Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Spirit of Spending Giving

The spirit of spending giving season will soon be over till the next giving occasion comes around. The commercial aspect of the holiest business time of year is nauseating. If billions weren't made from this, Christmas (the anniversary of Jesus' birth) might just be another holy anniversary or "feast" recognized by mainly church goers. The business part of the Christmas season can be a very annoying, imposing and stressful experience. We hear the annual countdown on every radio station, beginning with "only 8 shopping weeks left ..". From late October to Dec. 24, people are bombarded like Operation Desert Storm with ubiquitous reminders to spend on something, anything, just spend.

Of course, we are a free people, entitled to spend till we drop, or to spend some, or spend none at all. That's the good thing about our society, to a certain extent, people en masse have the power to determine what is allowed to permeate society. Obviously, most people are content to spend alot on exchanging gifts with family and friends. This year the average amount spent is $822, down from $900 last year. (Newfoundlanders & Labradorians will spend more) Canadians will spend over $55 billion this year on Christmas gifts.

There are charities out there and they get a small bit of donations, but it's too bad that society's willingness to give, mainly to ourselves (by way of exchange), is not directed to any of the world's problems like food shortages, medicine and schooling in the poorest parts of the world, or larger contributions to such things as more to local charities or other important things like MRIs, dialysis machines, or CAT Scan equipment in various regional hospitals in the province. Also, it's too bad that there are not more messages about avoiding the pitfalls of overspending, or the dangers of relying on credit cards to "give" for Christmas. Al Antle of the Credit Counselling Association of NL was recently interviewed on CBC's Here & Now, and said that after Xmas will be his busiest time of year, i.e., counselling people on how to handle racked up debt.

Even though it is up to an individual to spend on what he/she chooses, there is a societal expectation to spend alot, that is in large part manufactured by marketing machines. In any event I will look forward to the end of the sappy advertising, and to enjoying a few happier traditions like family and friends get togethers, games, music, and good food. A Christmas Carol (1951) starring Alastair Sim is always on some station. That version of Scrooge is so funny, and well acted. I hope you and yours enjoy your Christmas experience too, and best wishes for health, happiness and prosperity in the new year.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Kennedy was Dion's Remedy

What a show! This was probably the most dramatic leadership race I've ever seen. Throughout the day the political commentators were insightful as usual if not more, on CBC at least. But at the beginning no one really predicted a win, let alone a very convincing win for dark horse Stéphane Dion. What did seem clear after the second ballot, is that over 90% of Kennedy's supporters backed Dion for leader, as well as the majority of Rae's followers after the third ballot.

Sure there are going to be disappointed candidates, but I get the sense that all the Liberal candidates were satisfied with the choice of Dion. Michael Ignatieff, who was probably just relieved to have the wait over, probably said what many may have been thinking, "We have chosen a man of principle, a man with vision, a man with courage, a man with conviction."

Though I have not followed in great detail the 8 month long race itself, Stéphane Dion comes across as the more genuine, dedicated, and perhaps more non-self serving than the other candidates. He seems like the type who is content to do his thinking, problem-solving in the dim lights, and I think that may have been part of his appeal. The impression I get is that he is compassionate and maybe more visionary than his colleagues, and possibly the pm. He has been seen to have little charisma, but I feel that his passion on matters like the environment and national unity will now be more apparant, and his charisma has yet to reach a crescendo. I just hope he is good for our province and country in opposition and/or government.

In any case the Liberal leadership day of decision was exciting and surprising. The next election should be dramatic too, provided some new scandal information doesn't surface to make it a predictable election. Anyway good luck to Stéphane Dion to handle the national, and political challenges he faces.