Since the publication of Eco-Fascists and the subsequent land and water policy papers, I am ineluctably connected with the right, and not the polite right either, the populist right. The prejudice regarding the so-called right is so pervasive that even members of my family (not to mention life-long friends) assume my opinions, without bothering to ask. They are almost invariably wrong. This is what I think:
- Abortion. I would not remove a woman’s right to choose though I think abortion on demand has coarsened the culture to the point where life is no longer considered sacred. However, religion too is a matter of choice, and I have no right to tell anyone what to do with their bodies. Polarization on this issue prevents solution. Most women I know have had abortions. I have had an illegal abortion and would not force that on anyone, which removing abortion rights would do. Abortion has been a hard fact for women since the beginning of consciousness.
- Environment. This issue has been politicized beyond reason and too often the science is either over-stated or ill-founded. That said much of it is worthy of consideration. I was raised in the country. During 20 years in Toronto, London and New York, I chose to buy a forest instead of a flat or condo. I live here now in a rammed earth carbon-neutral house with geothermal heat. I have covenanted in perpetuity the creeks on my property, one of them is the principal salmon stream in Canada’s Gulf Islands. There are more people like me than you know. Given digital work, many young couples are moving to my island choosing to live in an intimate community, embedded in nature. They will, over the next decades, ring the necessary changes.
- Social Services. I think a guaranteed income is inevitable given robotics and AI. Even Milton Friedman, the king of monetary theory recommended it. If you think it would be an excuse to do nothing, I suggest you look at the stats. And watch the HBO film, Stockton on My Mind, where a young mayor in the most desperate town in California, gives needy people $500 a month. His policies are stabilizing and are bringing young men out of a cycle of violence. Most of that $500 is spent on debt retirement, rent and food. A guaranteed income would spur a new Golden Age, this one about the quality of life for the not stinking rich.
- I also think that the culture is wealthy enough so that no one should live on the streets. In the city nearest to me, teams of people (including my step-son) work with the mentally ill and addicted on the street, and the government has bought hotels to house the chronically displaced. California is following a regressive evolution, its celebrity plutocrats live like pashas, ignoring the hundred thousand untouchables on the streets This is horrifying. Equally, health insurance should be universal but I think the private market increases innovation and access.
- A British parliamentary committee found that the richest 1% are on target to own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030. This share has skyrocketed since 1970 and is deeply destabilizing. I’d trust-bust them.
- Immigration must not disrupt the host culture. Badly done, it increases the competition for resources for the struggling.
- Gay and other-sexed people must be acknowledged and respected. Life is hard for everyone, it’s harder for them.
- Racism: My “settler” family were Officers on the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. They were devout people who built infrastructure, schools, churches and hospitals all through North America. But I am proudest that they hid fugitive slaves in their canal works, got them across the border, and once there, gave them land for their villages. This branch of my family also married into Indian bands twice, Mohawk and Blackfoot. My current weird blended family carries the strands of four Indian bands, Jamaicans, Venezuelans, and who knows how the current crop of children will marry. I tend to warm to people of color faster, because they have emotional intelligence, unlike the hyper-rationalist Scots I grew up among. If that is racist, sue me.
- #MeToo. By my 40’s, having worked with hundreds and hundreds of people, I got so that I flinched when a man touched me. That’s how sucky it was.