As we prepare for the upcoming vote on Oct. 24 and follow the election discussions in the U.S., I am trying to get some ideas on what we should be looking for in the parties’ and candidates’ platforms. We are going to be exposed to a wide variety of issues and need to be informed as to what are often very confusing and polarized viewpoints.
In B.C., forestry issues are usually included in the political debates with the recent discussions on old growth forests being a good example.
I have also been challenged by the recent series on CBC radio. As described in the first program: “With each day, more of us become entrenched in our own camps. We live inside our own social bubbles. Yet with the pandemic, climate change, the financial markets — we’re more connected to each other than ever. IDEAS launches a new series with a search for the Common Good. And it begins by asking one basic question: What do we owe each other?
In the first episode, host Nahlah Ayed speaks to British/Polish/Australian public philosopher, Roman Krznaric, author of The Good Ancestor. He makes the case for long-term thinking about our ‘common good’ at a time defined by short-term thinking. He argues that deep empathy for future generations is vital to our survival as a species. During the discussions another author is introduced who published an article entitled Intergenerational Solidarity Index. which is a measure of how much different nations provide for the well being of future generations.
The index has been developed by Jamie McQuilkin and was first published in 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Intergenerational Justice Review. In 2020, a significantly revised and updated version of the index was published in The Good Ancestor along with analysis by McQuilkin and Krznaric.
The index is made up of nine indicators of environmental, social and economic solidarity and covers 122 nations and over 91 per cent of the world’s population. Each country is given a score ranging from one (low intergenerational solidarity) to 100 (high intergenerational solidarity).”
The nine indicators are drawn from national-level statistics: 1.) forest degradation rate, 2.) share of low-carbon energy consumption, 3.) carbon footprint in the environmental dimension; 4.) adjusted net savings, 5.) current account balance, 6.) wealth in equality in the economic dimension; 7.) primary pupil-teacher ratio, 8.) fertility rate, 9.) GDP-adjusted child mortality in the social dimension. The top six countries are the following: Iceland, Sweden, Nepal, Switzerland, Denmark, Hungary and France with Canada in the 56th position.
After reviewing this material you might also consider reading the “Utopia for Realists” by Rutger Bregman who explores topics like universal basic income and a 15 hour work week.
Many readers may be scared off by the author’s controversial topics but you should find some of his material very appropriate for these uncertain times and upcoming elections.
For example, the Canadian city (Dauphin Manitoba; population 13,000) once eradicated poverty. In 1973 the government started on a four-year experiment which provided every family with Mincome (e.g. A family of four got around $19,000 a year no questions asked).
A new government ended the experiment, but fortunately extensive records where made about the experiment and professor Evelyn Forget did a detailed analysis of the data that showed the experiment had been a resounding success relative to other towns that did not get money.
Contrary to predictions school performance improved, total work hours notched down very little, hospitalization decreased by 8.5 per cent, domestic violence and mental health issues were down.
Mincome had made the whole town healthier and the positive impacts were passed onto the next generation. Another interesting story was how Richard Nixon nearly implemented a national basic income if it wasn’t for misleading information supplied by an assistant.
Author Rutger supports his material with over 40 pages of references. So take some time to get informed and make sure you vote.
Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.