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28 TRAGEDY IN THE COMMONS

Any Canadian, especially elected representatives, should read this book by Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan. The book which is based on interviews with former Members of Parliament states that MPs “too were victims of the tragedy of the commons – facing too many reasons not to speak up as they sat in Parliament and watched the slow degradation of our democracy”. They also state “Canadians see the effects of this tragedy in the declining voter rates and the erosion of trust in Governments”.

My greatest sadness is to see and think about the lack of any initiative and action by the citizens of our country, especially my peers in Politics, past and present, to force change. I greatly fear that even the unfortunate young generations, who will inherit the mess from us, will join the ranks of the intellectually elite who talk but do not act. The longer that the political, economic and moral deterioration continues, the greater will be the pain to restore our democracy. And there will be pain. The excesses of debt and consumption must be reversed. Their reversal will require massive cuts in consumption and standard of living. The correction of the inequities of accumulation of wealth by those who do not create it, will face fierce opposition by those with financial control over the political parties. But, as I have said before, it can be done with ballots instead of AK 47s. But it will take just as much work and dedication.

Lets face it, the majority of Canadians, as with citizens of most countries, fail to participate, fail to make the effort to become informed, fail to think, fail to take responsibility for the deterioration of democracy that they have allowed and fail to make any effort whatsoever. The essay “Tragedy of the Commons” by Garret Hardin discusses the challenge of managing common resources and how short term interests result in long term tragedy.

The short term interests of political parties and their financial masters, and of politicians serving for their personal financial and social gain, is reelection. The result has frequently been stated in the oft quoted “"A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only last until the citizens discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that the Democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy.”

The tragedy in our Democracy is that the majority votes, not because of the benefits, but because of the advertising paid for by the few who have received most of the largess out of the public treasury. The largess goes to the rich, and to the overpaid politicians and bureaucracy, those who produce no wealth, and it comes from those producers who are being pushed from the middle class to the working poor.

Our country must return to true Capitalism where reward and wealth results from production, not financial paper pushing. Production resulting from savings, risk and work, from production of goods and services that actually benefit our fellow citizens. Let us not forget, that change will only come from the work and dedication needed to elect good people who will return control from the political parties to elected representatives who will again serve all of the people.