Sunday, August 9, 2009

FEELING GOOD, PART ONE


Ah.

Feeling good.

Know why?

I just learned that England has spent $150 Billion - yes, BILLION - on a "New Deal" for disengaged, disenchanted, disconnected youth over the past 12 years.

Further, that the entire cornucopia of programs has been a complete and utter failure, producing no more employment or education or even clean shirts.

But why should that make me feel so good?

Because it makes our own miserly local failure seem like a benign gift in comparison.

I speak of the Downtown East Side, the infamous smelly DTES, which absorbs $1 Million of your tax dollars every day.

Over 100 social service agencies and $1 Million a day.

Things have improved?

No.

"Things" are self-evidently, noticeably worse.

Oh, yes, there are regular spewings of reports from the various social agencies that thrive down there, claiming successes. And the ever-compliant media, desperate and lazy, publish these fables unquestioned.

But any fool who dares risk life and limb by venturing into "da dark side" sees at a glance the degradation and misery flourishing unabated.

I resent the waste of governments spending my tax money on things that don't work and, worse, things that re-enforce the problem.

Here is some radical surgery.

Just a question now, but consider it.

What if all the grant money for all of the programs in that 4 square block of madness simply stopped?

What if, on the morning of Tuesday, August 11th, the gravy train ground to a halt?

Would anything really change? Would disaster unfold before our eyes?

Probably not.

Life, as it is played out out so dreadfully amongst the drunk and the drug-addicted, would most likely carry on much the same as yesterday.

Oh, yes, the social workers and activists would have to load up their wagons with their magic elixirs and move on to the next unsuspecting territories.

At present I see no real movement on this "file."

Neither his Goodness, the Happy Mayor, nor his Flameness, the Omniscient Premier, have made a single move to improve this disgrace.

Nor will they.

The solutions needed are too bold, too rife with political noise.

Olympics or not, the DTES will continue as is.

The Vampires of Misery will sleep well in their beds. The rest of us will avoid the place like the plague that it is.

Feeling good...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recently rented The Soloist, I had read the book and as I am a big fan of R.D. Jr. and because I had been very moved by the book, I wanted to see the film. As is usually the case, the film came no where near being as good as the book, although Downey was excellent as usual. My reason for bringing this up is the footage of some of the homeless in LA -- had I not recently driven through the DTES via Hastings on my way from the Stanley Park Open to Playland to pick up my daughter and then back again to Stanley Park to pick up my son, I would have thought that the zombie-like humanity in the Soloist was a Hollywood construct. Having witnessed on this one day a little of the life on East Hastings, and which brought to mind the zombies in the Thriller video (this was my honest reaction by the way, and is not meant to be demeaning), I knew that it was no exaggeration. In the late 70s and early 80s we would occasionally go to an after hours jazz club in one of the buildings on the north side of Hastings near Main St. and other than encountering the odd drunk or two, we felt pretty safe. In such a short period of time this area has degenerated into something that is hard to comprehend in a city as rich and physically beautiful as Vancouver. I am acquainted with a psych prof. at UBC who does work around community health and who regularly obtains grants to 'study' the homeless situation in Vancouver -- a number of his students have gone on to do the same. In my opinion they delude themselves into thinking they are doing some good, but the reality is that it is their bread and butter -- in this they are not alone, the DTES is a cottage industry that is flourishing. What a sad and complicated legacy.

Mo.

Anonymous said...

David, we live in an age where the "powers that be" firmly believe money will cure everything.

Money = business & business = capitalism & capitalism = equals free enterprise & free enterprise worships money and around and around we go.

We live in an age where we have lost common sense. If we pay a bureaucrat, say $300,000 or more, the bureaucrat is deemed all knowing as the money paid to him demonstrates his/hers ability and round and round we go on that one.

Now we have well paid bureaucrats, hiring more lesser paid bureaucrats, who again hire lesser paid bureaucrats, who again hire even lesser paid bureaucrats to deal with the problems. Yet those on the bottom of the pyramid must do as the top bureaucrat pontificates.

