Lotteries have been around for many years. I can remember back in Nova Scotia during the early years of Atlantic Lotto the kind of excitement that surrounded the weekly drawings – that was when lottery drawings were televised… live! It was kind of an event. The week leading up to the weekly lottery drawing involved getting a ticket and putting it somewhere special so that you wouldn’t lose it. I remember even the paper the numbers were printed on was special – almost like bank note stock.
The jackpots weren’t large. I can’t remember exactly how big they were, but they pale in comparison to the outrageous jackpots today. The night of the drawing, everyone gathered around the television, ticket in hand, to watch the rubber balls bounce around the machines that looked like the Daleks from Doctor Who. And then it was over. You were grateful to have won something – anything.
Those were the days. As the years went by, Lotto 6/49 appeared and the jackpots kept climbing into the stratosphere. Lotteries based on the little rubber balls in the machines dropping out and declaring winners are still going strong, but in the last ten years there has been a new kind of lottery appear. They started out small (in terms of coverage) but now there are dozens of them out there – sometimes the same organization rolling out multiple lotteries per year. These new lotteries are the ‘home lottos’ or the ‘cash and cars’ lottos – you know the ones with the $100 price tag per ticket – the ones that are making poor people poorer and the rich people richer.
Who wouldn’t be tempted to buy one of these tickets? The odds are infinitely better than the weekly national lotteries where millions of people participate. More often than not, these gold-plated lotteries are provincial only and a limited number of tickets are printed. When the odds are better, the temptation is greater. These lotteries also benefit worthy causes like hospitals, children’s issues and health care. However, there is a hidden underlying and sinister tone to these gold-plated lotteries that is often not thought about and definitely not talked about.
The fact of the matter is that the only people who can really afford these $100 per ticket lotteries are the people who least deserve to win. Sometimes, luck does shine on people who deserve a hand up. But the odds are stacked against these people because the vast majority of ticket purchasers for this kind of lottery are those who can afford to buy a ticket and it’s not going to make a dent in their finances. I’m wondering what is really in it for already-wealthy ticket purchasers. Do they want to help charities? Write a cheque directly to the hospital. The thrill of victory? Take up tennis. To add to your already-overflowing stash of gold bullion? Get bent.
The people who really deserve a shot at the spoils of these gold-plated lotteries (multi-million dollar homes, cars, cash, etc.) are the people who can least afford to participate. The really sad story that boils my blood is people in this demographic who are using their hard earned money just to get by on a daily basis buying one of these extravagantly priced tickets, hoping that their monthly grocery money they just spent a ticket on will pay off.
That’s just it. These lotteries (just like Lotto 6/49 and those like it) are open to anyone willing to shell out $100 – the oil baron, the country club heiress, the art collector, the gold bullion hoarder, the minimum wage-earning single mother. These lotteries ultimately make a pretty accurate statement about the state of society: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
4/1/2015 0 Comments
When Alison Redford was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2011 and then won the provincial election in 2012, I, like many other people, thought that this would usher in a new climate of openness and transparency in politics. The truth of the matter is that no matter who is elected or appointed as leader or member of what party, province, city, riding, post, office or seat in this country, they will soon trip into and eventually wallow in the trough of entitlement – wasting and burning through the tax dollars of the people who elected them in the first place.
I am now convinced more than ever that things will never, ever change… and it’s our own fault. When I think of the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted in this country by every political party who has ever taken office in my lifetime, I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw up my hands and shake my head is disbelief. It’s our fault. We’d be the richest country on earth. We wouldn’t have deficits or debt. We’d have state-of-the-art infrastructure. We wouldn’t have a low-income housing or homeless problem. We have created this monster known as entitlement. As the generations pass, the next one just emulates what the previous one has done and adds to the problem. It’s our fault. People in government think that since they think they are acting in the public’s interest, buying a $16 glass of orange juice with public money is okay. Flying your friends business class on vacation using public money is okay. Lying about your principle residence to avoid having to reimburse public money is okay. It’s our fault.
The exit of Alison Redford as premier of Alberta (and even more importantly as leader of the PC Party) shows that the problem was not with her, but with the party and the political culture of entitlement. I am (as I am with every other politician) disappointed in her. I thought she was different, but she too played with the public’s money as if it was Monopoly money with no remorse. That’s the big thing: no remorse. ‘I’m entitled to use taxpayers money however I want because I’M a politician.’ The audacity. The nerve. The entitlement.
