No Joke

The politicians are still not talking about poverty. Do they really expect us to take them seriously as leaders? They want us to vote for them?

The only real attempt at poverty talk I am hearing is on the Basic Income Earth Network and I don’t know how much of this to believe.
Take for example the following statement:
“In Canada, children and seniors already have some form of basic income guarantee.”

That statement is simply not true.

I don’t know what children are receiving in terms of basic income guarantee but the OAS that seniors receive can hardly be called basic income. It does not come close to covering basics. The OAS of under $570 a month is all a senior is guaranteed. Anything more is welfare unless today’s seniors were fortunate enough to accumulate pensions during their working years. For many stay-at-home moms as well as other unpaid and jobless people this did not happen.

I wonder what the Honourable David A. Croll would have to say today.


The Croll Report

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Report of the Special Senate Committee on Poverty

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Special Senate Committee on Poverty

The Honourable David A. Croll, Chairman, Ontario
The Honourable Edgar E. Fournier, Vice-Chairman, New Brunswick

The Honourable Rheal Belisle, Ontario
The Honourable Chesley W. Carter, Newfoundland
The Honourable Harold Connolly, Nova Scotia
The Honourable Eric Cook, Newfoundland
The Honourable Raymond Eudes, Quebec
The Honourable Douglas D. Everett, Manitoba
The Honourable Muriel McQ. Fergusson, New Brunswick The Honourable Earl Hastings, Alberta ”
The Honourable Elsie F. Inman, Prince Edward Island The Honourable J. Eugene Lefrancois, Quebec
The Honourable Fred A. McGrand, New Brunswick
The Honourable Josie D. Quart, Quebec
The Honourable Arthur W. Roebuck, Ontario
The Honourable Herbert O. Sparrow, Saskatchewan

The following Senators also served on the Committee:

The Honourable John J. MacDonald, Prince Edward Island The Honourable Clement A. O’Leary, Nova Scotia (deceased) The Honourable Arthur M. Pearson, Saskatchewan
The Honourable John Nichol, British Columbia

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Terms of Reference

On November 26, 1968, the Senate of Canada constituted the Special Senate Committee on Poverty by approving the following resolution:

That a Special Committee of the Senate be appointed to investigate and report upon all aspects of poverty in Canada, whether urban, rural, regional, or otherwise, to define and elucidate the problem of poverty in Canada, and to recommend appropriate action to ensure the establishment of a more effective structure of remedial measures;

That the Committee have power to engage the services of such counsel, staff, and technical advisers as may be necessary for the purpose of the inquiry;

That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records, to examine witnesses, and to report from time to time;

That the Committee be authorized to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the Committee, to sit during sittings and adjournments of the Senate, and to adjourn from place to place.

The Committee was reconstituted by the Senate during the second and third sessions of the Twenty-Eighth Parliament on October 28, 1969, and October 8, 1970.

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Poverty is the great social issue of our time. Unless we act now, nationally, in a new and purposeful way, five million Canadians will continue to find life a bleak, bitter, and never- ending struggle for survival.

The poor do not choose poverty. It is at once their affliction and our national shame. Unlike the poor of earlier days, they know how poor they are, and so they face the future with little hope and mounting anger. The children of the poor (and there are many) are the most helpless victims of all, and find even less hope in a society whose social-welfare system from the very beginning destroys their dreams of a better life. The grim fact is that one Canadian in four lacks sufficient income to maintain a basic standard of living.

No nation can achieve true greatness if it lacks the courage and determination to undertake the surgery necessary to remove the cancer of poverty from its body politic. Canadians as a whole cannot escape their share of responsibility for the situation in which this nation finds itself. At the same time there is encouraging evidence that our citizens are becoming increasingly aware of and concerned about the plight of those who find themselves in a state of privation in the midst of plenty.

The social-welfare structure so laboriously and painstakingly erected in Canada over the past forty years has clearly outlived its usefulness. The social scientists who have studied it, the bureaucrats who have administered it, and the poor who have experienced it are of one mind that in today’s swiftly-changing world the welfare system is a hopeless failure. The matter is not even controversial; everybody’s against it. But what is to take its place?

