One country, two systems!

That particular description of government is the one used by China to explain the rather special economic and political freedoms of Hong Kong versus the more totalitarian nature of the mainland.  It’s a common phrase – for China.  One country, two systems.

But it has never been that simple.  Not for China.  Not for Canada.  Hell, we have the French/Anglo dichotomy at the very least.  Then there there is the east/west, north/south, First Nations/everyone else differences and the never-ending list of factions, groups, ethnicities and cultures (at the very least).  We are a big country with a lot of ‘officially recognized’ differences.

We can also construct similar descriptors to explain the different systems of rural life versus the more regimented and limiting structures of the city.  Country folk do not have many of the common urban living systems and we have employed a few uniquely different systems as well. Seriously, dude, country life is way, way different.

And I am not talkin’ just the country-bumpkin stuff this time.   This ain’t about flowers and ravens and oyster gathering vs transit and queuing.  Or trading pies for eggs at the local market.  This is considerably more freedom, real liberation, real life.  Really different.

Let me list a few topic headings that are totally different in small-town or rural Canada vs the big city: traffic, parking, time, ease, friendliness.  Police-state mentality, patience, security, health-care. Rule enforcement, alienation/isolation/loneliness.  How about ambient noise, intrusive noise and simply silence..?  Air.  Water.  Trade.  Mileage. Fashion.  Expenses.  Amount of time worked to pay for life.  Amount of free time.

The categories list is endless and, almost every time, the differences show up in favour of rural or small community living.  Well, for me, anyway.

Then there is the just-plain weird city stuff, the stuff that has no rural correlation.  Like road rage, gang-related violence in public places and even (what!?) Craigslist paranoia.

Someone advertised something the other day, I wrote and asked for the address so that I could go see it.  “I’ll give it to you when you are on your way.  For now, it is just North Delta.  Here’s my number.  Call me when you are in the neighbourhood”.

“OK.  But that’s weird.  Why are you doing that?”

“I can’t just give out my address anymore these days.  People come into my yard and steal what I have advertised.  I want to know when you are on your way and then I can suss out if you are a real customer or not.”

My point is (leaving aside the wacky stuff) that we have two systems, too.  In fact, we have three or more if you count the various forms of the underground economy.  Or the multicultural communities.  Or the 1%-ers.  Or the newly emigrated.  Or First nations.

But back to the visible systems: at the very least there are those who exclusively use money and those who use only plastic.  And there are those of us that mix the two. And there is a lot of ‘off-the-books’ transacting going on all over as well. There are those who shop online and those who have never done it. There are those who trade and barter and those who are knee deep in accounts an record keeping.  And debt.  Even different cultures within our country seem to be able to transact in foreign ways that are outside normal Canadian channels.  We are a mish-mash of systems.

Not counting crime which, I understand is a trillion dollars a year industry in Canada all by itself.

All this is not that unusual.  I have been to many countries and it is always the same.  One country and a myriad of systems.  There is a Sheriff of Nottingham in every country and more than just a few Robin Hoods countering his system any way they can.   For fifty-five years I played in the official straight and narrow Canadian economy exclusively.  Then I went feral and added the free and natural forest/ocean largess to my unconscious accounting and larder.  Then a bit of favour-trading and the odd bit of barter were integrated into my life.  As my garden grew, so did my trading and barter account.  Then I found that credit card use constituted a ten percent premium on my purchase and so I have been dealing primarily in cash for the last few years.  Recorded and receipted, of course, but cash nevertheless.  But I also indulge in a bit of scavenging/salvaging now and again, too.

The really big change economically speaking has been a return to old hippy, anti-materialistic values (within comfort and reason, of course).  We are simply not keeping up with any Jones’s in any status category whatsoever.  And we avoid debt like the plague. We haven’t changed systems so much as dropped most of them by participating less.

Conclusion: Canada is at the very least two countries, with ten or more systems (that I can see – and that is not counting the ones that I can’t see) and growing.  Big city living is just one of many and, to my mind, it is like high-priced retail shopping compared to a country free-store.

18 thoughts on “One country, two systems!

  1. I also view Canada as a “two system” political entity.
    We vote in elections hoping for positive change (fiscally or environmentally or socially depending on your political view) and then the elected officials do what eve they want.
    They are the majority in power. Screw the budget, screw the environment, screw social programs.
    We will authorize dams, deficits, dioxins and death all in the name of “democracy.
    “Democracy” with no consultation, no discussion, no referendums, nothing to allow the people to decide their fate.
    “You voted us in so live with it for the next 5 years’.

    China isnt the only country that is a dictatorship. Our politicians are just better at massaging the media.

    Oh, on another note….
    Happy new year!


    • Yeah. I agree. That’s why I ran once. To make a difference – do it right. Rep the pop. But even running and putting yourself ‘out there’ is an ugly experience since the parties exert their control from the get-go. It was sleaze-ball from the nomination process on. I am glad I lost the nomination in retrospect. I really think there is a solution…we are not all slaves, dupes and serfs by intent. We are free and independent by intent – so why does it keep showing up like puppet theater? Maybe together we can figure that out…?

      And I also hope for a Happy New Year to you and all the other five who read here. And Laila.


