Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Can't find a job in Podunk, then get the hell out of town

Podunkians awoke today to a blustery snowstorm and a cold wind blowing through the town. And the weather wasn't the only thing blowing cold and throwing bluster. At a community forum on BC Benefits, Podunkians were treated to a dose of tough love from a representative of the provincial government.

As an April 1st deadline for welfare reductions or elimination approaches, Ian Harrower, assistant community relations officer for the Ministry of Human Resources gave the advice that "if there aren't jobs available locally, then you may have to consider moving".

The forum featured many local Podunkians expressing concern and worry about their fates as the local economy continues to decline and struggle. The official unemployment rate of approximately 12% is widely derided as a tad optimistic, there being precious little in the way of continuous employment available in the Podunk these days.

And while the flack from the Ministry may be speaking a truth, "if there's no work, then move on" there are bigger issues to concern ourselves with. For example a depopulation campaign blessed by the provincial government is not exactly a pro-active approach to developing the beloved "Heartland" of the Liberal government. As more and more people feel the need to leave, then more and more services decline, the base of a vibrant economy becomes unstable and then the cycle repeats itself endlessly. I'm not sure that targeting the most vulnerable part of your society is the way to approach a brave new world of social engineering.

Lots of finger pointing and blame assessment to go around here. The local Podunk council seems to have gone out of it's way to drive any form of industry away over the years. Chasing after failed forest product processors, instead of attracting other more stable industries to the city. Exploring industries that may employ a number of people but at a vastly reduced rate of pay and seasonal employment, leading to a limited family income and of course less of the purchases that drive a city, homes and cars.

Woe is Podunk in it's winter of discontent. No warm words about potential anymore, no promises of better times just around the corner. Instead the cool calculated advice to just get up, pack up and go. The government has great plans for our province, if only those troublesome poor people would only get with the program..

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