This week’s blog posts and comments have been largely based around trying to define where one might stand on a political spectrum. Looking back, I am even disappointed in myself for falling for the rhetoric and false argument. I simply don’t subscribe to the left-right spectrum, and if I had to find myself on a political spectrum, I would insist on at least the two dimension concept that is propagated at The Poltical Compass. It’s fun, if not frivolous, to test yourself. But what will it tell you? Really nothing. No test, tool, person or party can label you in a political bucket, if you care to maintain your individual political equity.
However, since introspection AND unfettered opinion is an underlying theme to this blog, I decided to come up with a label for myself that I could live with. So, without further ado, allow me to describe what I mean by Progressive Capitalist. (I googled it, and enjoyed this NY Times article on the topic).
I was at the PC AGM last weekend, and was asked by my friend Shannon what I mean when I say that I consider myself a Progressive. For some it’s a hard label to understand, and there are those who will argue that the label itself has been sullied as a left-leaning person prone to liberalism, even socialism. I just don’t see that, and this is what I see.
Progressive to me means changing with the times. Adapting our policies, laws and values with the advent of new information and technology. It doesn’t mean moving away from individual rights, freedoms and responsibilities. I have seen examples of where Liberalism/Socialism hijacks the term Progressive in the effort to spread wealth THRU government, to those who are not deserving of it, and are unwilling to work for it. But I have also seen where Conservatives have intentionally sullied the term, and yet they then try to impose religious values on others, THRU government. Neither are acceptable to me, nor do they represent progressiveness to me.
Ignoring the formal definition about capitalism, I will say that a capitalist is someone like me, who wants to be stinking rich. I am unapologetic about my desire to create wealth. Part of the Liberal movement as of late has been to associate capitalism with criminal CEO’s who steal shareholder money so they can buy $6,000 shower curtains. But to me, many of the greatest capitalists are actual great philanthropic citizens. Regardless of how much a wealthy citizen might donate back of his/her property, I firmly believe that the wealth of our society simply would not have been created without the ingenuity and efforts of those who are willing to apply themselves, and take risk.
So from a governance perspective, I would say get the hell out of my my way when I am trying to create wealth, but get between the unethical capitalists who might not care who he/she harms in their effort to create wealth. What does that translate to in real words? Well, it means having practical legislation and oversight in public financial markets, and sustainable viewpoints on the preservation of our environment, and the protection of workers in areas of safety, equality, etc.
How does this translate into Government or worse, Politics?
If I was forced to summarize my Progressive Capitalist manifesto into one or two paragraphs, while sitting in my recliner and giving it only a few minutes thought, it would look like this:
A progressive capitalist government should be held responsible for protecting those who can’t help themselves, using pragmatic distribution of our wealth (taxes), but must also steadfastly maintain an environment of innovation & individual freedoms and rights, so that same wealth can be created by those who do it best, entrepreneur’s & capitalists. Those freedoms and rights must be universally applied to all races, either gender, and people of any sexual orientation or religious or non-religious ilk.
A progressive capitalist party would be inclusive of all (big-tent) but use tools like free voting, transparent donor lists and a charter of individual rights for it’s members, to protect itself from special interests, be them internal ones like religious values, or extrenal ones like corporate special interests who only care about their profits.
Of course, that was extremely easy to write, and would be nearly impossible to apply. Our existing structure of Parliamentary Democracy is flawed in many ways, and as Senator Grant Mitchell reminded me this week, our form of Democracy is the longest standing and most successful of all democracies. Although that may be true, I do feel that as a Progressive, I can expect it to evolve with new information, ideas and technology.
I am looking forward to the end of the month, where I will join about 100 others at the Reboot Alberta event in Red Deer, to discuss how progressiveness can be applied in today’s government. The options being discussed are varied, ranging from shaping a new party, to re-shaping one or combining several. As excited as I am about the weekend, which will undoubtedly be filled with great political discussion, I am less confident that a new movement will get it’s start. Either way, we need to find a way to neuter the far ends of the spectrum, and get our current government to start thinking about “changing with the times. Adapting our policies, laws and values with the advent of new information and technology”