2.04.2007

hunger among us

I've been reading a lot about poverty, hunger and massive income inequality in the GTA, in Ontario and in Canada in general.

There's the ongoing fight for the $10 minimum wage in Ontario (as of February 1, it is $8.00), an increasing income gap between immigrants and those born in Canada, and reports of hunger and malnutrition among people still suffering from Mike Harris's draconian cuts to public assistance and housing, which have never been restored. Meanwhile, the Bank of Montreal lays off 1,000 workers while posting record profits ($2.7 billion in 2006, up 11% from 2005) and paying out an $8.1 million compensation package to CEO Tony Comper.

Many Canadians like to imagine that only American corporations use such irresponsible, short-sighted business strategies. Many Canadians imagine their country to be a just, compassionate, and humane society. Canada shouldn't be a good place to live only relative to the United States. It should just be.

5 comments:

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Yeah, it chafes that so many Canadians settle for "at least we're not as bad as the Americans" when we could do so much better than that.

Jere said...

You know how people say, "People don't care about stopping the war because there's no draft"? Well, what if there was a "food draft"? It's be like jury duty--you'd get a letter: "We'll be at your house next Saturday, have this much canned food ready." If well-off people knew THEIR food would be going off to feed the hungry anyway, maybe they'd be more willing to help solve the poverty problem that exists not only in third-world countries but in their own town.

--Utopian Jere

L-girl said...

Better yet, could each of us have to go hungry for a week? We don't have to be out-right starving, just under-nourished and malnourished.

During that week, we could read stories of how people in our own areas became hungry and underfed.

I think a lot of people still believe poverty and hunger are people's own fault. I don't know how prevalent that attitude is in Canada, but in the US, that holdover from Victorian times - poverty as a moral failing - plus the whole rugged individualism myth - doing everything on your own, rags to riches stories - still undermines efforts to eradicate poverty.

James said...

but in the US, that holdover from Victorian times - poverty as a moral failing

It's also a common feature of Baptist theology: those who do well do well because God rewarded them for being virtuous. The corollary being that anyone who isn't doing well can't possibly be virtuous because otherwise God would have rewarded them with wealth.

James Randi, who makes a business out of busting frauds of various sorts, once exposed faith healer Peter Popoff when Popoff was holding a faith-healing show in Toronto (at Maple Leaf Gardens). While eating lunch across the street, he overheard two women talking. The first, who was very upset, was explaining that she'd been following Popoff all over North America, giving him her money, but he would never heal her. Her friend replied by pointing out that she hadn't given him all her money -- there was still the retirement fund. After all, Popoff says you must give all to receive the blessing.

But neither of them questioned Popoff's own vast wealth. He was rich, so he must be a Good Man. Otherwise, God would never have allowed him to become rich.

L-girl said...

The first, who was very upset, was explaining that she'd been following Popoff all over North America, giving him her money, but he would never heal her. Her friend replied by pointing out that she hadn't given him all her money -- there was still the retirement fund. After all, Popoff says you must give all to receive the blessing.

Oh my lord. NPI. This is where we really do need a paternalistic state, to take care of the people who are too fucking stupid to take care of themselves!