November 14, 2005

 

This must end II

CBC News -- A man who spent the night in a Montreal dumpster is lucky to be alive after he was emptied into a garbage truck and later pulled to safety. Montreal fire Chief Gilles Ducharme said the man could have been crushed as the truck compressed each load of garbage. "We had pieces of wood, steel bars, so he was lucky that none of those passed through his body," Ducharme said. The man is under observation because of the risk of internal bleeding after being compacted in the truck. Driver Michel Duval was picking up garbage from dumpsters Monday morning when he heard noises from the back of his truck. He said he had probably dumped a couple of loads on top of the man before realizing he was inside. Fire and ambulance workers rescued the man, pulling garbage from the truck and leaving a small, smelly mountain of food waste, wood and crushed boxes piled on the ground.

The "lucky" man is now in hospital with crushed legs and a broken pelvis. Meanwhile Paul Martin, the Canadian Prime Minister, facing an election in a couple of months, has just promised a couple of big tax cuts, taking still more money out of social services than he has already. We no longer live in a world that can be called a "human" world in any of the possible senses of that word.

Comments:
Has to Has to HAS TO end
 
Unfortunately a good majority of people don't see it that way. Most of those who are still working at minimum wage or a bit higher are on the verge of bankruptcy. So any little money that might come in would help. I was watching some people in the News who were asked what they would do with the "extra" money. They mentioned they'll use it to pay a portion of their credit card or hydro bills. So as long as the Liberals or any other government can keep people on the verge of bankruptcy, they can throw them bread crumbs and make them happy, especially right before an election. And for the guy in the dumpster, I doubt that he's working and most likely he wont vote either.
 
Oh, come on! "Social security" you said? Are you crazy? Protection of the weakest? Are you out of your mind? They are simply losers, not human beings!

That crazy ideas of yours will lead us to... yeah you know where: communism!
 
I'm not sure what you mean by "We no longer live in a world that can be called a "human" world". Was there a time when the world didn't have poverty? Was there a time when the poor didn't become victims of their circumstances? The Liberal Party, much like their counterparts in the UK, have moved far right of their historical ideology. That's why the conservatives can't get any traction. They're in the strange predicament of needing to differentiate themselves from the Liberals (by being more conservative), but not having much room to move on the right. At least the Conservatives have stayed out of power. They'd probably dismantle Canada's heathcare system if they ever had the chance. That would be a tragedy.
 
To mourn the end of any kind of a meaningfully "human" world was my rather hyperbolic way of stating the double irony that in a world where poverty and misery need not exist, people are literally treated like garbage. Of course, people are treated like garbage by American soldiers in Iraq every day, but those stories, unlike this one, don't appear in the news.
 
I agree with you, but I don't think we ever did live in that world. When was the golden age when people were treated more humanely? In fact, for most of the world, life is better now than it ever has been. Which is very, very sad - but there has been progress.

If we were discussing this 100 years ago, this story wouldn't have existed, because it would be so commonplace (minus the modern machinery, of coure), no one would think to mention it. Poor people were treated like garbage, expected to survive or die however they could, and there was fuck-all anyone tried to do about it. There was charity from missionaries (which came with a price, of course), and that was it.

Only through people's movements have we gotten to the point where so many of us know this is our responsibility. We still have lots of work to do, but there has been progress.
 
Thanks for your comment, L-girl, and a belated “Welcome to Canada!”

I often write as a polemicist, which is I believe the kind of writing and thinking that is called for at the historical juncture we find ourselves in. To quote Farley Mowat, “I never let the facts stand in the way of the truth,” because there are more important truths than facts. Facts are static and two-dimensional, whereas the truth, contrary to what the conservatives and the mainstream believe, is dialectical.

The facts of the moment are exactly as you have described them. We do indeed live in a world where “for most of the world, life is better now than it ever has been.” But the truth of the moment is that we should not rest on our laurels, because the enemies of progress are also far more powerful and cunning than they have ever been.

