Thursday October 30 , 2014

Archive for October, 2012

Will Scam for Food

Last Sunday, we were in our spots, my Beau and I, surfing the net, when the doorbell rang. I would have answered, but I was in my housecoat and it was early afternoon, so my Beau, who is inclined to ignore unsolicited communication, was urged to “see who it is”.

I’m too curious by half and will even answer cell calls that I’m almost 100% sure are from Rogers, which is having a hard time accepting that we broke up. It  keeps trying to lure me back with $25 gift certificates and rates off its overpriced (?) dismal (!) services. Alas, I am so distrusting of Rogers now, after it cheated on me (no need for details, you know the drill, I’m sure, dear Sooey Says reader(s)), that I won’t accept anything less than 100% free cable.

Oh, and why don’t I have caller i.d.? Because even when I did, I still answered every call – on account of I’m TOO CURIOUS BY HALF!

Before I got my Beau to do the honours, however, I peeked through the clear glass lines in our frosted door design (inherited, fussy, and will never change because we don’t renovate, we adapt) and ascertained that there was a middle-aged woman standing on the other side of it holding a rake. This is a necessary thing to do because on those occasions when said person on the other side of the door has been from one of those “energy” “companies”, my Beau can lose his temper, which makes me nervous because I figure it only eggs them on to fraudulently sign you up for its after dark kneecapping special.

Warning to “energy” “company” fraudsters: Stay away from houses with frosted glass designs on their doors.

And this is off topic, but I realized the other day that the Mike Harris legacy is death, fraud, and his Little Shits (Franks passim) moving on to mooch off the public purse at the next level of government.

As he listened to the communication from the lady holding the rake, I eavesdropped from behind the wall that doesn’t quite stretch far enough so that when you’re sitting watching Netflix (1/4 the price of basic cable, if you’re curious and a little antennae thingie will get you TVO, CTV and, I hope, CBC – cripes, we’d better get CBC – we’re paying for it, anyway – I’ll let you know after my Beau exercises his manliness and sets us up) the hall light shines in your eyes and you have to get up and dim the switch (please stop renovating perfectly adequate houses, previous owners).

“Hi, I’m so sorry for bothering you on a Sunday, but I wonder if I could rake your lawn? I’m going door-to-door offering my services to raise $20 so I can feed my kids. I have 5. The thing is, I start a job tomorrow, but I’m completely out of cash today. My partner died and I was a homemaker and everything is tied up for a while, and -”

Which was when I came out from behind the wall, pushed past my Beau, and shoved $20 into her hand.

And before you think I’m better than I am, I had $30 in my purse. Also, I was picturing a grieving widow raking our postage stamp lawn for food money for her starving children while we sat in our spots (dining room table) surfing the net, watching videos, etc.

I mean, we’re human beings, not Conservatives, ferchrissakes.

But as we recounted the story at a pub night out, it was suggested that it may have been a scam. To which I have to say, touche. Because if that was a scam, she earned that $20, in a way that those deregulated “energy” “companies” could not have done because they don’t just go away after you give them money (DO NOT GIVE THEM MONEY!), they tie you into a nightmare of fraud and corruption.

Thank you, Mike Harris, for making us realize our lives are so much worse than we thought. No, really, without you we never would have known that business can be done in such a fraudulent and corrupt way in Ontario. I believe businesses can now withstand expensive class action suits that cost EVERYBODY, too. Nice work if you can get it, I guess, and get the right mix of politicians in power and – voila! – you can.

Anyway, I don’t believe for a second that this was a scam, because even if she wasn’t a grieving widow with 5 children to feed, she had a rake and was willing to rake our leaves for a few bucks and then go on to the next house and do it, too.

(Except that our neighbour would have grabbed the rake and done it for her while she collected the money and then when she tried to give him half waved her off with, “no, no, no, don’t even try to reimburse me for my labour because it’s NOT labour, it’s exercise – I want to rake leaves”.)

Also, whenever he’s outside he’s smoking, so I think he and the missus may be cutting down on smoking by only smoking outside (they’re French).

