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How They Try - The Futility of Reform

25 November 2009

No matter how bad things are, no matter the state of the economy, no matter how hard people have been trying all over the world for two hundred years, there are still well-meaning people trying to make capitalism work in the interests of everyone.

This was highlighted in an article in the reformist “Toronto Star” of November 16, which has itself been trying, among other things, to eliminate poverty for over one hundred years. The article in question was, “Nearly Homeless Struggle to Carry On”. A Brampton mother had the ceiling of her apartment collapse on her head, after which she realized that,” We shouldn’t have to live this way.” Her family had moved five times in five years since the husband was laid off from Chrysler in 2001. Another example of the lack of security for workers and that they work at the whim of capital. Since then, she has worked at Tim Horton’s and has retrained as a restaurant chef. The last eight years has been a battle to avoid homelessness. She says, “We’re hard working people, we don’t mind working hard. We’d just like to get a fair shake.” The reality is that in a system based on class, exploitation and inequality, there is no such thing as fairness.

According to the article, some 647 000 Ontarians pay more than thirty per cent of their income on rent; more than 129 000 households are waiting up to twenty years for a social housing unit where rents are geared to income. This doesn’t mean that the provincial government is not attempting to deal with the problem. According to the article’s author, “Ontario launched public consultations on a provincial housing strategy last June as part of its anti-poverty strategy to cut child poverty by twenty-five per cent in five years. Socialists would ask why not one hundred per cent now?

Another idea voiced by Yutaka Dirks of the Housing Network of Ontario, was for the province to come up with a plan that would help weather the recession and thrive once the economy recovers. Housing minister, Jim Watson, said Ontario is spending $622 million for housing over the next two years to match federal stimulus grants, to renovate 150 000 social housing units and create 4 500 new affordable units for seniors and people with disabilities.

Even if the province achieves its goal, however unlikely, or even partially achieve it, you can be sure that it will take years, during which time more will become homeless or be under pressure to keep a roof over their heads, living in fear, anxiety, and insecurity.

The lesson is that our present economic system is based on the class system of owners who do not produce but reap the rewards of our labour, and non owners who produce all the wealth but only receive a fraction of it, just enough to get by, or not, as the article shows. Until this situation is rectified, all the good will and reforms in the world will never change that fact and the blight of poverty and homelessness will remain with us.

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