Tag Archives: politics

Episode 39: A Broken System

So today Ontario voted (is voting? Not sure when the polls close, to be honest with you) for a new provincial leader. So the question we all asked ourselves (or those of us interested in politics anyway) was who to vote for.

Tim Hudak, with his “million jobs” plan? Kathleen Wynne with her 1.9% for an “Ontario Pension Plan”? Or perhaps Andrea Horwath and her tax credits for businesses that create new jobs? On the surface, each has their own merits and failings. You could spend hours agonizing over who to vote for. I mean, there are so many fine details that set them apart.

But here’s my problem, and I think the problem that a great many people have (especially on the younger end of the spectrum)… None of these options suit us. Now most people simply don’t bother going to a polling station, or else they spoil their ballot by doing silly things like writing in “Lucifer” as another option. Lately, the new trend is to “decline” your ballot. Basically, we’re given the option of refusing to vote. To decline the ballot, you have to go down to the polling station, and then immediately after they hand you your ballot, you hand it back. They record it separately from people who don’t show up to the polling station, and theoretically it’s supposed to signal to the politicians that you’re not happy with any of them and they’ll change their tactics.

But the problem goes deeper than that. Sure, we don’t like our options. But the reason why is that when you boil it all down, all politicians are the same. They have the same basic personality. And unfortunately we don’t believe that personality is compatible with being a good leader.

Not only that, but the system we work within is broken. It needs a complete overhaul, and unfortunately that’s unrealistic until such time as the system actually collapses. In which case it will be too late to change. So what do you do when your entire societal system is broken and there’s no fixing it? Well, a wild adventurous side of me screams anarchy. Total chaos and destruction would bring about change, but it would be tantamount to the collapse I mentioned earlier, and in the wake of the chaos, there’s a very real possibility that things get even worse.

So what is left to us then? Well the only solution I see is for some of us who see the flaws to enter the system and change it from within. But one or two alone won’t be enough. Many need to rise up and only collectively would we be able to create the change. I’ve said this before, people. Alone we are weak. It’s only when we’re working together that we accomplish great deeds.

A time of change is coming soon, people. Whether it’s for better or worse is entirely up to you.

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Episode 34: Written In A Drunken Stupor

Okay, so I lied. I’m not actually drunk right now. But hey, what a great segway, because Rob Ford lies too, and he’s who I’m planning on writing about today! Isn’t that great? Sure it is. Because nothing is better than cashing in on a trend while it’s still luke-warm. Okay. Moving on…

Let me first say this. I don’t support Rob Ford, but nor am I strictly against him. I haven’t paid enough attention to his actual politicking to really get an idea of how he did as an actual mayor, and I think some of his scandals are a little overblown. So he was caught coming out of a KFC while dieting. Most diets I know let you have a cheat day anyways. And so he dropped out of his public weight loss challenge. Do you know the kind of inner strength you need to have in order to make a drastic change in your life? Not everyone has that, and to make matters worse, ol’ Rob’s change was a huge public affair, that people were putting insane amounts of pressure on him for. I don’t know that I would have even been able to do it, and I’d like to think I have an incredible amount of willpower.

All of that being said, he has made some incredibly stupid mistakes, and lied about them in an attempt to save face. And it’s true, he does hold a public office. He needs to present a good image for the world.

But part of the problem is that we as a people sensationalized both his scandals, and his… “Scandals”. The world stage might not be so keen to ridicule us had we kept it a little more quiet. Sometimes rather than broadcast your problems to the world whining about how bad your situation is, you need to keep them to yourself and actually solve them.

I’m sure if I looked into things, I could find details of all the good things he’s done as mayor, and just as easily (or perhaps more easily based on the hate he’s getting these days) find a list of his failings. The fact of the matter is, this is still a (barely) democratic system. If you don’t like him, don’t vote for him. If you do like him, then by all means, tick that little box. Wow. Such a complicated concept.

