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 The Food and Shelter Illusion

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PostSubject: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:35 pm

As suggested by cactus flower, I am giving this topic it's very own thread.

Shelter and food are a right taken as given for every other animal except the human animal. What is fundamentally wrong with the capitalist system is that it attempts to put a price on things that should not have a price on them.

People keep wondering when the "bottom" will be. The "bottom" will be when the ordinary people realise that a small number of people have made huge profits on keeping up the illusion that food and shelter have a value.

Debt slavery is about to be blown out of the water, with any luck.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:01 pm

This has been on my mind a lot in recent months. The idea of privatisation of water still seems alien to most people in this country. There seems to be some residual social recognition that no one should die of thirst for the lack of money. In theory at least households don't pay for water. Most restaurants will give you a glass of tap water for nothing.

The whole push of free market advocates is not ensure that nothing is provided in a collective and social way and to ensure that private profit can be made out of any form of service to the public.

To have a society that has enormous wealth, but that knowingly allows people to die of hunger and thirst for the lack of money, seems to me to be inherently and profoundly wrong, as well as disfunctional and inefficient.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:07 pm

who dies of hunger or thirst in our society?

and housing is correctly a necessity, but is a 7 bedroomed, 4 bathroomed, 5000sq ft mansion with an acre of landscaped gardens a necessity that should be provided for free?
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:16 pm

They legally have to provide you with free tap water if they are serving you with food. It is contained in an obscure EC Directive. I've even demanded it in McDonalds Very Happy.

I would have to agree with zakalwe here. Whilst there are many shortcomings in Irish society, there are very few people who die due to lack of food or clean water.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:20 pm

zakalwe wrote:
who dies of hunger or thirst in our society?
Well, that depends on what you consider "our society" to be - Ireland, Europe, the wealthy nations of the world or the entire population of the world.

zakalwe wrote:
and housing is correctly a necessity, but is a 7 bedroomed, 4 bathroomed, 5000sq ft mansion with an acre of landscaped gardens a necessity that should be provided for free?

A 7 bedroomed, 4 bathroomed, 5,000 sq. ft mansion is a symbol of wealth. If housing did not have a monetary value in the first place, this display of wealth would be null and void.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:31 pm

johnfás wrote:
They legally have to provide you with free tap water if they are serving you with food. It is contained in an obscure EC Directive. I\'ve even demanded it in McDonalds Very Happy.

I would have to agree with zakalwe here. Whilst there are many shortcomings in Irish society, there are very few people who die due to lack of food or clean water.

In my book, our society and our economy are global. If you wanted to look just at Ireland, you\'d find that there are many thousands of premature deaths due to poor diet and housing.

Finfacts published this this August:

The gap in health between rich and poor in Ireland, the UK and around the world is “unfair, unjust and avoidable”, the report said, focusing on governments\' poor record on inequality.

The WHO - - World Health Organisation - - Commission on the social determinants of health in a report issued on Thursday said a “toxic combination of bad policies, economics and politics” was “killing people on a grand scale”. Reducing health inequities was “an ethical imperative”, it said.

The gap in health between rich and poor in Ireland, the UK and around the world is “unfair, unjust and avoidable”, the report said, focusing on governments\' poor record on inequality.


The report says that it is shocking that in an economically rich country such as the Republic of Ireland, a remarkable 17 per cent of households are fuel poor. It notes that a child born in a Glasgow, Scotland suburb can expect a life 28 years shorter than another living only 13 kilometres away. A girl in Lesotho is likely to live 42 years less than another in Japan. In Sweden, the risk of a woman dying during pregnancy and childbirth is 1 in 17 400; in Afghanistan, the odds are 1 in 8. Biology does not explain any of this. Instead, the differences between - and within - countries result from the social environment where people are born, live, grow, work and age

http://www.finfacts.com/irishfinancenews/article_1014570.shtml


Last edited by cactus flower on Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:36 pm

There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.

There are of course hundreds of thousands of people dying unnecessarily throughout the world for want of shelter, food and perhaps most importantly basic sanitation. This is needless and I would have no disagreement with you there.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:43 pm

Ye all know this I suppose? Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs... I believe that, regardless of your politics, a society should strive to provide the first tier of Physiological Needs for FREE. Someone else - Tom Paine? - counted all the land on the earth and divided the population number into it. Everyone has an equal right by birth to a couple of acres of property. If you have less at birth then someone has stolen it from you. Time to buy some shotguns ...

