Saturday, October 31, 2009
Tee shirt and pants from ValuVillage: $10
Two rolls of white duct tape: $14
Twenty feet of cotton rope $ 8
One roll of black hockey tape $ 3
One foam ball from the dollar store $ 2
and with a couple of hours of work, a pair of scissors, a sharpie pen,
and some creativity, we have a one of a kind Halloween Costume!!!
Beetle went to school today as a prisoner complete with
handcuffs, ankle manacle with an "iron" ball, and
a set of prisoner clothes ... she wasn't the bell of the ball,
but she had a blast and that's what Halloween is ALL ABOUT!!!
... and it was of course:
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Lt. Boyes is the 132 Canadian Soldier to die in Afghanistan.
Two of his comrades were also wounded ...
Thoughts and prayers for the family of the fallen, and for the wounded ...
Lest We Forget.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The website for the REAL All Saints' Church is here. Check it out - it's worth it.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Unfortunately, as with most common sense solutions - few are willing to take the chance ... we have too much invested in the bureaucracies and the structures we've built to risk dismantling them ... so instead the continuation of a rule and judgment based system continues, when the solution might be as simple as a reverse income tax ... maybe one day, as Mr Segal notes, a political party will embrace this, and our housing, homelessness and poverty problems across Canada will suddenly begin to disappear ...
One can (and MUST) continue to hope and to work for THAT day ... in the meantime - check out Mr Segal's interview online at the CBC Radio One web site for The Sunday Edition, or take a few minutes to read it here (Mr Enright's questions/comments are in bold - Mr Segal's follow):
First off, how can we solve a problem we can't even define?
Well, I think we have to be realistic about what poverty actually is. Poverty is not about measuring up to some Stats Can standard. Poverty is not having enough money to get by with the basics. And we know in every province by the welfare rolls the amount of people who fall into that category, and we also know as a whole Canada has somewhere in the range of 5 to 8 million Canadians who fall beneath ANY definition of poverty anybody might want to use. For example …
Say that, say that number again …
5 to 8 million Canadians. And if you take a look at what people who on welfare get, in no case do the people who receive welfare income actually receive as much as Stats Can calls the low income cutoff. So in all cases the average welfare family would be receiving between 11 to 15 thousand dollars a year less than what all statistical measures suggest that they actually need to get basic housing, basic clothing, heat and all the rest … food … and that is why we see an increasing uptick in the amount of use of our - of our (sic) food banks across the country. This is why you have a city as wealthy as Calgary that has 2500 people in shelters every night and another 500 people sleeping on the street. So the problem is real.
Is there a difference between poverty and inequality? Inequality to me is a gap between haves and have-nots, but what is the difference?
Yeah there is a difference. Inequality is something you're always going to have in a free market society where some people do better than others. I'm not for eradicating that. I'm for equality of opportunity not equality of outcomes. But the difference between inequality and poverty is in poverty's case it's it's it's (sic) not buying a new pair of shoes this year cause you hope your kid's feet haven't grown. It's in many parts of Canada, negotiating through plexi-glas with well meaning civil servants to have enough money to buy food for your family. That's poverty. And far too many Canadians are forced to live in that poverty. And by the way before we hear the National natting of teeth about 'well those are just lazy people that don't want to work.' 48% in some provinces of people who fall beneath any definition of poverty are ACTUALLY working. They are the working poor and in some case holding more than one job and still don't make enough because of the cost structure in their part of the world.
In the 19th Century, and perhaps most of the 20th Century Poverty was seen to be some kind of moral failure on the part of the people who are poor. Do we still believe that?
Well we say we don't, but our welfare systems operate as if we do. You know there are some welfare offices in Ontario where if you show up to apply for welfare you're asked to watch a film, a video about why you perhaps shouldn't be applying and should be thinking about other options. Then you have to come back the next day . That's …
You have to wa … Wait a minute. You have to watch a video ....
You have to watch a video.
