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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Clearing the Streets

All perfectly legal:

It’s a very simple strategy and it will probably work. Blitz the downtown eastside [of Vancouver], giving homeless people $350 tickets for jaywalking or other minor infractions, which they can’t possibly pay. Continue doing this for a few more months. A week or two before the Olympics begin, start jailing everyone for failing to pay their tickets. It’s legal. It’s practical. And it will ensure that the tens of thousands of tourists coming to Vancouver for the Olympics will never see what residents and visitors to the Downtown Eastside see the rest of the year.
An arbitrarily applied law makes mockery of the idea of a government of laws and not men. To rigorously enforce jaywalking would mean ticketing practically everyone in a city. It's a law that's rarely enforced in Toronto. I've met exactly one person who has received a jaywalking ticket, and I suspect he was doing something fairly stupid at the time. In modern Canada there is a plethora of petty laws regulating individual behaviour, laws practically no one observes or enforces. Nor is it only pedestrians who are covered. 

It's virtually impossible to consistently obey the Highway Traffic Act, indeed doing so is often dangerous - i.e. driving at a legal speed that's well below the flow of traffic. Many of these laws were drawn up with the understanding that they would be applied in a reasonable manner. You might be technically breaking the law, but unless you were presenting a clear risk to others, the cops would look the other way. Because the application is so subjective, it can be easily abused. In a recession the number of traffic tickets issued tends to go up - as do the informal ticket quotas given to officers - to help meet shortfalls in municipal budgets. In the case of the Vancouver Eastside, one of the worst areas in the country, the city fears images of the homeless caught by foreign television crews.

Getting rid of such laws would be the knee-jerk response. Laws that cannot be enforced fairly shouldn't exist. I suspect, and I admit I'm not a lawyer, that the laws could be re-written in a less arbitrary fashion, while giving the police the necessary authority to act when appropriate. Speed related to the overall flow of traffic, rather than an arbitrarily established figure (Ontario's 400 series of highways were designed for speeds of 130 km/h in good conditions, not 100 km/h). Jaywalking based on flows of traffic at the time. I would certainly be interested in hearing the polite suggestions of others. Do we need these type regulatory or administrative laws? If so how can they be enforced fairly? Is the basic issue here that roads are not privately owned?

Posted by Richard Anderson on July 28, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

Ah the memories. Exactly like living in Ontario under the Mike Harris regime. A so called conservative government that liked to use the phrase, "the common sense revolution." Since when has it been common sense to criminalize poverty?

I remember the attacks on "squeegee kids" and pan handlers. I ask, why fine someone who can't afford living, and participate in these kinds of activities to make ends meet?

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 9:36:11 AM


Why Doug? Disdain. The disdain many conservatives have for the poor is quite disturbing.

Not unlike leftists, I've noticed a propensity for conservatives to simplify the situation. It's all their fault as opposed to it's never their fault (the left).

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-28 9:48:14 AM


I agree with you Charles. In fact I think the "right" and "left" labels are complete bullshit. The political centre is a relative term that changes every time you ask a different person. The extremes are exactly alike and have much more in common with each other than they like to admit. For the political extremists, right and wrong does not exist.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 10:33:53 AM


Publius, there's jaywalking in the sense of someone darting across a street during a lull in traffic when there are no crosswalks or intersections reasonably near, and in sauntering through traffic with your hands in your pockets and a joint in your mouth, kicking any car that comes too close. The first causes no disruption; the second is a menace. Now, which category sounds more like your typical Downtown Eastside "victim"?

You say that the police should apply the law judiciously. In my experience they usually do just that. If the poor are more likely to indulge in dangerous criminal behaviour, whose fault is that but the poor's?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 12:14:25 PM


"Ah the memories. Exactly like living in Ontario under the Mike Harris regime. A so called conservative government that liked to use the phrase, "the common sense revolution." Since when has it been common sense to criminalize poverty?"

Since when is it required by law for poor people to block traffic, steal cars, crack shorts, invade homes, mainline drugs, guzzle beer, and smoke pot, Doug? These acts are illegal no matter who does them. The fact that the poor disproportionately contribute to such malefactors do is reflection on the bad judgement of many poor people, not on an evil and morally bankrupt government.

"I remember the attacks on "squeegee kids" and pan handlers. I ask, why fine someone who can't afford living, and participate in these kinds of activities to make ends meet?"

Because they often develop a well-publicized and occasionally violent hostility to those who turn them down. I've been sworn at and abused for not making "donations"; I've heard of squeegee kids kicking and damaging the cars of drivers who refused their services. They congregate outside banks, stores, anywhere people go to shop, swarming honest taxpayers like flies. And in most cases the money they collect goes not onto their plates but straight into their veins.

