SUMMERSIDE – We have a problem, but don’t panic.
That was Gwynne Dyer’s message to political science, global issues and other students at Three Oaks Senior High School.
Dyer, a freelance journalist, columnist, broadcaster and author, spoke to students about the world in the age of Donald Trump and the future of nations recently.
“Journalism isn’t an exact science. You try to make decisions on the hop with partial information. This morning I’m going to do just that by discussing Mr. Trump and why a man like that was able to get elected,” said Dyer.
“Why did people vote for him? What went wrong that made them vote that way? Where do we go from here before things get uglier?” Dyer asked the students.
He chalked it up to the voters in the rust belt states voting Republican and their anger about the closing of industrial factories.
“Voters didn’t necessarily like or trust or believe this guy, but they wanted to send a message about how mad they were for being abandoned.”
From there Dyer segued into discussing Brexit and the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, France’s election and the National Front, and the future.
“There is a lot of fear, the West as a whole, is sliding into a populist phase that resembles the 1930s. The last time we had populists in power or coming quite close to power there was huge unemployment rates, racism, fascism and nationalism.”
He said, “Mr. Trump is sort of the canary in the coal mine. He has actually alerted us to our problems.”
He added, “This is the biggest thing on the immediate horizon. It’s a fast moving event. Politically we weren’t paying attention.”
One solution that is being discussed is Universal Basic Income, said Dyer.
“It’s an old idea that never really gained traction because it was a solution without a problem. The idea is the government gives everybody in the country over 18 years old, whether they’re a citizen or a landed immigrant, enough money to live off comfortably for the rest of your life without applying for it, but as an entitlement.”
Currently, there are six programs running across the globe piloting a UBI trial.
“Scotland, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, United States (California) and Canada (Ontario), including Peterborough, Hamilton and Thunder Bay.”
There are people who see what’s coming and are trying to get a head of the curve, he said.
Haley Brennan and Dylan Corbett, grade 12 students who attended the lecture, said it provided insight into things they weren’t worried about.
“The world is changing very fast. And the current situations around the world are very unpredictable. The best way to deal with them is to look for the unpredictable solutions. They’re going to be our generation’s big problems to deal with,” said Corbett.
Brennan agreed, “We need to change and adapt to overcome the way things are progressing. We can’t keep living the way we are now and expect things to be OK. It’s going to be a lot different when we’re older and we don’t know what to expect.”