This is a natural reaction, it is very easy to be negative and in some cases plays to the crowd. We at the BR have worked very hard to not only criticise, when we feel we have to, constructively, but in all cases of criticism offer alternatives to the proposal being discussed. It is not fair to the idea/proposal if one only says, “It doesn’t work”, or it is deficient without saying why and how to overcome the deficiency. We, at the BR also realise that not all of our alternatives are mainstream and therefore will be adopted holus bolus. There are alternatives that are viable, and can work only if certain conditions exist.
So for instance when we discuss the failings of not enough “affordable housing” we do so realising that not all of the Citizens think it is a good idea – “the Government should not be in the business of housing!” – is a response from Conservatives, usually accompanied by the refrain that such an idea is Communistic.
However in the light of current Provincial moves to control the housing market and the move to put more Federal money into housing infrastructure one has to question whether this is the best use of our public money.
On the Municipal level most Municipalities do not operate “social housing” complexes. These complexes are built and owned by Municipalities and offer housing units at a cheaper rate than usual rental units because the profit motive and margins have been removed from the operation. Financed by municipal bonds the cost of building is lower than industry rates. This probably why Conservatives and Developers dislike the idea of “social housing”, and try to offer alternatives. One such alternative is the mandate to local developers that a percentage of units in a plan be “affordable”. Presumably this means that the developer can build and sell units that are cheaper than the others in his plan. How do they do this? One of two ways: the builder can either reduce his margin on the unit, thereby sellng a cheaper unit, or by building a smaller unit and reducing overall costs. Either way this approach is doomed to fail after the first sale as the cheaper unit then becomes subject to ‘market forces’ and rapidly becomes unaffordable to the target audience.
So the choice is simple if you want “affordable housing” then only Government can provide it under the present schemes. But let’s think out of the box!!
There is another way – subsidise mortgages and rents. Take rents first. If we institute two principals – rent controls and subsidies to lower income people. Rent controls on units are essential otherwise the subsidies will go to landlords who have jacked up prices to negate the subsidies, and lower income people must have access to affordable housing in a progressive society. For instance we know that one solution to homelessness is a housing unit. Problem is – not enough of them.
So we advocate housing subsidies as opposed to a bricks and mortar operation. Cheaper by half and easier to administer.
Using the same idea we now look at Food Banks. Food banks are a large piece of the “Poverty Industry” a segment of the economy that services lower income people to help them get the help they need. We at the BR hate food banks, they are an abomination and a blight on civilised society. Rather like the work-houses and alms-houses of the past a pittance shovelled out by charity to keep the streets clean from beggars and petty criminals. Sometimes established by “Lady Bountifuls” – to make themselves feel good they are now usually staffed by overworked volunteers and paid administrators. A civilised society should be able to provide econmic succour for its Citizens by the generation of wealth shared by the managers and workers. An ideal long forgotten in this world of financiers and corporate interests dedicated to wringing the last penny from underpaid workers. The last thing on their minds is a well paid worker with money in their jeans.
But there is an alternative to the idea of food banks doling out cans of beans, food banks that collect food, food banks that sort and distribute the same food. All of this being a highly intensive and expensive (if you don’t have an army of volunteers) operation to sustain. The alternative is a card that is given to the food bank recipients, instead of a box of food. The card will buy food at the local market. It is financed by a donation from customers to the same markets as they purchase their own food, and usual funding sources.
This idea is naturally written off by the large food banks as being unrealistic but there is an operation in Woodstock, Ontario that has been making this idea work. To read about this programme click here. Of course it has its many critics but at least the concept is up and running, and can be compared to the traditional ways of doing things.
Hey folks it is 2017 – the 21st Century why are we still sticking to the last Century’s thinking?