Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear PEI Gov't

I've spent way too much time trying to make your tax-on-tax with exceptions work properly. Hours and hours and hours I've devoted to trying to get it straight. It's too complicated. Just switch to HST already.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Spend your money where it is earned

A friend of mine just posted a comment about how SJ could get a big boost if more people consciously chose to spend money within the city, and how he thinks weekly trips to Calais are ridiculous. This coming from a person who chooses to live outside the city boundaries, pays significantly less in taxes, and yet comes into the city to work and use our roads, waterways, police and fire coverage, etc. I think his statement was very hypocritical, but not being a good debater, I am not prepared to engage him in conversation on it.

I have the right to spend money where I get good service. If I weren't verbally abused at Canadian Tire for trying to use a coupon to buy batteries, maybe I'd shop there more often. Why should I go to the local telecomm store, spend $30 on a car charger for a cell phone, and have to wait in line at a store with TVs blaring and a display phone going off in my ear, while not being able to understand the cashier who is mumbling at the desk in a feeble attempt at communicating with me? No thanks. I'll buy it for $5 on Amazon and pick it up in Calais.

This week, I rewarded a local store with my business because they treated me well. They had the lowest price, did not overcharge me with delivery fees, and had the item in stock and would be delivered in two days. I probably could have gotten it sooner if I was able to pick it up myself. I'm happy to give that company my money because they earned it. Compared this to the big-box chains who only had display models and nothing in stock, would take 10-14 days for ordering and delivery, and didn't seem to know much about their product or even care.

Everyone has the right to spend their hard-earned dollar wherever they choose. Buying milk in Calais isn't what's breaking SJ's bank. It's the people who escape the taxes who are. If the outlying community residents all had to pay into SJ's tax system, think of how much lower it could be, how many more services we could provide, and possibly how much better a shape we'd be in. But the Valley residents never want to admit this. They choose to live outside the city and then complain that the city sucks, but never do anything concrete to help it. I'm tired of hearing you complain. If you care about SJ, then move back within the boundary and help us recover by paying your share.


I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders again. I go through phases where, if I pay too much attention to current events, it will send me into a tailspin of depression. It seems like everywhere I turn there is bad news of varying degrees. Our stove broke this week, forcing us to spend $1100 we weren't expecting (but thankfully had savings to cover). A micro issue compared to hunger in the Horn of Africa, some of my co-workers losing their jobs, my near-bankrupt city, cruise ships falling over and people dying, massive landslides in Colombia... the list goes on.

I like to think that I'm a caring person. I want to help people. I love the feeling of doing good in someone else's life, of making a difference. But sometimes I feel like the scene from JCS where the people are clamoring for him, and he just can't help everyone, and it becomes overwhelming.

The only way I survive sometimes is to tune it out. This makes me look uninformed, immature, and selfish. What people don't understand is the magnitude of how I internalize these problems, and yes, allow them to overwhelm me. But if I don't, then I don't care, and that isn't good either. I either suck for not caring, or suck for not becoming an aid worker. Kind of a lose-lose situation. No wonder I can get depressed from it.

I'm reminded of May from the Secret Life of Bees, and her wailing wall. I could probably use one of those.

State of the City

The city of SJ is in very bad shape. The Mayor and most of council are unable to make the hard decisions to keep us afloat, and I have to wonder how much longer it will be before we have to declare bankruptcy. We can't afford to fund the municipal pension plan, nor make any decisions to bring that plan more in line with reality. Our roads are never proactively maintained, thus in very rough shape. We just had to cut multiple fire and police positions. Many community organizations have lost their grant money.

The current city council voted for the construction of a new police and justice building, which is costing the city millions of dollars, and now we've also decided to cut police and fire services. Perhaps the police staff would have happily put up with their old building had they known the alternative would mean sacrificing jobs. A new building is great if you can afford it. As a city, we can't. Yet council went ahead and did it anyway.

Personally, I'm in my second year of no raise, not even a small amount for cost of living. My company's sick time policy is changing to deal with the abuse, but at the same time, will end up making things worse by encouraging sick people to come in to the office (like the person a few cubicles over making horrible coughing noises as I type this). Companies everywhere are cutting spending, and laying off staff. Am I happy to see the tax rate stay steady? Of course, but that doesn't mean we're not getting screwed some other way.

I have always jokingly asked the question of why I live here, to which I respond with many valid reasons. But now I wonder if it isn't time to start seriously thinking it through.