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Saturday, 30 May 2015

A Thought on Education

Was just watching this wonderful Question Time clip featuring Roger Scruton where the
audience was given a chance to ask a question about education. One
insightful member commented that, perhaps, we should be abandoning the
secondary degrees as a necessity for teaching qualifications and it made
me think that perhaps and an education degree in and of itself is not
the best means to produce teachers. And in fact the requirement of a
degree in education or secondary degree may act as disincentive for
the best teachers, or those individuals who wish to return to their
field and teach after a life spent in the public or private sector.

speaking, I know I have had professors who were much better teachers
than the ones I experienced in my Elementary and Secondary school years,
and though there are exceptions to the rule i think it does deserve
some consideration.

The appropriate section begins at 9:40


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Food for Thought about the Sexual Revolution.

If sexual education is working so well and contraceptives truly prevent pregnancy, as opposed to individual decision making, why is it that in the Book 'Dollars and Sex,' By Economist Marina Adshade notes within its first 20 pages that:

  • in 1900 only 6% of 19 year old women were sexually active.
  • Between 1963 and 2013 the rate of births to unmarried women has increased from 5-41%

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Conservative Standpoint Part 3: Speculation on Abortion

This is Part 3 of the Conservative Standpoint a serial post by Cole D. 

Abortion is a complex mess to tackle. Yet, I will make the attempt. The issue is tangled both the morals of the family and the framework of medical ethics. Without being overly graphic and without an excessive amount of analysis I will do my best to frame why it is a conservative does, or should care about abortion. I am unfamiliar with the topic and therefore, this post shall be rooted in both speculation and hedging, but do not disregard it simply because I am out of my element. I am doing my best to gather a basic understanding and apply those principles to a world view of my own not provide a positive answer to all questions; perhaps then you as well as I may gain some insight from a study on the abortion dialogue.

First without graphic details what is abortion? According to Merriam-Webster it is, ‘the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.’ Conservatives seem most likely to object to the definition of a fetus in itself: often viewing it as a derogatory term that undermines the humanity of the unborn and simply a stipulation used by the pro-choice lobby to take recognition away from the human being in the womb.

Throughout history we cannot separate humanity from the procedure of abortion, however, we can acknowledge that it was likely exceedingly rare in most of the world and only became explosive after being introduced by Lenin to the Soviet Union—with the intent of putting women to work en-masse and destroying the family. Though pro-choice lobbyists fear a return to the days of violent coat-hanger abortions and impractical and filthy surgical procedures, the reality it seems has always been less explosive. Up until the 1960’s abortion was a small part of life in the western world, because the norms of marriage and the risk of infection or complication for the mother was high. Nevertheless, we have seen a transformation in the attitude of western man toward sex and this has changed the way we experience the advent of pregnancy and fear of childbirth in the western world.

The liberal position has, since Roe Vs Wade, dominated the discussion about the abortion. The debate has become, in essence, a question of abstract rights: what constitutes appropriate rights for both mother and child. In this case, the liberal position believes in the infallibility of the individuals' decision making divorced from its profound complications for the mother, her relationships, and society. This is erroneous and tenuous as all the liberal positions and makes mockery of the nuance and depth of human society. Instead of acknowledging the massacre of infants in utero the pro-choice lobby smothers dissent in the language of women's rights. The pro-choice lobby does this without acknowledging that the society and it’s permanently linked counterpart the state are the provider of those same rights and privileges. Evidence for this is given in the observation that rights have consistently evolved and expanded with the sphere of the state, and whenever we see regression from the size and complexity of the state, we in turn see a reduction in the individual’s actual and perceived autonomy.

Abortion seems dead and buried in Canada, where protections for newborns are limited, but still activists agitate for the expansion of clinics across the country, where inadequate access remains the primary complaint. Provinces, historically conservative, such as Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick have limited access to services because it is not what the people want. A journey it seems beyond one's own neighborhood is too costly for the privilege of ending a pregnancy. The conservative government has further fueled this stew of discontent, which concerned about the retention of power, will not discuss abortion in the House of Commons. Meanwhile the language of rights, and the normative perception of good, has advanced to such a state that Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has banned all candidates from voting independent of party line on abortion. Likewise, all Liberal candidates will be vetted for their stand on abortion before given a chance to run for a riding. Is the right individual paramount to the liberal and Liberal Party? The answer is only when it toes the party line, any divergence in opinion, any freedom of conscious will now be punished. . .  the very essence of liberalism has to die in the name of a woman's right to choose.

