"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday 19 September 2012

14% De Facto

George Baker, a Newfoundland Liberal Senator, appeared on a Sunday night T.V. show. called  West Block. How original!
 It was  set-up with a host, George  and a foil in Professor Lee of Carleton University.
The two contrived to have a dispute about political matters.
It was too hurried. Too many issuesIt was trite..
But one fact caught my attention. 
George Baker said, the government should be embarrassed  that 14% of the population is in jail.
Think about that. 
I've been listening since for current percentage of unemployed.  I  heard  numbers from  NDP Leader of the opposition. But  not  percentage.
I know it's not 14%. I don't think  it's that high  in the States with  a  meltdown of the economy.
Yet, 14%  incarcerated  are not employed.They are not in the job market.
Should the factor not be added to  percentages of unemployed ?
If  unemployed  are  8% and 14% are  incarcerated, that would add up to  23% of employable people not contributing to the nation's economy.
Add  numbers  dependent on social assistance , could it be as high as or approaching 50%?
!4% of the population in jails are not supporting  families..
But that's not the whole picture. 
Custodial services cost more than  a $100.000  per  inmate, per year. 
Last year, at the Canadian Federation of Municipalities,a workshop examined  high costs for policing.
A panel member from Social Services in Waterloo told  delegates,  it is possible to predict students who will  be in trouble with the law by Grade 5 .
Unable to master basic skills in reading and writing,by Grade 5, core resources  are no longer available in the school system.
They are children at risk.
Think about that. 
On the news recently, we learned teaching assistant jobs are earmarked for  elimination to help reduce the deficit.
In the last election, the nation's Prime Minister committed  to build more prisons.In select ridings no doubt. 
Think about all of that. 
14%  unemployed would be a horrendous statistic.
14% dependant  on social assistance would be equally dire. 
But 14%, spending  lives in jail cells are not even counted in the scheme of things.
Add it  together and contemplate, how much of our economy is based on misery and failure?
Is it our largest industry?
What percentage of  municipal budgets are spent on policing ?
What percentage of the  provincial budget , on the court system?
What percentage of students  leave the education system without the ability  to read or write or  consequently become employed?

What chance it might be exactly 14% ? 
Are we our own best friends?
I don't think so.


Anonymous said...

The unemployment number normally relates to those who are actively seeking employment.

Then there is a percentage of the population who used to work, who lost their jobs or quit, and are not actively seeking employment. This number is difficult to estimate but a figure must be added to those seeking work in order to provide a far more accurate statistic for a country's labour situation.

George Baker is an idiot if he said that 14% of the population is in jail. Canada's population is upwards of 33 million; 14% of that is 4,620,000. This is greater than the combined population of the three prairie provinces.

Possibly Mr. Baker should resign and go back to school. He could then teach courses on matters political to prison inmates so that when their sentences have been fully served they can enter politics, run for public office and become legitimate thieves, the way so many politicians seem to end up.

By the way, check out Maureen in today's NYT.

Anonymous said...

The unemployment calculation has been revised at least two times. The first revision was to exclude those that have stopped looking for work or whose unemployment insurance benefits had run out. The second revision was to exclude those that were "underemployed" (ie. 4 part time only).

These people were included in the statistics back in the depression era. If you were to include them now, I think that you will find that the rate today is probably worse than in 1929.