Tim Hudak, "normal" guy who learned "self-reliance" from very well-off background

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Sean in Ottawa
Tim Hudak, "normal" guy who learned "self-reliance" from very well-off background

Very scary article today about Hudak.

Tim Hudak's website says this about himself:

http://timhudakmpp.com/about-tim/

Tim's own life story and career path are a testament to the opportunities that come from being part of Ontario's middle class. Tim and his sister grew up in a middle class household in Fort Erie. His dad was a high school principal and his mom was a teacher. Tim learned the importance of self-reliance and community involvement from his parents and grandparents who originally came to Canada from Eastern Europe in advance of World War Two.

The website does not say that his mother was a town coucillor for Fort Erie as well as a teacher.

Today he called his upbringing "Normal."

"I was a normal kid, I had a normal upbringing, a normal life in university so I experimented from time to time with marijuana," Hudak told reporters. When asked when he last smoked, Hudak replied: "Quite some time ago."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2011/08/18/ontario-hudak-pot...

I could not care less that he smoked pot. What is disturbing is his concept of "normal" and "middle class." And, when looking at his website, his concept of self-reliance.

It is informative when a politician refers to normal-- an indication of the limits of their perspective. Hudak comes from a family where both parents worked: one as a principal the other a teacher and part-time town Councillor.

Principals make $90- $120k/year Teachers make between $50k and $70k/year. Fort Erie town Councillors make about $12 for the very part-time position.

That meant Little Hudak had a family income in today's dollars of something between $150k and $200k.

Terrifying if he thinks this is "normal." Worse if this informs his policies. People who make less than this should watch out for a man who does not understand you or think you are normal.

FWIW the median income in Ontario is substantially less than half of  what a family with a teacher and principal would make yet Hudak's website claims he grew up in a "middle class' household where he learned "self reliance." Now that is the truly terrifying part.

How much do well-off kids in two-parent upper-income households truly learn about the concept of self-reliance? But Hudak says that is where he learned his concept of self-reliance.

No doubt that is an assertion that would give his immigrant grandparents (on his father's side) pause.

Voters who are less fortunate might want to consider what his concept of self-reliance could be learned in such a fortune-blessed home -- perhaps something like: "I'm ok, screw you Jack..."

Regions: 
Mr.Tea

Teachers, if anything, are grossly underpaid. You can make a decent salary towards the end of your career but for the first half, it's very low particularly in relation to the amount of schooling required to enter the field.
I think that being the son of a teacher and principal qualifies as "normal" or "middle class". It's certainly not the challenge of being the son of a single parent making minimum wage but being the child of educators is hardly a life of champagne, caviar and luxury vacations. I personally have two friends who left teaching because they found it so hard to live a "middle class" life on such salaries. (This is in Toronto where cost of living is high. I'm sure the salary goes further in Niagara or wherever Hudak is from).
I think what's interesting is the complete disintegration of the middle class. Teachers may have been comfortable when Hudak was growing up but not so much today. I remember watching Michael Moore's "Capitalism, A Love Story" where he talked about how he grew up the son of a unionized auto worker (I don't think his mom worked) and how they were able to buy a decent house and pay off the mortgage quickly, have two cars in the driveway, send their kids to Catholic schools, take a vacation every summer, retire with a pension, etc. Those days seem to be behind us.

Life, the unive...

Since when did being brought up in a teaching household, with one parent becoming a principal, qualify as 'well off"?  Okay comfortable I can see, but well off, even a Princiapals salary doesn't put you into the swank set.

There are lots and lots of policy reasons to attack Hudak, trying to attack his family's 'wealth' is both over the line and frankly pretty petty.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Not to mention that teachers become principals at the end of their careers. It's not like there are hotshot 23-year-old principals eating up provincial tax dollars. I agree with the idea that referencing normal indicates the limits of experience, but do we really want to attack this right-wing politician via the "fat cat teacher" narrative?

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Tea why are you ignoring the fact that one of his parents was a teacher and a town councilor AND the other a high school principal-- this is a high income family.

I am not saying teachers aren't worth it or don't work hard -- not at all. I am saying that is a well-off household by any measure you want to take. One far, far more fortunate than the average Ontarian such that you just can't call it "normal." It is actually one you should call "very fortunate."

Add to that his bizarre contention that he learned self-reliance from growing up in that household. He thinks his family had to scrimp and save? Maybe compared to the fabulously wealthy Tory friends they might have had but he is out of touch to say he learned self-reliance there or that this was a "normal" upbringing -- it is close to 3 times the average household income. Not incredibly high income but pretty far from normal. His parents did not wonder if they could pay for his University. The average family in Ontario has that problem and the premier will be one of those people who will decide how much they will pay.

This is nothing to do with teachers' jobs. If he came from a single income household where the income earner was a teacher that would amount to about the average household income. These are facts -- you can check them if you like -- what is there to dispute unless you think a $200+k familiy is "normal"?

I grant you-- there are thousands of mostly out-of-touch right wing people who would think that is normal-- who may have never met an adult minimum wage earner or someone unemployed for more than a short time. Perhaps there are even hundreds who would think that $200k/year would be struggling middle class.

Then there is the rest of Ontario where the average income is about $40k and the average family income under $70k.Where there are many people who earn less than that.

The premier will govern us too.

Sean in Ottawa

Life, the universe, everything wrote:

Since when did being brought up in a teaching household, with one parent becoming a principal, qualify as 'well off"?  Okay comfortable I can see, but well off, even a Princiapals salary doesn't put you into the swank set.

There are lots and lots of policy reasons to attack Hudak, trying to attack his family's 'wealth' is both over the line and frankly pretty petty.

I am not attacking his family's wealth.

I am attacking him for saying that his background was "normal."

A two income family is already pretty good. A two income where both are professionals and one is a local politician and a teacher and the other a principal is way more then "normal."

This is not a criticism. This is a fact -- and he thinks he was so struggling he learned self-reliance.

