December 07, 2005

Faulty Plumbing

It has been almost two weeks since I had opinions lacking enough relevance to post on this site. This was the direct result of having too many relevant opinions and contributions towards the launch of the system my team at work had been working on for the last year; almost every night was a late night at the office, with a brief and unplanned trip to Toronto thrown in the middle to further exhaust me. Alhamdolillah, things have relaxed since then, such that I even see the light of day after leaving work.

During this time, a historic motion was passed in the Canadian Parliament, dissolving the existing minority government and forcing another election this coming January. The effective fall of the government was big news, even earning the Top Headline honour on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a mention on the Colbert Report; you know a Canadian news story is big when Americans acknowledge it. The election is in late January; the politicians are in campaign mode now.

I don't know who I'm going to vote for, if I vote at all. I won't dwell on specific issues at this time. My qualm right now is not with a specific party or issue, but with the inadequacies of the system altogether.

In almost every field of effort, the best in the field are the ones that move on from one level to the next. In academics, the best students are the ones who advance to the highest levels of education. In sports, the best players reach the professional leagues and represent their countries internationally. In business, the most effective entrepreneurs rise to the top of their profession and end up earning the most money. This is obvious and hardly worth a paragraphs worth of irrelevance.

However, politicians do not follow that trend somehow. Are the leaders of our political parties the best we have? I would hope not! There are very few who trust them, and just listening to them is often painful. Even worse is the political landscape in United States. I'm less bothered by the fact that Bush won their last election than the fact that the only two candidates for the president of the United States were both idiots. Surely, there must have been better people for that job? When politicians have such a huge responsibility to their constituents and the world in general, why are we leaving that responsibility to the gunk in our talent pool?

I already know the answer to these questions, but it still bothers me. It takes a lot of money to start a political party, to promote it, and to bring on the people who share your vision. I'm sure most of us can name at least a few people we know personally who would be very effective political leaders, but the financial barrier is overwhelming. As such, many talented people who could have otherwise been great leaders end up relegated to posting irrelevant opinions on a blog somewhere.

At the same time, there is much to be said about the effectiveness of grassroots, individual efforts. Maulana Ilyas rahmutallahi'alayh did not rely on political power to launch the most significant Islamic revival effort in the world. Gandhi did not need the support of powerful businessmen to fight back British rule. Tim Berners-Lee did not wait for wealthy venture capitalists for his vision of the World Wide Web to come forth. And community-driven open-source software like Firefox continue to chip away at commercial market dominance.

That talent pool is still rich in resources, but leaks with disunity. Unless we can channel those talents in the right places, the world will still be run by a bunch of drips.


  1. Good stuff! I am only worried that your spite on powers that be may get you into trouble despite all proclaimed concepts of 'freedom of expression'.

  2. Freedom of expression is only permitted if you think 'their' way. Otherwise, a person doesn't have that right...

    Good post, Faraz. I agree regarding the leadership within political parties. The sad thing is that issues such as influence, money and power are what get many people to become the leaders of their parties. I'm sure that there are more competant and intelligent leaders within the Progression Conservative (PC) party than Stephan Harper... he's probably only the leader because he threatened the families of other candidates with torture and death. He looks evil. He probably is.

  3. I don't think "Freedom of Expression" as a concept is as restrictive as some say it is. Sure, people can say some things which will unfairly get them in trouble, but overall, the situation isn't as bad as we make it out to be. Some Western writers and critics have said some extremely inflammatory things in public, but they're still allowed to speak. I feel that if we automatically assume we have no right to expression unless we think their way, we will lose that right eventually. I'd rather not be pessimistic at this point, as pessimism would only weaken our cause.

    I really dislike Stephen Harper; his two percent GST decrease is useless (he said himself that it would save a family of 4 just 400$ a year... that's really not a lot of money divided among 4 people.) He does look evil to me, and I don't think most Canadians share his vision at all. Paul Martin never impressed me in his two years in office; Chretien was much more charismatic and was quite intelligent as well. Sure, there were all the scandals and stuff, but compared to political scandals in other countries, those scandals are hardly significant.

    My current Ottawa riding (which actually includes the Prime Ministers own house) has always voted NDP, but the current MP will not run in this election. I don't know who's replacing him.

  4. True, pessimism isn't the way to go when it comes to "freedom of expression" though it should be noted that unbridled optimism won't be much help in what is a changing landscape.

    Sadly, many people, especially of minority background, are forced to "tow the line" because of the threat of backlash or retaliation against them for expressing a view inconsistent with that of the majority... case in point: denying the Holocaust or expressing opinions on Israel the way the Iranian President recently did.

    Yes, Harper is very evil though Martin isn't too much better. Chretien was great and should go down in Canadian politics among the best alongside names like Laurier, MacDonald and Trudeau. I say that because no one has done more good in Canadian politics over the last 50 years than Mr. Shawinigan has... :)

  5. I'm left leaning so come election time, its usually Liberals or NDP.

    I like the NDP platform of more social programs combined with 'don't follow USA' foreign pollicy BUT history shows that whenever NDP comes in power, they are fiscally irresponsible. Too much spending on everything.

    Case in point, the last NDP government by Joe Clark in late 80s drove Canada into major deficit.

    As much as I'm put off by the Liberal corruption, I can't bring myself to vote for Stephen 'We Love USA' Harper or Jack 'We will spend our problems away' Layton.

    So I guess we all agree that vote has to go the party that will cause minimum damage.

  6. Nauman: I wouldn't say that no one has done more good than Chretien within the last 50 years of Canadian politics; what people liked about Chretien, I think, was that he caused the least harm. He was also more fun to watch on CPAC than most politicians. He was charismatic in spite of his flaws, and didn't relent under pressure.

    Faraz Ahmed: Welcome to Irrelevant Opinions! I hope you enjoy your stay here. I personally try to avoid being generalized as "left-leaning" or "right-leaning" since all parties have their strengths and weaknesses, but at the same time, I can't stand any right-wing politicians or their supporters. So I guess that puts me on the left... but surely there's some middle ground? That's what we're missing today, which is why I wouldn't mind another minority government.

    I wouldn't dwell on the actions of the NDP almost 20 years ago to dismiss them so quickly today. I'd like to see them gain a few seats, with the Conservatives and Liberals losing a few. I just hope that the next minority government learns to live with itself, and we don't have yet another election in two years.