Thanks to Larry James for bringing this timely piece to my attention. New York Times columnist Timothy Egan remembers the Christmas tours of rich and poor neighborhoods his mother conducted as part of the Christmas ritual. This reminded me of the questions I would ask whenever my family would drive past the shacks in Yellowknife’s Old Town when I was a boy. There were no wealthy homes in Yellowknife to drive past, but the difference between the haves and have nots was still striking.
Egan contrasts the arguments made by British aristocrats in the 19th century for cutting off aid to the victims of the Irish Potato Famine.
“The only way to prevent the people from becoming habitually dependent on government is to bring the operation to a close,” Sir Charles Trevelyan said about the relief plan at a time when thousands of Irish a day were dropping dead from hunger.
If that sounds painfully familiar, you should read on. If it doesn’t sound painfully familiar, you haven’t been paying attention. (more…)