MUSINGS PART TWO

RON MURDOCK

13/ Politics of Housing and Homelessness
Ron Murdock

Imagine yourself walking down the street. You come across a partially eaten sandwich, pizza slice or another discarded food item. You’re so hungry that you pounce on it eat it no matter how long it’s been sitting there. Plus there is the health issue of whose mouth it was in prior to the homeless person. For the homeless this is part of day to day survival. Judgment of others doesn’t help the situation. What does being called lazy, drunk, junkie or non-deserving of anything better do to a person’s self respect? The depression despondency that is part of being homeless is a burden that drains the future of any hope. Drug/alcohol addiction occur as the homeless wants to blot out the pain of the moment, they get fed up can’t cope with the situation any longer.

How many homeless would jump at a chance to improve their fortune in life if given the opportunity to do so? Hopelessness should not be a way of life for anyone never mind it being a factor in a homeless person’s life. The environment they live in is tough enough, pitting their strength against what the weather throws at them, possible gang attacks so on. Some do choose the homeless lifestyle willingly. They will refuse help no matter what offer is put on the table. Some are delusional, don’t or won’t fit in anywhere as they feel there will be too many rules or regulations to put up with. Others feel bureaucracy, sometimes known as Big Nanny, will govern every aspect of their lives, placing their own life on hold every decision will be made for them without being consulted.

Statistics university degrees following a person’s name means diddaley squat when dealing with real life issues. Do gooders wring their hands wag their index fingers while saying “Look at what is being done. Both are sitting in ivory towers, too insulated from what is really happening on the streets. The poor are shuffled off into the Twilight Zone of the out of sight, out of mind mentality.

The real experts are those who experienced homelessness firsthand the front line workers who deal with it on a day to day basis. How many people are going to have to die before anyone with the power to do something will notice?

Should housing be subject to the laws of supply demand or be part of the social agenda? Money for social housing has been decreased in parts of Canada over the last few years. Illegal suites, many of them are the only affordable rentals available, are shut down, forcing even more to live on the streets. Some homeless have worked for years, some still are, yet their efforts have come to nothing. They can no longer afford a place to rent or buy. Is living on the streets all they get in return for their labours? Or will the profit margin win every time?

People need supportive housing not mini institutions to live in. People shouldn’t have to worry about an eviction notice from a corporation who wants develop the property for trendy high cost condos. People need have a right to live in a place with secure locks, in a safe neighbourhood, have a garden if desired cast down roots

14/ Technology and the Poor
Ron Murdock

It seems beyond comprehension in today’s world that over 5 billion people may not have some form of access to the Internet. Poor countries who are cash poor but time rich could find inexpensive methods of hooking up computers so their population can participate in the global village. Western civilization is often the opposite – cash rich and time poor. While some of us can wait a moment or two for needed information, others want theirs in 2 seconds as they live a life of busyness. Either way, who would have thought 100 years ago that one would be able to send an email to anywhere in the world and have it there within a minute?

Even if one can’t afford to have a computer at home, public libraries throughout North America have public computer terminals that even the homeless can access the wealth of information from the Internet. The expression “Give a person a fish, you feed them today. Teach them to fish and they feed themselves every day” may be replaced by “If you give a person information, you answer one of their questions. If you get them on line, you let them answer all their questions for themselves.”

Like anything else, the Internet can be part of the solution. While there are websites that are of very questionable value, the Internet can be used to pull up a lot of good and valuable information in a short span of time. There are many venues the Internet can offer to make poverty concerns known, whether it be on a discussion board or a street newspaper website. Anything that gets the ball rolling to make positive changes in our world is worth a try.

15/ Technology and the Poor
Ron Murdock

It seems beyond comprehension in today’s world that over 5 billion people may not have some form of access to the Internet. Poor countries who are cash poor but time rich could find inexpensive methods of hooking up computers so their population can participate in the global village. Western civilization is often the opposite – cash rich and time poor. While some of us can wait a moment or two for needed information, others want theirs in 2 seconds as they live a life of busyness. Either way, who would have thought 100 years ago that one would be able to send an email to anywhere in the world and have it there within a minute?

