Thursday, 23 January 2014

Why Do We Care?

I like to gamble, I know I am not alone in this past time, but ever since I was legally able to do so, I found myself enjoying the chance to put money on the line in an effort to win more of it. Multiply my opportunity with a little luck and some capitalist vibes.

I have always wanted to win the lottery as well, but for me I suppose winning the lottery will never become a reality, mainly because of what I intend to do with it. I have always said that if (when) I do win the millions of dollars, I will put the money aside and invest it into a series of projects that will help my local community and overall as many people as possible. Invest it into people so that not only do they have the chance to live a better life, but are also given a helping hand to grow and prosper on their own.

Sounds idealistic eh? I know it may sound farfetched, but I have to ask why, how can we not view something as positive as the redistribution of lottery winnings as a good thing? Why is it so hard to give to others in the general sense?

Winning the lottery is a dream that many people share, however it appears that for many people the option to give and care about other people outside their immediate family only becomes a reality, when their own situation becomes more stable. Having the financial freedom to choose is a powerful tool, but I put forward the question for everyone to reflect on regarding individual charity from average people to those in need.

Why do you donate to a cause or volunteer? Are you financially stable in your life or do you also have a lot of debt?

While it seems easy to simply state that volunteering or giving to others is easy for the health benefits it provides, realistically the majority of people actually going out and helping are doing so because of their own stability. What makes this important to discuss is that in the current economy, where job security is low and income equally as low, is the way we care about others and the donations we put forward evolving right in front of our own eyes?

I have a lot of experience from the past witnessing company events and union fundraisers that allowed employees from a primarily middle class income bracket to donate to a good cause without really hurting their own situation. If anything, these events in my opinion also served as a good tool to increase company productivity and overall workmanship. Nothing says team/family like coming together for a good cause and actually doing something.

Now, take a look at the majority of jobs being created today. A lot of these positions are contract or part time in nature, they operate in mostly a service oriented environment and cater to individuals of equal or higher net worth financially. For example: Working in a boutique or for a big box store like Costco.

I found it interesting to see an example of modern day charity from a Walmart of all places. You may remember in the news that a Walmart was hosting a canned food drive in it's stores for employees that relied heavily on food banks. This example to me does not appear to be an isolated one, as many positions today do not pay close to a living wage, which not only makes it more difficult to pay the bills, but also to have any desire to do more for the community aside from survive.

With the economy evolving and becoming more capitalist, how are we as a people supposed to invest in ourselves or our community, when we can barely have enough time to work long enough to pay the bills, while try to care for our own families? Not to mention that the disparity between the right and poor continues to grow almost on a daily basis now and with recent movements to push for equality between the 1% and the 99%, I feel the problem has become worse rather than better.

I do not want to paint a black and white picture to something so colourful and complex, but I keep seeing a a pattern emerge involving our present day social interactions with the economic conditions that ultimately alter them. If you aren't a member of upper society economically, your either to stressed and overworked to actually do anything to help others or your working at such a level that your not making ends meat and your actions seem to serve a bunch of people who have more money than you.

Do you feel like this sometimes? Where you want to give to good causes and help those in need, but then suddenly a fearful voice pops into your head warning you about the upcoming rent or that hydro bill?

If the income disparity gap isn't bad enough though, we also have to worry about charitable causes that state they are non-profit, yet act as if they are for profit with the distribution of their income.

I don't know...if your up this late and have had a chance to read this than I thank you for taking the time and as always am also curious to your thoughts on the subject.

Where do we stand today with the health of our overall charity as a society? Which direction is this charity heading for the future? What other conditions are affecting the direction of charitable donations and volunteering?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Fossil Fuels, Neil Young and Plastics

To start things off, let me quickly make mention of Neil Young and his current efforts to bring more attention to the oil sands and first nation rights. Good on ya Neil! It is about time someone with some international clout got on board to make Harper sweat a little, even though in a few weeks the media will probably pretend this intervention or concert never happened...anyways moving on.

Individuals who work out west in the oil sands are hard working people, they often times leave their families to work long hours and get all dirty just so a few companies can reap billions from the average consumer. If you think your life would surely change without fossil fuels, well your right, because the tentacles of the oil industry knows no limit within our society. From infrastructure to political donations, you can bet that someone either directly linked or as apart of a subsidiary was responsible for the intervention of some political decision that lead to more oil friendly acts.

