Monday, April 23, 2012

Breaking down the rhetoric: what does the NDP really mean?

Short, catchy sound-bites are a trademark of effective politics in today's society.  In the last election Michael Igantieff incessantly complained of the Conservative agenda of "jets, jails, and corporate tax cuts."  Now new NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has a slogan of his own, repeated for media and Question Period observers alike.

Apparently the Conservatives are creating "the largest ecological, economic and social debt in our history."

But what does this rhetoric really mean?

Ecology: the study of the relation and interaction between organisms.

Economy: the economic systems of a country or area which consist of labour, capital, and land resources; and the manufacturing, production, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services in that area.

Sociology: the study of society; a society is a group of people related to one another through persistent relations.

"Debt" is something that is owed or that one is bound to pay to or perform for another.

Where it gets fun is when we now have to create definitions between these terms that clearly have nothing to do with one another.

An economic debt should be pretty straight forward: it's the current debt we see many countries, including Canada, faced with.  But what's an ecological debt?

According to some South American environmentalist groups, any time your country produces greenhouses gases and does not pay, you're creating an ecological debt.  Of course, obvious questions remain unanswered: who are we supposed to pay?  How much?  Where? For what is this money used?  How are these figures calculated?

And a social debt?

One source (who also praises Hugo Chavez, for the record) says it is "the large-scale, long-term social regression suffered by the vast majority of people."  This assumes that you owe someone else something, hence the term debt.  Another source states that social debt inflects a debt owed to American blacks by American whites.

So let's summarize... or... on second thought, I will not. What do you think these phrases mean?  Considering their sources and definitions, what is the NDP leader really saying when he says Canada is creating  "the largest ecological, economic and social debt in our history."

I await your responses!