Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Not About the Life Jackets Dammit

Chris Selley writes a column for the National Post this week about mandatory life jackets, coming soon to a lake near you.

He brings up a story in the Toronto Star two years ago, suggesting that mandatory life jackets might not be a bad thing, given the increase in drowning victims that particular summer.

But Selley's article focuses on a new (and temporary) mandatory life jacket law, just passed in King County, Washington. The reason for the implementation of such a law was the unusually heavy amount of mountain snow, that was increasing water levels, making swimming dangerous.

But says Selley: 'I suspect the Founding Fathers might take serious issue with mandatory life jacket laws for swimmers. But if it can happen in liberal America, there’s no reason to believe it won’t happen in liberal Canada.'

Those darn liberals and their seat belt laws and helmet laws. If we want to be stupid, we should be allowed the freedom to be stupid.

Personally, I haven't given a lot of thought to mandatory life jackets for swimmers. If we take our grandson near water, or even when swimming in a pool, we always make sure he's wearing one. But that's mainly because of his disability. I probably wouldn't support a broad law banning swimming without a life jacket, but I doubt that would ever see the light of the day.

This is just a bit more right-wing fear mongering, that will probably have the neocons spitting in their cornflakes.

The problem with this "founding fathers", "don't take away my freedoms" logic of the Tea Party/Republican/Neoconservative movement is that it's balderdash.

Bill Maher discussed an incident where a young woman was removed from a movie theatre because she refused to put away her cell phone, annoying the other patrons. She wrote a scathing tea party like letter to the theatre saying that she lived in America, the land of the free, and all that. Forgetting that people would like the "freedom" to go to the movies to actually watch a movie. A rather novel idea, I know.

Chris Matthews, one of the panelists also expressed a desire to eat tuna, with the comfort of knowing that it had been expected with his tax dollars, and not have to play Russian Roulette with his food.

Stephen Harper envisions a Canada with no corporate taxes and no rules for big business. He signed onto a scheme called 'Risk Management', which allows companies to do their own inspections, but if Canadians die as a result, they have to clean up their own mess.

Jim Flaherty also announced recently a 'red tape commission', like the one adopted by Mike Harris in Ontario, that resulted in at least seven deaths at Walkerton.

However, let's say we listen to the neocon knuckleheads, and eliminate all government "infringement" on our lives.

In their book The Trouble With Billionaires, Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks, tell the story of British movie star Michael Caine and composer Andrew Lloyd Weber. Both men threatened to leave England if the British government raised their taxes.

In true libertarian fashion, they declared that the reason they are rich is because of their talent. However, what they fail to recognize, is that their talent alone did not make them rich. Copyright laws protecting their talent did. Otherwise they would be busking on street corners or reciting Hamlet in the park to thundering applause, but little more.

Harper claims to be Canada's Mr. Hockey, but could the NHL afford to pay the salaries they do without trademark licensing? How about corporate logos? Why don't I have the freedom to open a burger shop with golden arches, or make running shoes with a simple check mark?

All of that is government intervention.

Even at the Olympics, the Australian team was forbidden from hanging out their team flag, because it encroached on trademark protection. Not of the trademark associated with the flag, but on other competing firms who poured money into the sporting event.

You were also denied the freedom to bring in your own food, because it violated the franchising of food. The same rule applied to bottled water and other drinks.

And what about government created trade laws? Without them Stephen Harper would have never been able to gift AbitibiBowater $130 million of our money, if he couldn't draw on Chapter 11 of NAFTA. He denied us the freedom of using that money for our own benefit.

And while we're mulling over mandatory licensing and restrictive safety rules, we might want to think about this.

The late Milton Friedman, the iconic symbol of the Harper government, wanted to put an end to the licensing of doctors. He claimed that those licenses gave monopoly power to the American Medical Association.

Is this why Harper's health minister, Leona Aglukkaq, is refusing to attend Canadian Medical Association conferences? Is she concerned with their monopoly?

But then we should forgive the poor girl. She had an opportunity to have her picture taken with Harper, and who knows, it might just make it to his wall of honour.

Sorry Leona. He shares that wall with no one.

Chris Selley is not concerned with the infringement on our freedoms, but only with stirring up Harper's base, with more "the government's out to get you" nonsense.

Besides. Now that Harper is allowing mining companies to dump their toxic waste in our lakes and rivers, we'll be having to mandate bio-hazard suits if we want to risk swimming in them.

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