"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, May 25, 2012

Credit where credit is due

Hurray for Constable Bubbles. He has done the right thing in identifying fellow police officers who are accused of breaking the law. More cops should do the same.
That it is considered exceptional or noteworthy behaviour for a police officer to report illegal activity when other police officers are involved speaks volumes about the state of modern policing.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

No bad jobs, just lazy Canadians

 “There is no bad job. The only bad job is not having a job.You do what you have to do to make a living.”
-Finance Minister Jim Flaherty 

(WARNING: As with most things related to Jim Flaherty, the following is decidedly not safe for work, unless you work in the porn industry, organized crime, politics or the media)

‘There’s a group of Canadians who need a nudge back into the workforce.’
-Dan Kelly, The Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Yes, Dan Kelly, that what is holding so many unemployed people back from resuming happy, successful careers - they just need a little nudge to take that no-benefits, minimum-wage job scrubbing toilets or flipping burgers instead of sitting around on their Master's degree and 15 years of job experience and waiting for that crappy entry-level office clerk or call centre job to open up. 
All those people who used to have good jobs making widgets or keeping the paperwork flowing or providing important services just need to accept their new lot in life as overqualified occasional office temps now that senior management has closed the plant or cut the department or reorganized to make the company "leaner and meaner" so that the stockholders can get that extra half a percentage point added to the value of their portfolio. 
Yes, there is dignity in all work. As long as we have strong labour standards laws, that much won't change. But the idea that any but a miniscule number of people are content spending their lives working just long enough to qualify for EI and then quitting to collect pogey until it runs out is idiotic. It is a notion that is popular among a certain group of people - those who have never been out of work for a significant amount of time.
Making the unemployed jump through more hoops to keep from ending up homeless and starving will not bring back those widget-making and paper-pushing jobs. Making it tougher for people to survive the ebb and flow of business cycles and casino capitalism will not help them find work or improve the economy.  
You know who really needs a nudge back into the workforce? Investors, venture capitalists, business owners and other wealthy people who don't work for a living anymore. Those people who are absolutely certain that the folks relying on food banks to feed their kids are just lazy and living it up on their dime. Those people who, having made a fortune of some size with the help of publicly-educated workers, tax-funded transportation networks, government subsidies to business, state-imposed copyright and patent protection, consumer protection and workplace safety rules that keep them out of the same tax-funded courts that allow them to enforce contracts and punish those who would steal from them, think they made that fortune completely on their own and that it is outrageous that they should  pay more taxes than someone who is barely making ends meet. Those people who think they shouldn't have to pay to fund the school system because they send their kids to private schools. Those people need to be nudged out of their comfort zone.
They need to spend a month waiting tables and living in a studio apartment with two kids. They need to work three mornings a week at Walmart and nights at 7/11 and deliver pizzas in-between to make the rent. They need to work a couple or three 12-hour shifts catching chickens or stocking shelves overnight. They need to spend a few weeks riding the bus two hours each way to their job washing dishes or cleaning hotel rooms. They need to live on social assistance for a month. 
Some of them did some of  those things once upon a time in the distant past when we had much more generous social programs and a society in which a family could get by on one average wage paycheque. Some of them pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and worked hard and scrimped and saved to get where they are, but now seem to want to punish people who want to do the same despite all the bootstraps having been outsourced to the third world.
A lot of them are competent at their jobs and were clever enough to excel in a profession that pays well, but now feel that they shouldn't have to pay a fair share to keep those less clever and competent or just less lucky from falling into abject poverty.
Some of those people need more than a nudge to relearn good citizenship and basic empathy, and I suspect Dan Kelly is one of them.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

holiday Monday is all right for uke fighting?

the original

the cover

For 14 years in Japan, this was my homesickness theme song. I even got to perform it with a local jazz band in my local pub a few times...


Monday, May 21, 2012

Why I Support the Quebec Student Protests

Because this is what the other side does.

My French isn't good enough to follow the conversation very precisely, but that doesn't really matter. There is nothing anyone could have said to that police officer short of a direct threat to their life and limb that would justify the use of pepper spray. And that isn't the gist of the conversation here.
Nope, Constable 728 is just pepper-spraying non-violent people for the heinous crime of getting on her nerves because she can. Because she knows that nothing very bad will happen to her for bullying people to whom she has taken a dislike. My bet is that, at worst, she loses a few days pay and gets very stern 10-second lecture ("don't do that in front of a camera again, 728").

While some are calling the protesting students in Quebec a bunch of spoiled crybabies for taking to the streets after the provincial government announced it was going to double tuition for post-secondary education, I have to admit I'd have joined similar demonstrations if I were a student.
Imagine you were a businessperson with a widget factory. If a supplier you had a four year-vendor contract with suddenly told you it was going to double its prices regardless of the contract, you'd call your lawyers to sue for breach of contract and look for another vendor, right?
Well, in this case the vendor has a monopoly. There are not a lot of French-language universities or trade schools in North America outside of Quebec.
Eventually, another company would come along to supply your widget factory. But students don't have the luxury of waiting around for a private post-secondary education system to arise, they are in the middle of earning a degree or a diploma which has just effectively doubled in price.
And when they complain about it in a meaningful way, when they have the temerity to inconvenience others, the goon squad gets sent in.