I’m Just a Number

There are times like now I can feel everyone judging me, I know everyone has decided I’m worthless and would rather not spend time on me. Every look in my direction is saying loser. Every word I can’t hear is a put down. Every problem is my fault and everyone would have a better life if I had never been born. These are the things going through my head when I get overwhelmed in public or even at a family gathering. This is why I would rather drink in the corner than be open to humiliation as the centre of attention. Because to me attention and humiliation are synonyms.

School was always a nightmare. The bullies with fists on the playground were always nicer to me than the bully with words at the head of the class. Home was never much solace as the teachers were always right and the bullies my problem. Those who were meant to protect me were the ones who ignored me, told me my problems were unimportant or a fantasy. The system that fixed a math disability by waving a leather strap in my face and fixed my attention problems by hitting me with a ruler. Tough love, discipline, call it what you want all I remember is the pain and the lust to kill those who hit me. It taught me violence against the weak was the only option. It taught me never trust another human. Never touch me for I never know the difference between tenderness and torture.

I no longer face physical abuse but the mental and emotional abuse is still a constant. The education system is in my past but the social assistance system I’m caught in now is just as bad. Do not call it welfare because the welfare of people is never the point of such systems. I’m beginning to think case workers get a bonus for every “client” they drive to suicide. Calling people on social assistance leaches or bums or moral degenerates or whatever reflects a lot on how our society is still rooted in Victorian values.

The system in Ontario is designed to maximize the number of people receiving benefits, I don’t mean the needy I mean the civil service, consultants and the anti-welfare or pro-welfare lobbyists. It is designed to make the middle-class suburbanites feel morally superior to those in the system. The same words used in school against a undiagnosed case of ADD are used for anyone receiving benefits. Left and right politics use terms that are insulting, degrading and out of touch with the actual people.

The system, being for the benefit of everyone but those caught up in it and that includes the helpless front line workers, denies the help that is actually needed. There are many people held hostage by the system who only need some help getting qualifications for a job, the system doesn’t help with anything but gaining student debt. There are people like me who do work but don’t get paid for it and the system does nothing to recognize this. Instead of writing I will have to restart programs that will tell my case worker that I need a degree to work or to be left alone to write, so of course the welding course I’m ill suited for is the only option open to me. After all it isn’t work unless it is loud, dirty and underpaid.

From now on when someone complains about people on welfare let’s all ask how many jobs they’ve created and are yet to be filled. We have a problem in Canada with meeting our potential, social assistance is a sign of that. Our society does a terrible job at discovering people’s potential, learning disabilities or mental health issues. It is like some sort of economic entropy hiding in the corner wearing an elephant mask.

Maybe the guaranteed annual income idea would work as a better method than the abusive system we have now. Instead of creating more poverty through student loans which ultimately have poorer people pay more for the same education let’s adopt the UK system of zero tuition up front and a five year grace period after before repayment as percentage of income above a base amount. Instead of touchy feely food banks let’s end subsidies and artificially high food prices combined with a whopping junk food tax to get nutrition to people. And let’s boycott businesses that ship jobs away from Canada or at least stop expecting ultra low prices are compatible with a healthy economy. Maybe a greater focus on micro-economics would help, either in school or in politics.

Personally I only ever feel productive when I write, research or brainstorm. I can never feel productive working with people or my hands. I work for the pathetic cheque i receive, sometimes it is writing and often it is teaching my case worker their job or running around getting forms filled out, which I’m avoiding by blogging. Their is always communications problems, randomly stupid policy changes and unachievable timelines.

I am a pessimist and thus believe sincerely nothing will ever change in society. We are just numbers, dehumanized numbers that are just part of some algorithm to see if we warrant the weight loss ad or the penis enlargement ad, the car ad or some other annoying ad. People will patronize me for being honest about my problems but they should know I will take it as insulting, degrading and irrelevant judgement. I’ve stopped caring about anything and would feel more productive laying in the dark staring at a wall then jumping through society’s bull shit hoops.

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