Saturday, August 16, 2008

Demanding A Nicer Shoe

As a taxpayer and homeowner, this story seems like it was designed to annoy me. If the journalists involved wanted to generate sympathy for this lady's "plight", they failed miserably. I can only hope that their actual intention was to draw attention to how completely ludicrous the system currently in place is.

To prevent unwanted search engine hits on her name - as I'll discuss, the lady may not be as much at fault as the article sounds, and I'll give her the benefit of the doubt - I'm going to change the name of the lady in the article to Momma Hubbard. Let's dig in:

Momma Hubbard wants to know why, with two boys aged six and 10, and two girls aged five and 11, she cannot get suitable housing at Eel Ground First Nation.

"Here I'm sitting with four children, and I was denied," said Hubbard, who currently lives in Miramichi with her boyfriend and four children.

First of all, as completely wrong as this may sound, I hope this lady is widowed or divorced (and if the latter, not for some silly reason). If she had four children without a husband to (at least help) support them, than it should be obvious that her situation is the result of her own irresponsibility.

If the current live-in boyfriend (or, as I like to call "common-law partners", the Bang Du Jour) is the father of one or more of these children, then it's pretty clear he's helped drop the ball. Either way, shacking up is a great example to set for the kids. This is how people become grandparents at 35.

Hubbard appealed her continued wait for band housing in 2006, having turned down in 2004 as unsuitable a home that was offered to her..[snip]..because it was too remote from the rest of the reserve at a time when she was without a vehicle. Consequently she turned it down without further checking it out.

OK, taxpayers: raise your hand if you think that it demonstrates any responsibility, maturity, gratitude, or any positive quality for that matter, to turn up your nose at an apparently free house without even looking at it because you aren't completely satisfied with its location, then follow up your refusal with a complaint that no one else will give you a better free house immediately.

Those of you with your hands in the air - please leave them there for several days. That'll probably be more useful and productive than anything else you would have done with them anytime soon.

Back to the article:

"It sounded like I basically have to beg for a house," she said, referring to a conversation she had with a councillor. "Why do I have to do that? I filled out my form, like everyone else."

Momma Hubbard is exactly correct. No one should have to beg for a house.

Here's the actual situation: you have to pay for a house.

See, I own a house. My family and I had to find it ourselves, then pay for it. No begging involved at any stage of the process. No "filling out our form", either, unless you count the papers we signed at our lawyer's office and the bank. I'm not sure what Momma Hubbard means by "like everyone else."

That's how it works out here in the real grown-up world where people take responsibility for their own lives.

It seems like even the people trying to help Momma Hubbard - those who haven't gotten sick of her whining and washed their hands of the situation - are getting there:

Band councillor Kenny Larry said although he had not spoken to Saunders personally, his understanding was that council had considered the home appropriate.

"The reason why we offered it to her in particular was because it was a pretty big-sized home," Larry said, "It would have been the perfect set up for her, but for some reason or another, she didn't want the home, so that sort of bumped her to the back of the list."

There's a lesson here:

When you're getting daily shipments of free ice cream in the mail, don't complain if there's no cherry on top. Sure, you deserve it, being a delicate blossom unlike any other and being owed whatever you want from the big mean world, but some nasty people might start spreading a rumour that you're a bit ungrateful. And they just might leave the chocolate sprinkles off tomorrow's delivery.

I often wonder, and even ask aloud (it gets me some odd looks sometimes on the bus), when the concept of personal responsibility for one's own actions factors in for some people. Momma Hubbard is a great case in point. (For liberals, socialists, etc., when they choose to answer me, it's usually by implying - or stating outright - that I'm in the wrong for asking the question.)

My real problem here isn't with Momma Hubbard herself. It may not sound like it from the tone of this article (polemics and nuance do not peacefully co-exist), but I actually have sympathy for her on a personal level, and a great deal of sympathy for her children, who cannot be considered in any way responsible for their plight.

My real problem is with the system that has instilled this sense of entitlement in her. Everyone who has ever told her that she's "entitled", that she "deserves", that she "has a right" (beyond basic human rights, of course) has done her a grave injustice. They've left her incapable of fending for herself and her children. Dependency and helplessness are expected in children. When they're defining characteristics of an adult, something has gone very wrong.

There is nothing "soft" about the bigotry of low expectations. I can think of no better way to demean and subjugate someone, with very low likelihood of rebellion, than to tell them from birth that they are entitled and do not need to (read: cannot) meet the same standards or fulfill the same responsibilities as everyone else. Affirmative action programs (retitled "employment equity" by the Canadian government), race-based entitlement programs, and their ilk are insulting and ultimately enfeebling to their supposed beneficiaries.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture taken inside my house. Not seen in photo: lots and lots of mortgage payment receipts.

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