Ten Things We Should Simply Get Rid Of

Just a fun rant. I’m sure I missed some obvious candidates.

Daylight Saving Time Map — from wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0 TimeZonesBoy own work

Trying to reform existing, collapsing, globalized systems is, I think, mostly fruitless. But sometimes the idealist in me notices things that we could (ideally) just get rid of, rather than trying to “fix” them, and the consequences would be absolutely positive, without any real downside for the vast majority of us.

Here’s a few that have come to mind recently, in increasing difficulty of getting rid of them. We’re not actually going to get rid of any of them, for all kinds of political and inertial reasons, but we could, and should:

  1. Daylight Saving Time: Just stop needlessly and annoyingly changing the clocks twice a year.
  2. Gendered pronouns and gendered bathrooms: Many languages, Turkish, Finnish, Georgian, Farsi, Mandarin and Indonesian among them, have a single, gender-neutral pronoun for everyone and everything. We should just pick one, or two if we need one as a subject and one as an object. (We might also consider eliminating articles like “a” and “the”, which serve no useful purpose, and possessives, which lay claims to “ownership” that are often egregious — “my wife, my child” — and are likewise unnecessary).  And when we eliminate gendered pronouns we should also eliminate gendered bathrooms, which are equally unnecessary and often contentious. Most civilized European countries can show us how to do this quite simply.
  3. Non-metric measurement systems: Enough said. If we’re going to pretend to be international in our affairs, we should start acting like it.
  4. Usury: That means interest rates should be capped at 2% above current consumer price inflation rates. If it’s too risky to loan people money at reasonable rates, chances are they can’t afford to repay them anyway, so you’re not doing them any favour getting them impossibly indebted. Equally usurious are hidden fees, “points”, flat rate charges like ATM and “late payment” fees, and outrageous “pass through” charges that some utilities add on to bills.
  5. Hidden costs (taxes, fees, tips and add-ons): Businesses should quote the price all-in, what it actually is going to cost the customer, rather than sneaking in extra fees like “seat selection charges”, ticketing fees, suggested 20% tips, product recycling fees, etc. If you want to show those in parentheses, fine. But stop lying to customers about what stuff will actually cost them. And for fuck’s sake, pay staff a decent living wage so they don’t have to beg customers for handouts for serving them.
  6. Billionaires: Their existence is simply an abomination, an indication of an utterly broken economic system. Claw back all accumulated wealth over, say, a hundred million dollars for each citizen, recalculated each year, and use it to provide essential public services.
  7. Different rates of tax for different types of income: Whether it’s salary, dividends, or capital gains, a dollar of income is a dollar of income. It’s outrageous that any income should be taxed at a lower rate than hard-earned wages. (And while we’re at it, we should eliminate tax shelters and tax-shelter jurisdictions, which are just legalized scams.)
  8. Corporations as separate legal and tax entities: Sixty years ago Canada’s Carter Commission proposed (unsuccessfully) that rather than taxing corporate profit separately and at a different rate from personal profit, corporate income should flow through and be taxed in its shareholders’ individual hands in proportion to their shareholding percentage in the corporation. The corporate name would continue for branding and ease of writing cheques, but the corporation would otherwise simply be a shell, a non-entity for tax and most legal purposes (with no legal “rights”). This would not be that difficult, nor would it be unprecedented.
  9. Privatized utilities, healthcare, basic education, transportation and other essential public services: This is what government is for.
  10. Police and prisons, as currently constituted: Public welfare and security should be overseen by a multi-disciplinary group of people with diverse skills, not by an expensive, over-armed paramilitary force. And if we properly treat the mentally ill, the addicted, public debtors, and the traumatized, the only people we should ever need to lock up are those who pose a clear threat to public safety despite all our efforts. Prison has never been a deterrent, nor a place for rehabilitation, and we should stop pretending it ever could be. If we can’t help people who have been so damaged by our society that their only recourse is chronic violence and anti-social behaviour, that’s our failure, not theirs.

Once we’ve finished eliminating all these unnecessary, dysfunctional things, we could move on to eliminating oil & gas subsidies and bank bailouts. Then maybe we might even be ready to acknowledge that we almost never need to fight wars or interfere with other countries’ internal affairs, either. So we can get rid of nuclear arsenals, military ordnance, and belligerent treaty organizations as well.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll have to be satisfied with the elimination of Daylight Time. I’m not holding my breath, even for that.

