babble home
rabble.ca - news for the rest of us
today's active topics


  
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » current events   » canadian politics   » Anyone else tired of "working families"?

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: Anyone else tired of "working families"?
Tehanu
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9854

posted 04 April 2006 10:17 PM      Profile for Tehanu     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I know this phrase has been mentioned in threads about the NDP, but I haven't been able to find an actual discussion.

quote:
Jack Layton on the throne speech:

Disappointing

While the Conservatives called "working families" a priority today, they failed to commit to any badly-needed Employment Insurance reform or any significant plans to help aboriginal Canadians.

[snip]

New Democrats are committed to making this Parliament work by moving forward on a series the issues outlined in its Working Families First Agenda and other key issues. (bold in original)


I understand why "working families" is being used. It's supposed to appeal to labour, while at the same time projecting the image of a party that cares about so-called ordinary Canadians.

But I really think that both words are problematic.

Working is a little too close to "taxpayers" for my comfort. I shuddered when the right started saying "Canadian taxpayers" instead of "Canadian citizens," for the very reason that it implied that people who weren't paying taxes were beneath the notice of those who were, and weren't entitled to the benefits of what the government was promising. In Canada, not everyone works. Not everyone has a choice about that. That doesn't make them less of a citizen.

Families also makes me nervous. Is it an attempt to reclaim the word from "family values"? It's a pretty loaded term. Again, not everyone thinks of themselves as a family, particularly not in the nuclear sense. I have a family that I love very much, but I don't think of us as a unit, don't live with them, and we don't support each other financially. They're my parents and siblings. I don't have a partner or kids and don't expect to any time soon, and even if I did, I don't think I'd buy into the "family unit" mindset. I get nervous around people who talk about the family as the basic unit of society.

If this was one of many taglines I wouldn't have such a problem with it, but it's getting repeated over and over, and I find it exclusionary. For me it's having the opposite effect of what's intended. I wince instead of cheering.

Which takes some doing when we're talking about the NDP! Anyone else, pro or con?


From: Desperately trying to stop procrastinating | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
solarpower
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7609

posted 04 April 2006 10:42 PM      Profile for solarpower   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Me too! Every time I hear it I assume there is nothing there for me. Single and struggling with no help from any source.
From: that which the creator created from | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
lonewolf2
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10589

posted 04 April 2006 10:47 PM      Profile for lonewolf2     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Try this thread over here babble » walking the talk » activism » Life on Low Income

some discussion points ...

quote:
Perhaps it is just political spin that elevates ‘working poor’ to a higher level, since Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario Liberals (and I noticed other parties - including the NDP - followed suit) repeatedly used "Ontario's working families" to such success in the last election. This encourages classism and differentiates hungry poor by social class.

As to separating the 'working' poor from the rest, it appears to be another political gambit to frame the debate and to divide the deserving poor from those it is permissible to blame. It's similar to the distinction between 'child poverty' and 'poverty', period. Apparently, only children (until how old?) don't deserve to be in poverty. Anyone past that magical age does.

The term working families is a political movement in the States and the Trade unions in Toronto used it during the last election



From: Toronto | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7039

posted 04 April 2006 10:53 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by solarpower:
Me too! Every time I hear it I assume there is nothing there for me. Single and struggling with no help from any source.

Me too: I'm single and disabled (therefore not working).

It drives me up the wall every time I hear it because I feel excluded and yet I vote NDP.


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
BCseawalker
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8468

posted 04 April 2006 10:57 PM      Profile for BCseawalker        Edit/Delete Post
Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. And 'ordinary Canadians', 'ordinary British Columbians', etc., so fondly used by politicians.

I work - as I bet VanLuke and Solarpower do too - all day, every day. I contribute what I can, when I can, where I can, how I can. Alas, 99% of my working hours are unpaid.

I'm dirt poor. I live alone. I'm not a 'working family'. And there's no way in hell I'm 'ordinary' either!!

[ 04 April 2006: Message edited by: BCseawalker ]


From: Unspecified | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Tehanu
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9854

posted 04 April 2006 11:11 PM      Profile for Tehanu     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Try this thread over here babble » walking the talk » activism » Life on Low Income.

Thanks, lonewolf2, I hadn't read that thread yet. I was looking for an actual thread on the topic, though ... and since this phrase is being said so often, I wouldn't mind having a separate discussion on it. I may well have missed a perfectly valid reason for using "working families"!