Frankly, I’m getting a little sick of hearing how unhappy people are with their current politicians. If it’s not Rob Ford, it’s Stephen Harper. If it’s not Harper, then it’s Jean Chretien. If it’s not Chretien, then it’s whatever idiot we feel like yelling at in that particular moment. Sorry these are all Canadian influences, by the way, but I am an inhabitant of a suburb of Toronto, so my personal experience is somewhat limited to Canadian politicians. I doubt any of us thought that any of these people would be as bad as they were (although personally I knew Harper would be a tool before he got elected, and I have a soft spot for Chretien, so I can’t hate on that silly man). But lo and behold, we discovered they were. Well, the answer is to ensure that their crazier ideas are shot down either via protest or mass-mailing your local politicians. And if not that, then just grit your teeth, understand that your country made that choice all by yourselves, and live with the consequences. Then, when the time comes that they’re up for re-election, kick their asses out of office faster than the next death in Game Of Thrones (because you all know it’s only a few pages or an episode away, even if someone has already just died).

Personally though, I don’t believe we’ll ever see a truly great leader as long as our political system is built the way it is. The choices are almost always: bad, worse, and worst. Because the sorts of people who want the office are almost always not the ones best suited to hold it. Democracy is great, but our candidates should be nominated by the general population, not by an individual’s desire to run. And we need to accept harsh changes sometimes by knowing that it is indeed for the best (which we will of course know to be best by having done the research beforehand). But I’m just living in a fantasy with that hullabaloo. Rob Ford wasn’t the first idiot to hold a public office, and he most definitely won’t be the last either.

The moral of the story? We’re doomed.

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Episode 29: It’s All Politics

I’ve been seeing a lot of attention directed towards Jared Leto’s Oscar speech. It’s pretty evenly split between love and hate, from what I’ve seen. But strangely the split is easily categorized. The media seems to love him, and everyone on my Facebook feed seems to hate him.

I’m inclined to agree with the masses, personally. I think it was something of an attention grab, and his speech should never have gotten political the way it did. Him talking about the struggle of people with AIDS? Well that’s entirely different, because I’m given to understand that was an issue dealt with in the movie he got the award for. But how was the situation between Russia and Ukraine related to any of that at all? There’s being concerned for your fellow man, and then there’s tossing in an off-handed comment as an attention grab. And that’s just it. If he’d put more effort into what he’d said, maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so blatantly unimportant to him. Maybe we would have been fooled into thinking he cared. But it’s like he threw it in as an afterthought. Sort of like “Hmmm, how can I make sure people remember my little moment in the spotlight? Oh! I know! I’ll say something about the current world political hot-topic! Now what was it again? Something about the Ukraine, I think”… I just didn’t buy it, Jared. I’m sorry, I wish I did.

But speaking of politics, how about that crazy Rob Ford, eh? Now I live in a suburb of Toronto, so I’ve been privileged enough to see the whole thing as it develops right from the very start. It quickly became clear that he was a bumbling fool. But to say he’s the worst mayor Toronto’s ever had? Debatable. I have a bit of a soft spot for Rob Ford the Person. I think the media hounds him far too much, and they’re much too ready to pounce on every little thing he does (I mean, come on. Are they The Police or something?). As for his actual politicking? I don’t know, and I don’t care too much. He’s not my mayor. Whether he saved a billion dollars or not isn’t my concern. I think globally we nee to ease off the guy. Yes, he smoked crack. I’m not supporting that behaviour, and if what I heard from someone who used to have him as a football coach said is accurate, he probably should seek some help. But those are all personal issues. If you’re all so embarrassed by him, then make sure you go to the polls in October and vote him out of office. But until then, remember it was your votes that got him in there. Take your lumps like an adult and suffer the consequences of your choices.

But above all else, please, stop making everything so political. Humans do stupid things. Plain and simple. No one is above that rule unless they’re secretly not human. And then I think you might want to worry about your own sanity if we’re electing someone who turns out to be… Well, a tiger maybe. Or a badger. Maybe even an alien from another world. That’d be totally out of this world. I might like to see how a badger does as Toronto’s next mayor. Can we get one on the ballot? And for those of you who hate Ford… Vote for the badger! I mean, he couldn’t possibly be worse than Ford, right?



Right?

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Episode 5: Workplace Hazards

You know, sometimes it gets difficult getting by in the Canadian workplace (or any workplace for that matter).

