(In which the internationally-renowned science-fiction writer with a pretty good little cult following Mr. Louis B. Shalako makes the case for a bailout of the disabled to the rather unsavoury Standing Committee on Budget and Financial Matters, or; ‘the undesirables in pursuit of the unspeakable.’)
The disabled, the mentally ill, the permanently unemployable, need to raise their expectations.
As long as we are satisfied with mere subsistence, then that’s all we’re going to get.
The reason the government can’t give the disabled a five percent increase in their pensions for five years in a row, is because they’re afraid we might become radicalized by the internet. But, luckily, we can’t even afford it! So their fears are groundless and irrational. The people in charge of our society honestly believe that they need to keep poverty around for some reason. I think it has something to do with their quest for achieving the highest possible social status. They enjoy the competition. Funny thing is, most of them are crappy writers.
I like to think that our society has a kind of collective consciousness. It’s kind of like a bee hive. It seems to me that by pursuing our own enlightened self-interest, our actions also work to the common benefit of all. The person who operates heavy equipment on a road-building project does more than earn a pay-cheque and feed a family, and help provide them with a home, heat, hydro, clothing, and education. The fulfillment of their private needs causes all sorts of spin-off benefits. Building homes, providing shoes or natural gas and other items employs other people, who get to provide homes for their own families. It’s a pretty simple equation: the more good jobs there are, the more good jobs are created in services and production; i.e. ‘manufacturing.’
Whether we like it or not, all social programs rest on some kind of revenue stream, whether it’s
user fees, customs duties, stamps, or taxation in one form or another. Yet the federal and provincial governments have cut personal and corporate income taxes, at the same time they are increasing spending. Here in Ontario, the Liberal government has increased spending about ninety percent over six or seven years. In order to pay for that, you have to have growth in revenues of eight or ten percent to be sustainable. That was before the recession. This left us in a remarkably bad place when the recession hit. They didn’t listen because they couldn’t listen. It wouldn’t have been popular politically to help the disabled. It might have interfered with their chances for reelection. So they chose to cut taxes in an effort to stimulate production of essentially useless luxury consumer goods, so their cronies’ industries could remain profitable.
Yet recessions happen about every ten years, looking back into recent history. One wonders why the bee who was supposed to be specialized, to lead the rest of the colony, was unable to foresee the future in any credible fashion, and was unable to lead in a credible way. What ticks me off is the way I tell the government what I need, and then they go do the opposite. My interests must be contrary to someone else's. Just who exactly is that, anyway?
The provincial economy has doubled in size over the last fifteen years. They couldn’t help the disabled when times were good, and now they can’t do it at all. Social justice is a myth of the middle class, many of whom seem to draw a pay-cheque from the government’s infinite ‘sunshine fund.’ The government should not be the biggest employer, or the loudest self-interest group in town; or always be wearing a mouth-piece.
orders, each part is capable of independent actions. The ancient Romans were extremely intelligent, and well educated lawyers, doctors, philosophers, poets, authors, mathematicians, generals, navigators, and engineers. We really shouldn’t ignore the lessons we can learn from them.
While it is true that Mr. Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, or Mr. Dalton McGuinty, the former premier of the Province of Ontario has his own individual consciousness, he simply cannot direct each and every member of the government and bureaucracy each and every day. Each individual also has an individual consciousness, for they must be able to act independently. Yet they also represent a collective consciousness, one which communicates ‘amongst itself.’
(I tried to brainwash Mr. McGuinty, unfortunately there wasn’t much there to work with.)
This collective consciousness doesn’t take time to inquire into why someone might have attacked it, it merely defends itself instinctively, and for all the normal reasons. It wishes to perpetuate itself. It wants to live. In that sense a government is a kind of artificial intelligence—it has consciousness, it has reason, it has identity, and it seeks to perpetuate itself. It has motivation.
