Apoligizing

I apologized yesterday to someone I hadn’t talked to in many years.

I had thought about it a few times. But I always felt it would be weird. Or maybe that’s what I told myself to not have to deal with admitting I could have acted better.

I was pretty much “in the box” at the time. It felt good to apologize. They did as well. In a way, I think we were (and probably still are) very similar. It’s interesting how when we see ourselves reflected back to us we can see our flaws. Well, we probably don’t acknowledge that those are also our flaws, but we see them. We notice them and they frustrate us.

I think it’s noticing the similarities and the shared flaws that bring about compassion. It’s often easier with someone who “looks” like us. And I use look not just in the physical visual sense of the word, but “looks” in the same way Facebook does lookalike audiences.

I have a few other folks I’ve always wanted to apologize to. There are a few I’ve done, but not many, not enough anyway. Perhaps I should start on that…

The Federal Governement Should Take Over the Basic Income Pilot

The provincial governement has cancelled the basic income pilot in Ontario. This is sad news and similar to what happened with the Mincome experiment in Manitoba in the 70s.

I think this time it’s a great oppertunity for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to take the program over. The pilot is all about capturing data to help inform social policy. The cost of the program, specifically the costs that are left now that it’s up and running are miniscule in terms of the federal budget.

Please contact your MP, especially if they are a Liberal and ask them to support this.

Read my other posts on Basic Income

Without a Basic Income, I’d be Living on the Street

I’ve just read the news that the provincial progressive conservative government will be cancelling the basic income pilot.

I recently joined the board of Basic Income Canada Network and will be getting more and more involved in spreading awareness and doing advocacy work for a guaranteed minimum income.

To that end, I wanted to start with an explanation. The story of why I believe so strongly in the basic income movement.

In my late teens / early twenties I struggled with depression and generalized anxiety. I dropped out of university and was trying to start a web development business by freelancing. The cost of my medication was $650 a month. I wasn’t covered under my parent’s insurance since I had gone to university and dropped out. For reference, that was more than my rent. I struggled to pay my rent. I actually paid one month with one of those credit card cheques. It’s not that I didn’t know it was a terrible idea, that the fees were ridiculously high, I just didn’t have any other choice.

One day I was at the downtown bus stop and a man approached me. He was clearly not well, he started talking to me about the medication he had to buy. It was the same anti-depressants I was on. He wasn’t able to afford them, and now, he lived on the street.

I was very fortunate. I had family members, particularly an uncle, who was able to give me money. I got a basic income from my family and I managed to pull thru. Now I’d like to think I’m a good contributor to society, paying taxes, volunteering etc.

The only difference between me and that man on the street was that I had family members with money. That shouldn’t be the determining factor in someone’s life.

A guaranteed minimum income is not a handout, it’s a leg up. It allows folks to keep working without all the benefits disappearing. Right now almost all Canadian welfare programs will stop if you find a part-time job. You want to try driving for Uber? Your benefits are cut, sometimes directly to zero.

A guaranteed minimum income like the one Ontario was piloting has a gradual clawback mechanism which encourages people to keep working. It helps people start a small business by having a safety net. It helps folks stay in school, and helps reduce hospital visits.

That’s why I’m asking you to support a basic income by:

1) Sharing this post or the BICN homepage on your social networks.

2) Reach out personally to one or two people and talk to them about basic income. The personal outreach makes a big difference in convincing others.

3) If you’re in a position to do so, consider donating to BICN. Be it $10, $100 or even $10 000, that money will make a big difference to our ability to reach folks and spread awareness of basic income.

If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments or to email me at stboisvert@gmail.com.

The End is not a Failure

Often people talk about things that have ended like they were a failure. Mostly with relationships but often with other parts of life. Just because something ends, that doesn’t mean it failed. It could of been a great 5 year relationship that has lived it’s course or leaving a job  where you had a great time.

Things often come to an end, it doesn’t make it a failure.

Burnout

I think there’s a big misconception about burnout in today’s society. We assume that burn out is just when you do too much work. If you work 70h a week or something like that you’ll burnout.

I don’t think that’s the case. We already know what motivates people. Yet seem unaware that burnout is the opposite of this. Managers often are trying to “shield” employees and making decisions that are “for their own good” but creates the opposite result. Really what drives people to burnout is:

  • The lack of self-direction (Autonomy)
  • The inability to impact necessary change when it’s needed (Purpose)
  • The inability to grow in the direction we want (Mastery).

In the past, I’ve let folks work on things I thought were a waste a time. Not because I didn’t think they could use their time better but rather because not letting them would reduce their output to lower than it currently was. Even if they now spend 20% of their time on something I disagree with, the other 80% will be much more productive because of it and, in the end, that will help the team.