However, what do Canadians themselves think? It seems that the majority, 59% wish to have some form of discussion on abortion according to a poll administered by the Canadian Institute of Marriage and the Family. Meanwhile, Roxanne's law, Bill C-510 (The bill legislated freedom from coercion toward abortion for the pregnant mother) was struck down in the House of Commons. Conservatives feared to discuss the issue or advocate for new legislation and instead they voted against a bill that many liberal colleagues supported. The bill, one that anyone could seemingly endorse, was denounced by the NDP. The Calgary Herald reported in November of 2010, “health critic Megan Leslie told the media over the weekend with regards to Bill C-510 that, "if we can open that door even a crack to this idea of fetal rights -- which in my opinion promotes anti-choice ideas -- that has an impact on women's rights and freedoms when it comes to the very personal decision about abortion." This language was used despite the fact that the bill was intended to protect the rights of the mother to choose motherhood. When the left uses the language of rights and personal autonomy, they feel entitled to tell you how to be free, and if a mother wishes for protection in her right to give birth to her baby, well that just does not seem to fit. In Canada we are stuck with political inaction at a time when some legal protection for the unborn is merited. The majority of Canadians in fact support this conclusion, but in a country with no legal regulations, since 1988 when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the original 1969 law implemented by Pierre Trudeau, we are left wondering why not. Most Canadian conservatives would be pleased to accept doctor approved abortion, which was instated during Pierre Trudeau's tenure.

After witnessing the paradoxical pronunciations of our liberal politicians, we are left to construct a rebuttal. Now it is up to the conservative to understand why the liberal perspective is as myopic as it is harmful, we must first turn our gaze toward the mother, and her rights as well as her duties to both the unborn and her family. There is no doubt that a mother’s right predominates, but this must be tempered. All children wanted or unwanted are products of a relationship between two people and therefore it only seems reasonable that the exclusivity of a mother's right to choose should not infringe upon the life of the child. The father will be subject of later discussion. If abortion is here to stay, then we must ensure that it does not cause undue suffering and hardship for both the mother and child. However, we would like to see such a procedure only when necessary. Therapeutic abortions for those who suffer undue harm because of rape and incest should see no loss of rights to terminate the pregnancy. However, to terminate at will for matters of convenience is a cruelty. All abortions are sickeningly violent procedures, hence why it is nearly impossible to show images of fetuses, because to see the fetus is to recognize a likelihood of pain and suffering of something human. Doctors are approaching a consensus on fetal pain. Around 20 weeks is viewed as the standard time when the nerves have developed to a capacity in which stimulus may be acutely felt. Plausibly, then, we may deny abortion after the 20 week period, except on the grounds of a crisis.

To digress, this issue is important because 20 weeks is approaching survivability for the unborn. I myself was born extremely premature, approx 24 weeks, and I have lived a healthy and happy life, despite an extended stay in an incubator.

So does the mother have a duty to anyone but herself in the choice to abort? Yes she does she  has obligations to her child, not to cause it undue pain; she has obligations to her lover who made such a child possible; she has obligations to avoid harm to herself, and she has obligations to her own mother. She is obliged to her mother because her mother likely did not carry her own daughter to term on a strictly voluntary basis, but instead grew to love her. Implied in this is a respect for the future the mother experienced this, trusted it, and in turn created a beautiful life.

Nevertheless, the personal duties and obligations inherent in motherhood do not play the only part in the abortion debate. Those who argue on behalf of the expansion of abortion rights are insistent that children raised by a mother without means, and a mother who would rather have not had the baby will devastate society; there may be some truth here, but then we must ask why that is.

Women with no means have been having children and raising children successfully for thousands of years, the majority have not grown to be delinquent children, and this begs the question of how they did so: the answer family. However, now with divorce on the rise, along with the continued adolescence of individualism, paired with long work hours and poor wages—the legacy of the service industry revolution and globalization—more and more mothers lacking funds for daycare centres and lacking familial support wish to abandon their baby.

This begs another question. Are mothers becoming poorer mothers because of abortion? Instead of raising insolent children, are they harming themselves to the detriment of their future family? The evidence at least in some instances seems to support this conclusion. We it seems have traded one potential ill for another certain ill.