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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:48 pm

Absolutely, adequate psychological and psychiatric facilities are essential to the homeless problem in Irish society. The vast majority of those who are homeless on Irish streets suffer from varying levels of psychiatric problems ranging to the most serious of disturbances. The failure to properly provide services for the alleviation of such ailments, including addiction, is the single greatest cause of homelessness in Ireland. It has little to do with the free market - more to do with a failure of Government. We could stop people becoming homeless in the first place for as cheap, if not cheaper, than it costs us to provide the services which we provide to the homeless.

I have said it before, and will again, that the same applies to anti social behaviour in deprived areas in our towns and cities.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:49 pm

johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.

There are of course hundreds of thousands of people dying unnecessarily throughout the world for want of shelter, food and perhaps most importantly basic sanitation. This is needless and I would have no disagreement with you there.

I just added to my previous post in relation to this.

I disagree that its possible to eat a good diet on a poverty level income. Do you have any data to back that assumption up?
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:03 pm

As was highlighted by Rachel Allen, not someone I would be a great admirer of but nonetheless, on the Late Late Show on Friday - you can cook an Irish Stew, full of nutrition, for a family of six on less than a tenner.

Processed foods are the bane of Western society. It is perfectly possible to eat heathily on a low income, though it will not have the same salt content nor the degree of variety as one might like. Anecdotally, my Mother is a doctor who works in one of the more deprived areas of Dublin city centre. Over 95% of her patients are in possession of a medical card. She consistently sees evidence of patients who are paying over the odds for processed foods, to the detriment of their health and their ability to divert income to other areas of their lives.

The Combat Poverty Agency, whilst recognising that income level is an important factor, has also highlighted the criticial importance of psychological factors in the context of food poverty amonst disadvantaged groups - particularly in relation to personal skills and knowledge and social norms. The New Policy Institute in the UK has highlighted that a core factor influencing the availability of food to socially deprived groups is their restricted knowledge and therefore access to appropriate food outlets, with the consequence of less access to a good diet.

In 2006 the Department of Social Welfare in its report, compiled by Dr Cullen of the Nutrition and Dietetic Institute found (at p 18 ) that the cost of a healthy diet for an adult amounted to 36% of one's allowances in a large supermarket and 24% in a discount supermarket.

---

The provision of adequate social welfare is clearly an issue. However, the cause of food poverty in Ireland is far more complicated than that and it determined as much by what is done with social welfare payments as the value of the payments themselves.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:55 pm

I'm taking the liberty of quoting this by Aragon, from another thread, as it seems so relevant:

Quote :
A fair product or service for a fair price. The rest of it is bullshit. Aybody anywhere who wants to live a lifestyle above and beyond his or her fair share of the world's resources should be put in stocks and have tomatoes pelted at them. I can never for the life of me understand why equitable distribution of resources should be a hindrance to invention, ingenuity, creativity, personal freedom or whatever. You don't sit down to a table and help yourself to half the food when there are five other people at the table. How and when did the idea take root that being good at something could only be reward by indulging your greed? If I invent a cure for cancer, goes the thinking, the whole world will indulge me in becoming fat, greedy and owning 20 cars. Why? Isn't it enough to have done good and to enjoy the appreciation of people around me? Why turn myself into a resource pig???

I would sincerely love to see Rachel Allen feed a family of six on Social Welfare money for six months.

Combat Poverty says that independent research shows that 80% of allowances is needed for a healthy diet -

Food Affordability and Welfare Adequacy

The adequacy of household income to provide for a healthy diet and the other components of an acceptable lifestyle is a core concern. This issue is central to the National Anti-Poverty Strategy5, which seeks to ensure that income levels (welfare and wages) are adequate for people to live in a manner compatible with human dignity. Recent independent research6 has shown that up to 80 percent of welfare payments would be required to provide a healthy diet.

http://www.cpa.ie/research/foodpoverty.html#INDIReport


From the report you quote:
The impact of socio–economic variables on obesity may be mediated, in part, by the low cost of energy dense foods. The
observed inverse relationship between energy density of foods, defined as available energy per unit weight (kilocalories per gram or megajoules per gram) and energy cost (dollars per kilocalorie or dollars per megajoule) means that diets based on refined grains, added sugars and added fats (
e.g. doughnuts) are more affordable than the recommended diets based on lean meats, fish, fresh vegetables and fruit.


