I wish I knew when one officially gets
old. I suppose it’s different for each
person but for me, I have a disturbing clue.
I think it’s when you find yourself saying, “These kids nowadays!” The irony is I really like “kids” making part
of my living speaking to everyone from kindergarten to post-secondary students
around North America since 1988. The
problem I am having has to do with the recent phenomenon of the “occupying movement”
that started about four weeks ago in Manhattan and is growing to where sites
are set on Canadian cities including where I live in Calgary. The principles
they are citing are deserving of respect as there is a growing gap between the
rich and the poor. I have always had a
big place in my heart for those who struggle with real-life issues surrounding
poverty, disability and inequity in a cruel place called humanity. I also agree that the salaries of some
executives seem remarkably high considering they don’t do all the work of a
corporation all by themselves. And, I totally agree with one’s right to protest
having disagreed with several issues in my lifetime and not always being
politically correct about it either. You had to see a “but” coming, right? Absolutely!
have read and listened to several interviews with the organizers of these
growing events and the first thing that occurred to me was; these are the best
spokespeople they could find? I have
always been fascinated by what contributes to one’s credibility having had mine
questioned more times than I can count and my comments about these people are
not intended to insult them (had that happen to me a few times too) but,
really? I do not have an MBA but I do understand that
capitalism tends to focus on making money, not just passing it out to those who
whine ‘cause they don’t have any. I also
understand that when a company goes public, they ask people for their money and
in return promise to give them back any profits earned by something called a shareholder. True, some companies are a little too
obsessed with “profit” but society is full of entities that are too obsessed to
make any common sense. Since my wife and
I own our own business, we can’t brag about creating jobs for anyone but us but
where small business is legitimately responsible for creation of many jobs, big
corporations create thousands. It really
is about scale. But here’s where things
get a bit sticky. Most of these protesters don’t seem to have a job and as
unfortunate as that is, why is it capitalism’s fault?
True, in the last few days, these protests
have attracted other disgruntled groups who do have jobs, the largest entity
being organized labor. I was raised in a blue-collar home and my father was a
heavy-duty machinery mechanic for 57 years, although he was not a fan of unions.
The protestors claim the bailout of the banks is why they’re mad. Didn’t a couple of car companies with unions
get bailed out too? Rather ironic.
What’s even more ironic is if you explore
the website for “adbusters”, the Vancouver based group that gave birth to this
movement, they remind me of a throwback to the 1960’s and “Hippies”. They were known for lots of things, weren’t
they? “Make love, not war”, was their
calling card and I’m assuming they evoked a similar emotion from old farts who
probably reacted with the words, “These kids nowadays”. Adbusters’ motivation is worthy of respect
but when I searched their site, I saw a disconnect. They seem pacifist but
condone violence…although not officially.
They invite their followers to “topple existing power structures and
forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st
century”. So, just out of curiosity,
shift to what? They don’t seem to have a strategy, any concrete ideas or an
iota of acknowledging that the world, especially the Western world, needs money
or capital to exist. Is that unfair?
Patently! Sort of like being born
without arms, huh?
This blog is not about me but I need to
make the reference so as you are reading this, you might understand my
perspective. I grew up in Saskatchewan (no shots at my football team, okay?),
the acknowledged birthplace of Medicare and a socialist hotbed. Born out of the
co-operative movement and led by the great Canadian, Tommy Douglas, the shift
was significant and for the time, dead on. Not to over-simplify but there is an
admirable notion to the idea that a community can work together, pool their
resources and share the profits. Nobody is more important than another and
those unable to contribute will still share the wealth. Sounds pretty good, right? Of course it does. The only real drawback is taking
place in real time in the very province I left in 2000. For the first time in over fifty years,
Saskatchewan has shifted from the bottom of Canada’s economic barrel to the
cream of the crop. Why? Well, I won’t get into politics here but it
seems a key to the change was moving from a socialist model to a capitalist
one. Is it perfect? Of course not but there is one simple truth
to be addressed.
I was adopted by foster parents when I was
three weeks old and being a ward of the provincial government, I could have
“milked” the system and never had to actually “do” anything for my whole life.
But my parents would have none of that. They taught me to use my feet for
hands, but more important, they constantly preached independence. My dad used to say, “There ain’t no stretch
limo gonna show up to take you to life…you’re going to have to walk every
So for Adbusters and your throng of
kool-aid drinkers, please help me understand why all of you are not just a
bunch of lazy complainers who would rather make excuses than provide real
solutions? Maybe I am not old after all,
I’ve just been around long enough to understand how naïve you really are!