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7 Responses to Ten Things We Should Simply Get Rid Of

  1. Brutus says:

    Most of your suggestions are sensible enough. However, I’ll take issue with 2 and 9. There are obviously boys and girls, men and women. To pretend otherwise and adopt language that erases differences is preposterous, not that many aren’t agitating for exactly that thing. Renaming things doesn’t change their essence; it just turns them into pointless euphemisms. Can Americans/Canadians relax about some things (bodily functions and sex)? Doubtful. Culture does indeed shift and migrate, but not usually because someone attempts to steer it.

    As to things government is for, well, I can only observe that Western governments (can’t opine about others) have largely lost interest in governing for the benefit of the masses and commonweal. Instead, governments have been captured and corrupted enough that if positive things get accomplished, they’re more often than not byproducts rather than part of their central missions. And besides, removing the option for people to exit government structures and form their own networks (school, health plans, and concierge-type services) is anathema to free market choice and competition. Oddly, if those options were in fact removed and the ultrarich couldn’t buy their way out, I’d expect to see a lot of dysfunctional systems shored up and made wholesome again.

  2. realist says:

    My own suggestion is that we should get rid of lefties because they are too fond of enforcing their stupid ideas on OTHER PEOPLE.

  3. foglight says:

    Having lived for some years in Indonesia (he/she is “dia”) and studied Mandarin (he/she is 他 aka “ta”), I’ve watched the pronouns phenomenon roll out here in the US with fascination. It’s really a pity most folks here have such a narrow cultural perspective. But all languages evolve and I have no doubt that some year we’ll settle on some inelegant compromise like “they.”

  4. FamousDrScanlon says:

    Make us only use ‘woke’ approved language. Similar to how the 100% evil patriarchal white men made natives only use ‘white’ approved language.

    Yabut this time it’s different, this time it’s for a ‘good’ cause.

  5. Re tax rates: Not all income is the same. Some has inherent supposedly good public benefit intertwined with risk factors that would sink the category if not taken into account. You want private enterprise housing for the masses? Well just ask yourself if YOU want to risk shitty tenants that wreck the place but can’t be dislodged, capital gain busts when artificially low interest rates inflate the money supply to where they have to rise to some semblance of commercial supply and demand. Then those who were late getting onto the’ housing ladder’ discover that they are under it, lose the lot as their leveraged equity collapses and the whole edifice needs 20more years of human mortality to birth and feed upon a new generation of bunnies.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    George, in terms of housing my belief is that as an essential service the government should ensure (ie by building and managing) that there’s a sufficient supply of safe, affordable housing for everyone. That mitigates against housing bubbles because it keeps prices for all but the top elite in line, and if we have separate constraints on excessive wealth, that would keep prices in line for them as well. I like the Finnish model, where there’s a basic affordable-to-most rent price for safe, affordable housing, and if you can’t afford even that, you can apply to get a rebate, but you still have to write a significant cheque for housing every month. That reduces the risk of people not valuing and looking after the housing they have, except for the mentally ill, which requires a different solution entirely. Then, if you’re earning more money and want to upgrade from the basic accommodation, you can do so.

    As for private enterprise in any essential business, including housing, I think they have overall a pretty shoddy record, and in many cases there is as much contempt for customers (tenants) by owners as there is contempt by customers (tenants) for owners. Private enterprise should be shifted to non-essential luxury goods and services, where most of us don’t have to be concerned about their behaviour, and for the rest it’s caveat emptor. But then, after over 30 years working in and dealing with private corporations, I remain a diehard socialist.

  7. Too many inherent weaknesses in socialism for me. As a tradesperson I have worked in the industry for 50 years; 10 % of humanity are sociopaths and they cheat as a matter of course whether it is in property development, administration or tenancy or on the building coalface and in each category nice guys finish last.
    Secondly anthropocentrism. Fly from Vancouver to L.A. with your nose to the window. Already the supposed homes for other species, the giant boreal forests are GONE, just clearcuts at various stages and before they become trees they are felled again. We call the modern climax forest ‘peckerpoles’, a couple of second rate studs in there and the rest woodchips, also a human right (pallets for our replacement junk whitegoods, general packaging and toilet paper.). Do we have the moral right to destroy the world that our exponentially growing demands should be satisfied according to local transient norms? For 99% of human habitation on the planet there was no toilet paper nor plumbing or glass yet here we are. That’s not to mention adequate nutrition via unsustainable farming practices. Are there defined future human rights with attendant blood-sucking bureaucracies or just now?

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