Update: I’ve moved Who Pays Toronto Writers to its own page!
A spring afternoon in Trinity-Bellwoods, at a picnic table with a small bottle of Coke and fries with pepper mayo from Chippy’s. Perfect weather, and the time of day when the sun is so golden it hurts.
Just finished reading Cary Fagan’s City Hall & Mrs. God (Mercury Press, 1990), a vivid tour through Toronto’s richest and poorest echelons as they race further away from each other. Pre-amalgamation. A lot has changed, a lot hasn’t. There are many familiar names.
A trio of chirping robins descends on me, sensing uneaten fries. In the shade of the trees the tightrope walkers are practising.
I ought to be writing things. Most immediately, an ebook on internet privacy, but also just stuff in general, like that essay on urbanism and liberation theology I’ve been meaning to prod into shape. Right now everything is building up to the AMC. After that I can catch my breath.
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.
What I am interested in doing now is suggesting how the general liberal consensus that “true” knowledge is fundamentally non-political (and conversely, that overtly political knowledge is not “true” knowledge”) obscures the highly if obscurely organized political circumstances obtaining when knowledge is produced. No one is helped in understanding this today when the adjective “political” is used as a label to discredit any work for daring to violate the protocol of pretended suprapolitical objectivity.
—Edward Said, the introduction to Orientalism
From the No Fucking Shit files: when 75% of your welfare cheque goes to rent, you may not be able to afford food.