But as I learned at pub night, apparently the man downtown, who is nicely dressed and clean cut, and who asked us for a couple of bucks because he lost his wallet, was in Ottawa doing business for the day, and needs to get home to Montreal – is a scammer. Except that I’d say he’s more of a performance artist and is absolutely earning that couple of bucks per 100th passerby. And a standing ovation (it’s Ottawa, after all). He’s really good. I totally believed him, in the way that I never believe an “energy” “company” “representative” at the door.

That’s because without proper regulation, and we no longer have it in this province, let alone in this country, business is coasting on the reputation it had when we didn’t know how illegitimate a lot of it is. But now we do, or we should – I do, anyway, and if I do, you should, because I really wanted to believe in our private sector, having worked in our public one.

Finally. After years of believing politicians were doing what we pay them to do – regulating – I realize they’ve been doing what we don’t pay them to do – deregulating.

Rogers and I had a contract, I thought, but during the contract, it raised its prices. At least 3 times, too. Then, when I canceled part of our contract once it was up, spending a lot of time giving myself a brain tumour and running up a cell phone bill (which never quite adds up, but since that company is less offensive than most, I’m giving it a pass – ’til I give up having a phone at all), it not only denied that I had done so, but dropped two calls when I was in the middle of sorting it out. I can only thank my lucky charms that I never agreed to direct withdrawal or I’d be dead now out of frustration and rage.

Don’t worry, frustration and rage at business practices will not actually kill you, unless they will, in which case we should probably get our class action suit going now so our grandchildren can benefit from it under their Chinese overlords.

Direct Energy, from whom we inherited a water heater when we bought our house, last year sent out a letter threatening all its “customers” with negative option billing (i.e. if you don’t call this number, which you just know is a scam to put you on record as ordering services you didn’t, you’ll automatically be under contract with Direct Energy and/or have to pay some crazy inflated price for the rusty old rental that’s leaking all over your basement). My brother’s a judge – a judge, ferchrissakes – and had to wrangle with Direct Energy to come pick up its crappy old water heater so he could put in one of those super duper tankless water heaters – and he lost. So, how the hell are confused old ladies (grr, and no, I don’t mean me – I am not confused!) going to get out from under Direct Energy without having to sell their homes altogether and move into one of those seniors residences that increase the rent on her fixed income by the maximum allowable amount every year no matter how many services they’ve cut back on in the preceding months.

Robocall companies that facilitate election fraud, pipeline companies that know it’s cheaper for the damn thing to blow up than it is to be behind schedule, construction companies that give the reinforced part of the concrete equation to corrupt politicians, cable companies (too effed up to go into in one post), banks (discovered a $20 random service fee the other day – guess what – terms of contract changed again except that I wasn’t aware of it – also, sudden threatening letter from other bank re home insurance which we have with another company that if we don’t supply documentation WITHIN 60 DAYS it’s negative contract time!), parking lots and parking lot authorities that issue phony tickets, Greyhound that sells tickets and then neglects to supply a bus…

I could go on, you could go on, we all could go on. Big business is more scam than business in this country. It’s not opinion, it’s fact. And while we used to be able to count on our government to look out for us, we no longer can. And that’s directly because of the politicians we have been electing to power who have been running governments like businesses instead of like governments. Governments no longer work for you, the citizen and taxpayer, governments work for business charlatans to further deregulate the already fraudulent and corrupt marketplace. More fraud and corruption, less public service.

And that, dear Sooey Says reader(s), is how I came to have a grieving widow and mother of 5 at my door last Sunday offering to rake my lawn in exchange for money for food. Politicians not doing THEIR jobs.

And they, dear Sooey Says reader(s) are the REAL scammers.

 

“Nice Bitch, Dog!”

The other day, as I was minding my own business, walking Bernie (aka, Bern, Bern McGern, the McGernster, Bern the Gern, Bern Bern the Dancing… Lagern), enjoying the summery October breezes of Ottawa, a crew of young louts drove by, one taking the time to hang out the window to shout, “Nice Bitch, Dog!”