It was to this complex, many-faceted question that the Special Senate Committee on Poverty addressed itself over .the past three years. The Committee travelled the length and breadth of Canada on a fact-finding assignment without parallel in our history. Its members saw the tragedy of poverty at first hand; not in abstract terms but in the crucible of human experience. In many meetings with the poor, with social scientists, and with social-welfare organizations, the Committee amassed a wealth of material on which the recommendations of this report are based. The experiences related to the Committee at its many hearings from coast to coast illustrated and illuminated in graphic, human detail the statistical tables of the Economic Council of Canada.

The task entrusted to the Committee was to define and clarify the problem of poverty and to propose appropriate remedial action. A thorough study of so complex a problem would be an undertaking so vast that the Committee felt the poor could not be

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asked to wait years for the help they so urgently need. It is with this thought in mind that the Committee decided to make some proposals for immediate action which, it hopes, will eliminate some of the major problems, while at the same time pointing the way to an eventual long-term solution.

The Committee’s unique confrontation with poverty in all its guises and its collection of invaluable first-hand evidence have combined to strengthen our belief that social justice has in fact been denied to the poor. Their human needs have not been fulfilled. The welfare system as it exists today is a chaotic accumulation of good intentions gone out of joint. We have been passionately wrong with a high sense of consistency. The fault lies in a lack of understanding of the basic causes of poverty and of its destructive effects on the whole community.

Nor does economic privation alone constitute the whole tragedy. It is merely one aspect of what is often a vicious circle. For the chronically unemployed, the unskilled, the poorly educated, the disadvantaged, infirm, aged, one-parent families, or inhabitants of depressed areas, poverty has become a way of life; an ugly sub-culture within Canadian society. Life is marked by frustration and hopelessness, by a sense of failure and, consequently, by despair and apathy. For those “On Welfare,” life is too often characterized by a sense of dependency and of fear, and of being trapped in a substandard environment. Generally, they have inferior educational, medical, cultural, and information services and lack the skill or knowledge to make use of many facilities available to the general public. The greatest tragedy is that of the children. Neglected by a society which has failed in its duty to provide the essential facilities, they lack the education, the opportunity, and often the motivation to escape from their environment.

The poor do not want to stay poor. They want a share in the good things of life and they want equal opportunities. For a variety of reasons, they are the losers in the race for material sufficiency, but they are no longer resigned to their lot.

Unemployment Insurance, Social Assistance, Family Allowances, Old Age Security, and all the other measures incorporated in the social structure, admirable though they are in concept, fall far short of what is needed. Welfare is the most uncontrolled budget item at any level of government. The welfare system as we have it in Canada today was never meant to supply the basic means of support for a sizeable and ever-growing proportion of Canadian families.

The system has, failed because it has treated the symptoms of poverty and left the disease itself untouched. It certainly does not reach the “working poor,” that vast army in the labour force whose income is grossly insufficient. This weakness is not the only fault of a system which is already disintegrating. A major weakness lies in the sterility of a system that promises much but gives little; it is a system that contributes to alienation and dehumanization. The welfare state has created an environment in which the individual loses his self-respect and becomes prey to agonizing frustration.

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Basically, however, the welfare system has failed because it has largely ignored the human factors associated with poverty. The good intentions of the legislators to help the people have been distorted and diluted through the process of implementation. They have somehow become lost in a maze of constitutional jurisdictions, agency divisions, and numerous independent bureaucratic structures often more concerned with what is not their responsibility than with what is. As a result, help has been secured by recipients only at the cost of humiliation, loss of self-respect, the break-up of families, and the destruction of human dignity. The system has become an instrument of paternalism whereby recipients have been compelled to do what others thought was good for them, and to conform to middle-class norms that the poor themselves often have neither comprehended nor appreciated.

The whole welfare system, at all levels, costs Canadians more than six billion dollars a year, yet it has not significantly alleviated poverty let alone eliminated it. Welfare rolls have not diminished. The problems grow, costs go up and up and up and will, in time, suffocate the taxpayer.

The reasons for the system’s failure are many. Lack of determination and commitment by society as a whole are certainly fundamental factors. So too is the lack of understanding of the basic causes of poverty and its destructive effects on the whole community. We have forgotten the fact that the welfare system was designed merely as a supplement to the economic system. It provides for certain particular groups–the handicapped, the aged, the unemployed, and those unfortunates who are unable to support themselves. But it does not reach the working poor. Sixty per cent of the poor are not on welfare.

