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Doomed to ride the ‘roller coaster of despair’?

April 30th,2024 | Valley Voices

Society is rapidly changing with the advent of big box stores and the digital revolution. These changes are not truly understood by many people. The reaction has been a resort to grievance politics: find someone to blame whether or not it makes sense to do so. The recent Liberal budget belatedly and lamely tried to address “fairness”.

Pundits are noting that the profit-first economic system is having a negative effect on people. It is not just the unemployed and the homeless who are suffering. Sky-high rents, home prices, gas and expensive food is affecting all of us. Farmers are having difficulty making ends meet.

Canada is one of the richest, safest, most developed societies in the world, with healthcare, public education, decent working conditions – all enacted by democratically elected governments. What is happening to Canada is happening to other developed countries. Canada is not broken (except for the way Indigenous people are treated), but the people are suffering.

The key to getting equality in society, balancing the rewards workers get from their work – be they cashiers, farmers or professionals like teachers and nurses – is to elect governments that truly reflect the needs of the population. Quips like “Axe the Tax” are cute but will not lead to a more fair and equitable society. An “Axe the Tax” government will continue the unfair practices of today’s economic system. It blames government for high prices and ignores what companies are doing.

Gargantuan companies like Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Facebook, X [and industries such as] big tech, big oil, big pharma, big box food stores and so on reap huge profits. The little screens we love to use are not just toys; big companies use them to keep track of our purchases to help them find even better ways of selling stuff to us. 

The book “1984” famously warned of big government. But the reality today is that we have to be wary of big corporations. 

The CEOs of these corporations make salaries in the tens of millions, but we don’t blame them for our woes even though their for-profit-pricing policies hurt our economic well-being.

Meanwhile, people-oriented services like healthcare and education are suffering from a lack of proper funding. Homelessness abounds.

Our environment takes a back seat even though the dangers of climate change are real. 

Understanding how things work takes effort. Putting an X on the ballot name that leads to real change is challenging. Or do we want more of the same?  

Finding solutions and new ways of doing things requires thinking, participation and knowledge. Getting involved with real choices, even if that means leaving tradition behind. Doing otherwise will ensure we continue riding the roller coaster of despair. 

Carl Hager is a retired educator in the Pontiac and a member of the NDP Pontiac executive.

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