Sunday, June 26, 2005

Boy Scouts Bad, Girl Scouts Good

It’s a girl's world. Boys are toast. I wouldn’t want to be a boy growing up today for anything. The deck is stacked against them. It used to be that boys could be boys. They fought and wrestled. Some bullied. Some were bullied. Some triumphed over bullies. All persevered. After all, they were boys. They had boundless energy and endless bruises, scrapes and abrasions. They were boys and the world was there's.

These days, boys can be kicked out of school for pointing a banana at a buddy and shouting ‘bang, bang’. In North Carolina, a first grade boy was expelled for kissing a girl classmate on the cheek. The school referred to his behavior as ‘sexual harassment’. (I bet the outcome would have been different if he’d kissed a boy. He’d likely have been given a commendation for such enlightened behavior.) In any event, I bet we’ll see the same scenario unfold here in Canada soon. It is inevitable. Boys who behave like boys are bad. Boys who behave like girls are good.

Take, for example, the unfortunate, hyperactive boys who are routinely drugged into a vegetative state of docile capitulation by their drug-company influenced doctors and oh-so-busy parents. You never hear of this with girls. Lets face it, these days, being a normal, exuberant boy is almost a crime. Or, at least, a terrible inconvenience for their parents.

Right now, as I sit here, I am so happy to have two daughters and no sons. After all, the era of males has passed. It was a respectful run, but all things must come to an end. The majority of university students studying law and medicine these days are females. Girls are doing better in school than boys and entering the workforce in record numbers. Males are portrayed in many TV commercials as sniveling, bumbling weaklings, trying to cook supper and clean the house. While women are strong and decisive with meaningful careers. Check it out the next time you’re watching the boob tube.

OK, I’m raving. I’m chewing on this like a pit-bull on a Chihuahua. Why? Simple. Today I found out something that has turned my world upside down. Something that chilled me to the bone. Something so monumental and historically significant in the area of equal rights that it makes everything else pale in comparison.

Today I found out that girls can join Cubs and Scouts but boys are not allowed to join Brownies or Guides.

And let me tell you. It made my Y chromosomes run cold. Surely the end of the world is near. The end of a world where males have any chance at all of not being trodden under by the unstoppable surge of female dominance. Give up boys. Your subservience is inevitable.

Apparently, the battle of the sexes is no longer about females fighting for equality. It is now about males sharing everything and females sharing nothing.

I always thought it quite reasonable for boys and girls to have their own little groups and organizations to the exclusion of the other. The Canadian Brownie/Guide website agrees and shares the following bit of wisdom with us:

“Guiding provides an accepting and nurturing all-girl atmosphere where a girl can be herself.”

Cool. Seems sensible to me.

Still, I can’t help but wonder, if girls need an all-girl atmosphere to be themselves, who are they when they join Boy Scouts? Do they then become someone other than themselves? Surely not. So, if girls can be themselves around boys in Scouts, why can’t they be themselves around boys in Guides? And, most importantly, if they need to have their own organizations, why would they object to letting boys have their own organizations too?

And here’s another quote, this one from the British Girl Guide website:

“Girlguiding believes that the needs of girls and young women are best met through an organization catering specifically for girls.”

Again, I think this is totally sensible.

Too bad the same thinking does not appear to apply to boys. It seems that the needs of boys are not best met through an organization catering specifically for boys. Rather, the needs of boys appear to be best met through being forced to share their little groups with girls, whether they like it or not.

And it doesn’t stop there. I also discovered that, while not only are boys excluded from brownies and guides and girls allowed to join cubs and scouts, there are also ‘Girl Scout’ troupes. And, of course, they also exclude boys from membership. So, while ‘Boy Scouts’ are a sexist anachronism, ‘Girl Scouts’ are perfectly acceptable.

Personally, I think that this is feminism gone mad. What’s wrong with little boys having an association just for them, where they can learn stuff and play with each other away from the icky girls? Who’s rights are threatened by allowing them to have such groups? More notably, what angry, misguided person actually launched a lawsuit to force boy scouts to let girls in? Heck, I’d hate to be a braincell in their head. It would be awful lonely.

