Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Geoff Young For Mayor!

We've found our new Mayor. Someone email him and convince him to run.

From the TC today:
Services for street people grow, but so do problems
By Geoff Young

I have lived and worked in the city of Victoria for 30 years. My wife and I have chosen to raise our family in the city and to send our children to public schools here. The impact of what is happening in our downtown -- open drug use, infected needles, panhandling and urban camping -- is very real to us and I am as frustrated as many others that nothing we try seems to help.

More and more services are being offered to support the homeless and mentally ill -- shelter beds, hot meals, drop-in centres. Yet the problem grows. We can blame other levels of government, but perhaps it is time to look at what we as a city are doing. By trying to bring care and comfort to the less fortunate are we in fact enabling and attracting the very behaviours we are trying to change?

As an economist I know that incentives are powerful in shaping people's behaviour. Should we ask whether the unconditional food and shelter and support we offer, combined with our warm weather, might be drawing the vulnerable here? Are we sometimes doing too much, rather than too little?

Of course it is difficult to enforce laws against drug use, aggressive panhandling and street camping when there is no adequate treatment for mental illness or addiction and no solution to poverty. When we see people in distress it is a natural reaction to try and help.

But will enough resources ever be made available as long as we paper over problems by providing unconditional day-to-day maintenance and services, "warehousing" those with true needs in the parks, streets, squares, back alleys and church halls of the city? Are we simply reducing the pressure for the provincial government to accept its health-care, treatment and housing responsibilities?

Are we also allowing the federal government to postpone writing realistic and publicly supported drug laws? We have given up enforcing drug-possession laws downtown (neither the needle exchange nor the proposed safe injection site could exist if we did). As a result I have watched an addict injecting herself on the same steps of a downtown office building where she would be fined for smoking a cigarette. We accept that laws restricting smoking can work to change behaviour -- why are unwilling to restrict use of drugs that may be much more harmful?

And every needle drug user must find hundreds of dollars a day. It is a mathematical certainty that much of that comes from panhandling and petty crime. As a result, the social problems and growing dangers of our downtown are beginning to dominate how visitors view our city, whether they are tourists from Toronto or shoppers from Central Saanich.

As businesses and shoppers leave the downtown fewer of us are left to carry these social burdens, and our political influence diminishes. Suburban voters can avoid exposure to unpleasant reality by shopping in new malls that re-create the urban experience on private land. No one disputes that the problems of the downtown are complex, or that the upper levels of government bear much of the responsibility for conditions that appear in other cities too.

But the downtown is troubled and the trouble is spreading. Simply blaming others or letting the "experts" tell us to do more of what clearly has not been working is no solution. We must at least debate the question of whether the policies that we advocate as a city council and the way we spend our money are helping or hurting all of us.

Geoff Young is a Victoria city councillor.
This is exactly what I want a city councillor to be saying in these very difficult and paralyzed times.

On a completely different topic, someone tell me why the TSX climbs 200 points on a day when the US Fed embarks on the same stupid policy that got us into this mess in the first place? Look out, come October, the BoC will be raising rates. I won't be surprised to see a 50 basis point (0.5%) hike.

12 comments:

hadenough!!!! said...

I just sent off a message asking him to please run for mayor.

Here is his website... Send messages.

http://www.victoria.ca/cityhall/mayor_council_prof_young.shtml

Anonymous said...

It's easy and good to vent and express yourself, but don't forget this is probably political posturing.

After all, this is a city councilor who basically says providing services to addicts is enabling the problem, then turns around and asks why the federal govt and the province are not dealing with the problem instead.

Reading between the lines, the councilor suggests making things less comfortable and hospitable, but there is not a lot else there, as far as a short term solution is concerned.

I would say from what little I know of these problems, they can't exist while the drugs are easily available - so either reduce the availability in an onslaught of seizure and destruction of the drugs, combined with mandatory short sentences for the street level users and dealers, or buy them all bus tickets to the Alberta oil fields.

Economics are of course involved, I would suggest legalizing marijuana to kick out one monetary crutch from the crime syndicates, while at the same time ruthlessly prosecuting and destroying every ounce of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and crack that the cops can get there hands on.

Burn it every night on local cable. Forget about arresting people, just take the drugs off them, and flush them down the toilet, every ounce they can get there hands on.

Instead of focusing on finding and prosecuting the users, just find and destroy the drugs. Simpler and much quicker. And since those drugs are illegal, there's not a lot that an addict can do to coomplain about the destruction of the drugs in question.

The police need a legal and simple means to do this.

No matter how warm it is here, if it is difficult to get the drugs, the addicts will move on to a district where they are more readily available.

Not much else can eliminate the problem here quickly.

House Frau said...

Anon 12:02,

Send this to Young. Seriously. Total sense. That is how they cleaned up New York. If they can clean up New York why can't they clean up little Victoria. They have also cleaned up the streets of London.

I like what he said about smoking. If I smoke at city hall I will get fined - but I can shoot-up!

