Just How Clueless Does Stephen Harper Think You Are?

If you think you’re “ordinary”, he thinks you’re pretty damn clueless.  So clueless, in fact, that when you get home after a long day’s work and turn on the TV you tune in to live video coverage of social gatherings of film and television writers, producers, actors, technicians and support staff rather than watching the stuff they’ve created – and then get irritated because you find it boring.

“You know, I think when ordinary, working people come home, turn on the TV and see … a bunch of people at a rich gala all subsidized by the taxpayers, claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough when they know the subsidies have actually gone up, I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people.”  Stephen Harper

So… um…. what channel is that on Steve?  Sorry, I was busy watching Trailer Park Boys.  I didn’t realize “artists expounding on the grant application process over drinks ” was on.  Damn – I sure hope somebody recorded it!

Wait, might as well turn off that VCR.  I just remembered artists expounding on the grant application process over drinks is a pretty thick slice of my own social pie!

A lot of the full time, successful, tax paying artists I know got their leg-up from a tax-funded arts grant program like Canada Council.  Like my friends Lorenz, Pascal and Olivier.  I’m not sure whether Pascal and Olivier have time for many “rich, taxpayer-funded galas” what with their exhausting international touring schedules, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard them express their (approving, supportive and uncomplaining) opinions of various grant programs and how to apply, and I know for certain there was liquor involved.  Beer.  Brewed in Quebec.  But I won’t quibble over such small details.

I also know full time artists who got their leg-up via tax-funded arts grant programs like welfare.  I won’t name names, as they will surely be hunted down and pilloried by bureaucrats if they are found to have earned money (albeit far from enough to live on) while chowing at the public trough.  But just between you and me, I’m one of them.

I decided one day I wanted to try writing as if it were a job (5 days a week, all day long) and see if I could finish a novel before my money ran out.  Well, I couldn’t finish a novel before my money ran out, because as soon as I started writing all day, every day, some kind of metaphysical levee seems to have burst and a flood of stories consumed me.  I just had to get them all down.  Before I knew what hit me, I had four novels on the go, not to mention a bunch of short stories, and when my savings ran out they weren’t done!  So I went on welfare (which paid for my rent and, if I was very frugal, enough “spaghetti, garlic and butter” to last through the month) and kept writing for a few more months.  Then my glasses broke, so I had to get a job, since there’s no margin for such things on welfare.  It was write or see.  I had to choose.

After I stopped working in writing and started working in a job which, as any non-creative job does, made me suicidally and catatonically depressed in a manner of months, a painter friend in a similar situation with a much higher tolerance for hardship and discomfort got his work into a top-notch gallery.  Suddenly his paintings were selling for thousands of dollars and flying off the walls.  No more welfare for the painter, tax money flowing to Ottawa. Win-win.

The point of sharing this is to illustrate that welfare, like any tax-funded arts grant program, sometimes produces wealth and sometimes it doesn’t.  But, with welfare, artists are not supposed to work. They can actually get in trouble for it if money changes hands.  They are supposed to be “job-hunting”, but I know from intimate experience that someone who would rather be writing is not a very productive private sector employee, particularly when entrusted with a PC and left to their own devices.  With legitimate arts funding programs, getting artists to do their work is the whole point and there’s no need to be furtive about it.  In fact, there’s every incentive to embrace the opportunity and work harder than they ever have before – mostly because that’s what artists do whenever the opportunity arises, but also to demonstrate they are deserving of the help.

Somebody needs to explain to Stephen Harper that arts funding is not the handout to burgundy-sipping parasites he believes it to be.  It’s venture capital for entrepreneurs.  Seed money.  Plant it wisely and wealth will grow.  Plant no seeds, reap no harvest.  And, like any vital commodity, the culture my country fails to produce will have to be imported.  I know Harper is a big fan of the US, but I’d sit through an episode of Da Vinci’s Inquest before I’d sit through 24 any day.

If I had a TV.  Which I don’t.  Actually, at the moment I’m watching episodes of Heimat (German) on DVD and before that it was Survivors (the 70’s BBC drama, not the American gong show).  But it’s the principle  of the thing!

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4 Responses to “Just How Clueless Does Stephen Harper Think You Are?”

  1. blogoffanddie Says:

    From Peacekeepers to Ass-Kissers – thanks, Stephen Harper

    Stephen Harper does not deserve to be Canada’s Prime Minister.

    “Whether Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion…” Stephen Harper speech to the Colin Brown Memorial Dinner, National Citizens Coalition, 1994

    “I don’t know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans.” – Stephen Harper, Report Newsmagazine, March 25 2002

    Stephen Harper has his head so far up George Bush’s back passage that George could get a gig as the two-headed freak at a traveling sideshow.

    These days, to get elected, you need only to appeal to America’s or, in our case, Canada’s largest voting block, stupid people.

    http://blogoffanddie.wordpress.com
    http://theimpolitecanadian.wordpress.com

    …the Conservative Party is a lot like a box of chocolates, you’re never sure where the nuts are, sadly, the Liberal Party has no nuts…

  2. apophaticattic Says:

    Hi, impolite Canadian. re. “These days, to get elected, you need only to appeal to America’s or, in our case, Canada’s largest voting block, stupid people.”

    A quick tour of the comments from Harper Conservatives (as opposed to conservatives) on Canadian news stories has made me realize it’s not about stupidity – it’s about envious attack. Harper’s politics feeds people’s smallest, meanest impulses. And that can be a very successful tactic – Rove knew this when he made it into an art form that has consumed the whole country south of the border. Harper is now doing the same (exactly) thing to Canadians, and it makes me sad.

    I’ll blog about this later, I think.

  3. blogoffanddie Says:

    I agree with you assessment entirely regarding Harper’s politics of meanness and greed. It is a proven and successful Rovian technique. The ‘stupid people’ reference was merely a tongue in cheek, turn of a phrase designed to get people to really think about what they are voting for and of course, exact a response for my blog. Harper’s reform/conservative politics seek to undermine the last 60 years of a Canadian success story in favour of the American dream that, as we now know, is going down in flames. Cheers.

  4. apophaticattic Says:

    Yeah. To be honest, I also think it’s genuinely stupid to allow our subconscious punitive impulses (rather than data and analysis) to dictate our choices in terms of policy and leadership. I do feel some sympathy for people who are behaving stupidly, though, because I think they are being made stupid intentionally. Manipulated like finger puppets by people who have such contempt for “ordinary” people they think we need to be deceived and distracted from the real game plan because we are too “stupid” to know what’s good for us. It drives me nuts when masses of Canadians demonstrate Harper is right – we are too stupid to know what’s good for us. (Some of us, anyway. Hopefully not enough to give him his coveted majority.)

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