I'd have put it in the NDP forum but someone archived it


From: Desperately trying to stop procrastinating | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Aristotleded24
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9327

posted 04 April 2006 11:49 PM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm tired of hearing the "working people/working families" rhetorical device used, whether by politicians, businessgroups, and even labour unions. I don't think it accomplishes anything.

quote:
Originally posted by BCseawalker:
Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. And 'ordinary Canadians', 'ordinary British Columbians', etc., so fondly used by politicians.

I agree, BCseawalker. Here's what I said about "ordinary Canadians" on a different thread, which I think add to this discussion as well:

quote:
I'd also add that when you start talking about "ordinary people," by definition there has to be a group of "not ordinary people," who presumably don't merit consideration. This type of thinking accomplishes nothing, except to divide people. I know, for instance, that up until a few years ago that many defended their homophobia on the grounds of "speaking up for ordinary people."

From: Winnipeg | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
arborman
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4372

posted 04 April 2006 11:57 PM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I know that in some of the poverty activist circles I move in, the term 'working families' has been adopted to underline that it is not 'just' the unemployed who are poor, which has been a common misconception.

It is a direct response to the simplistic 'get a job' or 'they need to pull up their socks' attitude so common in public discourse.

That being said, it's a rhetorical tool that may (or may not) have run its course. It ain't perfect, but it does poke at a common assumption, anyways.


From: I'm a solipsist - isn't everyone? | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
saskganesh
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4203

posted 04 April 2006 11:57 PM      Profile for saskganesh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
working families reminds me of child labour. not the intent, of course, but it comes to mind.

even Harper uses "working families" now. emphasis on families of course.


From: regina | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
malcontent
Babbler # 621

posted 05 April 2006 12:16 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I have similar reactions to most people here. I hate the phrase. I find it's exclusionary. It excludes the not-working poor and those who aren't in a "family". It accepts a right-wing frame of looking at the level of the family as basic, as opposed to broader social formations. It doesn't make sense even: are we advocating for child labour? If not, what the hell is a working family anyway? It sounds like it is trying to capitalize vaguely on "family values". Finally, it comes off as overly crafted advertorial language. The fact that it doesn't have a specifically progressive character is shown by the ease with which Stephen Harper can use it. It doesn't resonate, and where it does resonate, it resonates the wrong way.
From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Matt_Risser
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11800

posted 05 April 2006 02:49 AM      Profile for Matt_Risser     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
not just working families, how about "lets start investing again, or more New Democrats in the House, or Today's NDP (This one drives me nuts because its a fake name change when the NDP needs a real one), or getting results for people, or lend us your vote" anybody know anymore of the Jack Layton soundbites that his handlers forced down our throats during the election?
From: Lunenburg, NS | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5474

posted 05 April 2006 02:56 AM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The only thing I don't like about it is that its rhetorical and corny, I can't say I'm offended by it. I'm just embaressed that political discussions are so superficial between politicians, and so-called decision makers, and the average citizen. (And yeah, I know I used the word "average" -- I'm refering to it in the sense of people with no actual power over anything particularly big or "important".)
From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
West Coast Lefty
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3697

posted 05 April 2006 03:21 AM      Profile for West Coast Lefty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I really don't like the phrase, although it is just a slight bit less offensive than "ordinary Canadians." "Working families" seems to exclude a huge whack of people (students, single people, the unemployed, retirees, etc.) and it is such a fake expression that comes off as spin and politician-talk.

But I was amazed how much Harper used this expression in the election; an NDP insider told me the polling shows it really resonates with voters, and that must be why Harper went with it. But if Harper can say it with as much conviction as Jack, all the more reason for us to switch to something different, IMHO.


From: Victoria, B.C. | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 05 April 2006 03:28 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by West Coast Lefty:
I really don't like the phrase, although it is just a slight bit less offensive than "ordinary Canadians." "Working families" seems to exclude a huge whack of people (students, single people, the unemployed, retirees, etc.)

And everyone else who has to work for a living but not in a job that is a traditional blue collar job.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Radical Progressive
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12367

posted 05 April 2006 04:56 AM      Profile for Radical Progressive        Edit/Delete Post
How about "Canadian values"?

Is there anything more irritating than when a self proclaimed representative of the people pretends to want to preserve "Canadian values"?