Even if one can’t afford to have a computer at home, public libraries throughout North America have public computer terminals that even the homeless can access the wealth of information from the Internet. The expression “Give a person a fish, you feed them today. Teach them to fish and they feed themselves every day” may be replaced by “If you give a person information, you answer one of their questions. If you get them on line, you let them answer all their questions for themselves.”

Like anything else, the Internet can be part of the solution. While there are websites that are of very questionable value, the Internet can be used to pull up a lot of good and valuable information in a short span of time. There are many venues the Internet can offer to make poverty concerns known, whether it be on a discussion board or a street newspaper website. Anything that gets the ball rolling to make positive changes in our world is worth a try.

16/ Will the Real Truth Please Stand Up
Ron Murdock

Once in a long while a journalist from a major daily newspaper will venture out into the streets join the ranks of the homeless. Noble as it sounds to leave the comforts of home for a short duration, I have to wonder what is accomplished when the project is over with the journalist files his story. Readers are spoon fed detached observations from a impartial viewpoint from an involved source but not a committed one like a homeless person themselves. Remember the journalist has the option of going home at any point, something the homeless don’t have.

In the short term there may be some infusion of cash services that help out agencies like food banks. But in the long run the root causes of poverty will again be swept under the rug. What needs to be addressed is that being poor is a Catch-22 situation. While most don’t want to be homeless or on welfare, there is little in the way of school courses to take regulations can be a bitch to deal. An example is Alberta where one on welfare can sign up to take courses but be late even for a few minutes for any reason, the person is booted out of the course may be kicked off welfare.

When it comes to homelessness, the bottom line is the damage it does to people’s lives. Instead of a journalists pseudo experiences on the streets, why not publish the stories of those who are actually homeless? The insight of those experiencing something first hand will have far more impact on readers than one with no real connection to the story they’re writing about.

The question to ask is how many of us fear the truth? Especially those spending the majority of thier time in ivory towers. Are small papers afraid of losing community respect large dailies fear advertisers will take their revenue somewhere else? Or maybe they want to shape the truth into their own interests, a fact that could be named reality control. Keeping the homeless docile, out of sight out of mind will not make the problem go away. Only facing it in the cold white light of dawn will.

It’s not enough to inform people. Avoiding the truth won’t help either as being homeless sucks drains the human spirit. It’s time to find concrete solutions to a growing problem.

17/ Offering Panhandlers New Opportunities
Ron Murdock

Adam Major-Hodges works directly with panhandlers in Calgary, Alberta and will quite often go to their turf if they don’t feel comfortable in an office setting. Since he has dealt with panhandlers, Major Hodges has noticed three kinds of panhandlers in Calgary. One is the transients who are usually in Calgary for a short time only. They stay for a few weeks before heading to Vancouver in the winter or other waypoints during summer. The second group panhandle part time as a way to supplement whatever income they have whether it be AISH or casual work. Addictions and mental health issues are higher in this group. The third group is made up of chronic panhandlers. Many of the chronics are homeless and won’t use any of the shelters in Calgary. They have the highest percentage of mental health and addictions issues of the three groups.

Major-Hodges encourages people not to give to panhandlers; in turn he assists panhandlers to find other ways of making money. Another way Major-Hodges encourages people to help is by donating to social agencies that help panhandlers.

One way Major-Hodges helps homeless panhandlers is helping them find suitable housing. He’s found that it is easy for these people to get discouraged. Quite often they’ve left family and friends behind. Plus it is an adjustment to having walls around them instead of wide open spaces. Then there are living skills issues: how to pay rent on time and cleaning the apartment. Major-Hodges finds that most don’t want to be homeless but some are because the work they have doesn’t bring in enough cash to pay rent. A full time minimum wage job pays only $696.20 per month in Alberta and this is before deductions. With the price of housing the way it is in Calgary, it’s hard to find a place to rent for a decent price.

Major-Hodges feels there is a need for more public awareness on issues regarding panhandling, as it’s not just a personal problem but a societal one. He says the root causes of poverty need to be examined along with building low income housing, developing more job training and hiring more mental health workers.

Major-Hodges works to make sure that panhandlers and business owners are aware of current panhandling by-laws. In Calgary, by-law #3M99 essentially says no panhandling between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., no standing in people’s way, no vehicular panhandling, no aggressive panhandling and staying away from ATM’s and bus shelters.

