Sunday, August 20, 2006

Every time a social activist cries, an angel dies

The sorriest casualty of modern social activism is the wholesale numbing of the noble sentiments of compassion and charity that used to attend to the misfortunes of the down-and-out. Every time the sick, the homeless, the unemployed immigrant, the single mother and every other trademarked victim of tax-funded social agencies with decorated offices, junketing budgets and public relations managers is trotted out in the media as a hostage for more government funding and regulation, I am less inclined to negotiate for their release. And I doubt that I'm alone. It's not compassion fatigue, it's political fatigue, and it's too bad… I still drop coins into the palms of those whose faces I can see unmediated by mass advocacy campaigns, but as plastic manufactured tokens and the necessary accoutrements of politically-oriented movements and institutions I am indifferent.

The wholesale funding of charity through taxes has found more than willing accomplices among formerly charitable agencies in this country because contemporary funding depends less on the merits of their causes and more on the shrillness of their political advertisements, the professionality of their political legerdemain and the accommodation of sympathetically sensationalistic media. In sacrificing voluntary action for an incestuous interdependency of money/cutbacks for political support/opprobrium between governments and agencies, they become nothing more nor less than yet another unaudited political machine for electioneering extortion, as discreditable and removed from the sphere of average citizens' involvement than the rest.

In two consecutive issues of this week's London Free Press, reporter Joe Belanger has obligingly and uncritically sponsored opposition politicians' and agencies' slamming of the federal Conservative government's alleged "reneging" of funding promised by the previous Liberal government for housing initiatives to help the homeless.

A London MP yesterday accused a federal minister of "reneging" on promised funding for local housing initiatives to help the homeless. New Democrat housing critic Irene Mathyssen also demanded Diane Finley, federal minister of human resources and social development, restore the funding "immediately."

"Minister Finley must reassure Canadians that this government will take care of its most vulnerable citizens by reversing the other massive cuts to programs across Ontario as well," the London-Fanshawe MP said. Finley and federal officials deny they cut an estimated $376,000 in funding to 11 agencies helping London's homeless.
As a Canadian, I would be much more reassured if Minister Finley and the Conservatives stopped patronizing these professional political agencies as though they were unloved stepchildren from a previous marriage whom the government is reluctant to disavow but who keep demanding support payments, and more as the charitably-inclined organizations they claim to be. Never minding of course that government manipulation of housing, rental and employment markets is responsible for the greatest part of homelessness in this country during the last quarter century, one doesn't really expect the general sort of economic understanding that would abstain from demanding more of the kind from government from the graduates of social sciences and humanities who eagerly settle for the non-productivity of professional activism. But if they really wanted us to believe their claims to benevolence and charity, would they stoop to this kind of hyperbolic extortion method?
The head of the London Homeless Coalition says "people will die" over the harsh winter if the agencies don't get the funding that was to carry some programs for the homeless through to April.
Would a voluntary charity ever dream of coming to your door and telling you that "people will die" if you don't hand over your twenty bucks?

Cross posted to Dust my Broom


Anonymous said...

Voluntary charities are getting the short end of the stick in our society. Charities that I have supported over the years went through a strict screening process, I would check to make sure that no more than 10% of there funding came from a government source, each charity would have no paid employees, could not be a corporation or corporate charity. There was a list of charities that I would donate approximately $1500 in total, every year.
When a charity crossed over into receiving government funding I would withdraw my donation and tell the charity why. More than half of my original charities have been eliminated and I split the charity money between the remainders.
The only exception to this rule was the London Public Library that my children and I use on a regular basis. When the library built its new downtown location and the City increased there funding they also became eliminated from my list. The library called the other day to inquire about a donation and I had to tell them that I would no longer be making a donation to them because of the increase in City taxes, the increase in their funding by the city, and their complete disregard for the "peoples" money when they moved the library and left the existing building empty. I told them I would not be making another donation to the library until there funding was reduced by the City (as this is unlikely to happen, chances are I won't have to make another donation to them, ever).
I have managed to talk my boss and his wife out of more than $10,000 worth of donations over the last two years. They have adopted my list and making donations where they are needed. The many charities that used to receive donations from him are a little upset with his new policy and some have sent some letters stating that they "need" the government funding to continue there work, I have been responding for him with the statement that we pay too high taxes now, and if they want a donation in the future they need to find a way to run without government money or paid employees.

MapMaster said...

Wonderful comment, Anonymous, we enjoyed it very much. You put your money where your mouth is… too many people put other people's money in their own mouths.

Anonymous said...

Thanks mapmaster, I am just so frustrated at the government wasting money on "make work" type charities that solely exist for the purpose of employing people.
It is interesting to note most of the charities understood where I was coming from when I refused a donation, however both MADD (I used to donate when it was a group of moms, but not now) and the LHSC were irate at my reasoning. The people doing the canvassing that I spoke to on the phone were PAID employees and actually insulted me when I told them I was not making a donation to cover payroll and advertising. Both told me I was cheap and that I wanted people to die. It's sick that they would prey on people in this way.