Now, I do admit to being hot stuff (okay, totally steaming, like wowzers, hubba hubba, rwwl) but I’m also 53 and a couple of years ago had to go to hospital to have chest pains checked out, chest pains which turned out to be medically “not real”, but which led to me having a panic attack in a stroke doctor’s office (because she was such a Mean Mean Doctoring Machine) followed by a further battery of tests, until eventually I found myself in a waiting room surrounded by people with the flu, at which point I gave up on life being all that worth living anyway and went home.

That is to say, I discourage easily. Also, I have to push myself to go outside (agoraphobia may run in the family, as I grew up with a grandmother who never went outside) so I don’t need the hassle – dig?

Does it ever end, the hassle, I mean. The “just because you’re XX” harassment from the XY set, regardless, it seems, of their age to ours (dear Sooey Says XX reader(s))?

And if it’s not going to end, could it at least come with a modicum of wit? Because yeah, I get it, who’s the bitch and who’s the dog. Except that Bernie’s a male dog, so the bitch has to be me, which is fine but is it really necessary to shatter my peace and quiet by yelling it at me as you whiz past in your car, you clean cut young men?

In any case, when I told a couple of male intimates about it, they both sort of shrugged and said, “that’s funny” (as in funny ha ha) and made out as if I was some kind of serial complainer about every little transgression by the more brawn/less brain gender.

WHICH I AM NOT!

But that brings me to my chum, Dr. Dawg, (not related – http://drdawgsblawg.ca/2012/10/enabling-bigotry.shtml) with whom I have an on again off again sparring relationship on the internet (but not in real life, of course, where I’m so fucking demure it’s probably like having beer and wings with the friggin’ queen for him). He’s upset about the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) weighing in as intervenor in a case out in Alberta. In a nutshell, a hate-filled bigot who identifies as Christian (and really, isn’t Christian just a matter of opinion, Christianity more or less an excuse?) had a hate-filled screed against homosexuals (and one could argue it was aimed particularly at children) published in the local newspaper, in this case, the Red Deer Advocate.

Then, as would seem to any reasonable person, an incident involving a homosexual teen at the receiving end of violence some two weeks later was linked back to the green light such an established authority as the Red Deer Advocate would give to the less enlightened among us that, “yes, Virginia, there is a biblical state sanctioned homosexual hunting season”, and issue was taken with the author of the screed (although, I think issue should have been taken with the newspaper for publishing it, but that’s just me).

Alas, on appeal (the Christian feller actually lost at an earlier junction, so there is occasionally justice, even in good ol’ boy Christian Alberta) the CCLA intervened, no doubt smarting from criticism of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, loudly opposed by our majority federal Conservative (i.e. Christian) government led by the best Christian Alberta apparently has to offer, and the rights of Christian haters to have their inciting muck published in local rags and to hell with the consequences faced by homosexual children, prevailed.

Anyway, the commentary to Dr. Dawg’s outraged entry (he calls the CCLA shameful, enabling, now-discredited) is equally outraged (free speech rights sacrosanct, how dare anyone criticize the CCLA for defending free speech rights, yadda yadda blah blah).

The political is personal, in other words, especially on the internet when the first up to comment is acquainted with actual members of the CCLA…

I mention the two instances together because, here’s the thing, the commentariat at Dr. Dawg’s is almost exclusively straight, white and male. Don’t ask me how I know that, because I don’t, but my women’s intuition tells me that it probably is. At least it mostly probably is. And here’s the other thing, there’s always a certain lack of appreciation for how it is for anybody who isn’t the accepted standard by which we measure who should be in power in this country (straight, white, male and, it seems to me, Christian, and currently, Conservative Christian) and what real actual life might be like for us.

In other words, the forever powerless because, as Malcolm Gladwell has made quite clear, tall white (I’d add straight) men automatically win. Everybody else starts in second place.

I mean, I don’t expect anyone to do anything about young men shouting drive-by putdowns (compliments?) at middle-aged women (and my heart really did jump – in a bad way) when we’re out walking our dogs in broad daylight, but I pay taxes, too. As do homosexuals. And the Conservative Christian straight white male contingent is more than represented by the state, it IS the state.

