Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Remember, we're the big meanies here

Why don't food banks collect tax-deductible monetary donations to purchase and distribute grocery-store vouchers to needy people instead of running costly and inefficient duplications of the services grocery stores already provide? Aside from the presumptive political and moral authority accrued to food bank administrators, Karen Selick notes in the National Post that only one other explanation makes sense:

Charities can't simply collect cash and give grocery money to the needy because donors know it wouldn't all be spent on necessities. Some would be spent on cigarettes, booze or bingo.
Similarly, vouchers would be sold or traded for the same purposes — and the same phenomenon would be seen equally in the provision of affordable housing. Food bank and housing activists are only too aware of this, which is why those services are run in the manner that they are, but acknowledgement would only undermine their haranguing of politicians and the public for even more of the redistributive policies that they entitled to administer. Selick continues:
Middle-class or wealthy Canadians shouldn't accept guilt when anti-poverty activists hint that the existence of food banks proves some moral deficiency in the economic system. Far from it. Food banks simply conceal problems that are too taboo to discuss these days.


NIAC said...

I have heard that argument (as ridiculous as it is) about the money would not go to the right places...so many of the "well-off" spend money on those things.

The odd thing is, a debit card system was supposed to be implemented, which allowed purchases only at approved vendors (more administration, I know) and had no cash value.

If smoking is "illegal" for the less-fortunate, why aren't their bowls of nicorette gum and patches right beside the bowls of condoms...meant for those who can't afford them...

One drunken, smoking, stoned apple shouldn't spoil the barrel. ;)

MapMaster said...

Actually, it's the food banks and other agency advocates who define what are the "right things." As for the well-off, they're at least spending their own money on the "wrong" things… which, it would seem, would include taxes.

Elaine said...

If it were only one.

NIAC said...

Damn...I have tried to debate that 3 times...and it keeps spiralling into a huge comment.

I guess I dislike the immediate, gut reaction that people who are "on the bottom" are stepped on, rather than helped up. Yes, there are a number of completely useless humans...they just don't all congregate at the food bank...some are rich, and still useless.

hmm...still collating...gimme time...

MapMaster said...

OK, but I don't want you messing with my big meanie rep…

eng said...

We have food banks so we don't have to view the unsightly poor people in our fancy grocery stores. Even when we build stores too far to walk, they somehow show up in taxis when they have any money.

I mean, if they shopped in the same stores, we might think they're just like us. We might think they're like we would be if we lost our jobs and couldn't find another.

We need to keep them away, going to places we don't go. That way if we end up like them, at least we won't have to be embarrassed by our former friends shunning us.

MapMaster said...

Ha ha, I never thought of it like that before. Time to go buy some KD again.

NIAC said...

I know my P.O.V. isn't exactly unique, but I do tend to look at things differently than most.

You see, control is an illusion...something I have subscribed to, and have written a blog about before (and I am currently re-writing) with examples of what I mean...but for the sake of this conversation:

If you give someone Food Bank access, it can, and will, be abused. Not by everyone, not every time. The RR idea of "vouchers will be traded" is completely unfounded, yet is some knee-jerk reaction to the "unknown".

I true crack-whore will use vouchers for whatever they say they are for, since unclaimed earnings as a prostitute, as well as "trading SKIN vouchers", so-to-speak, can be used to get drugs. The idea of some piece of paper that says "food only" is as utterly ridiculous as a piece of paper that says "must remain no less than 500 metres from" someone. It is nice and beaurocratic, but it doesn't mean shit in the real world.

I won't quote percentages, because I don't have the numbers, but my life experience would suggest that belittling people so they can eat is not the answer. 29 families only being able to get a place they can afford by living with Bob the Crack Dealer isn't really fair, either. I would think most people who are in Housing would like to get on their feet and get out...the ones that stick around and happy with their station in life are the ones who people identify. The drug dealer, the crazy man, the skanky chick with no teeth.

In Calgary, you don't get to stay...you have a set amount of time, then you are out. They help to get people jobs, education etc. It is more a hand up than a hand out.

Give a man a fish, and all that.

Elaine said...

I remember when Harris introduced workfare. I was involved with the socialist movement at the time.

I remember being told it was forced labour, slavery even, by the other socialist.

I said we should march to the welfare office with all the people on welfare, and demand jobs for them.

I thought it was great idea. They had to have an executive meeting about that. Came back with we couldn't do that because we would be party to forcing people to work, and the slavery.

I remember thinking I go to work everyday, my banker is forcing me, or he will be taking my house.

They were telling the welfare recipients to refuse any offer of work presented to them by the welfare office, or to go and screw it so badly they would be fired.

I know single mothers who how benefited from the workfare. Some were taught a trade, and make real good money.

It is funny now their take on it. I remember one saying to me about five years into her job. I wish someone had have kicked me in the ass five years earlier, and I would have more in my RRSP now.

Richard said...

Going back to the quote on the article about vouchers - Some
grocery stores accept vouchers
from Church related charities, etc.
The comment about vouchers being
spent on cigarettes is innacurate as grocery stores who participate in this program will not allow the vouchers to be used for cigarettes.