Friday, September 30, 2011

Mr. Trost and Mr. Vellacot: A suggestion.

Wiith Brad Trost (and now Maurice Vellacot) in the news again, I thought it pertinent to re-open this discussion. I still question whether our government should fund optional abortions. But, in terms of providing funds to IPP (International Planned Parenthood), rather than decrying the $6M that went to countries where abortion is already illegal, might a better solution be to find an agency that does a BETTER job of protecting and enhancing the lives of women in the 3rd world and switch funding to them?

Does such an organization exist? If it does, then please frame the decision not as a negative (ie anti-PP) but a positive (better organization). If, however, there is no such alternative, then rather than rail against women who feel they have no options, work towards providing an alternative.

To do anything less is to play politics with people's lives. Provide viable alternatives, or shut up. Abortion should not be used to capture a sound-bite. Life matters.
Respectfully, this is now up for discussion.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sex Trade, Abortions...What a Week

Much has happened this week that has been blog-worthy.  In Saskatoon, the Police Chief and council discussed regulating sex-trade workers.  I recommend two articles by Jordan Cooper: this blog post and this article from the Star Phoenix.  Then, Brad Trost, publicly challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding the funding of Planned Parenthood International.

Both of those are extremely interesting events and not entirely's also interesting to me that the whole issue of "right-to-life" (especially given the "Designer Babies" issue I blogged about recently), has yet to be decided upon in terms of the pre-born (is it unborn? I like pre-born...unborn reminds me of the undead and really, who wants to picture their baby as a vampire?)

But, there just isn't enough time in MY current schedule to adequately tackle either of the above topics.  Perhaps one day I will be able to break down the complex issues of childhood, poverty, prostitution, government legislation and on and on and on.  That will wait for another day.

There was something that did happen this week that, for me, overshadowed all the highlight grabbing headlines of the newspapers.  I had the chance to be a hero this week.  Long after I've forgotten about the debate regarding legislation for sex-trade workers and the designer baby dilemna, I will remember that this week, I got to cement a memory in the mind of my daughter.

It may seem like a small thing, but I don't think so.  If you read Jordan Cooper's article in the Star Phoenix about parents who knowingly and callously prostitute their own daughters, I think that ANYTHING I can do to protect my daughter and give her pleasant, positive memories is my primary role in life.

So, what did I do that was hero-like?  My 4 1/2 year old daughter and I went for a drive on a beautiful autumn evening in a brand-new 2011 Mustang GT/CS (the CS stands for California-style and means "convertible").  Just to watch her face as the roof of the car rose up and slid back, "I've never seen that before Daddy, I did not know it did that."  And the perma-grin on her face as we drove down Circle Drive looking up at the night sky viewing the stars.

We have the unveiling of the convertible on video-tape.  I won't forget it.  Nor will my daughter.  Heck, if she does, I'll bring out the video-tape! 

Please take care of each other.  Do something today to love another human being.  Make a memory. We may not have the answers to all of societies ills, but surely every small act of kindness has a ripple effect.

By the way, my Mustang GT test drive was AWESOME!  :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Capital Punishment: Talk About Confusing

I listened yesterday to three bits of news that had folks up-in-arms for very different reasons.  I believe all three news items--although different--all point to one obvious conclusion: people are very confused about what they believe.

First thing I heard was the news that Clifford Olson is near death.  Second bit of news I heard was that we can now screen 8 celled in-vitro human embryos for over 300 possible genetic deficiencies and allow the "donors" to decide if they want to then implant the "embryo" and carry it to term or flush it down the toilet.  Third bit of news yesterday was news that Troy Davis had been executed.

The reactions to these events has left me puzzled.  The execution of Troy Davis has been almost unanimously (at least outside the US) decried as inhumane and barbaric; the detractors say that it puts the US in the same category as North Korea, Iran and the usual suspects.  The announcement that serial killer Clifford Olson is on his death-bed however, has been met with jubilation, with the suggestion that the more painful and drawn out his suffering in these last days, the better.  And, the last bit of news regarding "designer babies" has, for the most part, been met with a resounding indifference.