One thing that Major-Hodges finds that adds to the vitality of Calgary is the various buskers and vendors around the city. He finds buskers entertaining and vendors sell products that people can use. He hopes Calgary continues to try to create and attract more venues for people to enjoy.

18/ View From the Vendor’s Corner”>
Ron Murdock

After selling street newspapers in 5 cities across 4 provinces, I have had a chance to see how street newspapers operate in different atmospheres and how the general public reacts to poverty issues and street vendors.

In Vancouver, each vendor was assigned a spot by the manager Mike McCarthy. We found out the hard way that his marketing skills were atrocious. What tipped us off were several people complaining about seeing a Spare Change vendor every half block along Robson Street. A few of us vendors got together and found this was the case. We brought this up at a meeting with McCarthy but our concerns fell upon deaf ears. Apparently in his mind there were so many people walking along Robson, every vendor should have done well. But flooding the market is a small area is a case of overkill. A vendor selling the same product every half block is like putting a Starbucks or McDonalds on every corner. Eventually the public will just tune it out. So we got together and made a list of where we would sell and not infringe on each others territory. But the power to be at Spare Change caught wind of this and proposed that vendors would have to sign a contract stating where and when a vendor could sell. I was one of several who got sick of the ego trip and headed to other pastures.

Edmonton and Calgary have a better system in place. Vendors work an area and no other vendor is allowed to work within a block and a half. This way an area doesn’t get overcrowded and a vendor can build up a steady clientele of regular customers. Vendors in Edmonton have the advantage of selling in the underground LRT stations. A warm LRT station is a better alternative than selling in inclement weather. What Mother Nature comes up with from day to day is something a vendor has to deal with, whether it be wind chill factors or heavy rain or wet snow.

My shortest stint was two weeks in Winnipeg, not long enough to get a good feel of the streets there. My longest stay was at 11th and Broadway in Saskatoon. I actually was considered part of the business community and even had two TV stations, Global and CFQC, feature me on their newscasts. One of the free lance writers I knew did an interview with me which aired on CBC Radio. Talk about having my 15 minutes of fame! Though I haven’t sold there in two years, I’ve stayed in contact with several people I met on the corner. I’ve been told that 11th and Broadway just hasn’t been the same without me.

Another good spot I had was the University LRT in Edmonton. Due to a high volume of foot traffic, I sold 20 to 30 copies of Our Voice in 2 or 3 hours. Using a wrinkle dog hand puppet helped matters. “Princess earned her keep by creating many smiles from people passing by.

What is it like for the street vendors? Like anything else it has it ups and downs. One can pick up on the quirks of human nature and we can attract some unusual behaviour. A woman started telling me about a conspiracy theory involving the United Way. One guy asked me if I had a smoke on me. The alcohol on his breath just about knocked me over. Since I’m a non-smoker I told him no. I guess he didn’t like my answer as he proceeded to tell me that street newspapers and vendors were a front for selling drugs and he, along with the cops, were watching me. Occasionally I’ve been mistaken for a particular religious group. Fortunately these incidents are few and far between.

Most people we deal with are pleasant and polite. Even if they just say hello as they walk by makes me feel noticed and human. When a customer buys a paper I like to ask how they are. It helps build up good customer relations.

Vendor sales seem to run in streaks. Some days I’ll sell a paper every few minutes until I’m sold out. Other days I’ll sell 3 papers in 35 minutes, do nothing for a hour then sell 6 papers in 15 minutes. The long stretches are hard on the mind and it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. Or one can look at it as a chance to become a philosopher on what life is all about.

A vendor has the privilege of setting their own hours. I like working the City Hall LRT station across from the Calgary Public Library. It has a good mixture of people going by and I thank all those who’ve stopped to buy a copy of Calgary Street Talk.

19/ Promoting Literacy
Ron Murdock

Connect Calgary started three years ago as a project that is part of the Smart Communities program. Industry Canada provides and administers the grant. Smart Communities intent is to aid Canada to become a world leader in the development and communication technologies. The Calgary Public Library is partner in Connect Calgary. Connect Calgary comes to an end in March 2004 but it is hoped that many of the excellent initiatives that have been started will be sustained, providing access for all. Diana Villeneuve added; “Many exciting initiatives started with this project and we hope to continue what’s begun.”