It all becomes stuff and nonsense as this horrendous problem could be solves by common sense and the facilities to deal with the afflicted, not befuddled "spend millions" policy now being done.

To cure the drug addicted > take away the drugs > provide the support to overcome the addiction.

Ain't ever going to happen.

Definition of a bureaucrat: a person so incompetent that he/she could not get a job in the real world. And these are the very people making policy for the downtown east side!

Evil Eye

Dave C. said...

David,

I haven't lived here long enough to have the perspective on the DTES that you have, but I understand that you have had experience in the treatment area of addictions. Can you share some of your ideas about how this sad situation could be remedied? I don't expect that there is a quick fix, but where do we start?

Dave C.

Gary L. said...

"Would anything really change? Would disaster unfold before our eyes"? Yes, if the Poverty Pimps were to lose their "jobs", Tiger Baum sales for hand wringing would plummet, Chap Stick for the clucking of tongues, would follow suit, Prius Leases would be severed, Condo Morgages on Ho Hum Cul-de-sac, in the Burbs would be reneged, David, it would be just awful!

editor said...

VANCOUVER HOSTS THE 2010 ADDICTION OLYMPICS

http://www.2010homelesschampions.ca

Sponsored by:


THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
THE CITY OF VANCOUVER
COASTAL HEALTH
THE VANCOUVER POLICE DEPARTMENT
THE JUDGES
THE CROWN PROSECUTORS
LEGAL AID
THE DEFENSE LAWYERS
PROBATION OFFICERS
CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS
THE PIVOT LAW SOCIETY
CIVIL LIBERTIES OF B.C.
THE SAFE INJECTION SITE
THE NAOMI PROJECT
THE VANCOUVER AND AREA DRUG DEALER'S ASSOCIATION WELL REPRESENTED
THE CARNEGIE SLASH DRUG MART
VANDU
THE MANY PHARMACY'S WHO SUPPLY METHADONE
UNITED WE CAN RECYCLING
THE DTES WOMEN'S CENTER
YOUR CHILDREN AND MINE
FUTURE GENERATION'S OF ADDICT'S
AND THE TEN THOUSAND ACTIVE DRUG ADDICTS IN THE DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE

huh? said...

What we have are governments that have no problem frittering away a million dollars on a thousand different programs but are unable to come up with a billion dollars for one drug treatment program. Political will and leadership are needed.

Anonymous said...

You can't see what is going on in the DTES by reading the newspapers or by driving up and down Hastings and looking out the car window. The DTES is a vigorous, diverse and lively community of seniors, families, low income wage earners, "yuppies", retired resource workers, many artists, and yes, it is the centre of the street drug trade. But most of the major drug crime happens in other areas of the Lower Mainland. If you judge the area by what you see on the sidewalk of 2 city blocks I reserve the right to judge you because Gordon Campbell may live in your neighbourhood. It's not as easy as black and white.

Anonymous said...

The majority of the citizens of Vancouver learn about what is going on in the DTES by observing the passing parade or reading the ad nauseam articles written on the subject? I'm certainly not going to move in to that vibrant community. I'm sure that there are many creative, productive and happy people living in the DTES, however, I thought it was fairly evident that I wasn't commenting on that community, rather I was commenting on the drug addicted homeless stumbling about on Hastings St. If that is your idea of vibrant then we differ in our definition of that word. Perhaps most of the major drug crime happens in other areas but the fallout from that crime ends up in in large part in the DTES. And if by judge you mean that I observed and came away with an opinion based on what I saw, then yes, I guess I judged. And I certainly didn't suggest it was as 'easy as black and white'. I grew up in the East side of Vancouver, although not the DTES, and while I no longer live there I can tell you that I know well the changes that time has brought about in that area of the city. I'm not interested in romaticising the DTES.

Mo.