28 September 2008

Margaret Atwood and Harper's culture cuts

In response to the question directed towards Margaret Atwood "You talk in your book about the link between debt and sin. Why do we feel shame about financial hardship?" (Globe and Mail, Sept 26. 2008), Atwood says she thinks "the stigma comes from wanting people to think better of you than your actions might actually warrant." It seems to me this is a rather elitist attitude. 

Our society is founded on money, and those without are shamed, whether or not they have done anything to deserve it. If one is a global corporation, of course, or The Arts, then the apparent reasons for 'financial hardship' may not always be seen as being mainly due to their failings. I have nothing against Art and Culture, nor against keeping major corporations in business for the sake of maintaining some stability of economy, but I question Atwood's attitude and (lack of) knowledge of what it's like to be poor and where stigma comes from (other people and society itself, as it happens).

Arts and culture are not self-supporting, as we know. But there is no shame on their part, nor placed upon them, for not being able to earn their own way. Poor people often work like hell, for other people or in their own homes, with little recompense. Yet because they are not home-owners, or do not have the trappings of wealth, they are seen as less worthy. Shame on you, Margaret Atwood, for your attitude!

Atwood talks about the need to put more into technology, yet in another article (CBC, Sept 24, 2008), the controversial subject of funding of the Arts is taken up. But if all those talented workers in Arts and Culture were to experience financial hardship, perhaps some of the really bad attitudes towards the poor would change.

It seem to many people that there are plenty of jobs to go around if one has talent and the ability to do the work (even in Arts and culture, I wouldn't doubt) but the truth is there aren't enough decent jobs for people who deserve them and who could do them well. The threat of Culture cuts demonstrates this. I hope people can expand this line of reasoning to the general population, many of whom also are competent and able, but who may never get to do the work they wanted to do, and in fact may never again find employment.

Actors condemn Harper's culture cuts (see also 1015 comments by readers)
CBC News
September 24, 2008


Let's hope arts bashing just a pose (see also 38 comments)
By Martin Knelman
Toronto Star
Sep 29, 2008

http://www.thestar.com/FederalElection/article/507392 link no longer available

Margaret Atwood's old-fashioned approach to debt
Sinclair Stewart, TORONTO
Globe and Mail
Sept 26, 2008, Last updated Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2009


Links updated Apr 24, 2012

21 September 2008

Life at the top: Toronto and Hong Kong

The mention in this article of the "$25 million penthouse at One Bloor – which was sold to an unidentified Hong Kong buyer" (Sky's the limit for Four Seasons condo, Sept 21, 2008) reminds me of my grandfather, John L McPherson, who lived in Hong Kong for 30 years and for some time lived in the most privileged area - on 'The Peak', at that time reserved for Europeans, mainly, I believe, not the Chinese. I realize there must have been some hostility about these circumstances, but I have often thought that at least my grandfather was trying to do something beneficial for Hong Kong, spending 30 years there building up the YMCA. I would ask, at this point, in what ways are the buyers of these expensive properties in Toronto planning to make a difference in the lives of the people of Toronto and, more widely, of Ontario.

J. L. McPherson, Hong Kong YMCA: General Secretary 1905-1935

By Sue McPherson
Sue’s Views on the News

Sky's the limit for Four Seasons condo
By Tony Wong, Business reporter
TO Star
Sept 21, 2008

Links updated Apr 24, 2012