A study in contradictions

There is one thing that can be said for mankind, we’re a people of contradiction.

Take for example the “looking young forever obsession”.  We have all sorts of expensive products and procedures to keep our skin young forever, but every dermatologist, who is not making money off this multi-billion dollar business, say the same thing.  If you want younger looking skin longer, don’t smoke, always wear sun screen, never use a tanning bed, get adequate sleep and, of course, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.

Yet many use cigarettes to stay slim. Most first world Caucasians think a golden skin makes one look healthier. Far too many of us are so attached to gaming, smart phones and movies that the amount of sleep we’re receiving is far below what is healthy. And, last but not least, we are becoming a society of growing obesity because we don’t get enough exercise and fast foods dominate many of our diets.

It’s not just skin beauty where we fall victim to contradiction, it’s found also in our obsession for lower taxes.  For the last quarter century, we’ve been conditioned to believe taxes of any kind are evil, even to the point we now consider CPP contributions  a tax rather than an investment towards our future retirement.  EI as a tax rather than a premium for a benefit that kicks in when something totally outside our control happens—losing a job when oil prices tank.

We want baby bonus cheques for kids all the way up to 16 years of age, home improvement rebates, OAS (Old Age Security) cheques and CPP cheques when we turn 65.

We want “tough on crime” and increased security which comes with more police, more judges, more crown prosecutors, more jail space, more guards, more prisons, more military, more operational and capital spending on military, more veteran benefits, more spies, and the list goes on.

We want to build our luxury homes on flood plains but then we want the government to bail us out when we’re flooded—sometimes over and over again.

We want to be free-market farmers without border restrictions, able to negotiate the best prices for our crops, but when drought or flood conditions occur, we want the government to send us a bailout cheque.  We want government help when BSE or avian or swine diseases attack our respective livestock herds.

We want nursing homes, seniors’ homes and hospitals in small communities for the economic spinoff and keep our seniors close to home. We want universal health care, home care, short wait times for surgeries and cancer treatments.  If we have family or friends suffering from mental illness, dementia and all its forms, physical disabilities or an addiction, we want government supports.

We want schools in small communities and smaller classes in larger communities. We want timely training and affordable post-secondary education. We even expect our “private” schools to get a portion of “public” money which is a complete contradiction.

We want to do extreme sports or let our kids ride SUVs and then expect rescue teams, paramedics, emergency rooms, surgeries, ICUs and publically-funded hospital beds close at hand. We want to smoke, eat an unhealthy diet, maintain an unhealthy weight, not wear helmets or seatbeats, speed and generally increase our probability of being a long-term drag on the public health care system.

We want community halls, skating arenas, curling rinks, seniors’ centers, libraries, swimming pools, recreation centers, ball diamonds, soccer pitches and football fields.

We want well-maintained roads, graded in the summer, snow plowed in the winter and absent of pot holes. For those living in urban areas, we want sidewalks, sewers, treated water, garbage pickup and public transportation.

We want safe drinking water, irrigation, clean rivers and lakes for fishing, water use and recreation. We want electricity and natural gas for our homes and although we think we’re paying a lot for utilities, if not for government assistance, we’d be paying much more.

Now the vast majority of these are needs of an advanced society, and some are just pure wants or self-centeredness of a wealthy society. But in all cases, who would argue that 100 per cent of the populous are okay with government, ergo taxes, paying for 90 per cent of the above wants and needs.

Therein lies the problem behind our lives of contradiction.

The sure treatment for healthy skin is no smoking, sunning or tanning beds and lots of sleep, good food and exercise. Yet we prefer to spend billions of dollars on un-scientific anti-aging products, undergo cosmetic surgery, drink concoctions, inject ourselves with Botox or hope acupuncture will do the trick.

We may think our politicians do a lot of double-speak but surely we, the voters are a major part of the problem. We unknowingly or unwillingly ignore the contradictions we embrace when it comes to expecting much from government by paying little.

Ignorance is bliss, they say!  Alas, we seem much happier complaining about high taxes than owning up to the truth that every day of each year, we all use government-funded infrastructure or access some benefit, information, service or government program that is available — because of taxes!

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