Saturday, January 17, 2015

On disagreeing well

All of us personas, we talk on the tele once a week with our 93 year old mom because she's really quite interesting. She read, once, one of our satirical type scrutiny of our dear Prime Minister and she says “Are you always that cynical?” We got to thinking maybe there's a better way to achieve happiness than fermenting someone's character with put downs so we researched a bit on happiness. We happened upon on “How to Disagree.” Paul Graham writes that if we disagree “well” we will be happier, and that we can do this simply refuting the central point of our contention with others and avoiding being mean to them.

So, we got on the Conservative Party of Canada's web site and looked for a central point. Under the heading of “Where we stand” we found three headings: 1) Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity, 2) Keeping our Streets and Communities Safe, and 3) Supporting Families. We read through these strategies and found they would cater well to reasonably affluent Canadians with some education and a bit of confidence in their demeanour. This was the central point, other than that it seemed this was Stephen Harper's Party more than the Conservative Party of Canada, and this could well be the central point but we'll leave that alone because it may be mean.

To explain why we found here a central point, we must explain where we live. We live in the West End of Winnipeg in Deathrock Apartments and for the second time in less than a month we went to the crumbling subterranean level today with a basket of dirty laundry only to find the washer and dryer slightly dismantled with a wrecking bar to fleece them of their coins. Now we reread the “Where We Stand” items of the Conservative Party of Canada and could find nothing which would have helped us do our dirty laundry either today or tomorrow. Even the section on investing $253 million a year for over five years in affordable housing projects (which might build one apartment complex somewhere in Canada per year) wouldn't help us as $450 a month is quite affordable for us as we proudly support a couple of the richest brothers in Canada whose major strategy is obviously to keep us well sheltered.

Taking issue with the central point, which involves reasonably affluent Canadians and slightly dismantled washers and dryers, we did a bit more research and found that Canada spends $13 billion on law enforcement and $9 billion annually on corrections, that being about $100,000 per inmate 70% of who test below a grade 8 literacy level. All these billions don't get our laundry done, and that is the central point here, the Conservative Party of Canada doesn't care about our dirty laundry and neither do most reasonably affluent Canadians, not that we blame them. That wrecking bar didn't dismantle our washer and dryer by itself and it wasn't welded by a reasonably affluent Canadian in all probability. It was welded by one of those corrections wannabes so they could achieve manhood and get a proper education in the art of transgression. CPC pandering to the reasonably affluent inadvertently rings these dudes bells.

We're not saying here that the Liberal Party of Canada or the New Democratic Party of Canada or even the Green Party don't cater to the reasonably affluent, it is a matter of degree. We can back this statement up by citing income splitting and the lowering of the GST among several CPC initiatives. The following suggestions which will actually get our laundry done can therefore be taken to heart by all parties involved although the CPC can enjoy the greatest critique, it's a matter of degree. My goodness gracious, this disagreeing well is making us happy.

Although we acknowledge the ideological resistance to them, we will throw out the following comments which come from a different perspective:
  1. Violence seems to be one of the least studied issues facing our society. Understanding the infectious nature of aggression and violence is essential to preventing it. We need to treat violence as contagion to understand this as an epidemiological process Modern police tactics, incarceration, and a media and games which thrive on violence all make for a very confrontational society. Mudslinging politics with much nondisclosure also breeds antagonism. Corporations who with the support of governments resort to coercion, and this can be as subtle as a retailer intimidating it's suppliers, increase ill will in and among nations. If we set out to create a more violent world, we could not do much better.
    Besides violence breeding more violence, biological causes have also been identified. Ongoing chemical exposures change the brain, and cause people to display uncharacteristic behaviour including sudden anger, irritability, and even violent outbursts. The most common offender is ethanol, contained in a wide range of products: natural gas, gasoline, some paints, automobile exhaust, alcohols, soft plastics, some hand lotions and perfumes, disinfectant cleaners, hydrocarbons. The most common reactions are fatigue, exhaustion, spaciness, irritability, mental confusion and depression. The magnitude and severity of these responses is startling: sudden intense anger, tears and sobbing, falling asleep, the sudden inability to think or speak coherently. As mankind awakens, perhaps those of us with sensitivities will be taken seriously and society can have a good look at the products we use.
    Evidence greatly suggests that increases in poverty lead to increased violent crime. Poverty causes feelings of vulnerability. When these feelings such as shame, humiliation, fear, or loss are tended to, protective aggression tends to dissipate. People need food and shelter and a pursuit in life. Providing jobs, our present preoccupation, leaves much to be desired. Many jobs are humanly degrading and don't pay enough to provide food and shelter. Many jobs do not inspire a meaningful pursuit in life and use up valuable resources for a society addicted to distractions. It is time to look at other alternatives, and there are some which do not include repressive dictatorships. A program called “Mincome” was implemented in Dauphin, Manitoba in 1974 to guarantee a minimum income to every resident in town. In 1979 the Conservative Party came into power in Ottawa and researchers were told to pack up the project’s records into 1,800 boxes and place them in storage. A final report was never released. Studies of the project carried out over the last decade have shown it had significant overall benefits.

  1. If humanity has a soul, treat the 50% of the 90,000 incarcerated Canadians who have mental illness for their disease. Our society mends broken bones but balks at mending broken minds. It could not be accomplished overnight, but as a long term strategy it would do wonders to help the well being of these folk. If it became a long term priority to provide the proper infrastructure for this treatment the cost per inmate would actually be less as some could be released into proper outpatient care:
  1. This next postulate may sound a bit preposterous but it's given to further a debate. If offenders of the less hideous crimes were simply released and given half of what it costs to keep them incarcerated in semi-monthly payments, it would be unlikely that they would take a wrecking bar to our washer and dryer for an average of 10 bucks in chump change, which is what we are trying to achieve here. The question is what would they do with $50,000 a year? From the chumps I know in the West End here, they'd probably buy a car of their own and get a drivers license, and take their girl friend out for supper. For the most of them, they just want to be a more equal part of society. Who knows, they might even go to school or become artistically gifted. It would be an interesting study would it not?
  1. Do we really want to get those incarceration wannabes who wreck washers and dryers into a mindset which does not involve transgressions? Many people on the fringe of our society question the “why” of the way we live. 50% of the world's population live on less than $2.50 per day The way middle class western society lives is incomprehensible to most of these folks. Our way of life is ecologically unsustainable for the total population of our earth, it isn't even sustainable for ourselves Yet we march onward with the biggest goal in mind to create jobs and sustain our way of life. Many who don't fit in well see the perplexity, and many don't fit in well because they see the perplexity. Many become disillusioned and wreck washers and dryers for chump change so they can get high and consign to oblivion. So we chastise them for not being as brainwashed as ourselves and punish them accordingly so we can perpetuate our myth. Whose transgressions are we really punishing?
When we read the Conservative Party of Canada's “Where we stand” it is hard not to be cynical. Our 93 year old mom would say “Well, do something positive about it,” so we disagreed well, mom. It's hard not to be cynical of the results though.
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