Monday, August 15, 2011

A modest concept to consider

Brits are debating plans, backed by many governing Tories, to cut social benefits and evict families of rioters and looters from their homes. The debates will be spirited, with conservatives favouring harsh action and lefties urging no knee-jerk reactions, which actually means, forget the idea.

The debate is worth having in Canada. Not about minor offenders or first-timers but certainly it could be about those who establish a long pattern of anti-social and criminal behaviour. Perhaps the issue is moot since the courts would likely restrict government from withdrawing entitlements from even the most heinous characters. Hell, infamous Canadian child killer Clifford Olson was eligible to collect $1,100 a month in senior's benefits and income supplements.

This weekend, I read stories about the welfare exclusion issue in British newspapers and early Monday, it appears to threaten David Cameron's governing coalition.That would be a good outcome but political expediency will probably rule the day and, beyond huffing and puffing, nothing will be done.

However, I also read about Sunday's gangland slaying of Jonathan Bacon. It struck me that a single family has cost fellow citizens countless millions in police, court and prison costs but are still due all the benefits that law abiding citizens expect.

Certainly when known gangsters need ambulances and show up at hospital with bullet wounds or need heart by-pass surgery, knee replacements or any other medical service, they receive the same attention as any other patient. Additionally, these people might buy extravagant automobiles to drive on community roadways, enjoy public boat ramps to launch fancy cigarette boats and use municipal services, ferries, airports and all the other benefits that productive communities provide.

Maybe withdrawing social benefits and privileges is worth considering if the targets are people who stand permanently on the side of lawlessness and anti-social behaviour. The sanction would be akin to, but more severe than, the Anti-Social Behaviour Orders used in Britain. ASBO's are made against persons shown, on the balance of evidence, to have engaged in anti-social behaviour. The orders restrict public behaviour but have largely been used against juvenile delinquents for relatively minor offences  Maybe more drastic ASBO's should have a place in punishing the behaviour of Canada's habitual felons and racketeers.

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16 comments:

  1. It amazes me Norm that more people have not recognized the effects of crime on the state of our medical system. I've often said that people should really think about all the crimes that are committed in this Country during the week & especially on weekends. When you start to add these incidents to the pressures of our hospitals, people would be shocked with the totals. These criminals are afforded first rate service for being the scum of the earth, while law abiding citizens are pushed aside. And what's worse, when you read comments in the MSM, people are actually defending their right to receive treatment.... " they are still citizens " some will argue. People have no idea how an incident such as the weekend shooting in Kelowna, backs up the system...let alone the cost. Seniors who have paid all their lives and have never even caused anything wrong are being called to say their planned surgery is cancelled because the doctor or operating room is not available....and why..because some useless piece of stool decided to go kill his competition over a drug deal or whatever....
    Do these criminals ever receive a bill from the hospital for their services ? It's strange that during the winter months when hikers go missing and a large scale search is initiated,
    you often read comments by taxpayers saying these people should be forced to pay the cost of that search. The same logic & more should be applied to drunks in car accidents and criminals that require hospital services. Once again Norm, if people could realize that if we took away all that "criminal & alcohol " stupidity from our hospitals..... those waits we complain about would be drastically reduced.

    Guy in Victoria

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  2. Interesting post, Norm. My first question would be this: could it could be applied equally across society, including perpetrators of white collar crime?

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  3. I would assume you are including the likes of Gordon Campbell and a goodly number of the present Liberal government, and no small number of businessmen and crown corporation ceo's in the groups covered in your closing paragraph.

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  4. Isn't there a quip somewhere about rules only being necessary for people who have no sense? When there is so much anti-social behaviour on the part of those delegated to run society, it is hardly surprising that gang members and repeat offenders expect to enjoy all the benefits of society. So we have rules that say that benefits should apply equally to all and people who are quite willing to avail themselves, even though they may have abused rights and privileges, may have consistently helped themselves to more than their share of society's bounty and will continue to do so until an outside agency intervenes. But it's a little like merit pay for teachers: who will be the judge, and can there be a fair assessment made, or is there such a thing as a disinterested party. Any society that neglects or discards any of its citizens will eventually be forced to confront this dilemna.

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  5. Don't be silly, while these people use these various services they also spend money in the community, buying the fancy cars and boats, and who knows what else. Next you will want to ban the selling of small plastic plant containers or grow lights.

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  6. Could it be applied equally across society, including perpetrators of white collar crime?

    Absolutely, in fact the civil court standard 'on the balance of the evidence' should be used more frequently in removing the proceeds of white collar crime. There are $10 million plus mansions on the West Van waterfront housing stock swindlers who could not defend themselves against the civil standard if authorities tried to take away their financial assets.

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  7. It could well be that the ASBO's may have very well fueled the riots. From what I have read, the ASBO concept hasn't worked as well as the powers that be would have Brits think.

    The ASBO has created an underclass or better, an underground class, complete with economy pubs and clubs.

    The whole concept of the ASBO has George Orwell written all over it.

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  8. You are correct Evil Eye, the ASBO will probably disappear because they are routinely ignored without consequence but they've been widely used against youth who live lives without prospects to ever join the middle classes.