On low incomes, people can't afford a healthy diet. That is what a low income means.

Sorry about the formatting, but I think you misread the figures in the report. The healthy diet cost between 40% and 60 % of income. Combat Poverty said 60%.
Table 1. Cost of a healthy eating (HE) diet (€) and percentage (%) of welfare allowance spent
Large Supermarkets Large low cost
stores
Medium sized stores Convenience stores
Brands
Market Own Market Market Own Market Own
Cost of HE diet € 59.38 47.58 40.38 59.07 53.34 63.6 56.87
% of allowance spent 36 29 24 36 32 38 34

From January 2006 the minimum weekly social welfare allowance for a single person is €165.80.


The miserable thing about that report was that it was drawn up at the behest of Mary Harney to justify taking away extra nutrition allowances for people with ill health. The idea was that since Social Welfare was being raised to reduce levels of poverty, the extra nutrition allowance could be pared back.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:58 pm

johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:01 am

tonys wrote:
johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.

Surely it isn't an either / or question. It is well established that education level and income are inextricably connected and are in the main established by accident of birth.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:13 am

cactus flower wrote:
tonys wrote:
johnfás wrote:
There are of course many premature deaths due to poor diet and I have not mentioned housing. However, I would define such deaths as quite different to deaths owing to a lack of food. The former is reliant far more on education than anything else. Most poor, and indeed rich, people who are eating a bad diet could in fact eat a better diet cheaper than the diet they are eating if they were shown how. This is a failure of education rather than a want of food per se.
Spot on. Equality of access to a quality education is the key. Persistent poverty is the result of a lack of knowledge not of a lack of funds.

Surely it isn't an either / or question.
For me it is. If you want a society where everyone has the opportunity of an equal start, but at the same time a society that rewards effort, within limits, it’s the only way to go.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:15 am

cactus flower wrote:
Surely it isn't an either / or question. It is well established that education level and income are inextricably connected and are in the main established by accident of birth.

Surely it is impossible to entirely break this bind given that it has existed since time immemorial. Joseph was a carpenter, consequently Jesus trained first of all as a carpenter. Whilst we can take measures to maximise social mobility through education there is no divisable system which would ensure an absolute equal opportunity for all children - we can only do so insofar as is possible.

That is not of course to say that we should not try to minimise the difference of opportunity afforded to our children. It is merely a realisation that however minimal, education and income levels will be connected to and established by birth. Educated people in all societies tend to earn more money. Whether it is a capitalistic society whereby they clearly earn more money or a socialistic society where an increased education allows them to take advantage of the various opportunities which are offered - particularly in the exploitation of such systems which tend to lead to their capitulation. Naturally such persons are likely to marry persons of similar capability both of whom will instill the virtues of education into their children. It is important to note how much of a child's education is carried out in the home rather than the classroom. We must educate parents, not just children.

There are obviously exceptions to the above and moments when persons either collectively or individual break the barriers to social mobility. My great grandfather on my father's side was a labourer, on my mother's side a coal miner. Both my grandfathers, their children, attended top schools on the basis of scholarships. This is probably the single greatest factor which determined that both my parents are professionals and I have received a stable upbringing with an emphasis on education. We should seek to maximise such exceptions - but we should not kid ourselves that they can be entirely overcome, whatever the system.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:41 am

There are a lot of things I'd agree with in your post Tonys and yours johfás, but personally I don't think it is a question of individuals getting opportunities and eventually reaching equal status. I think that society has historically been divided in unequal classes since surpluses have been generated, whether in agricultural/feudal society or capitalist economies. These types of society both relied on a social structure in which a majority of people don't own land or capital and more or less work at subsistence level.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:49 am

floatingingalway wrote:
zakalwe wrote:
who dies of hunger or thirst in our society?
Well, that depends on what you consider "our society" to be - Ireland, Europe, the wealthy nations of the world or the entire population of the world.

zakalwe wrote:
and housing is correctly a necessity, but is a 7 bedroomed, 4 bathroomed, 5000sq ft mansion with an acre of landscaped gardens a necessity that should be provided for free?

