Ethanol, the income gap, and taking the high road

Excerpts of a letter to a Canadian politician

There is no question in my mind that we had to divest ourselves of the corrupt Liberal Government. Not that everyone at the top of the Liberal Party was complicit – far from it. But the climate of entitlement was far too prevalent, and we should have left such venality behind generations ago.

In some ways however we have merely gone sideways, into other kinds of stupidity.  Nearly every day I read of some inanity produced by the authorities, and I want to write someone about it. I have been quiet for months, so let me share my ignorance and indignation with you.

I am bothered by the emphasis on ethanol and the withdrawal of support for solar and wind power. Using ethanol as an energy source is in competition with food production, and therefore suspect in my view. And I understand fossil fuels will be necessary to convert it into energy. But I am not a scientist, so what do I know! However, it will be more expensive in the long run, as it will require government subsidies and will eat up agricultural resources. Meanwhile the sun is shining and producing free energy, and to use its heat in solar panels will surely reduce global warming; and the wind is blowing so it should be able to supply some 20% (so I have heard) of our energy needs. Sun and wind are free; we merely have to pay for delivery.

The maintenance of the environment is of paramount importance. I have a six year old grandson who is very aware that many species of animals and plants have become extinct over the past millions of years. The other day he voiced his concern that the human race might also become extinct eventually. It is a distinct possibility – indeed, a probability. Some climatic changes are inevitable, but let us not hasten the process! Someone has said that we do not own the earth; we hold it in trust for our grandchildren. If not Kyoto, then what? The government seems to be following that of the US in protecting big industry to the detriment of the environment and of the population of the world. We are going the way of the Scandinavians in Greenland in the late Middle Ages and of the native people of Easter Island in more recent times. Conservation is desperately important to the survival of our species. Erosion and deforestation, as you must well know, will cause lasting and cumulative shortages in the productive power of the earth, and if world population continues to grow the human race will be in deep trouble. It is bad enough now!

I have heard recently that over the past several years the top 20% of the Canadian population (incomewise) has enjoyed a 15% increase in real income, while the bottom 40% have seen their real income decrease. In other words, the poverty gap is growing. And I understand that the latest federal government budget includes a reduction in taxes for the wealthy and an increase for the poorest. The poorest nations also become poorer and the richest become richer. This is unconscionable! It is sin! But of course it is very difficult for Canada to do anything about it when the US Government refuses to acknowledge the injustice. I hate to inflict the words of a Liberal politician on you, but Trudeau’s remarks about being in bed with an elephant come to mind. (Foodbanks are not the answer – they are a sign of moral, financial and governmental bankruptcy.)

Isaiah railed against the concentration of wealth in his day (See Isaiah 5:8-13). And Jesus was put to death because he took the side of the poor against the powerful. The Babylonians conquered the little kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C., and Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 and 135 A.D. Direct results, in both cases, of poverty gaps, concentration of wealth and governmental ineptitude. Some things have changed very little over the centuries.

Is there any good reason why one family should have more than five times the income of any other family? Such disparity can only weaken the fabric of the nation. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work – too little trickles down, it trickles up instead!! Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us, and that to him who has will more be given – but he didn’t say it was right that it be so. An important purpose of government is the protection of the poor against the rich and powerful, and this includes economic exploitation. Under the Harper regime Canada seems to be following the United States and weakening the social safety net. Please prove me wrong!

Canada is desperately slow in settling Indian land claims. If we had moved more quickly, the debacle at Caledonia need not have happened. The water problems on a reserve in Northern Ontario (the name of the place escapes me) could also have been averted if action had been taken in timely fashion. The Kelowna agreement has been abrogated, nothing worthwhile has taken its place, and Native leaders are disgruntled. Again we neglect the disadvantaged, so that the rich and powerful may prosper.

In international affairs (as in internal matters) we cannot protect freedom by denying freedom. We cannot protect rights by denying rights. International law must be maintained; we fought for it too hard and too long to let it go now. Guantanamo Bay is a blot on the Western world. So is Abu Ghraib. So is Denmark’s Jyllands Posten with its caricatures of Mohammed. Let us take the high road!!

The Israeli government has a policy of acting unilaterally in dealing with the Palestinians. And it is being supported in this by the American government. The Zionists want to strengthen Israel to the detriment of other people who have lived in the same area for thousands of years. They are supported by millions of fundamentalist Christians who misinterpret the Bible to promote the belief that there has to be a major war between the Judaeo-Christian world and all others before Christ returns and the Kingdom of God begins. And the Government of the United States, in its effort to maintain power and avoid the charge of anti-semitism, bows to this coalition.

(“For not with swords loud-clashing, nor roll of stirring drums,
but deeds of love and mercy, the heavenly kingdom comes.”)

Still – we live in the best country in the world. We have much to be thankful for. And we have many to be thankful to. If you have any influence in such matters, please support the movement to award Stephen Lewis a Nobel Prize!

Yours for an even better country in an even better world!

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