Friday, April 20, 2007

Why I Am a Dipper

Newer Note: "C-48" link edited again on June 27, 2008 to a CBC article.

Note: "C-48" link edited on July 7 to specific version of Wiki article.

Before joining the Blogging Dippers, I’d like to give a rational justification of my support for the New Democratic Party of Canada. It mainly ties in with my support for Social Democracy in general and how it’s proven effective in Western Europe.

Before one supports a political party, they ought to read the constitution of that party. The NDP constitution specifically states support for what

they call “democratic socialism”. Usually, democratic socialism refers to replacing the market system with a completely planned economy via democratic reform. If this were the case I wouldn’t support the NDP, as I believe in using the market system to generate wealth which the state can use in order to give the public social benefits.

The NDP constitution (PDF) doesn’t explicitly state that they wish to abolish the market system, though. It says, rather, “democratic socialism” is defined as the position goods shall be distributed and produced based on the needs of individuals. This is somewhat vague, and allows for the existence of competitive markets by my interpretation. Markets can produce goods and even distribute most of them based on traditional, transactional means, but some of the goods will be distributed by the state to the more needy through the institution of social welfare, as my interpretation goes. This is identical to my social democratic philosophy.

The NDP constitution does have a rather far-reaching objective, the abolition of child poverty. Especially since Western poverty is relatively defined. Nevertheless, I enthusiastically support attempts to minimize child poverty and extend social benefits to children so they may have a high standard of living.

On more concrete issues, I’m in line with the New Democrat Party’s attempt at starting a Canadian social charter, the senior’s charter. Their housing strategy and ability to get the strategy implemented in the Liberal Minority Parliament also attracts me to the party. Regulating drug costs is another policy of theirs I quite like.

Like all political parties, though, the NDP does have its flaws. They seem unable to compliment any other party when they do something right, explain their policies in a background of negativism (That is, to say, they attack other parties policies viciously as if they will lead to Canada’s collapse.), and tend to speak of their policies in loaded terms. However, so do all the other parties. Intellectual and rational analysis, with fair or balanced description of opposing views, never made its way into politics.

A critique, from a strategic perspective, is that supporting the NDP won't get anything done. As good as the New Democratic Party’s policies are they cannot be implemented as the party will never becoming the governing party. This view ignores the role a strong NDP opposition has in initiating change. The NDP can affect government policy in a minority government and has. Bill C-48, aptly named the “NDP budget bill”, came out thanks to the New Democratic Party’s work in a minority government. Going to history for some more examples, it wasn’t until a significant threat from the left, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, emerged that Mackenzie King’s Liberals began constructing Canada’s social safety net. And it won’t be until a significant NDP threat emerges that the Liberals (yes, more than likely a Liberal Minority would be more negotiable) will begin constructing a Canadian social charter and welfare state.

Yours is a very well thought out position and I like the way you articulate it. Your blogsite is a welcome additon to the progressive blogosphere and I have added it to my bookmarks.

On another matter, with the elecion on in Manitoba do you think you will you be blogging on it?

I live in Saskatchewan but have a lot of family there, so I am in Manitoba 3 times a year.

I'm looking forward to reading commentay right from where the action is.
To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to local issues. But I do intend to do some background research and comment on issues pretaining to this provincial election.
Because of the relativistic definition of poverty, attempting to wipe it out becomes a game of chasing one's own tail. Is the citizenry supposed to be up in arms because almost 50% of the people are below average?

I recommend to the NDP that they:

1. Define and measure an absolute definition of poverty.

2. Present a plan from reducing it.

Now if the NDP also want to define wealth distribution goals for children, that's fine too - just don't call it poverty, because such muddled thinking produces only cynicism.
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