Published Tuesday, October 21, 2008 by James W Breckenridge.
Supportive Housing Proposal
- discussion pointless without information
I want to thank the gentleman (and his wife) I spoke to after this afternoons (Monday October 20, 2008) Council meeting for his patience in taking the time to talk to me. Listening to what he and his wife had to say was though provoking and sent me back to read all the documents and material again from as analytical/language/neutral prospective as possible.
I read the handouts, went to government web sites and read the materials there and went back over all these materials again.
The conclusion I reached was that the documents were written in bafflegab (confusing or generally unintelligible jargon; gobbledegook), complicated by government bureaucratese (a style of language that is full of circumlocutions, euphemisms, buzzwords etc) and ass covering language.
It is no wonder that at the community meetings city staff (with apologies) appeared somewhat clueless and less than truthful vis-à-vis the proposed housing. Reading over the material available this afternoon, this housing could be anything; mention is made of the second stage housing I was told it was to be and was speaking of OR it could be minimal barrier housing OR it could be something else entirely.
There is no way to tell what kind of housing we are speaking of. Without knowing what type of housing we are talking about there is no way to make any judgment, must less a decision, on location.
I spoke to Mr. Giesbrecht this evening (Monday) and while I am not in agreement (or necessarily disagreement - to many unknowns), with his preference to build nothing there I do agree with his point that without knowing what other options as to location are available and the pros and cons of the locations you cannot judge “best’ location. I would go so far as to say that without knowing what kind of housing we are speaking off there is no way to judge if a location is even suitable, much less good or the best.
We agreed that from the information provided one cannot know or understand what type of housing or who the occupants will be or who will be responsible for the operation of the housing and that that information is critical. Speaking to Mr. Geisbrecht did send me back to read the Questions and Answers handout from the City.
I said to some people on Wednesday night in reference to the first community meeting that I was not sure that this type of meeting and the timing was a good idea. I can now say that this type of meeting and the timing was an ill-considered idea.
Until the city and citizens know what kind of housing, tenants and operating organization we are talking about any discussion is pointless. Garbage in garbage out, certainly applies here where we are missing the most vital pieces of information needed to judge the matter which means any decision at this point could be flawed, wrong or garbage – or all three.
The city cannot and should not be having a discussion on the matter of this proposal until they (and citizens) know what is being talked about in terms of what kind of housing, tenants and operating organizations are under consideration.
We need to step back and wait for the information needed to have an intelligent conversation, make an informed judgment and come to a sensible decision is available.
At that point we will at least all know what we are talking about and if we have points of disagreement we will at least be disagreeing about the same thing. We will not be arguing/comparing apples to oranges to watermelons to kiwi to pineapples etc. as we currently are doing.
Published Sunday, October 12, 2008 by James W Breckenridge.
Tax cuts? What tax cuts?
Listening to the “we’re asking for your input” advertisements from Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals two points struck me.The first point was that the ads were formatted to appear to be requests for input from citizens, rather than the rah-rah, self-promotional sales ads for Campbell and his BC Liberals they are. Formatting the ads in this manner means citizens get to pay for being inundated with self-congratulatory, we’re (Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals) wonderful ads. Apparently Campbell and the BC Liberals felt there was no ethical reason they should pay for self-promotional ads when a little formatting can stick BC citizens with the bill.
The second point is that these ads clearly attempt to convey the false impression that Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals have given tax cuts to all BC citizens.
The true reality is that only wealthy citizens have enjoyed a tax cut and are now paying less money to the government, while the majority of BC citizens are in fact paying higher taxes under Gordon Campbell.
Remember a tax is any sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services. Thus the $75 fee for renewing your drivers licence is a tax by another name.
What Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals have done is to replace progressive taxes - where those who can afford to pay more taxes (the wealthy) do so and those who cannot afford high levels of taxation (the working poor, those living in poverty etc) pay less tax – with regressive taxes where the poor pay the same tax as the rich.
To the working poor earning the minimum wage that $75 licence fee represents more than a day’s wages (9 hours) while to a highly paid bureaucrat it is less than an hours wage (approx. 40 minutes). Clearly the $75 licence fee (tax) is a much more onerous tax to the low paid worker than it is to the well-paid bureaucrat or MLA.
Across the board and year after year Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals have shifted the tax burden in BC from those most able to pay to those least able to pay. This transfer of wealth was not only from the poorest to the wealthiest; it enriched the wealthy at the expense of the majority of British Columbians.
