For as long as I can remember I’ve been a socialist. I vote “left” and support government programs, social assistance, and regulation of our economic system.

I think it all started with a social studies teacher in the 8th grade. I don’t remember his name but he was a passionate teacher. He would read us passages from Animal Farm standing on his desk. He opened my eyes to the inequality and dangers that come from power. He made me think about the culture that I grew up in and invited me to question why I thought the way I did.

I have always had a talent at seeing how things fit together. It’s a big reason I went into computers and technology. I am able to look at the big picture and see how one part affects other parts to affect the whole. This has helped me see the economic machine we live in, and to understand generally how each piece of our economy affects others. And from what I have seen, I think that a balanced socialist capitalism works best for meeting the needs of people, as well as enabling them to find the most happiness.

Like most things in life, it’s all about finding a balance. Our economy has to work for our society as a whole. Not equally, because that wouldn’t be fair or sustainable. But also with some measure of control. Like it or not we are selfish beings. We will generally take as much as we can justify. Even when we know this will hurt or be unfair to others. So there has to be a balance to how much any one person (or company) can take from an economy. If not, they will take so much that it will hurt the economy as a whole.

I think Canada has been both lucky and smart. Partly because our economy hasn’t been so big it can face some of the problems our larger neighbor to the south has faced. But also because we as a people have more socially conscious and willing to share and be more equal. This has benefited our economy as a whole, both rich and poor, and we live in an extremely comfortable and happy country.

But we need to stay vigilant in that comfort and learn from the mistakes of other nations and economies. We need to maintain enough control that we don’t allow the power that can come from inequality to take too much and break the system. We need to maintain those systems, like justice and a free press, that can be the check and balance against corruption and greed. We need to vote based on facts and common good, not fear and propaganda.

I’m hopeful as always that things are getting better and not worse and our economy will decide much of that. I would encourage Canadians to stay vigilant in our tradition of social consciousness.