Friday, September 12, 2008

Liberal Freedom (Part 1)

In my mind, it seems a pretty simple choice. I enjoy freedom more than I enjoy money.

I realise that it hasn't been that apparent judging from my first few attempts at blog writing, but I think that it very much ties into my reasoning about who I cast my vote for every election.

I was lucky enough to have been born in a pretty well-off area of a very rich country to a decidely middle class family. I got a very fortunate start right there and don't I know it. I was lucky to have been genetically gifted with enough intelligence to get myself through post-secondary education along with the help of student loans and scholarships from my very generous government. And charmed enough to land a decent job at a very solid company.

I have never truly experienced financial hardship. I'm young enough to not be at all worried about money and perhaps that is why I think I value other things more.

Of course money can provide a certain amount of freedom, you might say, and I might agree. I have the liberty to pursue my happiness because I don't need to worry about food, clothing, housing, or medical care. What if most people on earth had that freedom? So far, at least, in my country, they do. I pay a goodly portion of taxes to help provide that freedom for myself and others and that actually gives me pleasure. I think this provides an excellent basis for the pleasure of all. (Because really, anyone who knows me, knows that when I'm happy, everybody's happy ;)

These freedoms are always there for the rich, no matter what country they may live in. They are not always there for the poor. I feel supremely lucky to live in a country where so far freedom is not just for the rich.

There are also freedoms that have less directly to do with money, and these are the liberties I worry more about. Right now in my country, I have autonomy over my person. This has only very recently been the case for women, and so I do not treat it lightly. I revel in my good fortune. Only a few years ago gay people were granted the freedom to marry all across this country. This is another example of the type of freedom that I cherish every single day.

I say that these liberties have less to do with money because governments can grant these freedoms without causing taxes to go up or economies to crash, though you'd never convince the naysayers of that. But make no mistake, rich people across the world can ignore that poor people in their countries may not have these freedoms because with enough money, they may live as though they themselves do. If a wealthy person lives in a country where abortion is illegal, they can afford to take a trip to one where it is not.

This is why I will always side with the "left", which in Canada is the Liberal Party, and in the US is the Democratic Party. These parties are far from perfect. They are made up of politicians, after all. But they are the lesser of 2 evils because of one thing - the acceptance that freedom is for every citizen, not just the for the rich.

19 comments:

Diacanu said...

Well, the conservative argument is that money IS freedom, and you have to earn it.

Which has a cold hard logic to it, but then it always seems to proceed to "..and if you don't earn it, fuck you! Go die!".

Ehh, I can't go to that extreme and feel human.

Just not wired that way.

Sharon said...

I wish there were more people in the world like you.

Human rights and freedoms are earned by being human. :)

Mark_W said...

This is why I will always side with the "left"

Indeed. There is a feeling, at least over here (the UK) that one should shift towards the “right” as one gets older. (I forget, unhelpfully enough, who first said it, but the usual saying is, “Anyone who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. Anyone who is at age 30 has no brain…)

And yet, as I’ve got older (I’m now, alas [or, hopefully not!], much closer to 40 than 30) I’ve gone the opposite way. When I was a (thankfully too young to vote!) teenager, I was, to be fair, a bit of right-wing sod, and yet, recalling the way I’ve voted over the past decade and a half, I’ve continually and consistently shifted ever left-wards….

Human rights and freedoms are earned by being human...

That’s a brilliant way of putting it...

Mark_W

Diacanu said...

"I forget, unhelpfully enough, who first said it, but the usual saying is, “Anyone who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. Anyone who is at age 30 has no brain…".

Winston Churchill.

Ahh, ta heck with that old fatso.

Mark_W said...

Diacanu,

Winston Churchill.

Good grief, was it? Much as I admire him as a writer, and an inspirational leader (and much as I'm loath to criticise anyone that drank that much whiskey!) he got that one wrong...

Also, though it's too late tonight to go into detail, now I'm almost certainly in the second half of my mortal life-span, and in keeping with the "leftwards shift", I'm becoming increasing more sympathetic towards (at least the motives) of Chamerlain and the so-called appeasers...

Mark_W

Apathy Personified said...

An interesting and illuminating post. :)

IMO, the only reason the system works is because there are enough kind people, such as yourself, who don't mind paying a chunk of money in tax, in order that others who maybe didn't have the same opportunities as you, are given some semblance of a chance and can enjoy some of the basic freedoms and as well.

I have to say, you Canadians seem to really love democracy, as you keep on calling for elections. :)

I'm linking to your blog, btw, hope you don't mind.

Sharon said...

Apathy, I don't mind at all if you link, as I've already linked yours.