Connect Calgary is geared to the at risk population or to those who fall outside the norm of society. This includes the financially disabled, individuals living in Calgary shelters or under the assistance of social agencies. Diana Villeneuve believes the Calgary Public Library is for the public regardless of their life situation or economic ability & it is important to unite technology with the at risk population and to promote the Calgary Public Library. The website that provides access to many community services is Connect Calgary. Technology training is there for people who wouldn’t normally have access to a computer. Once a person becomes computer literate, they can search out various websites such as low cost housing, emergency services, job banks and to set up an email address. Outreach programs are spread throughout the community for teens and children both in and off library sites. Computer Buddies team children with teen volunteers to help develop computer skills and enhance literacy skills. Another program that has gone over very well is Cyberseniors. It introduces seniors to the wide world of technology.

Promoting literacy in the community is one of the goals of the Calgary Public Library. Staff is committed to programs such as story time for children, adult literacy and community outreach. Diana Villeneuve added; ” Under certain circumstances the library membership fee can be waived for those who are financially disadvantaged or can show financial need.”

20/ To Protest or Not to Protest
Ron Murdock

In the last few years there has been a resurgence in protest activity. The protests have involved the Iraq war, promoting fair trade over free trade, the “evils” of capitalism and corporate rule among other issues that people feel strongly about. It seems that protest activity is at its highest levels since the sixties.

The positive side is that people take an active stance, get things off their collective chests and out in the open. Also maybe, if it isn’t naive to believe so, the powers in charge get an idea of what the public wants. If people didn’t make their concerns known on a large scale, just how bad could things get if the powers in place figured they could get away with anything? So with this in mind, people can and need to say boo and take a stance against conventional wisdom when needed.

But, on the other side of the coin, I do take issue with protestors on a couple of matters. It’s one thing to complain about the system and how it needs to be changed. Not many of us would argue that concrete changes need to happen, but protestors need to offer solutions to what they feel are needed changes. Secondly protestors won’t do themselves any favours by causing destruction like that at the Summit of the Americas at Quebec City in April 2001. Protestors risk losing much support and respect from the general public when they cause damage to private and public property.

True enough, all things must change or complacency sets in. One can only change themselves. If one tries to change someone else or vice versa, only hate or resentment will come to pass. An individual can’t change the system by themselves, no matter how hard they try. They would become bitter and cynical. As it stands now, it takes lots of money or high connections to change the system, two things most of us don’t have. But if people got together in large enough numbers and did things in a peaceable manner, think of what could be accomplished!

21/ Good Eats in Unusual and Little Known Places
Ron Murdock

Restaurants, cafes and coffee spots are gathering places for people to congregate and speak of common things or world events. Others sit in blissful solitude lost in thought or read the days paper or even think of what to write in articles.

In Calgary places abound that offer low cost of free meals. But we’ll keep the list short and tell of the better ones.

The Express Cafe in downtown Calgary is one of the few establishments that somehow got around the cities tough anti-smoking by-laws. So when one enters they see the perpetual blue haze in the air. If any do-gooders from Big Nanny want to do studies on the effects of second hand smoke, this is the place to do it. The Express Cafe has more characters per capita in it outside of a New York Rangers or Yankees game. We could say dregs come here but that wouldn’t be true. People that eat here are of the working poor who don’t have a lot of money to spend. Meals are inexpensive and one gets a lot of food for their money. But after some of the meals, it may be wise to not check your cholesterol levels for several weeks afterwards. Graffiti is a great indicator of a persons philosophy on life. In the Express washroom, someone wrote above the urinal “Use at own risk”. In the stall, one wrote “This is teepee for taking teepee, not wigwam for beating tom-tom.”

Other places in Calgary are St. Mary’s whose full course meals put others to shame and anyone can eat as much they can. The only thing the Booth Centre and the Centre of Good Hope have in common is that they are run by the Salvation Army. Meals at the Booth Centre is enough to keep a bird from starving and that’s about it. Center of Good Hope has better food but it can be bland at times. Even the soup line at the Centre of Good Hope is a meal in itself.

Kamloops has several feeds that are respectable. The odd hot dog night and free sandwich handouts compliments what the men’s hostel, New Life Mission and Nazene Church have to offer in regular meals.