Do not get me wrong though, I stand by the belief that energy extraction is not an easy job and resembles an art form almost given the complexities related to it. Lets focus on the art aspect of gasoline and oil in general though...while society relies on this earthly art to keep our economies going, it really pains me to know that every time I fill up, I am literally taking a match to a Mona Lisa. I mean the similarity between your average gasoline and an irreplaceable piece of art really is quite strong. While you may think oil is here to stay, your simply becoming a victim of a well thought out illusion that is killing your wallet and your mind.

I keep thinking about how awesome it must have felt when the first pieces of plastic were successfully recycled and expropriated into something else. That feeling that arises when human technology makes a leap and is able to reproduce an extremely complex natural system with an innate and lifeless object like plastic. And if you listen to a lot of the pro-oil comments, our society relies on oil for a multitude of other items aside from internal combustion. Really, if anything internal combustion is probably the main culprit to climate change, global warming, pollution, whatever you want to call it.

We are creating a problem for not only our current society, but also future ones simply because we allow the problem to exist in our head and within our paradigm of thought. The development of the world is heading in such a drastic and uncertain future and it is all because we as a species cannot come to the conclusion that something really has to be done. Maybe we need a natural disaster to remind us or we need to run out of oil entirely, even though we do not have the time to get that far.

An interesting direction that will most likely become the dominant one is technology. Human beings love technology as it makes the world spin faster and allows us to live longer, but at the same time we are conveniently fed a lot of information that also allows us to ignore the true price associated with technology. 

Why must we burn gasoline to make our cars move? 

Take a moment and really think about this for a few seconds. Why do we have to rely on taking a fuel source that is not indefinite and burning transforming it into something harmful to us, just so we have the ability to live within a society designed by the very people making their riches from said fuel source? 

It is not like you can go out and buy an electric car, because we all know the ones that do exist only do so with an unrealistic price tag and any other efforts to introduce them continues to be bought up and put away for an indefinite period of time.

Why can we not continue to do what we do everyday and advance it to a newer and more complex level. Take fossil fuels and transform it, not into fuel for combustion, but rather into something we can hold in our hands and use in our everyday life, but more importantly something we can discard into a system that will break it down and reuse it again. Oil will still be just as important as it is today, maybe even more so as it becomes more complex and widely used, while at the same time our environment is given a chance to breathe, literally.

We recycle various types of plastics currently, which are all in some part products of oil production. Take this plastic recycling to the next level and push for the R&D to not only build more complex polymers or plastics, but also institute systems that recycle them and thus extend their use.

The best example currently is the copious amounts of plastic that the average Canadian has to deal with regarding products from China. It seems like every single cheaply made Chinese product has to be mega wrapped in most useless and frustrating plastic container possible and you know most people end up throwing this stuff out, whether out of ignorance or frustration as opposed to recycling it.

Stephen Harper should not be surprised by the backlash he is receiving from Canadians regarding oil production and this new pipeline. The will to change is very strong in Canada, actually I should rephrase it to the will to evolve. Canadians are progressive in nature, we know when something can be better and we aren't afraid to take the leap and make that better change a reality, but every so often we are confronted with a political party that does not have the will to change, mainly because the status quo is promising them a lot of money like big oil is today.

While oil production will net a huge financial benefit in the short term, the long term chances of contamination, disaster or simply the chance to miss out on an opportunity that someone else grabs is still to much. We need to continue being an example to the world and showing them  that change is possible.

If Canadians are showing an overwhelming desire to change the direction of their country, the government should be taking notes and working at the grass roots to accommodate that change.

Forget about offering first nations the chance to be trained in resource extraction, how about redirecting the money already provided into drinkable water, schools or medical training? Is Harper's opinion of them so low that he can only think of using them as pawn within the oil sands?

I simply ask one request of you the reader, if you agree with what I am saying...please share this blog post so others can not only read it, but also get in on the discussion.

The Political Road Map is here to help you evaluate where you are, where your heading and ask if your country is heading in the same direction you are?

We need to have this discussion now, because time is running out, that is all there is to it.

Why Sochi 2014 is My Generations 1972 Summit Series

I was not around in 1972 to experience the dramatic and intense summit series between Canada and the Soviet Union, however I have read a lot about the event and heard many stories from hockey fanatics who had the pleasure of experiencing it live.

