Big Daddy Government will save you!

May 2, 2012   |  

A Very Bad Thing™ happened to me in 2009 which led to four months in a shelter for homeless and abused women. Two shelters, actually – one was a short-term bed for 30 days, and the other was longer term. The first one was privately funded and a-may-zing! The second was part funded by United Way and part funded by the city of Toronto. It was exactly what you’d expect a homeless shelter to be: impersonal, negligent, disinterested, and the staff only there to collect a paycheck and spend as little time as humanly possible with the “dirties” who lived there. There was no food on Mondays. No heat when it dipped down to -20C. Not far from this bastion of neglect was a little church and bakery, St. John the Compassionate. Part soup kitchen, part work experience for the poor, SJC is one of the last true church-run charities left in Toronto. Most of the rest have been absorbed into the larger maw of the city – hence the bored bureaucrats we had to beg our tampons from. Now the endless appetite of the paper-pushers is hoping to consume SJC, getting that annoyingly efficient Christian charity out of their faces.

The padre was in his office, looking at a new garbage and recycling bill that would ultimately cost St. John some $17,000 a year. … Father Roberto said, “We feed about 100 people every day at lunch; also about 20 in the morning, and 20 snacks a day. We serve 3,000 meals a month.” … That is the size and scope of the meals program; what about the bakery? “We hire people who otherwise would have no jobs. We pay a living wage, and benefits. We get people off welfare. We don’t rely on any subsidy — the bakery is not a money-making project for the mission; the money goes to the people. “We provide work, and we teach people how to bake bread. Someone who trains here can work elsewhere.” The bakery employs 15 to 20 people. The bread is outstanding. The problem? “The city wants us to pay for garbage pick-up. The problem is that we are on the receiving end of what is given to us.” I asked him to explain. “We are given bags of clothes — people do want to help — but not all of what they give us is useful, so that’s a source of garbage for which we have to pay. “And then, suppose Second Harvest gives us a skid of strawberries; half are good, half are not, but all those containers are not recyclable.” … And then he said something chilling. “If we have to pay for what we get from Second Harvest, we’ll have to refuse food, because we can’t afford to get rid of the packaging.” That’s absurd. He has spoken with city officials. “I was told there was consultation.” Oh, phooey. “I told the city we were serving 3,000 meals a month; if we have to stop, I asked where would they go? I was told that people could go to city shelters. But the city is closing shelters; how is the city going to provide 3,000 extra meals?”

And that one bolded line is the crux of it – anything charity can do, the city can fuck up five times faster. The more dependant you are on local and state government, the more likely you are to vote for the people who feed you. Charities like SJC make the city-run entities look bad, very bad indeed. Better to simply shut them down – devil may care about those most affected – and take over with one run by those with a gilded city pension. For shame, Toronto. For shame.

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