulated in the calculated work hours)..... The worker is then exhausted and spends the remaining time either A) on leisure to decompress from a hard day's work (this can be video games or television watching or music listening or even drinking at a bar with other workmates) or B) doing extracurricular work activities which are not paid for nor counted on actual work hours worked but that you need to do if you want that promotion... or even to avoid being laid off when the budget cuts force lay-offs.

Using the above comparison of the peasant in the Middle Ages versus today's worker.... who of the two would actually have the time to be properly informed or educated of the issues?

To make democracy work we have to remember that we are citizens. The communists believe that the workers should decide, the capitalists believe that the industrialist should decide. We are supposed to be in a democracy in which citizens should decide. We need time for education and leisure to have clear heads so that we can make proper decisions and anyone who thinks that this is innapropriate and lazy I will just point out the rich. The rich have the time for education and for leisure and they make the most out of it by making sure that their political ideals are pursued and they keep their opponents busy with slave labor.

Should the rich ever be forced to work like the poor do, we would see them protesting loudly. As I have mentioned in previous blogs. We have the technology to work less hours and still maintain our lifestyle. Perhaps we would have 50% less choices in consumer products but we would definitely be in a democracy where we educate ourselves, we would have a proper leisure time to enjoy our consumer products and we would know how to vote based upon the issues and not upon the charismatic catch phrases.

My source comes from the Wikipedia entry where it shows 13th century male peasant working annually 1620 hours while it shows Canada in 2004 working 1717 hours and the USA working 1777 hours. Just remember; first, the peasants were not under the yoke of Taylorism where working was scientifically measured to the second and secondly, the peasants would be considered at work even when repairing one's own house while our 2004 measurements are only based upon "official" hours under some employer....

Isn't technology supposed to make us more free? Are we not supposedly in a democracy as opposed to the illusion of one? Does it not seem that we are more under the yoke of an employer who gives us an illusion of choice by voting for nonsense every few years?

If democracy is to work as it is supposed to, then we need the tools to insure and ensure its success. At this moment, we may be losing our democracy.... at least in North America.