by John Brian Shannon
I was dismayed to see some Canadian journalists on a TV news program recently declare the end of the ‘Occupy’ movement in Canada and remark upon the lack of merit for it in the first place. “There’s no need for this sort of thing here!“
All of whom by the way, are making well over $100,000 per year.
I realize it may be a difficult grasp for them. However, there are factors such as income-disparity, employment-disparity, education-disparity and other related problems which still need to be properly addressed in this country.
In this 21st century we must reject completely the notion of those who would posit that;
A) there must of course, be a certain percentage of people who fall through the cracks and
B) that it’s always the fault of the victim anyway!
There is no doubt at all that Canada is one of the world’s best nations in which to live. However, each country falls short — and sometimes well short of the utterly human needs of some of its citizens.
If there is one thing that should be qualified and quantified by country and within countries, it is the relative financial security of citizens. Governments and NGO’s should proactively seek out those who slip through the cracks and require assistance to get back up on their feet. Bumbling along ‘behind the curve’ regarding the legitimate needs of a significant number of citizens is just not good enough in the 21st century.
The UN should compile a world-wide index and make it available publicly. They rank everything else — from the accessibility to birth control, to the price of coffee beans! Why not investigate and publish information on human needs which are not being met. Call it “The Occupy Index” and in order to qualify for this dismal category, a person must be homeless, or one pay-cheque, unemployment insurance cheque or welfare cheque away from homelessness.
The bar for this could be quite arbitrary, while still accurate. No one could seriously argue that any Canadian who lives on less than $25,000 per year isn’t a person at-risk — or in the case of a household, a family in peril. Think otherwise? Try it for five years. Or ten!
The people who are in that state of being do not want to be there! Sometimes they become angry and join protest movements to give voice to their personal hurts. Occupy is nothing new at all it is merely the latest way for people to protest a system which has failed them.
From the viewpoint of those who have fallen through, they simply did not have the choices, nor level of support to avoid what they saw looming long in advance. Despite their best efforts and with the few options available to them – a human life-crash occurred.
“Well, just get out there and get a job!”
IF ONLY THERE WERE ENOUGH JOBS — then we could criticize all of these people with rollicking abandon! I’d be one of the loudest critics! There would be no excuses at all for the financial failures of individuals or households – except for illness and assuming a reasonable minimum wage existed.
BUT THERE AREN’T ENOUGH JOBS — BY A SIGNIFICANT MARGIN. The fact that there are so many more job-seekers than jobs — many people just give up after applying at the 100th or 200th attempt of any given month. It becomes a soul-destroyer for those who continue to bash their heads against the wall month after month, with funds becoming ever more limited as unemployment lingers, which itself further limits chances to achieve success!
Why should governments spend time and money on this? Easy. We already do! Any sociologist, criminologist, or government Human Resources worker who deals with low-income (usually caused by unemployment or under-employment) individuals requesting legal or financial or medical assistance, can give you a good idea of the costs borne by taxpayers. Stand back and prepare to be convinced at an easily-heard volume!
Take a hard, long look at the costs associated with provincial government Income Assistance schemes, policing/court costs, the Stanley Cup riots, the Occupy movement and other civil disobedience, including vandalism of public buildings. These costs in totality far exceed the price of actually addressing the underlying problem of low income, which is caused by unemployment, under-employment or preventable illness. It is both the economics of angst and the economics of failed social policy.
The Occupy movement is clumsy and unguided, but the fact that an Occupy movement even exists in Canada, is everything. Let’s admit it, there is a problem and it is not being properly addressed.
I suggest the present system was designed for the baby-boom era when jobs were plentiful and families and churches were in much closer contact with at-risk individuals and families, but is now so incredibly clumsy and unguided – that it has become part of the problem.
It beggars belief that Canada is not energetically addressing the root causes of these problems which are costing our society billions of dollars per year. Not to mention the missed potential of GDP and business productivity and profit! It is profoundly in the best interest of Canada to address the problems of citizens living in peril.
If we fixed this problem, we would save more billions than we presently spend dealing with the fallout of our failing social policy.
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is – treat a man as he can and should be – and he will become as he can and should be.” – Goethe