A Poverty of Attitudes

Thanksgiving. A time for giving thanks for our material bounty, a time for family to get together and enjoy each others company. A time to demonize the poor and… WTF?

It started with my nephew commenting on the lack of media attention to the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. As they had been going on for several weeks already, most people who are on Facebook had already been aware of the protests and were surely beginning to wonder why the mainstream corporate media was ignoring them during the nightly “news” reporting. When asked what they thought, my parents both chimed in with the “get a job and you won’t have time to protest, you bum” and “they’re all drug addicts”. My nephew, never one to rock the boat, withdrew into a “I really liked the thing on Facebook where they kicked all the drug addicts off welfare” thing to quell any dissension. I pointed out to my Father that it was last centuries thinking that led us as Canadians to demonize the poor and to my nephew, that while he can have an opinion about drug addiction that doesn’t include science or medicine, what about the children who are victims of this cruel policy? What about their hunger?

The crickets chirped, someone else said something unrelated and the conversation moved on. I really had to fight an impulse to get up and leave and as it was, it was all I could do to hold my tongue until it was time to go. With respect for my Mother’s Thanksgiving dinner, I managed.

What happened to our country? We used to be counted as a fair, just and progressive society. Could people really be this ignorant of the real world? Could they have fallen asleep to the promise and possibilities that we had to build a fair and just society? I once told my Mother that the Canada we were living in today was not the country of my youth. We were willing to give a hand up to people and not begrudge them the odd hand out. Where every member of society, all fortunate enough to have been born into one of the richest, freest countries on Earth, could be counted on to share the bounty. Perhaps it has more to do with my not remembering my youth properly than it has to do with any changes to the country.

Canada’s richest 1%
Doubled their income share between the late-1970s and 2007.

Apparently it is good to be rich in Canada, who knew?

Canada’s richest 0.01%
Quintupled their share of income during that same period.

It has been a wonderful 40 years, hasn’t it?

Shrinking middle class.
The share of income for the bottom 80% of Canadian families with children is smaller today than it was a generation ago.

Oops. So much for the “trickle down theory” of economics. Apparently the opponents to the Free Trade Agreement had it right.

I wonder how an entire generation could be either so ignorant or so mean spirited as to think it is in anyway moral or just to think that these numbers, these facts, are in any way acceptable. How can your inattention to the real world allow your children to be driven into penury, while you become apologists for those who benefited far more from your complicity in their social and environmental depredations than your children ever will for theirs? You do realize that your precious children and grandchildren will never achieve the same standard of living as your generation did and the reasons for that are all laid at your feet alone?

I exaggerate?

$6.6 million
The average compensation of Canada’s best-paid 100 CEOs in 2009.

Over half a billion dollars for 100 guys. Per year. Outraged yet?

The average wage for Canadians working full-time, year-round.

And dropping.

155 times
How much the best-paid 100 CEOs earn more than average wage.

Give them time. Harper will have us closer to the U.S. number (475 times) every year.

The number of women among the best-paid 100 CEOs in Canada in 2009.

Canada ranks 20th, behind the U.S., in a global ranking of women’s equality.

Wow. Apparently it sucks to be both not a CEO and/or a woman. What a great country. As a man who loves the women in my life and wants a better society for all of them, I really am outraged at this. When you consider that our current federal government has gone out of its way to cancel as many socially progressive programs, like civil service pay equity, as possible during its tenure and that the vast majority of voters for this party come from the same generation, you begin to see a pattern.

Not fair you say?

6 out of 10 Canadians could be in trouble if their paycheque gets delayed.

Wage slavery anyone? Seems like a good time to get rid of another union or two, start a couple more enterprises that rely on low wages for profit and really crank up the fear of missing out on a new IPhone in the media..

Debt nation
Canadian consumer debt to financial assets ratio worst of 20 OECD nations.

So in other words, compared to other nation states that have none of our resource advantages, the actual majority of citizens are in hock up to their eyeballs.

$1.41 trillion
Canadian household debt.

What do you think is going to happen here when the real estate bubble implodes? Is Capital simply going to walk away from their bad investments? Will the boomer generation sit quietly while the top .01% finish cleaning out our economy? Will our lax bankruptcy laws allow Canadian consumers a way out of debt slavery? Will jingle mail come to Canada?

No. Both politically and economically, Canada is a much better thought out fascist state than the U.S. ever was. The law is not there to protect Canadians, it is there to protect Capital. And we do not have the same “problem” with gun ownership here that they do to the south. (How is that whole “Eliminate the gun registry at the earliest opportunity once we have a majority” thing going anyway? … Thought so.)

So what does any of this have to do with children? Or poverty?

Canada ranks 17 out of 24 OECD nations on children’s material well-being.

Way below those socialist cesspools, like Norway for instance. With their 4% unemployment and 100% funding for higher education and health care. Why even those on welfare there get off of it sooner than here and their workforce participation rate? It is a wonder how they sleep at night, filthy socialist scum that they are. No child poverty though.

1 in 10
Canadian children live in poverty. 1 in 4 Aboriginal children live in poverty.

1 in 9
Children in British Columbia live in poverty.

Considering that in 1989 the entire House of Commons, every member earning at least five times the national poverty rate, voted unanimously to eliminate child poverty in Canada by the year 2000, I would have to say that how we have structured our political economy has everything to do with it. The implicit racism against the First Nations communities in this country simply points out the scope of the problem.

The entire issue of Capital and poverty is one that needs addressing. Try to explain to a member of the most selfish generation alive that perhaps we need to look at sharing our bounty with those less fortunate and you are met with 30 years of propaganda; messaging that both Liberals and Conservatives have presented and profited from over the years. The facts speak for themselves.

I am hoping that this racist, misogynistic and class based attitude will die with the boomers. I am encouraged that these beliefs are culturally transmitted from parents to children. In the age of the Internet, as parents spend less and less time with their children and the children themselves become more aware of these attitudes in the institutions around them, we at least have a chance to eradicate them before my generation passes on.


Poverty in BC
• 12 per cent of British Columbian’s — more than half a million people — lived in poverty in 2009
• BC has the highest poverty rate in Canada by far, and has had the highest child poverty rate for eight years running.
• Single mothers, Aboriginal people, recent immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities are especially vulnerable to poverty.

Now we see why our federal government needs new prisons. They need to protect their voter base from the poor. I wonder if 10,000 poor children marching on Victoria would make it to the CTV Newshour? Probably not. After all, they are all just lazy bums who do drugs.

As it ever was…