Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Creative whining

According to the London Free Press, local museums and the London Public Library are distressed by changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that have reduced their subsidies for summer student hiring.

Live by the handout, die by the handout. Presumably the boards are politically sensitive enough not to oppose the new funding formula "giving priority to those who hire students from rural and remote areas with low youth employment or areas with high crime" — they'd just prefer to have more entitlements spread around to protect their own. Not that about them, of course… it's about the children:

"It's very disappointing. They are taking away valuable career experience for young people that the museum has been providing for almost 30 years," Tammy Adkin, executive director of the London Regional Children's Museum, said yesterday.
No need to worry, Ms. Adkin, employers in London are practically begging to give young people valuable career experience these days.

Fortunately, the Children's Museum is adjusting to the circumstances of what it does have and plans to hire six summer students anyway "by making cuts to some programs and possibly by raising admission fees." This, by the way, is the "creative" response of institutions in a genuinely "Creative City," rather than the remarkably unimaginative practise of lobbying for tax-subsidized handouts that typically characterizes their approaches. (We'll overlook, just for this moment, the fact that the Children's Museum receives 95¢ per visitor in municipal funding, not to mention various subsidies and grants from provincial and federal agencies.)

The Public Library, on the other hand, feels itself to be less fortunate. Although it is a major civic player in the local Creative Cities boondoggle, the Library has trouble expressing any creativity when it comes to the subject of self-suffiency. "We're in a real pickle," says Anne Becker, the Library's CEO.

Really. Ms. Becker might want to consider looking somewhere in the redundancies and non-necessities that have accrued from its runaway budgets for a solution. The Library received a 4.8 per cent increase in funding from municipal taxpayers this year, exactly in keeping with a 14 per cent rise between 2003 and 2006. Perhaps the Library could jettison the $52,000 per annum literacy coordinator it used to extort extra funding from city council this spring.

On a side note, the London Free Press followed its journalistic protocol to the letter again and both found and reported that London Fanshawe NDP MP Irene Mathyssen, local spokesman and agitator for the entitlement industry, had something to say on the subject. Since it's entirely predictable, it's not worth repeating here a second time around.

Update, May 24: It turns out that there is in fact no way at all to wean these civic agencies off their subsidy-welfare dependency. When spineless tax spenders meet spineless tax redistributors, the results are even less spine and more taxes.
Some organizations, which, on paper, didn't need the money, turned out to be in great need of funding, Monte Solberg, the federal Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, said yesterday in London.
In that case, don't bother with the paper.


Jake said...

The London Public Library is a bloated, inefficient organization that sucks off any level of government teat that will give a handout. No matter how much money they are given, they always whine about being shortchanged.

They hired a new $50,000 a year "youth coordinator" that is responsible for teen books? They could have hired 10 teenagers to fill that position for the summer and still have money left over. Would have solved two problems of wanting to hire more students while filling a vacancy at the same time.

The taxpayers of this city have already shelled out $50 million in new capital spending for the LPL and yet their CEO still has the nerve to demand more. What else does this organization want? A brand new, state-of-the-art library branch in Glanworth?

Anonymous said...

Maybe if Glanworth had a nice new facility people might demand it be open more than 4 hours a week. Where there is no need, in the name of literacy and social justice, we must create desire.

Jake said...

The Conservatives flinch yet again with their spending cuts. They did the same thing with the Status of Women, court challenges, and the literacy program cuts. They cut the department spending, then they reverse it once they hear public outcry.

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with the cuts to Status of Women, Court Challenges or literacy programs...this has been the first funding cut that I thought was prudent.

MapMaster is bang on when he notes the disingenuous "think of the children" mewling on the part of Tammy Adkin. Working at the Children's Museum may give a minimal amount of experience in sweeping floors or painting faces, but does it translate into a real job later on in life? Most certainly not. The same is true for most of the local "help you find a job" social service middling agencies whose existence merely serves to drain a substantially larger amount of tax revenue for nebulous benefit than even is paid out for social assistance.

The worst part about it is, if you're trying to get on your feet, the government forces you to patronize these agencies to justify their funding and thus develop a dependency on social workers. All of these 'I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine' agencies refer people back and forth to each other for exactly this purpose and the result is a lot of people who waste years of their lives stuck in the quasi-socialist spin cycle of useless and demeaning social services because the sole function of these agencies is to foist someone off to the first minimum wage shitty job to bolster their client success statistics and thus after a few months the cycle of poverty, dependence and a perpetual fruitless job search repeats itself.

The Conservative government would be well-served to put these agencies under some serious scrutiny. A certain youth employment agency downtown recently installed a wall-mounted plasma TV (that must be in excess of at least $10,000) when at the time they didn't even have chairs in the waiting room for clients to sit down in (there were crates, I'm not making this up). At the same time as this gratuitous waste of funds occurs - if a client dares ask for bus tickets to get to a job interview they are interrogated and basically have to draw a map of their route to be gifted with a whopping two measly bus tickets.

Not to mention during one such pointless stint there I witnessed and experienced first-hand vicious and consistent verbal and psychological abuse from a certain staff member (who also happened to have been put in a position of authority over the vulnerable) that no one in need should be forced to endure. ESPECIALLY when their taxes pay for it.

I look forward to a day when taxpayers, as well as people who access these services receive value for their money.

MapMaster said...

An excellent comment, thank you.