Bad Facebook Repost #1

Rants

So I have some friends on Facebook that aren’t really real-life friends, but are more like acquantances or friends of family. Sometimes these people post things that are really annoying or problematic, and it doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve told Facebook I don’t want their stuff to appear in my feed. It still does. And I always want to respond to it, but I also don’t want to be a total dick to these people I hardly know and almost never speak to in person.

“Hi, I never speak to you and tend to only comment on your Facebook stuff when I have a problem with it, hope you don’t mind being FB friends with me anyways, have a great day!”

Usually when I want to respond to a FB post, but have realized that the response I want to give is basically the length of an academic paper, I move it onto the blog instead. So I thought to myself, instead of bottling up my frustration at these posts in the interests of not being an asshole to FB acquantances, I could move them to the blog as well. Here’s the first in what is sure to become a long line of many:

FB image 1

Okay.

Problem #1

What about children who are obese because of some kind of illness or medication they have to take? What if it has nothing to do with their eating habits? Let’s make these kids feel even worse about themselves for the sake of making the world feel more fair for people who smoke. Great idea! If you want to put gross pictures of clogged up arteries or something on McDonald’s food, I might be able to get behind that, but obese children? Really?

Problem #2

Not all cosmetics products utilize animal testing, and there are many ethical and environmental issues besides animal testing involved with using any kind of cosmetic product, from shampoo to lipstick to nail polish. Too many to fit on one package. For example, many cosmetic products are made with animal fat, which means animals have to die for you to cover up that zit you’re self-conscious about.

For those that don’t use animal fat, they probably use palm oil instead. A rediculous amount of rainforest is chopped down every day to make room for palm plantations, and many endangered species are killed or driven away from their homes in the process. For those that don’t use palm oil because of that environmental damage, they probably use soy oil instead, which is just as bad. Those that don’t use any bio oils will use fossil-based ones instead. Including all of this on packaging is kind of impractical, and I haven’t even listed the full reach of potential problems with cosmetics. It’s also not fully comparable to cigarrette packaging, as cigarrette packaging is meant to advertise health detriments to the activity, while this cosmetic packaging would be to advertise environmental ones. If we put this kind of environmental labelling on cosmetic products, we have to put the same labelling on literally everything else we do. And perhaps we should be putting that labelling on, but that’s quite a different discourse from cigarrette packaging labels, and should be treated separately. This point shouldn’t even be on here.

The only non-problematic point on here:

The point about putting victims of drunk driving on alcohol bottles is fair enough, though you may want to include pictures of damaged livers and whatnot as well if you really want it to be comparable to the cigarrette packaging. Of course, this doesn’t work when you go to bars, since you usually get your drink in a glass, not in the bottle it comes in.

Problem #3

Putting pictures of dishonest, thieving politicians on tax-returns… really? First of all, this suffers from the same problem the point about cosmetics did. It’s not really comparable. Secondly, what are these politicians supposed to look like, anyways? In my experience, most politicians look like, I dunno, people. What message is putting my MLA on my tax returns supposed to send?

You could also include pictures of elderly people receiving free healthcare, or children attending public school. Actually, such a small percentage of your tax money goes into politicians actual pockets that it seems a bit strange to compare it to the considerably higher percentage of smokers who will contract some kind of smoking-related disease. I know this is an unpopular opinion for a lot of conservative/libertarian-leaning Albertan’s who enjoy thinking that elected representatives are just evil, money-grabbing, no-good politicians, so I’m going to spend a little more time unpacking this one.

According to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta website, the average MLA gets paid a little under $80,000/year including their tax allowance ($52,000/year before the tax allowance). Sounds like a lot of money to the average Albertan slogging away in the service industry, who probably only makes between $25,000 and $30,000 per year, or maybe even less than that. But let’s look at it from a more nuanced standpoint. First of all, MLAs work between 45 and 60 hours per week. They don’t get overtime pay. There are 52 weeks in a year. So MLAs put in between 2,340 and 3,120 hours per year, putting them at $25 – $34 per hour. Still more than you make working at the mall, but why shouldn’t it be? Their work generally requires greater early investement in post-secondary education, not to mention the time they spend building up the expertise they need to succeed in this career path, as well as the investement and risk that goes along with running in and winning an election. If we compare with other sectors, Executive Directors of non-profits can make as much as $100,000/year (though the median is closer to $60,000), an Executive Director of an average private-sector company can make as much as $150,000/year (the median is closer to $71,000), and Executives of pharmeceutical companies make as much as $6 million/year (with an average closer to $800,000).

So who, exactly, is actually thieving, or greedy? Most ‘politicians’ make as much as or less than their private sector counterparts, for around the same amount of prior career investment and hours worked on the job. But most of the people who think that politicians, who draft policy and create budgets that provide citizens with free healthcare, are greedy and thieving usually don’t say the same thing about people like the executives of a pharmaceutical company, who use unfair copyright/patent laws to make it almost impossible for smaller companies or governments to make life-saving generic medications that are cheaper and more accessible. They consider these people to be hard-working entrepreneurs who deserve to make the amout of money they do. I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying it.

There’s another angle from which we can consider this problem that I’ve briefly mentioned already: the percentage of your tax money that goes into paying the salaries of those greedy, pocket-lining politicians is not remotely comparable to the percentage of smokers who will contract some kind of disease as a result of smoking. The difference in scale between the two is massive.

I’ve already shown that MLAs in Alberta make around $80,000/year. There are 83 MLAs. That’s $6.6 million in MLA salaries, plus a little bit more for the MLAs who also act as Premier or Ministers. Let’s give an estimate of around $7 million in politicians’ salaries. It sounds like a lot, but compared to the overall budget, it’s almost nothing. In 2013, the Alberta Government collected $10 billion in personal income tax revenue. That means that 0.0007% of the taxes you paid in 2013 went towards the salary of your elected representative. Comparatively, roughly 50% of smokers will die as a result of smoking (from cancer or other smoking-related diseases).

There’s a pretty massive difference between the amount of money thieved from you by politicians, and the amount of life/health thieved from smokers by cigarrettes. So why does this infographic consider them comparable?

Why do I have to tolerate this kind of garbage in my FB feed?

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