Social Illness and mental illness plagues mothers who elect for abortion. Recent research has found that divorce is more likely for women who have aborted in the past. 25% of women who have had abortions over 35 are divorced or separated. Only 19% of those who did not have an abortion are missing a spouse. These failed marriages lead to a majority of post abortive women raising children without the biological father and the children themselves suffer. The majority of women who had an abortion are not, by their late thirties, in their first marriage. Likewise, the same research discovered that women who had abortions were twice as likely to never marry and have twice as many lifetime sexual partners. Perhaps the findings are correlative, but they are alarming regardless.

This trend continues beyond married life where we see the mother's mental well being fail and serve as the driver for future family disunity and failure. Approximately 25% of American women experienced sexual dysfunction within six months of their abortion. This dysfunction was often attributed to the sex act being, “tainted,” by its association with death. Dr. Priscilla Coleman has spent much of her life researching the link between abortion and mental illness and believes we may conclude that 10-30% of post abortion women experienced enduring mental distress. Stress Coleman believes can inflict great harm on any pre-existing family unit, and may often serve as a catalyst for divorce.  

The apogee of this research is the finding that 42% of post-abortive women experienced major depression by the age of 25. Many others, a much higher percentage than the national average reported suicide ideation, as well as alcohol and drug abuse. Will these women make good mothers? You do not need to be wealthy to raise a child, but you do need a healthy mind and a healthy family two things post-abortion women often lose.

In an attempt to assess the intangible effects of abortion on the well-being of society, we must examine the effects on the greater zeitgeist. In Canada abortions are not tracked, and Canada has no precise statistics but an estimate of one hundred thousand annually for most of the 21st century is considered close. A million children every ten years is not an insignificant number in a country of thirty five million. Yet, statisticians believe this is the lowest the figure has been since the 1980s, which itself is alarming. Peter Hitchens noticed a similar trend in Britain in his book, 'The Abolition of Britain.' recognizing that abortion rates went up with legalization and stayed up, only now with the advent of the morning after pill have the numbers begun to fall. Likewise, in the Soviet Union for many years, abortions outnumbered live births; why is this so? What changed in the mindset of population once abortion became accessible?

Abortions rise can be traced to the acceptance of promiscuity from the 1960’s onward. Christianity declined; marriage disappeared; birth control became common, and promiscuity legitimized. Social norms shifted from chastity to free love, sure, we do not call it free love anymore but the ethos remains the same in the western world: if it feels good do it, and think about the cost later.

The goal is not to trace the social transformation of the 1960-1970’s but rather to acknowledge that the progressive forces of the world drove a sea change in the our sexual mindset precisely when technology enabled such  revolution to occur.

Combined with the observation one can see that the notion of responsibility has changed, and likewise the notion of shame and stigma. Due to our technological mastery of fertility: our access to in vitro treatments and our slew of chemical contraceptives we now take for granted the idea that sex will not lead to pregnancy. We only expect one outcome from our sexual choices and that is the one we desire. Pregnancy arrives when we decide it is time, not when it should or may. The link between sex and procreation has been annihilated and replaced by sex for recreation. Being responsible has now become the mother's task and being responsible means sexually activity at a young age and outside of marriage all the while avoiding pregnancy.

Having sex in unmarried partnership or as part of a fling or hookup is not considered irresponsible as it once was, but failing to avoid conception is irresponsible. This is important because it means mothers are now shamed for the act of “getting pregnant.” Stigma has shifted from actions: premarital and irresponsible sex, to circumstances: carrying a child. The mothers who would have once experienced a groundswell of support from friends and family find themselves ostracized instead: many seek abortions.  

This same trap extends to fathers. Fathers find themselves stigmatized or slandered if they disagree with abortion or desire to have some say in the future of their children. At the same time, the father is legally helpless in most countries when the mother chooses abortion. The father has no say and zero consent is required to terminate the pregnancy. This leaves the pregnancy itself detached from the father who is no longer carried into the fold immediately by circumstance instead he dare not become attached to his child if it may not survive. Furthermore, fathers avoid commitment to the mother and child further worsening an already desperate situation this is because any attempt to raise the child by the mother is often seen as a decision she could have avoided. She could have aborted the child. If the father does not want the baby and has no option or yet the mother had the opportunity to discard the child, then she is the only culpable party. Mothers become abandoned children lack fathers because she had a chance to end it and did not. Fathers, find themselves just as alienated as mothers in the world of abortion.

