Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Booming economies discriminate against women and children

According to Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS), more job opportunities mean fewer choices for battered women. From the Calgary Sun:

Alberta’s booming economy is taking a toll on abused women who can’t afford to run away from their tormentors, a watch group said today.

The high cost of living and housing in the province means a growing number of women can’t afford to get away from their abusers and those who do seek help from shelters eventually return home to the violence, said Alberta Council of Women's Shelters spokeswoman Patti McClocklin.

[..] "What is their choice — living in the street and sleeping under a blanket or returning to their abuser — right now, those are their only two options.”
Well, they could take part in the booming economy by getting a job and gaining some self-sufficiency, but that might put groups like ACWS out of business.
The ACWS today called on the province to increase funding to shelters, so women will have an immediate option when they do work up the courage to leave a dangerous situation, said McClocklin.

And because shelters are only the first step to help victims of abuse, the province’s affordable housing crunch must be dealt with immediately, she said.

“It’s frustrating because there are so many people here making money because of the boom ... but there are lot of people who aren’t benefiting from it,” said McClocklin.

“Actually, their problems are becoming greater.”
And what of my "entitlement"? I don't happen to be a battered woman, nor a single mother, but I do suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and the government has yet to control the sun. I have been ripped off. Alas, I am just a big meanie libertarian who happens to question the legitimacy of stealing from the ant to feed the grasshopper.

Cross-barked at Dust my Broom

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

ACWS should get off their asses and solicit donations for what would be a worthy endeavour if it weren't degraded by the ceaseless politicking demand for handouts. It's the easiest thing in the world to cadge funds from politicians anxious to appease criticism and cover themselves with the tinfoil glory of appearing to be caring, because they can do it with other people's money. But it's hardly the way to encourage people to help take responsibility for the less fortunate in their communities.

Anonymous said...

Province-wide Alberta, there were 49 homicides in 2005. Of those, most (31) were fatal victims of domestic violence.

65% of victims of all types of violent crime were women. Of those women, half of that number are victimized by their partner, and another 1/3 by an immediate family member.

Perpetrators often have possession of the house, whereas victims often have extremely limited resources and the responsibilities of caring for children. (My relatives with two PHD's have trouble making ends meet in Calgary's housing market, without kids.)

·Nearly 13,000 women and children were resident in shelters
· Over 20,000 women and children requested shelter and were unable to be accommodated
· Shelters experienced a 34% increase in numbers of crisis calls received
· 76% of women resident in shelters are at high or serious risk of danger in their intimate partner relationship
· In the 2004 – 2005 fiscal year, over 14,000 women and children were resident in shelter and nearly 9,000 women were turned away because the shelters were full

Anonymous said...

In a province so awash with wealth, women's shelter groups should have less trouble than anywhere canvassing donations for thier cause. Just like everywhere, though, it's easier to get it from the politicians. The government's responsibility starts and ends with providing police to arrest the bastards that commit these crimes.

Anonymous said...

In a province so awash with wealth, women's shelter groups should have less trouble than anywhere canvassing donations for thier [sic] cause.
. . .
The government's responsibility starts and ends with providing police to arrest the bastards that commit these crimes.


In terms of pragmatics, Alberta is an interesting case study.

Just so that there are no misapprehensions about the actual facts, the actual budget numbers I've seen show 75% of the existing government funding is for police programs directly and a fraction of the the remaining 25% is for shelters and other programs.

The problem is that this situation, while not absolute, obviously hasn't worked properly in terms of producing the outcome I think you're implying it should have -- Alberta notoriously leads the country in domestic violence crimes, and it's already a virtual case study for the low-funding programmatic recommendation you've made.

I'm interested to know whether you can you cite any examples worldwide where reduced public funding for shelters leads to less domestic violence.

Also, any theories as to what makes Alberta a special case nationally for higher domestic violence?

Seeing that you've suggested that the criminals are already entitled to be provided access to extensive public infrastructure in the form of free beds and board in jail and the entire effort of the justice system, why do you make such a sharp distinction with regards to their victims?

Sounds like we tend agree on the objectives that we'd like to reduce the domestic violence -- so pragmatically, any examples of actually works best?

MapMaster said...

If the charitable model is not working, and shelter groups have certainly discouraged that by adopting government dependency as a strategy, then it's time to take shelters off the independent agency list; they have clearly surrendered their autonomy. Because their role, as you suggest, is to protect individuals from harm that can only be described as criminal behaviour, it would seem appropriate to me to fold shelters under the protective services umbrella of municipalities. Their functions, response and financial management could then at least be held to account by the public who is funding them. In any case, it is hard to see how these local concerns are a provincial responsibility.

Anonymous said...

If the charitable model is not working, and shelter groups have certainly discouraged that by adopting government dependency as a strategy,

Actually, there's ample evidence that the model doesn't work and your characterization that the shelters have "discouraged" the model or that they have "adopted dependency" is factually far from the case, if you look at the actual numbers.

For example, compensation for Alberta shelter workers is lower than most other places in Canada (ie: their services are partially donated or provided at lower than market rate) and fundraising is high (taking a lot of staff effort and attention as compared with elsewhere).

then it's time to take shelters off the independent agency list; they have clearly surrendered their autonomy.

