So I bought toilet paper recently, because it finally came back on sale (for context to anyone reading this in the future, for some reason there was a run on toilet paper at the onset of the pandemic). But all that to say, we hadn’t needed to buy toilet paper since January. Part of that is because when stuff is on sale I’ll just buy a ton. It’s not like we might stop using toilet paper, or that the toilet paper is going to go bad or there’s a new version of toilet paper that will make all previous ones incompatible until you install a new firmware on your internet connected toilet.
But there’s a big privilege in that. I’m able to wait until the toilet paper goes ~50-60% off and stock up. I can even wait for it to go on sale at Costco (which is why I end up with 100+ double sized rolls and don’t need to buy it for months).
In my early 20s, I wasn’t doing so hot financially((this is an understatement, it was a disaster)), I remember once buy a 4 pack of toilet paper at giant tiger because well, there wasn’t any room on my credit card for any more. I couldn’t do the smart thing and buy it on sale in bulk. So I paid wayyy more per roll, which is ironic because I needed the money a lot more now than before. Poverty was very expensive.
Somewhat related, we have a belief as a society, one we hold onto dearly, that the world is a meritocracy. And don’t get me wrong, in some ways it is, yes, on average, if you work hard, you’ll on average do better than someone who doesn’t.
But the deck is stacked. Not only is the deck stacked, but we then use it as an excuse for discrimination / moral judgment. We don’t have as many people being outright discriminate, we kind of sneak it in via proxy, and often that proxy is an economic one.
We had (and still have) many systems in place that made it so certain groups weren’t able to build wealth, be it via underfunded schools (to say nothing of the residential schools clusterfuck((I don’t even feel like clusterfuck is a good enough adjective to describe that shameful history))), racist or classist policies for housing((some of you might think this is mostly related to the US since we hear about their stuff more often, but no, CHMC also helped racist shit)), unequal access to healthcare((I wouldn’ tbe able to make any money if I didn’t have my meds)), and many other ways I’m not even aware of.
And this is going to sound like a broken record, but this is one of the reasons I support a basic income. It’s not going to fix all that shit directly or undo the damages of the past. But it at least ensures everyone has a floor with which they can build on and it’s a good start to fixing the race and gender wealth inequalities.
There is no reason we have poverty in Canada, as Martin Luther King said:
Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will.
The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent.
The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity.
The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them.
The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.