As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality
persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.
– Nelson Mandela
I have been doing research for a keynote I am doing next month on the socio-economics of poverty. I am speaking in Revelstoke, so I took a look at the welfare rates in British Columbia.
There, if you are a single person deemed employable your income support “benefit” is $605 per month and the government’s website indicates this has been the rate since 2007.
To be clear, that’s the total. It’s broken down into two segments: $375 for rent and $230 for food (and everything else). It’s not clear to me if a single employable person also gets a bus pass over and above that amount, but I am hedging my bets against it.
If you are single parent with two young children, the benefit is $660 for rent and $401.16 for everything else. That’s just over a grand for three people, which I found disconcerting to say the least, but you know what? That 16 cents made me angry.
I imagine there is a formula used to figure all of this out and that the powers that be didn’t want to round the number off. Perhaps they felt that a single parent and her two kids should get every penny coming of what can’t come close to supporting them. It felt like a slap in the face.
I won’t go through the motions here of comparing these benefits to the cost of housing and food, clothing, and household incidentals. We have done math like that for as long as I can remember and despite our analysis, people still are suffering from what I call “our ”economic indifference.”
The indifference has its excuses: Governments can’t afford paying any more. Poor people are lazy. She should have not gotten pregnant so young. It’s his fault; he’s an ex-con. Oh yeh, there’s the “drunk Indian” expecting “another hand-out” and they should have stayed in their own country. Why should I have to pay taxes so they can just lay about.
Yep, lay about on $605 per month.
We don’t want people to receive so much money, they just live off the taxpayer and don’t look for a job. Let’s give them far less than it costs to live.
Sure, that will motivate them.
I know. I am being sarcastic. Venting a bit as well.
I swear I could write an excellent, professional brief on how the welfare rates in British Columbia (and in every other province most likely) perpetuate poverty and despair. I could point out how many rules and hoops one has to navigate is not only unnecessary, but also demoralizing, inhumane. But not now. I will save that stuff for my speech.
Right now, I am just angry. Angry about poverty and its myriad systems, rules, and formulas. So angry that I don’t know what to do.
Do you ever feel that way?
Not just sad, but angry. Angry that poverty exists.
Perhaps this anger resides on the extreme end of my compassion for people. Perhaps it is that feeling one gets when a loved one is harmed by another.
I wrote this because I needed to accept this emotion, welcome it as one might an unwanted visitor, tentative but open to what may be possible.
I am angry about poverty and about our many “solutions” that are from what that word means.
I also wrote this because I have to believe you get angry, too.
And I wanted you to know: you are not alone.