Sean in Ottawa

Catchfire wrote:

Not to mention that teachers become principals at the end of their careers. It's not like there are hotshot 23-year-old principals eating up provincial tax dollars. I agree with the idea that referencing normal indicates the limits of experience, but do we really want to attack this right-wing politician via the "fat cat teacher" narrative?

Ok catchfire I recognize the rhetorical value of extreme exaggeration but where the hell did I say anything that could lead to that?

I did say that a family making 3 times the average family income is not normal-- what is your disagreement with that? I did say that there was a problem sayign you learn self reliance as a child growing up in such a fortunate household.

I did imply that to have both parents employed one as a teacher and the other as a principal is pretty damn good fortune. But where are you getting the rest?

And this is important as this speaks to his attitudes about what is normal and what is self reliance.

Normal in Ontario is that it is pretty good fortune if ONE of your parents has a good professional secure full-time job. That is reality.

Sean in Ottawa

Well he remembers his father when he was at home as a principal-- no, there are no 23 year old principals and I don't think his father was 23 when Hudak was born either (exaggeration on your part Catchfire). But when he was in highschool himself and then when he was going to university when the big bills roll in for most families this was the social and economic status of his parents.

If you think that is the norm in Ontario, I invite you to reconsider.

I am very much a pro-union, pro professional person who accepts the value of these professions but I don't have to kid myself that people who are in those professionals are not also fortunate and a family with two such people are definitely fortunate.

The idea of the teacher who had to get meals from the students becuase they were paid so little is 19th century -- thanks to unions. I would not have it any other way. but this is not how the average Ontarian lives. If we pretend that it is we are doing more to advance the idea of fat cat union members and out of touch liberals than if we accept the truth.

And it is unions that have accomplished those advances.

Mr.Tea

Sean, neither you or I are sure exactly what the Hudak family's financial circumstances are.

We don't know when or how long his mother was a town councillor. Secondly, as Catchfire pointed out, principals only become principals much later on in their careers, after paying their dues as teachers at low salaries. We don't know at what point in Hudak's life his parents started making more money. Not that it particularly matters. If you think that teachers don't "scrimp and save" and don't worry about how they're gonna pay the bills, I don't know what to tell you. Do you know any teachers? Have you visited them in their Forest Hills homes with the new BMW parked in the driveway and dined on lobster while they regale you with stories of their latest ski trip to Aspen?

The teachers I know who teach in Toronto can't even afford to live in Toronto. They tend to live in small homes, drive shitty cars and live generally pretty simple lives and do it because they like the job and like to teach and make a difference. Nobody (including Tim Hudak) is saying that being a teacher is an epic struggle for survival but nor is it a ticket to wealth and luxury. It's middle class and reasonably comfortable. And given that I think teaching is important, I certainly won't begrudge teachers their modest suburban homes or their Toyota Camrys. The summers off, on the other hand, leave me rather jealous...

Sean in Ottawa

I should add my own bias on this-- I can't stand the two-sides-against-the-middle argument that some people make that union jobs are not fortunate better than average and represent the struggling working class on the one hand and yet unions are so wonderful for workers because they make life substantially better and are leaders because of it. That is a contradiction.

Union jobs tend to be very good jobs relative to non-union jobs and the public unionized professional positions some of the best of all working class jobs. This is why I would like every worker to be unionized. Workers would be (and are) screwed without unions. So given a unionization rate that is less than 1/5 of workers, having both parents with good jobs -- one union and the other risen even past that to management-- pretty damn lucky and I am not ashamed as a left of centre person to acknowledge that. Why are you?

But this is not just about unions this is about understanding how people live in the province-- Hudak's contention that his upbringing represents "normal" in Ontario and that he could learn self reliance there (presumably because his parents were not multi-millionare captains of industry is a problem. It may be better to have a person who had a silver spoon in their mouth from a millionare family who understand that that is not normal than someone who thinks it is and that everyone else just does not work hard enough-- is not self reliant enough.

Why can't you see this problem?

Mr.Tea

Sean, I just think of all the valid criticisms that exist about Tim Hudak, the fact that he (accurately in my opinion) characterizes his family of educators as "middle class" seems pretty far down the list.

Also, I don't have stats in front of me but I'll take your word that the "average income" in Ontario is $40K per year. That doesn't really tell you much because it includes everyone in the workforce - people who've been working for one year and peoply who've been working for 40 years. Obviously, people later in their careers (like principals) make more money than someone who has just started working. But they also have much higher expenses that they have to deal with. Someone fresh out of school doesn't need to worry about a bigger home, supporting a family, saving for their kids' education, planning for retirement, etc.

But another issue is that IF teachers DO make "3 times" the average salary, I really have no problem with that. Teachers also have significantly more education and qualifications than the average Ontarian and do a job that I think is important and deserves to be compensated accordingly.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Wouldn't median salary be more applicable than average?

Do we know what teachers were making during the time period that Hudak was growing up?  (In other words, is your comparison accurate?)

Sean in Ottawa

Mr.Tea wrote:

Sean, neither you or I are sure exactly what the Hudak family's financial circumstances are.

We don't know when or how long his mother was a town Councillor. Secondly, as Catchfire pointed out, principals only become principals much later on in their careers, after paying their dues as teachers at low salaries. We don't know at what point in Hudak's life his parents started making more money. Not that it particularly matters. If you think that teachers don't "scrimp and save" and don't worry about how they're gonna pay the bills, I don't know what to tell you. Do you know any teachers? Have you visited them in their Forest Hills homes with the new BMW parked in the driveway and dined on lobster while they regale you with stories of their latest ski trip to Aspen?

The teachers I know who teach in Toronto can't even afford to live in Toronto. They tend to live in small homes, drive shitty cars and live generally pretty simple lives and do it because they like the job and like to teach and make a difference. Nobody (including Tim Hudak) is saying that being a teacher is an epic struggle for survival but nor is it a ticket to wealth and luxury. It's middle class and reasonably comfortable. And given that I think teaching is important, I certainly won't begrudge teachers their modest suburban homes or their Toyota Camrys. The summers off, on the other hand, leave me rather jealous...

