Saturday, September 17, 2005

The politics of counting

If you thought hurricane Ophelia moved slowly, you should see Toronto city council's efforts at counting the homeless. As this article in The Star:

Homeless count gains ground - Sept 16 2005

details, many other cities have managed this feat without calling in Hercules. So what's the deal here in Hogtown?

For the most, the foot-dragging is a result of a concerted propaganda campaign by Toronto's homeless industry - and certainly a fair number of councillors who share their views. These folks are experts in smoke-screens and red herrings. There arguments are typically along these lines:

"The count wont be perfect"

Well, no count is perfect. The Census isn't perfect. Accouting is rarely perfect. I'm not perfect. However, the goal is not to measure the precise number of people camped out in the City's open spaces. The goal of counting is to determine whether - over time - the $200 million or so pumped into the homeless industry is actually helping.

"Counting invades the street peoples' privacy"

Come now! Does the Census invade people's privacy? What about this waiting list of people who wish to get into subsidized apartments?

hmm. Some these arguments are thin gruel. So what's the hidden agenda?

Well, many of these do-gooders (especially the 'Toronto Disaster Relief Committee') are busy building their political careers on the backs of the homeless problem. The institution of a periodic count of the homeless threatens them in two ways:

1. If the problem doesn't get better over time - despite the vast $$$ spent - the public will begin to question the program's efficacy. Well, many people already are.

2. If the process of counting reveals that the problem is alleviated over time, then these do-gooders will be out of a job.

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