The Summit Series was an immensely important event in both sports history as well as political history, as Canada had it's chance to shine on the international scene and take the place of defender of freedom from the United States for the first time. Our battle was not won with weapons or mass propaganda, but with sticks to the ice and skates pushed to the extreme. Both teams played an excellent round of hockey and in the end the Canadian team not only maintained exclusive bragging rights, but provided the Soviet Union with a message that certainly humbled any sense of ego they maintained.

Sochi 2014 contains the same mood that dominated the Summit Series of 1972. This mood is displayed not so much in nationalism, since Russia is but a fraction of what the Soviet Union was at the time. No, the mood for Sochi takes the emphasis on bragging rights and switches it over to freedom and equality.

It is no secret that Vladamir Putin and his government have a severely prejudiced stance toward individuals from the LGBT community. So strong is this prejudice that Putin is not afraid to make his feelings public and garner strong support for the cause. Whether the strength for this support is genuine or rather out of fear is debatable, however what is known is that any kind of protest or public discussion will be under heavy scrutiny and surveillance.

While Canada played in the Soviet Union, it was well known that at any time Soviet guards could take any member of the team away and lock them up. It almost happened a few times, but was thwarted by the strength and bond of the team players who literally restrained their own people as guards attempted to detain them. The Sochi Olympic games I fear will be no stranger to this type of attitude and vulgarity.

Our athletes and for sure their American counterparts will not only be participating in Sochi for the chance to beat the Russians to the gold, but also to make a strong point that equality among all men and women is not only the right thing to accept, but the only truth to accept among the international community.

Although I am not a member of the LGBT community, I stand by the vigilant efforts made by activists attempting to have their rights brought to the surface in an effort to find solutions rather than hide and allow problems to escalate. Society is functioning just as good as ever and Canada is an example to the world regarding not only the acceptance of gay members of society, but also as an invitation to all people regardless of colour or orientation.

Sochi begins in the early days of February and while the event may simply be viewed as a sporting one, it will be so much more given the months leading up to it. Homosexuals will now be given a chance to make a stronger mark on the international scene and ensure that their voices are heard and for the sake of freedom and equality, it has become our duty as citizens of the free world to support them fully.

Russia will be given the opportunity to not only lose again to Canada, but also view the error in its ways, which in reality will most likely not come to many as a surprise, because the majority of Russians most likely support gay marriage and homosexuality. Having a government feed you fear propaganda regarding a group of individuals within your society can easily sway your thoughts on the subject, but that does not mean everyone is easily convinced.

So, on behalf of the Political Road Map, with much pleasure, I give my best wishes to all of the athletes of the Sochi Winter Olympics and I sit here content in knowing that among everything else, Russia and Vladimir Putin will be given a rude awakening with regards to the political direction chosen regarding homosexuals in general.

The Olympics are about inclusion, fair competition and solidarity among men and last I heard...members of the LGBT community shared every characteristic any other human being does; they laugh, they breathe and they cry when their name is called to the podium and they accept their medals.  Most importantly however, they love and when you look at the basics, there is no filter when it comes to an individual taking part in their biological and human given right to love another person.

Until Next Time...

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Departed: 46,000 Edition

First of all, from myself and The Political Road Map, I would like to greet you with a belated Happy New Year. Although...if you are unemployed like myself or severely underemployed, I can understand how 2014 might not seem like a happy year at all, let alone new.

Watching the news lately, there isn't very much new that appears to be happening on the job creation front in Canada and our prime enslaver Stephen Harper continues to feed us bullshit with a smile on, at least he is consistent with something right?

Today the numbers came out that in December 46,000 jobs were lost in Canada. This means that 46,000 people either lost their job or discovered that it was no longer in existence. January tends to be a slow month as everyone knows, retail suffers severely and most people exist in a kind of slumber or "meh" state.

What does not surprise me is the fact that most likely many seasonal positions and temporary contracts reached maturity, which can explain job losses toward the end of the month in December. What does surprise me however, is that in 2013, five out of the 12 months available resulted in job losses as opposed to job creation. What this means is that although it is normal to experience a month or two, where job losses exist, we have experienced significant enough data to show a job loss trend that is still consistent.  We being Stats Canada and the vast majority of unemployed within Canada.