Abortion begs a handful of final questions first of which is, why should conservatives care? This seems self-explanatory and perhaps it is, but it still demands some form of conclusion. I see the reason to care lying not just in the sacerdotal character of human life at all stages nor in the act of abortion being the culmination of the liberal individualist ethos. An ethos where living it means the harm principle is quietly dismissed as too limiting on the individuals who is pursuing their own interpretation of Maslow’s self-actualization at the expense of another's life. Finally, the conservative needs to care because the orthodoxy of abortion is now forced upon us by the state, meanwhile such an action as abortion as was earlier demonstrated is part and parcel of the destruction of our society's family culture. The same family culture that serves as the foundation of both our institutions and our obligation bound human milieu.

This conclusion leaves one more thought that ought to be addressed: is there a solution? Some form or direction in which the conservative can direct their actions and activism? Yes, perhaps there is. I can see no reason why abortion should be available for anything beyond therapeutic reasons. The western world has all the cheap band-aid solutions it needs to destroy pregnancy forever if only the person themselves could maintain their contraceptive regiment, and likewise we have adoption as a sure solution to those children who are stuck without the means to be raised appropriately. Adoption is the true solution as it provides the option of parentage without the extermination of abortion, but this would cause discomfort or trauma and therefore is infeasible to the selfish.

However, beyond the fact that abortion is a poor option, and other solutions remain better positioned to offer a humanitarian option for the unborn we still have a final issue. Marriage is dying in the west. Families are crumbling and the individual is all. This leaves a populace uncritical of the destruction of human life and the last resort becomes the first resort. We have as conservatives a duty to bring abortion dialogue to the public fore and not be silenced; we need to write our representatives and let them know that no consensus exists. We must inform the world of the perverse incentives acting on people and families. We must not let the atomization of society be the end of the fight, but rather push back toward the sacred in society: the family and the well-being of both mothers and their children. This means that thought must change, the zeitgeist must change, but it is possible.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Conservative Standpoint Part 2: Conservative Perspectives on Healthcare

This is Part 2 of the Conservative Standpoint a serial post by Cole D.

