Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Loyalty is not for Sale

I was very discouraged by the democratic process last night. Someone who I was campaigning for lost, but that’s not what upset me. I discovered that my candidate had paid canvassers. I had to ask myself where the people were who should be doing this out of pure conviction.

It is naïve and childish of me to think that politics should be pure… I should know better. Perhaps it is an elitist viewpoint that people should be out volunteering and contributing to the democratic process out of the courage of their convictions. Politics should be about thoughts, ideas, and the betterment of society, not money. I was hoping that the people knocking on doors with me were doing it for the same reason I was, and not because there was money at the end of the day. I know that money can buy a lot of things, but I was hoping that a seat in the House of Commons was not one of them.

On the other hand, do I really have a right to feel betrayed? If I wasn’t busy spending time on my career and making money, I could have spent more time canvassing and volunteering. I know that people need to make a living, and volunteering is a privilege of the well to do. This is my internal conflict. I want as many people to get into the democratic process as possible, but at the end of the day, only the financially elite can afford to.

I do what I do because I believe in it. Am I silly to ask the same of others? I am either standing for something, or standing in solidarity against something. Stand with me, or stand against me, but don’t stand there because you’re paid to. Stand because you believe. There is no price for my loyalty; it can only be earned.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stupidity gone hog wild

I have been skeptical of the housing market for some time now, particularly in the United States where I read of people getting mortgages that are worth more than the value of their home. Something in the business and economic model just didn’t make sense to me. I am told again and again that Canada is immune to a housing collapse, but I also find that hard to believe. The recent headlines about the sub-prime lenders starting to foreclose homes just reinforce my gloomy outlook on the economy and markets at large.

An article on CNN Money has me thinking about the housing market and the “victims” of sub-prime loan sharks. The article featured a nice young couple with a $5,000 down payment on a $300,000 home facing the possibility of foreclosure. The company that lent the money was made out to be evil snakes from hell and the young couple an unsuspecting victim of money hungry people out to get them. My question is, what are they doing taking out a mortgage they can’t afford in the first place? Why am I supposed to feel sympathetic for a couple stupid enough to pay 10.7% on one loan and a variable interest rate on a second loan which has a fluctuating interest rate that they are worried about?

Don’t make the lenders out to be evil people. They were just out to make some money. Most of the people working are also at the mercy of commissions and high sales targets. If you know you can’t afford the interest payments going up, don’t enter into the agreement in the first place. Why do we vilify people for making a few bucks? Sure, they did it irresponsibly and I am against big business at large, but this time the customers are just as much to blame. If you know you are going to get screwed, don’t sign on the dotted line!

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

When cultures clash, whose values come in first?

Last week an 11 year old Muslim girl from Quebec got ejected off a soccer pitch for wearing her hijab. The referee (also Muslim although that may be irrelevant), had asked her to remove it and when she refused, he tossed her out of the game.

Based on my household of 2, and a statistically insignificant sample size, there seems to be two schools of thought on this subject. One is to preserve the purity of the sport. Will covering your head give you an advantage over other players in the game? Where do we draw the line? If we allow a hijab, should we also allow padded headbands? If all religious symbols are allowed, then should we not also allow the Skikh ceremonial dagger on the soccer pitch? If you are playing a western invented sport, then the rules of the sport should apply first and foremost while engaged in said sport. Even Andre Agassi could not play at Wimbledon until he decided to conform to their dress code.

The second school of thought is that as long as safety is not compromised and standard rules of decency are adhered to, one should be allowed to wear whatever s(he) wants. Are we so paranoid about secularism that we should ban all religious symbols? If the girl’s religion calls on her to cover her hair, should we then not be inclusive to allow for those cultural differences in a society that claims tolerance? Failing to have headscarf written in the official FIFA rules bears little weight with me. In beach volleyball, bikinis seem to be the de-facto uniform to increase revenue from male spectators. Should a woman choose not to expose her breasts for all to see, then according to FIFA’s logic, should she not also get ejected from the beach volleyball court?

Clearly cultures have clashed here and the real losers are the kids who were denied their sport because their adults could not agree to respect one another.

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