Western Liberty versus Eastern Equality

There are two fundamentally different perspectives of the world.

The first is that it is ethical to guarantee everyone equality of opportunity, to allow exercise of free will and the ability to choose to take action that lead to diversity of outcomes.  This is the view that people should be free (as in, have the liberty) to think and act on their own, without external coercion, even if it leads to inequality.

The second is that because everyone starts off differently, it is ethical to eliminate the exercise of free will,let no one have the choice and to force equality of outcomes.  This is the view that people are too different to be allowed to have freedom, and that an external coercive force has an ethical right to equalize every outcome of human activity.

For simplicity let’s coin the first principle “Libertarianism” (from the word “Liberty”) and the second “Egalitarianism” (égalité being the French word for “Equality”).

While the French coined the phrase “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (liberty, equality, fraternity), from a rational perspective, Liberty and Equality are dichotomous to on another.

This is a big problem with Canada.

Owing to it’s European (and especially French) heritage, Eastern Canada tends more towards Egalitarianism.  The need to assemble into a collective where coercion against the individual is often deemed necessary for the benefit of the group.  Eastern Canada bears strong resemblance to that of cultured, collective, post-Napoleonic Europe.

Owing to it’s Frontier heritage blended with elements of British aristocracy, Western Canadian culture is one of greater Libertarianism.  Pioneers in a vast, untamed land, devoid of the creature comforts of refined culture.  An existence where the necessities of individual survival overruled the niceties of high society.

As a resut, there are irreconcilable social and cultural differences between the East and West that stem from the Western Libertarian and Eastern Egalitarian attitudes.

One such difference is the attitude concerning provincial equalization payments.  Their very name speaks to their egalitarian nature.  Transferring from the “haves” to the “have nots” to keep things equal for everyone (in theory).

To a Libertarian, equalization payments are an abomination in that they eliminate the individual’s free will and ability pursue opportunities.  In particular, with the arrangement presently where Alberta pays more in equalization payments than it receives, this is particularly unacceptable.

As an Albertan, it is hard not to view the recipients of these payments as irresponsible, lazy and inept.  It is infuriating to know that every dollar that is forcefully transferred from our province represents a missed opportunity to better our own province, our own community, our own family and ourselves.

To the Egalitarian however, the diversity and inequality of one province being prosperous while another area languishes is the abomination.

In a system with nothing but egalitarians, if disparity exists between two parties, neither would object when one party is made equal to the other.  Whether it’s by voluntary exchange or by forceful, external coercion, two egalitarians would know better than to feel resentment at being made less or appreciation at being made more.  True egalitarians would just accept that fate as normal.

However, in a system such as Canada, with a mix of egalitarians and libertarians, you can never have this degree of fluidity.  There will always be irreconcilable tension.

Libertarians, with their principles grounded in free will consider no transaction ethical unless it is done by mutual consent.

Egalitarians, with their principle of equality consider no transaction ethical unless both parties come out with equal value.

Here in lies the reason why Western Canada and Eastern Canada cannot coexist.

For a time, Western Canadian Libertarians and Eastern Canadian Egalitarians engaged in transactions with one another.  Though imperfect, the Westerners were willing to consent to the terms of the Easterners, and the Easterners felt the outcome of those transactions left both sides equal in terms of value received when they concluded.

Times have changed.

Westerners are increasingly disagreeing to the terms of the Easterners and the Easterners no longer feel the transactions are creating equality.

This dynamic is not going to improve.

Unavoidable factors like demographics and economic realities are only going to make it such that tensions between us are going to become more heated and the disagreements more volatile.

Ultimately our ability to coexist with one another in one, united nation will become impossible.

Before it gets to that point, we must separate.

Westerners want liberty.

Easterners want equality.

We are coming close to the a time in where we cannot have both, and by trying we will have neither.

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