- Colin Burke
- November 09, 2012 - 10:01
A question we might someday discuss on its merits is: Ought government to provide for people's needs, or is its function chiefly to allow them to provide for their own needs as efficiently as ordinary people are well able to do when properly brought up? Should not government's giving us what we deserve mean only its inflicting on us any detriment we deserve by what we do, so that we can deserve benefits by what we do to get them? Or is it not true that what we deserve are the effects of what we do?
- Maggy Carter
- November 09, 2012 - 09:18
Peculiar editorial. You had me until the penultimate paragraph. The regularity with which hard luck, often heartfelt, human misery stories appear in the media. Often, as you say, someone who has 'fallen through the cracks' of our social services net. Then there are those politicians, like Cleary and Bennett, who go public or - in Bennett's case - are outed because of their frustration in pressing the case of their unfortunate constituents. From there, of course, it is a natural segway into Bill 29 and the Dunderdale's strategy for sucking the oxygen out of any public discussion that might reflect on the shortcomings of her government. Your editorial roundly condemns Bill 29 and the rise of the political assistant as arbitrary gatekeeper of what information should, or more importantly should not, see the light of day. But then just as I think you're about to finish with some profound thought or conclusion that wraps the whole thing - the next thing I know you've done a one-eighty and driven off a cliff. 'Sometimes people simply don't qualify for assistance' ... and, in effect, the media and politicians shouldn't be taking up their cause. Yes, it would be nice if we lived in a world where legislation and regulations guaranteed social justice and where bureaucrats would always interpret the rules correctly. But we don't yet live in Utopia. It isn't one size fits all, the policies aren't always fair, or a low level government manager is simply not having a good day. Representing the interests of all their constituents - including those who, for whatever reason, are not thriving under our capitalistic system - is a trait we should encourage, not condemn. I'm not always a Cleary fan, but I do applaud any politician who goes that last mile to the job he was elected to do. If in the end, the decision refusing help is found to be the correct one, then that's O.K. too, but at least the supplicant will have received his/her day in the court of public opinion. And sometimes, as in the case of the Rogers family from Stephenville, the public attention to someone's plight elicits a response from the general public that helps solve a problem with or without a change of heart by a minister or her gatekeeping political assistant.