Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Food For Thought

From the Socialist Party of Canada monthly newsletter:

Once again with feeling - the poverty issue.

The Toronto Star launched an Anti-poverty campaign entitled, "Ask Why" to bring attention to the plight of the working poor in Canada.

It describes the life of a Sri Lankan woman who holds down two cleaning jobs (she was a teacher in her native land and holds a degree in the liberal arts)), and who has to leave her two children with others during the day and the night, and manages to bring home a grand total of $1,150/month.

The apartment rent is currently $850 and in eleven years in Canada she has never been able to afford real furniture but relies on plastic patio chairs. It should be noted the response that followed was tremendous with offers of better jobs, donations and gifts of furniture, a testament to the humane response of the populace, but, I think, even the hardliners would agree that this is no solution.

The Toronto Star is a liberal paper, perhaps just to the Left of Centre, and has along tradition of highlighting the injustices of our economic system. It has high quality reporters with a conscience producing very good and thorough articles. It perhaps could be compared to the Guardian. On page two, it printed articles from the end of the 19th. Century on poverty.

For example, "Families in dire want of food because the husbands and fathers have been unable to obtain work" (1894); "Nineteen thousand undernourished children attend Toronto schools" (1931); "Three hundred jobless sleepnightly along Don river's banks" (1931); "Shameful! Here is a very small boy with very large spectacles! They cover the whole eye and have little discs on each lens to correct an astigmatism. He can see better in a cellar than in the open sunlight because he works 6 hours of the day in almost Cimmerian darkness" (no date).

There are many similar articles. The shocking point is, for all the heartfelt desire that the editor and writers have put into this theme, which has covered two weeks, there is never any connection made to the fact that what the paper attacked in 1894 is still going on today as evidenced by the lead story. We are told facts such as there are 650,000 working poor in Canada, or that 40% of the country's poor have jobs but cannot make enough to make ends meet. One reporter actually cited the following, "Writing in the latest edition of the journal Healthcare Policy, University of British Columbia economist Robert Evans points out that over this period (25 years), most of the economic gains recorded in Canada were appropriated by the super-rich. Between 1976 and 1990, the average per capita income in Canada barely budged. But over the same period, the top 0.01 per cent of earners saw their incomes more than doubled."

The last 25 years! Just who the hell do they think was appropriating the workers' income for the last three hundred years and will continue to do so for the next three hundred unless the workers wake up! The editorials made the usual offerings - raise the minimum wage, raise the tax thresholds for the low earners, more language training for immigrants. Again, no connection to the nature of capitalism.

To me, it's all so very simple - wealth produced is split between wages and profits and because the capitalist class own the whole lot, they take the lion's share - that it seems or the whole world is daft.
For socialism,
John Ayers

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