Again you are being selective here-- yes we do know his background Hudak speaks of it often. His father was a principal while he was growing up and his mother was a teacher-- this is not comparable to a family with one of those jobs even. This is an extremely fortune family with two great jobs and two parents who were quite successful -- the lower income was the teacher and that was supplemented by a Town Councillor salary for some time. I'm not saying this is too much but it is sure not representative of normal.

And yes, I do know lots of teachers.

And they don't make millions but they do consider themselves fortunate.

Again I think you are purposefully skating around comparing a single teacher's situation with a family where one is a teacher AND politician and the other a principal. Are you really suggesting that this family and others like it are not very well off relative to most others in the province?

Your argument that a teacher can struggle does not apply-- a family with one teacher's salary is one that will struggle and is one that reflects a provincial average income but we are not talking about such a family are we?

And no-- principals do not only get that job at the very end of their careers-- many spend over 20 years of their career as principal some even more.  It is more often a middle career move something that happens while the kids are in elementary school or before they remember much not a couple years before the gold watch as you imply.

"After paying their dues at low salaries." Sorry that's a lump of bull. After paying their dues for a time at a pretty good salary more like. Teachers work damn hard-- agreed. But they do not make low salaries and have not for a very long time. Hudak is 43. He would have been 13 before highschool and university in 1981. Teachers have been well paid since the early 70s. You know why I know? I have had one in my family. Teachers made crap money in the 50s and worse before then but that is not Hudak's experience or family.

May I ask you this since you question if I know any teachers. Do you know any adults earning minimum wage in Ontario? How about any who are unemployed or underemployed? There are a hell of a lot more of them in Ontario.

Again while picking on my comments you still ignore the idea that he says he learned self-reliance by virtue of his "middle class" background. Really? You have no trouble with this?

So what did Andrea learn from her single-parent family background? Or did she earn too little to be called "normal" or to learn self-reliance?

Mr.Tea

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

 This is an extremely fortune family with two great jobs and two parents who were quite successful -- the lower income was the teacher and that was supplemented by a Town Councellor salary for some time. I'm not saying this is too much but it is sure not representative of normal.

 

What do you consider "extremely fortunate"? I guess if being able to have a decent house and car and not worry about  being put out on the street is "extremely fortunate" then the Hudak family qualifies. And I don't begrudge them that "extreme fortune". But certainly comparable to people with similar levels of education or whatnot, teachers are low paid.

Dalton McGuinty's dad was a lawyer and MPP. So what? I really don't care about a politician's personal background but about their ideas and what they'll fight for. My political heroes, Franklin Roosevelt and Bobby Kennedy both came from incredibly wealthy families. So what? FDR did a lot to build a middle class and Kennedy a lot to fight for the dispossessed.If Hudak's dad were a coal miner, would that make him any less shitty a leader?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Hm.  Median Ontario salary for 2-parent households was over $77,000 a year in 2009.

Sean in Ottawa

Yes we know what they were making then and it is not that different from today in today's dollars -- there were years of wage freezes erasing the gains teachers had made previously -- teachers are no better off in Ontario today than in the 1980s while Hudak was growing up. Many would argue (and teacher's unions do), that they are worse off now. From what I have seen I agree.

I did not say teachers make 3 times the average salary. I said his family income that included a principal and a teacher who also was a town councillor made 3 times the average family income. That is a difference since as I pointed out the average (or median) family income is not based on 2 full-time jobs and a principal's salary is not representative of a teacher's salary.

BTW-- I have seen a lot of stats and when it comes to salaries-- average and median are not much different-- if you think about it you will understand why. Average tends to be a little higher than median but not by much.

Mr. Tea stop being so selective about my arguments-- makes me think you are not arguing as sincerely as I would expect. He states his background was "normal" when it was a great deal more fortunate than the average or median household -- about 3 times average. And he states that he as a child coming from this household learned to be self sufficient because of this middle class background. Do you really have no trouble with that?

So some single Mom who is working retail just hasn't learned to be self reliant becuase she did not struggle like Hudak did?

I argue his perception of normal is a problem and hjis perception of what it means to be self reliant is downright scary.

Sorry if I touched a nerve in the knee-jerk defend the union even when it is not under attack view. I happen to be a union member and activist so I am offended by the idea that I cannot acknowledge reality without being considered ant-union.

Mr.Tea

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

"After paying their dues at low salaries." Sorry that's a lump of bull. After paying their dues for a time at a pretty good salary more like.

May I ask you this since you question if I know any teachers. Do you know any adults earning minimum wage in Ontario? How about any who are unemployed or underemployed? There are a hell of a lot more of them in Ontario.

Do you know what a starting salary for a teacher is? When my friends were starting out (not all that long ago), it was about $35K in Toronto. Now take off taxes and union dues. Many will have student loans to pay off. A decent one-bedroom partment in Toronto back then was close to $1000 a month. Yeah, you can live but not particularly well. Add to the fact that it's damn tough just to FIND a teaching job for a recent graduate. Most people I know who graduated teacher's college spent the first couple years as a substitute teachers, with sporadic work scattered around the city, maybe getting lucky and getting to fill a maternity leave for semester. Like I said, I have friends who left teaching cause they just weren't really getting by. They looked at people (myself included) they had gone to school with who were often making triple or quadruple their salaries. The ones who stick it out tend to do it cause they love to teach, certainly not for the money.

It goes up with experience but so do your expenses related to family, etc.

To answer your question, no I don't know any adults earning minimum wage. I imagine it's next to impossible to get by. But I don't think that everyone who isn't in that fairly desparate circumstance automatically qualifies as 'extremely fortunate".

Sean in Ottawa

Timebandit wrote:

Hm.  Median Ontario salary for 2-parent households was over $77,000 a year in 2009.

Come on now! You had to blow past the All family category to get to the couple families. The all census families is the correct one unless we are assuming that all people in Ontario are in 2-parent households.

I'd be disturbed if you now are to tell me that normal is a 2-income household where both parents are working in a profession.