One soup kitchen in Saskatoon has such spicy soup it feels like my mouth could catch on fire if a lit match shows up close enough. One guy claimed to get ulcers from all the spices. Friendship Inn has a good breakfast with lots of fibre to it. Lunch is usually just soup and sandwich. Most of the time it’s good and thick but at times it’s little more than broth with no essential food ingredients in it.

Bon appetite.

22/ Will the Real Calgary Please Stand Up?
Ron Murdock

Calgary, Alberta has been called several things over the years. Cow Town, Land of Milk and Honey, Crack City, Land of Prosperity are just a few of the monikers describing the city.

Are things as good in Calgary as some would have you believe? If one is working in the oil patches or construction sites, the answer is yes. Work in other fields is much the same as the rest of Canada, not much is to be had. With the Alberta minimum wage set at $5.90 per hour, it just isn’t enough to cover the cost of rent in Calgary. Plus the vacancy rate is low.

Anything decent to rent in Calgary starts at $750 per month. Quite often it’s in the $1000 to $1250 range and up. To buy a house is out of the question for most working people. The waiting list for low cost housing is about as long as an aisle at a supermarket. The number of families becoming homeless in Calgary has increased threefold in the last few years. Sleeping in shelters is bad enough for single people but it is no place for children. Though better than a sidewalk or back alley, a shelter drains a person of spirit or hope if used on a long term basis. And who wants to raise their family in a shelter atmosphere for long periods of time?

I was paying $70 per week for a private room at the Booth Centre for the first four months I was in Calgary. One thing I noticed was all the windows were welded shut throughout the building. Air was recycled, I still wonder what the effects of recycled air is on the human body. The room I was in was going to be reclassified from single occupancy to double occupancy. Which meant two guys occupying the same room would be paying $275 each or in other terms the Salvation Army would receive $550 per month for double occupancy rooms. I decided against sharing my room with another guy as I value my goods and don’t want them sprouting legs and walking to the nearest pawn shop.

When it came time to find other accommodations, I had to find the cheapest rent, not the best place to live, as my funds were limited. I looked at several basement rooms. Most had no more than just a bed. No fridge or nary a hot plate. The windows had bars across them. These were going for $365 a month. These rooms saw just a few minutes of sun every day.

Calgary’s street life is something to behold. While selling Calgary Street Talk, I shared a corner with a hot dog vendor. Over a 5 month period we saw and experienced enough to earn a degree in psychology. Several fights, street preachers, conspiracy theorists, a few would graphically tell us what they thought of us and what we were doing and a drug bust where 2 teens tried to sell crack to 4 undercover Calgary police officers.

Calgary is a city of contrasts and covers such a large sprawling area. Either people are very wealthy or dirt poor, the middle class has been effectively eliminated. Calgary promises to be a mecca of sorts, so thousands have come from all across Canada seeking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Calgary has become a place littered with broken dreams. It was to shake ones head to see how many high expectations come crashing down.

23/ The Good, The Worse and the Bizarre
Ron Murdock

Back in the Summer 2003 edition of Streetviews Canada, I wrote an article on hotels I experienced across Western Canada. Since then I’ve had the chance to get involved with a few more in Alberta and British Columbia. So here goes with our second tour of the inside scoop of the insides of a few others. As Sheryl Crow once sang; “Relax, enjoy the show.”

The Windsor Hotel in Dawson Creek, B.C. was a favourite of mine to stay. Even though I only stayed here a couple of months, I was treated as one of the family by the staff. An advantage I never underestimate in having a private washroom. Some activities, like showering, I like to do without someone riding my ass to hurry up. Others, I’ve known, have said good things about the Windsor.

The Cranbrook Hotel, in its namesake town in south east British Columbia, is a real piece of work. The owners didn’t give a rats ass about the upstairs rooms as the tavern made the big bucks. When I paid for the first months rent I had troubles finding the room as the number on the door had fallen off. A number of Lysol drinkers lived here but at least they kept their activities behind closed doors. Monthlies had their own washroom. But the owners were cheap with the heat. There was a week stretch where Cranbrook got down to 25 below. The room wasn’t much warmer. The final straw was when I got home one day and found the cleaning lady had left my door propped wide open. Nothing of mine was taken but I complained and very quickly found another place to live.