What the heck ARE "Canadian values"? Those of CPC, Libs, NDP or separatists? Men or women? White or blacks? Old or young? Rich or poor? Reactionaries or progressives?


From: Canada | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged
Sineed
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11260

posted 05 April 2006 07:31 AM      Profile for Sineed     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yes, "Canadian values" sounds like the meaningless sort of phrase the CPC could use to justify all sorts of reactionary policies.

The trouble I have with "working families" is, like "taxpayer," it defines people in terms of their economic relationship with their government, and no other way.

Though maybe "Canadian values" is what you get when you shop Canadian.


From: # 668 - neighbour of the beast | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 05 April 2006 07:57 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"Working families" strikes me as a dodge by someone who doesn't want to say "working class" - the working class would most definitely include proletarians (sorry to go back to Marx, but I see no other way out of this quandary) who have nothing but their labour power to sell but are excuded from the labour market for reasons of unemployment, disability or age. (The negative term "lumpenproletariat" was FAR more restrictive in its original sense - it referred to a "criminal underclass", not to injured workers)...

Socialist and social-democratic parties have always said, in varying ways and to varying degrees, which side they are on. In Québec, the common expression is "classe ouvrière et populaires", so as not to exclude layers who are not technically part of the working class but (at least supposedly) share in its interests, as well as poor proletarians excluded from the labour market.

I don't see any reason whatsoever to mention families - there are lots of ways a party can make its concern for children and family issues palpable, such as standing up for daycare and full access to maternity/paternity benefits, and, of course, fighting for quality public education for all children and youth.

[ 05 April 2006: Message edited by: lagatta ]


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Tehanu
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9854

posted 05 April 2006 04:01 PM      Profile for Tehanu     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Arborman, I agree that it's important to highlight that there are working poor as well as people on social assistance, although the cynic in me (and based on some troglodytelike, to coin a word, recent posters), thinks that no matter what, there will be people who figure that anyone who's in a lower income bracket just needs to work that little bit harder ...

Surely there's a better term that can be used than "working families" to ensure that the working poor are highlighted, without seeming to exclude other people ... ?


From: Desperately trying to stop procrastinating | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
marzo
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12096

posted 05 April 2006 04:02 PM      Profile for marzo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I dislike the expression "working families" for many of the reasons already mentioned and because I have no family, since I was an only child and have no kids of my own. I also hate it when people talk about joining the "work force" as opposed to simply "getting a job". "Work force" sounds like some kind of army marching in unison to "support the economy".
From: toronto | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7039

posted 05 April 2006 08:25 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by marzo:
I also hate it when people talk about joining the "work force" as opposed to simply "getting a job".

... or doing something creative ....,alas, that often means unpaid.


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4140

posted 05 April 2006 09:00 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy: I'm never so happy as when I'm working!
'nuff said for now.

From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
otter
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12062

posted 05 April 2006 09:20 PM      Profile for otter        Edit/Delete Post
Interesting that so few would leap to the conclusion that 'working family' refers to a family that is actually functional, supportive and has good communication


From: agent provocateur inc. | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
pencil-skirt
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4612

posted 06 April 2006 04:44 PM      Profile for pencil-skirt     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Matt_Risser:
how about "lets start investing again, or more New Democrats in the House, or Today's NDP (This one drives me nuts because its a fake name change when the NDP needs a real one), or getting results for people, or lend us your vote" anybody know anymore of the Jack Layton soundbites that his handlers forced down our throats during the election?

Haha I actually like a lot of these. I guessinvesting again is theoretically using the language of business, but it would sound negative to many working class people if the NDP said Let's start spending again.

I like more New Democrats in the House - each one gets a little bit more done....and I also liked the getting results for people tagline. I admit "lend us your vote" was cheeseball, but none of these lines seem really exclusive or offensive to me.


From: Saturn | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Left_Wing_New_Democrat
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11258

posted 06 April 2006 05:23 PM      Profile for Left_Wing_New_Democrat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
People need lives. Working families applies to more people than 'single-unemployed-non taxpaying-Canadians'. I myself would like to hear Jack say "Working Class" and "ordinary people" and "people of Canada" more often though. Working families is a way to encompass as many people as possible from the demographic that is likely to vote NDP. As for the Tories using the term to fit their agenda, thats dispicable. Harper should quit being such a lieing twit and say what he means "Fat-Rich-White-Anglo Saxon-Males".
From: Lucknow | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

   Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | rabble.ca | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008 rabble.ca