Median income for all Ontario households Stats can 2009 (likely unchanged since then) $69,790.

http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/famil108a-eng.htm

Sean in Ottawa

Here is median income for people not in a census family: $23,900

http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/famil108d-eng.htm

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

You're right.  The "all family" median (which factors in single parent households) was $70,000.  Not $40,000.

If your average is correct, then the median is about $30,000 higher.  That doesn't make much sense.

Teaching salary for someone with a B.Ed (4 yr degree) is $37,000 currently, up to $62,000 for those who've been there longer.  Principals seem to earn between $105,000 and $115,000.  Not too far off, but that means that your estimates are a little exaggerated.

It's not that unusual for kids to be in dual-parent families where the parents are in a professional.  I'd say that makes it pretty normal.  It's not like the guy was brought up by the Carringtons from Dynasty.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Here is median income for people not in a census family: $23,900

http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/famil108d-eng.htm

What proportion of the population are they?  Do they constitute "normal"?

Sean in Ottawa

Mr.Tea wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

"After paying their dues at low salaries." Sorry that's a lump of bull. After paying their dues for a time at a pretty good salary more like.

May I ask you this since you question if I know any teachers. Do you know any adults earning minimum wage in Ontario? How about any who are unemployed or underemployed? There are a hell of a lot more of them in Ontario.

Do you know what a starting salary for a teacher is? When my friends were starting out (not all that long ago), it was about $35K in Toronto. Now take off taxes and union dues. Many will have student loans to pay off. A decent one-bedroom partment in Toronto back then was close to $1000 a month. Yeah, you can live but not particularly well. Add to the fact that it's damn tough just to FIND a teaching job for a recent graduate. Most people I know who graduated teacher's college spent the first couple years as a substitute teachers, with sporadic work scattered around the city, maybe getting lucky and getting to fill a maternity leave for semester. Like I said, I have friends who left teaching cause they just weren't really getting by. They looked at people (myself included) they had gone to school with who were often making triple or quadruple their salaries. The ones who stick it out tend to do it cause they love to teach, certainly not for the money.

It goes up with experience but so do your expenses related to family, etc.

To answer your question, no I don't know any adults earning minimum wage. I imagine it's next to impossible to get by. But I don't think that everyone who isn't in that fairly desparate circumstance automatically qualifies as 'extremely fortunate".

Indeed I do know what a starting salary for a teacher $37k if they are starting with 4 years education and $42 if they are starting with a 6 year education. Most people do not have a family before they start however and by the time they have a family are well on their way. By the time their children are aware of family finances they are closer to the top of the range. The following link is just teachers not principals:

http://resource.educationcanada.com/salaries.html/

That is pretty low to start, granted and not much for a one-earner family -- but no comparison to a two earner family closer to the top of their careers -- and two that were fortunate to go further than most. Plus we need to remember she was also a politician as well. Municipal Councillors working part time tend to make a top up of $12k over their full time job.

It is a totally bogus argument to present a Toronto current teacher circumstance to compare to a Niagara circumstance from 25 years ago.

They had a family income way, way above the average or median income in the province-- they lived in very fortunate circumstances. That does not mean a teacher starting out in another place and another time by themselves not in a family is not struggling.

We are not arguing the merits or fairness of teacher's salaries or the realities of people starting in that profession today in the most expensive city in the country -- you are -- but that is not my point. We are reality checking Hudak's claim to come from a "normal" Ontario background and that because it was working class he learned self reliance and that means he understands Ontario families. They earned in today's dollars over $200k when he was growing up. That is not normal or a place that would automatically bestow "self reliance."

You are for some reason turning the discussion into what I would argue is a straw man argument -- ignoring the very relevant specific circumstances we are speaking about to create new irrelevant ones to argue an irrelevant argument about the fairness of teacher's salaries when we likely don't even disagree. In short you are arguing a position I don't disagree with against a completely different argument-- which is what a straw man argument is.

I would go so far as to say a two-income family where both incomes are full time cannot be described as "normal" growing up in Ontario. It is fortunate.

Just so we don't argue this-- I am not speaking in favour of divorce either when I say you can't presume that the normal Ontario family is 2-parent. Given divorce rates (even going back to Hudak's youth) a 2-parent family was fortunate.

I am arguing he is not acknowledging his good fortune.

Sean in Ottawa

Timebandit wrote:

You're right.  The "all family" median (which factors in single parent households) was $70,000.  Not $40,000.

If your average is correct, then the median is about $30,000 higher.  That doesn't make much sense.

Teaching salary for someone with a B.Ed (4 yr degree) is $37,000 currently, up to $62,000 for those who've been there longer.  Principals seem to earn between $105,000 and $115,000.  Not too far off, but that means that your estimates are a little exaggerated.

It's not that unusual for kids to be in dual-parent families where the parents are in a professional.  I'd say that makes it pretty normal.  It's not like the guy was brought up by the Carringtons from Dynasty.

Maybe you are posting too quickly and I am struggling not to be rude to you because of it.

The $40k number is average income for a working person.

The $23k number is working people not part of a family (the $40k includes those in a family but just looks at individual salary)

High school principals which are what he was make more than elementary and you are looking at a broader range.

If we assume a principal where one would be when their children is in their teens $115k (there is evidence some go higher)

Teacher of the same age $70k (with six years)

Municipal salary $12k

Working all their lives they certainly would have been likely to have some investment income as well so we can round another 3k up and get $200k but if you want to average down a little and say they were making $190k then we can do that if you think that makes them more in the "average" range. I think you are playing with details here.

He came from a fortunate family and the fact he thinks it wasn't so fortunate that he had to learn self-reliance is pretty friggen scary.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Ok Timebandit I give up.

If you think that coming from what in today's dollars is close to a $200k a year, double income family, is representative of normal in Ontario what else can I say? (I am not saying it is alien-- or unheard of-- just not a fair representation of normal and it would be much fairer to call it fortunate)

If you think that this background justifies Hudak from saying because it was middle class this means he had to learn self reliance (which he wants to teach the rest of us his website implies) then what more can I say?

