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The Working Class

It's not always easy to find meaningful work.
It’s not always easy to find meaningful work.

The middle class is increasingly being squeezed into the lower class. It’s much like strapping a size 8 girdle on a fat chick. The wee sexy, delicious bits poke out the top end, but the rest just oozes out lower, and is far less tantalizing.

With that comes a broader, deeper, blanketing sense that the world is out to get you. No matter how hard you work, try to save, or hoped your now outdated Bachelor’s Degree would save you, the realization that this is as good as it gets depresses you even more.

Or maybe you don’t reach that obvious conclusion. Maybe you’re just bitter. Maybe you’re too lazy to think about what you read in the newspaper, or don’t see on the news.

But I don’t think that’s the case with you my sweet little dried apricots. No. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be here, with wonderful ole’ me now, would you?

If you work eye-to-eye with anyone (as in any type of customer service, or human services profession), you’re getting the short end of the stick. Someone else is making all of the money, and you’re schlepping their stuff so you can try to pay your bills.

If you were eye-to-eye with the end-user of any product or service, you get the brunt of every interaction. Some are pleasant, and others, well, let me sum it up;

1) People always think that you (personally) are trying to rip them off.

2) That your schedule should revolve around them, no matter what the hour or what the cost to you. (My personal favourite is the line, “Well, I work”, when trying to schedule appointments. I’ve got news for you genius, I do too, and this is when I’m available. ) No one is out to get your personally. We all have our limits.

3) People who disrespect your time. If you’ve set an appointment, you’ve done so for a reason. In other words, you’ve set aside time to pay particular attention to that individual. Being late for an appointment flies in the face of allowing anyone to provide good customer service.

4) Wasting time. If a professional has given you information. That’s the information. Don’t take it to Philosophy-Flipping-101. Just do what you need to do.

5) Leaving multiple messages the same day or within 24 hours for someone just slows down how fast they get back to you. Listening to your annoying 3 minute long whining session more than once is a waste of time, and as annoying as a toddler with a snotty nose and cling-on booger.

A special note to seniors and folks who don’t work…poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on someone else’s. Take up a hobby and make a cup of tea. We will get back to you. No one puts you off because they’re trying to tick you off. At the end of the day, unless you’re a sociopath, you want to leave your work feeling like you’ve at least helped someone, even in a small way.

Just a note to everyone out there who is poo-pooing unions right now; Give your head a shake. Unionized environments are quickly becoming the ONLY jobs that are secure, and can sustain a healthy family and social lifestyle. Don’t fall for conservative government fear mongering. Health care, fair wages and working hours are a right we should not have to fight for again.

Businesses are squeezing every second out of their employees until they burn out. If you have a problem with customer service these days, I suggest you get your saggy butt down to an Occupy event.

These are just a few short examples of how our faltering and bourgeois economy is dividing and conquering the working class. When you meet with someone eye-to-eye, as I like to say, you are meeting with another human being just like yourself, who is as worried, stressed and blessed as you are.

So, remember, if you’re meeting with a person, and their name isn’t on the sign above the business, they’re just trying to get by like you and I. Don’t be an asshole darlings.

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Christmas Rant: Part I

The War in the Vendée was a royalist uprising ...
The War in the Vendée was a royalist uprising that was suppressed by the republican forces in 1796 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, ‘Part I’. There may, indeed, be a ‘Part II’ , depending upon how stupid things get before the new year.

Last year the grand ‘we’,  declined to see the value in the Occupy Wall Street campaign, that was staggeringly avoided by major press agencies.

We let the dreadlocked-live-our-values-over-charged-for-our-mediocre-educations-and-under-employed youth, fight it out in the streets for the middle class. The middle class, who are losing their ever crippling grip on the edge of affluence as they march to the hypnotically convincing drum of ‘The Man’.

‘The Man’, yep, that pretty much almost sums it up. Consider two facts from Joseph E. Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality;

“The top 1% earned more than 65 percent of the total national income [in the United States], ” and, ” …the ratio of CEO annual compensation to that of the typical worker by 2010 was back to what it had been before the crisis, to 243 to 1“.

While the media reports on Miley’s junior-miss sized twerking patooty, in above-the-fold-full-colour-coverage, they give about half of that coverage to reports about unions being vilified (by the powers that be), as unfairly over-compensating workers.

It doesn’t take a PhD in maths to know that the statistics mentioned above impact the majority of folks in not only North America, but everywhere on the planet.

When we treat silver-spoon born Conrad Black as a real journalist, and Rob Ford as a misunderstood ‘average guy’, we’re wrong. Dead wrong. Rob Ford’s Escalade is worth 3x that of the average vehicle (a simple Honda Civic) owned by those living in the GTA, and his assets multiply to have net value in the millions.

Toronto has a mayor who openly flaunts the rules, degrades homosexuals, women and anyone else who thinks differently than him, and uses the excuse that the press is too rough on him to get away with it all. Actually, his big bully brother does the talking. The day I knew we’d lost all dignity as a nation was the one that showed Mr. Ford and his compadres dancing like  idiots in council chambers just days after having his mayoral power stripped from him.

Only someone with the wealth of Mr. Black has the gumption to whine about being incarcerated for being a liar and a cheat. Call it fraud, bad accounting, whatever…it’s lying and cheating at the cost of everyone else who shares the same planet.

The worst part is, we let it happen. Yes, read this slowly; we allow this to happen. Instead of rioting in the street, we go to work, pay our taxes, and our over-inflated power, cell phone and health care bills.

Let me get back to the subject of unions. We’ve seen unions vilified by the Conservative government and big business, so much so that we’ve bought into this anti-union perspective.

Unions may have been gauche in the booming 80’s, but today we live a different economic and social reality. The reality is that unions are needed now more than they were needed in the past thirty or forty years. For over thirty years, the average annual income of a full-time worker stagnated, while the profits at the top have multiplied at astonishing rates.

Young adults entering the workforce are under-employed at alarming rates. Not to mention everyone one else. The days of full-time jobs with benefits that sustain a comfortable lifestyle are over. Instead, we have the majority of people working at part-time or contract jobs, unable to sustain themselves, or have any measure of security.

Besides being unable to pay their bills, folks in jobs that are not secure suffer from more illness and social problems than ever before. Economic instability feeds fear, and that creates a downward spiraling quagmire of social issues; homelessness, addiction, abuse, crime, and all of the other wonderful side-effects of poverty.

The top 1%’s after tax income reached an average of $1.3 million in the United States in 2010. That of the bottom 20% only reached $17,000. No wonder big-business-journalism and politics doesn’t like unions. Unions distribute the wealth and offer job security.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are issues with unions too. Look at the billions of dollars of bailout money that went to Automakers with no conditions to streamline their production or offer more affordable, environmentally friendly products. Despite the obvious lazy-barnacles that infest unions (they also infest non-union environments at the same rate though), I’d rather live with unions to ensure more people with full-time jobs, than with what is happening now.

Canada and the U.S.,  live in a world of performing-party-politicking that leaves us without leaders in a wild-western-hemisphere black-hole of civilization.

If we leave the world up to those with no social conscience, and a taste for greed rather than loving-kindness, there will be many darker days to come, than this, the longest night of the year.