A new bill of rights for the poor must be preceded by a fundamental change in the prevailing public attitude towards those who live below the poverty level. Many cherished myths which helped give birth to the welfare system must be given final burial. One of these, that the poor are always with us, is a notion which the Committee categorically rejects. The economic system in which most Canadians prosper is the same system which creates poverty. Equally fallacious is the belief that economic growth could, in time, “solve” poverty. The evidence produced before the Committee showed that in the 1950s and 1960s (when Canada enjoyed great economic expansion), in absolute terms poverty in Canada increased at the same time and at a similar rate.

Another myth is that the poor pay relatively less in taxes than others. They pay less in income tax, but the proportion of their income which they pay in other forms of taxation is actually greater than the proportion of income paid out by the relatively well- off.

A new approach is urgently needed. Such an approach must bring help and relief at once to those in need, and it must provide the foundation for policies that will ultimately eliminate the causes of poverty from our society.

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Earworm Chants

Ear worm chants:vote vote vote

That ear worm keeps chanting over and over … vote vote vote …

So I go looking for some good reason to vote.

I find this interesting paper by T.M. Scanlon in which he writes:

“… citizens have an important interest in being able to take part in politics not only in order to exercise their developed capacities but also in order to have an influence on their society, to protect themselves against unjust outcomes, and to advance their particular aims.”

So if by voting I am able to advance any particular aim, what might I wish to advance? I guess my wish would be the elimination of poverty. The knowledge that some people possess abundant wealth while others live in desperate poverty tells me that there is inequality in our world. So in order to eliminate poverty we need to establish equality. But then, doesn’t Mr. Scanlon go on to suggest that there needs to be equality in order to have equality? What can we possibly do with such a … Hmmm is that what some people call a conundrum … And good grief I am not sure what to say about a word I am not even sure I know how to spell.

“These interests support requirements of formal equality. They require substantive equality as well, since these interests cannot be advanced if one has formal political rights but lacks the means to exercise them effectively. These means include not only education but also the means to engage in effective political expression, to support political candidates one favors and so on.”

Preceeding this paragraph , Scanlon also wrote, in this same paper:

” The purpose of political institutions will not be fulfilled unless citizens not only have equal formal rights but also the education necessary to fulfill their role as citizens, and the means required to take part in political discussion, run for office, or support others who do. The form of substantive equality that is required in these matters will flow from, and depend on, the relevant conception of what it is for “the will of the people” to be expressed. For example, not everyone is going to run for office, and perhaps not everyone need have the means to do so. But if only the rich can mount effective political campaigns, then the “voice” that is registered will be skewed.”

SOURCE:When Does Equality Matter?1 T. M. Scanlon

So who is T.M. Scanlon? I have no idea but I like his writing.
Also, he must be someone important, consequently, someone whose opinion matters in our world.

“1 This paper was originally written for presentation at a conference on equality at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in April 2004. Subsequent versions were given in Berlin at the Kulturforum der Sozialdemokratie, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as the Wei-Lun Lecture, and at Nanjing Normal University, at a faculty discussion sponsored by the Harvard Program in Justice, Welfare, and Economics, and at legal theory workshops at USC and UCLA. I am grateful to all of these audiences for helpful comments and discussion. I am also grateful to Charles Beitz and Tommie Shelby for helpful comments and suggestions. “

Vote for What

To Vote or not to vote

Responsibility? Duty? Right?
Sure I’ve managed to find out who I can vote for thanks to Internet and signs on almost every corner. Shouldn’t I know what I am voting for?

It used to be true that an election was an opportunity to talk to candidates. They would go around from house to house or from community to community meeting people and discussing issues, discovering what it is that people hope for in a candidate.

That doesn’t happen any longer, at least not in my neighbourhood. In the over 35 years since I have lived here, not once has a candidate knocked on my door. That may be because I live in a more or less rural area. They call it an LSD, which means local service district. The only reason for having designated it as a district is to justify collecting municipal taxes to support services which some of us cannot afford to use anyway. Still there is hardly much for service unless you are interested in hockey which I am not and an airport which I don’t use because I cannot afford to travel. There is no friendly community hall for people to meet or socialize, at least not where anyone speaks my language. We must provide our own wells and septic service. Even our street signs can be down for months or missing for years without being replaced. Up to a few years ago we had to pay for our own garbage collection. I guess it is not surprising that we might feel we’ve been forgotten by the candidates.