Personally I think you won all the straw man arguments and proved your solidarity with the union (which was never in question) and left Hudak off the hook with a fantasy vision of what Ontario families look like and an utterly absurd idea of what it means to learn self reliance.

When he forms policy with this in mind, I am sure you will be so grateful you won all those straw man arguments.

(I say it is over $200k but I'll let you have that)

By the way-- I have heard Dalton McGuinty say how he comes from a fortunate background-- his mother was a nurse and his father a professor/politician. I suspect Hudak's parents made the same if not more than McGuinty's. I am neither a Liberal nor a Conservative but at least I can appreciate that McGuinty does not claim to come from anything less than a fortunate circumstance to which he does not credit self reliance but the support of parents that had done very well for themselves and in turn supported him. On this point I'll trust McSquinty just a little more. And he seems to be in recognizing that his parents were fortunate at least aware of the rest of Ontario. Yes, many of his policies suck but he shows a little bit of a clue as to how the real people live when you hear him speak about his past.

Mr.Tea

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I am arguing he is not acknowledging his good fortune.

I think he IS acknowledging his good fortune. He makes no claim of a hardscrabble upbringing. He says he was middle class. If you want to say he was slightly towards the higher end of the vast "middle class", then fine. I think the point he's making is that he remembers a time when it was a lot easier to BE "middle class" and live a good life with those kinds of salaries and that he wants to take Ontario back there...the irony, of course, being that as an MPP in Mike Harris's government, he contributed to the decline of the middle class by laying off workers, fighting unions, making university more expensive, etc, etc.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I think you're using a different, more confined definition of "normal" than I am, Sean.  "Normal" does not necessarily mean average.  Sure, Hudak grew up in fortunate circumstances (considerably more so than mine, I might add), but they weren't "abnormal" circumstances, either.

I could also point out that kids who were growing up with two working parents in the 1980s, rather than having a mum at home full time, did learn a little self-reliance.  I certainly did.

Mr.Tea

I'm not even sure what the point of your original argument is, Sean. I think most on this board agree Hudak sucks and aren't particualrly interested in his family's income.

If you want to quibble over whether it qualifies as "normal" or "middle class", fine. I would say that "middle class" and "normal" are pretty broad terms and that describing one's upbringing as such isn't the same as saying that your upbringing fits exactly into the statistical average of every Ontario family. I'd say that a family of a teacher and principal fit somewhere into a spectrum of what can reasonably be called "normal" or "middle class".

I also think (and know) that being raised middle class or upper middle class or whatever doesn't preclude "self reliance". Lots of "middle class" and "comfortable" kids still work part time jobs, summer jobs, etc., pay for their own university, take out student loans, etc. Much has to do with the values of your family and what they want to instill in you. I came to this country dirt poor but after a while when my father was able to get his foreign credentials recognized and open a dental practice, I was certainly comfortably middle class (probably upper middle class) by the time I was in high school. My parents still insisted that I work to earn spending money (even though they could afford to give it to me) because they wanted to teach me the value of working for what you get. They insisted that I contribute heavily to the cost of my education on the principle that if I paid for it myself, I'd be more likely to take it seriously and go to all those expensive classes I paid for, rather than blow it off to drink beer because it wasn't my money being wasted, etc. My wife and I are fortuante to earn a pretty good income but we're still going to insist that our kids foster self-reliance for the same reasons that my parents insisted on it for me. So I think "self reliance" is more of a value and a mindset than strictly a description of circumstance.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr.Tea wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I am arguing he is not acknowledging his good fortune.

I think he IS acknowledging his good fortune. He makes no claim of a hardscrabble upbringing. He says he was middle class. If you want to say he was slightly towards the higher end of the vast "middle class", then fine. I think the point he's making is that he remembers a time when it was a lot easier to BE "middle class" and live a good life with those kinds of salaries and that he wants to take Ontario back there...the irony, of course, being that as an MPP in Mike Harris's government, he contributed to the decline of the middle class by laying off workers, fighting unions, making university more expensive, etc, etc.

Where do you get all that?

He says coming from a middle class background he had to be self reliant. Like he had to struggle to make his life with a family income of ONLY $200 k in 2011 dollars plus or minus.

The idea of claiming his background represents normal is a problem-- anyway this has all been said.

Sean in Ottawa

Have you looked at his site and read what he means by self-reliance? Have your read it in the context of what Conservatives generally mean by self reliance?

On Middle class--

Here is a globa and mail article that addresses that definition:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/article772689.ece

It comes from 2007-- numbers have changed but thanks to the recession not by much.Who is middle-class?

The North American images and conceptions of "middle class" are misleading: If you earn $75,000 a year in Canada, you aren't middle-class; rather, you fall in the top 10 per cent of income earners. Internationally, such judgments are even less useful: A family income of $30,000 to $65,000, squarely in the middle in Canada, would place you in most countries' upper ultra-elite.

Subjectively, middle-class status means freedom from absolute poverty, the ability to borrow money, home ownership, the ability to put your children through school (and likely some postsecondary education) and some sources of savings and equity that could be used to start a small business. These values are common badges of middle-class status around the world and are increasingly what the world's poor aspire to.

But finding this middle ground is harder than it sounds. There are several possible methods.

Locate the middle group of earners You divide the population into equal-sized 10ths or fifths, each holding the same number of people, and see what they earn. In Canada, the middle one-third are those families earning about $35,000 to $70,000 per year. But the relative size of that middle third, in this scheme, will always remain exactly the same, making it impossible to judge if the middle class is growing or shrinking.

Define the ‘middle strata' The ‘middle strata' are those earning 75 to 150 per cent of the country's average income. Though the measure can be misleading because of some tricky math, a group of scholars led by the World Bank's Branko Milanovic recently tried to do something similar for the entire world. They divided the planet into a "lower class" - those with annual incomes less than the median income of Brazil (about $4,000 (U.S.) in purchasing power) - and an "upper class," consisting of those making more than the median income of Italy ($17,000 (U.S.)). The lower class made up 78 per cent of all the world's people, the upper class, 11 per cent and the middle - those living between those limits - made up another 11 per cent.