My point is, either words have meaning or they don’t. This same Conservative Christian state has labeled ordinary citizens “terrorists” because we’re liberals, environmentalists, whatever – we’re Canadian citizens not in political agreement with the state, which is, by any measure, more extreme in its politics than any Canadian government in recent memory, and I’m including the B.C. government of Bill Vander Zalm here. And calling someone a “terrorist” in this day and age can have very real life consequences. The tall white men we elect have enacted crazy laws, dangerous laws, laws designed to respond to the label “terrorist”, to ensure a Canadian citizen can be imprisoned, held without trial, abandoned to a regime like Syria to be tortured as a political prisoner, ferchrissakes.

So really, is it the best use of the CCLA’s time, to intervene on behalf of citizens who use theirs to spew hateful rhetoric at other citizens (via some sort of inalienable right of publication in the newspaper) when those citizens are basically indistinguishable from the all powerful Conservative Christian straight white male state that uses much of its time to make the same sort of  “drive-by” putdowns at other citizens, too?

Okay, load off, time to brave the great outdoors and steal myself against any drive-by compliments. Bern the Stern says it’s time for his walk.

 

Heady Daze

So, I recently drew the short straw and ended up president of our housing committee. This was after the entire community (and by entire community I mean enough homeowners and proxies to have the minimum quorum necessary (by-law, as it is written) to hold a vote) elected to boot out the old committee and bring in a new one.

Now, far be it from me to criticize others, but the old committee was a posse of empire builders, soviet style rapacious meddlers, as it were. You know the types, forever holding up copies of joint use agreements, pointing to fine (and outdated) print to demand that other homeowners go through them to replace doors or build decks or, heaven forbid, add railings to front steps.

You know, assholes.

Still, as much as I found them egregious, we’re not the types to change anything about our abode, either, so it wasn’t personal. We bought ‘as is’ because we like it ‘as is’ or we would have bought something else. And being nickeled and dimed on fees wasn’t killing us, although the introduction of a parking authority did annoy us. That’s because even a cursory glance at the internet should tell any sentient being that parking authorities cause more problems than they solve. They’re like leaf blowers that way. Sure, they blow leaves around, but they’re being blown onto your property by a neighbour’s workfare slave (not wearing ear protection) at 8:00 Saturday morning when city by-laws apparently decree you can start making deafening noise to ruin the peace and quiet of sleep for your neighbours.

So, although I went to the meeting armed with a proxy from my absent beau (absent because he doesn’t like meetings (d’oh! outfoxed again) and unnecessary, since, of course, it’s one vote per unit, not per person in the unit, duh!) I had no intention of actually participating in such a pro-active way that I would end up getting myself elected. I just wanted the old power mad types out (they’d been there from the beginning of time, apparently) and the new “it’s private property and we’ll put our doors where are windows are if we want to” (and here I paraphrase Cher who once told reporters that she’d put her “tits on my back if I want to”) types in.

Alas, to bolster confidence in the new slate of candidates, the first time the old guard had ever been challenged, I sat with them, spoke to a couple of issues in support of their/our position (old out, anybody else in), clapped and jeered at the appropriate moments, and just generally transformed myself into a sitting duck for a nomination.

“Are you on the slate of candidates for election?”

“No, I’m just here to support -”

“Well we need a fifth candidate so I’m adding your name to the list of nominees.”

“Oh, well, gosh, I never, oh my, I hardly, hm, while I’m flattered beyond, not prepared, acceptance speech only half written, gown at the cleaners -”

“Is that ‘suey’ or ‘sewy’?”

And then there was an election and now I’m president. (The popular candidates, the first, second, and third place finishers are the actual brains of the outfit and have longer terms. But I’m still president. The fifth place finisher is secretary. So let that be a lesson to all you fifth place finishers because being the secretary means you have to take minutes, and taking minutes is a difficult and thankless job and you really don’t get any respect, either, because everybody knows that you must have finished last. Honestly? You’d be better off not running at all. Being made secretary on a committee is like being handed the sticks in an all triangles band. Also, not showing up to the first committee meeting when positions are assigned is not a good idea because it almost doesn’t matter where you placed – if you don’t show up, you WILL be assigned the position of secretary. Our secretary did both, finished fifth AND didn’t show up to the first meeting. Ka-ching!)

