Letters: 'It’s like slapping your grandmother in the face. Would you really do that?'

Readers write on senior's discounts, atheism, and Rob Ford

Mark Blinch/Reuters

Challenging failure

The failure of the environmental movement is only one symptom of the larger failure of civilization, and not only the failure of David Suzuki (“The nature of David,” Society, Nov. 25). Greed and individualism are winning over wisdom and common sense; big business and petty politicians are winning over long-term vision and the common good. Instead of investing in the future of our children, we invest in its destruction. At 60 years of age, I am happy to get closer to the end of my life and to have no children or grandchildren to worry about.

Marie-Laure Collet, Ottawa, Ont.

Amid this article’s darkness, it’s important to remember that Suzuki preserves some optimism, and it is not misplaced. One hopeful development is the new scientific consensus that projects such as Alberta’s oil sands are immensely harmful and need to be curtailed. A recent report in Scientific American, for example, says that much of the Earth’s “fossil fuel—especially the dirtiest forms of petroleum, such as that produced from the tar sands—will have to stay buried.” The voices calling for climate sanity are growing stronger.

Gideon Forman, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Toronto

In his description of a Q&A session with David Suzuki in Australia, Jonathon Gatehouse writes that there were “two hostile questions on global warming from invited dissenters.” You would think a scientific discussion would involve questions about findings that may or may not support your ideas. Suzuki should answer his critics if he is to have a real scientific debate, and not attack the people asking the questions.

Ian Sutherland, Strathroy, Ont.

No gold-plated pensions here

I can sympathize with the feelings of the younger generations toward all the discounts, rebates and other benefits given to our senior generations (“Pay up, grandma,” National, Nov. 25). But younger generations should also feel relief for not having to worry as much about problems involved with caring for their elders. Not long ago, seniors were housed and cared for only by their children and all lived in the same house. Now, older generations have the financial means and independence to care for themselves.

Akiva Schreier, Toronto

I’m surprised your article on seniors discounts didn’t mention the amounts paid by seniors to support activities they have never enjoyed. School buses? Never used them, nor did our son. He walked to the schools now served by buses. Parental leave? Never heard of it. Bicycle lanes? Haven’t ridden one in decades. Advancing age brings increased risk of physical and mental disabilities. Many of us will face bills of about $5,000 a month to receive the care we need in an assisted-living unit in a retirement home. Are we all saving for that possibility?

William Armstrong, Ottawa

Coming up on 60, I get some benefits of being over 55 and I think I deserve them. Many of today’s seniors struggled to make ends meet, while fighting for better working conditions, better pay, more job security and benefits. Younger people seem to forget who forged the way for them to have the cushy jobs with benefits they have now: their seniors, who may now be retiring at the end of a long and hard-fought career. Why would you begrudge them the fact that they pay less to get on the bus? It’s like slapping your grandmother in the face. Would you really do that?

Cindy Drul, Winnipeg

There may be some well-heeled seniors in Canada today, but many struggle to live on inadequate pensions. As a woman of a certain age myself, separated and struggling to live on less than $1,500 a month—an amount economically calculated as my worth by our government after years of staying home, raising kids and working only part-time jobs to supplement the family income—I know this is not a living wage. Many get even less than that.

Mariel Schooff, Orangeville, Ont.

Peter Shawn Taylor writes, “A senior today can earn almost $20,000 before paying any income tax at all.” With rents and mortgages these days, the ever-increasing food costs and so many other cost-of-living increases, one could wonder how far the author of this ill-advised article could exist on $20,000 or less. Let’s have a little heart and understanding before we gang up on seniors who paid their fair share of taxes during the decades they worked.

Tom Weiss, Toronto

Tolerating atheism

Atheist Peter Boghossian seems intent on eliminating a religious world view from society (“Bless atheists, for they have sinned,” Opinion, Nov. 25). To that end, he seems to have embraced another brand of religious fundamentalism that presents itself as intolerant of minority opinion. What concerns me about preachers such as Richard Dawkins is a determination to squelch real dialogue. Far worse for all of us is the abandonment of pluralism that values the contributions of all citizens to the public forum. Falling for the attitudes of any fundamentalism will only create a poverty of culture and make the world a less secure place.

Stu Burkholder, Cavan, Ont.

