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libertarian democraticI am a libertarian democratic socialist.

Apparently I'm a libertarian democratic socialist. Well, I've been called worse, but this sounds particularly bad. Like I'm the love child of Margaret Thatcher and Fidel Castro, or Ronald Reagan and Madame Mao, or Ann Coulter and Jeremy Corbyn, or ... That's enough. I'm starting to gag.

Sometimes, if you get stuck with a label, you just have to grin and wear it.

Let's start with the libertarian part. I am free to do what I want. But the flip side of liberty is responsibility. I'm only free if I don't encroach on your liberties. That means, for example, I have a responsibility to stay as healthy as I can afford, so you don't have to subsidize my illness.

If I smoke, I might end up in hospital and contribute to the over-crowding there. If I don't take the medicine the doctor tells me will cure my pneumonia (complicated by my smoking), I put you at risk of catching what's ailing me. If I eat French fries every day, my heart will take a beating. Maybe I'll get cancer, or diabetes. Either way it'll take a lot of money to fix me.

Trouble is, not everyone can afford to eat well, or get their teeth fixed, or buy the medications a doctor prescribes.

So, I believe we need to ensure there is equality of access to things people need to stay well. This is not to be confused with giving away freebies, for poverty and ill-health costs us all a lot of hard-earned dough. So let's pay people well enough to eat well and, if they get do sick, let's make sure they have access to good health care (which includes dental care and pharmacare). Besides, it's the compassionate thing to do.

That's the socialist part.

I also believe in obeying the law. And I expect other people to do the same, including corporations who are, after all, 'persons' under the law. In our system, they are free to make money and to do things that will help them do that.

But ... if they make huge profits and pay their CEOs huge salaries but do not paying their workers enough to live on, then there oughta be a law. If they dam up the water and rip up the earth for profit and don't consult with those affected, there oughta be a law. If they walk away from the damage they've done without putting it back the way it was, there oughta be a law.

Laws drive change and change best comes, not by violence, but with informed debates and free votes.

And that's the democratic part.

I suppose I come by my libertarian democratic socialism honestly. For I am the love child of a Saskatchewan teacher when Tommy Douglas was Premier, and the grandson of a Scottish Highlander who hid one of his stills down in Fergus to avoid the whiskey tax. The record is foggy, but I think the English revenuers burned him out.

David McLaren
Neyaashiinigmiing, ON


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