Speak up

I am following this story online today because it reminds me that I’m not alone. And neither are you. The conservative government commissioned an internal report to study the middle class as the Globe and Mail reports here:


In BC, it’s particularly difficult as 40% of us live pay cheque to pay cheque and our average non-mortgage debt is $40,000 each. Eeek!

Maybe you’re like me. Somewhere between wondering about and feeling disappointed that your financial objectives and expectation are way out of whack. I’m not suggesting I know how to fix it (obviously I don’t), I merely continue to point out that banks sell debt that we buy. The government boasts about the strength of our banking system while scolding us for buying the debt from which they profit. Consumer spending (and consumer debt) saved us from a much worst outcome in 2008. Meanwhile, we’re still in debt and the big banks are still reaping astronomical profits. Something is definitely out of whack. And if we don’t speak up, nothing will happen. If we do, at least we’ll have a chance of affecting some sort of change.

Please write your MP or your MLA outlining your concerns about your economy and your livelyhood wether in general or specifically to your situation. Or write a letter to the editor of your local paper, or start a blog, just do something. Because you are not alone and the louder we are, the more likely they are to hear us.


Act 346

Give food.

Tonight the CP Holiday Train pulled into town to help raise funds for the local food bank. It’s always a big draw. We do love trains. Especially the shiny, brightly lit ones with Santa on board.

I’ll try and leave my corporate cynicism at the door as to the reason CP goes to this expense. On some level, CP must understand that people enjoy exchanging something ordinary (food and money) for something extraordinary (Santa on a train with a band and lights that can be seen from outer space). So on that front, it’s successful.

The real message is about giving. And we probably don’t need such an extravagant display to give. But judging by the crowd, it certainly helps.

I’ll try and set aside my concern that food banks are a very serious symptom of what’s wrong with our society and our economy, but I’ll set that aside too.

Bottom line, there are people who need food who haven’t enough. There are people who know this and volunteer to fill that need. So give what you can.

Ironically, debt is a product of wealth. If I have debt it’s because I have wealth. If I lived in poverty, I wouldn’t have debt. I also wouldn’t have what I needed to feed my family. All things considered, I’m lucky. So if I can give a few dollars or some pasta and beans, I will. We all should.

And maybe, just maybe, Santa will give us the wherewithal to understand and address the root causes of income inequality and poverty so that one day soon, we no longer have a need for food banks at all.


Act 322

Your pay cheque is not the value of your worth

I thought it important to pause to point this out. If I haven’t said it yet, it’s an oversight on my part.

Some of the most important jobs are done by some of the people with the smallest pay cheques–the child care providers, the assisted seniors living attendants, the waitresses, the chamber maids–the world of the wealthy cannot operate without you. That you are paid the least is yet another sign of our economy’s disequilibrium but, in no way, a sign of how much your work matters. I can live a day without a stock broker, a banker or an insurance sales person. I cannot live without a gas station attendant or a grocery store clerk and I’m sorry the world isn’t more cognizant of this. And don’t get me started on the most important job of all, the stay-at-home parent, I beg of you.

As for me, I know I’m good at what I do. Call it confidence or experience or even self-delusion. What I’m not always good at is making sure my expenses are lesser than my revenue. But then, my government isn’t very good at that either, truth be told.

But that’s only one part of my job and one that I can’t always control. My work makes a difference in the lives of others. That my pay cheque doesn’t always compare is not the measure of my real worth. Please never measure yourself by the numbers on your pay cheque. Especially if yours happens to be quite impressive. That will get us into more trouble than we’re already in.