I have been hearing from many people that the recession is over and that getting a job should be easier, but when I actually look at the current job prospects available, I find myself looking west to Alberta for a tough and satisfying job in the oil industry or Asia for a better chance of opportunity. Not to mention, the entire foundation of applying for a job has changed so drastically that it fits perfectly with the throw away consumer culture we currently live in. The internet is one thing, but with the advent of smart phones and tablets, I have been able to apply for jobs with literally the click of a button, thus sending my general resume on file to the potential employer and allowing me to continue on with ease.  Believe it or not, I spent most of 2013 working different jobs with this method. I literally clicked on the apply now button and heard back within a few days for potential interviews. This method allows for someone to find employment, but also gives a detailed look at the types of jobs currently available on the market, these jobs usually end up being part time and if full time is available, it still only pays minimum wage, which unfortunately does not equal a living wage when it comes to raising a family, paying bills and eating all at once.

With more effort, I am sure much better jobs will be available to me and I have completed my fair share of detailed resumes and cover letters and have been fortunate with the chance at receiving interviews, but overall, it appears that when our government is praising itself, it does so over such low end jobs, because numbers in the end do lie. The Conservatives witness X amount of jobs being created and then stand back and put their arms up and say: "Hey! Look over here, the numbers on our end show that many jobs were created, so you know...get to work!"

The way we do things within society will always change (hopefully for the better), but the fact that bothers me the most is how irresponsible our current government is when it comes to actually doing anything at all. If the Conservatives took the time to read the data very obviously standing right in front of them, they would see that their economic action plan is only benefiting very few within society, while the majority of us are stuck in what seems to be a never ending loop of minimum wage part time jobs.  In fact, with all of this hustle and bustle over pipelines and oil, much of the money being invested will most likely exit the Canadian market. Granted jobs will be created, but when you look at the amount of multinational corporations involved in the extraction process of the oil sands, the majority of their refinement and processing is done out of country. The main reason why this is simply goes back to the idea that the market is the best way to direct development and employment. If the market says you need to move production to China in order to continue a high level of profit, then you move production to China. Stephen Harper seems to believe that the only way to run this country is to simply let go and let the market guide us, which is neither the best way nor the right way of directing a country or it's people.

If you are reading this post and part time or minimum wage greatly explains your current employment, I do not want you to feel bad, but do understand that you are not alone and in many cases this is not your fault. How can we even think that the "Great Recession" is over, when our government is spending more time employing smoke and mirror tactics as opposed to programs that transpire into job creation. Did you know that the Conservatives plan on spending millions of dollars for an ad campaign telling Canadians how successful the economic action plan is? Why are these millions not being redirected into programs aimed at rejuvenating cities hit hard with loses in manufacturing or retraining programs for sectors other than resource extraction. Yes, we know we have a lot of resources in Canada, but for the sake of our future can Stephen Harper stop trying so hard to make us out to be a resource nation and just accidentally become one like past governments. Never has our country seen a prime minister who favors the status quo so much, while at the same time preaching that he is going to change the face of this country forever.

I am sorry to burst your bubble if you felt that Harper's economic action plan would create jobs, because all it does is simply put emphasis on projects the government should be doing by default and lauds it as heroic. For example: Building bridges, fixing pot holes and renovating infrastructure should not be considered stimulus, it should be considered the regular to-do list on the governments agenda, but I am just an unemployed university graduate, so obviously my opinion doesn't stand for much.

The real people who can actually get the government to change consist of the middle class and the top earners within our country. The only problem with them however, is that the first group is on the verge of losing its job in general and the second group is apparently afraid of socialism, because socialism explained by Harper is nothing more than a disease that can be caught and leads to protest. Heck, B.C apparently wouldn't be itself if protests did not occur, as quoted by Harper during the recent security breach at one of his events.

For now, all we can do is continue writing, continue speaking out regarding the problems within our system. Many people are going to put on a mad face and say your doing nothing but complaining, but the reality is that if noone says anything, then everyone will continue on as if nothing is wrong. We need to bring the important topic to the surface in order to not only recognize that it is a problem, but also begin work on actually finding a solution. The main issue I currently have with the regime running Ottawa right now, is that they conveniently find ways of making up their own numbers, their own research and their own realities as opposed to taking the time to review the true reality that many Canadians are facing.

This not only puts Canada's long term future at risk, but also greatly affects the political and economic direction that our country takes. These examples of ignorance and misdirection throw our economic and social compass out of whack and without proper consideration and discussion, threaten to not only worsen the economic and social condition of Canadians, but also employ a status quo of ignorance and fear and that frankly does nothing. 

To the 46,000 departed, I stand with you and hope the best for your job situation and to the rest of you...until next time!