Live up to our image

Parksville/Qualicum Beach residents believe they are always willing to help, but are they?

What is it about being poor in this wonderful Canadian society that makes people blame you for it?

Canadians, especially in more affluent areas like this, love to pat ourselves on the back for how helpful we can be.

When someone’s house burns down people come out of the woodwork to donate and help re-build. If you can’t afford a house just try finding someone to help you build one.

Last week Stan Lowe made a difficult plea for help to get back to his dying wife in the Philippines. Nobody responded. This week his wife Araceli died and he still can’t afford to get to the funeral or pay the hospital bills. Of course Stan couldn’t care less about the wider political story at the moment, but it is relevant.

In the context of the Arab Spring, protests in Europe and the Occupy Movement, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported last year that after decades of progress the gap between the richest and poorest 10 per cent of Canadians grew in the last 10 years.

Closer to home, BC Stats announced this week the province has the widest gap between the top and bottom 20 per cent of incomes of any province.

The response of B.C. finance minister Kevin Falcon: “I just have trouble with people saying, ‘Oh, because there’s a gap there that must be a bad thing.’… in Cuba they don’t have any income inequality because they’re all poor.”

That’s fine for him and his $160,000 a year, but endless studies explain inequality causes increased costs in every measure of a functioning society from crime, health care and education to increased social friction and decreased productivity.

The lack of response to a desperate local senior and the constant drive to keep wages and taxes low are part of the same move away from communities working together to improve society.

There are many simple things that would help, like living wage commitments, a return to progressive tax structures and investing in the things we say we care about like health care and education.

Each would help boost the economy, the prospects of the working poor and middle class and help us live up to the image we have of ourselves.

— editorial by Auren Ruvinsky