Now, we have a property management company that compiles incomprehensible financial statements for us (incomprehensible to me, at least, but that may be because I am functionally retarded in the area of financial statement comprehension) and a nice young man who attends our meetings on its behalf, but it’s up to the committee to represent the interests of the homeowners, and instruct the nice young company man accordingly.

As president, my first decree was: I hereby restrict our sphere of influence to 1) roofs, and 2) parking lots. Which was fine by our young company man, too, since it cuts down dramatically on his workload (which immediately had us questioning the point of having a property management company handle our affairs at all, but I digress), freeing him up to spend more time deflecting the old committee members.

I know, “But I thought you replaced the old committee members, Sewie?” Indeed, so did I. Alas, no sooner had the old committee members been replaced, then they petitioned for a recount, petitioned for financial records/minutes/contracts – you name it, whatever it is that has to do with committee business, they want in on it.

And, you know, being the laissez faire types that we are, we were like, “Wtf?! Screw those assholes! They lost, we won – we’re calling the shots now! Back to your hidey holes, ya power mad losers!”

I’m kidding. We shared information until our young company man said, “I think I’ll have to tell them that my private fee just went up to $100/hour.” And so it was that he proved his worth and will probably remain forever in our hire because, at the end of the volunteer committee day, it pays to pay an outsider, a professional if you will, to tidy up all those loose ends and assholes of yesterday’s volunteer committee, no hard feelings, just doing my job, ma’am, money up front, cheque cleared before I even respond “no”, please and thank you.

Sadly, our professional shield was unable to attend an information session we decided to hold with regard to parking issues (ongoing abuse of visitor parking – and as a car non-owner, you can only imagine how tedious I find all of this parking yimmer yammer that monopolizes every aspect of people’s lives these days, it seems). And who should show up to heckle and take copious notes? That’s right, the old committee.

Drunk.

Uh hunh. Drunk. And what happens when a drunk heckler from the old committee shows up and starts yelling at the new committee that they’re a bunch of “idiots” and shouting at the wives of certain new committee members that they should “shut their stupid faces”?

Uh hunh. A rumble breaks out between the old guard and the new guard and fists start flying and bystanders start screaming and the president realizes no one thought to supply her with a gavel so she could bang a table and demand, “Order! Order! I’ll have order in the committee room!” so she has to use a children’s book instead (our meetings take place at an elementary school – after hours) and no one listens because actively trying to separate the rumblers.

Anyway, no one was hurt, move along, nothing to see here (the rumble was really just one very drunk heckler and one hot tempered defender of virtue, both d’un certain age, i.e. old enough to be retired and know better) and the treasurer (the first place finisher and brains of the outfit) and I retired to her townhouse to share a bottle of wine (we were joined at the end of the bottle by officer #1 and defender of virtue for the obligatory female “tsk tsking” of men and their fisticuff tendencies).

What’s interesting is that I live so much of my life on the internet that my immediate concern for our defender of virtue was that he not end up being sued by our drunk heckler and when I expressed it, he looked at my like I was from cyber space and said, “Hunh?”

So I started to explain about the internet and how men sue each other all the time over name-calling, let alone fisticuffs, and he looked at me as if I was from cyber space some more and finally I realized, “Ah, instead of duking it out, they’re hiring professionals to decide the ‘winner’ for them!”

Now, I don’t know if that’s good or bad (and I’m clearly lying here because obviously I think it’s not just bad, it’s a sign of the coming apocalypse, which I fear less now thanks to a life largely wasted in cyber space) but it sure represents a divide between the old ways and the new (and bear in mind that I, too, would rather pay a professional to deal with the dross of volunteerism, although I’m not bragging about it, that’s for sure, or, at least, I don’t think I am…).

Anyway, I thought that to be an interesting revelation about how many of us prefer to live now and why we really can’t complain too much about the cost of living since we’re mostly responsible for driving it up through our eagerness to hire professionals to handle virtually (pun intended) every aspect of our lives.

In other words, maybe we all can’t just get along and have to pay the price for that – literally.

 

Cyber Space: An Audience Participation Soap Opera Playing Out in a Parallel Universe

I’ve been following a lot of the commentary with regard to “what to do about bullies” and it seems to me that if the solution is dependent on bullies being defined as a new sub-category of  human and governed accordingly, we may as well prepare for more of the tragic consequences of their devilwork.

