Resilience, Determination and Re-Filled Vodka Bottles















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How do we protect ourselves when our basic values are under attack, when it is easy to believe that the very fabric of the society we have known all our lives is being torn apart? When it seems as if the last shreds of common sense, fairness and impartial justice have been cast aside. It is easy to let these erode our determination to live our own lives. It is now that we need to call on our strengths of resilience and perseverance.

There are ways to protect ourselves.

We can become hermits and cut ourselves off from all media, all sources of news. The trouble with that is that we will miss out on all the good stuff as well. Most of us depend on interacting with others in some way for our livelihoods.

The way to protect ourselves is to become more discerning in what we read and more so in what we accept without questioning.

We need to apply critical thinking to the actions of big government and stand up to the encroachment on our freedom.

Here is a typical example of the heavy hand of big government, in a case where criminals are excused and the victim of a crime punished..

I am not a lawyer, but I remember that there was a principle of Roman-Dutch law as practiced in South Africa and Rhodesia when I lived there, that a person committing a crime could not expect the law to protect him from the consequences of that crime, or to enable him to seek compensation for injuries or losses arising from any criminal actions. For an explanation read this article on – the website of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Although Roman-Dutch law is no longer practiced in its entirety in most of Europe, parts of it are still used in several countries that were formerly Dutch or British colonies, British influenced self-governing states, or independent countries. South Africa was an example of the second and Rhodesia the third. Zimbabwe – although now largely lawless, along with several other better governed Southern African countries like Botswana still retain elements of Roman-Dutch law.

Many other legal systems still retain parts of Roman-Dutch law, particularly laws dealing with property. It seems to be forgotten when it is more politically correct to punish the victim and make excuses for criminals as is frequently the case when property owners attempt to defend their properties resulting in criminals receiving real or imagined injuries.

The incident that has made me wonder if I have jumped from the frying pan into the fire by leaving lawless Zimbabwe for the illusory safety of supposedly democratic Canada was reported in the Saturday issue of National Post.

A company had been contracted to wash the outside of delivery vehicles operated by the provincialy owned beer distributor – as with the similarly owned liquor distributor, an amazing anomaly in a supposedly free enterprise economy.

The workers were not required, or authorised, to enter the cabs of the trucks, but two of them did. Behind the seat of a truck, they found a vodka bottle still with its original label, but containing a blue liquid. The bottle had been used by the driver to store a small quantity of windshield washer fluid to top up the vehicle reservoir.

They drunk part of the contents while on duty, one of the workers took the bottle home and drank the remainder, he died as a result of methanol poisoning. The other worker survived but required dialysis treatment to overcome the effects of the poisoning.

The beer company, owner of the trucks, was fined $218 000 because the incident was deemed a “workplace safety violation”.

This is ludicrous on five counts:

  • The employees entered a vehicle without permission – disobeying instructions, trespassing or both.
  • They committed theft by removing the bottle and drinking the contents.
  • Drinking alcohol while on duty.
  • This is a provincialy owned enterprise, the fine will be paid by taxpayers.
  • The cost of the survivors medical treatment is an additional cost to taxpayers in a universal health system.

If the bottle of washer fluid had found its way into a retail store, been sold to a customer and caused injury, there could be a case for a safety violation, but this is a case of big brother government at its most ridiculous.

The victims became so purely as a result of their own stupidity and criminal action, sad as the outcome was, that should have been the end of it.

This is just another in a long saga of substantial fines levied on businesses for minor, and often debatable safety issues. Although The Beer Store is unlikely to be seriously affected by a $218 000 fine, similar large fines for minor injuries or safety issues could force small businesses into bankruptcy and destroy jobs.

I am not suggesting that we do not need safety standards and penalties for serious violations, but Ontario – and the West in general – needs more investment, more new enterprises and more employment, not less. Is it any wonder that China and India are  becoming the economic powerhouses of the world?

It is rumoured that one of the first questions inspectors ask when considering a safety prosecution is how much insurance the owner carries. The higher the amount that can be extracted from insurance or the forced sale of assets, the higher the chance of a charge and the larger the fine.

Businesses with little insurance coverage and in a shaky financial position are often more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt and left alone. More fuel to the suspicion that fines are more about filling government coffers than enforcing laws.

This is one more signal that individual security lies in individual effort. Not with a conventional job that can disappear when business are subject to the whims of over- zealous officials and an “entitlement / all businesses are evil” attitude in society.

It is more evidence that the pendulum is still  swinging towards the zenith of the “We” society as described by Roy Williams and Michael Drew in The Pendulum. (affiliate link)

Back to the question of how we protect ourselves from the depressing effects of these actions and the portrayal in much of the media of them as if they were beneficial.

We can ignore them, bury our heads in the sand and hope they go away.

We can fight them by making our elected representatives at various levels of government aware of our dissatisfaction and changing those representatives at the next election if they do not listen to us and take action.

We can refuse to waste time and energy on those that are merely irritants.

We can work around them, find opportunities arising from them – there generally are some to be found.

The answer is to not just react, but to respond carefully, by choosing the best solution in each case.

The secret is to think critically, and make choices, not to allow external changes to reduce us to a state of depressed submission and inactivity.

What do you think? leave a comment.

Peter Wright



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  3 comments for “Resilience, Determination and Re-Filled Vodka Bottles

  1. Michelle Kosloff
    February 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Seriously! When I look at how much money goes out of my pay cheque for taxes and realize that it goes to stupidity like this, it is very saddening.

    • February 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Michelle, good to hear from you. As you must know from your business, not only do we pay for this stupidity with our taxes, employers are in many ways at more risk from the government than either competitors or market conditions!

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