Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review: Canadians No Longer Have Reason to Feel Smug

There was a time when Canadians could feel a quiet pride about their country: peacekeeping roles with the United Nations, generous social programs, young Canadians cavorting around Europe with Canadian flags stitched onto their backpacks.

We were the quieter, gentler version of America.

Well, this year all those notions got dumped.

Over the last twelve months, we witnessed an unprecedented number of political scandals: Senators bilking taxpayers, corruption left, right, and centre in Quebec, and then there was spectacle of the crack smoking mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford.

I think the reason his antics got so much media play around the world, especially in the US, was that the world experienced a great deal of schadenfreude seeing Canada embodied by such a crass individual, a long way from the Dudley Do Right image that we had cultivated over the years.

Indeed, it is difficult to maintain the holier-than-thou attitude when our past sins of the wide spread systemic abuse of First Nations children in our residential schools and our present disregard for the environmental consequences of extracting oil from the tar sands, a practice that has earned Canada the label of an environmental rogue nation in the world press, are repeatedly brought to mind.

Even our traditional practice of making ourselves feel better by comparing ourselves to the Americans brings little solace since third world conditions have taken hold, for example the bankrupt City of Detroit, and are continuing to spread amongst a beleaguered people.

WTF Canada, get your shit together, make some New Year resolutions, do something.

Let's not waste another year pretending that we are some how morally superior to our neighbours.

Just like everyone else we have our fair share of problems, and the first step in meeting these collective challenges is admitting that they exist and that they are there for everyone to see.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Merry Christmas America: You've Been Scrooged

As the holidays draw nearer, it appears that, judging from president Obama's speech on economic inequality last week, he finally gets it: America has been scrooged.

I think that this year enough people finally honed in on the fact that while many Americans stuffed themselves at the dinner table on Thanksgiving and then went on a spending binge the next day after, commonly known as Black Friday, there was something amiss.

Lo and behold, in all this glorious consumption, the people who had to work on the holiday in the retail sector as wage slaves, making it possible for those better off to gorge themselves on the savings, are not being paid enough so they to can partake in the spirit of giving thanks for the bounty of material wealth.

In fact, companies like WalMart, run by the richest family in America, have taken to organizing charity food drives for their workers who have difficulty putting a meal on the table for their families given their abysmal wages.

Scrooge would have approved, that is the Scrooge before he was visited by the ghosts of Christmas.

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Hopefully, families in need won't have to go without food at the end of December because they decided to put a turkey on the table with all the accompanying dishes, thereby using up all of their remaining food stamps which were recently reduced in number by a vote in the Grinch-like US Congress.

Looking at how firmly entrenched is the practice of scrooging the common folks in America, it would take a miraculous intervention by a benevolent spirit on a massive scale to remove the chains around the hearts of those who run things.

But lets stay real.  Nothing of the sort is going to happen.  Changes of heart like that only happen in the wonderful world of fiction.  In the real world, the monied folks in America will continue to shirk their social responsibilities and take comfort in the fabulous wealth that the Good Lord has arranged to have come their way.

Merry Christmas America.  I hope that someday the Spirit of Christmas will descend and remain upon you, from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans.

God don't forsake America.

The top 1% already has.