It was with some satisfaction that I read Emma Teitel’s screed against Peter Boghossian’s book A Manual for Creating Atheists, and atheism in general. Teitel brands anybody who points out the non-existence of an invisible man in the sky as “militant.” Sadly, as a “militant” atheist, I lack the moral grounding to belong to an organization that employs and shelters known and convicted child rapists. I am also too ignorant to accept the idea that the right to birth control and other medical treatments should be dictated by books written by Bronze Age men. It is indeed an outrage that atheists such as Boghossian should publish a book while thousands of hateful theistic books are published every year! Imagine the damage he might do: one book versus thousands of theology graduates, one book versus heavily subsidized churches in every community. I decided to buy a dozen copies of Boghossian’s book, thanks to Teitel’s efforts.

Brian Piccioni, Campbellville, Ont.

Who wants to be a trillionaire?

In the “Good News” section of Econowatch (Business, Nov. 25), you quote a prediction that “within two generations, billionaires will be commonplace—and there will be 11 trillionaires in the world, compared to zero today.” If this happens, it will signify a very unfortunate continuation of the current increasing inequality of incomes evident in many countries, including Canada.

Geoff King, Ottawa

Where is the line for Rob Ford?

I have to protest the egocentric attitude of a Toronto-based magazine stating that a hiccup with your mayor is Canada’s biggest political disaster (“Rob Ford’s wild ride,” National, Nov. 18). Everyone has stood by and watched the unending persecution of the ham-fisted mayor, who is trying to create positive change in the operations of the city, in spite of the attitude of some councillors. Probably anyone would have turned to drink and distraction under such an atmosphere. Obviously, this was a bad idea for Rob Ford.

Gerald and Emily Loberg, Valhalla Centre, Alta.

What would members of Ford Nation say if they heard their children’s teacher publically utter vulgarities associated with oral sex? Or if their minister was caught on tape ranting about killing someone? Or if a police officer admitted to drinking and driving on occasion? Or if their children came home and said, yes, they had tried cocaine, but don’t worry, it was likely during one of their drunken stupors? What might the backlash be for any of these individuals caught in these indiscretions? Would folks really be so willing to say, well, they are only human, they make mistakes? When people run for public office, they agree to be judged by a higher standard. Would people have excused this behaviour if it had come from previous mayors? Where is the line for Rob Ford?

Chris Brouillard-Coyle,Windsor, Ont.

How nice that the Toronto police have time and staff to follow Mayor Ford in order to pick through his garbage, look at where he sat in the park and watch him drink to excess before allowing him to drive away. Maybe Ford planted all that evidence to stir the pot. If this sort of investigation were done by media and police on a regular citizen, politician, or reporter, you’d be screaming harassment. Since it is Mayor Ford, it is all fair game.

John Bower, Regina

As a Torontonian, I don’t find anything wrong with the mayor doing or saying something widely accepted and propagated in today’s society. Not when he ran the city well, which he did. If a crack-smoking mayor doesn’t take money out of my pocket and makes my city a better place to live in, I will vote for him again.

Tahir Yahya Yousuf Zai, Toronto

It appears Rob Ford is over-emotional, immature and reactionary. This is typical for a person with a personality disorder called “chaos manufacture”—someone who will continue to make decisions based on feelings rather than what he knows to be true. Chaos manufacture is commonly associated with “histrionic personality disorder,” characterized by conspicuous attention-seeking, a propensity for the dramatic, and engagement in destructive behaviours—as well as displaying callous disregard for the rights and feelings of others. This anti-social personality—or sociopathic—is characterized by relationships based on dishonesty and an attraction to alcoholism, drug addiction and sexual deviation. This may help to explain why Ford seems to have gone out of his way to make a mess of his life. We make a mistake, however, to dismiss him on this basis. We must learn, as a compassionate society, to also look at Ford as a product of a culture that enables destructive behaviour.

Peter d’Entremont,Upper Cape, N.B.

Barbara Amiel just can’t stop defending Toronto’s embattled Mayor Rob Ford (“I’d take Rob Ford over some I could name,” Opinion, Nov. 25). Everything else aside, he is a total political misfit. But suggesting that many of us, including herself, have known similar “rounders” is stretching things, especially when Ford’s “chums” have wound up murdered, beaten and charged with extortion and drug dealing. Or perhaps I’ve just had a dull life.

Vezi Tayyeb, Toronto

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