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Monday, September 12, 2005

New Criterion on British Civilization, Lessons for Alberta?

Albertan's will resonate with the common sense observations of Kenneth Minogue in his New Criterion article, here.

Though Minogue focuses on the devolution of British morality, the phenomenon is widespread in Canada too.

Reflect on this quote:
And what of thrift as a virtue? A few children still have piggy banks, but
saving up to buy something for which we yearn began to disappear in the 1950s.
Partly this was a function of rising wealth, and partly of the credit policies
of such banks as the National Westminster, which famously offered to take the
waiting out of wanting
. In the slogan we want it now, the radicals of the
1960s tried to turn anger and impatience into virtues serving politico-moral
causes. Inherited morality had regarded the suppression of these tendencies as
part of self-mastery, but the newly popular sentiment of impatience diffused
itself throughout society. It is thus one of the arenas in which moral conflict
has been fought out. A capacity to defer gratification had long been
identified by economic and social historians as an element in the success of
rising capitalism, but capitalism itself was the subject of politico-moral
critique. Thrift thus began to disappear, partly because wealth and commerce
combined to make it easier for people to buy things. There was another powerful
force that led in the same direction. The British Government diminished the
incentive to save. In the past, people had feared being unable to pay the
doctor, the hospital, or even the undertaker. Losing one's job was also a
serious matter in less flexible times. People saved for a 'rainy day,' but now
the government has abolished rainy days. At the personal level, the balance
between saving and expenditure changed dramatically.

Canada's nanny-state is no better. But how can independence seeking Albertan's address the moral ideology underlying such thinking. It's no good to have a separated Alberta politburo.

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