It’s time for parliamentary elections here in Finland. Much of yawning was heard everywhere. Politics has never been very interesting in Finland; only recently we have seen some true weirdness.
This is the kind of a blog post that I have consciously tried to avoid writing. I’m not a very political person. I find it very amusing that when I wander in American blogs, there’s bound to be some discussion of politics sooner or later. (For example, there was one blog, long ago, that was billed as an actual real Japanese blog written in English. First entry on sight? Babbling about American politics. Gee, I wonder where the blogger really resides. Look, I don’t know much about Japanese blogging culture, but here in the Non-US World, we don’t blog about politics all the time - we stick to the frigging topic. Well, most of the time.)
I decided that when I grow up, I want to consciously avoid the topic. But avoiding the topic completely in a personal blog is probably fairly silly. So it’s better that I just make a few well-weighted blog posts on the topic and just blabber about other topics the rest of the time. (Hey, maybe I can help American readers to be more comfortable here! Look, a politics post!)
I’m partial toward rights, responsibilities and maintaining a working order. In short, as far as politics are concerned, all I care in society is harmonious existence where things that make sense keep happening.
…OK, that didn’t come out too well. I’m voting for the Green League again. Happy now? …Now that the people who want simplistic things quit reading, let me elaborate…
I think the phrase that summarises most of my political thoughts is “with a great power comes a great responsibility”. Individual people don’t have much power, hence it doesn’t make much sense to police their actions, as long as these actions don’t affect other people much. Groups of people, organisations and companies have greater weight - their actions are bound to have an effect on the society. Hence, they need to show responsibility for their actions. So, for the record, no, I’m not against capitalism; I just strongly feel that companies need to take responsibility for their actions. And at the same time, I feel that the society as a whole has a responsibility toward all of us. There is nothing wrong with the state taking care of basic services that are absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of the society, like education and healthcare. There is nothing wrong with international cooperation when it’s warranted; like it or not, there are things that affect a lot of countries. Folks outside of the country are people too.
Seriously, I can’t continue - this is all so retardedly common-sense stuff that it shouldn’t be needed to be explained, really. We should just do what works, and not do stuff that’s obviously not helping us to function.
So here I am, trying to defend what’s basically the status quo in these parts. We’re a mixed-economy country where the state takes care of the basic services, and the companies have shown some good clue in adopting socially responsible corporate policies.
For example, there’s been surprisingly little grumbling about anthropogenic global warming. Finland got on the Kyoto Protocol and committed to CO2 reduction. Conservative politicians aren’t exactly flailing about, trying to get this policy overturned. Even our Obligatory Nationalist Jerk Party seems to think that fighting global warming is a good idea. Companies seem to be at least somewhat aware that they can implement sensible solutions without too big investments. By Jove, some have already implemented sane environmental policies. In short, we, as a society, recognised that something has to be done.
And what does USA have to offer, having not signed the Kyoto Protocol? Flailing politicians and pundits, babbling about things that would make the Iraqi Information Minister facepalm. Random nutbags hopping around in every freaking blog, desperately trying to prove that climate change is bullshit - coming across as either corporate shills or lacking brains altogether. But most importantly, no focus on the actual issues at hand. Things have turned toward denialism instead of rational acceptance of facts. And all this seems to hinge on the simple act of taking responsibility in the global arena - commitment to implement things that, even pessimistically, can’t really hurt anybody and can prove useful.
Some more examples might hopefully illustrate things further: I’m against the recent expansion of the copyright law which basically implemented DMCA-esque policy on copy protection systems. Consumers have rights and responsibilities: The right to use the products they bought in a sane manner unimpeded by the rights holder, the responsibility to not cause excess financial distress to the rights holders. I hold that the content creators have much higher power in making sellable products than the individual consumers who “pirate” works, and that copy protection systems only serve to annoy the consumer further, trampling on their rights to actually enjoy the product. Isn’t that part of the content creator’s responsibilities too - making products that the consumers enjoy, and letting them enjoy those products? A content creator that denies that has failed in its core responsibility.
I think one of the greatest problems in political debate is that it distracts us from real issues. People have the tendency to try their darnest to avoid taking blame and start discussing things that don’t really help solving the core problems. For example, in environmental disasters (I’m thinking of Exxon Valdez and, of course, Fukushima I), the core problem isn’t “who’s going to pay”, it’s “who’s going to fix this mess”. Exxon dodged their responsibility pretty spectacularly, and TEPCO has been apparently dodging theirs so far. In cases like this, the problems have to be fixed, no matter what it costs - pointing fingers only delays things and makes things much worse and much costlier.
In similar way, the copyright and copy protection debate is all about who’s allowed to distribute the work, and less about who can use the work. Copyrights are about distribution rights, true, and that is why copyrights are useful. But when the copy protection tramples on the consumer’s right to use the work, the content creators should say “oops, we’ve clearly stepped over the accepted boundaries, this is not what we meant to happen”. Instead, they say “we think our ability to distribute the work is more important than your ability to use the work”. Failure of core responsibility. Shifting the debate.
In short, what I want people, companies and politicians to do is to make stuff work. People with power will always find incentives and excuses to make things not work, and doing so, they dodge the responsibilities that landed to them when they took the power.
Someone once summed up sensible moral rules as “do what you will, so long as it harms none”; it’s the latter part that is the most profound one. Our actions will cause consequences. If your actions cause bad things to happen, don’t do them - do something that makes things right. …why am I explaining this painfully obvious stuff again? Why?