Oh well, c’est la vie. There are probably no girls who really want to be cubs anyway. Just as there are no boys chomping at the bit to be brownies. The sad thing is that these innocent children are pawns in a much bigger game. A game instigated by parental social activists where phony rights that children never wanted or needed in the first place are foisted upon them. Rights that apparently apply to one gender only.

As I mentioned, I have two girls. They are my world. One is a Guide. The other will be a Brownie in a few years. I want to live in a society where they have the same rights as boys and the same opportunities to be whatever their capabilities allow them to be. They may make nothing of the fact that they are allowed in boy’s groups while boys are not allowed in theirs. Or, they may notice and actually like it.

I hope they don’t learn to like having more rights too much. After all, that would make them no better that the males their mothers and grandmothers fought to be equal with.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Culture of Fear

Last week was a scorcher. There were several major smog alerts. I read that smog kills upwards of 6,000 people a year in Ontario. If you want to live, for god’s sake stay inside. And never let your children out of your sight. Pedophiles are everywhere. According to the National Missing Children's Services, more than 66,000 kids went missing in Canada in 2002. There will be more terrorist attacks in North America, and likely in Canada. Guaranteed. No one is safe. Not long ago a cow was diagnosed with mad cow disease. Please, put down that hamburger. What the heck’s the matter with you? Are you crazy?

Public Health Attorneys in California warn that potato chips cause cancer. Apparently, so does hydrogenated vegetable oil, soy, barbecued foods and garbanzo beans. Growth hormone is injected in all chickens these days. If your children eat eggs, they will reach puberty at an abnormally early age and die prematurely. Better get a burglar alarm for your home. There’s a lot of crime out there. Get one for your car too.

Look at that kid on the bike. My God, he doesn’t have a helmet on. No knee pads either. His parents should be shot. The Canadian Safety Council would freak if they saw that. Whatever you do, don’t go into that neighbourhood after dark. A woman was assaulted there last month. It’s just not safe anywhere these days. I hear that housing prices can’t be sustained at this level. Surely, the market will crash soon. And when it does, millions of people will go bankrupt. Our economy will be decimated. We should all be very worried.

Personally I thought Y2K was going to do us all in. But somehow we survived. At least for now. The rainforest is being cut down. Soon there will be no oxygen to breath. All the fish are all being caught and eaten. Soon our oceans will be empty. But that’s OK, We won’t be around to see it. All the fish are full of mercury and other carcinogens. Every bite brings us closer to death. Ironic, isn’t it, how the oceans we killed will end up killing us.

GM will be laying-off 25,000 employees. Entire cities will be economically destroyed. David Suzuki tells us that the earth is heating up and that global warming is a threat to all life on this planet. We are all in terrible danger. The glacier is melting. Oceans will rise and envelop the earth. Tornados, hurricanes, floods, forest fires and earthquakes are destroying dozens of communities. We are in big trouble.

The Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling warns that gambling is highly addictive. Keep away from the casinos if you know what’s good for you. Lotteries are bad news too. North Korea has nuclear missiles armed and ready to go. World war three is surely just around the corner. Seventy-five percent of all Canadians have some sort of mental illness. How do you feel today? A little depressed maybe? That sounds like cause for concern.

According to the Heart and Stroke foundation of Canada, more than 40,000 Canadians have strokes each year - about 16,000 of these prove fatal. Maybe you’ll be next. Don’t take those nail clippers on the plane, they’ll arrest you. Hmmm, that swarthy man over there looks suspicious. Don’t swim in the water. It’s polluted. You’ll get sick and maybe die. Quebec is going to separate. Our country will be lost. We will all suffer. Smoking is banned in bars. Bar owners warn that their businesses will close and thousands will be unemployed unless the ban is lifted. Unemployment frightens me.

