Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Stupidity Of Child Poverty

The Conference Board recently took the nation's pulse and discovered that child poverty is on the rise in Canada. Diane Swinemar, the executive director of Feed Nova Scotia, writes:

Most know the House of Commons passed a unanimous vote in 1989 to end child poverty by the year 2000. Not so long ago, we acknowledged the 20-year anniversary of that failed promise. Now, four years later, our country still doesn’t seem to care about our children. And more than one in every seven are growing up in poverty.

Despite rare legislative unanimity, child poverty did not become a priority. In fact, the problem became worse. Swinemar writes:

In 1989, there was a glimmer of hope for the six-year-old girl growing up with this huge disadvantage. But time passed, little headway was made with child poverty rates, and that six-year-old girl is now 30 — and you have to wonder how her life has turned out. She might be an anomaly. She might have beaten the insurmountable odds poverty undoubtedly stacked against her, but the statistics certainly weren’t in her favour.

She probably grew up in an unsafe neighbourhood with higher than average crime rates. Her parents likely struggled to provide adequate nutritious meals, in turn making it difficult for her to focus at school. This likely caused her academic performance to suffer. Maybe she managed to scrape by and graduate from high school, but college or university was out of the question. Maybe she was fortunate enough to find work, but two minimum-wage jobs probably didn’t cover the bills and she likely ended up at the doors of a local food bank looking for help (and thank goodness she at least had that option). There is a good chance she now has children of her own. And if that’s the case, she is probably devastated that, like her own parents, she can’t give them everything they need. And the cycle continues.

Any society which does not invest in its children is doomed. As its adults admire their reflections in their mirrors, it slowly strangles itself. Psychologists call it narcissism. Historians call it stupidity.


thwap said...

We were too busy giving tax cuts to the rich in order to spur "investment" (which didn't happen) and pouring billions and billions down a rat-hole in Afghanistan, to deal with the side-issue of the quality of life of Canadian citizens.

Owen Gray said...

And our so called "best and brightest" told us that their agenda was in our best interests, thwap.

Navel gazing.

Lorne said...

Because they have little power and tend not to vote, the poor are predictably ignored by our overlords, Owen. As your post points out, it is indeed a short-sighted policy.

Owen Gray said...

It's another indication that our politics is all about self promotion, Lorne.

The only people who count are those who will vote for you.

e.a.f. said...

Children don't vote. Its that simple. They may grow up, but politicians only think of the next election. They don't think long term.

The cons believe adults are to blame for their lack of money. They forget these adults have children. Given many of these good christian cons are such religious people they most likely believe in that old phrase, "the sins of the fathers will be inherited by their children." Of course these "good christians" forget there is a New Testament.

If these anti choice people spend half their energy on the children which are born as opposed to those fetuses which have never been born, children would be doing a lot better.

Governments dont care about children living below the poverty level. They are interested only in their own comfort. We have only to look at those senators who just were outed for their expense claims. We have Duffy, waddling down the corridors making a grab for an extra couple of hundred K without any thought to the children of this country who don't have a good balanced diet.

we have a P.M. who had his cars flown to India for a million without any thought to children living in poverty. No his car is more important. the same goes for the tax cuts for corporations who end up leaving Canada any how. But hey, in in the meantime they may contribute to his political party.

We should forget about sinking money into American led wars and spend the money in Canada, on those who need it. People need to remember, kids grow up and become teenagers. Politicians wonder why some teenagers are so angry, well you would be also if you spent so much of your life living in poverty.

Owen Gray said...

I can't escape the notion that the next generation will hold this generation responsible for what has happened to them, e.a.f.

The Harper government has a highly organized propaganda machine. But the young don't believe the message. Their experience tells them it's all bunk.

christyk said...

It is so discouraging, how there's so little conversation anymore about ending child poverty (nevermind poverty in general). People just seem so accepting of it. It's like too many of us have just swallowed the lie that poverty is an economic inevitability and have given up on any talk of changing it.

What are the best books or webpages you can think of for learning more about the systematic creation of poverty?

Owen Gray said...

There must be a lot of them Christy. But I think I would start with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty:

And you might go back and look at a very old book -- The Other America -- which was supposed to have sparked the War on Poverty. Unfortunately, it fell victim to the Vietnam War.