The Harder They Fall


nero

Nero fiddles while Rome burns

It seems that whenever people talk about a fallen empire, they invariably discuss the fall of the Holy Roman empire, but there have been a plethora of fallen empires throughout history and they all share a common thread. It has been said that Pride goeth before a fall, but it is not only pride, or even arrogance that preceded the fall of some of the world’s most powerful empires. The real culprit is a different deadly sin… greed.

A lot has been made of late about income inequality and for good reason. When the haves, who make up less than 1 percent of the population of a country, own more than 90 percent of a country’s wealth and the vast majority are the have-nots, who share the last few percentage points, the fall of that country is not far off. The masses will only put up with so much before there is a revolution, just look at the French Revolution (what happens when you have a pair of entitled 15 year olds ruling a country), or more recently the Arab Spring. Whether it’s a royal aristocracy, a dictatorship or capitalism run amok that keeps the people down, it is only a matter of time until the people will realize that all they need to do is band together and revolt in order to stop the madness.

marie-antoinette

Mmmm Cake!

Sir Edmund Burke once said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” He was right. It’s easy to look back at the causes of the declines and falls of each and every former empire and make direct comparisons to current world powers. The writing is on the wall. It is not enough to make sure that the have-nots have almost enough to live on and dangle the carrot of a lottery win, a singing career, a reality show or a game show as hope that they too can become rich. There are only so many times that a shiny object (celebrity) can be used to distract the people from the erosion of their rights. A country must provide more than just welfare and food stamps for its poor. It’s not just the impoverished, though. If a country has successfully eroded away its middle class, by union busting and outsourcing jobs to other countries, all in the name of saving a buck, they have then joined the middle class (which should be more populous than the poverty-stricken) with the poor, thereby strengthening their numbers and making themselves that many more new enemies.

China used to be a powerful empire and is the only country that actually has a chance, and a good chance, at that, of becoming a powerful empire for a second time. This time, they are building their economy by educating their children in fields like technology, science and agriculture. They are studying the success and failures of other countries and learning from them. They are buying the debt of countries that have a lot of unpopulated land, as they are quickly running out of land of their own. They are forward thinking, all the while looking to the past.

Thanks to global warming (or climate change) Russia is poised for power as well. It wasn’t that long ago (1917) that the Russian Revolution happened and Putin is ruling like he has never heard of it. The arctic will be a major resource in the coming decades and Russia owns the lion’s share of the region. It is imperative that they have a forward thinking party in power and soon if they want to be a major player in the near future.

polite-canadian

 Canadians; apologizing our way to the top.

There is a country that is on the threshold of becoming a world power player for the first time for much the same reason. The country that owns the second largest share of the arctic, Canada. Yes, quiet, polite Canada with our wealth of natural resources and our vast amounts of unpopulated land, really could be a super-power in the, not so distant, future, if we play our cards right. When it comes to social issues like healthcare and human rights, Canada is on the forefront. Canada is one of the best countries in which to live if you are a minority or a woman. The quality of our education system is excellent and not so overpriced that only the wealthy can access it. Yes, Canada is indeed a great place to live, which is why as we look forward by protecting our arctic land, we must also look around, like the Chinese are doing, at the successes and failures of others, both past and present and learn from them, so it will continue to be that great place to live. We do not want to see our rights eroded due to complacency on the part of the voting public. It is important that the people of Canada keep a watchful eye on our elected officials, so that they continue to act in our best interests and not succumb to the one thing that will spell our downfall… greed.

A Royal Pain


Ironically, I had planned to write about the British Royal family the day before yesterday, after watching Madonna’s film W.E., then it was announced that William and Kate are expecting their first child which only solidified the plan.

prince-william-and-princess-catherine-kiss-after-their-weddingThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Now, before you start thinking that I am going to bash Will and Kate just one day after they announced their good news, let me put your mind at ease. This is not a blog about how William and Kate are spawning another mouth for the taxpayers of Britain (and the Commonwealth) to feed. They have done their Royal duty by creating an heir (a classier way of saying humped like bunnies until he knocked her up) This is a blog about whether or not the British Royal family is still relevant to society. I think not.

coronationlizQueen Elizabeth II on her coronation day.

It could be argued that the British Royals uphold a certain social and moral standard, that they represent a grand tradition and that their mere existence brings countless tourist dollars into Britain. The truth is that the Queen serves as head of the Church of England and must appear at numerous ceremonial functions as the face of England and the Commonwealth. The Church of England was created so that Henry VIII could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, so it’s not exactly a paragon of virtue from the get go. Now, I think Queen Elizabeth II has fulfilled her duty with the utmost grace and has been a shining example of what a monarch should be. She was groomed for the position since birth and has sacrificed her whole life for honour and duty to her country. Elizabeth II has reigned longer than any other monarch with the exception of Queen Victoria (though she is only 5 years away from beating that record). Sadly, her time on the throne is nearing an end and it will soon be time to pass the crown to a new monarch.