Lowe thinks these people have rights. Take away their rights! (they don't pay taxes - they opted out of the social contract).

Lowe does have to go.

hhv said...

Anon at 12:02,

I agree with much of what you have to say. That said, I don't think this is accurate at all:

"After all, this is a city councilor who basically says providing services to addicts is enabling the problem, then turns around and asks why the federal govt and the province are not dealing with the problem instead."

I think the letter is posturing. I think it is political. But it is about time that we have a politician publicly declare "enough studying, enough blaming other gov'ts, let's get on and enforce a solution."

The solution is the law. It is already there. Our police need to be directed to go after the dealers. Many of the dealers are the addicts themselves. Being an addict does not automatically mean mental illness as this society is so quick to accept.

The medicalization of deviance in this town is awful. At some point, these people made a choice to get involved in these lifestyles. When that choice has such a negative impact on the rest of society, we need to stop enabling it by saying "we don't provide enough mental health services, it's our fault (provinces)."

Society, and this city, needs to stand up and say crack is not an OK treatment for bipolar.

vg said...

house frau,

I have said that before on here about New York's problem and how they dealt with it and Mayor Lowe says that we cant do that here cause that would infringe on civil laws.

Well excuse me but has anyone else seen the Global news segments the past 2 nights on how New York established Community Courts and that helped huge to clean up streets in downtown and the worst parts of Brooklyn giving the person a choice of rehab or jail and then community work as well.

And low and behold Vancouver is now about to open one but Lowe says we have to wait for the big report they have been working on ?? This guy is a joke and time for him to go. The same idea should be implemented here and ASAP like Vancouver. I guess it comes back to the Victoria ideology,"we are different". Get with the program Lowe !

Village said...

We as a society tend to be overly tolerant and accepting of social miscreants. It's one thing to accept and tolerate different lifestyles and cultures. It's quite another thing to accept and promote drug addicts shooting up on our streets. Harassing us while we shop and generally making downtown feel unsafe.

I believe we do need a social safety net. That gives everyone a chance to right their ship and pull themselves up out of the gutter. But those receiving the help should not expect it without strings. We should have, and hold them to expectations on their behaviour.

The truly mentally ill should be housed and not left on the streets to fend for themselves. That is just asinine.

And I think the BoC leaves things unchanged. Raise the rate and we will over take the USD. I must say, I think Dodge/BoC are in a difficult position. There is no Canadian crisis to warrant lowering rates, raising them and the export industry is likely dead. I just see their hands being tied and forced to keep rates the same.

vg said...

Agree village, rates should stay flat, we cant let the Loonie get too far ahead or it could get real ugly quick on the cost of our goods.
I do think oil has peaked and should go back down over the next month,this is a seasonal high point and the traders always push it higher than is warranted.

Village said...

So CAD to USD is currently .9990

http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/q?s=CADUSD=X

This really kills ebay profits for me. =) I knew I should have sold everything this spring, just too lazy.

Anonymous said...

Jim Rogers, the commodity king and former partner of George Soros, said the Federal Reserve was playing with fire by cutting rates so aggressively at a time when the dollar was already under pressure.

The risk is that flight from US bonds could push up the long-term yields that form the base price of credit for most mortgages, the driving the property market into even deeper crisis.

Roger said...

anon said The risk is that flight from US bonds could push up the long-term yields that form the base price of credit for most mortgages

The prediction has come true already!!

http://tinyurl.com/37tpff

The yield on the 10-year note rose for a fourth day, increasing 16 basis points, or 0.16 percentage point, to 4.70 percent at 4:12 p.m. in New York, according to bond broker Cantor Fitzgerald LP. The price of the 4 3/4 percent security due in August 2017 fell 1 1/4, or $12.50 per $1,000 face amount, to 100 13/32. Two-year note yields increased 10 basis points to 4.11 percent.

Watch mortgage rates start to rise. Next week the major banks may increase rates on the 5 year fixed.

hhv said...

Watch inflation jump here pretty quick too. That little "drop" we had in August was the biggest sham I've seen in a while. How low did your gas prices go to drive inflation of full 0.5% downward?

Roger said...

hhv said

Watch inflation jump here pretty quick too. That little "drop" we had in August was the biggest sham I've seen in a while.

TD Bank said

www.td.com/economics/comment/rs091907.jsp

While some might interpret today’s report as an indication that inflation is coming back down to the BoC’s 2% target on its own, we caution against such a reading of the data , The drop in auto prices and energy price relief in August will likely be short lived, as special auto pricing offered in the month comes to an end and record-high oil prices push energy costs higher. In addition, real GDP growth was 3.4% annualized in Q2, the second consecutive period of above-potential growth with accelerating domestic demand to boot. Meanwhile, a historically lean 6.0% unemployment rate and a notable acceleration in wage growth underscores the persistent tightness in Canada’s labour market. This, alongside a lackluster productivity record, suggests that the Canadian economy is increasingly operating in a state of excess demand.