Friday, January 27, 2012

Definitions, meanings, ego and confusion

Photo by emdot on Flickr

It seemed to me there had been entirely too much confusion between the words "democracy" and "capitalism" lately, so I decided to look them up, in case I was wrong. After all, I was wrong about something else, earlier today, so I thought I'd check this out.
I chose, for purposes of comparison, definitions from the online Oxford Dictionaries, surely the contemporary version of the time-honored Oxford English Dictionary.
from Oxford Dictionaries
—an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state
from Oxford Dictionaries
—a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives
Now I can see where the ambiguity exists. Capitalism is defined as an economic and political system, whereas the definition of democracy makes no reference to economics.
So I was wrong (according to the English major’s preferred book of reference, the OED) in thinking the two words meant two entirely different things, that one meant a political system, and one an economic system. That means I was wrong twice in one day.
As a famous frog once said, it isn’t easy being green. Yes, I could go back, I could choose instead an online dictionary which defines capitalism as an economic system and leaves out the word "political" but I'll take it with a stiff upper lip and stick with my first choice, the Oxford.
So where do I go from here? The average Canadian has no right to complain about oil pipelines going across Alberta and the Rockies, and then from one side of my home province, British Columbia, to the other. But, somehow, huge mega-corporations have a "right" to large profits. Why?
Now we're getting somewhere. What about the word "right"? Do we want to get into a discussion of right and wrong? Not me. Not today, when my record is already blemished.
After all, I do know two wrongs don't make a right.

Posted for
Writers' Weekend Retreat
hosted by Grandma's Goulash


Mama Zen said...

Interesting that capitalism is defined as a political system. I wouldn't have thought that to be the case.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I was listening to CBC today as I cleaned, about how Harper was saying the pension system for us Boomers "isnt sustainable" so they are looking to make pensioners wait TWO YEARS before applying for the SUPPLEMENT given to those whose pensions are too low to live on, under 17,000 a year - which is why we need the supplement in the first place, right?

ARGH. Never mind that none of the major industries are operating sustainably. They get wonderful bailouts and handouts and subsidies from government.

Typical of the government to pinch the poor when looking to balance budgets, we're the first people they look at. NEVER would it occur to them to increase taxes to the wealthy and especially the corporations sucking our country dry and absconding with the wealth.


Kay L. Davies said...

@ MZ — I wouldn't have thought it, either, because it knocked a big hole in my premise, but I did a "cut and paste" of the definition.

@ Sherry — I know, isn't the whole idea despicable? I've said for years we should all pay 10 or 15% income tax across the board, from pensioners to plutocrats, and there would be plenty of money in the government coffers to pay for everything, but nobody ever asked me to run for Prime Minister.

Fireblossom said...

Well, I would have been wrong, too, because I thought as you did.

Fran said...

Kay - your comment about people paying 10 to 15% tax, how much is the norm then? Here everybody pays 20% minimum going up to 50% depending on how much you earn. We have a conservative (capitalist) government who was not elected but is only in power because they teamed up with the liberal party. They have already done untold damage and will probably carry on for another three years until we can vote them out. That's democracy for you!!!!!

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Fran —
That's probably similar to what we pay. I remember we would go up one tax bracket when we worked more than two hours' overtime in a week.
But I didn't mean just taxing individual earners, I meant if everyone including big corporations, who write off every penny they spend, had to pay 10 to 15%, with no write-offs, we'd be in better shape. Just my theory, mind you, and I've already admitted I can be wrong. LOL