Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dear Jim Flaherty (Canadian Finance Minister)

I say this with all due respect to the office that you currently hold within my (imperfect but) beloved country of Canada:

"Fuck you."

Hmmm, that doesn't quite fully capture the emotion that I wish to express to you after I read your comment that "There are no bad jobs. The only bad job is not having a job." I'll have to dig deep and quote from an eloquent song by the Canadian band Strapping Young Lad:

"Fuck you, you fucking fuck!"

I currently work in the IT industry, making about 10% less than the average wage for a single-income Canadian family. My loving wife, stricken with a number of health issues, has been apparently struggling at a "bad job" for a number of years now, since she's not able to work at this time, and may not be able to for the foreseeable future.

Back when my wife's health issues originally surfaced, my income was insufficient to cover our mortgage payments, and within a year we were forced to sell our house and move a thousand kilometers away into a mobile home so that I could chase down work that would eventually pay me enough for us to live off of. Over the next six years, as I worked my way up the ladder at work to my current level, mere survival required us to incur a fair amount of debt that we are now struggling to pay off.

To make our lives even more interesting, in the last year the company that employs me merged with (by which I mean we were "acquired" by) a larger company in the same industry from the lower mainland. We employees have been assured there will be no job losses, but it is common knowledge as to what can happen to employment positions when there is duplication of responsibilities in a pair of newly merged companies. 

Sadly, my wife and I currently live in a place where there isn't a vast number of companies clamoring for IT technicians. If something were to happen with my job, it's quite reasonable to believe that I will be unable to find work in my field of expertise that pays the same amount that I make currently. If this were to happen, I don't really want to think of the consequences of settling for less income, but I assure you that within short order, our financial situation would easily spiral out of control. We sure as hell can't afford to move anywhere else in the hopes of better employment opportunities. Perhaps I'm expecting too much when I assume the Canadian Finance Minister should understand what the phrase "working poor" means.

Finally, the one reason that you have drawn my ire, Mr. Flaherty, and why your party is reaping the whirlwind about your remarks that Canadians should be willing to settle for less instead of relying on Employment Insurance (EI) to bridge the gap until they find reasonable employment, is that I've been working and paying into EI for over fifteen years now. During those years, I have never drawn a single cent from the program that was created in order to help Canadians survive through difficult economic times. Canadians are entitled to withdraw money from a program that many of them have paid into for years without receiving any benefits from.

You've essentially insulted all of us hard-working Canadians by insisting that we are lazy and undeserving of the money that your government mandates be set aside to assist us at the time in our lives when we need it most. I'd suggest you think hard about how your Compassionate Conservatism sounds to the average Canadian before you open your mouth again. If not, I sincerely hope my fellow voters kick your ass out during the next federal election.

I'll happily suggest that you can  go back to driving a taxi instead of collecting your gold-plated government pension.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dude, my hands are huuuuge... Or are they tiny?

In the great grand scheme of things, it can be difficult to wrap your head around concepts such as the incredibly massive objects  filling out the expanse of the universe, down to the infinitesimally tiny building blocks that make up those objects.

This is why I appreciate people like Cary and Micheal Huang, who produced a pretty cool interactive representation of the size of the components of the universe. Check it out, it's informative and a little bit fun.