Now you may say, well I really don’t want that person to work on that. Or I really don’t think that’s a good idea. That means you don’t share the same vision as your employee and the only real solution is to let them go.

In the knowledge economy there are 2 things you should do with employees:

  • Empower them
  • Fire them

You should only ever do those 2 things. All the other ways out of the problem just postpone or create a worse problem in the future. As much as letting someone go is tough, most organizations I’ve been a part of should have done it more often rather than less often.

Swing Sets and Orange Juice

I remember when I worked in the Leader’s office and the Bev Oda orange juice story came out. Many people in the office were genuinely aghast of this. They really felt that this was emblematic of why we needed to kick the conservatives out of power. It was mostly the older more long time partisan folk. I was never able to tell if they genuinely had come to believe after all this time in politics that this topic really mattered.

I couldn’t tell if it’s because they felt that this really was what our work was about or if they just did a big deal of it internally to motivate the younger / newer / more influencable folk. To me it seemed slightly ridiculous. Now don’t get me wrong $16 for an orange juice is ridiculous, but here’s how I see that having played out:

You’re a cabinet minister, working late at the hotel. You have a rush meeting in the morning and you see the little breakfast card thing at the hotel. you check off a few boxes to get an early meal before you go to bed, prices probably aren’t listed. The next day you check out and since it’s the government you don’t get the bill for a few weeks, because of how invoicing and procurement works. A few weeks later it comes with the charges laid out and you just glance it over and sign to approve the charges. You probably never even realize that the juice was $16. The “opposition research” members of the parties comb thru expenses via Access to Information requests and gotcha, the famous “$16 Orange Juice” is born.

And really while $16 is a lot for orange juice, I don’t expect cabinet members to be spending their time trying to save $10 off some orange juice. They have much more important things to do.

But there we were making a webpage and an email campaign about this $16 orange juice.  It’s catchy, news reporters bite and folks click those links. For the record, Bev Oda fully repaid the amounts, agreed it was a mistake and publicly apologized for it. Regardless she was hounded for months about it and it ended with her resignation. What a great thing we had achieved. Force a cabinet minister to resign because of some orange juice.

The Globe and Mail wrote about this “problem” because a similar thing recently happened for the Prime Minister’s swing set. The Prime minister paid for the swing set himself, but not the installation fee. Regardless the $7500 swing set makes the news.

Now given that this is the prime minister, I’m willing to bet he can’t just pay $75 to Home Depot to get them to install it in the yard. There’s probably a bunch of rules about certified contractors and folks who need to pass various security clearances before you can start mucking around in the Prime Minister’s house. And I think everyone agrees that it’s not really a great idea to have someone you found on kijiji installing furniture at the PM’s house. Regardless, the swing set “cost” $7500 ($4,368 of that being the actual cost of the installation that the taxpayer paid).

The article ends with this:

I’m not sure what any of this says about our politics today, other than it’s not good. And the fact is, all political parties in this country are responsible for where we are today.

It seems like no matter what happens, it’s always someone else’s fault. I don’t think it’s the political parties fault. At least not entirely. Could there be some really principled folks who would not pick on such meaningless things? Probably. But we never see them….

Why is that? It’s perhaps because we haven’t voted for them, we haven’t reported the news on them, we haven’t clicked on articles about them. It’s easy to point fingers about this. But I think we should all start looking internally into what we’ve done that’s lead to this moment, what we are doing, and what we think we want to do about it going forward before looking to blame others.

On that note, Bev Oda, I’m sorry I contributed to ending your career. While I don’t agree with many of your views and opinions, I don’t think that should have been a career ending decision.

Campaigns don’t matter as much as they use to

Scott Reid asked if campaigns even mattered anymore. I think he’s partially right that they don’t. They don’t matter as much because the 30 odd days that are defined as a campaign are no longer the “real” campaign.

The “permanent campaign” has been a buzz word for a while but the implementation of it by the Canadian political parties has been lackluster at best. The digital outreach is strongly axed on fundraising instead of persuasion. I can understand why, with fundraising you see the results right away. There are easy to gauge metrics (what those mean and if they are the correct metrics is a whole entire post). Launching a year long persuasion campaign doesn’t show the results right away.

But that’s exactly what many conservative leaning organizations have been doing. A good example of this is “Ontario Proud“. The tactics for gaining followers are transparently obvious. Asking folks to “share if you’re patriotic” or posting some nostalgic pictures asking to “like if you remember this“. The idea is of course to be able to then target folks with the political posts.

It’s very smart and well done and an easy way to bypass the current campaign finance laws since there are no limits outside of election periods. I guess this is why they say campaign managers are always prepared to fight the last war.