Monday, February 19, 2007


How does poverty ever “end” if it is continually redefined? Maybe that’s the point

The Star is making the most of its Monday news hole to plug its so-called poverty agenda (see also post below). The front page of their Life section is devoted to some folks who belong to “Make Poverty History” in Durham Region. One of them is retired welfare worker Ron Dancey:

Twenty or 30 years ago when he was assessing applicants at the Durham Region welfare office, Dancey was confident he could make a difference in people's lives. He could get to know his clients, their children and their needs, and find ways – albeit limited – to help.

All that changed, he says, with the election of Mike Harris as provincial premier in 1995.

"He put us back to the 1950s," Dancey says.

Except that it was a computerized version of the 1950s, he adds. Decision-making was taken out of the hands of welfare workers. Spread sheets and hard numbers replaced compassion and humanity. A misplaced number or even a typo in a computer file could hold up a cheque for days, Dancey recalls.

It wasn't always like that.

"We could get them the money and fix the paperwork later," he says. "It was very frustrating."

Gosh, you’d think Ron would have a word or two of thanks for Mike Harris, for halving his workload: on Harris’ watch, over 600,000 people left welfare, most for a job.

Then again, if by cutting welfare rates and implementing workfare, Mike Harris accomplished more in six years than I had in 30 years of handing out cheques and fixing the paperwork later, I might be a tad embittered too.

When you put this story and others like it about “ending poverty,” together with the Star’s front-page story about redefining GDP to include relative measures such as “ratio of top income earners versus bottom income earners,” then a rather glaring Catch-22 emerges: the same people who talk of ending poverty are also careful to keep changing its definition, so that the poor are always with us. Now why would they do that?


Anonymous said...

The story is a lie: here's why; it says '20 or 30 years ago?' What this doofus lost 10 years and forgets them? Was he drunk? Plus, Harris was elected in 95, this Dork was a welfare case worker for years before Harris arrived... so how many people did he save before Harris got elected?

More selective spin and lies by the communist RED STAR newspaper.
(real conservative)

Anonymous said...

Even Adam Radwanski, who is no one's idea of a neo-con, has grown weary of the Star's poverty agenda. That ought to tell you something.

Of course, Joan has nailed it -- professional poverty advocates and welfare case workers like this guy have zero incentive to ever see the welfare rolls shrink. They are poverty pimps, and the diminishment of the problem means a diminishment in their status. Ergo, you must constantly work to re-define the problem.

You'll see the same phenomenon at work in a completely different bureaucracy, Heath Canada, with their "Pandemic Preparedness Secretariat". An entire bureaucracy has been created to help prepare Canadians for a disaster that is now appears to have been more a product of science fiction and hype than fact. Do you think the Director General of the "Pandemic Preparedness Secretariat" has any interest in telling his/her Deputy Minister that the threat is overblown? Not on your life - it's literally their job to keep hyping bird flu and make it sound as scary as possible.