Sick and tired of those abusing trust

A weekly column by Graham Hookey who writes about education, parenting and eldercare

What is it that has the country so indignant about the Senate scandal?

Why are we so unsympathetic to the effects of cutbacks in civil service?

Why are we becoming so sick and tired of new tax schemes from the government every time we turn around?

I could argue that with an aging population, we’re just getting grumpier, and to some extent, I’d be right.

With age comes the time to reflect and the wisdom of common sense that looks at the foolishness that sometimes goes on in the public sector and says, ‘That’s enough.’

We know that there is an important role for public service, but let’s face it, they have their hand in our pocket to pay for it and the harder we work, the more they squeeze out of us.

When we were young, busy and capable of adding more income with more work, we accepted some level of that and, frankly, didn’t have the time to go too deeply into it.

We accepted that there was likely some waste in the government and we wagged our fingers occasionally at politicians and civil servants, but then we went back to hustling off to work and raising our kids while trying to put away some money for our retirement.

The Baby Boom generation, the largest segment of the voting population, is now either early into retirement or sitting on the edge of it. They are looking at savings rates that mean their retirement nest-egg will not go as far as they thought; some have seen their private pensions disappear completely as companies have gone under; taxes continue to show up on more and more items so that, despite an inability to earn interest on savings, living costs continue to rise.

This makes them grumpy when senate politicians with life-time job security and indexed pensions seem to think they have unlimited access to personal and travel expenses.  Really, is their role that important to the running of the country?

The elderly are grumpy when civil servants, who also have the most secure jobs in the country, accompanied by taxpayer-funded indexed pensions, complain about not having enough sick days or needing more employees to help manage their 35 hour work week.

The elderly are grumpy when they can drive across the border and get the same product for 80 per cent of the cost, not to mention with no additional HST, which raises the cost of almost everything by 13 per cent or more.

For those living on fixed incomes, that extra 13 per cent is a big hit on affordability, particularly when the items (including food basics) are already 20 per cent more expensive than they are just a few miles away in the U.S.

We’ve always accepted that Canada is a more expensive country.

With a large land mass and a small population, the costs of infrastructure are greater and shouldering that responsibility has been part of a collective culture of sharing and caring that has made us who we are.

But there are limits, and the abuse of that culture by public servants and politicians alike, who appear to be more inclined towards personal entitlement than caring and sharing, is bound to lead to a backlash as more and more seniors question why it is so difficult to stretch their fixed incomes to the end of the month.

The public service would be wise to recognize that a shifting demographic is going to create a large population of well-educated people with nothing better to do than campaign against waste and entitlement that is costing them money.

Raging grannies and grampas alike will make quick work of those who abuse the trust of the very people who put them there and pay their salaries.

Graham Hookey writes about education, parenting and eldercare. Email him at

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