Sorry, can’t help ya

Work in Progress By Ivan Morgan

The price of groceries forcing you to go without? Prices rising every week putting more and more food out of reach?

Can’t help ya.

Price of electricity making it harder to stay warm in the winter?

Can’t help ya.

Your insurance rates quadruple, and you are going to be forced out of your home?

Can’t help ya.

A neighbour shines blinding lights in your window because who knows why?

Can’t help ya.

Everyone in your neighbourhood gets together to demand protection from a huge increase in burglary and petty theft?

Can’t help ya.

Don’t have a family doctor?

Can’t help ya.

Do you see a theme?

Recently I have seen numerous politicians of every stripe – municipal, provincial and federal – either say outright they can’t help with a problem or say nothing at all, hoping you won’t notice. Hell, we even have politicians who won’t show up to meetings with their constituents.

I read a great line in journalist Tara Henley’s blog last week on Substack. She was writing about the recent surprise resignation of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had been touted around the globe as the best of a new generation of progressive politicians, a shining light coming to office with big ideas about justice and fairness. I admired her. Turns out, however, the people of New Zealand, not so much.

Ardern said she was quitting because of burnout, but the fact is her numbers going into the next national election, in October, are not great. She is not very popular with the electorate.

So why didn’t her big ideas catch on? Henley wrote, “The lesson here is that material conditions matter. Food, shelter, safety, personal freedom, and healthy communities — politicians ignore these basic human needs at their peril.”

They sure do. I think a lot of politicians in this province could be in peril.

Some blame the media for making everything look hopeless because they don’t report the good news and the good work politicians do. I understand that criticism, I used to work as a journalist.

Government has its own highly trained media machine that issues dozens of news releases weekly, a veritable tsunami of good news. Nothing is ever bad. Everything is always good. Aren’t you lucky to have such a hard-working government!

What they are less clear on is doing what, precisely.

But wait, you might say. Didn’t the provincial government cut us all a cheque for $500 to help with inflation? That was a huge help. As I have said before, giving us back our hard-earned money does not solve the problem of rampant inflation. It might actually fuel it. And it says to me government is out of ideas and . . . wait for it . . . can’t help ya.

You are on your own.

In the early 1990’s Presidential hopeful Bill Clinton hired James Carville – the Ragin’ Cajun – as his campaign strategist. He had a message for everyone on the Democratic team: ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ They won.

I am no James Carville, but I am here to tell folks in politics who aren’t paying attention: It’s the economy.

I am all about progressive ideas and a move towards a better society. We all want a better society. It’s the kind of idea that gets you inspired – when your stomach is full. Otherwise, you may find your energies and hopes focussed elsewhere.

Henley also wrote “people still value results over rhetoric.” We shall see.

And the big corporations, the grocery chains, oil companies, insurance companies and banks?

They can’t help ya. They’re too busy helping themselves.

Ivan Morgan can be reached at ivan.morgan@gmail.com

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