Saturday, 13 February 2010

Housing poverty; a modest proposal

Every so often, usually around election time or some festival, we have noisy bands of protesters out on the streets demanding that someone 'does something' about an issue. At the moment there's the Olympics, so we have bands of shouting people getting under everyone else's feet with their incessant demands.

One of which is 'end poverty now'. This begs two interesting linked questions; what constitutes 'poverty' and who gets to do the ending? To enlarge; I do volunteer work for various charities and know first hand what the Canadian version of poverty looks like. Homeless people, those with poor housing with hardly any insulation, from the young unemployed to the genteel version of poverty that many 'seniors' are reduced to. It ain't pretty.

While the Olympic celebrations are on downtown I have a question I will be directing at anyone brandishing such a placard about housing and poverty in my face;
"Okay, but what are you personally doing about it? I mean Really. Apart from demanding that 'the government' gives out freebies to all and sundry?"
You see, I see the poor housing but nowhere do I see these shouting mobs actually banding together to put in some extra insulation or lay some new flooring, maybe help clear living space by taking a couple of roomfuls of stuff to the recycle place to help improve the lot of those genuinely in need. Maybe a little help in tidying the front yard occasionally. In my book, ten cents of fixed guttering is worth twenty thousand bucks of replacing a wall.

I see government freebies handed out and going on massive plasma screen TV's and laptop computers while the whole house is falling apart. I see support money going on luxury items like the lottery and alcohol while the rug is soaking in grandma's urine because no one can be bothered to help clean up when she has an 'accident'. Dingy, dusty furnishings garnished with stale spilt food that could be fixed with half an hours work with some furniture cleaner. Curtains that need a run through the washing machine to make them look half way decent and lighten the house and perhaps someone's life. The proverbial lick of paint here and there. Places where an hours dusting and cobweb patrol would bring a little brightness and hope where before was only dinginess and depression. How much effort would that take?

Yet what are the 'anti poverty' protesters doing? Getting under people's feet at what should be a time of celebration, demanding that other people deal with their problems like a bunch of mardy teenagers instead of growing a pair and getting their hands dirty doing some real good. They want 'Government' to do something? I got news for you; 'Government' is a heavy handed and highly inefficient way of 'fixing' poverty. You can throw as much money at 'poverty' as you like, but all you'll get is more poor people with more pointless luxury items.

So here's my challenge to you protesting boys and girls. Treat a homeless person to a wash and brush up and some warm, clean clothing. Go help fix some faulty insulation in a poor persons house. Clear the garbage from their yard. Shine some light into their lives. Go on. Try it as an alternative to simply shouting the odds. I double dare you.

Me? What do I do? Lemme see now. Around ten to twelve volunteer hours a week. Building, fixing, helping with deliveries. I practise what I preach. Hows about you protesters doing that for a change?

1 comment:

Angry Exile said...

Applause from the southern hemisphere.

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