Bullying is a behaviour that, while we’re all quite capable of exhibiting it from time to time, should be discouraged in as much as possible, and mitigated, by teaching kids how to recognize and react to it.

Then we need to back up the teaching with support groups because support groups work by proving to us that we are not alone. How many years do we have to have AA before we accept that no money down, peer to peer support, is the answer to almost every problem we have.

People who need people, as the song goes.

But, of course, I’m really talking about the commentary that is a reaction to the latest teen suicide, a suicide that has been attributed to the cyber bullying that occurred after a young teen flashed her breasts to cyber space.

In Canada, year of our lord 2012.

Meanwhile, on the other side of humanity, the Taliban is gunning down  teenaged girls for advocating on behalf of better educations.

To me, both cases are rooted in the same misogyny. Why was it so easy to convince a Canadian teenager that flashing her breasts to cyber space was so wrong that she was driven to take her own life, when there’s nothing actually wrong with flashing her breasts to cyber space at all.

Just as there’s nothing wrong with exposing female brains to education.

Nothing is wrong with breasts. Nothing is wrong with showing off your breasts. It is legal for women to go topless in Ontario – and rightly so – ferchrissakes. And yet, it was possible for cyber bullies to torment a girl to her death for doing so.

So why aren’t schools teaching girls that there’s nothing wrong with showing off their breasts, that it’s entirely up to them if they want to flash cyber space, that anyone who comments negatively is a hater and best ignored?

Canadian girls are the freest girls in the world but we just witnessed one killing herself as a direct result of the tormenting she could not endure after flashing her breasts to cyber space.

But, of course, she was just a girl, not an adult, which is something many of us who have only been online as adults forget. It took me years to toughen up to “the haters” as one’s cyber critics are often called.  (In real life we call them “misogynists”.) Kids don’t have those tough skins, and they can’t develop them in time to deal with the freedom they have to “do whatever they want” as one teenaged girl put how it is in cyber space.

Because that’s just it, isn’t it. Cyber space isn’t real, no matter how addicted we may be to it, and so there will always be a tendency for people to “do whatever they want” in it. (And this very wise girl on CBC last night was really referring to “the haters”, but I kind of think of cyber space as a place to do whatever I want, too, although all I want is to be read, so thank you dear Sooey Says reader(s).)

And teenaged girls are impulsive, they love drama, it’s nothing for a teenaged girl to get in over her head on a cell phone call to her friend, let alone in cyber space to the world, a world that includes haters, a world that includes people doing whatever they want.

My definition of cyber space: an audience participation soap opera playing out in a parallel universe.

The genie is out of the bottle, though, that’s what the commentariat (?) needs to understand. A bully brigade puts the focus on bullies and bullies can be anybody. What kids who get in over their heads in cyber space need are “Online Anonymous” support groups – in their schools.

And they need them yesterday.

Adults know, or eventually figure out (I did, so anybody can) go offline and – poof – the haters disappear. Go online again and – shit! – they’re still there. And so you stay off a little longer. And – voila! – either the plot has shifted, or, more likely, you have.

Also, before I end this entry, I just want to tell all the hindsight experts to shut the fuck up, go to hell, piss up a drainpipe, and stop implying that the parents, teachers, anyone other than the haters, are to blame for ignoring “cries for help” from teenagers who commit suicide. I have three young adults and life is enough of a crap shoot that I don’t know any sane parent who doesn’t go through it with fingers and toes crossed. To imply that a parent is somehow responsible for the suicide of a child who happens to be theirs should be punishable by… well… maybe the Taliban has the answer.

 

Money for Nothing

I need to take my mind of being unemployed because I’m kind of a worry wart about money (not a rational worry, so don’t you worry, too, dear Sooey Says reader(s)) so my plan is to blog out a lot of surface anxiety so I can write an even more surface book on the side. I also plan to learn cartooning and have even bought myself a kit for this very purpose. I had planned to get started last night, but then I decided to take in the #2 debate instead.

Note to self: Pot and television go together like pot and any other time wasting activity – too well.