For 3 three weeks I was living in Kamloops, B.C. For 6 hours I looked for a place to live and settled on the Rafter G Hotel. It was mentioned in the B.C. Accommodation Guide but they really should drop this hotel from their listings. The Rafter G isn’t deserving of being mentioned in a tourism book. Okay, rooms are equipped with fridges and stoves, which saves the cost of eating in cafes and every room had its own washroom and shower. But this is where the resemblance to the real world ends. Three of the four floors were quiet. The third floor was apparently where the apes were put, making a case for existence of The Missing Link. The only thing needed on the third floor was a daily banana run and some tires or vines hanging from the ceiling. One night I filled in for 3 hours between midnight and 3 a.m. What I saw proved my point that there is an incredible difference between day people and night persons, the difference is like day and night is the intended pun. Three prostitutes hung outside the front door, two of which lived in the Rafter G. The third one did but was evicted when she spend her damage deposit on drugs. She did try to bring a client in but didn’t get past the security door. So when the regular desk clerk and I did a security check on the abandoned house next door, we found the happy couple engaged in sexual activity. Our entrance cooled their passion. A few minutes later, the guy came back and said he was missing his money We went back to the room but no money was to be found. So our friend had been rolled by a “sex trader worker”. Not the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. At 3:30 I went upstairs and just wondered on how much I wanted to be involved with this kind of circus.

On my way to Calgary I put in a couple of days in at the Shuswap Lake Inn at Sorrento, just east of Kamloops. For atmosphere it’s at the end of the scale from the Rafter G. For the price I paid, I did expect value for my money. I was not disappointed. What I got was a cabin with all the amenities. The lakeshore was just a short walk away. An outdoor chapel was there, a place where I enjoyed meditating in solitude. I can see myself spending the rest of my life in a setting like this.

The St. Louis in Calgary should never be mentioned in any tourism book except as a place to stay out off. After being on the road all day and checking out 5 other places, I settled on the St. Louis, I was just too tired to carry on any longer and it was getting near sundown. This was the first hotel I’ve been IDed before getting a room. The hallways were so narrow in places I just about had to turn sideways to walk down it. The rooms were small and dark. I reckoned getting athletes foot from the shared washroom or shower stall, it would have been the least of possible health hazards I could have gotten. When I walked into the daylight in the morning, it was a shock as the inside of the St. Louis didn’t let much sunlight in. The morning I checked out, I went up to get my gear. The desk clerk asked me “Just where do you think you’re going?” I practically had to shove the room key into his face before he let me through the security door. This was after he saw me several times coming and going out of the lobby. Then I had a bit of time getting my $5 key deposit back but I did finesse the desk clerk in getting back. And to think Ralph Klein, premier of Alberta, used to drink here when he was a TV reporter and later mayor of Calgary.

The King Edward in Calgary was slated for demolition so an underpass could be built under the CP rail yards. The original owner bought the hotel back from the city after leasing it to them for $10 a year and is now looking to make the King Edward into low cost housing. For two months I lived in the King Edward. For $325 per month I got a cockroach infested room the only life form I kill willingly. A shared toilet room had such great graffiti such as “Lift the seat you f–king pigs and f–king flush! And don’t piss on the floor you dirty f–king pigs.” Not exactly uplifting material to read especially first thing in the morning. The tub room and shower stall were out of order and had been for years. One of the tenants told me they were that way since he had been living there and that was 5 or 6 years. So all the residents had to go next door to the Salvation Army’s Center of Good Hope to use the public showers. Really convenient in sub zero weather.

The National Hotel in Hanna, Alberta is a marked improvement over what Calgary had to offer. What rooms are available are clean, warm and a good deal at $25 a night. It was a pleasant experience to climb out of bed and take 5 steps to the shower as opposed to dressing up like the Michelin Man to got next door for one.

24/ Taking on the Politically Correct
Ron Murdock

Despite the rhetoric I hear, I’ve noticed that the politically correct from both the extreme left and the far right are often quite similar. Both sides seem to want to impose their sense of morality on the rest of us, delete what offends them and make us live in a sanitized environment of their own making. Is it correct to think that either side is out to eliminate any challenge to their vision of what ought or should be? How would they react to a reality that is contrary to their vision?

