Monday, July 25, 2011

How government destroys volunteerism

Why does the State continue to grow ever larger?
It's a good question, and I can't say that I have all the answers but I can point to an example of how this process is nurtured.

In this mornings Globe and Mail appears a headline that I actually hope to see happen someday, but not in the way the author means in the article: "It's time to close Canada's food banks." Indeed it is time. It's long past time to eradicate poverty too. It's long past time to eradicate unemployment as well. These issues are all related and they all result when the State meddles in the economic affairs of businesses and individuals.
It's no coincidence that the first food banks came into existence in Canada in 1981 in the midst of the "Volker Recession" ('81-'82 - caused by the state). A stagnant economy plus inflation = stagflation, a new term invented to describe that economic mess. This is something we, in the present day, may look forward to as the current economic malaise continues. Food banks soon spread across Canada, so that they now exist in every major population centre coming under the umbrella of Food Banks Canada. They are staffed largely by volunteers who are genuinely interested in helping those in need. This is a noble gesture, people at their best who understand that helping others is a selfish act, that helps the helper, and everyone in the community. Just as importantly it is a voluntary act, no one is forced to help, no one is forced to accept the help, and everyone hopes that the help is temporary. So, while I applaud food banks and their workers, I'm dismayed that the food banks continue to grow and spread.
I am not going to launch into an economic discussion about the causes of poverty, unemployment and so on. You may choose to read about the myth of minimum wage here, that will give you a beginning. does a far better job explaining all of it than I ever could. But the opinion article in the Globe calls for the end of volunteerism in food banks, and the author states it best in these paragraphs:

Food banks also serve many unintended functions. To start, those of us who donate, volunteer or participate in food drives “feel good” about making a difference in the lives of others. But we need to look beyond this aspect of our volunteer experiences.

Food banks also let governments off the hook from their obligation to ensure income security for all Canadians. They undermine social solidarity and social cohesion by dividing us into “us” (those who give) and “them” (those who receive)..........

Food banks can never solve the problem of poverty. It’s time to hold our governments accountable to their obligation to ensure that all Canadians have a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. (underlining and bolding is my emphasis)

The author manages to impugn the motives of the corporate donors, and the volunteers, while at the same time destroying the idea of volunteerism in favour of government coercion. Her credentials give heft to this line of reasoning, and anyone that disagrees, well, they are open to vilification. That is how it happens folks, tell me I'm wrong.  


  1. I once had to go to a food bank. They gave me a huge bag of cauliflower and some other stuff. It was pretty sweet actually, pretty good experience. This was a few years ago. The idea that anyone could attack private charity is absurd; it's so laughable it's barely worth a response. Who is this idiot?

  2. This idiot is: Elaine Power, an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University, has served on the board of the Partners in Mission Food Bank.
    Unfortunately this person may sway many opinions and people may start lobbying their MPs and before you know it some political parties will put the issue into their platform and away we go. New government department etc. etc.


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