Queen-Elizabeth-II-Celebrates-Diamond-JubileeQueen Elizabeth II celebrated her diamond jubilee

The next in line for that honour is Charles, Prince of Wales. Unlike his mother, Charles has not been what you could call a pillar of society. He has acted like a spoiled brat, consistently flouting the rules of his station and yet still expecting to keep his place in line to the throne. Unlike his Great Uncle, King Edward VIII he has not shown one ounce of regard for the import, nor the rules of his title and does not seem to understand that he has done nothing to deserve to ascend to the role of King. Instead he acts like it his God-given right to one day be King. I am sure he was groomed for the throne since birth, like his mother before him. I am sure he is aware of the rules of conduct to which he must adhere, yet, at every turn he has acted in a purely selfish manner, preferring to serve his penis rather than his title (which the taxpayers pay for him to hold). We, the public have had to endure all of the lurid details of his affair with a married woman while he was still married to the mother of his children. We have suffered through tape recordings of sexual conversations where he said he wanted to be a feminine hygiene product. All of this from a man who is paid to be better than the rest of the rabble.

Charles+Camilla+Attend+Annual+Mey+Games+C9c_1rUkb-nlChlamydia, Duchess of Corn-hole and the Man Who Would be Tampon

Support for the Royals is waning world-wide. Yesterday, Yahoo Canada had a poll that asked ‘Do you care about William and Kate’s personal life?’ Over 50,000 people responded and 81% of them voted No. Just last month, a 76 year old man in Auckland, New Zealand (a commonwealth country) was arrested just before he had the chance to throw a bucket of horse manure on Charles and Camilla during a royal visit. But, perhaps nowhere on the planet is distaste for the royals higher than in Quebec where more than 80% of the population is opposed to the monarchy. The last time Charles and Camilla visited La Belle Province, they were met by more than 1000 angry protesters who hurled eggs at their car and shouted nasty slurs at them as they drove past. Even Will and Kate were on the receiving end of a protest when they visited Montreal last year. Every time Canada (a commonwealth country) has to pay for another royal visit there are people from all across the country speaking out against the monarchy.

Prince Charles, CamillaCharles and Camilla in Montreal as protesters hurl eggs at their car.

It seems to me that if Charles is not passed over, that quite a few commonwealth countries will fall by the wayside. After all, we are no longer part of the British Empire, we are our own sovereign countries, some of whom are becoming more financially stable than England. It is my opinion that England would do well to disband their monarchy after the current Queen steps down. The government owns those castles. Why not turn them into luxury hotels? That way the staff could stay on (at a higher wage than the royals are paying them… plus tips) and the tourist dollars would likely be higher than they are now with no one being allowed so much as a tour of Buckingham Palace. Other countries have royals who are royal in title only and can be seen bicycling around town along with the rest of  population, why not England? What exactly are you holding onto? It’s different in Monaco where the Grimaldi family hold court. The Grimaldis aren’t freeloading off of the taxpayers… in Monaco there is no income tax. Income tax as we know it started, by the way, in England in 1798 by William Pitt the Younger.

monacoroyalsThe Royal Family of Monaco

It makes no sense (cents?) to keep funding an entire family to hold positions that are but figureheads in this economy when so many of your own people (taxpayers) are hurting and with so many of your allies shouting down this antiquated tradition. Even if Charles is bypassed and William becomes King do you really think that the commonwealth countries will want to continue paying for the visits and the pomp and circumstance for a 30 year old kid and his wife? I don’t think that the British people will be so keen to keep the royals on if they are the only ones funding them either. I think the world is outgrowing this quaint high school-like tradition where one group is deemed better than the rest of us just because they were born rich, who then piss it all away. We have celebrities for that.

I’d like to leave you with the following video from The Kids in the Hall because, as I was writing this post, this sketch came screaming to mind… and I know I could use a good laugh after all of this kvetching.

The good old days


The other night, I was really looking forward to watching a movie I remembered very fondly as being one of my favourites from my teen years, Little Darlings. I remember watching this movie multiple times in the theatre and just loving it. So I settled in and started watching. What was I thinking? Were the hormones that coursed through my veins making me insane? This movie was one of the worst pieces of schlock. I couldn’t even sit through the first 30 minutes before turning it off. Then I remembered a truism I had conveniently forgotten. Just because you remember it, doesn’t mean it was good.

People have this annoying habit of looking back in time and only remembering what they liked about an era. For instance, Americans are always hearkening back to the 1950′s as the time when America was perfect. From the fashion, to the music and the cars, the 1950′s were the good old days. I’ll give you the fashion, clothes were beautiful and flattering then, but undergarments, weren’t so cute… or comfortable. Men had to wear suspenders to hold up their black dress socks.

And women were wearing foundation garments like this.

