Published Saturday, December 31, 2005 by James W Breckenridge.
You are ALREADY paying.
I got an email from an individual who had visited the homeless in abbotsford site and was working, himself, on trying to get something done about the homeless situation. (Quick aside – he offered any help he could to me – even something as simple as laundry, which I may need to accept in order to dry out dampness from our weather. Anyway, thank you sir for you kind offer). He did note that he expected that Abbotsford Mayor George Ferguson would say it was a provincial responsibility and the city had no money for doing anything. Mr. Ferguson et al: recall the words on Charles Dickens as expressed through the character of Marley “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Which calls to mind the ‘Mankind is our business’ of the Rotary organization.
But let us set aside the moral bankruptcy of focusing on the question of dollars and cents and just address the question of city spending on homelessness. REALITY: the city is currently spending thousands, more likely HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars on homelessness. Every time the police stop to wake up and move on a sleeping homeless person the city is paying salary for the time spent moving – often over and over – the homeless. This is true for every call or interaction the police have with the homeless. Haul them to jail – more dollars added to the amount spent on homelessness. Something needs clean up? – more dollars. Dollars and more dollars spent in numerous and varied ways adding up and up and up. But these costs are hidden in other budgets so those who fail to think just say “no money” to spend on homelessness – as if they were not already spending hundreds of thousands. Remaining with just the police. The police department claims it needs more resources to deal with the local gang situation and with the gang shoot outs in public places all over the news they may well get it. But – I wonder just how many more resources they would have available Right Now for dealing with the gangs, before these gangs grow in power and trouble caused, IF they were not required to spend all that time moving the homeless from spot to spot. Because all you do is move them from spot to spot, over and over again, until you begin to address the underlying needs.
So the city is currently spending hundreds of thousands in direct costs and incurring all kinds of hidden costs (things that do not get dealt with because of the need to spend time dealing with the homeless situation) on homelessness. And what is it getting? What is accomplished? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The ranks of the homeless continue to grow. And why does all this waste occur? Lack of leadership. In this day and age it seems that leadership consists of finding out which way the wind blows, the mob is heading or what the public believes and getting out in front, into the so-called lead. This is NOT leadership. Leadership is studying the real situation, seeing what has to be done and even if unpopular doing it. Leadership is standing in front of the crowd and saying this is the wrong way to go, explaining why and where the crowd needs to go/be doing and LEADING the way to dealing with the actual problems. Those who are in the public eye who have pretensions of being leaders need to keep in mind what real leadership is about. There is enough smoke and mirrors used by the politicians on the question of the homeless that we do not need any more. What we do need is real, thoughtful leadership.
Just remember that we are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in dealing with the fallout from the homeless situation. It is just that currently all that money is WASTED on the symptoms of the problem rather than being invested in dealing with the problem. So if you are tired of the old ‘money down the drain’ way of operating, demand a little really leadership on the homeless. If the politicians continue to prefer to be obstacles and refusing to be leaders in this area, well it is time to find and rally around someone willing to lead. Someone who is not about a popularity contest or what they believe is the case, but about looking at what is and what needs to be done.
Published Thursday, December 22, 2005 by James W Breckenridge.
As our planet sails its’ orbit upon the solar seas,
At the old years' waning, the new years’ dawning,
Words to contemplate,
Setting goals to aspire to in 2006
A man should look for what is, and not what he thinks should be.Albert Einstein
If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about itAnthony D’Angelo
We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one that we preach, but do not practice, and another that we practice, but seldom preach.Bertrand Russell
The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.Helen Keller
If you think that you are where you are just because you worked hard, it is easy to become self-righteous and make classist moral judgments about others.Charlotte Bunch
Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.Mohandas Gandhi
Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.P. J. O'Rourke
It is partly to avoid consciousness of greed that we prefer to associate with those who are at least as greedy as we ourselves. Those who consume much less are a reproach.Charles Horton Cooley
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.Jiddu Krishnamurti
Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.Georg C. Lichtenberg
Published Friday, December 16, 2005 by James W Breckenridge.
Are they waiting for a corpsesicle?