Healthcare is a contentious issue for conservatives all over the world. The administration of healthcare in the OECD has become a point of confusion and frustration for many conservative administrations and policy commentators. Our confusion and frustration with healthcare stems from the fact that no single system seems to be addressing the needs of any society in an efficient manner either the quality of care is low or the costs are extreme; either one pays or the whole nation pays through some form of national insurance or provider: neither solution has proven effective.
Generally speaking, the conservative stands for the small government whenever it is feasible, and if not the small then the conservative stands for the local and this makes sense, but a massive undertaking such as healthcare requires massive resources. Some, especially among the American conservatives argue in favour of the multi-payer system, but this necessarily passes extreme costs onto the consumer and has its own limitations—as is evident in the calls for reform in the United States of America, where healthcare expenses have reached a tipping point. Even the republicans are arguing for a variety of reform proposals.
First among the considerations for any conservative examining the healthcare is issue is the moral obligations concurrent with healthcare: society is as Roger Scruton insists fundamentally understood in terms of obligation or allegiance, and indeed, we have a duty to care in some capacity for the least able among us. This was evident to the Canadian reformer Tommy Douglas: leader of the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) a conservative social democratic party, rooted in both socialist and Baptist principles; Douglas would be voted the greatest Canadian in 2004, largely for his initiative to bring single payer healthcare to Canada. Douglas understood that medical needs were largely beyond choice and therefore, it was imperative to ensure service was accessible to all. He believed in the moral duty to offer care to those with little means because the health of society was embodied by the health of its people.
All of the prior points about Douglas and universal care may be true, but it must also be acknowledged that a universal healthcare system involved a massive expansion of the state in order to administer and resource such services as were previously provided by the private sector. Ronald Reagan would embody resistance to the expansion of the state into all parts of the individual's life with his production of ‘Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine,’ (1961) where he recognized that he if healthcare became government business then so did all other spheres of private life which may impact the individual's health. All though the government, at least in Canada, has not infiltrated all other areas of life under the guise of ensuring individual health it has not stopped the bureaucracy from bloating to the point of comedic and desperate proportions driving the provinces of Canada as well as the British NHS into insolvency.
The conservative looks for opportunities for localization when possible, and though Reagan and in the modern day others, like Paul Ryan, have been at times the source of ridicule for their opposition to the implementation of single payer care they managed to strike at a deep conservative principle: that which states, that localization is always the best alternative to abstract authority. They insist that the individual can determine what is best for his and her family and this is indeed the truth, just as is the fact that the individual has very little control over whether or not he or she becomes ill. Although we may be able to take preventative measures keeping our weight low, exercising daily, limiting stress, and practicing good hygiene, we are still not entirely capable of preventing our own injury and illness. Trauma still happens; genetics predispose people to disease, unexplained phenomenon occur in the body and the individual pays for this doubly with both hardship and expenses—incurred either through tax or at the point of administration. The problem remains that with the expansion of the state we are increasingly disconnected from the daily health needs of our population compassion suffers; we fail to see that part of our duty in the social contract is to maintain the state of health for both our own family and in the abstract, the family of the nation.
In turn, the economic elements of healthcare merit some form of further examination. Firstly, we face the as a society, both individually as nations, and as the greater community of the western world the advancing age of the baby boomers. Baby boomers are estimated to make up 25% of some populations before the middle of the 21st century, and the majority of these people, unlike their forebears have had small families. This leaves the single payer system in increasingly dire straits as nations such as Canada face the need to cut budgets in order to accommodate a decreasing revenue stream just as burdens will grow to their most intense. In Ontario, it is forecasted by the C.D Howe institute that 2030 will be the year when healthcare reaches 80% of the budget in the most populous province in Canada.
This dearth of service providers has led to another growing phenomenon in Canada and to a lesser extent the UK: a glut of doctors who are unable to find positions in which to practice, and a patient base, which experiences excruciating wait times that are occasionally debilitating if not lethal. This lack of an outlet for excess labour to meet the needs of demand has led to the flight of some of the best physicians to the United States where they are free to practice, with reduced regulation no less. This flight of the doctors is a triple blow to the single payer system, undercutting income taxes from doctors, increasing patient wait times, and further undermining confidence in the single payer system for those who actually practice the trade of medicine.
But what of the American system itself? The paradoxical goliath, which strips wealth from its citizens, has expanded the leviathan of state and yet to those who are able to pay provides outstanding health outcomes? Well, with the flight of the doctors to the United States it is no question that the suppliers of health services are doing well. It is a seller's market. The buyers, who cannot choose illness, find themselves left to foot whatever bill is pressed into their hands. Worse, if the individual lacks insurance this bill can lead to default and the destruction of entire family's meager wealth. This situation is instructive because it paints a picture of a demand curve that is highly inelastic. The demand for healthcare is not generally something that can be postponed, unless it happens to be an elective procedure, but when I address healthcare I do so in the most basic of terms. In essence healthcare consumers, as should be intuitively obvious, do not respond to changes in price this leaves those who are in charge of pricing such services free to determine the rate of exchange with little pressure to keep prices low. Certainly, those who insist the free market play a large role in healthcare believe that the competitive nature of business will ensure competitive costs, however anecdotally speaking this is not the case. This fixation on market solutions leaves us with further complications that leave a conservative uncertain of what constitutes the best solution to the emerging healthcare crisis in the western world.
A number of speculative health reforms have emerged in the western world. Some focus on expanding market based solutions, others with generating revenues, and some focus on limiting the size of the health care apparatus itself. Some of the solutions I will outline, and others are my own suggestions, but together the ideas proposed will outline a variety of conservative minded solutions to reforming healthcare in the western world.
First among the available solutions and most touted is the two-tier healthcare system advocated by some reforms in Canada and practiced in most countries in some form or another: the largest difference between nations is the robustness and availability of private services. For example, in Canada access to private insurance was limited under law until 2005 when it was found unconstitutional to deny private healthcare if waits in the public system were excessively long. Likewise, Canada’s medicare does not cover dental and prescription services in their entirety. A more traditional two-tier model exists in Singapore where services are delivered through both private and public hospitals with a minimum service being administered through public services.