 

So It would seem that I would not be alone in raising eyebrows at a family in Hudak's circumstance trumpeting middle class roots.

Oh and Hudak's mother served 3 terms...

Mr.Tea

The average height for men in Canada is 5 feet 8 inches. To say that someone is of "normal height" doesn't mean that they are exactly 5 feet, 8 inches. They can be 5"10 or 5"6 and still be of "normal" height, whereas people on the far outliers may be called "short" or "tall". I think Hudak's circumstances can be described as "normal" rather than by an outlier description like "rich" or "poor".

But more broady...um, what is your point...who cares what sort of home he was raised in...

Sean in Ottawa

The point of my original post?

That Hudak's claim that his "middle class" roots made him learn about self reliance is scary-- self reliance meaning that he needed to earn his pocket money or pay tuition like it is some badge that allows him to lecture the rest of the province on self reliance. Now when he speaks about self reliance for Ontario consider what he means-- if you move to Ontario and then fall on hard times-- you have to wait for the one-year anniversary to be able to get social assistance. He says too many people take advantage of welfare.

And he has his family background to inform him on the meaning of self reliance while he lectures poor people.

Sean in Ottawa

Hudak was born with many advantages into an advantaged family-- he believes he had to struggle and that is what is informing his attitudes to people who he does not understand.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Tea when someone talks about normal -- do you really think that a family that makes 3 times the median income of the average Ontarian is normal?

Your height comment does nto make sense-- we are not talking about abnormal in that way-- he is not trying to distinguish himself from a 3 legged cat. He is suggesting that he comes from a typical Ontario family and the word typical appears as the first (likely planted) comment on his facebook page. And the implication is that he understands you and me-- that is the point that is exactly what it is about-- do you disagree with that?

He is saying he comes from the type of family that allows him to understand typical Ontario families-- except his was a lot more fortunate than the typical Ontario family-- and perhaps he does not know that-- scary -- or does not consider those others to be real Ontarians or worth consideration. But most Ontario voting families have a far different reality and he is clearly implying that he shares the same type of circumstances of the typical Ontario family.

I am saying that is a deliberate fudging of facts-- a misrepresentation. But that background that he considers normal or typical is so unrepresentative of the actual experience of most Ontarians that for him to think it is represents a huge problem.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr.Tea wrote:

The average height for men in Canada is 5 feet 8 inches. To say that someone is of "normal height" doesn't mean that they are exactly 5 feet, 8 inches. They can be 5"10 or 5"6 and still be of "normal" height, whereas people on the far outliers may be called "short" or "tall". I think Hudak's circumstances can be described as "normal" rather than by an outlier description like "rich" or "poor".

But more broady...um, what is your point...who cares what sort of home he was raised in...

Using your analolgy it is like saying you are normal when you are 6'6"-- not that this height is abnormal but it sure isn't the midrange either. It is not freakish 7 feet-- ok. It is within a range when you make that range include 90% of households but it is a stretch to call it middle, normal, typical-- all attempts to say he is just an ordinary average guy to help ordinary average families -- I suspect he does not meet many ordinary average families and circulates in a nice area that we might be able to call the upper part of upper middle class. Not exactly your average guy. And because his Dad is not called Stronach we should take that as a proof he understands the average Ontario family and what it means to be self reliant.

Sean in Ottawa

Anyway I guess we disagree since you  seem to think the equivalent of about $200k/year is a "normal upbringing" and I think it is damn fortunate and not necessarily in touch with what is normal for the vast majority of the people of Ontario.

Remember this-- I am not going after his upbringing-- I am resenting him trading on it as he does everywhere and at every opportunity -- trying to establish he is "one of us."

If he shut up about the normalcy of his upbringing and what that means to self reliance and personal responsibility as he then expresses it to welfare recipients (he does not call it social assistance) then I'd leave it alone. But this is the persona he is weaving. You are buying. I am not.

I admit that I'll have to think about it simply because there has been not a single other person on this progressive Board who seems to have trouble with the background he has had being described as "normal." I guess I am also passionate about that because if his background is normal -- mine clearly is not since I have seen nothing in common with that. Not even remotely.

When I was a kid I think maybe twice I went in to someone's home who would have made that much. Maybe my class just did not ever come in contact with his. But maybe he is right and his idea of normal is correct in Ontario and my life experience and the people I know and knew is not.

Anyway, sorry about this-- I did need to argue the point because I guess my own life experience and that of almost everyone I know is just so foreign to what must be the norm. So ok -- maybe he is just a regular guy -- but one in a world I do not understand, have never had any experience with, and only know is there in theory. In my worldview one great job in the family and you would think you were doing really well.

I admit this is all relative and the difference must be our experiences outlook and sense of what is normal.

To use the height analogy -- to you Hudak is like 5'10" when average is 5'8" but to me he is 6'6"-- the multimillionaire is a different species -- that's our perspective difference. It may also be a problem for all social policy because the vision I have is so different and centred so differently in priorities because of that. I never knew a family as well off as Hudak's was when I was growing up-- not one. I have met a few as an adult but did not consider them "normal" or "average"

So there you go-- we are both I guess right coming from our perspective which is so different that this kind of thing rings differently. It is the only possible explanation. I honestly did feel shock at him calling that "normal" and I did not start this to troll or anything like that-- everything I said was sincere. I just literally have had no experience of this normal Ontario society.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I don't suppose it's worth pointing out that when Hudak called his upbringing "normal," he was referring to pot consumption, not economics? I'd say it's pretty "normal" to try pot as an adolescent in Canada; which puts me in agreement with Tim Hudak.

I'm sorry Sean, I just don't find this line of argument/attack useful, relevant or convincing.

janfromthebruce

0

Sean in Ottawa

Catchfire wrote:

I don't suppose it's worth pointing out that when Hudak called his upbringing "normal," he was referring to pot consumption, not economics? I'd say it's pretty "normal" to try pot as an adolescent in Canada; which puts me in agreement with Tim Hudak.

I'm sorry Sean, I just don't find this line of argument/attack useful, relevant or convincing.