It’s really, really hot today. Don’t go outside or you’ll get heatstroke. Lawn pesticides will give you cancer. A meteor destroyed the dinosaurs, and someday one will destroy us too. It’s just a matter of time. You’d have to be crazy to give blood after so many Canadians got AIDS and Hepatitis C from tainted blood. Your son is just too active. That’s worrisome. Lots of boys are on Ritalin. You should try it. It’ll fix him right up. Conservatives have a hidden agenda. They scare me.

The Canadian Institute of Actuaries warns that there are too many old people and not enough young people in our society. If we don’t significantly increase immigration there will be a demographic catastrophe. AIDS doesn’t just affect gay men and drug users. We are all at terrible risk. Marijuana is a gateway drug. If you smoke it you’ll become a crack addict. Keep that pit bull away from me. They are all killers. Evangelical Christians will destroy our society. They scare me.

According to Statistics Canada, one third of children age two to eleven are overweight. Most will develop serious health problems when they grow up. Thirty people a year die of food poisoning. Are you sure you want to eat in that restaurant? Hate crimes are increasing. 50% of all marriages end in divorce. You think your spouse loves you? Ha. The world trade organization is out to enslave the world. Free trade will destroy our social safety net. Big corporations are evil. They terrify me.

Our heath care system is disintegrating and will not be there when we get old. Neither will the Canada Pension Plan. It’ll be bankrupt by then. World oil supplies are drying up. We must find alternative fuel sources or perish. When we get old we will surely get sick and starve to death in the cold.

Nice tan. Aren’t you worried about melanoma? The ozone layer is terribly thin. Here put on some of this sun screen. What the heck’s the matter with you anyway? You’re making me very anxious.

The dollar increased in value this morning; this is bad news for exporters. The dollar dropped in value this afternoon; this is bad news for importers. According to Canadian cancer statistics, at least 18,000 Canadians die of lung cancer every year. It’s the country's number two killer. This means that there's a good chance one day you’ll get it. For god’s sake, put that cigarette out. I’m really frightened for you.

A little while ago, a man died of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Asia. The entire planet panicked. Surely birds will be the death of us all. Mark my words. Our city’s Chief Medical Officer of health warns that the next great plague is just around the corner. Maybe it’ll be a mutated strain of the West Nile virus, SARs, influenza or cholera. One thing’s for certain: we are all in grave danger. And we should all be afraid. We should all be very, very afraid. Twenty four seven.

In fact anyone who isn’t afraid all the time must be suffering from some psychotic disorder that allows them to distance themselves from reality and escape to an imaginary world. Quite frankly, such crazy, irrational people scare the beejeebers out of me.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

It’s all been a pack of lies. All this talk about the evils of so-called two-tiered health care. Lies. All lies.

On Thursday the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling that sheds significant light on the magnitude and depth of the lies; a ruling that promises to shake the very foundations of our nation’s state-run health care monopoly. In essence, the court ruled that the Quebec government’s prohibition on private health care insurance violates the rights of Quebecers to receive timely medical treatment and confirmed what we already know - that people are suffering and dying because they are forced to wait in line to access the public system. Furthermore, the court noted that, based on the experiences of other western democracies, it does not appear that private health care leads to the eventual demise of public care.

Imagine! For decades, Canadians have been told that so-called two-tier heath care would destroy our beloved universal heath care system. And now our Supreme Court tells us different. Think of all the sick Canadians who suffered because the government would not allow them to seek treatment outside the public system. Many lived in tremendous pain and even died waiting for treatment. Now we find out the government actually had no right at all to impose this onerous restriction on their rights and freedoms.

Now, let me be clear. I am not out to ruin the public system. I have no desire to deprive any Canadian, poor or otherwise, of health care when they need it. But, let's face it, the middle class is getting shafted here. There are tons of people out there defending the poor. And the rich need no one to defend them. That leaves only the middle class. You know, the people whose taxes mostly pay for the system. Tell me, who is defending their right to quick and effective health care? Who is protecting their right to live and be healthy? No one, that's who. Rather, sick middle class Canadians who need timely medical treatment have been blocked at every step by misguided leftist ideals and neo-socialist government restrictions on health care access.

