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A highly rational, if somewhat grumpy, yet still optimistic, rant

February 28, 2014

Imagine a future where the population is largely disengaged, isolated and depressed. Where the gap between those with power and money and the rest of society is an unbridgeable chasm. Where neither government nor society provides meaningful support to those in need. Where anything and everything can be justified in the name of efficiency. Where both human rights and environmental concerns are belittled and ignored. Where democracy breaks down as the media fails… Oh wait, that’s not the future.

But somehow I’m still hopeful. Because I can imagine a better world. And because so many people I know want the world to be different too. We just have to work out how to get there.

We have to insist that politics moves beyond economics and the small-minded focus on short-term efficiencies. We have to insist on investment in the good stuff: preventative healthcare, education, scientific research, parks, public transport, bike paths, disability support, the environment, sustainable energies, refugees, and of course my personal favourite, public libraries. These are investments for our future, areas in which jobs can be created and thus the economy stimulated while also building a better society.

To get there, we have to insist that those of us who believe in all this are not hippies or kooks. We’re the ones with our heads screwed on straight. We’re the ones who can see that there is more to the world than balance sheets. What point balancing the books when the world you’ve built is wonky? I’d rather have a balanced world thanks very much.

Language is actually really powerful in all this. Terms like “economical rationalism” are used to imply that anything other than monetary efficiency is irrational. And people who believe in something different, and better, are put down as naive dreamers. We’re not naive! Naivete is believing that a strong economy will lead inevitably to a healthy society, even if your quest for fiscal efficiency has undermined every service and institution that might have contributed to the health of that society. And dreaming?!? Well, yes, I believe in dreaming. How can we possibly envisage better ways of doing things unless we dream? I’m proud to be a dreamer. But I’m not just a dreamer, I’m rational too.

So to the “economic rationalists” who argue that efficiency is everything, I say “Bollucks!”

Perhaps not my most eloquent argument, but I’m tired of being belittled for believing we can do better than this. We damn well can.

Can we just stop being so useless and get on with it now?

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