Pile of coins



For centuries anthropologists, biologists and other scientists have searched for what makes humans different from other animals. At first they focused on our intelligence. After all, it was what got us out of the trees and doing all sorts of neat things like farming and making fire. Imagine our surprise when we found out that wasn’t it. That animals like dolphins, apes and even ravens have intelligence that is comparable to ours.

Then we focused on their ability to problem solve, plan or even use tools. Well, turns out that ravens are great problem solvers, something farmers all over have known for centuries.

Ditto with ability to grieve, understand death, identify the self. All dead ends on how humans differ from animals. The only difference anyone could see was humanity’s ability to find new ways to be cruel to each other in interesting and creative ways. Animals don’t seem to have that capacity.

The one thing, in my mind, that separates humans from animals is our greed. We go way beyond our need to provide for ourselves and loved ones. If you make $50,000/yr, well, you’d better ramp it up because your neighbour is making $75,000/yr. If you have an Audi, better trade it in for a BMW. Forget that there are children starving across town. Forget that someone froze to death in a doorway in the middle of the night because the temperatures fell to -30 C. After all, that extra bit of money you have is something you earned. Never mind that it sits in the bank and is never put to use. Never mind that you don’t actually need two or three cars. They’re yours, dammit.

So how are we surprised, then, that the government we elected, Alison Redford and her cronies, are simply mimicking our own values? I’m not saying we need to instigate Communism here. However, would it be such a hardship to give up some of those bucks sitting in the bank doing nothing so that fellow Albertans can eat?

Our politicians follow the example of the people. When Ralph Klein was elected into office, Albertans everywhere were tightening their belts. Klein simply followed the will of the people and did what we were already doing. Now, Klein performed cuts much like Jack the Ripper performed surgery but it did achieve its goal.

Albertans have been living high on the hog now for quite a while. We’ve earned it. We tightened belts, made seniors and the poor suffered so we could pay down our debts. Then Klein handed out cheques to reward us. So we’ve been eating caviar and drinking expensive beer and then we elected someone who reflected our ideals; Alison Redford.

Redford came in and saw the caviar and imported beer and saw dollar bills. Many Albertans are angry over her uncontrolled spending and outrageous plans such as the palace she was building. However, before we condemn her we need to condemn ourselves. Redford merely did what any leader is going to do; she emulated and amplified what was important to Albertans. We’ve become so stuck in our own greed we can’t see past our own noses.

It doesn’t matter who we elect now, really. We could elect Mickey Mouse and his band of merry men and still have the same problems we faced with Redford. What needs to happen before we elect anyone is change our attitudes. It’s time we stopped saying it’s okay for Alberta Health to have the kind of wait times going on that they do while they screw over our health system with nonsense legislation that makes it more difficult for doctors to treat their patients. It’s time we put our foot down about Income Support saying it’s viable for a single Albertan to live on $667/month. It’s time we stopped expecting non-profit organizations to pick up the slack that the Alberta government should be doing. It’s more than time that we stopped punishing small businesses and rewarding big business. For the sake of little green monkeys, don’t you think it’s high time that government employees stopped using our tax dollars to pay for their golf and calling it “meetings”? Isn’t anyone else sick of MLAs hiring out their buddies for government contracts?

Until we say enough to this and more, anyone we elect will simply do what Redford has done. We need to start asking what potential candidates plan to DO about this mess and not just allowing them to get away with spewing platitudes at us. It’s time Albertans demanded their politicians have real, viable plans to change this around. Not just finger pointing and name calling.

Albertans deserve better. ALL Albertans. It’s time we realized that and more than time we demanded better.