The Human Struggle From Both Sides

What a morning… We are back into the swing of Canada. Well, kind of, in a reluctant way.

Lynn started back to work at her Canadian job this morning. She was up at 4:45 and off by 5:30 AM for her commute to work.  I slipped over to the workshop to light the wood stove, to allow the shop time to heat up a little before we begin. I tossed a trap on the table, so it will be ready to lace when I return in a few minutes. Lite the fire, and headed back home for a quick breakfast in the chilly -10 C.

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Before I even left the house this morning (Got to love time zones), I had five messages from Ivory Coast.

Man it is hard to keep up with different countries, I don’t even bother any more.  I just respond to who is there in front of me at the time, or as the notes come in.  I really do not hear much from Ivory Coast, just an odd note, from time to time, from a few friends.

A Togolese friend of mine living in Ivory Coast, and whom I worked with for several years, requires several surgeries as he has paralysis setting in from neck and back injuries. It seems he needs 3.5 million CFA for two surgeries they hope will give him relief. He is struggling to even dress himself now. So we are sending what we can for now, (others are responding also).

Then my Ivorian friend tells me how his wife has very high blood pressure and a stomach ulcer, so she is not doing very well. What is more, thieves broke into his shed and stole his motorcycle a while back, so now we has no transportation to his cocoa fields, or to do his other work. Never hurts to ask i guess, but I can’t count how many times he wanted me to help him get a newer motorcycle, as his was getting old and needing repairs he said. Now his motorcycle is gone altogether.

Man life is hard. I feel for them all. I had to tell Jean Claude that I was helping our mutual friends with his more urgent medical needs, and am not able to do both. It sucks to have to say no so often.  I know they don’t believe me when I say we were the working poor in Canada, living paycheck to paycheck. I have had to deny him, it seems like a dozen times now. I assure you this is not the kind of financially dependent relationship we had when I lived there.

I was reading about a church ministry where the staff people agree they only take 1/3 of their salary from the ministry, so they have to be bi-vocational to earn the rest. Great idea, I like the concept to keep costs down. But their 1/3 salary is $2000 US per month. Heck full-time workers on the east coast make little more than $2000 US per month. People with money haven’t a clue how much a struggle life is for so many people. I am rather clueless too.

Anyway,  it is a struggle to make ends meet for so many people. So many Islanders are just barely making it.  People love to shit on millennials, but I understand them. They will work probably a dozen different careers in  their lifetime. No one is making any long term commitment to them. No matter how much you invest, if a companies profits drop, you will be slashed, and when things change in six months they will hire someone else back.  There are certainly Millennial issues, but I think Millennials are giving the kind of commitment they are getting back from Companies. The ruling class companies are just pissed off the pauper class is waking up to the reality of their situation, and are no longer bending over and saying thank you for screwing me with low wages, and no guarantee employment, so your shareholders can become billionaires, and you get a five hundred thousand dollar bonus.

When you offer a university degree kid minimum wage, you are an insult. Sure they have things to learn. But I find people learn much more quickly than their pay scale increases. Millennials understand that well paying jobs require quality work, and you will get, it, if not fire them.

It is all an orchestrated economic game to keep wages down, and profits up, at the expense of human lives.  Employers will complain, “People don’t want to work.”.  What I hear when an employer talks like that is, “No, people don’t want to work for you.”  And there is usually a reason. You would have workers lining up if it was a good job, with an effort to reasonable living wage pay, with a little human respect shown, and you were not demanding five years experience for a job that might take a few weeks training, and requires no university degree anyway, because you would rather not invest in people and their training.  You want cheap labor for nothing, little investment on your part. You want to hire workers others trained for you, instead of making the cash output, and investment in training what you need for yourself.  So, your level of investment in your workers is the same level of investment they will give you in return. They will value you, as much as you value them. If it is ZERO expect it back. And if you are an employer who pays good wages, you have every right to ask for better performance. But when they wake up and your wage can’t really help them live, it is hard to get up an be enthusiastic over the life screwing they are getting.

Suck it up! I probably wouldn’t work for you either. Fire them if they are lazy, and get a new one. Not hard to draw from the long lineup of willing workers you have from good pay, and a record of valuing and respecting your employees.

So yes, I understand Millennials.

Anyway, I sit here thinking, as I eat toast with my very own homemade cranberry sauce. Made from local berries and with very little sugar added. I love a nice pucker from the sharp taste, that is how i like it. Best Jam in the world. 

Anyway, I am thinking about how hard life can be some days. Doubly so for my African friends. I can’t help but conclude that even here in the west life will need to be simplified. We simply can no longer sustain the style of living we have.  Student debt, more degrees, same shitty wages. But it is great economics for universities, colleges, schools, and towns that have them. Most of  the amenities in our home, cheap appliances,  our toaster, even my hiking boots and back pack are there in abundance  because of a human cost. A humanly unreasonably cheap cost. People working to support out comfort not earning much of anything for a days work. How the hell else would we buy a toaster shipped and transported from China for $20?

Anyway, back to the fishing workshop, with more thoughts on how to simplify my life.

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