Like ‘Gargantua,’ the remarkably satirical creation of Francois Rabelais, it even eats. It eats money, it eats time, and it eats people. Society also has a kind of collective consciousness, where individual consciousnesses can talk and gossip amongst themselves, and over time public opinion can often come up with a course of action—yet who knows which individual cell originally came up with any given notion, or which individual cell may have modified the message before passing it on to the next cell. Individual cells in organic bodies do that too, for example nerve cells. Glandular cells create hormones, antibodies, etc. The body’s internal communications network is completely subconscious in the human being.
If you think about it, these individual consciousnesses must obey certain laws, or entropy, a state of increasing disorder, would set in and the whole system would break down. You could describe entropy as an energy loss due to internal friction. In the human body, our cells totally replace themselves about every seven years. We do not wait seven years and then change all of our cells at once. We just do so many cells a day for seven years. Yet at the end of that time, we are all new people, aren’t we? Society is like that too—it replaces individual cells over time until all of them have been renewed.
Individual cells die, but society persists, because it has evolved to persist. The trouble with the disabled is that we won’t die. We are the undead.
Viruses have no higher consciousness, or awareness of other viruses, unlike human beings.
They simply infiltrate, penetrate, and replicate. They have no idea they are part of a colony.
They may look like one to an outside observer, they may act like one, and have the effects of one. They do act together. There are no individual viruses which specialize in one job or another—they all have the same job. But given time, a single virus will create a colony of like-minded individuals.
Bees do specialize. They live in colonies, they communicate with one another, and they are aware of one another. They have a colony, and they behave like one. Bees have a kind of individual as well as a kind of collective consciousness lacking in viruses. Among the animal kingdom, non-linguistic communication dominates, as anyone who has seen a thick flock of blackbirds maneuvering as if they had one mind will agree.
And I don’t call myself a philosopher for nothing.
My new theory goes something like this. If society has a collective consciousness, and if it does somehow communicate ideas through the whole, ‘body-politic,’ then maybe, just maybe, I could learn how to talk to it. It is a strange kind of animal, I admit that—but I’m good with animals. I figure the government just needs a little obedience training, and maybe the middle class just needs its nose rubbed in it once in a while.
My new plan goes something like this. If every disabled person were to apply for geared-to-income housing, and get their eyes checked, and get their teeth all fixed up, and go to the doctor’s and see if there was anything wrong with them, and then get the scrip, which after all costs only two dollars. You don’t even have to take them if you don’t want to—you can dump them down the toilet, who’s going to know? As long as they’re expensive, see, that’s the key. If every disabled person applied for the Special Needs Diet Allowance, or asked a social worker about going to college and learning two or three languages so they could become a translator, then someone would have to listen…someone somewhere would have to listen. Some fuckin’ asshole somewhere would have to listen, right?
It seems to me that we have to make it more expensive for society to keep us at home, (or in a jail,) than it would be to provide a few little employment incentives for the employers and a few little supports for the employees. This might actually benefit society in the long run. At some point if the disabled could build a little wealth, and maybe even get ahead of the game, they might be able to contribute to the tax base. They might be able to rent apartments on their own, and a lucky few might even own a home someday.
If a disabled person could earn $12,000 a year, and keep their $12,000 a year ODSP pension, then that would put them substantially over the poverty line. They wouldn’t need geared-to-income housing, and they wouldn’t need food banks. They could actually live in dignity and in a state of real independence. Very few employers are willing to hire a relatively-unskilled and inexperienced disabled person for $24,000 a year, but they might grab one for $12,000 a year, especially if the provincial and federal governments coughed up three or four grand of that.
Oh, and $24,000 a year results in a taxable income—which must be of some benefit to Canadian society. The God-damned taxpayers might even get some of that money back for a change.
The disabled did not cause the recession. We didn’t have the power to do that. The middle class is the engine that drives our economy. The middle class is the government, for the majority rules, even though groupthink is about as ignorant as a mob’s opinion.
“The government is the economy.” This is a direct quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune. A science-fiction writer has to be aware of history, and he must be adept at peering into the future.
The key thing is to free ourselves from that hive mentality, and to rise above it.