...telling you …
… yup …
…why you shouldn't be applying for …
Yes, and why there may be other options you have to consider. And then if you have watched that video, gone all the way home, and hopefully there is public transit in that rural part of Ontario, but in fact often there isn't, you can come back the next day and apply in the normative fashion. So there is a kind of Victorian judgment made about why people are poor and my view is, in the same way as we make don't a judgment about who gets wheeled into the emergency ward, about how they got sick, or how they had their accident, we just deal with it, it would be far more efficient, far less costly, far more humane, if we really dealt with the fact that people who earned beneath a certain level need to be topped up for a temporary period of time. It would be a far more humane and efficient way.
I want to get at this whole issue of a guaranteed or basic, you call it basic income … but realistically has there ever been a society or a jurisdiction that has eradicated poverty?
Nope there hasn't. But there are jurisdictions that are doing a far far better job then we are, and these are jurisdictions like the Germans and the French and our Scandinavian friends who are productive economically, who in fact in some respects are more productive then we are, have a strong profit motive but have made decisions about the kind of investment they want to make in ensuring that the gaps are not so large as to be destroying of spirit, and destroying of any incentive. And of course what they've also recognized is that many of our well meaning welfare systems across Canada are traps that actually penalize people who try to break out, who try to get a low paying job because that's what they can get at, and the amount of money they lose in so doing is a higher rate of taxation than many of our wealthiest fellow Canadians experience on their last bits of income. So we do have some perversities in the systems that work against eradicating poverty, and I think they are ways we can work on those together and make some real progress.
When you talk about … when you look at the myriad of programmes – welfare programmes across the, across the whole political system … you – you – you complain about how these are micro managed in a particular way – 'micro-focused welfare' – I think is your expression. What do you mean by that, and what do we do about that?
Let me give you one very specific example. When the Standing Committee of the Senate on Cities and Poverty was in Nova Scotia, I got to visit with a, with a (sic) shelter that was set up for young unmarried girls and their kids. It was a magnificent facility. The apartments were large and comfortable. The young women were getting educational support and a whole bunch of other things to help them through this part of their life, help their children through this part of their life. They got 700 bucks a month roughly, of which the facility had to take 500 odd for the purpose of room and board, which only makes sense it was ...
… not for-profit. And then of course the Province beared down heavily to find out the name of the father at great cost. And if they found the name of the father, and if the father chose to deny his paternal responsibilities, they would then finance a DNA test to see if it was the father, and if it was proved to be the father at great cost to the tax payer, they'd force the father to contribute, and then they would reduce by the amount of the contribution the amount that income support gave to the mother. So that the mother and the child are no further ahead, and we had spent a small fortune to try to determine fault. The truth of the matter is that many of those mothers had decided that they didn't want anything to do with the biological fathers for whatever reason. We would be far better off to be investing that money in an income security system which help people through those temporary periods in their life in a way that was fulsome and appropriate as opposed to very very meager and frankly in some cases not all that helpful.
I just want to make sure I understand this, so as a result of a DNA test...
… the absent father ...
… is compelled to contribute something, if he choses to do and in most cases they don't ...
… that money is deducted from what the woman gets?
Bingo !! and that process of clawing back and deducting on our most poor fellow Canadians is a regular part of our welfare system across the country. If you find a job and you earn more than a 100 bucks a month, if you – if you get regular employment, if a person on welfare is able to get admission to a post secondary institution and applies for a student loan their welfare is canceled instantaneously, when the thing we want them to do is to better themselves as we would all say through education, so they can be employed and they can make a contribution and pay taxes as opposed to be beneficiaries. So those are the perversities in the system which a micro managed approach to welfare produces consistently despite by the way, case workers who are doing their best with a tough set of rules and who care deeply about their client base.
What if I put it to you senator that these people are, are a drain on society, and on the social order, that they just don't want to work, they'd rather sit home and get their welfare cheque and head off to the beer store on the 15th of the month ?