We do like elections. We have so many political parties, and we can never seem to all get together and agree on one or two of them, so it's an endless round of minority governments and elections.

Thank goodness the campaigns only last a month and a half. ;)

Laurie said...

My sentiments exactly, Sharon. We had a diabolical "neo-con" style government for 11 years, constantly cutting taxes (to the rich), revelling in multi-billion dollar surpluses, and meanwhile our schools, hospitals, you name it, went down the tubes. But THAT'S OK, because now everyone can afford, with their glorious tax cuts, the best private schools and hospitals. And do you know what the worst part of it is? Millions of these poor deluded souls thought that their $5 a week tax cut was going to lead them to utopia, and so kept voting the bastards back in.

Billy said...

I've been thinking lately that improving the standards of peoples lives could ultimately be the best way to kill of religion and increase freedom at the same time. With out the stupidity of religious laws, morality is free to evolve and lead to equality for repressed groups

Sharon said...

Yes, we have no hard evidence, I suppose, but it seems to me that countries with a high standard of living for aLL of their citizens are often the ones with the least amount of religion.

If we all chip a bit in to provide a decent starting point for everyone, it seems less likely that the world will wait for gods to do it, or live only in hope of some magical afterlife.

Anna Banana said...

"I pay a goodly portion of taxes to help provide that freedom for myself and others and that actually gives me pleasure."

If only more people in the U.S. felt that way. Most people are selfish bastards.

Jonathan said...

"I pay a goodly portion of taxes to help provide that freedom for myself and others and that actually gives me pleasure."

I barely think about it as a rule. I certainly don't begrudge it, but I've never really paid it much heed.

"But they are the lesser of 2 evils because of one thing - the acceptance that freedom is for every citizen, not just the for the rich"

You should be a politician :)

Sharon said...

Anna:

Sometimes it sure seems that way. Welcome and thanks so much for commenting! It's great to see your beautiful sunshiny face on my blog. I certainly miss you at RDnet and I know I'm not the only one. :)

Jonathan:

I know. It was an emotion-fuled rant without much reliance on factual info. And I am loathe to admit it publically, but I do aspire to politics, if only because I passionately want to control...er...help the entire world. I promise to be a benevolent dictator. ;)

Jonathan said...

Sharon-

I think you should go for it, if only because I find the notion of Canada becoming a dictatorship to be deeply funny.

root2squared said...

Sharon

You feel good about helping others? Commie alert!!!

Seriously though, you make a good point when you say the rich have more freedom. The poor have to worry about money and food before they can start thinking about freedoms.

I would guess in Canada, conservative does not necessarily mean religious nuts, like it does in the US, so it's even more of a selfless choice to be liberal :)


Aashish

Laurie said...

Hi Sharon, thought I'd point you in the direction of this blog: http://nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.com/

Fascinating, deeply thoughtful, and wonderfully intelligent writing. I've added it to my "worthy links".

Sharon said...

Laurie -

Somehow I have been to that bog before. I have read a bit here and there as I am quite interested in architecture. I especially loved his link to the 15 modern petrol stations. I am most attracted to Modern.

The economics stuff goes way over my head, I think. Owen's a good writer, however, so it makes for interesting reading even if I have to keep looking stuff up as I go along.

I really long for more than 24 hours in each day! There is so much to learn. I can't wait to retire so that I may read aLL day long. :)

Sharon said...

Root -

Thanks for visiting. :)

The conservative party in Canada has evolved over the last few years. They were once known as the "Progressive Conservatives" but have recently changed their name to the "Conservative Party of Canada".

The party is a hybrid of 2 former parties, the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives. The Reformers were made up of mostly religious and social conservatives from the bible belt of Canada - including the current PM, Steven Harper. They seem to have taken more and more control of the conservative party, which is very worrying.

I think they pander to the religious right and to social conservatives in ways that we have not before seen in Canada. They have been trying to erode Canada's social programs and very liberal attitudes bit by bit.

I'm very passionate about halting this slide. I quite like the US and an awful lot of Americans, but I do not want my government to be anything like the government there.

Zealous Meerkat said...

Hi Sharon. I enjoyed and agreed with your post. Good work, woman! These are really important points. I just read at ontheissues.org that Sarah Palin, for instance, officially stated that if her daughter were raped she would not want her daughter to have an abortion. It is hard to believe that a woman could feel that way about her own daughter. It honestly seems far more likely that if abortion were illegal, she would spirit her daughter away for a secret, safe procedure, meanwhile poor women in similar situations would be forced to have the baby or risk death or permanent injury in a back-alley abortion. It's too sad and it really is about the selfishness and greed of some people.