I find this interesting.  The opposition to Troy Davis' execution is not simply because there appears to be a reasonable doubt as to his guilt, but it stems further into a belief that capital punishment "period" is barbaric and cruel.  Is that why we chose not to execute Clifford Olson?  Is it more more civilized to lock someone in a cell for 30+ years or to end their life?  Is justice served by keeping a serial killer alive and allowing him, from time to time, to make headlines with news of appeals, requests for parole, letters to victims families?

Or, do we in Canada not subscribe to capital punishment because we value all life?  And, if we so highly value life, why are we willing to so easily subscribe to embryo testing whereby we get to decide who lives and who dies?  Or, is embryo life akin to the life of an ant whose life we can snuff out with the casual step of a foot?

If we are so keen to prevent the suffering (whose is the question) presented by the possibility of genetic abnormalities, why when they present themselves in the person of a Clifford Olson are we so opposed to dealing with them at that point?

What is it?  Is it "life" that we value?  Is that why we don't have capital punishment?  And, if so, why aren't we affording ALL life the same protection?  It's confusing to me how we celebrate the impending death of one criminal while condemning the practice of capital punishment for convicted criminals yet at the same time condoning capital punishment for human life under the guise of pre-implantation testing of genetic abnormalities. 

To throw another fly in the ointment, is it possible to value human life and still support capital punishment?  Often times, opponents of capital punishment mock those with such a view as being hypocritical.  Are they perhaps mistaking two competing values; the value of human life and the value of justice? 

If human life is important--are there different degrees?  If there aren't, then ALL life is important.  If there are, then would someone please explain to me how Clifford Olson's life is more valuable than that of an unborn baby full of potential?

This post is now up for discussion.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Corporate Sponsorship or Government Hand-outs: What Side of the Fence Are You On?

I am a fair weather person and had it been our typical Fall-type Saskatchewan weather, I probably wouldn't have ventured down to the Broadway Street Fair.  But, because it was sunny and warm, we (me, my wife, 4 1/2 year old daughter and 14 month old son and the neighbor and her 3 year old daughter) walked down and spent a couple of hours wandering the streets.  We initially went to see the belly-dancers--should have checked the schedule as we got to their venue just as they were year!!!

Our first stop was at a vendor who makes and sells hanging puppet stages.  As she was a friend and because I love Twitter, I took a photo and posted it.  Then (oh social media what would I do without you?), heard back on Facebook that a buddy was about to start playing with Stephen Maguire across from 7-11.  I suspect that the Stephen Maguire fan demographic is typically not 4 1/2 year old girls...but, my daughter has been a fan of his ever since he coached her soccer team last summer.  So, I had more than one reason to venture over to hear some of his set.

While there I noticed the signage on the back of the stage "PotashCorp" and I began to think of the frequency with which I've heard that name these past few months...and these past few days.  Frequently, there are notices of the donations made by PotashCorp.  They also sponsored a Fireworks Festival a couple of weeks ago and, here again, they were involved with the Broadway Street Festival.

Now, if it were up to some political factions in this province, they would see the taxation rate of PotashCorp increase.  Potash, they say, belongs to the people of this province and if any company wants to mine OUR resource, then they had better be prepared to compensate US--dammit.  And that may be true...but, let's think about the difference in values.

If you tax more to "give to the people" then you believe that government knows best and that money goes to the people the government decide need it.  Would it be given to everyone equally?  Or would it be given to those who are deemed to have less?  Good questions.

If you believe that we should leave profits with the companies then you have what we've seen this summer.  Fireworks Festival and Broadway Street Fair--now, in the case of the Broadway Street Fair, it may have happened without corporate sponsorship or not due to the involvement of the Broadway Business Improvement District...I don't know...but with the Fireworks Festival...well, if there was higher taxation, would PotashCorp have spent that money?  How much better is the Broadway Street Fair when corporations have money to kick in to attract top notch entertainment?