You've heard that argument
I've heard that argument, and is there some gaming of the system? Yes there is. But, guess what? I think we all found there was a touch of gaming on the system when a certain bank collapsed last September by people with huge amounts of income. I'm saying if we're gonna pass judgment on gaming of the system, let's do it equally. In some cases, people who gamed the system received bonuses. All we're asking for here is that we don't penalize the folks who are honest, who have no other choice, who deserve a measure of support because the one factory in their town closed and they've run out of UIC, or because there's a disability, or because there has been family violence and they've had to leave the home. Those are the people, as well as those that have mental difficulties who constitute the largest amount of client group being addressed by welfare groups across the country. Very few of them are gaming the system. Many of them have been gamed by the system, which is why they are falling beneath the poverty line.
My guest this morning is Senator Hugh Segal from Kingston Frontenac Leeds. We're talking about poverty this morning, and how it exists in Canada, how bad it is, and what can be done about it. Senator Segal is one of the few Conservatives to take up the fight about poverty and I want to talk about that in a moment, but I want to get a number from … well, not necessarily a number. If we were to put together all of the provincial and federal payments that we now push out the door of the treasury to vari …to people for various, various support things and took all that money, put it together, could we afford in this country, what you call a Basic Living Income, you say that's the rational foundation for a free society.
I believe we do. At the present time we spend roughly 150 BILLION dollars a year between the Provinces and Ottawa on all the other support mechanisms that go out to sustain people in various different parts of their lives. That does not include health and that does not include education. So, that is a very large number and what we do know now is that through the guaranteed annual income supplement, which was brought in first by Mr Davis, in Ontario back in the 1970's, the ability of the system to top people up is actually quite automatic and doesn't involve any excessive bureaucracy. One of the reasons …
And you had something to do with that as I recall back in the 70's.
Well, I was one of the juniors working around when the NDP and the Liberals in a committee reduced the salary, in a motion, of the Minister and the Deputy Minister, not by a dollar, but to a dollar, and I recall the Deputy coming to visit me as the junior young legislative assistant and asking “well, what are you going to do about that?” and I said, “We're not going to have an election on your salary – take that to the bank. Why don't we find out what the NDP was really looking for. And what they were pointing to was the fact that at that point in Ontario history seniors, mostly women whose husbands had died, without meaningful savings or pension, were in fact living in abject poverty and many were using dog and cat food as part of their menu. That was real. It's not an urban myth. And guess what? Two weeks later the Honorable Darcy McKeough, one of the most centre right pro-Bay Street finance Ministers in the history of Ontario, stood up to announce the guaranteed annual income supplement for our seniors in Ontario, because 'they had earned it. They'd invested. They had built the province, and those folks then got an automatic top up if they earned beneath a certain level.' And then that spread across the country, and we now do it federally as well. It's not as robust as it might be, but it's one of the reasons that we have until most recently succeeded in reducing the rate of senior poverty, and by the way, no civil servants, no interviews, no welfare office visits. It's all done automatically. So we have the mechanism to do this in a way that would save in my judgment, billions over what we are now spending in the administrative costs around these judgmental based, rules based welfare programmes across the country.
You said earlier that poverty is a drain on the treasury, that it hurts the national ex-checker, Gross Domestic Product and all that, why is it also bad for business?
Well, it's bad for business for a couple of reasons. First of all it reduces the amount of people who are able to consume in any kind of meaningful way, it reduces the amount of well educated people that can come into the workplace with the skills we need to expand our technological and manufacturing and other economic base. It produces a huge tax drain on business and on earning Canadians because of the excess costs that are pumped into health care, the penal system, the judicial system for reasons that relate to poverty.