Face it, Doug; you're backing a losing horse here. If they can't afford living, maybe they should get a job, hmm?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 12:20:21 PM


"Why Doug? Disdain. The disdain many conservatives have for the poor is quite disturbing."

This is not true. People vote for measures to suppress these parasites not out of disdain, but so they can actually go about their business without being harassed. These idlers add no value to their society and given their preference would cheerfully drain value from it. If you act like vermin, expect people to deal with you like vermin.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 12:23:13 PM


Ah, Dr. Shane Matthews offering his enlightened opinion again. Oh and about you being a debater, excuse me, DEBATER, I don't think you can debate your way out of a wet paper bag!

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 12:23:27 PM


"It's all their fault as opposed to it's never their fault (the left)."

A person's immediate circumstances may not be their fault, Charles. But their actions today always are, unless they're mentally ill. Even if half of street people have a mental illness, that leaves half who don't.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 12:24:49 PM


"Ah, Dr. Shane Matthews offering his enlightened opinion again. Oh and about you being a debater, excuse me, DEBATER, I don't think you can debate your way out of a wet paper bag!"

Don't think, Doug; you haven't been trained for it. You apparently haven't been trained for debate, either, or you'd know that you win it by discrediting your opponent's facts or conclusions or both, not by jerking off into your hat and then cramming it onto the other person's head.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 12:40:36 PM


@Shane "Don't think, Doug; you haven't been trained for it. You apparently haven't been trained for debate, either, or you'd know that you win it by discrediting your opponent's facts or conclusions or both, not by jerking off into your hat and then cramming it onto the other person's head."

Hey Shane, you're the expert at jerking off. Maybe you should get off your computer once in a while and get laid; that is if you could find anyone willing.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 12:53:28 PM


"Hey Shane, you're the expert at jerking off. Maybe you should get off your computer once in a while and get laid; that is if you could find anyone willing."

Wow. Is this the best we can expect of a professional journalist who graduated cum laude? Is this what taxpayers have to show for their investment in you? Flames and tantrums and "up yours too"?

Do you think you could actually lower yourself to venture as to why why my conclusions or the observations from which they derive are wrong? Or are you too busy putting sugar in people's gas tanks?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 1:12:26 PM


And Publius, if all roads were privately owned, then the owners could exclude anyone or everyone, for any reason or no reason. Not very conducive to moving people around. Nor would it get you what you desire, because you still have to obey the law on private property.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 1:41:31 PM


Last comment to you shane. Fact is not an offensive four letter F word. you obviously don't know the difference between opinion and fact. I have better things to do than argue with a narrow minded parasite like you. Have a nice day.

Notice your name in lower case, that's how important you are.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 1:53:29 PM


"Last comment to you shane. Fact is not an offensive four letter F word."

Indeed. So when are you going to offer some, instead of all this sentimental schmaltz you've been peddling?

"I have better things to do than argue with a narrow minded parasite like you."

Yeah, I suppose. Those student loans aren't going to pay themselves back.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 2:09:37 PM


Oh well you made me a liar, shane

"Yeah, I suppose. Those student loans aren't going to pay themselves back."

Glad you pointed that out, I thought I paid my student loans off ten years ago. Of course I must be wrong since you know everything.

@Shane "Wow. Is this the best we can expect of a professional journalist who graduated cum laude? Is this what taxpayers have to show for their investment in you? Flames and tantrums and "up yours too"?"

The taxpayers didn't invest any money. I payed it all myself or payed back my student loans.

@Shane"Do you think you could actually lower yourself to venture as to why why my conclusions or the observations from which they derive are wrong? Or are you too busy putting sugar in people's gas tanks?"

Are you accusing me of puting sugar in gas tanks

@ Shane"Don't think, Doug; you haven't been trained for it. You apparently haven't been trained for debate, either, or you'd know that you win it by discrediting your opponent's facts or conclusions or both, not by jerking off into your hat and then cramming it onto the other person's head."

Do you actually know when and where I went to school? I thought not.

@Shane"Face it, Doug; you're backing a losing horse here. If they can't afford living, maybe they should get a job, hmm?"

Really, I'm spooked that you know more about me than I do.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 5:19:51 PM


Shane,

"A person's immediate circumstances may not be their fault, Charles."

We finally agree on something.

"And Publius, if all roads were privately owned, then the owners could exclude anyone or everyone, for any reason or no reason."

Well perhaps there are certain people who should be excluded. Like drug addicts for example. You remember those consequences you are always talking about?

