First things first: I hate elections. Suddenly people you could have a normal, genuine conversation with start saying nothing but party talking points. You have to pretend to take debates and campaign promises and interviews seriously, as if they could tell you anything about how the candidate will actually govern in real life. And you can just speculate about any old bullshit that comes into your head and pass it off as serious political analysis. It’s insultingly easy to be an expert on things that haven’t happened yet.
So this is my caveat: 100% of this post is my completely unfounded opinion and by spending energy writing it all I have done is bring the universe infinitesimally closer to heat death. Continue reading On the Campaign Trail in Lake Wobegon
In Desmond Cole’s story on the City staff report on homelessness, he concludes,
Toronto’s shelter system was never designed to meet the needs it now struggles to address. According to the report, shelters now sometimes serve as permanent or semi-permanent housing for people who should ideally be in some form of assisted-living housing.
And it occurred to me, not for the first time, that this is a defining feature of our poverty infrastructure, a. k. a. the social safety net. Homeless shelters, food banks, and distress lines were only ever meant to be emergency measures. But all of these services have regular users because there is nothing else there to meet people’s basic needs. Instead of permanent affordable housing, people use shelters. Rent is so high that people are chronically unable to afford food, so they rely on food banks. Because adequate preventative mental health care is inaccessible, they call the distress line number posted up by the Bloor Street viaduct for suicidal jumpers.
It is a strained and unsustainable system that various levels of government, which ostensibly want to wipe out poverty, are slowly divesting themselves of, and “downloading” to private enterprises or individuals.
We have essentially refused to hire family doctors, and if anyone gets sick there is no help until you are in such critical condition you need to go to the emergency room. And because the emergency room is only designed to get you out of emergencies, no one will help you get healthy enough so that you don’t need a doctor at all.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled wankery about transit funding. Good night.
Recap of this morning:
A bunch of councillors throwing hissy fits over the injustice of paying 5¢ for a plastic bag in a perfect microcosm of how conservative governments dismantle themselves by becoming so inefficient they’re not worth having around.
How this got started:
Berardinetti proposed having businesses donate the proceeds from the plastic bag fee to suitable groups, like environmental organizations.
This wasn’t a total dick move, so other people on the Executive Committee added a bit about rescinding the fee altogether.
(So wait, you may say. Are they proposing to get rid of the fee and donating the profits from the fee, in the same motion? Isn’t that kind of confusing? Yes, yes it is.)
And then Perruzza floated the idea of going in the other direction and banning plastic bags (as some cities have done), which made everyone freak the fuck out.
Ridonkulous arguments floated so far:
- Scrapping the bag fee kills jobs at plastic recycling plants (Del Grande)
- Dog poop!!1!!11 (Lindsay Luby)
- If fee proceeds are donated to charity, people will buy EVEN MORE bags (Shiner)
- Grocery stores aren’t giving out paper bags, so… (Di Giorgio?)
- The bag fee is bankrupting corner stores and enriching big chains like Loblaws
As I type, the debate is still going on. FUCK EVERYTHING I’M GOING OUTSIDE.
The Story So Far:
- January 17, 2012: In an unprecedented victory, left-wing and centrist councillors get together and vote to reverse most of Ford’s proposed budget cuts. Getting cocky, they think about bringing back Transit City, the previous mayor’s transit plan that Ford strongly opposes.
February 8, 2012: At a special council meeting, TTC chair and (up till now) Ford loyalist Karen Stintz spearheads a motion to basically reinstate Transit City, which passes with a decent majority. Team Ford would fire Stintz if they could, but the rules say they can’t.
February 21, 2012: Five Ford-friendly members of the TTC board call a special meeting and fire the TTC general manager Gary Webster instead. This is a bad move, and the other four councillors on the board are pissed.
March 5, 2012: Council votes to dissolve the TTC board and put together a new one, which happens to include the minority of TTC board members who voted not to fire Webster (this includes Stintz), plus some centrist and left-wing councillors. Council then votes Stintz back in as TTC chair.
For those keeping track at home, this is the third failed attempt by Team Ford to get back at Stintz for Transit City. But there’s more: there’s another special council meeting on the 21st where they’ll be making decisions about transit on Sheppard. (The mayor and others want subways; the plan calls for light rail.)
The title of the post refers to what Cllr Giorgio Mammoliti actually said at some point yesterday. Yes, that apparently came out of his mouth with no irony. It’s only a slightly more fucking ridiculous version of what Cllr Denzil Minnan-Wong and Cllr Michael Thompson have said at various points in the past few months: they believe transit should be depoliticized. Which, I mean, I live and die by “the personal is political”, so you can guess how I feel about that. It’s horrible because everything is fucking political, and “depoliticize” basically just means “pretend it’s not political” or “our politics don’t count as politics”, which is bullshit—
—and if it’s not that, it’s some kind of libertarian shit, like, the government shouldn’t be in this business, which is also bullshit. Doug Ford said as much during last Sunday’s radio show when he was spouting off about how “taxes are evil” (yes, another thing that actually crawled out of someone’s mouth)—he said the government should be providing services, not creating jobs (damn the economy!). But apparently those services don’t even include transit. These people’s ideal government is basically a glorified utility company. No wonder they lack long-term vision.
And I realize the entire point of this enterprise is to get inside government and tear it down but I can’t help remembering another feminist soundbite: “Don’t like abortions? Don’t have one.”
Don’t like politics?
DON’T. FUCKING. BECOME. A. POLITICIAN.
says budget chief Mike Del Grande in this horrifying chat from last summer, echoing that famous line from the Gospels,
The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
It’s a reference to this verse from Deuteronomy outlining economic policies:
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
Note the subtle difference between the two verses. In the Deuteronomy version, the ubiquity of poverty is in itself a rationale for caring for the poor. (Our budget chief’s somewhat unorthodox interpretation inverts this reading: the ubiquity of poverty means we shoud not care for the poor.)
In the Gospels, however, Jesus puts his own spin on it. Context, beautiful context: he and the crew are in Bethany and a woman anoints him with expensive perfume, and the disciples are outraged because they think she should have sold it and given the money to the poor. Jesus, however, knows that it’s only a couple days away from the Last Supper and he’s totally about to die. So he says, it’s not a big deal, after I’m gone, you can take care of the poor (in place of me). It’s an echo of the parable of the sheep and the goats:
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
where service to the poor is considered service to God by proxy.
In Del Grande’s interpretation, however, Jesus doesn’t deserve food or shelter or care. Jesus is not worthy of unconditional love — unjudgmental service for its own sake — because whatever state he’s in is probably his own damn fault. Tough love, man. Sometimes love is impatient and unkind, remembers wrongs, and dishonours and humiliates people.
Take it from a true Christian.