Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Who is the real victim here?

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I feel like a victim. I don't like the feeling. I would, by far, prefer to be the victimizer in the limited dichotomy of victim-victimizer. It pays better and it's generally good for a lot more laughs. Victims bitch and moan and feel powerless; other than grief counsellors, no one really wants to surround themselves with victims. Victimizers on the other hand are usually pretty upbeat, party a lot, don't really give a damn about the effects of their actions on others and never seem to care that some day, sweet retribution might be visited on their mangy asses.

Given a chance, I'd prefer a world without either. But that doesn't seem like an option.

I feel like a victim every time I open a newspaper or read one online. At the top of the hour and on the half hour, I feel victimized if I happen to have the radio on and am assaulted by the news. I feel violated when I walk into a grocery store, open a hydro bill, read a menu at a restaurant I haven't been to for a couple of months or pull up to a gas pump. And I can't even think about the therapy I need after taking my car in for service earlier this week.

Powerlessness is always at the root of victimization and powerlessness is pretty much the defining arc of most of our lives, regardless of how much or little control we delude ourselves into thinking we have over our own destiny. Simply put, there is very little we can do about most of the things that victimize us every day. Worse, when we're given the chance of being able to do something about them, it's more often than not just an illusion. Thus is created the rich soil from which cynicism flourishes.

Just so no one in town feels like I'm victimizing them, let's focus the spotlight on the provincial level for a moment. More specifically, since it's been in the news, let's focus on the rather generous remuneration and pension benefits of the president of BC Ferries, Mr. David Hahn.

Dave's done a good job of presiding over BC Ferries. I have absolutely no basis upon which to make that statement other than it seems to be the consensus of everyone who wants you to believe it's true. I ride the ferry about as often as I have birthdays. My overall impression of them is they're very expensive boat rides with really bad food; but they're a fascinating place from which to observe human behaviour.

But let's assume, for a moment, Dave's done the bang-up job everyone says he's done. Without stating the obvious, a hardworking taxpayer would like to believe someone pulling down over a million bucks a year is doing a better than average job, the average salary in this province falling well short of a million bucks. You'd also like to think someone making that kind of scratch would be able to build up a comfortable RSP and, barring nasty gambling, hooker and coke habits, put away a tidy nestegg for his/her retirement. I'm pretty sure you would and I know I would.

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