Comment 65536

By d.knox (registered) | Posted July 05, 2011 at 08:38:15

Public policy is driven by philosophy. That's just the way it is. One person's solution to increasing social assistance numbers is to throw more money at the problem. Another's is to cut funding. Another's is to put conditions on the funding.

I don't see the benefit of putting aside personal experience in favour of "good empirical evidence" when we aren't actually talking about the same problem. Do we want to make life easier for people on social assistance - give them better health care and easier access to housing - or do we want to make life harder for people on social assistance so that it is less of a viable option for them to stay on social assistance? The former option hasn't worked out so well for Britain, and any reading of Theodore Dalrymple's essays will give you lots of personal anecdotes to supplement the empirical evidence of the success of the welfare state in Britain.

What is good for people on social assistance is not necessarily good for Hamilton.

It's very hard to talk about solving the problem when we can't agree on what the problem is. What we do know is that low-cost housing attracts poor people. Yes - attracts. A density of poverty attracts social services which in turn attracts more people who need social services which increases the density of poverty. I don't need to lecture anyone on how Hamilton has fared on this measure. WINNING.

At this point, philosophy takes over.

Here's where I'm coming from: Hamilton has lower rents and housing costs than all other cities that are as well-serviced or better serviced in Ontario; Hamilton has cheaper bus fares than most other cities with as many services; Hamilton has shorter wait times for subsidized housing than many other cities with as many services; Hamilton also has the highest property taxes of any other city with as many services. There is a correlation that is more than coincidental.

Hamilton does not have greater moral imperative than any other city in Ontario to take care of poor people. So, until all of the costs for social services are shared equally by everyone in this province, we should stop stepping up to the plate to do more. We have done enough.

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