To be fair, when I first heard the booming fireworks I thought, well looks like someone is making a bunch of cash...must be nice to frivolously spend like that.  But, upon further reflection, in addition to the civic pride that it gives I began to think--how many folks were out that evening spending money?  And, in the case of the Broadway Street Fair--how many self-employed folks had the opportunity to showcase their wares:  art, crafts, music, food?

For the record, no one in our party ended up buying the puppet stage, but we did get a couple of hand-made bracelets, a headband, some popcorn and a couple of Smokies from the Bulk Cheese Warehouse.  I believe there are folks who generally need a helping hand, but I applaud every person out making a living this past weekend.  I am happy to spend money locally in this manner and I am happy to see corporations spend their money sponsoring these events.  I hope the next years in Saskatoon see many more summers full of fireworks.

The economic benefits of lower taxation affords the opportunity to self-starters--to those who are already trying to make a go of it--artisans, musicians, restauranteers, entrepreneurs.  Higher taxation ensures that "the poor" will receive funding for being "poor" which continues the cycle of government dependency.  Don't we want to foster independence, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit?  What does that better--government handouts, or additional business sponsored events that give venues and opportunities to additional "spin-off" businesses?

This post is up for discussion.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unions: Past their Expiry Date?

Why do we have unions?  I mean really--in Canada, are people oppressed?  Are workers being exploited?  Is the life-expectancy of the proletariat lower than the bourgeoisie?

The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) rejected SIAST (Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology) latest offer.  They walked away from the table and rather than find a settlement, decided to strike.  Rather than look at who is right/wrong in this specific instance, I would like to look at the larger issue of--are unions still relevant.

Over the course of this strike, I commented to one person that it seemed that the instructors--compared to their counterparts in Western Canada, were adequately compensated, so why the need to strike.  The reply was "To keep it that way."  And, I suppose that is the main reason that unions exist.  The utter distrust in the free market.  And, to a certain degree, I would agree that left completely unchecked we will see serious abuses--people are greedy and corporations sometimes do evil things that affect their employees.

HOWEVER, what we are talking about in this case is a union in the public sector (and most strikes recently have been from unions in the public sector).  These are unions whose members are paid from our tax dollars.  These are not evil corporations looking to squeeze every last dime of profit out of labour.  These are elected governments who are trying to maximize our tax dollars while providing the best service possible.

Additionally, we are not talking about unskilled labour.  We are, for the most part, talking about instructors with specialized fields of training.  Much like nurses and doctors, these folks have options.  No longer is Saskatchewan faced with the "Brain Drain" of the 80's and 90's.  Our public sector employees now choose to stay in Saskatchewan because the pay IS equitable.  If it were not, they would simply indicate so--as they did in the past--by moving.

Now, if SGEU were striking for reasons other than "pay" then I might have sympathy.  If their members were facing unbearable working conditions or were being phased out early...but, of course, we now have Labour Standards enshrined in The Canada Labour Code (thanks to our union brethren) and none of those things are possible because we've already achieved pretty fair working conditions...but they are striking for "pay."

But, they refuse to negotiate.  Generally,  in cases where "pay" is involved...the worker doesn't benefit.  The negotiated settlement will be so small that the back pay will not be enough to cover off the lost wages of the workers while they're on strike.  So, the union MAY prove a point, but the worker WILL pay the price.

No, don't be fooled.  Unions don't strike for "pay" they strike for "power."  This is all about who calls the shots.  And, in the game of power--victims be damned.  So sorry students, but your future might just have to go on hold for a few years because this union wants to flex its muscles.

This strike is not about making enough money to feed a family.  This strike is not about decreasing the work week to 40 hours.  Unions already did that.  And, we all THANK you for that.  I wish for once, unions would simply acknowledge that things are pretty good here right now and just be content.  But, no...this is about power.  They don't have it right now...and they want it.

Maybe unions will realize that change is good.  They will have to reinvent themselves to remain relevant.  If they don't, then hopefully we the public will realize that the harm they do exceeds the benefits they provide.  That's what happens when you use something that has passed its expiry date.
This post is now up for discussion.