You know in Las Vegas they had a guy called Million Dollar Louis. Louis was a homeless guy in Vegas, and by the time they added up the cost of all the 911 calls, police interventions, they found that over a few years he had cost the state of Nevada over one million US Dollars and they finally realized – 'you know you could build a lot of housing for low income people at a fraction of that cost,' and in that way we now have tax levels for average Canadians that needn't be as high in my judgment, because they're financing health care and other systems that are hugely expanded by the impact of poor Canadians who are the first to get ill, the most dependent upon various systems, and we know that minute you reduce the level of poverty you begin to get productivity levels, education outcomes, registration in schools … in fact there was a test in the great province of Manitoba in the mid-70's called the Manitoba Min-Com Project in Dauphin, and a wonderful economist from the Manitoba Health Sciences Centre has just begun to look at those numbers, and here is what she's found. Dr. Forget, She has found that for the five years that that Min-come operation topped up farmers and others' income when they fell beneath a basic level, school registration went up, attendance at post-secondary education increased, police interventions went down, health admissions went down. Every potential indicator of a healthy and growing society was in fact was made much more robust by virtue …
Which is why in a few moments we are going to talk to Dr Forget about that experiment, that, that … in Dauphin Manitoba. But let me ask you this – you're a Conservative, you believe in free enterprise, you are pro-business big and small – why are you such a lone voice in all of this, certainly in the Conservative side of the political spectrum. Isn't it the job of the Conservatives to grind the poor under the wheels of their carriage??
(laughter) Well, ah … No, and I don't think I'm alone in the sense that I think of Minister Flaherty with the working tax benefits, which he brought in, which was the first real measure to help the working poor out of a welfare trap. It isn't as large or as broad as I might like but it's a huge step in the right direction. He deserves great credit for that, so I don't feel alone, but because I don't carry the burdens those ministers of the crown and other carry I can focus more on the specific part of the aspect, and I consider it a privilege to do so.
But why? Why? You grew up in the east end of Montreal, downtown Montreal. Three brothers. Were you … you don't come from an impoverished background do you?
Aaaahhhh, um … well, calling us working poor would have been a pretty plummy overstatement of our status.
Yeah, we did receive food baskets from the local congregation. We were often recipients of kind of the informal aid, the financial aid of the community, in difficulty. I do recall a bailiff coming to the house to repossess the furniture, so ...
This is around St Urbain Street?
Well, it was actually in lower Outremont at the time. And so I have experienced that, and I've been very fortunate. And by the way, one of the really good things about our record on poverty, just to be even handed, is our intergenerational progress, people who do better than the generation from which they came, actually is better. We rank in among one of the top countries in the world where that intergenerational progress out of poverty is actually quite compelling. And that is because some of our policies around education for example and literacy, while not as robust as some would like, actually make a very good contribution. The problem is that for the people who are in poverty now, we can talk about the kids, we can talk about the seniors, but for the folks who are in poverty now, we really don't have any innovative answers and that is what I'm kind of fighting against.
Let me go back to this loneliness thing, because I don't recall poverty as an issue on the national table in the last election, or in the one before that. I can't remember it coming up in the leaders debates. I covered the Obama campaign fairly closely, I don't recall a major speech on poverty. Why can politicians not … how do they get away with not addressing it? Bit talking about it?
Really … really simply. Poor people tend not to vote. Poor people tend not to join politicial parties. Poor people tend not to go out to meetings. Their will to democratic participation is diminished by worrying about where they're going to sleep that night. It is diminished by worrying about whether they are going to have enough money for heat and food and pharmaceuticals in the same month. So when you fill people with that kind of angst on an ongoing basis and you give them no way out, chances of them being active participants in our political life, demanding that their issues be addressed will in fact, be heavily diluted, and that's what we see both in the United States and in Canada. And let me say this, while our unions are generally on the side of social progress, sometimes a bit excessively, but their hearts' in the right place, their primary obligation is to protect their members.
Some have stepped up on the issue, the CAW, on the poverty issue, but others have been very self-centred and frankly all of us in society, the private sector, the not-for profits, the universities, our colleagues and the media have to ask themselves Why it's not a greater issue in their lives? And why are they not more focused on it?