Then there was the music. The beginning of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, so much good music. But the 1950′s were also the decade that gave us novelty songs like How Much is that Doggy in the Window? and Purple People Eater and spoken word songs like What is a Wife? and Big Bad John.

The cars of the 1950′s were some of the most stylish and impressive in the history of cars, the Thunderbird, Cadillac and Chevy’s of that era are considered American classics. But then there’s this.

Sure the 1950′s were a good time in American History if you were a white man. The American dream was within your reach. If you were a woman you had this kind of existence.

If you were black, America looked more like this.

And the above image is a kind example. I could have shown a lynching.

So what is the point of all of this, you ask? When looking back, take off the rose-coloured glasses and understand…

JUST BECAUSE YOU REMEMBER IT DOESN’T MEAN IT WAS GOOD.

Marriage is for Men


 

It seems there’s been a rash of celebrity engagements this past couple of weeks. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Drew Barrymore, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Mario Lopez, John Legend and even Aretha Franklin all announced engagements. Even Sinead O’Conner is staying married, after announcing a split. With all of this attention put on marriage, I thought I’d take a look at who really benefits in a traditional marriage.

The institution of marriage predates reliable recorded history. It was the norm for all marriage to be arranged, sometimes at birth. The parents would pick a spouse based on purely economic factors. Families joining to become financially and socially stronger. Whether the groom’s family paid a bride price, or dower, or the bride’s family paid a dowry, the melding of families was very much for power and economic reasons and had nothing to do with love. It was a purely secular union put in place to help each family move up in society. Brides wed out of obligation and duty and were expected to be virtuous and faithful to their husbands, who, in turn were expected to provide financially for their wife and children. However, sexual monogamy was never expected for the husband. It was assumed that his sexual needs would be met both inside and outside the marriage bed. Great deal for him, but what about her?

These women went directly from their father’s home to their husband’s home and were expected to be obedient in both surroundings. They never enjoyed the luxury of personal freedom and exploration. Even in North America, women weren’t able of choose to be single without fear of societal backlash until the sexual revolution of the 1960′s. Women were expected to subjugate their personalities in favour of the path their husband chose… even when marrying for love. It was 2006 when the Church of England officially took the word OBEY out of the marriage vows. Yes, women were expected to OBEY their husbands. That one four letter word gave men all the justification they needed to abuse their wives for centuries.

In the 1960′s women in western civilizations seemed to have had enough. There was an uprising of women who were demanding their human rights. The right to choose what to do with their own life. It sure took us long enough, but once we started tasting freedom, it became more and more widespread. The church was still doing everything in its power to keep us barefoot and pregnant, from not allowing birth control use and abortion to shoving the institution of marriage down our throats at every opportunity.

There was a perceived danger in women choosing to be single. The erosion of the family unit. Traditionally, parents would take care of their family, then later in life, the family of their children would take care of the parents. If a woman chose to be single, how could she possibly afford to take care of her parents in their declining years? Would she even want to? If she is choosing freedom, what does obligation even mean to her? These were some of the questions at the root of society’s fear of the Women’s Movement.

Indeed marriage rates did decline and divorce rates went way up.  Men went from “Honey, I’m home. What’s for dinner?” to wondering when the delivery guy was coming. Something else of importance  happened during this time. In 1965, in the United States, medicare and medicaid became available. This took away the need for children to take care of their elder parents. This changed the economic family dynamic.

Unfortunately,  there was a backlash to the feminist movement. It seemed to create a generation of men with severe Peter Pan syndrome. These adult men, not only want their wife to be a partner, but also a mother. It seems that these liberated feminist mothers didn’t think to teach their sons how to be liberated, strong men. This, along with the media (magazines, movies etc.) telling women that they are not complete without a man, created a surge in marriages. .. marriages that didn’t last. After all, what liberated woman wants to be mean mommy to her husband? And let’s face it no man (unless it’s his fetish) wants to have sex with mean mommy.

Women who choose to be single, have reproductive freedom like never before. Now medical science has made it possible for women to have babies without benefit of marriage, or even a relationship. It’s easy to understand why there are so many heterosexual men out there who seem to genuinely hate women. They fear they are being rendered obsolete, and that is a legitimate fear. Successful women are choosing to be single mothers.

As Gloria Steinem once said, “Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry.”

Yes traditional marriage was great for men. They had a subservient wife who took care of hearth and home, their every need and want, with no expectation of sexual fidelity. The pendulum travelling inexorably to the other side now. Even in the non western world we are seeing another women’s revolution. Here in the west, there are women who choose marriage just to have a companion, knowing full well that it can be as permanent as they want it to be.

This attitude has spawned another type of man. I have seen it in generations Y and Z. This young man is looking to be kept. They are male gold diggers, looking for an older, successful woman to marry.

I suppose marriage hasn’t changed that much after all. After a brief flirtation with love, it’s still all about money and power.