As I was going by Swans yesterday some of the usual suspects were sitting on the sidewalk. But Gizmo wasnt with them.I see in the Newz that Gizmo has died. I can't say that I knew the poor fellow, but I have been acquainted with him for about fifteen years, ever since he jumped into my cab. Neither he nor his friends had money to pay their cab fare. Gizmo said he was expecting money soon and if I dropped back later on to the house from where I picked him up he would be able to pay me. Not expecting ever to get paid, I nevertheless was in the vicinity a few hours later and thought I might as well give it a try. I was already too late. He and his friends had come up with some money but they had already spent it. When I sidled into the half open door he and his friends were stretched out randomly on the living room carpet in their desired state of oblivion.
That may have been the last time he lived in a house. From then on I only saw him when he was panhandling on the sidewalk with his friends- one of them a huge pet wolf. The wolf died some time ago.
As usual in the Newz is the obligatory genuflection to the gods of victimhood. The writer of the obituary, after a few hundred words of tribute, announced, "I'm just not into party politics." And then the next few paragraphs are devoted to politics. She doesn't come right out and say it in so many words but the gist of her commentary is that Gizmo was a victim of the system. It's always the system, you see.
"I do know what it's like to be flat broke, though, facing a world where some have more than they will ever need, and others, many good people among them, left hungry and out in the cold."
Well, yes, there are inequalities, and some of those inequalities are unfair. Korky Day, another writer in the issue, opines, "Work should not be required; that's slavery. Work should not be a privilege; that's the present fatal failed system in Canada." I think these words of wisdom are intended as an aphorism. Let's leave aside the fact that the second statement does not follow from the first. Hmmm. in what way is work a privilege? Does the writer mean that just because someone is unqualified, or unwilling to work, or doesn't feel like getting up in the morning, that he should not be denied a paycheck? Maybe he means that a person should get a paycheck regardless of whether work is available. I'm not sure what he means.
But the statement that work is slavery and that it shouldn't be required is a little bit shocking. Does the writer think that food arrives on store shelves all by itself? Does he think that somebody in the government just waves a magic wand and poof, there is food? How does the writer suppose houses get built, logs milled, electricity generated, etc, etc. If people don't work, then how does he suppose things get made? "Guaranteed Jobs... a practical way to end forced homelessness," is the title of the this piece of idiocy. Later on he compares the workers paradise of the old Soviet Union where millions of people died of starvation with the inadequacies of Canada. Jobs were guaranteed in the CCCP all right, but what good is money when there is nothing to buy? In that communist insane asylum they used to say (when the secret police weren't around) "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us." A neat way of saying that when a person is not allowed to keep the benefits of his own labour he is unlikely to see any point in working. This is the fatal flaw in all schemes to redistribute wealth.
This is the truth about poverty in Canada. In my lifetime, in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and most other western countries, anybody who is willing to participate in the capitalist, free enterprise system has done well. Many have done spectacularly well. Collectively, there has been no other place or time when people have been so free of economic distress. And if you can't find work because of some disability or temporary difficulty, then all sorts of programs are available. As someone on the street once told me, "It's almost impossible to starve to death in Victoria." But what if someone is unwilling to work? I remember going by Swan's one afternoon and some of the regular panhandlers were hanging out on the sidewalk. Maybe Gizmo was there. A young kid was there I know, maybe a recent runaway. Loudly and proudly, one grizzled old veteran was bragging, "I've never worked a day in my life." Presumably he was entirely satisfied with sleeping under bridges, smoking other people's discarded cigarette butts and fighting with the crows and seagulls for half eaten Big Macs.
Jesus is quoted as saying that the poor will always be with us. Maybe he was thinking of people like him.
Gizmo and his associates are often played up in the media as examples of how the system failed them. They are victims of our cruel society. Well, yes, they are victims all right, and of certain aspects of our system. For all intents and purposes our welfare agencies have for many years actively subsidized the illicit drug trade. I can't really prove this, but I firmly believe that without welfare the drug trade would go broke. At the root of most our 'homeless' problem is drug use. Drugs are like a cancer in our society, and that is something that is never mentioned in news reports.
Would a Robert Picton have been possible without the drug infestation? First off, he himself was a drug user. You never hear much about them, but many studies have shown strong evidence that drugs, even so-called soft drugs like marijuana, cause mental disease. My own personal knowledge of long time drug users leads me to believe these reports. So perhaps it's worth inquiring if the drugs he used helped turn him into a monster. Secondly, where would he get his victims if there wasn't a ready supply of street whores to draw on? Another unmentioned fact is that most women who sell their bodies on the streets are doing it for drugs. Their pimps are both suppliers and slavemasters to these unfortunates.
There is a lot wrong with the system, but the things that are wrong are completely ignored. Why is that? Because a suffering underclass makes very handy propaganda material for the parasites who want to lobby for new government programs to 'help the poor.' It's really sick.
I wonder if poor gizmo ever had time to look up from his never ending search for oblivion to see Mt Baker, or a sunrise over the waters of Juan de Fuca.
I'm glad this post is over with. Now I can throw that rag of a newspaper away.