The Welfare Of The Needy

I read a little while ago that a bunch of housing activists in Quebec are all upset about a proposed law that would allow landlords to take money out of people’s welfare cheques to pay for any back rent that a person might owe. These people are all up in arms over the fact that such a horrible law would even be considered, let alone passed by any caring and feeling government.

Well first of all, if anybody out there can show me a caring and feeling government, I’ll show you my third nipple. And second, where’s the problem with this idea? I don’t see it. In fact, I think it’s pretty fair, and I even dare say advantageous for the guy collecting the benefits.

Now before any of you think about clicking the comment link or sending off an angry email to call me a right wing asshole, hear me out, I think I have room to speak here. You see, I have a pretty good idea of what being on the government payroll is like, because I’ve been there. Granted my experience is with disability benefits due to my blindness and not the welfare system, but in both cases you don’t get paid shit and you have to be pretty good with money to make ends meet sometimes.

Just to put things into a bit more perspective for you all so you have a better idea of where I’m coming from here, I’ll explain the disability support system in my province. If you’re extremely lucky, you’ll get a maximum of less than $1000 a month, and that’s if you’re extremely fortunate, and by that I mean if your rent is so high that they can’t legally justify paying you any less than that. You get your rent covered plus what they call a cost of living allowance, but that rule only applies past a certain dollar figure because like I’ve already said, you can’t make any more than what they’ve determined is the maximum, and that’s the slightly less than $1000 I was talking about. Add to that that the cost of living figure they give you is a figure that hasn’t been reviewed and changed since 1995, and you should start to get a pretty good picture of what it’s like to live off of something like that. Let’s face it, a lot can change in 9 years when you’re dealing with money, and especially when you’re dealing with rent, which until they established rent controls could be increased at any time and by as much as your property owner felt like increasing it. Even with rent restrictions in place, it still has to go up, but for some reason the benefit amount never does.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you about something that I’m extremely proud of. Living under those conditions, I’ve managed to pay my rent on time every month, same goes for my bills. I’ve also managed to buy food and other things I need, as well as pay to get myself to places I need to go and have something left over to have a little fun now and then, and at the end of it all, still have something to show for it. I’ve never owed a person a dime in my life, and I’ve never gone into debt with any company. And you know why? Because if I don’t pay for things, they get taken away from me, and I don’t want that. I think you see where this is going. If I don’t pay my cable bill, I don’t watch TV. If I don’t pay for the phone, I’m not calling Grandma to say thanks for the sweater. If I don’t buy food, I starve. And if I don’t pay the rent, I get myself evicted, which when you really stop and think about it, is what this law is trying to prevent from happening to those people who are down on their luck and are unfortunate enough to find themselves for whatever reason needing social assistance.

By passing this law, what the government is really doing is compelling people who aren’t doing so of their own accord to hold up their end of a legal contract, that being the lease they signed when they moved into their apartment. A contract which if broken would give any landlord the right to have that person removed from the property, at which point the poor bastard is on his own. And it’s at this point that I have to ask these activists what they’d rather have, a law that collects money from people who owe it anyway and gives it to it’s rightful owner, or a homeless problem caused by a rash of evictions which under the law are completely fair and just?

I swear, none of these people have a clue, not a single one of them, and there’s a simple reason for that. It’s because they’ve never been there. I’m sure some of them have and them I respect, even if I disagree with their position but it’s been my experience that a fair number of these people are just idealists with far too much time on their hands that could be better spent at the penny arcade or washing the dishes. Seriously, it’s nice that you want to help change the world and make things better, but why not start with something you know a little bit about, or at least try to learn something about what’s getting on your nerves first? Maybe it’s just me, but I think that the world would be a much better place if at least some of the time, people gave a thought or 2 to their words and actions before they went out and tried to change things. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut and taking a good hard look at the facts can do much more good than holding up a sign and drawing attention to yourselves and the people you perceive as the needy. In fact, try talking to the “needy” and see if they even want your help in the first place. You might be surprised.

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