Saturday, September 20, 2014

Better Off?


The latest Conservative campaign ad proclaims that we are all "better off under Harper." But the latest EKOS poll suggests that Canadians don't feel that way at all. Rather, they believe we have entered what Frank Graves calls the "Age of Stagnation:"

So in a very real sense, progress — the promise of a better life, security and the comforts of middle class membership — has stopped. Moreover, the evidence is that the momentum of this new world of “progress lost” is in the wrong direction. The trajectories all point downward. Their gloomy outlook on the present fades to black when citizens ponder the future; only around ten per cent of us believe the next generation will experience the progress achieved by the previous generations.

The number of people defining themselves as middle class has fallen precipitously in both Canada and the United States. Here at home, the portion of the population which has fallen behind their parents’ incomes at the same period in life rises from 15 per cent to 34 per cent to 44 per cent as we move from seniors to boomers to Generation X. The long fall of the middle class is already happening; around 20 per cent have dropped out of self-defined middle class status altogether.

Lots of pundits haven't cottoned on yet:

The New York Times even says Canada’s middle class is the richest in the world (not true, but compared to what Frank Bruni calls ‘America the Shrunken’, we’re around par). The right wing commentariat gleefully seizes upon half-facts and shaky research to suggest that (a) this is a non-issue that only worries liberal policy wonks, and (b) things are going swimmingly well and anyone who says otherwise is prone to panic.

So Harper has right wing opinion makers on his side. Perhaps that's why he confidently suggests he is leading Canadians into a brighter future:

But to the public at large, this isn’t really up for debate. Canada’s ‘world-leading’ middle class is convinced it is falling behind. The public overwhelming rejects the notion that this is a crisis manufactured by the liberal intellectual elite. Furthermore, 73 per cent of Canadians reject the notion that income inequality is not an important issue. Even in the more conservative, anti-establishment constituencies, a clear majority recognizes the importance of this issue.

Never has a prime minister and his government been so disconnected to Canada's citizens. But you knew that. Didn't you?


Rural said...

I cant speak for the majority, those urban folks Owen, but out here in rural Ontario it is indeed looking grim, particularity for our youth. That the Cons seem to have more support in said rural areas is passing strange to me, I am not sure what it says about my fellow citizens, are they uninformed, believe all the spin or simply blindly following the family tradition. Either way I hope they wake up to reality before next fall.

Owen Gray said...

Like you, Rural, we live in rural Ontario -- in the place the poet Al Purdy used to call home. One of his poems characterizes Prince Edward County as "conservative since the Stone Age."

Somethings don't change.

Lorne said...

I saw a brief clip of Harper spouting the same nonsense in Hamilton the other day, Owen. He advised people not to believe what others are saying, that, in fact, his government has created huge numbers of full-time, well-paying jobs. I am sad to report that his words were met with some enthusiasm by the audience. But then again, who but the true believers would attend a function at which our chief prevaricator was speaking?

Owen Gray said...

It puts me in mind of that scene from Huck Finn, Lorne, where the Dolphin and the Duke of Bilgewater go around collecting funds to convert the pirates in the Indian Ocean.

Some people are easy marks.

Anonymous said...

Harper is an out and out blatant liar. Harper only wants, the very wealthy and the very poor. Harper wants to be rid of the Unions. This is why Jason Kenny goes to the Philippines and other countries, to recruit cheap labor for, Harper's mine, oil and gas barons to exploit.

The foreigners buy their tickets and certifications. The foreigners don't understand the language well enough and that makes them very dangerous to work with. As up in the tar sands? A foreigner was going to thaw a propane tank, with a blowtorch. I won't be surprised if, the tar sands aren't blown up by foreigners.

The catastrophic dam burst at Mount Polley Mine in BC was because of, pure utter greed of the mine barons. Harper deregulated, safety standards, safe environment standards, permits the resource barons to, operate with acute shortages of staff. Foreigners don't need to be ticketed nor certified.

Now we have the Chinese taking control for 31 years. They will take our resources and resource jobs. I don't even want to think Canada will look like, after China gets through with this country? Canada will likely be a cesspool of pollution, as China is.

The lie regarding, the shortage of labor in Canada is just that, another blatant lie.

Someone I know, is an Electronics Engineering Technologist, B.Sc degree, major Electronics Engineer. Nor did he buy his degree. He has been sending out, up to 20 applications per day for months. One courtesy call to a HR? She said, she had over 4,000 applications for, just that one job posting. How do Harper and Kenny compute that, to a shortage of labor in Canada?

