It would seem to be the height of foolishness to go into a voting booth every couple of years and make your mark against the name of the candidate whose party has, for decades, promised to take away the few nice things you might have — like health care, retirement savings and highways that don’t collapse — to fund Christmas in April for their friends in the 0.1 percent. Such a vote is nothing more or less than self-harm.
But if that is the height of foolishness, how to characterize our daily actions when we support businesses that only pay starvation wages — by walking through their doors and giving them our money? Those businesses are depressing the local economy — their workers have no cash to spend on anything other than the bare essentials — and imposing a tax on us all by forcing their workers to seek out subsidized or free food, housing, transportation and so on.
On the other side of the counter, the manager who responds to pressure from head office for more profits by cutting smaller and smaller paychecks is behaving just as stupidly. Pay your workers less and they have less to spend ― depressing local economic activity and raising the tax levied on the community. That, of course, leads to lower sales and lower profits ― and more pressure to raise profits, starting a downward spiral toward ruin for all of us.
And, of course, a worker living with food stress, housing stress and transportation stress is unlikely to be a happy or productive worker.
By enabling these things we are — daily — committing acts of self-harm that could well be interpreted as symptoms of madness. Where can this madness have come from? Future historians will argue about it forever — after all, like internet trolls, they get paid to argue — but at this point, it seems clear that the relentless assault on Christ’s teachings and civilization itself has been a major influence.
Two thousand years ago, he had to repeatedly explain his teachings ― that we should not fear and hate those people, but instead treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. Over the millennia since, very few seem to have been able to live to that standard. Instead we prefer logic-chopping ― Who is not my neighbor ? What if they don’t deserve nice things? ― when his words are quite clear: no limits, no exceptions.
Locally, of course, this failure reached some kind of peak in the city’s racist assault by bulldozer and fire on the East End under the banner of urban renewal. As an investment, it was a total failure — money went into the destruction of a living neighborhood, and in return we got nine lanes of tarmac slicing through people’s homes and livelihoods.
And since then, nothing — shame perhaps? A hope that if we don’t talk about the great sin that was committed, it will somehow be forgiven? Whatever fine words might have come from the Council dais over the years, their staff has actually implemented precious little to repair the damage.
Indeed, policies are still in place actively working against the formation of new communities — zoning rules that forbid local shops that could serve as neighborhood hubs, lot size restrictions that might work for the suburbs, but which result in a farcically low population density in a city; a lack of sidewalks that means you may have to take your life in your hands just to go check up on a neighbor.
If the current Council, with minority representation, has failed to move their staff on this, what hope is there that one elected from gerrymandered districts would even try? After half a century, all we have got to the point where all a council needs to do is sit on its hands and wait for time and gentrification to push the remaining survivors out — then their pet property speculators will have something to drool over.
— Geoff Kemmish