Any taxpayer can calculate for themselves whether they are now paying more taxes to the government or if they are among the minority of British Columbians who have benefited from Gordon Campbell’s great (for the wealthy) tax shift:
Income taxes plus all fees paid to the government (licences, medical, user fees etc – any fee paid to the government) at the point Gordon Campbell was elected.
Income taxes plus all fees paid to the government (licences, medical, user fees etc – any fee paid to the government) at this current point in time.
A positive number represents your savings, a negative number means you are paying more taxes now than when Campbell and the BC Liberals became the government.
Perform this calculation and find out whether you are wealthy enough to be paying less to the government under Gordon Campbell’s great tax shift.
Despite Premier Campbell’s attempt to convey the false impression that BC citizens are paying less to the government, most British Columbians are going to find they are not wealthy enough to have benefited to the extent of paying less and find they are now paying (taxes + taxes by any other name – fees etc) more to the BC government.
Still, they are undoubtedly far better off that the poor who have been devastated by this onerous tax shift. When you are poor you gain no benefit from income tax cuts (when your income is sufficiently low you pay no tax, a cut leaves you still paying zero taxes) but are stuck paying the new fees and fee increases.
Campbell has pillaged the poorest and those least able to afford increased payments to government, robbing from the poor to give to the rich.
Finally, remember that cuts to services represent a cost and are a price citizens pay for the touted tax “savings”. Individual citizens must decide for themselves whether these costs are worth the “savings”.
That Premier Campbell’s government is running these rah-rah, promotional/sales ads touting none existent “savings” suggests not only that they are ethically challenged, but that they are out of touch with the realities of life and finances of the average (non-wealthy) British Columbian.
Published Friday, October 10, 2008 by James W Breckenridge.
Harper - it's the Economy hebetudinous one
I hear by the advertisements on radio and television that Stephen Harper has stopped rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with his “don’t worry, be happy, everything’s rosy economically in Canada” attitude and acknowledged that perhaps, with the rest of the world struggling with economic meltdown, Canadians should have some concerns about the economy.
How have Mr. Harper and his Conservatives addressed Canadian’s concerns about the economy and the future? Have Mr. Harper and his Conservative Party laid out their plans and policies for dealing with what is happening around the world economically? No.
Mr. Harper, rather than say what his plans (if any) are for guiding Canada through this period of economical turmoil are, has continued his practice of scare tactics about why Canadians should not vote for his opponents as opposed to telling Canadians why they should vote Conservative.
This approach leaves one to conclude that the economy is one more area that Mr. Harper and his Conservatives have no vision and thus no plans for dealing with economic challenges.
What did Mr. Harper and his Conservatives, beneficiaries of a booming economy, accomplish economically during their period in office?
They oversaw the increased transfer of wealth from most Canadians to the wealthiest 10% of Canadians, making the rich richer and increasing the economic unfairness or lack of balance in the economy.
Despite their claims to have run what Mr. Harper calls “surpluses”, when you factor in the cost of the war in Afghanistan those surpluses disappear. How can Mr. Harper claim to be fiscally responsible when he chose to ignore the billions of dollars spent on Afghanistan in reporting on the state of the Canadian economy? It was totally irresponsible to be cutting taxes and claiming surpluses without taking the billions being spent on Afghanistan into their calculations.
Mr. Harper and his Conservatives policies resulted in significant increases in homelessness, poverty and working poor; managing to bring about these increases during a time of economic boom. The mind boggles at the thought of how much more homelessness, poverty and working poor, how much more misery Mr. Harper and his Conservatives can cause in a faltering economy.
Sorry Mr. Harper, but considering your performance on the economy over your term in office and in light of the faltering Canadian and worldwide economy, there is no scarier economic prospect than you in charge of the economy and Canada’s economic future in this time of challenge.
Published Wednesday, October 08, 2008 by James W Breckenridge.
“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.” Jack London
Watching the news reports about the desperate state of need for donations at local food banks left me considering the true essence of generosity and charity.
There are studies that have shown that the people with little or nothing to spare can be the most generous. Not in the amount given, since obviously the $$$ are just not there, but in the relationship between what they keep for themselves and what they give. When things are tough and there is little to spare this group continues to give – often because they have worn the shoes of people who depend on places such as the food banks for enough to eat to live.
