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Is the movement in opposition to Smart Meters based on rationality or is it based on voter ignorance and hysteria?  And could this movement consequently further encourage what I call “democratic failure,” insofar as it might induce the government to make a decision that harms society, ignoring science and the government’s obligation to further the public interest? 


I am reminded of the way in which the government of British Columbia yielded to a similarly irrational protest against the merging of the BC Provincial Sales Tax (PST) with the Federal Value Added tax (GST).   Efficiencies in allocation of public resources were thus compromised in that situation as well, for no rational public purpose.   The consolidation, in that case, would have saved public money that could have better been spent on education, health care and other needs of society.


With respect to the smart meter controversy, may I suggest that the opposition has no scientific basis for its opposition; rather, it is based simply on beliefs or fears which have no science behind them.  A democracy cannot function if its public officials or legislators bend to popular hysteria that has no basis in fact.   Science is the only basis on which a government should act.  To do otherwise is to succumb to the lynch mob and to forego the advice of the ancients who gave us our democratic underpinnings.  Rather we should hearken to the wisdom of scholars and scientists who gave us a method for testing public policy ideas. They told us to follow practical experience, logic, and ethics in reaching prescriptions for public action and they warned of the dangers of action based simply on belief or prejudice. 


Certainly there can always be another point of view as to scientific matters, but without scrupulous testing of other theories, we must act based on the science we already know.  To do otherwise is the perfect recipe for inaction and ultimately democratic failure.


In Okanagan,  from an economic,  socio-psychological , and scientific point of view, it is bizarre to observe members of the  body politic, as well as from the academic establishment  concerning themselves with smart meters as some sort of political cause rather than viewing them in their proper light as a neutral administrative action that simply makes economic sense. 


Why not better ask whether the types of development in the Okanagan are being allowed to usurp social, economic, and ecological realities?  Such wrong focus of the electorate and academia show an abysmal lack of common sense and absence of ethical responsibility.  When we view the government, in consequence of this false prioritization, as out of focus, I can only offer my old dictum:  “The behavior of government reflects the level of understanding and the moral and ethical values of the society that makes up the economy.”  


With respect to smart meters, people are exposed to far more microwaves from    leaking microwave ovens. There is no evidence whatever that they present any public health risk.  Conversely, there is evidence that installation of smart meters will allow for more efficient use of the electrical grid and will reduce the costs to society of providing us necessary utilities.  More efficient use of public resources will be the result, benefitting heirs, our generations and us yet unborn.   I am not trying to make an apocalyptic case on behalf of smart meters.   I am simply suggesting that the whole approach to public policy that is demonstrated through this discussion is one of rationally based lawmaking that when applied to the whole host of decisions that government makes,  really does add up to a “hill of beans” and a brighter future for all of us.  


The wonderful thing about a democracy is that ignorant argument is protected and even valued in its own way.   (But we are very foolish if we take it to heart.) 


Osoyoos June 3, 2015


Kell Petersen