It’s all just a big scam, really. We've been played for fools. Lets face it, here in Canada, the poor don’t have access to the same fast acting, well functioning health care system as the middleclass. Rather, the middle class have access to the same waiting lists and slow, unsustainable system as the poor. In essence, here in Canada, the middle class have been moved to the same level as the poor with respect to heath care access, not vice versa.

Of course, many rich and connected Canadians simply go south of the border for quick treatment. They have also have access to illegal private Canadian clinics that are hidden from poor and middle-class Canadians. As I understand it, our fabulously wealthy Prime Minister, Paul Martin, gets his treatment from a private clinic in Quebec. No waiting in line for that boy. Is my displeasure displaced by thinking that this is simply unacceptable?

And it's the same for most rich Canadians. Here in health care la la land, a tiny rich, elite segment of society have quick access to essential, life saving, private medical services while the government prevents the rest of us from doing the same. Some may ask how we have come to this. Perhaps Indian-Canadians would see the parallels with a caste system. As for me, I recognize the failings of our universal health system as the only possible outcome of any myopic, socialist-run scheme geared at making people artificially equal. As is always the case, the ruling class and elite benefit equally, and everybody else suffers equally.

The next time you hear some rich, elitist, left wing twit like Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Moore or Sarah Polly gush over Canada's universal heath system, you might want to ask yourself this: how long would they wait for a specialist appointment if they found a disturbing lump somewhere on their anatomy? Do you really think they would wait in line with us? They would be gone stateside in an instant. And yet they think they know what’s best for us. It is sad that we give them any credibility at all. Rich socialists really annoy me with their oxymoronic values.

As I understand it, aside from Canada, only Cuba and North Korea have outlawed private health care. Even such bastions of social enlightenment as Sweden, France and the Netherlands allow their citizens to access some private health services. Is it not sad that Canada has chosen to align itself with oppressive Communist countries when it comes to health care, rather than follow the examples of progressive European nations?

When I was growing up on Cape Breton Island in the sixties, everyone had a family doctor. And you could get in on a day’s notice. The doctors were well off and lived in the largest homes in town, just like today. People paid when they could and somehow even the poor received good care. The government helped out only as necessary. Lineups were pretty well unheard of. Today’s Cape Breton is very different. Under today's state monopolized system, vast numbers of residents have no family doctor and people wait considerable lengths of time for specialist appointments and treatments. It’s the same here in Toronto today. And it’s the same virtually everywhere here in Canada.

It has been noted many times that our health system is unsustainable and that people, in a free and democratic society, should have the right to seek out their own care rather than die on waiting lists or stretchers in hospital corridors. But, so far, the loud defenders of universal health care and their formidable media bodyguards have succeeded in stifling any meaningful debate by effectively demonized anyone who dares question the status quo. Even in the face of the court ruling, I don’t expect them to change their tune anytime soon. But maybe, while they contemplate the ruling, they could stop running around like chicken-little for a moment and answer the following simple question for me:

‘Can you prove to me that a careful and highly regulated implementation of some private healthcare services in Canada would have an overall negative effect with respect to access to the public system? Please provide statistics and examples with a focus on refuting why private health care has not had such an effect in France, Sweden and the Netherlands.’

Oh, never mind, I already know what their response will be. I can almost hear them and read their picket signs as they march in a circle:

“Hey hey, Ho ho, Two tiered health care’s got to go”

It is the level of intellectual discourse one can expect these days from the obsessive purveyors of our state run health care monopoly. Meanwhile, how many more of us have to suffer in pain on waiting lists and die prematurely before we stop listening to them and start doing what’s best for middle class Canadians for a change?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Wasted on the Wrong People

Remember that old saying: “Strike while the iron’s hot”? Well, I've got an updated version: "Strike while the weather's hot". That's what one thousand of Ontario's professional hydro employees are doing these days. It's ninety degrees in the shade. Not a very comfortable time to be walking the picket line.

Where I come from, Cape Breton Island, unions have historically played an integral and significant part in many people’s lives. More so, perhaps, than here in Toronto. So, I feel that I am suited to provide a unique perspective on this situation.

