Treading Gently on This Earth

Earth TrashThe garbage strike (OK, the strike of municipal inside and outside workers) continues into its eleventy-umpteenth day and there are two reasons that I care.

I am with the 70 percent or more folks in the Big Smoke who don’t approve of the union’s demands or tactics. Count me in with the smaller percentage who would privatize the goons that are punishing the beleaguered tax-paying public who are lining up for hours to drop off a bag or two at the transfer stations. Deliberately delaying legitimate drop-offs is nasty and childish. More recently, the union has railed against the public scabs who, proud of their neighbourhoods, have taken the initiative to cut grass and clean up trash at their local parks, arguing that it hurts the negotiations.

Who’s their PR genius who forgot who pays for shoddy or non-existent service? Sack them all and source these jobs with folks who would give their eye-teeth to provide us with some quality.

All this said with apologies to Len Wallace who Has A Point about the value of unions. No doubt about it: the rich (including the Fat Cat city councillors who took a raise) continue to get richer and if it weren’t for the unions…

But many of us taxpayers are drinking the Kool-Aid that the city is bankrupt in these Recessionary Times, and for sure we don’t have more spare cash to throw into the bottomless pit of city salaries. Would that everyone in the private sector could be paid a comparable living wage. But sadly, no, which is why we are not on the side of the entitled CUPE workers this time around. Although, we would cheerfully rescind the raises that certain councillors voted for themselves this year. (Bill Saundercook, this means you.)

Back to the subject at hand, those negotiations include entitlement to banking sick days. The City has offered a disability plan in line with the private sector, as an alternative to banking up to 18 days a year then collecting money for unused sick time at retirement.

The union is in a snit over the mayor’s airing of the terms of the latest offer to those of us who, after all, pay for the union’s services. Frankly, this would be the perfect time to consider the privatization option to the exceptional services that these folks perform.

Here’s a link to go figure what your sick day payout could be if you’d worked for the City.

The second reason that I care is that I see Concerned Citizens protesting the use of public parks to dump and store garbage, the latest news being that the Health Risk is being combatted with spraying with warfarin. That’s a nasty anti-coagulant used to give rats (squirrels without the fancy tail) a miserable death by internal bleeding, not to mention what it might do to local pets or kids.

So, am I suggesting that these folks eat cake by wondering why they can’t keep their refuse at home for a few weeks? Who are the folks that feel that their sh”t is someone else’s problem?

I don’t expect enlightenment from 98% of the population. I’m delighted that a few exemplary folks are taking pride in their neighbourhoods and doing what they can to keep things under control, not that the unions like that. Has it not occurred to some of our more benighted citizens that there is a strike, therefore do something proactive rather than spewing your trash?

Here are just a few suggestions from Toronto Environmental Alliance. I expect that 2% of our population has already figured this out.

Dog help the rest if there’s ever a war or rationing. Our economic setback apparently didn’t put a dent in our greed, apathy and stupidity.

Ted Roszak might argue that 98% is pretty high for mindlessness, and on a good day, I might agree with him. The antics of the union and those who can’t stuff it in a garbage bin for a few weeks do not make me happy today, however.

“Standard economics is right, however, when it reminds us that a flourishing supply implies an expanding demand. The Third World would not be producing frivolous junk if the First World did not provide so gleeful a market for it. The fact raises another, deeper issue. Ask anybody on the street if they really need a neon telephone; what answer would you expect to receive? Most likely a unanimous ‘not at all.’ But ask again after they have seen a neon telephone or two, and they might– some of them–sheepishly confess that, while they don’t actually need such a item, it just might be ‘fun’ to own one. ‘Fun’ covers a great deal of economic territory in affluent societies. It sells a lot of merchandise. Fun movies, fun clothes, fun cosmetics, fun food . . . why not fun telephones? Fun–meaning impulse buying relished as much for the impulse as for the buying–delivers a sense of well-being, a small touch of luxury. It makes shopping one of the staple entertainments of our time. Always another cute little novelty, another quirky gizmo, another fad or fashion to bring home and talk about.”

~ Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth


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