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Our Democracies

Government by the Dollar, For the Dollar


Alice C. Bateman

My dictionary defines Democracy as "government by the people, usually through elected representatives; country so governed; practical or social equality as opposed to aristocracy."

Practical equality, as opposed to aristocracy. Okay, let’s define each of those words. Don’t you find that awkward, when people tell you something in words that they know you will not likely understand? Well, I know that you all know the concept of each of these words, but then we all know the ‘concept’ of Democracy too, don’t we?

Okay, "Practical" defined: Even I don’t believe this, the words ‘poverty stricken’ and ‘practical’ are on the same page. God works in mysterious ways. And before you all look at your dictionaries to check, it’s a Scribner-Bantam English Edition, small, hard cover of course. The definition: 1. Pertinent to, or resulting from, practice or use. 2. Having useful ends in view; capable of useful action. 3. Keeping possible results in mind, as ‘let’s be practical.' 4. Matter-of-fact. 5. In essence or effect, virtual.

Much food for the word blender inside my head in that definition! Well, on to the next word. "Equality." That sounds like a very happy word, doesn’t it? Are we all equal in our democracies? Or am I perhaps taking the word out of context?

Let’s look it up.

Equality: alike, equable, commensurate, fair, impartial, equitable. All right, now ‘equable:’ 1. Uniform, steady; 2. Even and serene in temperment. ‘Equitable:’ honest, right, reasonable, equal, upright, fair.

The word blender is going crazy. Let’s have a look at ‘aristocracy’ too, just for fun. Aristocracy: 1. Government by persons of the highest rank in the state; 2. State so governed; 3. Nobility of chief persons in a state; 4. Any group regarded as superior.

Well, now that we know our definitions, let’s have a look around us. We live in what we call a democratic system in North America. Given the definitions, this would mean to me that we are all equal, that we have an honest and upright, fair and reasonable government, that does not set itself above the rest of us, but that is run by the people. We are supposed to live in ‘practical and social equality.’

Who are we kidding? I myself, trying to make ends meet and feed my children on a disability pension, subject to the whims of those who govern us, do not feel ‘socially equal’ to those who decide on a month to month basis to mess with my carefully budgeted income. Nor did I ever feel that way all the years that I worked for a living, having more and more money deducted for this and that, at the whims of those who sit in judgment and power.

If I were socially equal to these people, if you were socially equal to our governing people, wouldn’t we all be given free vacations at the public’s expense, unlimited expense accounts, incredibly huge salaries for making others miserable?

Let’s look at another aspect of the definition. Perhaps the ‘aristocracy’ part this time. ‘Any group regarded as superior.’ Do you think that our politicians, who are not our practical or social equals by any stretch of the imagination, might perhaps consider themselves superior to us? Are we living in an aristocratic society, and we just get the illusion that we can ‘vote’ for our sovereigns every few years?

I live in Canada, and I saw the results of the supposed democratic process some years ago when the rulers held a national referendum to ask the people {‘government by the people,’ remember} if we would be willing to pay a new ‘Goods and Services Tax.’ This means that they would have the ability to impose a tax on virtually anything – what is not considered a ‘good’ is a ‘service.’

We voted, and we said no. The people of a democracy govern, by definition, correct? Wrong. We’ve been paying this tax for many years now.

Why keep up the pretense? Why not just appoint someone king and be done with it? Then they could simply dispense with all the foolishness and expense of election campaigns, and we could stop deluding ourselves that the way we live at this time has very much at all to do with democracy.

Perhaps next time we’ll compare our democratic society to other governmental definitions…

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