Twenty years ago I moved to Toronto from Cape Breton in search of employment. When I arrived I was a staunch union supporter. How could I not have been? Back in my grandfather's day many Cape Bretoners were subject to horrific working conditions and massive exploitation by unscrupulous and heartless corporate coal mine operators. Workers were paid pennies for crawling on their hands and knees all day, a mile underground, breathing toxic dust, while digging coal by hand. They were paid by the pound and quite often cheated by the company they worked for. They were virtual slaves and had no recourse but to unionize. They fought some hard battles for their rights. My grandfather told me stories of freezing, starving miners marching on the mining office in the dead of winter and being beat bloody by club-wielding company mercenaries on horseback.

I don’t think I’m much different than most Cape Bretoners, or other Canadians for that matter. I am proud of my forefathers’ sacrifices. I fully support the right of workers to organize and am very aware of the significant role unions have played in giving us all a higher standard of living and safer working conditions. But, I cannot help but feel a little disillusioned with some of our unions today.

I have noticed that some union members these days are very highly paid. Professional athletes, for example. Their so called ‘unions’ have to be the most puzzling and blatantly ridiculous misuse of unionism that I have ever witnessed. Is it not a travesty that these millionaires are allowed to form a union? And then we have our doctors. They pay dues and reap the benefits of membership in their ‘associations’, which are, in actuality, unions. They defend their incompetent members, control who is licensed and influence what wages are paid to their members.

Surely, the inclusion of these well paid professionals under the union banner has done nothing to give unionism credibility in our society. Is it any wonder that many regular working Canadians have little sympathy for unions these days?

And what about the striking hydro professionals. As I understand it, they are all engineers and managers. Their average annual salary is $80,000 a year. Many make over $100,000 a year. Imagine, in our society, we have privileged, educated, highly paid hydro professionals demanding the protection of a working person’s union and willing to hold the public to ransom to get what they want.

If my coal mining forefathers were alive today to see what unionism has become, they would probably just shake their heads. They would not understand. Personally, I don’t understand either. Unions are supposed to protect the common workers – the workers who need protection. They were never intended to be a security blanket for affluent sports stars, well-heeled academics and university educated professionals. Surely these people should be able to take care of themselves.

Clearly, we have a problem in our society. Highly paid professional people who should, by any reasonable historical standard, have no right to union protection are often the most vocal and adversarial defenders of their own privileged unionized positions. As a result, the word ‘union’ no longer resonates positively among the public as it did in the past. And the demands of union members no longer have the public support they once did. This is likely because many of us no longer see unions as organizations that seek equality with the rest of us. Rather we see them as organizations that would not hesitate to punish us to preserve their position as our superiors.

Unions can still serve a valuable purpose in our society. It's a shame that they are sometimes wasted on the wrong people.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Beneath the Grass and the Government

People just love their lawns. They are literally addicted to them. They cultivate them, nurture them, groom them, care for them and admire them. Just like they do their kids. Sometimes, even more so. Personally, I don’t have a lawn. I live in a condominium. So, I am not an authority on the subject. In fact, maybe I have no right at all to express an opinion on lawns being as I have no personal experience caring for one. Maybe there’s some existential, deeply emotional, satisfying feeling about having a well groomed lawn that I am not aware of. All I know is that I see them everywhere. Lawns literally dominate our landscape. They consume us. We are veritable lawn junkies. It’s like we are all members of some sort of mindless lawn-cult or something.

Lets face it, lawns are superficial, artificial and downright boring. They don’t represent nature. How could they? After all, they repress nature. They only exist because people expend great effort preventing everything in nature but grass from growing there. I wonder, where the heck are the environmentalists? Why aren’t they marching on people’s lawns in dandelion costumes demanding that evil suburbanites free their lawns from slavery. If they were worth their salt, ‘Greenpeace’ would be all over this by now!

