brain

Seriously, for starters, back to my previous piece:

      "Seriously, is it not an astonishing fact that though on the treatment of offspring depend their lives or deaths, and their moral welfare or ruin; yet not one word of instruction on the treatment of offspring is ever given to those who will hereafter be parents?"

      "For homes to provide a supportive environment for the young, we need a supportive environment for parents to enable them to live up to their task. Supportive with, to be sure, a persuasive edge for the simple reason that probably not all parents are open to learning the skills of good parenting. A home environment needs to be harmonious and economically sufficient and stable."  
4

"Minds Make Societies." Remember this title of a book by Pascal Boyer? Consider what Herbert Spencer wrote back in 1884: "on the treatment of offspring depend their lives or deaths, and their moral welfare or ruin." Putting the two together, the upbringing of chldren will affect society at large. The rearing of the young has ramifications for ethics and law, for criminality and policing. It affects our judgement of give and take. It affects the choice between war and peace. Society needs to recognize that it has a big stake in providing a supportive environment for, both, the young and their parents which calls for harmony and economic sufficiency. Well, yes, it does, but only in some sort of half-hearted way, pushed around by half-witted fashions and political sentiments.  5

Half hearted? Here are some data from Statistics Canada:

PeopleAugust 2019August 2020
Population30.80 million31.17 million
Labor force20.27 million20.03 million
Employment19.11 million17.85 million
Full-time employment15.48 million14.44 million
Part-time employment3.63 million3.40 million
Unemployment1.16 million2.18 million
Unempoyment rate5.7%10.9%

Let's agree that even a 5.7% unemployment rate, jubulantly considered acceptable by society's economists, is hardly evidence of support for harmony and economic sufficiency. Sure, we can argue till hell freezes over. Sure, there are other factors in play, such as financial assistance (or "hand-outs," depending on how one looks at it) provided by governments under various labels, but uncertainty is a fact of life for too many.  7

Not even a guaranteed equitable food distribution as I first proposed here ff, which introduces a coupon economy alongside our money-economy, will do. But for now let's keep this discussion as simple as possible in a struggle toward survival. Let's therefore, for now, set aside the ifs and buts besieging our thinking from left, right, and center.  8

* * *

Scrambling for a lifeline by which to develop my thinking I typed "political systems" in my browser and picked on Wikipedia to lend me a hand:

      "In political science, a political system defines the process for making official government decisions. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the questions of who should have authority and what the government influence on its people and economy should be." (
Ref.)  8

Next, turning to Canada, I found:

      "Canada is a constitutional monarchy. .... In practice, the executive powers are directed by the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the elected House of Commons of Canada and chosen and headed by the Prime Minister of Canada." (
Ref.) Further, that this is a federal government responsible for "things that affect the whole country, such as citizenship and immigration, national defence and trade with other countries."  9

Stepping down a level, to our provincial and territorial governments. Here things vary a bit. Education, health care and highways, for example, are jealously guarded provincial responsibilities. But the Trans-Canada Highway, recognizable by its distinctive white-on-green maple leaf route markers, is a fine exampe of federal-provincial cooperation. Wish we could say the same for raising our citizenry. Yes, an attempt is there: Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is enshrined in the country's judicial system. But then again, Section 33 of the Charter, known as the "notwithstanding clause" allows Parliament or provincial legislatures to temporarily override certain portions of the Charter. And so. here we go:

   • Alberta may override: Same-sex marriage; Compensation for forced sterilization; Other discussions of its use in Alberta.
   • New Brunswick: Mandatory vaccinations.
   • Ontario: Municipal elections.
   • Quebec: Blanket application; Sign laws; "An Act respecting the laicity of the State."
   • Saskatchewan: Back-to-work order; Catholic school funding; Other discussions of its use in Saskatchewan.
   • Yukon: Committee appointments.  
10

Consider Quebec's Bill 21, "An Act respecting the laicity of the State," tabled in March, 2019 by the province's ruling party, Coalition Avenir Qu├ębec (CAQ) and passed into law three months later. It prohibits people in positions of authority to wear any religious symbols while on duty. A Jewish or Muslim teacher, for example, shall not wear a skull-cap in the classrooms of provincially supported schools. Yet, tolerance is explicitly part what elementary and secondary schools must inculcate as spelled out in official documents signed by Quebec's premier and leader of te CAQ, François Legault. Go figure. Moreover, Bill 21 appears to conflict with Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms! As sure as God made little, green apples, it is not simple to keep things simple!  11

Stepping up a level, to the world as a whole:

      Recently in the news (Reuters, Oct. 19, 2020): "A divided world has failed to rise to the challenge of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic," so said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres. Further, "a microscopic virus could push millions of people into poverty and hunger. with devastating economic effects in the years to come."

