The Shotgun Blog
Monday, May 12, 2008
There's no right to be a troll
Suburban Port Coquitlam, about an hour's drive east of Vancouver, is home to about 50 homeless people, the majority of whom live unobtrusively in forests along the banks of the Coquitlam River. But a half dozen of the vagrants have taken to camping out under bridges (alongside a well-used bicycle path which also runs under the bridges), in park pavillions and in the doorsteps of city hall.
City councillors have received numerous complaints about these campers and, in response, have adopted a plan to install metal grating to prevent the vagrants from damaging city property and harassing the public.
I think it's a reasonable response to the problem, but the vast majority of letter writers to local papers think it's a travesty which not only wastes money but also tramples on the rights of the homeless. My regular debating partner in the Tri-City News, Mary Woo Sims, sides with the majority.
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For an interesting perspective on this, consider this quote:
"Government anti-poverty programs are a classic case of the therapeutic state setting out to treat disorders created by the state itself."
And who's fault is poverty anyway?
"Every day and in every culture from time out of mind, poor people have repeatedly shown remarkable intelligence, courage, persistence, and creativity in finding ways to put food on the table, save money, keep safe, raise families, live full lives, learn, enjoy themselves, and experience beauty, whenever, wherever, and to whatever degree they have been free to do so. The fault for despairing, dilapidated urban ghettoes lies not in the pressures of the market, nor in the character flaws of individual poor people, nor in the characteristics of ghetto subcultures. The fault lies in the state and its persistent interference with poor people’s own efforts to get by through independent work, clever hustling, scratching together resources, and voluntary mutual aid."
Surely some of the poor are at least partly at fault.
So what is the answer?
"The poorer you are, the more you need access to informal and flexible alternatives, and the more you need opportunities to apply some creative hustling. When the state shuts that out, it shuts poor people into ghettoized poverty."
Freedom is the answer it seems. Read the whole article: http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=8204
Posted by: TM | 2008-05-12 2:05:48 PM
I agree, the poor need to help themselves whenever they can. Just look a how the poor have help themselves since the tories took office. Large tax breaks for the poor overpaid civil servants(tax reduction, gst to spend their extra upper middle class dough + govt pension income splitting). Large reductions in corporate taxes (many of these poor large corps are govt regulated and already gouging the public)while the working class is still stuck with some of the highest personal taxes in the west(and no dough for the gst cuts to have any effect). Maybe these vagrants and homeless will have a chance to help themselves once the pigs quit feeding at the trough. To the elite, get out of my life, out of my wallet and get a real job like the rest of us, because one day your little world will come crashing down around you (no more comfortable uncompetative lives were you wallow and slop around). If its now or 10 years from now the public cannot afford your insulance.
Posted by: john | 2008-05-12 5:06:59 PM
john: Join the Armed Forces. Get a life.
Posted by: dewp | 2008-05-12 5:33:47 PM
I try to set a good example for my kids by never treating the poor with any respect. I want my kids to understand, in no uncertain terms, that being poor is unpleasant. I learned it the hard way as a child. My father always wanted to share what precious little we had without any second thought that he was stealing from his own kids to help some bum that would have stolen my shoes if my dad turned his back. My older brother had the right idea, and used to sick the german shephard on every bum that came near us.
I propose not only a security fence, but some razor wire to discourage do-gooders from trying to make contact.
If I someday lose everything I have, I'll turn to crime in a heartbeat. I'll be in all your faces trying to steal everything you have. Don't respect me, fear me.
Posted by: dp | 2008-05-12 5:48:37 PM
John, perhaps you should try Cuba, or maybe Venezuela.
They are models of socialism, the government takes/owns everything, everyone is poor, and you won't stand out.
Posted by: deepblue | 2008-05-12 5:50:53 PM
The rights of the homeless? I thought there were laws against vagrancy? Times sure have changed.
Posted by: Markalta | 2008-05-12 11:29:24 PM
The main reason there are so many homeless is that the government emptied the nut houses to save a few bucks. Time to look at work camps again .Feed them,house them and lets get some roads built. Oh, I forgot , most of them have drug problems too. Ah,...this is too difficult, lets just keep picking on smokers.
Posted by: peterj | 2008-05-13 11:24:46 PM
Its really unfortunate that some of you think I am a socialist, wrong! Acually I believe in a free market economy. I did find it interesting in my travels through 30 US cities and 5 Canadian cities that although there are more poor US citizens on average than Canadian, Canada has a much bigger homeless problem. Further more, if the US government were to cut military spending today, all their citizens would have health care. So my question is if that the case, why are WE Canadians paying about 33% more for things we purchase??? Let see, Canadian taxes have balloned yet our infrastucture is worse, health care costs have sky rocket but service has declined (please refer to the Calgary Health region for mgmt costs and compare to the less than 1% mgmt cost in Tiawan), police cost have mushroomed but crime is at a 25 year low(by the way an NYPD rookie makes 32000/year including health), private salaries are stagnant or declining yet public sector salaries and benefit have increased marketly in the last twenty years. Private sector employees make less than their US counterpart but pay substantially more for goods and in taxes. Canadian regulated businesses postal, telecom, food sectors, retail, media and entertainment are substanitally more expensive. Housing is 50% more than in the US, Canadian made cars are 20% than the same Canadian made car in the US, taxes extra of course. Taxpayers get less taxes for their resources and still dole out money to help the belegered oil industry, forestry (in some provinces) and other resource extractors, yet the average citizen is expected to pay world prices or more (makes that store clerk want to give exeptional service, unless you beleive than the bottom 50% of wage earners are stupid, eh). Still Canadian business taxes are lower in Canada than the US. Does this sound like supply and demand capitalism, maybe socialism dressed up like a free market. So smart guys were is your money going, not the poor, not to prisons, not to the miliary, not to seniors, not to children, not to you!!! This senario doesn't even include the nefarious taxes such as gasoline 33% more, cigaretees 100-500% more, alcohol 2-300% more. So where is the money going, bloated government (ever see major govt staff cut backs or layoffs out of the blue, or the management cost/benefit analysis to run some govt programs)? generous salaies, benefits and pensions (now way out of wack with the private sector)? government building which are built for asthetics instead of functionality (twice the cost to build and twice the cost to maintain)? studies, inquires that cost millions and change nothing? What no government financial audits in Canada! no transparency (Texas requires all payments by its govt to posted on the web for all taxpayers to see). Last but not least, no democracy for Canadian citizens, we dont get to vote on local government budgets, on hair brained govt spending initatives, no access to information and no acountability for wrong doing. Maybe, thats because many Canadian don't realize that Canada isn't a true democracy but a parlmentary system that treats its citizens like we don't know whats best for ourselves. Finally, although their are more poor in the US they seem relatively intent, maybe that because they know if they work hard and save money (not taxed to death)they have the opportunity to make it on their own. But in the mean time, at least they have a roof over thier heads and can afford to go out and have a beer occationally. Like the new Canadian saying, the only thing certain is high taxes leading to death.
Posted by: John | 2008-05-14 4:54:06 PM
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