    I think though that the concept of denying the use of community services and facilities might make some sense for the high living gangsters who sit backs to the wall in downtown clubs and high end restaurants. The dead guy in Kelowna and his mates are perfect examples. They've been thumbing their noses at society for years.

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  9. I live in a housing co-op.
    We've learned that bad policy comes from trying to target an individual.
    To develop good policy we must think for the entire common benefit. Then if an individual does not follow the policy, we need a form of enforcement.
    The more policies we create, the more enforcement we need.
    We try to limit policies because enforcement inevitably leads to conflict.
    Just my own experience of trying to live together in a civil society.

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  10. Good comment. I am not certain that I agree with the idea of civil sanctions against chronic lawbreakers but the discussion is worth having.

    BTW, lack of policy enforcement in co-op housing contributed to the federal government removing funding from the program. Subsidies were going to people with financial means and some co-op boards were reluctant to enforce income reporting policies. BC Housing Authority and CMHC were sometimes wilfully blind to abuses.

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  11. The Sun Aug 14 Observer (great London paper) had excellent articles on the riots with thoughtful exploration of the issues.

    The one that really stayed with me was contrasting the six months that one kid received for stealing a bottle of water versus three British MPs who had grossly padded their "work" expenses and had . . . nothing happen . . . same as the hedge fund managers.

    Drastic consequences for the poor and a huge divide between the rich and poor do not result in a healthy functioning society (see any number of historical examples).

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  12. Good journalism is waning throughout our world. The Guardian and The Observer are exceptions probably because of how they have been owned. From the Guardian Media Group website:

    "The [Scott] Trust was created in 1936 to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of the Guardian. The sole shareholder in Guardian Media Group, its core purpose is to preserve the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity, while its subsidiary aims are to champion its principles and to promote freedom of the press in the UK and abroad.

    "Rather than benefiting shareholders or a proprietor, GMG’s profits are reinvested to sustain journalism that is free from commercial or political interference, and to uphold a set of values laid down by CP Scott, the great Manchester Guardian editor."

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  13. Hi Norman.

    "...lack of policy enforcement in co-op housing contributed to the federal government removing funding from the program. Subsidies were going to people with financial means and some co-op boards were reluctant to enforce income reporting policies. BC Housing Authority and CMHC were sometimes wilfully blind to abuses."

    Your statement almost proves my point -
    Co-op housing has sooooo many benefits but the federal government decided to stop funding the program because of "some co-op boards" and CMHC "sometimes" not enforcing policy.
    So - instead of figuring out how to enforce policy, the feds decided to shut down the entire program - and in my opinion - causing a major homelessness and affordable housing problem across Canada.
    If we develop policy based on agreed upon values - on housing or on crime - we need to trust the policy and give it time to work.
    Instead - our policies are reactive. "Oh no, there's a riot! Throw civil rights out the window! Got to get a policy - jail them all!" That's how we get bad policies.
    What a waste of time and money and human intelligence.

    By the way - I'm glad you're back and feeling well enough to lead the charge again:) Thank you!

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  14. I agree that co-op housing has wonderful potential as part of the housing mix and I've seen many deserving people benefit. These include folks who had no alternative housing prospects, including handicapped, elderly, single parents and others.

    However, I've seen both simple and sophisticated schemes used to gain subsidies for which the recipients were unqualified. Occasionally, the worst offenders were members of the boards running the projects. Much of the fault for this fraud was with those charged with providing review and oversight, BC Housing and CMHC, although mostly the former. Enforcement failures were caused by senior officials, bureaucratic and political, preferring not to become involved in conflict that would become public. A blind eye was easier in the short term.

    However, since the people with greatest needs were not always served, the whole program was viewed as undesired. Rather than enforce rules and fix problems, politicians preferred to cancel and put the money elsewhere.

    Too bad because actions of a few were allowed to damage the interests of many.

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  15. Heck of a thought provoking post, and an even better comment thread.

    Thanks very much Norm et al.

    .

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  16. Canada is a huge morass of corruption. BC of course, is the most corrupt province in Canada.

    In BC we have a two tiered judicial system. BC is also the province of, special prosecutors. Corrupt thieving politicians, police and the elite never have to pay for their crimes. Corrupt courts, judges and special prosecutors allow the corrupt government network, to get away with their crimes. The other judicial system punishes citizens, for far lesser crimes, than the corrupt elites commit.

    Because corruption in BC is so rampant, a good cause such as co-op housing, is immediately corrupted by someone's greed.

    Campbell ruled by threats. Anyone opposing him lost their jobs. Now Campbell's stink is going to England. The Brits are not tolerant as Canadians are. Nor is their paparazzi, muzzled and bought.

    The Brits are dead set against the dirty tar sands oil. If Campbell puts a wrong foot forward, the Brits will tear him apart.

    I believe Campbell's, corrupt theft and sale of the BCR, the theft of our rivers, and his Hansen and Harper's HST election lie, has gone to England before Campbell gets there. Harper and Campbell don't exactly have a, lily white political record. Harper is already disliked in Europe, for his lies about the dirty tar sands.

    Canada is being disgraced by Harper, yet again.

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