I was thinking about something I tweeted the other day that got a lot of attention. Here’s the fun part where I get to insult all you who RT’d it. Keep in mind, I came up with it myself, so I assume most of the blame.

“I miss the old Saskatchewan when we had less money and more compassion”.

Well. First of all this statement assumes that the old Saskatchewan had more compassion. Did we? Perhaps the racists were more tolerant when the proportion of nonwhites was smaller. Perhaps we really were more compassionate, as the trope goes, that less affluent people are more generous. Having grown up in a small community, the “Saskatchewan Nice” is two-edged. I suppose if you want to be reductive, you could divide it into two camps: people who genuinely believe Saskatchewan Nice is a real thing, and people who get followed around in stores by the workers. At the same time you could argue that now we are more compassionate, as a higher proportion of us are managing to Get Educated and Meet More People and in the process be somewhat (one hopes) less prejudiced. It’s also vague. Does “more compassionate” refer to politicians? News media? The general populace?

Now for the second point. “Less money” assumes we have more money now. I’d argue that some of us have more money, but what most of us have is more debt.  Oh for sure, some places are having their 1920s redux, but this rising tide has only lifted larger boats. It’s an interesting thing (ugh, I hate that word, “interesting”) that we have this series of contradictory yet parallel truths where we have a boom, but we have no money; where the boom is thriving, but fragile. Where the current systems in place are hindering the boom, despite the fact that the boom happened in spite of these supposedly restrictive systems. Where we are desperate for more people to work here but at the same time too full, no room for any more. These conflicting narratives do serve a purpose; they allow us to keep our cake without sharing it. It also speaks to a collective undertone that we know this source of revenue is not sustainable (ugh, that word, a whole other post) but we just can’t give up this current sugar rush. You could insert an analogy here referring to Kit Kat lasagna. (Damn you, Kit Kat lasagna.) The thing to remember here is: I’m not better than you. I regret eating that horrible confection, but I’ll go out in December and gorge on Christmas chocolate with the rest of you.

And finally, the third point: it’s a nicely reductive bit of propaganda that can be twisted to serve political ends or to profess a viewpoint without specifically condemning actions or naming names. It also sets up a great strawman and/or binarism; either you’re more compassionate or more wealthy, but never both or neither. In other words, it’s a great thing to tweet. You land a soft little zinger, gain the higher road, and still get to keep your money. Also, it’s like using the term “hipster” – the “less compassionate” are always “the other”, not you.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about. Anyways. I really need to get more sleep. This ends my brief foray into #skpoli sloganeering. I guess I’m not really cut out to be a partisan.

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