We may well have different ideas of normal but no you are off base-- he speaks often about this but the sentence quoted above itself is clear:

I was a normal kid, I had a normal upbringing, a normal life in university

And what is more interesting is this is not a comment about the pot and not at all the first time he has said it--

No, he is definitely trading on being normal.

We can debate whether my vision of normal is correct or not but there is no way the comment is just about pot.

That is just not credible-- if you are curious read more of what he has said and the themes he never ever leaves-- the suggestion he knows because he is one of us.

I can't see how you can read I had a normal upbringing.

But let's take this a step further. Why do you think he is raising the pot question?

I think it is part of his wider theme of normal -- just one more way he is normal-- one of us etc. Might work for people -- obviously more than I thought. Doesn't work for me because I don't recognize this normal.

But let's not pretend this whole thing is not part of a wider theme that he uses everywhere that he, his circumstances and his upbringing is normal and one of us and therefore his tough prescription is for our good and not an elite. That is the song-- you can hum a few bars or not as you wish but this is all about that simple message.

I just did not have the circumstances to see it the way he wanted me to-- but maybe enough people will because that is what he is betting on.

***

And Catchfire you miss completely the very, very relevant lesson from this thread. People have a very different sense of what is normal and what is the norm. I did not think when pointed out that his circumstances would in fact pass the sniff test as normal. I can be wrong on that which just means his gamble will work with enough people. But you have his point upside down--

Being normal is not the excuse for the pot-- the pot is trying to prove he was normal and that is what this entire charade is about.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
And Catchfire you miss completely the very, very relevant lesson from this thread. People have a very different sense of what is normal and what is the norm. I did not think when pointed out that his circumstances would in fact pass the sniff test as normal.

Actually, Sean, I completely agree with your premise wrt to people's interpretation of "normal." I just don't think it applies to Hudak, at least not significantly.

Mr.Tea

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

But let's take this a step further. Why do you think he is raising the pot question?

He didn't raise it. A reporter asked him during a scrum whether he'd ever smoked pot and he said that he did before saying that "he had a normal upbringing and normal college experience." I also smoked pot in college and consider it a pretty "normal" experience. I think that you're reading way too much into this. If your intention is simply convince us that Hudak would make a bad premier, I think you're already preaching to the choir.

Sean in Ottawa

My intention is to point out that Hudak's theme is that he is a "normal" guy like all the rest "of us."

My point had been that his idea of normal was scary different from anything I would call normal -- completely unrecognizable to me as a living condition.

This thread will be around during the election -- I guess you can watch and see how this bears out but I think he is going to trade on this through the election -- basically asking for the vote of Ontarians saying he is one of us.

It was my impression that he was not representative that the lifestyle, security and family that he came from did not reprepsent the way most live in the Province. I've been corrected on that but that was the point.

If people here are content that his claim to be like everyone else is authentic then so be it.

Personally I do find it disturbing to have a person who had a great deal of comfort and good fortune growing up thinking that is the normal Ontario condition -- under the impression he comes from the middle when in fact he comes from the top rung of most people (above him sure there is the crazy rich bt they are not  significant population).

As I understood it wealth is concentrated into the top 1% which he is not but he is likely in the top 5% certainly not representative of the middle of the road in fortune in Ontario.

There are many jobs in Ontario-- a look on the "sunshine list will show there are quite a few but relative to the millions in the province still a small number. But a family that has two well paying positions in is even more rare-- at least so I thoguht which was why I wrote this.

I presented all the evidence I could to show that the Hudak family certainly to me seemed well better off than any sense I could make of middle income. In the end I concluded that I guess the income classes don't really meet and the reality I saw is not shared that much and his reality is not either-- perhaps just as the top one percent is not as well. We really have no conception of each other. To me his life was incredible good fortune the likes I never new anyone experience when and where I was growing up and I thought I knew some fairly well of people.

As for who raises what-- reporters ask friendly questions and his reply showed preparation -- I am not buying that he did not expect the question. But media 101 also is about turning every question back to your theme and the -- I am an ordinary guy theme is his.

pookie

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

 

How much do well-off kids in two-parent upper-income households truly learn about the concept of self-reliance? But Hudak says that is where he learned his concept of self-reliance.

 

Um...maybe he learned self-reliance from his parents? 

Perhapas as the daughter of two teachers I am a little sensitive, but I sure as hell would say I learned that from them.  They immigrated here and worked their butts off.  Yes, they were educated and had secure jobs, but we definitely didn't live in luxury for much of my childhood likely because they didn't make extensive use of credit and were focussed on owning a home.  It wasn't until much later in their careers, really, that they could be called "comfortable".

 

ETA: I must say it also really, really bugs me to hear families with both partners working full-time described as "incredibly fortunate".

FWIW, I am 43, same age as Hudak.  My partner and I together make over $200K a year.  There is no way my parents's lifestyle at the same time of life (also in two professions) compares to ours.  We are MUCH better off than they were.

Sean in Ottawa

double post

Sean in Ottawa

Well whether it bugs you or not-- two people in the same family to be able to land two well paid professional jobs (and one add a part time Town Councillor job on top) -- that is pretty fortunate -- it isn't how most people live. So there you go -- consider yourself fortunate. And if you want to take a moment to be sad about the fact that this is not your typical family -- then go for it.

Why is being called fortunate taken as a slight?

Since I don't know anything about your personal finances or your parents I am in no way able to determine if your experience is a fair generalization. But still the point was not intergenerational comparison it was that Hudak's experience is not an normal ordinary one representative of the typical Ontario family -- which is the theme he is delivering all over the place-- not just this pot story-- I would not have noticed the reference if I had not already been sick of hearing it.

No doubt they worked well and were lucky as well but they did way better than most people in this province were doing at the time Hudak was growing up and my concern is his attempt to make himself sound like one-of-us and representative of "the middle class" as he calls it indicates that Hudak is out of touch with the way most people are here.This is the guy wanting to teach self reliance and personal responsibility to social assistance applicants by making them wait till they have been in the province 12 months. So if they came for a job and it did not work out after 6 months and they don't have enough money to eat they can suck it up because he learned self-reliance from his parents. This does not disturb anyone here?