A 7 bedroomed, 4 bathroomed, 5,000 sq. ft mansion is a symbol of wealth. If housing did not have a monetary value in the first place, this display of wealth would be null and void.

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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:56 am

cactus flower wrote:
There are a lot of things I'd agree with in your post Tonys and yours johfás, but personally I don't think it is a question of individuals getting opportunities and eventually reaching equal status. I think that society has historically been divided in unequal classes since surpluses have been generated, whether in agricultural/feudal society or capitalist economies. These types of society both relied on a social structure in which a majority of people don't own land or capital and more or less work at subsistence level.
Yes, before machines and technology gave us surpluses didn't we work with our hands and produce surpluses that way albeit under duress from ruling classes. There is more than enough of the basics for everyone and there is something pre-money about the communal effort of creating and sharing basic wealth like cactus said in one of her first posts about water. There are some things we just don't pay for - simple as that. Nor should we.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:58 am

Social Welfare payment for family of six for month - €2,149

Average monthly layout for family of six on a budget ( by my own calculations).
Dinners ala Rachel for month €300
School lunches @ approx €3 per kid per day (five day week) €360
Healthy Breakfasts @ approx €1.50 per head per day €360
Other consumables- juice, bread, milk etc. €360
ESB €75
Gas/heating oil €100
Transport ( inc tax, ins) €250
School needs - books etc @ €5/week per child €120
Clothing €100


Total €2025

Balance of €124. Not much room for error is there?
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:09 am

floatingingalway wrote:
Social Welfare payment for family of six for month - €2,149

Average monthly layout for family of six on a budget ( by my own calculations).
Dinners ala Rachel for month €300
School lunches @ approx €3 per kid per day (five day week) €360
Healthy Breakfasts @ approx €1.50 per head per day €360
Other consumables- juice, bread, milk etc. €360
ESB €75
Gas/heating oil €100
Transport ( inc tax, ins) €250
School needs - books etc @ €5/week per child €120
Clothing €100


Total €2025

Balance of €124. Not much room for error is there?

Plus:
Rent
Cleaning things
School trips
Toiletries
Christmas and birthdays, confirmations etc.
Furnishing/decorating/electrical stuff
holidays
TV licence
rubbish collection
Phone
hobbies - say swimming once a fortnight? cinema?
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:11 am

floatingingalway wrote:
Social Welfare payment for family of six for month - €2,149

Average monthly layout for family of six on a budget ( by my own calculations).
Dinners ala Rachel for month €300
School lunches @ approx €3 per kid per day (five day week) €360
Healthy Breakfasts @ approx €1.50 per head per day €360
Other consumables- juice, bread, milk etc. €360
ESB €75
Gas/heating oil €100
Transport ( inc tax, ins) €250
School needs - books etc @ €5/week per child €120
Clothing €100


Total €2025

Balance of €124. Not much room for error is there?

Does the include Santy coming and Birthdays, school outings, toys, dental bills ?? I'd say they should be able to cut heating and electricity to half that but even then there's sweet feck all and it's a constant hand-to-mouth struggle.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:16 am

I know I could have added a lot more. I'm a parent on a low income myself and am only too aware of how costly it can be. I ran out of calculating steam to be honest. My main point was to show how difficult it would be to make ends meet on the current social welfare rates. I think there is an awful lot of debt out there that we don't know about yet.
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:17 am

floatingingalway wrote:
Social Welfare payment for family of six for month - €2,149

Average monthly layout for family of six on a budget ( by my own calculations).
Dinners ala Rachel for month €300
School lunches @ approx €3 per kid per day (five day week) €360
Healthy Breakfasts @ approx €1.50 per head per day €360
Other consumables- juice, bread, milk etc. €360
ESB €75
Gas/heating oil €100
Transport ( inc tax, ins) €250
School needs - books etc @ €5/week per child €120
Clothing €100


Total €2025

Balance of €124. Not much room for error is there?
There seems to be something askew with your figures or your family of six. Are they all school going kids with no parents or do they have six weeks in a month?
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PostSubject: Re: The Food and Shelter Illusion   Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:19 am

Oh yes - and laundry and
dry cleaning (not affordable).
School bags and sports stuff
Hair cuts
Light bulbs
Bed clothes
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