But having wasted a couple of hours of learning to cartoon time watching Joe Biden laugh his ass off while wiping it with Paul Ryan, the Eddie Haskell of contemporary politics, I think the Head of the Debating Society should switch it up and hold a mixed doubles debate with Obama/Ryan against Biden/Romney. Picture it, Obama resting his eyes while Paul Ryan widens his wider with each successive attempt to appear sincere, squaring off against Laughin’ Joe and Grinnin’ Mitt hi-fivin’ each other after every witty riposte and/or interjecting putdown.

So, anybody else curious as to those two constituents for whom Paul Ryan scored wads of government stimulus funding? Cripes, and if they donated to his campaign, doesn’t that mean he scored some government stimulus funding for himself, too?

Because that’s the thing, isn’t it. I’m not entirely without connections and yet not only have I never scored any kind of government handout for not having enough money to do whatever it is I want to do to make my own money doing, but I don’t know anyone who has.

Of course, I’ve never given politicians any money, either, so that may be why. My mom’s an old timey days Liberal, though, and she’s given scads and the one time a boyfriend of mine tried to use her connections to get a job in Ottawa we didn’t even get beyond the Parliament cafeteria (heavily subsidized by taxpayers in those days, too).

Anyway, I believe she’s stopped giving money to the party now. When I was home last week she told me the last time a party worker called she played the age card and told them to leave her alone so she could die in peace. And really, they should, because she can’t even afford to live in her senior’s residence anymore on account of the rent keeps going up while her pension stays the same.

Think about this for a minute all you believers in everything private. While there may be middle-class seniors (my mother is eighty-eight) as prepared for old age as my mother was, there would be very few who are more prepared. She has the last of the great public sector worker pensions (high school librarian) and RRSPs up the yinyang. She also sold our family home for a tidy sum, although not nearly for what she had expected, Sault Ste. Marie having not been much of a real estate hub since Algoma Steel got caught making some crappy product and one bad management decision led to another and before the good people of the Sault knew it, the plant went from being drastically downsized and worker-owned, to being owned by Indians.

Er, East Indians, that is. The Indians on the other side of the world, not the Indians of Garden River Indian Reserve, who I believe are hoping to have the highway re-routed one day so it doesn’t cut through their living rooms. Then they plan to turn the reserve into an off highway drive through that showcases Aboriginal arts and crafts, traditional medicines, trapping methods, fishing ways, etc.

That was the scuttlebutt a few years ago, anyway. But maybe their contacts in government dried up with John Duncan’s appointment as Minister of  the finally renamed Aboriginal Affairs department. (And, I guess, Patrick Brazeau’s TKO.)

So yes, thank goodness for employment insurance – at least until the Conservatives contract it out to their buddies in the robocall business – because otherwise it would be a cold and dark fall in Ottawa (and I notice it’s currently snowing). Today will be my last day of free spending (spending money not budgeted) as we (my beau and I) need to shore up against the possibility of higher interest rates at mortgage renewal time. In fact, and this was interesting, Kevin O’Leary, investor-at-large, flat out said on the Lang/O’Leary Exchange a week or so ago (even though I cancelled cable) that the smartest investment one can make is to pay off a mortgage.

Anyway, I haven’t paid much attention to our own government’s stimulus funding, having assumed it all went into Tony Clement’s riding for various and sundry “upgrades”, so I guess I’ll have to figure out how to make money some other way to pay off the mortgage. (A couple of years ago I had an interview with Treasury Board, speaking of Tony Clement, for a position with its Public Service Renewal Program, a program designed to attract young policy analysts to the public service, as if young policy analysts need to be lured into jobs that start at $$60,000/year. Alas, I failed every question in that interview, too, but I probably shouldn’t have asked why they were interviewing a contract worker in her fifties for the position instead of a young policy analyst.)

In the meantime, I think I’ll start paying closer attention to what the Conservatives are doing with all that money we send them whether we luck out with a stimulus funding handout back or not. Although a list of recipients would be handy (pun intended) so people like me could hit one or two of the lucky beneficiaries up for work ’cause this middle-aged mama has a mortgage to pay off before old age meets a rising cost of living.

By the way, anybody got a line on why old people vote Conservative?