You may have noticed it is more than a little nippy outside these days. And while the bright moon and stars are a very pretty sight, that clearness of the air means the temperature plummets overnight. Factor in the wind chill and you have conditions threatening to life and limb. The one question on the lips of the homeless these days is “are they going to open extra space for shelter at night”? Rumours run rampant through the homeless community, but at the time this is written there are only the (inadequate) beds at the Salvation Army. With bright sunny days perhaps those with shelter do not realize just how dangerous these clear, freezing nights are to those unwillingly consigned to residing on the mean streets of Abbotsford. I have heard of one of the local churches that has regular contact with the homeless community whose attempts to open their (church) doors to these cold people is tied up in red tape thrown up by the city. If the politicians are hoping that the cold will drive the homeless out of town, where they do they expect the homeless to go? That person snoring sitting there in the Library may well have spent the night walking around to keep warm enough to see the dawn and need to get enough sleep in order that they can have the energy to spend this evening moving about so that they can survive to tomorrows dawn.
One can only hope that it does not require someone to freeze to death to get a warm(er) shelter open.
Published Monday, December 12, 2005 by James W Breckenridge.
I have become one of the shadow people. One of those who people chose not to see, as they rush about their busy lives. Yet the reality is that as René Descartes stated: “cogito ergo sum” I am thinking, therefore I exist.
Published by James W Breckenridge.
Several months ago I read an ad for Global Television seeking an assignment manager. The ad was full of all the right buzzwords you would expect but hidden away among all those nice buzzwords was a chilling prospect. Part of the job was coordination of editorial content among various elements of the Global/Can West media empire, seeking to maximize the bottom line. Or is that to toe the party line?
I grew up in an era of newspaper competition and contrasting editorial viewpoints. It is disturbing to think about how we have lost all these differing views to media conglomeration, to consider the stifling effect that media conglomeration has on the debate and reporting of issues both large and small. While coordinating editorial content may be advantageous to the bottom line, what is the cost to the public in reporting of stories and presentation of diverse and opposing viewpoints? Where once we were presented with opposing views, ideas and thoughts on important issues we now get one (‘the company’) point of view. Important issues often are no longer examined from many angles and we are no longer exposed to all views, thoughts of considerations needed to make important choices/decisions. Making decisions may appear easier since we are given far less to think about. But, is it a good idea to be seeking or more accurately to be accepting this easy way out? Is it reasonable to be seeking easy, simple answers in an increasingly complex world? Does/has not this approach just lead/resulted in making BAD decisions?
How much does the corporate drive for bottom line results affect what appears in the paper/magazine/television news? I grew up with our ‘local’ paper being owned and published by a resident of the town. I knew the family who were members of the local community. On occasion things got a little lean when the paper took a position on important local issues that some advertisers disagreed with. As a citizen the owner/publisher took these positions and accepted the (temporary) revenue downturns because some important issues need to be addressed and someone will disagree with the papers position. Now the Herald is part of a chain, as are the Abbotsford papers, and focused on the bottom line. To avoid offending advertisers and decreasing revenue, the public ends up with sanitized, do not offend anybody stories.
Another major effect is that of the drive to reduce costs. To address a complex issue such as homelessness is going to require time for research, investigation and thought – perhaps a series of articles. This approach represents a far higher cost than just banging out simple stories. This addressing of complex events carries a significant chance of offending some vested interest, with the potential for a negative effect on the bottom-line.
Doubt this? Think back a few months to the picture of the woman in the hat with the large flower and her dog in her arms. Nice easy story about the closing of the Fraser Inn. The harder part, the most costly part would be a story about: where is she now? What effect did the closing of the Fraser Inn have on her? On other displaced residents? What has the welfare system done for – or to – her? Does she need help now? Do the other ex-residents? What actions did the city take (not take) in accepting (denying) responsibility for the effect of its actions on the innocent bystanders (the residents) of its feud with the owners of the Fraser Inn? Not very likely to be written since it could discomfort readers and advertisers, it would take time and effort and it would/could have a negative effect on bottom line maximization.
The problem with having to rely on media providing the information to make decisions on complex issues, in this current age of media conglomerates, lies in the old computer programmers’ adage:
GARBAGE IN = GARBAGE OUT
Published Sunday, December 04, 2005 by James W Breckenridge.
Laundry - part deux
Recently I have found another little problem I had never considered before in keeping clean. That is getting your towels and such to dry. When it was warmer I could find somewhere to hang them and they would dry. On a real hot day they would be toast warm and dry. Now, even hanging them up for 24 hours does not get them dry. They range from damp to semi-wet. And in that condition tend to hold onto the cold they absorb. Hot shower, cold towel. Brrrr. Nothing to do but accept. Well, I do not thing the other option, waiting to bath until the towel is dry, is very considerate of others.