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Happy 2013 Uncle Sam

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
David Bernans wants "only the best for his favorite uncle"
David Bernans wants "only the best for his favorite uncle"


Dear Uncle Sam,


As your Canadian nephew, I wish you all the best for 2013. However, that doesn’t mean I hope all of your wishes are fulfilled. As we look ahead to a new year, keep in mind that old saying: Be careful what you wish for.


Do you really want an armed guard in every school, a drone flying over every neighborhood, a gas fracking operation in every backyard?


On the face of it, putting gun-toting men and women in your schools might seem like a really smart way to stop gun violence. But just think about it for a minute. Even if no problems arise from the guns you add to the equation (a big “if”), will children really be protected? Children don’t spend all their time in school. What about neighborhood playgrounds? What about shopping malls, movie theatres, baseball diamonds, mini-golf courses, etc.? Are you going to have armed guards everywhere, all the time? Sounds a bit police-statish doesn’t it? And I know you’re a freedom loving kind of guy, aren’t you Uncle Sam?


That’s why I don’t get your plan to have the US air force add a domestic surveillance fleet of drones to the those unmanned aircraft already deployed by local police and private corporations in American skies. Under the FAA Reauthorization Act, the military drones will be able to spy on Americans, collecting audio and video data and keeping it on record for up to 90 days without a warrant.


I understand powerful private interests hiring private security to protect vast corporate fortunes from Occupy protestors. But federal government agencies shouldn’t be doing the bidding of private interests. Aren’t the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security supposed to be working for you, Uncle Sam? Documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund show that those government agencies are working with corporate America to spy on the Occupy movement. Now the air force is going to put a fleet of drones at their disposal. And weaponizing those drones is as easy as pie.


So you’ll have a government-corporate network deploying a fleet of machines across America’s skies to manage the local population. You must’ve seen the Terminator movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Remember Skynet? Just think about it, okay?


If I were cynical (and to be honest, Uncle Sam, you are kind of encouraging me to adopt that frame of mind), I would expect your new Skynet system to be deployed to help powerful energy conglomerates implement their North American network of oil and gas fracking operations and pipelines despite grassroots community opposition to those environmentally disastrous plans.


Now, I think you’d agree with me, Uncle, wouldn’t you, that all those wars you’ve been fighting in the Middle East at the behest of the energy industry have been a bit of a disaster. Well, the same industry is now telling you to ignore the dangers of polluted aquifers and a warming planet. (Does the name “Sandy” mean anything to you? Remember she came to visit you this year. You two didn’t really hit it off, did you? Well, the warmer you make the planet, the more of her ilk will be coming to visit.) Now the energy conglomerates want you to help them suck out and burn every last ounce of the planet’s carbon. They say, “Don’t worry, we’ve learned our lesson since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. You can trust us.”


Don’t trust them. Stop subsidizing them. Stop letting them blast their toxic chemical cocktails into the earth’s crust and people’s drinking water. Put an end to the Keystone XL dirty tar sands sludge pipeline.


Now, when I ask you to be careful what you wish for, of course it’s because I want only the best for my favorite uncle. But it’s also out of self interest. You see, I don’t want to live next door to a poisoned wasteland dotted with gated communities protected by killer robots. Plus, if you burn all of the carbon the energy industry wants you to, all our ice caps are going to melt.


And you also wield a lot of influence in certain circles here in the Great White North. Our current Prime Minister thinks you’re the coolest. He’s been sending Canadian soldiers to die in that crazy Afghanistan fiasco you got yourself into and he’s voted your way in the United Nations on pretty much every issue no matter how isolated you are. He’d probably jump off a cliff if you told him to (or at least send some Canadian soldiers to jump off a cliff in his place).


You love guns, so our Prime Minister has to love guns too. There are about 300 million guns in America. Over 9000 people are murdered with those guns every year. In Canada, we have about 2 million guns. The number of gun murders here is generally between 100 and 200 per year. If you want to end gun violence, it might be a good idea to more carefully regulate the supply of firearms. Unfortunately, following your lead, the Canadian government has been moving in the opposite direction, reducing the regulation of firearms.


This impressionable Prime Minister of ours is also working with your energy industry to export all of Canada’s tar sands goo through the Keystone XL pipeline (with the disastrous consequences we’ve already discussed).


So please, Uncle Sam, set a good example in 2013. If you hold off on destroying the planet, we Canadians promise to stop making fun of your healthcare system.


Yours truly,


David Bernans


David Bernans is a Québec-based writer and translator. He is the author of the murder mystery Collateral Murder. Follow him on twitter @dbernans.

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