The Vampire State | Anthony Esolen | Catholic World Report
Just loosen your collar—this will all be over in a moment.
“They live in the northernmost community in Canada,” said the fellow at the hamburger joint. “They’re Inuit, and have been living there for more than 2,000 years. They used to follow the caribou herds from place to place, but the government has settled them down, and now they have a permanent village, with the houses built up high, above the permafrost.”
He then told me that the government had given them a quota for fishing turbot, and if they fell short of the quota, the government would make up for the shortfall by a cash grant. Until recently, they’ve attached themselves to international fishing expeditions, but now they have purchased a ship of their own. That was why they had flown the 4,000 miles from the 15th parallel to our island on the 46th—to take possession of the ship. The cost of the ship was borne by the government. I don’t know whether the $20,000 for four round-trip plane tickets was also borne by the government—that is to say, by other people, with the government middlemen taking their substantial cut—but it wouldn’t surprise me.
“I suppose,” I said, “that living in such a forbidding place, they don’t have the social problems they have in, say, Yellowknife,” the capital of the Northwest Territories, notorious for alcoholism and family breakdown. My reasoning was simple. You can’t survive from one year to the next unless you preserve moral order.
“No, they have the same problems there that they have all over the Territories,” he replied, and he put the blame squarely on Ottawa. “Paternalistic” was the word he used.
The conversation caused me to consider what a place like Yellowknife has in common with, say, Detroit. Yellowknife is a small town on the Great Slave Lake, in the midst of the richest mineral deposits on Earth. It is, for all that, a deeply dysfunctional place. Detroit used to be the jewel of the Great Lakes, the auto capital of the world. It is now a pit of crime. Whole neighborhoods have been abandoned. The current mayor, Dave Bing, has ordered some of them to be plowed under, to turn them back to grasslands, perhaps for pasturing sheep.
It’s not just Detroit, and money alone is not the problem.