Archive for December, 2010

Every time a bell rings
December 20, 2010

An angel gets his wings.

My favourite movie of all time is It’s a Wonderful Life and I try to watch it but once a year on Christmas Eve. But for me, today was like Christmas Eve and that wonderful scene where the community gathers – people from all walks of life – to support George Bailey in his time of crisis.

While I’ll resist the urge to draw a comparison between Bedford Falls and Salmon Arm, Potter and SC and all the good that can be done by a single person, I will say that it has been crisis mode for Salmon Arm and today represented for me, a close, of sorts, to that chapter. Or would it be preferable to say that I chose to shut the door on it as the last thing I want to do at Christmas is bicker with my neighbours. (Side note, my real neighbours are lovely – and I’d never bicker with them).

Today, you came together to support an important cause. We are so grateful to you for making a contribution to the local food bank on your way into the special meeting at City Hall. You gave over $500 and over 150 food items to those in need. And it’s the best Christmas present I ever got.

I heard from Second Harvest this evening and was really touched by their humble gratitude. Ironic isn’t it? We stood outside for an hour, once. They serve the hungry and the poor, the young and the old, the men and the women, twice a week, 52 weeks a year and she was thanking me. We’re the ones who should be thanking those dedicated volunteers. I tried. But she wouldn’t have it. She does it because it needs to be done. Not because she needs to be thanked. The true mark of a hero.

So, back to the movie and the bell. I brought a bell. Every time someone made a contribution. I rang it in thanks. And just like in the movie, a lot of angels got their wings today – the taxi driver, the cop, the bank examiner, the maid, the bartender, the war hero. Because on days like this, I remember it’s not about what we do for a living, it’s what we do to improve a life. So a toast to Salmon Arm, the richest town around.

4th reading | 4 dollars | 4 the food bank
December 17, 2010

I guess like Scrooge (see previous post), I had a an epiphany overnight (minus the scary spirits). And it struck me that rather than get embroiled in yet another us vs them council meeting, we should meet half way (or in this case, just on the street outside city hall) to collectively do some good.  Afterall as Dickens himself penned this plea.“At this festive season of the year, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

Since on Monday morning (December 20th) our community will gather once again to address the rezoning and OCP amendments for the Smart Centre Development and while this has been a controversial and divisive debate for many, at this time of year there is an opportunity to bring the community together in a positive and purposeful way.

So I invite those of you who will attend the special meeting to keep a moment (and maybe a toonie or two) to remember those in need at this time of year. We’ll be there on Monday morning from 9am on to collect your contributions.

4th reading | 4 dollars | 4 the foodbank

see you monday.

Who does not make themselves merry at Christmas
December 16, 2010

I have to say, I felt a bit scrooged by the news today that SC asked for and was granted a special meeting on December 20. Seems nothing, not even Christmas, will keep them from their penny pinching and coal rationing.

So I looked up the classic on google and found the passages a bit uncanny for our recent week of council business.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?”  demanded Scrooge.  “Are they still in operation?”

“They are.  Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?”  said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh!  I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge.  “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth.  We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.  What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge.  “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.  I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.”

Pretty heavy stuff indeed – but you can always count on the puppets to cheer you up. Which is why I was so happy to find this Muppets Classic on youtube:

Wishing you all (in the words of Micheal Cain as Scrooge reborn) a sea of love and a grateful heart

Merry Christmas. And come Monday’s meeting, be not compelled to venture forth to city council. Do something nice for someone you care about and make merry instead.

Economy hitting sour notes
December 8, 2010

Economics is, for me, a symphony of numbers, and sometimes the sounds are as foul as nails on a chalkboard. In the last 10 days, the economy and the governments who try in vain to conduct those numbers have hit some painfully sour notes.

Note 1: In Canada, the rich are getting richer

So let me get this straight. Top 3.8% of households control 67% of Canada’s wealth

If ten people (aka population) living in a common space (aka country) had $100 (aka GDP) between them, 4 of them would share $67.00 while the remaining 6 would have to live with the mere leftover $33. How long would that last? Even Adam Smith himself would expect his “invisible hand” to even up that score somehow. But because we have a structural economic wealth distribution problem, this seems to be a trend that’s only getting worst. It’s like a monopoly game gone insane. Except it’s not monopoly. It’s real life.

Note 2: In Canada, the poorest children are falling behind

For this argument’s sake, imagine our country now has 100 people. It’s dinner time. The grown ups eat so much they waste food while 10% of the kids go hungry. Suddenly, I’ve lost my appetite. One in ten children in this country live in poverty. Poverty means hunger. Hunger means pain. For a country where health care and education is provided by the state, this is a despicable statistic. But it’s more than a statistic, it’s the sign of an economy that doesn’t work. It’s neither an efficient nor effective allocation of resources. Demand yes. Supply. Not so much.  It’s a failure.

Note 3: Obama plans to extend tax cuts to the rich – this one nearly blew my ear drums

I don’t know what to think. Except for this. The notion that killing the tax cuts would kill prosperity. If this is prosperity, I think it’s better off dead.

We desperately need to find a new tune because the sound of poverty and structural economic inequity is deafening. And being rich at the expense of the poor is the cruelest economic model known to man – and surely, none of the people who spend their life’s work studying economics, could possibly sing that refrain. Economics is the study of unlimited wants and limited resources and finding a harmonious equilibrium.

Somehow, I think we’re off key. Way off key.