Other examples that the politically correct have gotten their fingers into is reading material and language usage. Much of the politically correct material is bland, inoffensive and not realistic in portraying real life. Being a history buff, I have to wonder how much history has been revised over the years by the politically correct in an attempt to “purify” everything. In other words, how much are we being “dumbed” down?

A reason I’m leery of the politically correct is that along with removing anything that could be termed offensive, they take away material that has the capacity to inspire or intrigue people.

How much will the thought or language police influence us to stop using what they term objectionable words or having undesirable thoughts? I guess they reckon they know what is good for us and want to save us from ourselves.

But it is time for us to take back our thinking abilities. No longer should we be willing to settle to be told what to think but learn the art of learning how to think.

25/ No Charity for Hockey Owners
Ron Murdock

With negotiations between owners and players still up in the air, it may take some imagination on where hockey will be after this season. The question to ask is where and how far the pendulum will swing this time around. Some of us older folk remember back in the sixties how team owners, particularly the Wirtz and Norris families, ruled the NHL with an iron fist. For a player to speak his mind or stand for himself meant being buried in the minors or be traded to a lower echelon team. Now with the advent of free agency and similar perks, the players can fill any amount on the dotted line, while saying show me the money. But with Kariya and Selanne signing for less money in their move to Colorado, I wonder if hockey salaries will be coming down.

A few years ago, team owners of NHL teams in Canada approached the federal government looking for cash handouts. My first thought was that the owners couldn’t be serious but knowing how the feds in Ottawa consistently use twisted logic on how they approach matters, I thought they would give the owners what they wanted. I was surprised that sanity prevailed when the owners were turned down. An example was Rod Bryden, owner of the Ottawa Senators. The main gist of his tale was give me more money when I ask for it or I’ll move my team somewhere else. It made Bryden sound like a Quebec separatist.

As members of the private sector, hockey teams are subject to the laws of private enterprise. Needed cash can be raised from parking, TV/radio contracts, concession stands, souvenirs and icing a competitive team. Tax money can then go to more essential matters. With millionaire players and billionaire owners, I can’t see why Joe Six Pack or Jane Taxpayer were asked to foot any bills or provide cash handouts to a bunch of big shot owners, with egos to match, who went brain dead and quit running their teams as a business.

I have no sympathy for owners as no one forced them to pay out the salaries they pay. I can’t blame the players for signing the contracts as it puts them on Easy Street financially speaking. But in the long run, small market teams face losing their teams as already witnessed in Winnipeg and Quebec City. Ticket prices are increasing at the same rate as the national debt. One needs to float a loan from one of the higher paid players just to pay for the tickets. Plus I have to question the NHL expanding into hockey “hot beds” such as Nashville, Miami and Tampa Bay.

It’s been said that hockey is the national sport and is important to Canada. After taking a look at the big picture, I would beg to differ. I regard agriculture, mining, logging, fishing and other resources as more important. How can team owners justify, with a straight face, their demands for tax cuts to the working poor who are trying to feed and house a family on a yearly income of $40,000 or less. I doubt if the working poor would show much sympathy.

When and if the day comes that no one is on a hospital waiting list for surgery, or transferred to an out of province hospital, get a MRI scan within days not months, when the homeless aren’t thought of as just another street fixture and legitimate needs are looked after first, then pro hockey teams can be bailed out. But until then the owners can wait as we need to set some priorities straight.

Security: Right or Privilege?
by Ron Murdock

Posted: 15:33 May 23, 2007

Unseen cameras are watching every step we make!
To what extent will people give up personal freedoms and privacy for security? Ask 1000 people and you may just get a thousand different responses. It is apparent that we have entered an era that could have Big Brother scrutinizing every move and transactions we make. Can we trust the various agencies that are collecting data on jus?

Will the day come when all the people on our planet be required to be micro chipped regardless of their economic status in life? From what I gather no one would be able to make any kind of transaction without it being inserted into the human body, which then the microchip could act as a GPS or Global Positioning System to monitor the person 24/7. Think of it as being sold to keep track of your child or pet, to know the whereabouts of parolees or other criminals, so why not get everyone else in the process.

Convenience stores. Banks. Airports. Other places where large groups of people congregate. What do they have in common? Probably that there is several cameras keeping an eye on these areas. One can only assume they are being watched as much as possible. When one uses a credit card or grocery discount card or debitcard how much of these transaactions and other personal information is being sorted into a database and monitored by advertisers or security firms? Will they use this information for whatever ends they have designed?