I don’t think that’s why she resigned. I think the party used it as an excuse to get rid of her – her and her liberal thinking. The old crows running the PC party wouldn’t know the word progressive if it came up and started talking to them about inclusion and equality. They still want to be known as the party of conservatism in Alberta, so look for the new leader to be a man and a champion of conservative values. The P in PC is just window dressing now. It used to mean something under Peter Lougheed. It doesn’t anymore.
I am no fan of the Wildrose Tea Party in Alberta. They simply have no social conscious. If their members were to leave their backward, regressive social thinking in their local churches and instead focus on fiscal prudency and restoring trust in government, I’d take them a lot more seriously.
But this is politics in Canada, where election campaigning means nothing. Whoever replaces old governments in Canada will fall into the same entitlement trough that every politician falls into. Politicians are OUR employees. They seem to have forgotten that. They seem to believe that they can get away with anything while they are working for us and if we don’t like it, we can fire them in four years. Four years? They flush billions of our money down the toilet in a day and we have to wait four years to get rid of them? We want to fire you now. If it was any other company on earth, they would be fired. Ah, life as an entitled politician, there’s no life like it.
There’s nothing we can do about entitled politicians. We can complain, write letters, protest. That is all window dressing. The only way that true change and a reversal of all the waste, boondoggles, cheating and entitlement will come about is if it is done on the inside by someone with the political will to do it. Who is that person who is going to excise all the bad habits, gross waste and the culture of entitlement that infects all politicians? Do they even exist? If they have, they got lost in a sea of entitlement on their first day on the job.
2/23/2015 0 Comments
Really, the title of this post is all that is required to understand the ridiculousness of the subject matter.
The morning after the Oscars, it’s always entertaining to hear about or read something quirky that occurred the previous evening surrounding the Academy Awards. Usually, it’s something that happened on stage, what one of the winners said, what one of the presenters did or how long past the five hour mark did the bloated extravaganza go. Not this time.
I nearly choked on my Cheerios when I read the dollar value of one of these “gift bags” that some of the nominees get: $165,000. Each. In US dollars. What?! What a waste to give millionaires even more money – for what? For showing up? For being lucky to be showcased in probably the most self-gratifying ceremony on earth? I can think of 10 more worthy causes than already-rich celebrities to give $165,000 worth of “stuff” to. How about Habitat for Humanity; the Cancer Society; the Red Cross; Oxfam; World Vision; WWF; Greenpeace; an animal shelter; a food bank; the Alzheimer’s Society.
The losing nominees in all the acting categories and best director all receive these outrageous bags. The IRS cracked down on these opulent giveaways a few years ago. If I was a B or C list movie star with a substantially lower salary than Meryl Streep, I’d think twice before I’d accept one of these “gift bags”.
Who do these people that vomit this extravagance think they are? How does giving over-priced stuff to millionaire celebrities make the world a better place? If you want to make a statement and promote your “stuff”, do something worthwhile like make a donation to a worthy cause instead of a worthless cause. It smacks of elitism and only results in the people with their heads screwed on straight to ignore your products because your self-serving attitude smells.
I can just see Marion Cotillard going on a $12,500 luxury camping trip. Can’t you? Give me a break. The people who run the Oscars are not affiliated with these gift bags, yet they allow the company that does to affiliate themselves with the Oscars. I don’t get it.
Calgary has always been and will always be a car-centric city. It was built for cars – not pedestrians, sort of like Los Angeles. They have sidewalks in Los Angeles for pedestrians, but there is one thing they don’t have: snow. It snows in Calgary. A lot of people don’t know that and they live there. I can’t think of another reason why a lot of people in Calgary don’t clear the snow and ice from their sidewalks.
Maybe they all have broken arms and legs. Maybe they’re blind. Maybe they’re stupid. Maybe they’re too busy on their computers buying crap from Ebay and Amazon while their lazy, entitled kids lounge on their beds in a contorted position that would make a chiropractor have nightmares, yip yapping on their smart phones about nothing while updating their Facebook page regarding the latest school yard gossip to fill their mundane lives. That has to be it. I can’t think of another reason.
Yes, now that everyone is safe in their houses, locked away from the bad, cold world, segregated from each other, let’s all ignore the hazardous, potentially life-threatening situation that is our unshovelled (yeah, I’m the one who invented that word and will submit it to Webster’s) sidewalk. Let’s leave it unshovelled so that it becomes hard-packed, rutted and an obstruction. Let’s continue to leave it unshovelled so that it slowly melts and turns completely to ice – now an even bigger hazard and life-threatening situation. Let’s NOT put salt or sand on it and completely ignore it.