I won’t go into detail about the particulars of what drives our current tangent, but suffice to say that I’ve become frustrated at one of my two jobs, and feel the need to use my commentary of the modern workplace to unburden my chest. And you’re welcome to disagree at any time (I actually welcome differing views, so please feel free to use the comments to start a discussion), but this is based on my own personal experiences. I’ve been working for about 9 years now. I understand that doesn’t make me an expert. I doubt if even after 50 years that anyone is truly an expert. But I’ve watched, listened, and learned in my 9 years. I’ve seen past the superficial both in people and businesses, and I’d like to think I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on the general facts of both now.

The first and most important fact? Try as you might, there will always be customers who look down on you because you are serving them. The best thing you can do is treat them politely and hope like hell that your own bosses know the true calibre of their employee. Oh, and pray to every god you know that they leave quickly. But that’s usually not the case. That’s when I actually enjoy being on the lowest rung of the command ladder. There’s always someone I can pass a raging rude asshat over to, so that I don’t have to deal with it anymore. But what happens when you’re the one in charge? If you even try to treat these people the way they deserve to be treated (like say to be turned around and be treated to a good old fashioned paddling), then you become the one in the wrong. You have committed some heinous act, unbecoming of a representative of customer service. And to a certain extent, I agree with that concept. Physical violence won’t make these people any smarter or more compassionate. It might actually even make it worse. But the fact that those of us in the customer service field have to almost literally tip-toe around these ticking time bombs has caused a lot of them to believe themselves to be elevated above our stations. To somehow be more righteous, or better. And they’re not. But there’s not a damn thing you can do about it, so you’d better get used to it.

Secondly, 8 times out of 10, the employees who get promoted to management are the ones least suited to it. Why is this? Because the ones who would do a good job aren’t ambitious enough to aim for it. Because the amount of stress they’ll be putting themselves under (due to their own desire to excel in their duties and bring success to their chosen careers (or summer jobs even)) might just kill them. That is, if the raging customers don’t do it for them first. And because they know that the job itself, stresses and all, isn’t worth the extra 25 cents per hour they’ll be making (okay, so I exaggerate a little for dramatic effect – sue me).

So when the good management material bows out of the race, what are you left with? The same kind of trash that becomes your representative in the government: the power-hungry, self-absorbed, completely insensitive and socially inept bag of hot air and bluster. They don’t take the time to understand their job or the jobs of those that work under them, they under-appreciate and under-value their employees (or constituents as the case may be), and treat them almost as slaves, tools that serve only to improve their already over-inflated ego and public image. And just as the customers do on occasion, if you make them look bad, even just through some unhappy accident, they’ll fly into a rage, spittle flying everywhere. Oh sure, work will probably get done, or an election might be won, but at what cost? If your hardest workers don’t feel appreciated, they’ll quickly abandon you for someone who will appreciate them. It’s called brand loyalty, and you are your brand.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are good managers (and even good politicians). I’ve been blessed enough to be working under a few of them. Perhaps they were forced into it. Perhaps they were one of the rarest kind of manager, that actually wants to be one, and does a good job at it. But they’re few and far between indeed. Their voices drowned or silenced by the drivel coming from the usual fare you receive as a manager. It’s a sad, sorry fact, and I wish I could believe otherwise about it, but considering the accusations made against me by managers, and all the times I’ve been held responsible for the mistakes of others (including but not limited to the manager’s own mistake), simply because they’re either too lazy or too ignorant to check their facts has given me a rather bleak outlook on the type of person that becomes a manager.

All of that being said, what with the doom and gloom predictions, I still believe that you should try to go into work every day with a smile on your face (hopefully a real one) and to be as polite as any situation allows. Because one day it will pay off, and people will take notice. And even if nice guys finish last, they still get a lot of help along the way. But if you don’t want to finish last, then learn the difference between being polite and being a doormat.

I’m a veteran doormat, and only recently have I learned how to trip up those who would walk over me. It’s not easy but both jobs have taught me this valuable lesson, because when you’re a doormat, people enthusiastically use you for that purpose. And I’d finally had enough. That being said, I can still be a pushover depending on who you are. But even I have my limits before the dam bursts.

At any rate, I think that’s enough for today. I’m feeling much better now, and you should have a good long read (and hopefully it will be inspiring, or well-written, or at least get you thinking about your own life and experiences). Tune in next time, for whatever strikes my fancy.

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