What you're saying is true. But in our society, extremely unlikely. Here's why:

1. Profit motive. Most businesspeople seek to maximize profits. It doesn't pay to exclude.

2. External financing. Financiers, whether they are bankers or equity investors, require a return on invested capital to protect themselves against inflation and risk. Discrimination, leading to lower return on invested capital would be completely unacceptable to these types of individuals. How do I know? Because I am one.

3. In the unlikely scenario that factors 1 and 2 are not sufficient to prevent discrimination, public pressure would very likely take care of the problem. First, to put things in perspective, an entrepreneur would have to have no outside investors whatsover in order to avoid factor 2. Furthermore, it would be completely impossible for 1 (or even a small group of investors) to, for example, buy every road in T.O. without outside investors. But coming back to the main point, how long do you think it would take for the media and activists group to make a stink of, let's say, a black man being denied use of a road because he is black? Don't underestimate the power of social pressure.

So, in the end, private ownership of the roads would result in lower costs for everyone, be much cleaner and well maintained (hence save lives), and are highly unlikely to result in systemic discrimination. Funny but I tend to think positives outweigh the negatives on this one.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-28 6:05:26 PM


"Oh well you made me a liar, shane."

I haven't made you into anything, Doug.

"Glad you pointed that out, I thought I paid my student loans off ten years ago. Of course I must be wrong since you know everything."

Whomever you were writing for didn't have very high standards, then. Both your groundwork and technique are no better than average. Quite the fortune to achieve nothing special.

"The taxpayers didn't invest any money. I payed it all myself or payed back my student loans."

A typical undergraduate's tuition fees account for only about 20 percent of the total cost of providing his university education. The other 80 percent is subsidized by the government, courtesy the taxpayer. For graduate students the subsidies are less, but significant. Any way you slice it, the government paid for the bulk of your education--and even gave you a cash advance on the small portion they did charge you for!

"Are you accusing me of puting sugar in gas tanks."

No. That was a question, not a statement. Questions by their nature cannot be accusations. I am, however, accusing you of misspelling the word "putting."

"Do you actually know when and where I went to school? I thought not."

Apparently you have not been trained in pronouns, either. I did not question where you went to school, but what you learned there, and who could have possibly thought that you merited a graduation with cum laude standing.

"[Face it, Doug; you're backing a losing horse here. If they can't afford living, maybe they should get a job, hmm?"] Really, I'm spooked that you know more about me than I do."

I'm spooked that you thought those two sentences were even indirectly about you. Are all double-major liberal arts students who graduate cum laude as self-centred as you?

Any time you want to get back to debating the actual topic, I'm game. It's the only hope you have of winning, because you certainly can't win a war of personality.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 6:05:37 PM


P.S. And the word is "paid." Graduate student.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 6:07:21 PM


And for all those believers in 1960's style civil rights, the much maligned HRC's could add the roads, along with housing and employment to their list of responsibilities. I, for one, don't agree with this position, but would prefer that option to the one we currently have.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-28 6:12:27 PM


@Shane "A typical undergraduate's tuition fees account for only about 20 percent of the total cost of providing his university education. The other 80 percent is subsidized by the government, courtesy the taxpayer. For graduate students the subsidies are less, but significant. Any way you slice it, the government paid for the bulk of your education--and even gave you a cash advance on the small portion they did charge you for"

Where do you get your numbers from? use absolute terms, not about.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 6:13:19 PM


Charles,

1. What sort of people should be excluded, Charles? Blacks? Indians? Asians? White Christians? Here's a tip: NEVER use the word "perhaps" in a debate. It makes it sound like you've been caught flat-footed and have had to improvise something quick. Which is doubly foolish, because your responses here are not timed. Take the time to come up with something good.

2. Whole swathes of humanity have been excluded in the past, in spite of your three points. Excluding based on skin colour (except for whites) is largely passé, but I can see people being excluded on the grounds of socioeconomic status. Isn't that the very concept that lies at the germ of this debate? Every society, no matter how evolved its people think it is, has an underclass.

3. Your statement that transferring roads to private hands would result in better and safer streets at less cost you do not even attempt to back up with proof; I suspect because there's little, if any, to be had. But there is ample proof that plutocracies beget kleptocracies, and that kleptocracies beget failed states.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 6:24:36 PM


"Where do you get your numbers from? use absolute terms, not about."

Absolute numbers do not exist, because the numbers vary depending on the province, the university, and the faculty selected. Can you spot the errors in your post? (There are two.) How many people had to proofread your writing before it became printable without incurring major embarrassment?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 6:28:00 PM


"And for all those believers in 1960's style civil rights, the much maligned HRC's could add the roads, along with housing and employment to their list of responsibilities. I, for one, don't agree with this position, but would prefer that option to the one we currently have."