The most important kind of criticism is self-criticism, because it helps us clarify what we have become and what we want to be. Otherwise, we end up arguing about whether Bush is really moral or not, and so on. At the current truly critical juncture, radical criticism is called for more than ever before. For instance, the left has been all too ready to accept the line that the Iraq invasion had something to do with spreading democracy and freedom. I believe we should begin by completely rejecting that line of thought, even if, in some sense or other, it corresponds to some facts. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the US government did its torturing in secret and through client states. Now it does it out in the open, so to speak. That is the sort of thing the Iraq invasion was about. It was a reaction against multilateralism and human progress. I think that is the sort of thing we should be talking about. The issue is not, for instance, whether Bush lied or not. The issue is, rather, that he represents the final triumph of an economic and political system that does not think of truth and humanity as relevant considerations.
 
It seems to me that this was a personal issue, not a political issue. Of course I have never been in this situation, but it seems to me that *most* homeless people have done something in their lives to put themselves in their position, whether it be drugs, etc. In my opinion the fact that this man was sleeping in the dumpster had nothing to do with how the government is running the country. JMO...
Just found your blog when surfing...think I'll bookmark it if you don't mind :)
 
very difficult to believe this story.
 
Oh yeah. Most suffering people DESERVES it, of course. Like the child in Irak: ¿who told that stupid tot to put his stupid head right in line under the falling bomb?

Oh dear... when has ever the world been a nice place? Forget everything! They deserve it, yes sir! Don´t you feel much better now?
 
Jack:

Its not a question of 'deserving' or not 'deserving' falling asleep in a dumpster and then getting injured ... its a question of whose has responsibility for the actions of the homeless man. Are we as a society responsible for the actions of this man, or is he responsible for them?

What you are suggesting is very altruistic and heartfelt. You seem very passionate about helping others. Good. Great. I like helping other people as well. It makes me feel good knowing I've made others better off.

However, you are taking a very elitist position when you start implying that EVERYONE should feel as altruisticly as you. I give as much as I can to others - mostly in the form of donated work hours. But, I do not believe that my views should replace every other person's views. People can do what they wish with what is theirs.

This is something that makes any semi-socialist (liberal, if you will ... but I hate defouling it by applying it in this manner) unattractive to voters: what I want and feel is what YOU should/haveto want and feel.

Not everyone is created equal. Deal with it. Everyone should be equal under the eyes of the law, but this does not necessarily make them EQUAL. A bell shaped curve is much more representative of reality than one gargantuan middle class. There are going to be outliers on each end of the wealth spectrum.

Finally, don't write comments that suggest that other people are stupid for not wanting socialism/communism when your arguments have such overtly basic logistical flaws.

Have a fantastic day.
 
...it seems to me that *most* homeless people have done something in their lives to put themselves in their position, whether it be drugs, etc.

Mental illness is a much more common cause of homelessness than drug addiction. Acording to the study "The Forgotten Americans-Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve" [Link], 39% of all homeless have a mental illness, compared to 26% with a drug problem. I would suggest that for those with a drug problem, it is as likely to be a result of homelessness as a cause.

Also, To Jake: I personally wouldn't call someone stupid for not wanting socialism. That's a personal choice, and there are good arguments for both sides. That being said, those who oppose programs to help the homeless are not stupid, just selfish. You say that no one should be forced to help others if they don't want to. Many conservatives use this argument to get rid of all social programs that could be considered charity. Their argument quickly falls apart, however, when you consider the billions of dollars in corporate charity paid by the government to bail out bankrupt companies.

There is room for social programs to virtually eliminate homelessness. Here in the US, homelessness was not a real serious problem until the programs lost all their funding during the Reagan era of the 1980s. My point is that it's not logistically impossible, just opposed by selfish people who either don't feel obligated to help the society they are a part of, or don't consider the underprivilaged to be deserving members.
 
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