Still workin’ nine to five

I’m one of those Boomers who’s taking up space in the employment roster. I have a desk and a chair that could be reserved for a Gen Xer, Yer or Zer if only people like me would stop working. Like much younger people, we working Boomers occasionally fantasize about what it would be like to be fully retired. In my fantasy retirement, when I’m not writing bestsellers and traveling (possibly at the same time), I might join other old gaffers in coffee shops to solve the world’s problems.

Things like runaway government spending.

We Boomers are never going to stand for solving this problem by lowering our monthly Canada Pension and Old Age Security cheques. Forget that nonsense. We have in mind other types of over-spending.

Here’s an example.

In 2010, when my lovely wife Nancy and I owned the St. Thomas Elgin Weekly News and Elgin This Month magazine, the business received a cheque from the provincial government for some $1,100. In 2011, we received a second cheque for about the same amount. The logic of this largesse? The business had increased its employment levels in those two years.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful to the government of Ontario or the taxpayers who support it. Almost all new businesses are struggling businesses, and that involves the struggle to make ends meet. An unexpected cash infusion is wonderful. Thank you, thank you.

However, in this real-life example, there is a huge disconnect between cause and effect. These government cheques had nothing, nada, absolutely zero effect on our hiring decisions. Why? Because every new employee comes with not only the cost of wages, but also mandatory holiday pay and the employer’s share of statutory deductions like Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance. Our decisions to hire were matters of necessity, that great mother of invention, and had nothing to do with government incentives.

Even conservative politicians sometimes talk a good game in this regard, but seldom deliver on that talk. Politicians of the right, centre and left all desperately want to look like they’re helping businesses through subsidies, tweaks and enticements to innovate

But you know what’s the greatest incentive to innovate? Having your back to the wall.

You want to balance the budget with the least pain? Cut out business subsidies, all of them.

That’s what I tell ’em at coffee shop, in my fantasy life.

Lefty will say that don’t matter because we have to tackle environmental degradation. Just to stir the pot, Windy will get into carbon taxes and climate change. Old Walleye, he’ll say he came to coffee today because the wife (I can’t believe how many men still say that) is doing thing with curtains and it’s either the garage or the coffee shop for him.

About then, it’ll be time to discuss hip and knee replacement before we amble off with everything and nothing settled. But a lot gotten off our manly chests.