So why don’t I take the initiative and go to the offices of the constituent? I might except I have no idea where their offices are located. The only office I have seen is that of Joel Bernard but that is in Restigouche County and I live in Gloucester County. I suppose I could call but I dread calling anywhere anymore just to be greeted by yet another “your call is important, please hold” message.

So, shall I bother to vote this year? I am not sure.


World Artist Institute WAI

How to build an institute of world artists? Every great artist institute has to start somewhere. Maybe I would start by looking at what it is that most of us individual artists have in common. I think the word here might be persecution. If we have not shown ourselves willing to join the side of money and power, we will struggle throughout our lives against a huge wall designed to keep us out. In order to keep fast to our right to express our truth and our art, we face persecution from all sides. We will be persecuted by government and educational and corporate elite and will receive no share of the funding given to compliant art societies who are able to keep their members under control.

Then I think of another group of people who have faced tremendous persecution in this world. Who have been more persecuted in our world than Roma? Just imagine being an artist and Romanian too, I thought to myself. Since I would gladly trade my art for bottles of Romanian wine, why not go to the land of that wine and see what is happening with Romanian artists. I found ERI.

Click to access european-roma-institute-concept-paper-20150515.pdf

This sounds good, but what about individual artists? Are they able to make a living? Do they work for bottles of wine?


Maybe my use of the word Roma should be Romanian or Romani. Maybe the word Sinti also needs a place. I admit that I am no expert on Romani, Roma, Sinti or the art made to tell us about them. At least one such art-piece exists in Germany

Another term is Gypsy.

I do realize that Gypsy is considered a much frowned upon term these days, Romany or Traveller being more acceptable, but what if Gypsy is the word you grew up with? What if your granny had told you that Gypsies were honourable, hard-working people who cared deeply for their children? Does that make a difference? If persecution in some places offers people no way of feeding their children, does name-cleansing really help them?

And not everyone shuns the word Gypsy, even today. I don’t know whether she was an artist but I found a story about a Queen of the Gypsies in Miridian, Mississippi


Ever wonder about big money shmoozes … You know those International affairs that most of us will never have?

Ever wonder if there is ever any follow-up to determine whether they are worth all the money that goes around?

Check out what was going on back in ’99

Back then did anyone talk about social responsibility?

Then there are the big alumni shmoozes. Does your alma mater matter more than your social responsibility when it comes to making your way up that job ladder?

And what exactly is social responsibility? Is it the same as Corporate Social Responsibility as the Government of Canada defines it:
“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner.

The Government of Canada understands that responsible corporate behaviour by Canadian companies operating internationally not only enhances their chances for business success but can also contribute to broad-based economic benefits for the countries in which they are active and for Canada. Investing and operating responsibly also plays an important role in promoting Canadian values internationally and contributes to the sustainable development of communities. The Government of Canada is therefore committed to promoting responsible business practices; and expects and encourages Canadian companies working internationally to respect all applicable laws and international standards, to operate transparently and in consultation with host governments and local communities, and to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.” SOURCE:

Hmmmmm well what about international companies operating in Canada? Bathurst is still trying to get someone to clean up the mess left behind by a non-Canadian company named Smurfit-Stone. Where are all those folks who were shmoozing Bahurst some years back? Where are the Canadian government officials who were passing out our tax-dollars then?


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Simon Says, I Dare You

Dare to imagine

Dare to Imagine!

It is already October.
We are moving into winter. Here in Canada harsh is pretty much an understatement. We can easily and quickly freeze to death if we do not have warm clothing and a heated shelter.

What must it be like for homeless people? Let us imagine ourselves homeless in Canada. Or maybe even imagine ourselves as poor students struggling to get an education

OK … So let’s see … What is it we really really need for basic survival
FOOD: Bread or cereal … Milk or other dairy products … Vegetables … Eggs, Meat or other protein. We also need food preparation and cooking facilities.
HYGIENE: we need toilet and shower facilities.
PRIVACY: We need privacy especially for our hygiene needs
CLOTHING: As well as warm clothing, we also need to clean our clothing.
SHELTER: We need a safe place to sleep; we also need to heat our shelter and we need cleaning products to keep our shelter clean.

Comfort food: Canadians, like Americans, love their morning coffee.

That is all pretty basic, isn’t it? So, how do we pay for it if we have no paying job?

Why Simon? Well since my Several times great granny was a Fraser I guess I am entitled to invoke dear old Simon.