Proponents of the two-tier health care system advocate for the fact that it expands the supplier network for healthcare services and relieves demand on the public system, especially for non-critical treatments and boutique services. The second tier of healthcare would in, proponents eyes, take up the excess personnel not currently employed in the public sector. Presumably, the two-tier healthcare system would alleviate some of the extremely heavy tax burden that currently exists in single payer only systems; a two-tier system would allow those who can afford to bypass the system to do so and at the same time generate income tax revenues from those employed in the service. In turn, those monies could theoretically be directed back toward financing the public system. Whether or not the system has worked in other locales is up for some debate.
Opponents of the two-tier health service, suggest primarily, that private health providers would act as a brain drain vacuuming up the best of professionals to the private system where they are able to demand their own salary and cater to clients of their choosing. This leads likewise to the assumption that a second healthcare tier is in some sense, immoral, though critics are at loath to call it that, because the private healthcare system would allow the provider to charge what they please for services and in turn generate an even greater income from the provision of healthcare. In many places throughout the world people consider the salary of a publicly employed health professional very high or excessive. To allow providers and staff to set even higher wages is often viewed as an act of injustice or exploitation by those who resist some form of privatized medicine.
So as one can see the two-tier system is leaves a number of concerns on the table and lacks a reliable consensus. What this means is that the conservative must look to other solutions to try and reconcile the civil good and health of society with personal liberty and accountability: it is these ad hoc and mixed solutions, which provide the best guide toward a more honest and efficient healthcare system. The wise conservative acknowledges that the sweeping reforms and engineering required for both sweeping privatization or centralization are not conducive to individual well being, leaving, again to draw on economic terms; a broad based system of incentives and disincentives for responsible and irresponsible use of healthcare respectively.
A number of possible solutions immediately come to mind, and they are piecemeal and non-comprehensive: I mean that I may not have only touched the surface of possible healthcare incentives and solutions. But first, if we are likely to contain healthcare spending and improve individual accountability we must give a nod to personal changes we can all make along the way to living healthier lives and taking responsibility for our families, and communities. We have seen tax credits go underutilized in Canada alongside programs like participaction, children, despite our best efforts gain weight, but we have succeeded in reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption through a number of punitive taxes. Therefore, I believe it is a reasonable solution to institute relatively high sales taxes and tariffs on sugar products, MSG, tobacco in some countries, and high fructose corn syrup. Some may argue that the state has no place in making the health decisions of the individual or that government will bloat as it absorbs more revenue. These individuals would be wise to think it Scrutonian terms, and know that the state and society are one and that our bonds of communal well being necessitate some form of action if we are to preserve our well being.  This negative incentive would be couples with a renewed program of intensive physical education in the school alongside a health program and home economics program that emphasizes nutrition and healthy living beyond what is currently provided.  In North America robust physical education, which does not accommodate slackers, the overweight, or parents' sensitivities and instead only concerned itself with wellness and excellence has fallen by the wayside, and funding cuts for many schools have only enhanced this effect. We owe it to our children and their children to provide them with long and healthy lives, society can afford such an investment: redundancies abound in other places.
To further the exercise in healthcare reform we must reduce national dependence on government provisions whenever possible. What do I mean by this? I suggest that we reconsider accessibility, among the nations with universal care, of services, which are not essential to life and limb. We need to cut off government funding to all services non-essential to the immediate physical well being of the nation. An emphasis on acute care only and the abandonment of elective procedures by our insurance umbrella would go a considerable distance in preventing needless expenditure and dependency. I see no reason why most cosmetic surgeries, and non-acute injuries need to be addressed in hospital or by our doctors if a person is triaged and deemed non-essential they should be free only to pay for treatment not receive it.
Coupled to this solution we could add an invoice of services registered by the medical establishment for all visitations: this is especially necessary in nations where universal care is the norm; people rarely consider the opportunity cost and resource burden of their visit. Although it is not a perfect solution, it is a means to make the individual consider the reasons for their visit and the drain on society's precious resources. Will most find this useful, no, but it gives patients a chance to understand the service and critics of healthcare to make sense of costs and ensure that expenditures remain transparent. Likewise, all healthcare expenses by the government would benefit from published online for download and scrutiny by any concerned citizen.
Finally, the demographic trap needs to be investigated because it is the most salient issue in healthcare in almost every nation of the western world, where birth rates are minimal and the cost of importing immigrants by the hundreds of thousands just to stabilize population is high. First, most countries provide a subsidy to stay home parents and a childcare benefit, this subsidy must be expanded drastically. Once we can convince women, it is more profitable and stable to stay at home and raise the next generation the quicker we can stabilize demographics in the western world and end our dependence on the importation of dissimilar foreigners who weigh heavily on society’s capacity to assimilate.  To supplement a growing population and to make all people more self-reliant in terms of funds we could implement a healthcare savings account model. Fraser Institute's Mark Milke advocated such savings accounts for Canada based on the Singapore model and they are critical if we wish to preserve a universal medical infrastructure. Such a program could even work in the United States where individuals would become less dependent on insurance providers by contributing a portion of their salary into a designated savings account only to be withdrawn for either long-term care requirements or medical purposes depending on the model. A mandatory medical savings account infrastructure similar to the nationwide CPP is one of the only ways to make the individual self-sustaining in old age while preserving society's ability to care for both the ill and those suffering acute medical distress. It is by far the most synergistic and conceivable of reforms addressed in this article.
Edmund Burke said that the social contract was, ‘a compact between the dead, the living, and the unborn,’ and healthcare above all other institutions embodies this social reality. The costs both physical and monetary are passed from generation to generation both in terms of debt and in terms of predisposition to ailments. Yet, we do a disservice to our elderly by failing to provide them with a means to live out their last days in affordable dignity. I have done my best to highlight a number of solutions and reforms that are suitable to the conservative temperament. I know that they are not ideal, but nothing is, and I know that Republicans will find them distressing, but coming from statist Canada disposition borders on Red Tory. Therefore, I only wish to emphasize that above all a conservative does not rely on universal solutions, but instead does their best to adapt to time, tradition, and circumstance.

