Yesterday there was a report released by the National Council on Welfare about the cuts to welfare that have taken place in Canada over the last decade or more. We are talking shockingly low rates. Rates that are very, very difficult to live on anywhere, but are impossible to subsist on in expensive cities like Vancouver and Toronto, without supplement from food banks, missions, etc. We're talking rates that have gone down in some provinces (like BC) by 50%. We're talking single parents in Alberta, a province very rich with oil money, given a rate that amounts to 48% of the poverty line. We're talking a single person getting enough, in Ontario, to pay for a room in a shared house in Toronto; nothing more. (This is yet another blow to Canadians' placid contentment with our social safety net, which has disintegrated rapidly over the last decade and a half.)
What I find interesting, captured in this article, is the language of morality. The guy from the National Council on Welfare calls it "morally disgraceful". It reminds of that cover article in the New York Times Magazine, last winter, about how the left is making inroads in the fight for a living wage in the US by casting it as a moral issue.
Though I'm wary of morality talk in the public sphere because it sure hasn't, historically, been the friend of women, queers, and any marginalized group, I'm intrigued. I really, really wonder if this is the only way left to make an impact - to take the right's strategy and turn it around. Take the focus off the moral policing of social questions like same-sex marriage, and make of political economy a moral issue. I mean, obviously the left is guided by a set of values, principles. This would simply entail foregrounding that in particular, strategic ways, right?
What think you, blogosphere?