What's an example of that?

Because their role, as you suggest, is to protect individuals from harm that can only be described as criminal behaviour,

It's both to protect before the event and to respond after the event. The shelters have a two-fold purpose -- first to provide actual choices for otherwise powerless women and children so that they might choose to remove themselves from these harmful situations, and second, to provide a safe situation where they can seek justice and obtain the means to support themselves autonomously.

The numbers and statistics show that they work very effectively for those two purposes.

it would seem appropriate to me to fold shelters under the protective services umbrella of municipalities.

Actually, if you would check the facts, you'd see that their funding (not necessarily programs) is already partially delivered that way at the moment. However, this is essentially an arbitrary bureaucratic detail and it's not very meaningful. Does it make any actual difference which line of the budget this appears in?

The real question is whether private charity or public charity produced the right outcomes.

In an more rigid and absolute sense, the Taliban had a fully private model of shelters (as did we say, 5 decades ago), and but either case is hardly the effective, compassionate model to follow.

Their functions, response and financial management could then at least be held to account by the public who is funding them.

And this is a problem right now? How?

Google knows how much money goes to each charity or shelter, how many beds they have, what their mandate is and what constituency they serve, what the staff earn, where they are located, what the programs are like, and reams of other data, all of it totally public.

I'd invite you to compare that against the protective services. With the police, it's very difficult to easily see how budgets are apportioned, let along how well they accomplish any set objective.

I think the current system is much more fiscally transparent on the shelter side, than with the protective services, in practice. At least, that's the case on the internet.

(Now remember, Alberta is that province where bribes and secret commissions were paid to politicians to help secure $350+ million for the West Edmonton Mall, and it wasn't noticed for something like 5 years. Compare that with the federal sponsorship scandal. I'd make the observation that our bedgetary system has to be pretty opaque for things like that to happen.)

In any case, it is hard to see how these local concerns are a provincial responsibility.

I don't get it, what characteristic of the issue makes domestic violence a specifically "local" concern?

*It's not endemic to a particular locale.
*It has nothing to do with the particularities of a particular community.
*It's the same across jurisdictions.
*It's the same across class, generation and ethnic lines.
*Effects and costs are diffused into the community and leak across local and regional boundaries.

On another issue, with cars licensing, Alberta has "privatized" their province-wide vehicle licensing systems. They have one of the lowest cost systems, with short lines, highly efficient service and easy access. Basically, the details of the deployment of the system are left up to the market, and so there's a kind of heterogeneous system of offices, where every one is different and they are disconnected from government infrastructure and funding. In comparison with Ontario (escalating costs and decreasing standards), this seems highly effective. This is similar to the deployment of the shelter system.

Anonymous said...

I don't get your point.

The example you end with (privatized licencing in Alberta vs ineffective government licencing in Ontario) makes Mapmaster's point beautifully, yet the rest of your argument seems to be against privatization.

Anonymous said...

I think you're dealing with a perenniel boom-and-bust economy in which a large number of the families are from outside of the province, and have no extended family around them to (1) relieve pressure on the family by providing babysitting, meals, car rides, etc.; (2) provide a good example of how not to treat your spouse; (3) provide admonishment to family members who get out of line; (4) provide shelter for people fleeing from abuse.

Although not entirely the fault of Albertans, the boom-and-bust economy is a result of worldwide government interventions in the economy, most drastically in the form of inflation and wars. Which go hand in hand. Those who promote government megaprojects, large defense budgets and greater interventions in the Middle East are doing their own little bit to promote economic turmoil and it's wicked stepchild, spouse abuse.

Aggravating factors are government regulations which make it difficult and expensive for businesses to hire more staff (leading them to work their existing staff for longer and longer hours), or which pay people to NOT work, a whole host of laws and regulations which make it difficult to build, sell and rent housing, make it difficult to build and operate transportation services, and many other anti-market interventions which are alleged to "help" people but which only promote misery, helplessness and rage.

As to the immediate problem - the provincial government should get out of the nanny-state business. Big-government spending programs generally squander most of the funds they are allocated through waste and fraud. Abolish your wasteful, corrupt, bureaucracy-bound department of social services and let people do what they do best - help each other and their neighbors in a spirit of peace and cooperation. That means, let families, churches, and neighborhoods take care of their own. They've been doing it for thousands of years. I really don't think you'll see much improvement as long as you depend on a bunch of overpaid, know-it-all, sociologist dickheads sitting in an office building in Edmonton to solve everyone's problems.

Anonymous said...

BTW, this comment should be saved somewhere and nominated for the "idiotic blog comment hall of fame".

In an more rigid and absolute sense, the Taliban had a fully private model of shelters (as did we say, 5 decades ago), and but either case is hardly the effective, compassionate model to follow.

Get it? Your Grandpa, Grandma, their extended families, their church or synagogue, their local charities, and their local police force equaled the Taliban! No compassion you know. Government drone says, I'm compassionate, I promise, just give me your money and I'll fix everything that's wrong in your life.

MapMaster said...

Thank you, most recent Anonymous. Very well said.

I agree, the excerpt should be stored and lovingly preserved as a masterpiece of lunatic blunder.