Poor Bashing in the BC Liberals’ Online Store


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I was so annoyed listening to Gordon Campbell pull a Sarah Palin [I hear your question, but I think I’ll just talk about this instead] on the leaders debate on CKNW this morning when asked about poverty reduction strategies. He talked about how he loves to help create high paying jobs and that the average wage in BC is $22/hour.

liberalmousepad
Mouspad for the "average" BC worker

Let’s do some simple arithmetic. The global GDP is estimated at around US$69 trillion. The world population today is around 6.7 billion. That means the average annual income of everyone in the world is around US$10,000! Goodbye poverty, hurray for us! Oh wait, averages can be the devil’s pool cue crashed over the back of the homeless fellow outside the pool hall on a rainy winter night.

This is what I think of every time Gordon Campbell quotes the average BC wage. Anyone who finds solace in it needs to re-think how insidious averages can be and ask themselves if they wish to be inadvertently complicit in poor bashing.

So when I cruised by the BC Liberal party’s online fundraising merchandising store, I examined the prices of the trinkets that, with Campbell’s love of globalized trade and the race to the bottom of production, I assume are made in Chinese sweatshops.

$22/hour is the average wage in BC? Hmm, that would buy you a mousepad promoting the Liberals’ strong BC. But it would take you longer because I’m sure Campbell is talking about $22 as a gross wage, so that after deductions it would take far more than one hour of work to buy that mousepad.

The Liberal Homelessness Toque
The Liberal Homelessness Toque

And what about a toque to keep your homeless head warm while promoting the BC Liberal brand? Let’s not assume that none of the homeless have jobs, because many do and are still homeless. $17.50 is the price. that would take an $8/hour minimum wage worker around 2 hours and 12 minutes to earn it.

An apron for those summer barbeques? $20 or 2.5 hours of pretax minimum wage work or even more, 3.3 hours, for the victimized trainee/new workers making $6/hour.

But if you really want to save up for the eco-friendly women’s plasma jacket, perhaps by foregoing protein for all 3 meals each day next week or maybe skipping lunches altogether, $8/hour workers would have to toil for 24.4 hours.

A week of sufficient protein, or a jacket? You decide.
A week of sufficient protein, or a jacket? You decide.

So as we’re watching economic stimulus packages devolve into corporate welfare programs, we should applaud the NDP and their commitment to raising the minimum wage to $10/hour. Minimum wage workers spend their wages in their communities to create a multiplier effect that recycles wealth and improves the economy from the ground up. The neoLiberal party never talks about this kind of stimulus because their constituency is not the poorest 95% of the British Columbians, let alone the economically destitute and those barely hanging on, living one pay cheque away from the streets.

But then, why would the BC neoLiberal party care about raising the minimum wage, since the poor wouldn’t buy their $22 mousepads anyway.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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5 thoughts on “Poor Bashing in the BC Liberals’ Online Store”

  1. Of course the mean wave is $22/hour. If you estimate a yearly total for a full-time worker on that, I think it would come out to around $40 000 a year, which is B.C.’s GDP per capita. But we already knew that figure. Campbell’s just breaking it down for us.

    As you point out, that says nothing about what most people are really earning. It would be nice to know the mode – the wage range that the largest number of workers fall into. I bet it’s below $22/hour.

    On the bright side, if he really believed the line he seems to be implying, then he’d have no problem boosting the minimum wage to, say, $16/hour, would he?

  2. The following table shows just how hard the Campbell Liberals’ backwards minimum wage policy is making it for minimum wage earners to support them.

    Item Cost Hours of work required at minimum wage
    Button $2 0.25 hours
    Tire gauge $3.50 0.44 hours
    Scarf $12 1.5 hours
    Mousepad $22 2.75 hours
    Apron $20 2.5 hours
    Coffee mug $17 2.1 hours
    Baseball cap $19 2.4 hours
    Women’s jacket $195 24.4 hours

  3. Oh, and lets not forget the $6 training wage, or the newly reduced Campbell rate for social assistance. Folks subjected to these averages need to work longer to buy this ugly swag. Campbell really is waging a war against the poor- and is doing so at a time when even the Vancouver City Council believe the minimum wage should be increased. And 195$ for this hideous ‘plasma jacket’? Isn’t plasma some sort of blood product?

    I particularly like the bumper stickers available at the online store. They say ‘I drove the coquihalla for free’. I urge folks to carry a jiffy marker with them from now on, so that when you see some voter misguided into thinking it is ok to support a party whose policies are actually killing people, sneak up behind him while he checks the pressure in his hybrid SUV, with his liberal-branded tire gauge, hear him grumble under his breath about his party’s gas tax, and cross out coquihalla and write in Port Mann.

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