You think that having the HRCs decide who could come and go, and at what time, is preferable to the current system of restricting only the criminals? What have you been smoking, Charles?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 6:29:04 PM


Back to the topic as long as we have special interest groups (MADD, the anti-smoking zealots, and a group for just about anything) clamouring for more laws and succeeding, there is not a hope in hell of getting rid of any of the ridiculous laws.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-28 7:35:49 PM


I forgot to mention the subject of "clearing the streets" and would add that this is exactly what China did prior to the Olympics and probably every other country sponsoring an international event. The problem I have with it is that it does not address the problem and is only temporary window-dressing. The so-called homeless problem is multi-facetted. A good percentage of them have serious mental problems and are there due to a government decision to remove them from care facilities, which meant dumping them on the streets. Another percentage is composed of addicts and yet another is made up of young adults who do not want to work for a living. As for the children, we can again thank the government for removing parental authority and providing welfare benefits. Do not trot out the mantra that they all came from abusive homes, because it is a lie unless one considers ground rules set by parents abusive. Arresting all of them to project a false image to international visitors is not a solution.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-28 7:49:35 PM


Alain,

1. I agree that mentally ill people should be re-institutionalized so they can live in security and receive treatment. However this will be politically difficult in light of the current popular idea of residential institutions Frankensteinian killing fields, thanks largely to sensationalist headlines about mass abuses. (These abuses certainly existed but were nowhere nearly as widespread as alleged.) This group also constitutes at least a large minority of drug addicts. The remainder should be committed and force-detoxed.

2. Once those who need help have been removed from the streets, that basically leaves the last of your three categories; young adults displaying an allergy to hard work. For such idlers, there's always picking berries and potatoes on workfare farms, or scraping bird shit off the statue of Gassy Jack.

3. Removing these people from view is not so much an exercise in image control as it is in ensuring that guests are not subject to undue harassment. If homeless people were otherwise normal, there would be no objection. But they're far from normal, and in many cases, far from harmless.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 8:05:03 PM


Alain, well said.

By the way, I like Manhattan. The rules are simple. Walk when it is safe and don't when it is not. I realized at that moment I didn't need the government to keep me safe. I could do it myself!!

As for clearing the streets, besides the points Alain made, I would say freedom is a little messy, and I have become to appreciate it more and more that way.

Posted by: TM | 2009-07-28 9:55:59 PM


@Shane"1. I agree that mentally ill people should be re-institutionalized so they can live in security and receive treatment. However this will be politically difficult in light of the current popular idea of residential institutions Frankensteinian killing fields, thanks largely to sensationalist headlines about mass abuses. (These abuses certainly existed but were nowhere nearly as widespread as alleged.) This group also constitutes at least a large minority of drug addicts. The remainder should be committed and force-detoxed.

2. Once those who need help have been removed from the streets, that basically leaves the last of your three categories; young adults displaying an allergy to hard work. For such idlers, there's always picking berries and potatoes on workfare farms, or scraping bird shit off the statue of Gassy Jack.

3. Removing these people from view is not so much an exercise in image control as it is in ensuring that guests are not subject to undue harassment. If homeless people were otherwise normal, there would be no objection. But they're far from normal, and in many cases, far from harmless.

This is just your opinion. You profess seeing the future just like Edgar Cayce did.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-28 10:08:20 PM


"As for clearing the streets, besides the points Alain made, I would say freedom is a little messy."

Ah, yes...the old "can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" shtick. But that's usually used as justification for starting wars.

Pooh-poohing the negative consequences of your idea of freedom won't do much to convince other people to embrace it, TM. If you would win support, you'll have to address the people's concerns (or at least pretend to).

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 11:24:45 PM


"This is just your opinion. You profess seeing the future just like Edgar Cayce did."

They're not opinions; they're proposals. Proposals to which you have made no counter-proposals.

Did you know, cum laude boy, that you didn't need to earn a postgraduate degree to learn how to do gonchie pulls? That is something any locker-room bully knows.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 11:28:57 PM


Shane, maybe you like the negative consequences of a nice orderly society, but I do not. I am not trying to convince you anyway.

Posted by: TM | 2009-07-28 11:38:19 PM


"Shane, maybe you like the negative consequences of a nice orderly society, but I do not."

There are typically only negative consequences for those who misbehave, TM.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-28 11:58:32 PM


@ shane "Did you know, cum laude boy, that you didn't need to earn a postgraduate degree to learn how to do gonchie pulls? That is something any locker-room bully knows."