If you disagree let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Conservative Standpoint Part 1: A Cursory Look at Drugs

Author Cole D. 

This Post is Part of the serial post "The Conservative Standpoint"

First among the policy issues that cause confusion among the opponents of conservative principles and policy is drugs. Why drugs? Because on a basic level drug policy addresses individual autonomy in relation to collective responsibility as well as the necessity of a virtuous populace who must carry out the functions of democratic government.

Drug apologists come from two general standpoints. One of which, is that the suppression of drugs in a free society is an affront to John Stewart Mill's harm principle: this is the libertarian consensus—whether they are aware of this principle or not. The second argument is that it would both generate 'government' revenues and cut legal expenditures while reducing the revenue of the traffickers.  By extension, the apologists also conclude in many cases that legalization would necessarily prevent the incarceration of those who are not violent offenders.

The conservative standpoint, the standpoint of what the left considers the reactionary prohibitionists... Is often both misarticulated and misunderstood by those who wish to maintain illegality and those who wish to see all ingestible substances made legal. The conservative standpoint as I understand it originates in a number of different places. 

Firstly, and most important is that drug use seemingly impedes upon the ability of the citizen to remain both morally and intellectually engaged in self-governance and collective government. Irving Kristol among many others has recognized that our governing institutions in the western world, as articulated by the American founding fathers, and similarly in the commonwealth nations were either designed or evolved under the assumption that a certain form of virtuous citizenship was imperative to a healthy democracy. As Peter Hitchens astutely points out, ‘citizens have no right to self-stupification,’ and it is detrimental to the good society to engage in drug use. Just like in Canada you are legally prevented from engaging in self harm you are likewise, theoretically, prevented from legally ingesting patently harmful substances.

Concurrent to this analysis is recognition of the fact that supply and demand is only pertinent to drugs in the most abstract fashion; this is because unlike your typical consumer good or perhaps more accurately consumable food product, drugs, including tobacco, which most apologists jump to point out is also addictive but not illegal are extremely inelastic when it comes to demand. This is because most drug consumers are not acting rationally when they choose to use these substances the absence of rationality prevents market incentives from acting in an efficient and predictable manner on drug users. Drug users do not respond to price like rational actors, which partially explains the widespread destitution of our drug consuming population. Therefore, open commerce in drugs would likely open up the consumer to exploitation, despite the fact that traffickers are no longer the ones exploiting compulsive drug user the poverty would theoretically continue.

Secondary to the argument is that we ideally would like to prevent the expansion of demand for illicit substances both domestically and abroad. Drug trafficking is of immense harm throughout the world. Latin America being the centre of much of the world's drug trade has suffered immensely from the scourge of first world hedonists consuming drugs. The privileged in the developed countries of the world are disconnected from the harms they cause in the places where the real drug war is being fought. The concern among conservative is through outright legalization whether of marijuana or other psychotropics is that we provide moral license for the consumption of substances, which will expand demand both for those legally allowed to consume and those who choose not to, or care not to pursue the substances through legal channels; any expansion to demand will cripple the ability of foreign governments to fight drug insurgencies in good conscience.