On $1 meal days I have watched those who did not have a dollar the meal day before and who may not have a dollar on the next meal day, but had a spare dollar this meal day, buy someone else a meal. I have had to ponder my own generosity after watching someone spend their $1 on someone they thought really needed the meal – even though it meant they had to eat a bowl of free soup.
Yes the future is uncertain, but rather than being less generous we need to be more generous to essential services such as the food bank – because the demand for help to put food in stomachs increases during economic down turns.
Jack London is right, true generosity is sharing even when times may be tight or tough for you.
Published Monday, October 06, 2008 by James W Breckenridge.
Ask handyDART Users.
I was at an Abbotsford-Mission Transit Committee meeting in support of a presentation being made to the committee about difficulties that had been encountered with handyDART service.
Time will tell how that matter plays itself out, but two items, one I didn't hear and one I did hear, came to my attention at the meeting.
It was stated that the committee is working on its new five year plan for the transit system - including handy dart
What I didn't/haven't heard is that the committee has sought input from those who need and use handyDART service.
There are methods and techniques that have been developed for planning transit. However these are not applicable to handyDART as this service is by its nature much more of an individual transit system, as opposed to mass/public transportation system.
Given the individualized nature of handyDART service it would see both logical and sensible to seek out input on the current state of handyDART service and information about probable demands on handyDART service over that five year period.
I heard no comments from the committee to suggest they are seeking input from those with an personal vested interest in the handyDART system, nor have I heard anything about such input being sought from those I know who use or have clients that use/need handyDART services.
I believe it is necessary for the committee to seek input from those who use handyDART services prior to formulating a new five-year transit plan. Failure to seek such input before formulating the plan would result in a plan having no more validity than if they had used a Ouija board to formulate it.
Hearing feedback from patrons about problems and lack of access with handyDART service was of concern, but what was truly disturbing was the reason given for why patrons and caregivers did not want to step forward and complain - Retaliation.
There is something unconscionable about the thought that some of our most of vulnerable citizens, people who truly need our help to have a good quality of life, are afraid to assert their right to handyDART services out of FEAR.
It is a point that Abbotsford-Mission Transit Committee must explore and address.
Both these matters unheard and heard demonstrate why the Abbotsford-Mission Transit Committee needs to have representatives of users of both public and handyDART services as members on the committee, if they are to understand the needs of patrons in order to maximize the delivery of services.
Published Wednesday, October 01, 2008 by James W Breckenridge.
Do we really live in a Democracy?
The one thing you can say about our current election is it is indisputable proof that if we want to live in a Democracy and have good governance addressing the important issues and challenges facing Canada and Canadians, we must have Federal Electoral Reform.
OK – the one thing you can say beside the facts it is an unnecessary waste of taxpayers dollars (what else would expect from politicians than to fail to consider the effect of their actions on the people they are suppose to represent?) and in violation of the fixed election date law passed by the government that called the election (what else would you expect from politicians than to consider themselves above the laws of Canada?)
Citizens are being served garbage on a silver platter by all the federal parties. With apologies to anyone who makes silver platters, this is as apt a description of what politicians are trying to pass off as debate and discourse on which any semi-intelligent, semi-rational person could make an effective decision on who should be sent to Parliament to form a government.
At a time citizens need to decide who could (not would but could possibly) provide good government and effectively begin to clean up the mess our current and recent crops of politicians have strewn across all parts of Canada and abroad federal parties and politicians seem bent on demonstrating their complete lack of ability.
The very foundation of Democracy is informed consent of the governed. If citizens cannot make an informed choice and thus cannot give informed consent, the government is not democratically elected and the country (Canada) is not truly a democracy, even if politicians choose to label it a democracy in order to make ruling the population easier.
Slick – yes. Loud – yes. Full of empty promises, of politicians avoiding important issues and questions, of misleading statements, smoke and mirrors, half-truths, lack of debate and examination of reasoning/explanations, of sound bites – yes.
Substance to be able to make an informed judgment and thus grant informed consent – NO.
We look at China and decry the lack of democracy in China. But is there really any difference between Canada and China; between Canadians having to decide among 5 bad/unacceptable choices and Chinese having only one bad/unacceptable choice? Not in any meaningful way.
The choice Canadians need to focus on, should be struggling with, is not who will form the next government but how do we take back our country and turn it into a democracy in fact and function - not just in name.
“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
John F. Kennedy