I suppose you're an expert in doing "gonchie pulls."

by your own admission you must be a locker-room bully.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-29 1:34:12 PM


"I suppose you're an expert in doing "gonchie pulls. by your own admission you must be a locker-room bully."

Having seen them done, and who did it, doesn't make me culpable. Didn't they teach you critical thinking at school, cum laude boy?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-29 7:30:10 PM


@shane "Having seen them done, and who did it, doesn't make me culpable. Didn't they teach you critical thinking at school, cum laude boy?"

I live in the real world, where do you live shane?

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-29 10:14:03 PM


"I live in the real world, where do you live shane?"

A university student living in the real world? Well, there's a first time for everything...but you're still not quite there, boyo, if you still expect flashing your degrees to influence the course of a discussion. Liberal arts grads are a dime a dozen.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 6:14:14 AM


They should first start by cleaning the BC Government.. The B.C. Liberals campaigned just three months ago on a promise to protect health care. They are now cutting health services.

BC the best place on earth, to find some of the biggest liars, and bad RCMP

I rightfully have never been a fan of the self centered BC Liberals or of the bad RCMP now too.

Posted by: BC | 2009-07-30 6:23:41 AM


@Shane"A university student living in the real world? Well, there's a first time for everything...but you're still not quite there, boyo, if you still expect flashing your degrees to influence the course of a discussion. Liberal arts grads are a dime a dozen."

Obnoxious, brainless, self-centred people like you are a penny a dozen.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 9:29:13 AM


"Obnoxious, brainless, self-centred people like you are a penny a dozen."

How uninspired. How unoriginal. How jejune. Multiple degrees and graduating cum laude but the boy can apparently manage nothing better than "up yours too!"

How hackneyed. How clichéd. How trite. How...

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 11:15:18 AM


@Shane"How hackneyed. How clichéd. How trite. How..."

Actually there should be four dots afer your final how. you seem to imply that your sentence goes on. Maybe you should learn how to write instead of right or rite.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 11:22:19 AM


The ellipsis consists of three dots, cum laude troller. Did you really fancy that you knew more about than type than a professional typesetter? When you worked at your various newspapers, were you down in the press room, telling the pressman how to do his job, too?

Furthermore, there should be a comma after "actually," the word "how" should be in quotes, and your last sentence needs commas, although there are several valid combinations. I'm not falling for that little trap you left in your second sentence, either. You're as a subtle as a hand grenade in a barrel of Monotype.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 12:03:58 PM


@Shane"Furthermore, there should be a comma after "actually," the word "how" should be in quotes, and your last sentence needs commas, although there are several valid combinations. I'm not falling for that little trap you left in your second sentence, either. You're as a subtle as a hand grenade in a barrel of Monotype.

Hah, I'm not the one adventuring to lible.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 12:13:10 PM


I'm sorry, was that supposed to make any sense at all?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 5:10:26 PM


@Shane"The ellipsis consists of three dots, cum laude troller. Did you really fancy that you knew more about than type than a professional typesetter?"

Actually, Shane, the ellipsis consist of four dots if it includes the end of a sentence.

@Shane"were you down in the press room, telling the pressman how to do his job, too?"

I worked with professionals. This comment shows how little you know about the industry. Presses aren't even used anymore.

@Shane"I'm not falling for that little trap you left in your second sentence, either."

O Shane. your so paranoid.

@Shane"I'm sorry, was that supposed to make any sense at all?"

Makes about as much sense as anything you say. You
probably think that a lible tort is a piece of pastry"

@Shane"Furthermore, there should be a comma after "actually," the word "how" should be in quotes, and your last sentence needs commas, although there are several valid combinations."

I don't need to edit, you do it for me.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 6:07:06 PM


"Actually, Shane, the ellipsis consist of four dots if it includes the end of a sentence."

That is an old rule that is fading from use, similar to the practice of putting an en space after the period at the end of a sentence (or, in the case of a computer or a typewriter, two regular spaces). Technically correct but functionally obsolete.

"I worked with professionals. This comment shows how little you know about the industry. Presses aren't even used anymore."

Call any major newspaper's printing plant and they will cure you of your delusions. What do you think those broadsheets and tabloids are run off on nowadays, a Xerox machine?

"O Shane. your so paranoid."

Screeched the e-stalker.

"Makes about as much sense as anything you say. You probably think that a lible tort is a piece of pastry"

I think a "lible tort" is nothing at all; there is no such word. A libel tort, on the other hand, is something else again. Which you might want to keep in mind the next time you print your lurid fantasies about me whacking off.

"I don't need to edit, you do it for me."

So nothing has changed since your stint as a journalist, then. Jolly good.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-30 6:47:13 PM



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