Others have pushed for decriminalization or outright legalization of marijuana beyond is already, loosely defined medical purposes. This expansion of the legal access to drugs would be of no-concern if national governments had a history of limiting the programs in which they initiated, however governments like our galaxy expand in perpetuity, and their desire for change never ceases. Therefore, in all likelihood we could end up decriminalizing access to one relatively mild substance with the expectation that we would end our demand for liberalization… Only to find that calls for further measures become the norm. Those who want legal cannabis, at least from my anecdotal encounters, see no reasons for prohibition of a broader number of alternatives: to drug apologists all substances are harmless only the individual is responsible for their state.

This conclusion does not satisfy the conservative: a question must be answered then; what would a potential conservative drug policy look like? Key to any approach taken by conservatives is the idea that we must not provide social sanction to individual who chooses to take drugs, but we must also be aware that our legal system currently punishes drug consumers in a way in which is out of proportion with the direct harm they cause to our society. 

A initial policy option would first of all be to base any solutions in disincentives punitive fines would go a long way to addressing the consumption problem. We must combat demand for drugs:  a significant fine and a confiscation would enable the police to restrict demand and still screen potential drug users for warrants and prior convictions yet limit the bureaucratic excess that comes with pressing charges… currently the only option for police in Canada.

Instead of jailing our addicts, when possible, we should initiate compulsory hospitalization for people who are drug dependent. Key to this would be enabling the police to detain individuals for drug addiction and bring them to a local hospital to be processed and then located at a rehabilitation centre or mental health facility depending on circumstance. A framework of this sort already exists in Canada under the Mental Health Act an equivalent for those who engage in frequent heavy drug consumption is feasible.

Finally, to continue to reduce demand is not enough. We would also have to curtail supply

while  avoiding undue harm to our society. Acting in solidarity with international police agencies and border services to interdict supply must continue. Our counterparts in the drug source countries must not be  left to battle alone.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Introduction: the Conservative Standpoint

Author: Cole Dutton 
Modern conservatives along with their neighbors the modern Liberals, Libertarians, and Socialists rarely seem to concur on policy disputes.  It seems, among the leftmost, and most liberal thinkers (in the classical liberal sense) cannot see the modes of thinking which underpin the conservative mentality on a number of important political debates.  Instead, we get a variety of platitudes about the conservative position being anachronistic and out of place: simply a relic if you will. This viewpoint is emphasized repeatedly on various pages across the internet such as 'Ih8conservatives' a blog that postulates that all conservatives originate in the love of and desire to retain an aristocratic society others like the Young Turks, who eviscerate Republicans and conservatives simultaneously and interchangeably simple for existing. When in fact from Hume, Burke, and Buckley, all the way to Scruton not a single philosopher hated the elitism in society, but rather viewed it as either a necessity or a stabilizing influence. This is lost on the modern critic who sees only a reactionary response to increasing liberalization and misguided equity legislation.

What the modern critic does not see is that conservatives are also doing their best to bring to fruition a utilitarian good life and the differences only occur in the aspirations and the means in which conservatives choose to pursue this goal. Conservatives believe, broadly speaking, that men have limited ability to legislate and determine the makeup of their world: they reject the rationalist concept that a good society may be engineered and instead propose that it already exists and will continue to exist inside the evolving polity. This limited view of mans capabilities and the desire to maintain the Burkean compact between the dead, living and unborn underpins most conservative decisions about what constitutes a good society. Likewise, the conservative rejects the liberal/libertarian notion that the only thing that constitutes the reasonable exercise of government is the harm principle. The conservative sees more to the state than just protecting personal freedoms—though they are important—instead the conservative aims for the state to establish the moral conditions upon which the maintenance of the good state becomes feasible.

Therefore, I intend to examine and propose conservative responses to numerous policy issues and the ideas, which underpin the concepts, used to reach these decisions. This will be an extended blog series of roughly thirteen parts which will outline the conservative disposition as best I understand it. As each post is finished it will be linked from this initial post so that all posts can be accessed in a straightforward manner.

1. Drugs

This series is as much an exercise in my own understanding, disposition, and theory as much as it is a exploration of conservative thought. I do not in any way claim to be an authority and all opinions espoused are subject to interpretation.