Connection between the EU crisis and Attawapiscat crisis

At a first look, the fly-in only Native community on the shores of James Bay called Attawapiskat has very little in common with the European Union.

Both are mired in financial crises and allegations of corruption, but surely, that is too common these days to claim there is a connection between them, no?

Well, actually…

When one works through the minutiae of surface details, there are some very core similarities beneath.

In case you are not familiar with either one of these two situations, here is a highly abbreviated summary of each:

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The Attawapiskat Native community af about 1800 people is a reservation and as such, governed by the complex and bureaucratic Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.  The ‘rules’ are soul-suckingly bizarre.  For example, the land of the reservation is collectively owned by the Aboriginal Band – so no individual may own any piece of land, like, say, to build a house on, or to look after and improve.

‘The Band’ gets money to both function as a government and as a community (supporting each individual of the band).  The reported amount of money that flows in differs wildly from one source to another and the paperwork seems about as clear as mud.  The Band receives money from the Federal Government, the Provincial Government, Casino income, plus there are claims they also got money from other sources, but that, really, is irrelevant.

The residents are living is sub-standard housing with inadequate insulation (not the kind of home for spending the winter on the shores of James Bay) – but with flat screen TVs…  The same attitude permeates the community:  the school was shut down close to a decade ago because it had been built on a site contaminated by a diesel spill – since then, no new school has been built, but if I am not mistaken, $43 million has been spent on schooling.

Oh, and even though it is a fly-in community (no roads lead there), the chief has had a 60k SUV flown in for her use…which only goes to support the common saying:  ‘the chief’s driveway is always paved’!  (FYI – this also seems to hold true for condominium association presidents.)

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The EU started innocently enough:  as a free-trade zone.  Who could oppose the increased economic opportunities of a Europe-wide free trade zone?

Since this is a supra-national organization, an independent administrative body was needed to be set up to harmonize the conditions within member states in order to ensure that the free trade is played on a level playing field.  This ‘administrative body’ grew and it grew until it became the European Parliament, complete with a constitution (the Lisbon Treaty), a flag and an anthem:  OK, I am oversimplifying the process – perhaps to the point of error – but the result is a huge bureaucratic machine which increasingly controls more and more aspects of life of the individuals living in member states.

The EU has, in all but the name, become the United States of Europe.

One of the unique features of this political entity is that all the bills are drafted by the bureaucrats and then forwarded on to the parliament.  The parliament debates them, may propose changes, then votes on the changes – and on the changes alone – because the parliament does not have the ability to not pass the bills into law.

It is mandatory for member states to enact all EU laws into their national laws – opting out is not permitted.

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So, what do they have in common?

A very nasty feedback loop:  the people who make the rules are not accountable to the people whom they are ruling!

In both cases, the bureaucracies which control the flow of funds are so insulated from the taxpayers who supply the money that they can spend it witht impunity.

In the case of the Canadian Natives (Attawapiskat may be in the news now, but it is definitely not the only community in this situation), the ‘bureaucracies’ are both the Ministry and the Band Council:  both are irresponsibly spending funds.  Since there are multiple levels of bureaucracy, neither can properly be held accountable…

The Ministry is over-bloated, with bureaucrats justifying their paychecks by shuffling papers and increasing red tape.  The Band leadership has the ability to spend the funds without being accountable to the people on whose behalf it spends it.  It is a tragedy – though hardly an unpredictible one…  The bureaucrats and the ruling elites (paid off by the bureaucrats) control more and more aspects of lives of the individuals within their jurisdiction while those ‘ruled’ have little to no legal means available to them to affect change.

In the EU case, the ruling bureaucracy is also ‘several layers’ insulated from the voters. And, as it exacts great amounts of taxpayer monies from member nation states, it is able to generously fund the ‘ruling elites’ within their member states (or within prospective member states:  Croatia is an excellent example of where the EU amply funds the ‘political elite’ in order to make it profitable for them to support policies detrimental to their fellow citizens).

This means that the interest of the ‘political elites’ is divorced from (and quite possibly in direct opposition to) the interests of the citizenry.  In other words, the bureaucrats and the ruling elites (paid off by the bureaucrats) control more and more aspects of lives of the individuals within their jurisdiction while those ‘ruled’ have little to no legal means available to them to affect change.

In both cases, the political elites receive funds without being accountable to the citizenry.

In both cases, it boils down to ‘taxation without representation’ – and in both cases this reality is shielded by layers of bureaucracy…

No wonder both are in such a mess!!!