One of these days, your complete disregard and lack of respect for your fellow human beings (a lot of whom are your neighbours and friends), will come back to haunt you. The little old lady down the street who uses your sidewalk to get from her house to point B will slip and fall on your recklessly maintained, unsafe sidewalk. She may break her arm, her leg, her hip. She may crack her head on the sidewalk and die. Are you willing to let that happen? If you are, you need serious help. I suggest you sell your house now and move your family into a mental institution, safe away from the rest of us.
Where I came from (the area and the time), kids did chores. They worked in and around the house and got an allowance for doing things like shovelling the snow. Not once have I ever seen kids out shovelling snow in ANY community in this city – EVER. Where are they? Like I said before, locked inside the house staring at their smart phones – either by choice since kids run roughshod over their parents these days or by force because the parents are too much in fear that they’ll be stolen away by all the bad people in the world that they think live on their street.
It’s always the adults who do the shovelling. Well, guess what? You aren’t very good at it because it’s not being done. I don’t care if you’re too busy or run off your feet. You have a responsibility as a homeowner (and a human being) to make sure that there are no hazards on your sidewalk – which by the way I know that you don’t own – the city owns it. As a homeowner with a piece of land adjacent to a city sidewalk, you essentially lease it from the city for as long as you own the property.
That little old lady, your neighbours, the paper boy, canvassers, meter readers, delivery persons, runners, kids in strollers – they are all at risk of injury because of your negligence. I think it would be quite a sad day for you if one of them slipped, fell, broke bones or killed themselves in front of your house on your unshovelled sidewalk. I think it would be quite funny if their relatives sued you and they suddenly owned your house. Funny thing about that isn’t it? Hope you have some good insurance. Better yet, clear the ice and snow from your sidewalk to begin with. It takes 5 minutes out of your alleged busy day.
I’ve never understood the mass appeal of Margaret Atwood. To me, she’s always been part of that snooty, high-brow, Toronto-centric, Upper Canada-patronizing literary intelligentsia community of writers that use their words to show off how intellectually superior they are. Fine, you’re intellectually superior – do you have to clobber everybody else over the head with it? It’s one of the reasons why I resisted becoming part of that artsy-fartsy writing community early in my writing life because people like that drive me crazy. I’m sure Atwood is a lovely person but her connection with that type of writing aura has ruined my appreciation for her as a writer. Please note that I haven’t said anything about her Nytol-like voice.
In school, we were never assigned anything by Atwood until university with The Handmaid’s Tale. Unfortunately, I had read some of her earlier works by myself and my eyes rolled around so much I needed to be laid flat on my back with two pillows bound to my head with a large ocean liner’s tether. It probably didn’t help that The Handmaid’s Tale was made into a truly horrible film. Since then, I think she has tried to appeal to a more mass audience by writing more post-apocalyptic sci-fi bent material.
In Canada, there has always been two Margarets when it comes to talking about famous writers. I am a fan of the other Margaret – Margaret Laurence. I appreciate Laurence more because she speaks her mind and writes with the purpose of speaking to the everyday-person – not to a select group of elites. Her ‘Nice coming to Toronto… nice leaving too’ speaks to me. There is a clarity in her writing that appeals to many more people than Atwood. The people, places and situations in her writing are familiar to everyone. The unfortunate aspect of Laurence is that she is no longer around to continue her work. Her body of work, cut short by her death, stands the test of time and in my opinion, should be held in much more higher regard.
When I was just beginning as a new writer (although it was nice to see a Canadian writer being acknowledged internationally) it was a bit redundant to see Atwood (and other established, well-known, commercially successful Canadian writers) published again and again. They had one commercial (or critical) success and based on that success, were published again… and again despite the novel’s commercial failure. I guess that’s all you need – one success and you’re in. Douglas Coupland is still living off the after burn of ‘Generation X’ 20 years and counting. Luck – that’s what every new writer needs.
Maybe I’m a little jealous and envious of Atwood and those other commercially successful Canadian novelists. It’s what I want – to make a living at writing novels instead of spinning my wheels trying to grab a piece of a very slim publishing pie. I suppose that’s what every young singer feels when they see someone with negligible talent hitting it big. *Cough* Beiber.
It’s also quite unnerving to see psuedo-celebrities write books about their addictions and trifling lives and call themselves authors – or even writers. Ridiculous. It’s quite the slap in the face. So Margaret and friends, I hope that one day you will have enough money cobbled away in your bank account to ease yourself out of the way of other burgeoning writers who want a crack at the spoils of the publishing biz. Otherwise, luck, it would seem, would be the only solution to new writers cracking open the locked gates of Canadian writing.
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