What I am noticing about this really cool pile on is how incredibly selective it is-- I am quoted as saying that two partners working full time is incredibly fortunate-- not true. I stated that two partners both working full time in professional positions at the level they were able to reach is incredibly fortunate and not representative. there is a distinction especially when the entire point is about degrees. Simply working full time does not make you fortunate. so if you really think that I think a couple both working at Walmart are fortunate then let me correct that now. Wow.

Now is there some reason that most people replying to this thread have to bend what I am saying in order to make their point? Because that is the trend here almost every point made appears deliberately selective in order to find offense. It makes me think I hit a nerve that people want to fight about and are denying the realities I mention in order to fight back on more fertile if less intellectually accurate ground.

Is it because we should never allow that union members can be fortunate or considered better off than others? Is there some politically correct issue I am missing here? Because otherwise why not argue against what I am actually saying instead of twisting it into something different? Is it some aspirational thing where we want to think that a $200k income range must be seen as normal because then it could be in reach for most of us who make -- what 1/3 or less of that?

It has gotten tiresome repeating the central part of this only to see piles of critique that completely ignores that issue. Is someone saying Hudak's family are representative ordinary middle class family folks? If so that would mean that we have redefined middle class away from the middle and closer to the top ten percent. So what? Is the lower income people to be defined as 0-89% then middle income 90-96% and then 97-99 be high income and 100% to be obscenely rich? If so I did not get the memo.

And let's not be selective on the teacher side of this-- they were not just a pair of teachers-- one was a teacher with a Town Council gig on top and the other a high school principal. I don't resent them for that but I think it is really twisted to pretend this is not very, very fortunate and that it is just your ordinary middle class existence.

Anyway, I have been corrected that the thinking around here about middle class and middle income and ordinary normal upbringing is something i simply do not recognize. That in itself has been educational for me.  I suspect that there are others out there -- even if nobody on this site --  for whom the idea of calling Hudak's upbringing normal in Ontario would be more than a little disturbing. Sure I can be wrong on this but I really, really doubt that I am alone. Like I said before-- I guess the classes in this province just don't really meet each other or get to know each other much.

You know why this is a big deal to me? The part time add on that not one of you has acknowledged Hudak's mother to have -- because it is so insignificant has a rough payout equal to 23 hours a week at minimum wage. That little insignificance is about what many people only able to get part time retail work actually live on as their only source of income. The pay bump from teacher to principal-- that alone is equal to the average single person's wage -- and an amount many families in this province live on as their only income.

This week we have a child going to high school-- the cost of getting him there (school transportation no longer covered as it was in Hudak's time -- is another $75/month on top of all the other expenses families must face). So these little details you see fit to ignore are not actually that small-- unless you make shitloads of money they are not pocket change.

Bacchus

Maybe your Forum Title should say 'fortunate' rather than 'very well off"? Very well off makes me think of conrad black, not your typical family of workers, whether they be union or not, two parents working or not.

Lachine Scot

Catchfire wrote:

I don't suppose it's worth pointing out that when Hudak called his upbringing "normal," he was referring to pot consumption, not economics? I'd say it's pretty "normal" to try pot as an adolescent in Canada; which puts me in agreement with Tim Hudak.

I'm no pot smoker, but I find his "normal" thing here hypocritical, considering his following comments: "I think we still need to set a very clear direction that drug use is wrong and these criminal activities need to be taken very seriously."

OK, it's fine and normal to do it, but people should be jailed for it?

Sean in Ottawa

His entire approach is insincere and hypocritical including his disingenuous suggestion that he came from average ordinary middle class background.

And I don't know what the grandparents made either or their family wealth -- would be interesting to know. How self made were they?

I don't trust what he is saying.

Freedom 55

Sean, while my reading of Hudak's comments were closer to Catchfire's (i.e. smoking pot is a 'normal' part of the high school and college experience), I do appreciate your raising the issues of class and income disparity.

I think part of the disagreement in this thread hinges on how people define the word 'normal'. Is an annual household income of $200 (using your ballpark estimate) normal? IMO, it's a high income; but it's not so high that you could characterize it as an outlier, so I can see how people accept it being described as 'normal'. Is it typical? Is it representative of the average household in Ontario? I think it's easier to answer those questions with a 'no'.

Bacchus

Background

Hudak was born in Fort Erie, Ontario. His father was a high school principal and his mother was a teacher. He received a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario in 1990. He then went on to receive a full academic scholarship to the University of Washington in Seattle where he received a master's degree in economics in 1993. Prior to being elected, Hudak put himself through university working on the U.S. – Canada Border from 1988 to 1993. Before entering public life, he worked for the Fort Erie Economic Development Corporation.[2]

Hudak's grandparents came to Canada from Slovakia in advance of World War II.[3]

 

Your dissing the grandparents as rich people who funded his parents now too?

Sean in Ottawa

Clearly this thread is in some form of la la land with a great big pile-on of shit.

Show me where I was dissing them!

And what part of that *exactly* did you get out of "I don't know"

I merely said we don't know if they had other family wealth and we don't know on either side. I merely put it in because it is possible as well but I had not included it and if someone knew and wanted to write in then they could.

How about some reading comprehension here?

If you don't have time to read what is read don't bother but if you are going to commment and attribute something to someone --read what is written.

As for saying it was about the pot-- go look at his face book page, speeches, everything he  has to say about himself-- he pretends to be an ordinary joe in all of them -- that's his schtick.And that is a problem becuase either he is stretching the truth dramatically or he really thinks he had a standard typical lifestyle. Maybe all the people he has ever met have had the same upbringing.

But I said that already and clearly you guys are writing and criticizing but not reading-- except very selectively.

Tommy_Paine

Reminds me of the Ignatief thing.

I think essentially you are correct Sean.  Hudak, while being very subtle about it, is trying to gain some street cred as a self made man that is probably a stretch.

Funny how Tories always like to wear the clothes of the working class-- but just during campaigns.

 

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