Premier Christy Clark, is an out and out blatant liar too. 100,000 jobs for BC citizens and her families first bs? China is controlling those jobs too and all of the resource jobs. As we know, Communist China takes Canada over for 31 years.

My own son is an Engineer too. I have persuaded him to apply overseas. As much as I would miss him and family. I told him, to take his family and go. I know there is no future in Canada.

I often try to e-mail those lying politicians. However my e-mails, just get kicked back. The so called Conservatives are a very cowardly cabal.

Owen Gray said...

They don't want to hear from those who disagree with them, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Northern, all this discontent apparently brewing.

But no real action yet.

The opposition, whether from the 2 major opposing parties or part of an ABC coalition, need a slogan. Something so simple that J6P driving by, reading it, will have to make a judgment call.

Your suggestion here _________

Mine: Harper, traitor.

Inflammatory, yes. May violate federal sedition regulations. But.......

Anonymous A

p.s. J6P = Joe Six Pack, the undecided swing, maybe 3 to 9% of those who don't vote but who might. Those disenfranchised by the CPC vote suppression methodologies in recent past.

Owen Gray said...

"For the Many, Not The Few," Anon.

Bill said...

good one Owen.

""For the many not the few" sounds like a great rallying cry for change. Direct, clear and so much more than what Harper and his perps deliver.

Owen Gray said...

That's really what it's all about, Bill. A nation cannot survive if it dedicates itself to the welfare of the few.

Scotian said...

For the whole, not the fraction.

Governing for the citizens, not ruling of them.

Charter a new vehicle on the course of good government.

We are citizens, hear us roar.

It's time to collect P.O.G.G.s again (Peace, Order, Good Government).

Remember the Just Society? Justin does! This past can be tomorrow once again!(obviously for the Libs in particular, couldn't resist it though)

Protect the Charter, dethrone Harper!

Governing for all citizens, not the powerful few!

There is a few off the top of my head, take them as you will.

Owen Gray said...

All excellent suggestions, Scotian. I particularly like "We are the citizens ..." I'm tired of being called a taxpayer.

Scotian said...


I believe it was at your blog I once made the point that a couple of things I feel are profound problems are the giving the rights of citizenship to corporations without all the equivalent responsibilities/duties that the average citizen must face, and the shift in language from talking about citizens to taxpayers creating not just the obvious divisions but also devaluing the powers, responsibilities, and duties that come with citizenship in any participatory democratic governing system. These two things I really believe trace back to a lot of the problems we have today, the former should be obvious, the latter though may seem less obvious/significant but in many ways I think it may even be greater.

Politics requires citizen participation (and not just voting either, although that certainly is an important element), and for people to value that participation, and when you go from accenting the positive as in citizen (pride in membership) to negative which is taxpayer (aka beast of burden) and reframe the entire political discourse in such casting you create a massive negative drag on getting people to care about voting and other political participation, which in turn increases the power of those that do, and the larger power blocks, which surprise surprise happen to comprise no small amount of those so called corporate citizens. Indeed, one can easily argue that the latter problem reinforces the former making both even worse as a combined whole than individually.

One of the other things that drives me nuts is this notion of the "political class" as if they were some sort of disease when the true "political class" is all of us citizens, or at least it is supposed to be. Now yes, in a representative democratic structure we elect those to represent us, but that still requires that we participate at the local level to get good people to run for such positions and that we keep some eye on them when they win and hold their office. The citizen is the true "political class" and that this has been so diminished, devalued, and denigrated in my lifetime infuriates me to no end.

I really believe that the shift from talking about citizens to taxpayers was a long term strategy to break that participation and policy discussions that used to be our norm in our political culture. Sadly, it appears to have succeeded in the short term, and possibly for the long term, which both infuriates and disgusts me. We complain about the state of our politics but how many of us (collective us, that is, beyond we political activists whatever our breed) are willing to accept our own responsibility for it getting that way and then doing something about it? So while I have a lot of anger for the operatives who created this mess I do not fail to also place responsibility where it belongs, we the citizenry for being so played.

Sorry Owen, this is one of the core sore points I have about how things are today, I feel like a cranky old man on the balcony in the muppet show at times.

Owen Gray said...

I feel often as you do, Scotian. I didn't used to think I was cranky -- but I am getting old.

I'm convinced that our present poobahs quite consciously shifted the focus from citizens to taxpayers. Citizens tend to be cranky. They insist on their rights. Taxpayers are passive, knowing that the only other certainty is death.

If the population is passive, you can get away with anything.