  2. I think we are willing puppets in the charade of politics theatre. Did you know that there is only one political system anoited to rule ever lasting and no alternative exists! It was recently conceded in a Vancouver Sun opinion piece that some good ideas are floating around not yet appropriated by the Conservatives(Canada’s natural ruling party) the only party fit to govern. In the future the Conservatives will announce a carbon tax, discover global warming, profess a need for universal daycare, admitt to problems in Veterns Affairs, see the problems for aboriginal women, end child poverty and communicate clearly with Canadians and end government by smoke screen. Knowing the issues the voters of Canada vote for the ostrich party, the Alfred E Neumann party, the what me worry party! We deserve bad government and the Conservatives fill the bill.


    • Even tho the Cons are bad (very bad), the Libs had decades of being miserably poor and dysfunctional at everything they touched (if not proven corrupted). And so we are ‘left’ with the NDP…………..and, even tho they say the better things, I have enough experience with them to know that they are incompetent, petty, self-destructive and, sadly, out of touch with the hoi polloi. Not to mention (in BC) missing a spinal column. So….? The Greens? Elizabeth May has proven to be the best of parliament so far to date but is ONE good person enough? Not if the platform means anything. They simply don’t bring enough ‘alternative’ to the table – not to mention PEOPLE.
      I honestly believe that the politicians follow rather than lead, anyway. And so real leadership has to emerge from the ground-roots, the real people, the activists, the agitators and the honest. Honest, truth-telling people have to find platforms from which to promote their ideas. And the media won’t help in the least. This message of change has to come from somewhere else than from where it has been NOT coming from at all. I have bigger hopes for social media than have been realized to date.
      If I could only get more than six readers!


      • I honestly don’t know. I had rejected the Libs before he came along but remember this: PM was part of the Libs for a long, long time. He had to be an accomplice or a yes-man at the very least. To be fair, he may have believed strongly in something and worked hard for it…..but Chretien took the top seat and, on all matters that I had a working knowledge of, the Libs were bad. Someday I’ll tell you the story of lunching with Guy Ouellet (Minister for Immigration at the time) in Ottawa and he asking, “Who’s the guy out there, anyway?” We were talking Immigration issues and he was wondering who his head guy in Vancouver was…..didn’t have a clue. BC was just ‘out there to them and his head guy was a nobody.


      • I think federal politics in Canada will ALWAYS come down to the party in power controlling either Ontario or Quebec with a smattering of seats from the rest of the country. To give them power.
        Always has been , always will be. Status quo.
        As for Paul Martin Jr. He was an excellent Finance Minister. Alas, his Prime Ministerial ambitions seemed to end with aquiring the seat.
        Everything else was Liberal political backstabbing at its finest. But hey. Paul Martin Jr reached the position his father always covetted. Even if Jean Cretien tried his dambest to stop him ever chance he had.
        Politics……the OLDEST profession.


      • I think some of this discontent ought to be shared with R. B. Bennett, Conservative Prime Minister 1930 to 1935 and his “…party’s pro-business and pro-banking inclinations provided little relief to the millions of increasingly desperate and agitated unemployed.” His ideological political beliefs held that it was not the federal government’s role to provide much relief because relief was a local issue and ought to be provided locally. It is thought that Bennett answered many personal cries for help from his own personal fortune but saw little role for government intervention into the economy. He did some good things such as founding the Bank of Canada and creating the Canadian Wheat Pool later destroyed by Harper in 2011. Today we have Conservative Party in power with no vision for the problems of today. Their claims that they are good stewards of the economy is just more smoke and mirrors. Their selling point is tax cuts(great if you have a taxable income) but a a futile gesture to the over 26% of single Canadians living in poverty.


  3. I favour one system of economics China’s xiaokang society. “Moderately prosperous society (Chinese: 小康社会; pinyin: xiǎokāngshehui) is a Chinese term, originally of Confucian origin, used to describe a society composed of a functional middle-class. The term is most well known in recent years as used by Chinese leader Hu Jintao when referring to economic policies meant to realize a more equal distribution of wealth.” Wikipedia


    • Interesting. I like it but I would add ‘sustainable’ and environmental to the ‘moderate’ or equal-share concept. Moderation is ideal. Why the Lamborghini and not just the VW bus? The Lambo has only one function: ego and elitism. Admittedly, it is hard to maintain ‘progress’ without an ever-higher benchmark but couldn’t we just have VW buses with leather seats and mag wheels to show who is cooler? Maybe some with extra HP? Striving for the Lambo promotes cheating, greed and waste. My point: moderation in all things (even moderation).


      • China is an economic power house but it is also socialist. A third of the world’s economic activity very soon will be happening in the Far East. Concentration of wealth in a limited number of hands is a faltering idea. The Chinese are making great strides in renewable sources of energy and have the industrial base to flood the world in renewables. China weaned off carbon based fuels will be and operating with an environmental focus will rapidly improve the the quality of life world wide.


      • Well, well, you certainly are the optimist………….and I don’t disagree with the potential they have to ‘do good’. ‘Cause they do. They could be the required game-changer. Trouble is, they could be a game-changer for the worse, too. 1.5 billion going in the right direction (in harmony, no less) is a wonderful idea. 1.5 getting all imperialistic is NOT. And there is definitely the potential for that, too. I am a big fan of Chinese culture and even a bit biased towards benevolent dictatorship over corrupt democracy (1.5b CAN be wrong) but Chinese culture is not without flaws (in my opinion, anyway). They are a bit inclined to ‘go along to get along’ (harmony) and they are less creative (no outside the box for them). They are also quite hierarchical (read: prejudiced) and so Chinese rule is not all roses in my opinion. Mind you, British/American rule has proven to have a few flaws, too.


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