With how we handle the pandemic in mind, how can we reasonably expect the world to effectively deal with global warming and related issues as rising ocean-levels, food shortages because the finest agricultural lands are being flooded, mass migrations, massive protests ever more violent? Whether we look down or look up a level, it just isn't simple to keep things simple! How about looking sideways? We see people ignoring health professionals' warnings not to attend massive gatherings and certainly not without masks. 
12

Another news item, from seven months ago:

      "Amid the unfolding social crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, riots broke out in some of the most impoverished working class neighbourhoods of major Dutch cities. The riots started in the Schilderswijk district of The Hague, a neighbourhood devastated by increasing social misery, shunned by the media and subjected to continual police harassment. A heavily immigrant area, Schilderswijk faces high unemployment and—as in poorer working class areas in cities across Europe—is increasingly dependent on food banks and dwindling social benefits due to the impact of the pandemic. According to official reports, roughly one hundred rioters, mostly youth who organised on social media platforms, threw rocks and fireworks at riot police for several consecutive nights, allegedly opened up fire hydrants due to the heat wave, and set dumpsters and bus stops on fire. (
Ref.)  13


* * *

Something that looks quite simple to me is to immediately prepare for a breakdown of digital technology which may be caused by nuclear explosions and by solar radiation. This means readying a workforce up to the challenge at hand. That might well be a workforce of public employees drawn from the ranks of the unemployed, the homeless, people serving time in the country's prisons. Details, such as selecting and training these people, need to be worked out, fast! On this score there is some good news.  15

That good news is that besides providing employment where it is most needed—meaningful employment that, I would hope, will provide a sense of community respect and selfworth—it might be conditioned upon attending classes about citizenship with topics such as looking after one's physical and mental health as well as happenings in the community at large reported on by media that are informational as well as educational. I touched on that earlier, remember?.  16

Google; just amazing! I typed in the search bar "netherland. jails empty. norwegians" and there it was, among some related articles I found one that I recall reading five years ago. "Netherlands fills empty jails with inmates from Norway as falling crime rates leave more guards." An old-fogey's memory digitally augmented. And, going by futurist Ray Kurzweil, we have seen nothing yet.  17

The reported crime rate in The Netherlands has gone down since 2001 when it was 93 per 1000 members of the population. By 2017 this was down to 49 per 1000. (More than half of the reported crimes are not investigated for lack of clues.) In 2013, 19 of the country's prisons were axed because there weren't enough criminals to fill them. This led to a storm of protest from prison workers. Since that time, the government began 'importing' prisoners from Belgium and Norway to fill the gap and keep some prisons open. In 2017, a further five prisons were closed down and only 700 of the 2,000 prison workers affected were moved to other roles within Dutch law enforcement.  18

In 2014, "the official prison population dropped to just 9,710, and for the first time guards outnumbered prisoners, with 9,914 correction officers in the country. That compares with a US figure of around five prisoners per guard." A spokesman for the Dutch ministry of justice "attributes the fall to lower crime rates and a growing focus on rehabilitation over long jail sentences. This means shorter sentences, more electronic tagging, and investment in programmes focused on job skills and re-entry into the community."  19

In 2019, an American observer living in The Neterlands gave some hypothetical reasons why the violent crime rate in the U.S. is so much higher:

   • "We have a different culture regarding violence ... and it would take a separate question to get at the root of the difference.
   • It's not so easy to get a gun here ... which plays a role in having less violent crime.
   • We have somehow avoided having a ghetto culture ... almost entirely.
   • Legalising marijuana has effectively detached marijuana from other illegal drugs, such as speed and crack."

At the root of these details there are—what else?—further details, but I have strayed already far away from my intention to keep things simple—for now.  
20

To end this installment with a spark of hope, back to Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurist of note. As a futurist, exponential trends are high on his mind. Example: the accelerating unfolding of what nature provided from the simplest of organisms to such complex beings as humans. Example: the accelerating rate of humans' productive intelligence as evidenced by inventions from chipping flint to chipping pieces from asteroids; not to overlook the accelerating rate of lessening costs of acquiring many desirable items (far beyond our everyday needs). Some other examples: the accelerating rates of shrinking size and and increasing computational capacity of computer chips and the potential for learning whatever is worth learning most.  21

And so, while human activity is currently responsible for the accelerating threat of climate change and rising sea-water levels, might it not just be that an accelerating rate of improvement in humanity's digitally augmented intelligence will overtake the threat of climate change? That, just in time, an increasingly cooperative thinking will overtake competitive supremacy of the fittest?  22

Never mind that I very much doubt it.


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