Saturday, November 28, 2009

The reviews are in

Jim Meek:
The crux of the matter is our refusal to admit that these beggars are indeed not choosers — and are probably mentally ill. This stops us from acting in a rational way, stops us from facing the fact that the mean streets and the shelters are populated by people who need help — talk therapy, skills training, mentoring, drug therapies.
Nor do I buy for a minute the view that begging affluent men for money, on the mean shopping streets of Halifax, is a lazy way to make a living. It is a humiliating one, instead, which suggests that only the desperate need apply.

Let me move the story now from the streets of the city to Gerald Keddy’s farm fields in the country.

There, farmers struggle to recruit "Canadian" help at the indecent wages they are forced to offer because the rest of us refuse to pay higher prices for our food.
Here’s the connection between farmers and street people, then.

In both cases, we are allowing our narrowly defined self-interest to trump a broader public interest. We are the choosers here. Our collective prejudice chooses to keep mental health patients on the streets — untreated. And our pocketbook preferences keep local food prices down.

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