Monday, January 23, 2006

ATM Omen

One poll in the lead-up to the election claimed that the Conservatives had made big gains with men over 50 making over $100,000 a year. Haven't rich old white guys always been hardcore conservatives anyway? With this in mind, I had an ominous experience immediately after lodging my (usual) futile protest vote that I took as an obvious omen about the election results. I was pedalling past the credit union and realized I had no cash, so I ran in to the ATM. While the machine was processing my meager request, I noticed a withdrawal slip someone had left behind. I looked a little closer, and saw that this someone had taken out $200, leaving them with a balance of $58,338.37 in their chequing account.

I pictured a Boss Hogg sort of character leaving the Summerland Youth Centre polling station an hour earlier, having just marked a proud X beside Stockwell Day's name on the ballot, getting into his $60,000 Chevy Suburban and feeling smug about lower taxes and no fear of environmental regulations for his oil-patch drilling company back home in Red Deer. While pondering the infinite justice of private (for-profit) health care, foreign policy in lockstep with the U.S., and a gutted Charter of Rights and Freedoms near Homeside Video, he remembered that he was down to $800 cash in his wallet and decided to top it up to the usual grand, just for comfort. And then just as he was walking away from the ATM, he glanced at his balance on the slip and thought with a chuckle, "I should really leave this here so some poor lefty sap can stumble across it and feel powerless today."


Angelo said...

This feels like an extension of the conversation we had when you were in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago and I asked you, “Who lives in Summerland?” This was one of those guys.

We watched the proceedings on CBC last night. Rick Mercer’s bit was a highlight in an otherwise dull, though undeniably schlitzy, broadcast. Esther and I have been happy to be in a riding with a leader we can get behind, Libby Davies, who seems to have her finger on the pulse of her constituency; she won by something like thirteen-thousand votes.

Is Stock really going to be Canada’s next Minister of Foreign Affairs? God help us.

Jeremy said...

Well, I can only try to imagine who these people are who can repeatedly elect him by a landslide. They can't all be Boss Hogg types, can they? I guess he gets the entire church vote, all the people who will vote conservative regardless of who the candidate is, and all of the right-wing prairie transplants (all three groups dominated by residents over 50). This riding was chosen for him specifically, so they will have done all the demographic analysis, I'm sure.

He'll be a minister of something in a Harper government. I just hope it's a post where he can't do as much damage to the country as he would likely do in foreign affairs, although when I think of the other high-profile possibilities (environment, health, finance, human resources) it's just as disturbing, really.

Lots of glitz in the CBC coverage, eh? Peter Mansbridge seemed almost euphoric throughout. We grazed, turning it on for 20 minutes every hour or so to get a sense of what was going on without sitting there the whole time watching them repeat themselves. Good for Libby -- and nice for you guys to live in a place with enough people who share your values so that you don't have to feel like political outsiders.

Tannis said...

Are you very, very sure that wasn't our balance? Ours does sometimes start with a 5 and end in a 7.

Jeremy said...

You saw the slip! 5 and a 7, maybe...but ours usually has three digits after the dollar sign, not five.

Anonymous said...

This is uncanny Jer,
I had the identical experience living in Lethridge (only it was the day I got my first cheque for my first real job working for a radio station of a fairly large company (does the name Pattison ring a bell?) and was earning 7$/hour as a Writer/Producer. I was jacked cuz it was the most money I'd ever made in a 2 week period (sad) and went to take out some coin to spend and celebrate my first payday. There was a stub left in the machine (as if it wasn't necessary to know what your balance was ... who does that!) I figured out why. It was a CHEQUING account & the balance was 345,674$ (I kept it and put it to memory I was so shocked). My real concern was "how much bloody money did that person have in their SAVINGS!!!"

Jeremy said...

Wow, Nicole...that dwarfs my experience. I guess we're all a bit wowed by wealth, which probably isn't good for us in the long run. Compared to most of the people in the world, we're rich, but it's hard not to compare ourselves to everyone who seems to be doing a lot better than we are.

tfoxfan said...

At work, the debrief of the election results proved to be stimulating. As Angelo mentioned, we are in the Vancouver East riding which actually reflects a political approach we value, specifically in responding to social justice issues. Several of my colleagues identify with the concerns we have although they live in Abbotsford, a Conservative stronghold. Ed Fast laid the smack down in their riding and if a contest were held who was first past the post, he would have been the undeniable winner. One colleague was quite woeful, much in the same vein of the feelings you describe here. He cast a Green vote and felt the exercise was futile.

Ultimately though, the question that you present here is tied to this desire to see change and approach cultural, economic and political issues in a new and innovative fashion. Yet the sentiment of resentment and futility based on a capitalist model pervades the spirit to hold to that valuable and undeniably, important ideal.

To counter, I wonder: Are all people who have a healthy balance in their bank account capitalists? I don't think so. Are all Conservatives capitalists? I think its likely - although many that hold to capitalist ideals are not on the plush end of the wealth scale. Are we all likely to fall into capitalist 'head' so as to compete with the measure of success (monetary) that surrounds us? Absolutely.

There's a lot to chomp on here, my friend. I think you're addressing our collective struggle to deal with the new and improved version of 'the dream' and how it is reflected in the decision of the people (our elected politicians) that manage whether or not that dream is in fact attainable. Ultimately, these politicians actually create what 'the dream' should be.

Jeremy said...

Thanks for the in-depth comment, Esther. Sounds like you were pretty engaged in the process this time around.

I had a very satisfying experience voting in the municipal election this year -- nearly everyone I voted for (including the mayor) was elected, even though there was a large slate of excellent candidates. It was nice to know that others shared my sense of who might help create the type of community I want to live in. I was glad to have done some research and gotten involved in small ways.

By 'dream', do you mean some version of The American Dream? Middle-class aspirations and the white picket fence and all that? Or are you thinking more in terms of what we dream about for society as a whole?

tfoxfan said...

I guess I mean both - a new version of the age-old American Dream which I would entitle the 'Oprah/Martha' dream; namely the perfect family/house compliment dream.

For the most part, I don't know if people consider 'the dream' a societal one. I certainly aim to attain the 'ideal society dream' although I don't know if it translates all that well in my conversations (or blogs for that matter.

I guess it (the dream) depends on what really motivates a person and how that meshes with the community we live and ideally identify with.