There is a belief that if a persona hasn’t done anything wrong, they have nothing to hide. This is too much of a passive attitude to be happening on a large scale. What happens if a person holding this belief is somehow misindentified when a criminal steals their ID? Those wanting too much security may be well meaning but may be over zealous control freaks. Plus it could be a case of government over reaching and being overly intrusive into the average citizens life.

It is then to ask just how much do consumers want private information being observed or used by security agencies or corporations. If an individual loses the ability to see and correct what information is collected about them then will that data be used against them? Anyone remember Eisenhower warning us of the military-industrial complex endangering personal liberites or the democratic process?

The day is coming in that no one will have no place to run, no place to hide.

Security: Right or Privilege?
by Ron Murdock

Posted: 15:33 May 23, 2007

Unseen cameras are watching every step we make!
To what extent will people give up personal freedoms and privacy for security? Ask 1000 people and you may just get a thousand different responses. It is apparent that we have entered an era that could have Big Brother scrutinizing every move and transactions we make. Can we trust the various agencies that are collecting data on jus?

Will the day come when all the people on our planet be required to be micro chipped regardless of their economic status in life? From what I gather no one would be able to make any kind of transaction without it being inserted into the human body, which then the microchip could act as a GPS or Global Positioning System to monitor the person 24/7. Think of it as being sold to keep track of your child or pet, to know the whereabouts of parolees or other criminals, so why not get everyone else in the process.

Convenience stores. Banks. Airports. Other places where large groups of people congregate. What do they have in common? Probably that there is several cameras keeping an eye on these areas. One can only assume they are being watched as much as possible. When one uses a credit card or grocery discount card or debitcard how much of these transaactions and other personal information is being sorted into a database and monitored by advertisers or security firms? Will they use this information for whatever ends they have designed?

There is a belief that if a persona hasn’t done anything wrong, they have nothing to hide. This is too much of a passive attitude to be happening on a large scale. What happens if a person holding this belief is somehow misindentified when a criminal steals their ID? Those wanting too much security may be well meaning but may be over zealous control freaks. Plus it could be a case of government over reaching and being overly intrusive into the average citizens life.

It is then to ask just how much do consumers want private information being observed or used by security agencies or corporations. If an individual loses the ability to see and correct what information is collected about them then will that data be used against them? Anyone remember Eisenhower warning us of the military-industrial complex endangering personal liberites or the democratic process?

The day is coming in that no one will have no place to run, no place to hide.

Security: Right or Privilege?
by Ron Murdock

Posted: 15:33 May 23, 2007

To what extent will people give up personal freedoms and privacy for security? Ask 1000 people and you may just get a thousand different responses. It is apparent that we have entered an era that could have Big Brother scrutinizing every move and transactions we make. Can we trust the various agencies that are collecting data on jus?
Will the day come when all the people on our planet be required to be micro chipped regardless of their economic status in life? From what I gather no one would be able to make any kind of transaction without it being inserted into the human body, which then the microchip could act as a GPS or Global Positioning System to monitor the person 24/7. Think of it as being sold to keep track of your child or pet, to know the whereabouts of parolees or other criminals, so why not get everyone else in the process.
Convenience stores. Banks. Airports. Other places where large groups of people congregate. What do they have in common? Probably that there is several cameras keeping an eye on these areas. One can only assume they are being watched as much as possible. When one uses a credit card or grocery discount card or debit card how much of these transactions and other personal information is being sorted into a database and monitored by advertisers or security firms? Will they use this information for whatever ends they have designed?
There is a belief that if a persona hasn’t done anything wrong, they have nothing to hide. This is too much of a passive attitude to be happening on a large scale. What happens if a person holding this belief is somehow misidentified when a criminal steals their ID? Those wanting too much security may be well meaning but may be over zealous control freaks. Plus it could be a case of government over reaching and being overly intrusive into the average citizens life.
It is then to ask just how much do consumers want private information being observed or used by security agencies or corporations. If an individual loses the ability to see and correct what information is collected about them then will that data be used against them? Anyone remember Eisenhower warning us of the military-industrial complex endangering personal liberties or the democratic process?
The day is coming in that no one will have no place to run, no place to hide.