I think that part of it is because poverty tends to be unseen. It's not in the neighbourhoods in which many of us work. And I think part of our responsibility, people like myself who have the privilege of working on public policy in the Nations' Senate, on the payroll of the tax payer is to go to those areas with others of all political parties raise those questions and see if we can't find better solutions, and hopefully one of the political parties, I would prefer if it was my own, but I don't really care – one of the political parties will embrace a solution that is more wholistic, that is more efficient, is more humane, does respect privacy, and really moves this pro … moves this file ahead.
With great respect, are you trying to put the Progressive back in progressive Conservative?
(chuckle) … Look I'm a … I'm an unrepentant red Tory.
I feel really comfortable in the party in which I now have the privilege of serving as a Conservative. I actually think that e Harper administration has more of a heart than is otherwise portrayed, and sometimes they're embarrassed about portraying that heart. And don't know how to do it. But hopefully, that will increase over time.
Senator, thank you. It's good to talk to you again this morning …
In addition to being friends with his mom and dad, and his older brother, I can look back with some pride and think about the year I coached Kyle in soccer ... his younger sibs have been in school and sports with Noahkila, Ms. H and Beetle as well ...
AND this morning Ms. H and I made a donation to Kyle's Olympic hopes using the promotion code on our General Mills cereal ... so, I'll urge all of you to check your breakfast cereal and if there it is a General Mills product with the Olympic promotion, take the time to make a donation to our aspiring Olympians like Kyle ... I'd prefer you donate to Kyle - but ALL our athletes are deserving and worthy of the donations ...
It makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with humanity ???
With the latest regurgitation of the pathetic soap opera that is Jon and Kate, and the dust still settling on the circus that was Michael Jackson's passing, I can't help but weep for a world that has the depth of a puddle when it comes to what we've loosely called "pop culture."
The only word that comes to mind when I survey the latest pop culture offerings is YUCK !!! From the "reality" series like Survivor and Amazing Race thru to Jon and Kate and Comsumerist hell they inflicted upon their children all to get their pathetic egos stroked all the way to Octo-Mom and her attempt at fame ... I can only say - a pox on ALL thier houses.
Have we really sunk to such a depth that we are entertained by this utter nonsense??
Is our society so pathetic that the voyeurism that once made Springer special, has now spread to ALL facets of society, and is the headline news on our media outlets??
Are people SO desperate to get in the media spot light that they will go to such lengths for their Warholian 15 minutes of fame???
My God ... the more I learn about the world around us the more I appreciate Flute and Oboe ... feed 'em ... keep 'em warm ... and give 'em love ... that's ALL they need ... actually that's ALL any of us need ... too bad reality tv and its fanatic followers can't figure THAT OUT and get on with what's important ...
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
It's Monty Python's Flying Circus ... and it was broadcast for the first time 40 years ago today ... my gawd, what a trip !!!!
Thanks to Eric, John, Michael, Terry, Terry and the late Graham for ALL the laughs and ALL the memories ... University wouldn't have been the same without them ...
Crunch Frog ... the Cheese Shoppe ... The Dead Parrot ... the list goes on and on and on ...
Monday, October 05, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
According to the story on CBC this afternoon, a Military Chopper set down in the baseball diamond across the street from the A&W in Kenora and one of the pilots walked over to get a take out order of burgers combos !!!
Hey - let's not forget that the men and women in uniform are men and women first and foremost ... if they were flying around Kenora and got hungry, they had to get food somewhere !!! Too bad they didn't have a "fly-thru" !!
Check out the story at - "Military Chopper Lands for Kenora Burger Take Out" on cbc.ca
Mohandas K. Gandhi began ...
... the world is a much better place
for the presence of this saint and his thoughts.
To celebrate his 130th B-day,
it would a good time to pause and consider
the violence around us,
and how we contribute by our complacency,
and how we COULD end it by our actions.