some words from the wild, wild west … part 1

today marks the first in what i hope is a long and lasting series of posts by one of the most thoughtful and wise people i happen to know ….
first, a disclaimer …
there are a couple of people who, just by the very act of knowing them have changed the way i view the world …
they have added to my understanding, compassion for, political view of, and energy for this great big spinning rock we all call home …
i have been asking them to write for the hip is everything sites for some time now so that i may share the perspectives and fervor for life that i have long respected and cherished so much …
i have always considered them to be a couple of my closest friends in the whole world even though we have spent so much time so far away from each other, and i always have and always will look to their ideas, concerns and words to keep me curious, engaged, fuelled and feeling alive …
simply put, I have an enormous respect for them and would love to get their words and ideas out to as many people as possible in the hope that they can touch others as they have touched me …
this post is by one of those men …
i hope you enjoy, and that it will make you think …
for, after all, those are the two most important things you can do in this life …
now, if i can just get bruce to start jottin’ down some stuff, we’ll be rollin’ here …
and i can have a little free time (nudge, nudge, hint, hint) … lolol …


  wild wild west
Every now and then, a friend of mine will post this on their news feed.974823_10151742358170213_1686193573_n
It’s ugly, and makes some very untrue assumptions about both foreign aid and immigration. It bothers me so much that recently I wrote a rather long rebuttal as an attempt at education. I would like to share that with my friends, so that none of you are ever tempted to share this awful piece again. Here goes:

Most immigrants come to Canada in their early thirties (Stats Canada website, I looked.) That means they are arriving in the prime of their tax-paying lifetime. Most immigrants also work very hard, and often at jobs Canadians turn up their noses to. Just google how many foreign doctors or engineers drive taxis. Financially, immigrants give a lot to our country, both in direct taxes and indirectly in economic activity. Furthermore, unlike you and I, immigrants by definition have not grown up in our country (except for the very young ones who are in the minority.)
That means… for their childhood, our government was spending zero dollars on their education, health care, and for those who are poor, welfare. Immigrants start out in Canada as a far smaller drain on our economy than people born here. Free English classes and a leg up are a small price to pay for the government compared to the 18 years of government assistance every Johnny or Jane Canuck get. Immigrants are a huge benefit to Canada, they are doing us a favour by coming here, and our economy would simply collapse shortly after we close our doors to immigration, were anyone ever to do something so foolish. So if you care about our seniors, pensioners, veterans and homeless, and knew your facts, you would say “keep em coming, welcome to Canada!” Study after study shows immigrants are a net benefit to our country. No how about foreign aid? It’s a problem right? We spend so much…
Compared to someone’s grocery budget, the number is huge. But compared to everything else the government spends money for, the amount is tiny. If some foolish person would ever stop all foreign aid, and gave all that money to the poor in Canada, would anyone even notice? I went to the government stats website, broke out my calculator, and did the math. So have many experts. It would work out to about $2 a month to every needy person in Canada. Your calculations may vary, depending on the definition of need and the sources of demographic data you use, but overall $2 per month is a safe number. Would anyone even notice a $2 raise on their paycheque or tax bill? Probably not. Now is that money just flushed down the toilet, as the thoughtless post implies? Heck no. Here’s what happens, and why it benefits us as Canadians: First of all, the money is spent on aid where it’s desperately needed and can do the most good. $2 a month extra won’t affect a pensioner or veteran very much, these days it won’t even buy coffee in some places. But in other parts of the world, it can and does save lives of countless thousands by providing things like malaria medication, or vitamin supplements to keep severely malnourished children from going blind. Compare the harm that is caused by our poor losing that money, with the immense help does in some of the harshest places in the world. Forget about borders for a moment…
This is just a very good thing to do. Period.
Suppose you don’t care about how much help it does to foreigners. That’s fine. How much does it help US?
Here’s how.
It creates a huge amount of good will. A couple of pennies from Canada can save a baby from death by dysentery. Now who is seen as the best country in the world? We are! (Refer to the above things I wrote proving immigration is fabulously beneficial to Canada.) How far does good will go? Our soldiers have their boots on the ground on foreign soil, and in some unfriendly areas. Our boys and girls have died out there, and continue to risk death. If they’re seen handing out bags of flour and medication with the Maple Leaf stamped on them, they are much less likely to get shot at. So if you love our veterans, scream for more foreign aid. It’s not just at the human level that it helps our soldiers. It’s a well known fact that desperate starving people will pick up weapons and fight. Often times extreme poverty can change a troubled situation into all out war. Considering there’s a good chance our soldiers could be there, either as peacekeepers or defending our freedoms, a few million dollars of food dropped from helicopters is far better than watching caskets come home.
Since the original post is about money, let’s have a good look at the money. People often say there’s never a free lunch, and often that is the case with foreign aid. Often time foreign aid agreements hinge on things like peace treaties or trade deals. Foreign aid can be a precondition to opening the way for Canadian resource companies going in and benefiting Canadians with hard cold cash. Often Canada earns back the money spent on foreign aid in ways such as tariffs from increased trade, and taxes on companies making more money, or just regular income tax from Canadians making bigger pay cheques because of better trade. Foreign aid agreements used as negotiating tools can also prevent wars, but changing the direction a country takes by bribing them is often far cheaper than fighting a war down the road. It’s just one of the necessary tools in foreign diplomacy, and without it, Canada wouldn’t be as influential, and as a result, all Canadians would suffer. Foreign aid, like immigration, is not charity. It’s a wholly selfish act by Canada that also happens to help the people the money is spent on. It’s a complete win-win situation, and any reports to the contrary are blowing small exceptions to the rule up like balloons to push often racist agendas.
Don’t fall for it.
Calmly do the math yourself and look up available sources to verify what I’ve said.
– Stoutlimb

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