Is Charity Evil

We supposedly live in a major developed industrialized country which is one of the seven most advanced economies in the world, yet:

many people depend on charity to be fed and not starve,

many people depend on charity for a place to sleep so they do not freeze to death in winter,

many people depend on charity to have a place to stay to protect them from being killed by their domestic partners,

despite our so-called public health care system we depend on charity to fund major medical research and many of our public hospital are in permanent fund raising mode to provide the beds and equipment they need to provide that care,

even our public education system depends on charitable fund raising to provide such basic amenities as library books, as well as extra programs, leading to a class-based public education system depending on the wealth of the neighbourhoods schools are located,

and the list goes on and on.

Do we not have a social responsibility to provide these basic human rights to our citizens. Should we not be funding these basic human rights collectively through a progressive tax system.

Who really benefits from charity.

Certainly corporations use charitable donations not just for tax benefits but for brand image enhancement. The wealthy use it not just as a method of tax management but also personal promotion. But it no doubt also provides a way of easing one's guilt for one's greed.

What would it be like for society if instead of making tax deductible charitable donations corporations paid all their employees a living wage. What would it be like for society if instead of making tax deductible charitable donations the wealthy paid their fare share of taxes, including a wealth tax.

What would it be like if we did not need charity because we fully funded a complete public health care and education system from a progressive tax system where everybody paid their fair share.

What would it be like if we eliminated the need for charity by establishing a minimum wage and a guaranteed basic income that allowed everyone to have a decent standard of living.

What would it be like if we did not have charity because we didn't need charity because we recognized as a society that everyone had the right to a decent quality of life.

What is the role of government if not to ensure citizens have a decent quality of life.

Does charity enable government to shirk that responsibility.

Is charity evil.


Lessons We Must Learn From COVID-19 to Build a Better Society

Community is the key to the future. Those societies that are fairing best in responding to COVID 19 are those with a strong sense of community. America's dismal response is not just because of Trump, but also due to the country's overemphasis on individualism over community.

Our public health care system, part of our collective sense of community, was key to our response. It made our ability to control the outbreak possible. But it is still flawed and could not respond was well as it should have because it is underfunded and incomplete. We saw that particularly in the for profit long term care sector, measured in body counts. We must complete the system by extending it to prescription drugs, vision and dental care and most importantly long term care of the elderly and home care. We must eliminate profit from the provision of health care so that patient care and profits are never competing for funds. Most importantly we must realize that health is the most important priority for everyone and under-funding health care in order to promise lower taxes is in nobody's best interest.

Our economic safety net was the next most important factor in our successful response. Unfortunately we did not have a proper system in place to respond and the government had to respond with a series of patchwork measures put together quickly which, while it managed to avoid the worst of our southern neighbours problems, it still left the most disadvantaged, well still disadvantaged. That series of measures, as necessary as they were, increased both the deficit and national debt because the government, that has been under-taxing the wealthy for decades, did not have the financial capability it should have.

What we needed and what we need is a basic guaranteed annual income, and not just one to keep people barely above the poverty line but one designed to provide a decent quality of life for everyone.

We say 'we are all in this together" but we clearly are not equally in this together and never will be as long as we live in a society of massive economic inequality.

We talk about groups such as seniors being more at risk but in reality the biggest risk factor with COVID 19 is economic status. Those placed at highest risk, our so-called front-line heroes, those responsible for producing and providing our food and goods, are working in cramped and unsafe conditions, along with those working in high risk long term care facilities, are the biggest group of COVID 19 victims. And these are the people most susceptible to the economic consequence of COVID 19, often living from paycheck to paycheck. A few extra dollars per hour for a few weeks is not the solution.

We must deal with the economic inequality in our society by raising incomes at the bottom and reducing them at the extreme top end. CEOs of corporations who make their profits and fortunes from minimum wage earners simply do not earn the millions of dollars per year they are paid. They are paid that because of an unequal economic and political system. We must reform our tax system so that those that can afford to pay more do and those at the bottom pay less at the same time as we reduce the gap between the bottom and the top.

We need to raise minimum wages to a level that provides a decent quality of live and use the tax system to redistribute the wealth of the excessively overpaid. We cannot build the type of community and society we need on a basis of extreme inequality.

We also cannot build the society we need without concern for the environment it lives within and without addressing the challenge of climate change.

We need to build a new society, based on community rather than individualism, if we want to meet the challenges of the future and this includes a move from more individual spending to more collective spending. Fundamental change is required if we are to survive the challenges of the future and thrive within it.

Also of Interest:


On Television Part 2 - Cutting The Cord

Those of you who have read THE FIFTH COLUMN: On Television may wonder if the Fifth Columnist has finally decided to cut the cord as it made a pretty good argument for that.

Well we have finally overcome over 40 years of inertia and made the decision and as of the end of the month we will no longer have a cable television service.

Our original plan was simply to replace it with streaming services and some downloads but decided for one time costs only to also add an antenna based over-the-air (OTA) television service.

There was potential for a significant number of channels if we went with a sophisticated rooftop antenna system.
However we decided we did not want to deal with a rooftop install and rotor systems and cabling and decided on a simpler indoor antenna that gives us local CBC and CTV and Global and TV Ontario (and sometimes the local french CBC station). This provides us with easy access to local news. As well most of the American broadcast channel programming we watch is on CTV or Global so we will still get that. What we are losing are some programs from cable only channels, though some of these are also available on streaming services like Crave TV.

We added an inexpensive (certainly compared to the purchase price of the equivalent Rogers device) OTA PVR without subscription fees so that we can record programs and watch them when we want them without commercials.

On the streaming front we stayed with the old standard and reliable Netflix, as well as Crave + HBO/Movies, adding Starz, providing a lot of high quality programming.

We also continued the CBC Gem Premium package as a good portion of what we watch is CBC programming and this provides all of that plus more, with no commercials. It also provides live access to all local CBC stations in Canada as well as the CBC News Network.

The newest addition that we did not have before cord cutting is BritBox, a relatively unknown service in Canada that provides programming from the BBC and ITV. If you are not familiar with it you should check it out as a provides a remarkable range of high quality programming.

And if this is not enough we can supplement it with a few free sources of programming.

By cutting the cord we cut our TV budget almost in half while still contributing to the cost of providing programming but providing less subsidy to the middleman cable company.