Personally, I like dandelions. I think they’re rather pretty. Lawn owners, however hate them They kill them, in large disturbing numbers. It’s a sort of genocide aimed at weeds. Call it weedicide. Imagine being a dandelion growing on someone’s lawn and seeing some huge, unshaven, weedophobic homeowner lumber toward you, hoe in hand, a maniacal look on his face, a grotesquely oversized pot belly stretching his too-small “Budweiser” t-shirt so that the logo is almost unintelligible. Can you even imagine such a horrific fate? I am literally shaking as I write this. No dandelion deserves to face such unspeakable terror.

Let’s be honest here, lawns are not that attractive. They are flat, characterless, soulless patches of bland emptiness. They demonstrate the obsession of a sad, brainwashed lawnlove culture. I just can’t figure it out. What’s the attraction? I don’t get it. Why do we all want the land in front of our homes to look so blandly similar? Is there no pride anymore in individuality? Is there no respect for nature? Virtually every single home, in every single village, town and city has a spotless, meticulous, woefully generic lawn. Everyone and their dog has allowed this ‘lawn culture’ to take over their lives. (By the way, take the last three letters off the word ‘culture’ and what have you got? Right. Never doubt it, if you are part of a so-called ‘culture’, you are really just part of a big cult. In this case, a lawn cult. You cultivate your lawn don’t you? Remove the last five letters from the word cultivate. Scary, huh?)

So here we are. Everyone believes they have to have a perfect lawn. In fact, it’s like sacrilege to not have one. Call it a cult, or call it a religion, it’s all the same, really. Many of us spend every Sunday worshipping and loving our lawns. Lawns are more important to us than God. We literally revere them and cry when they develop brown patches or inconsistencies. We care less when the church is disrespected or when our children develop acne.

Whether you own a house or simply admire other people’s houses, I bet you like lawns. I bet when you walk or drive by people’s homes where the lawn is shabby and unkempt, you roll your eyes and comment on it. It’s like the state of someone’s lawn reflects on their quality as a person. Like anyone who does not conform with the socially imposed, lawn-cult norm is some sort of deviant - someone unworthy of your respect. And we are all guilty of it. We have all been conditioned through social pressure to buy into this intolerant, discriminatory culture of lawn-loving exclusionism.

If you let your lawn go, your neighbours would complain to you and probably the municipal government. And because everyone else in your neighbourhood is a lawn loving automaton, you would be doomed. You would get no sympathy or help from them. After all, you would be undermining the value of their homes by not making your lawn just like theirs. You might think you own and control your property. But, how you manage your property is really contingent upon the approval of everyone else and whether they choose to complain to the authorities.

Now, depending on where you live, the local government may or may not have the authority to inspect and regulate your property, including your front yard. If they do, they may determine that you are not complying with the necessary standards and codes and ask you to make your lawn more like everyone else’s. And you would. It’s what any good Canadian home owner would do. You would submit to the will of the collective and the state.

Here in Toronto, municipal politicians have taken the opposite approach. They apparently don’t mind weeds at all and plan on banning all pesticide use. Soon, all Toronto homeowners who want a spotless lawn will have to visit their chemical-free lawns daily on their hands and knees, trowel in hand. It’ll be hard work, but it’s worth it.

When I started writing this piece I had the intention of making it a point to note how we have enslaved nature through our lawns – how we have eradicated all other natural plants in order to ensure that our preferred plant slave, the grass, dominated over all things. However, after having thought about it, I’m not so sure this is true. In fact now I believe the exact opposite.

Rather than enslaving our lawn and being dominant over it, I have come to understand that we have actually become enslaved by, and are dominated by, it. The grass is our master, not the opposite. And the government is the master of the grass. If we want to know where we fall on the ladder of significance, it is somewhere beneath the grass and the government.

Think about this next weekend when you are cultivating your lush green master while I am having a cool drink at the pub. How much of your life will you sacrifice to eradicate a few shrubs or dandelions? Whatever the case, you better just get on with it. You might think of it as a pleasure, but, never doubt, it is really a social requirement. Very similar to a job. A job where you are paid nothing; but a job nonetheless. Do it or suffer the consequences.

Oh well, at least your neighbours and the people who pass by are impressed. That has to be worth something.