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This. Almost.

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 am, December 23rd, 2017 - 26 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, discrimination, Economy, poverty, welfare - Tags: ,

At first blush, the following seems like a very good idea. Certainly much better than passing bylaws that ban begging (Auckland, Napier, Wellington…) and/or placing spikes in places people may use to grab some sleep. Just a shame then, that access to the vending machine is contingent upon engaging with approved “support services” – which is just imposing an unhelpful  “sing for your supper” mentality onto what could otherwise be a very good thing.

Action Hunger is committed to alleviating poverty and hardship amongst the homeless. We install vending machines that provide free food and clothing in key locations of cities across the United Kingdom — and beyond.

The machines dispense water, fresh fruit, energy bars, crisps, chocolate, and sandwiches, as well as socks, sanitary towels, antibacterial lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste combination packs, and books. A considerable amount of the food we vend is received from redistribution organisations that seek to reduce food waste.

Use of the machines is exclusively permitted to those in need, and items can only be vended with the use of a special key card, which our partner organisations in each locality give to our users.

At the most elementary level, Action Hunger’s machines provide access for the most vulnerable in our society to satiate the most basic of needs — that of sustenance.

Reporting from The Nottingham Post. More from The Independent. And a further piece from Newshub that mentions some of the strings attached.

26 comments on “This. Almost.”

  1. weka 1

    Great idea.

    The attend support services thing once a week could be annoying, or much worse if the key card gets switched off for non-attendance (is this kind neoliberals or Bennet-esque neoliberals running the scheme?).

    Even more concerning is that the access card is traceable. I notice the MSM aren’t telling us what that means. How much is being tracked, is that being tied to someone’s identity etc?

    • Bill 1.1

      If someone wants to attend whatever support services are available, then fine.

      But when compulsion comes into it, it feels to me as though some very ugly sentiments that stem from the worst strands of liberal thought are coming into play – ergo, that the poor are “unfit” and entirely responsible for their own situation, but that sure, they may be improved upon to some extent, if they’re exposed to “correct” modes of thought and being.

      And of course, since “they” are afflicted with inferiority (as evinced by their lack of independent means, property and/or sobriety), then “they” must be channeled or herded towards what “we” know is best for them.

      And so the one hand offers, and the other wields a stick.

      • SPC 1.1.1

        The same system would be available to a range of charity groups, so no monopoly could impose itself on those in need. It’s a positive development (it does not come from a political party seeking to use faith based groups to nanny state the underclass).

        • Bill 1.1.1.1

          Seems from your reply that you might not appreciate how toxic paternalism is to many people.

          That system could be run by “which-ever” organisation with “what-ever” philosophy or what-not behind them. And the judgement inherent to the scheme would see it rejected outright by many who would benefit quite markedly from access to some of the stuff in that vending machine set-up.

          And how would society view those who didn’t bow to the obligations being pushed on them?

          Without the bullshit riding shot-gun on it (sanctions if the prescribed hoops aren’t jumped through), the thing could work. But as it stands, it could easily make many peoples’ lot deteriorate because by refusing to be controlled by that carrot and stick regime, they’ll be judged as being ungrateful, feckless, of not wanting help, of not really needing help etc.

          • SPC 1.1.1.1.1

            The reason I do not see this as a problem is because those who do can also use it (this system) to provide help without any paternalism.

    • SPC 1.2

      The traceable thing is interesting.

      It is a card renewed each week to the same person (after initial checks for first time issue), and is available for use three times a day. It may be no more than traceable use of the card (tracking its use and continued use via re-issue), rather than revealing the location of the card (with the person).

      The local charity group agency would know the identity of the person they gave the card to (and would keep a record of that themselves), there would be no (charity) purpose to it as an identity card to identify the person.

      • weka 1.2.1

        True. I thought it was interesting that the MSM didn’t even raise the issue.

        • patricia bremner 1.2.1.1

          Weka, it is worse than that. MSM photograph people who have waited overnight, desperate to get food and presents for their children.

          They never ask the charities “What would improve this situation?” because they know it is caused by a sick system, in which we have winners and losers.

          Winner’s guilt is awful, and the losers are abused in a thousand cuts that take joy dignity and purpose. The results are depression desperation and all that breeds.

          To give people rights back means limiting someone else’s power. Until we acknowledge the right to income at a level that allows participation in society, nothing will change.

  2. Adrian Thornton 2

    I am not so sure about this one,
    It sounds like we are saying…poverty is here to stay, an intrinsic part of society that we should all just used get used to and learn to live with… there are no alternatives to what already exisits.

    BTW your cartoon reminded me of one I did a few years ago (SA used it again in 2016)
    http://www.socialist.org.nz/home-mainmenu-1/new-zealand-sidemenu-43/340-john-key-resigns

    Great work over the year Bill, always like to read your pieces, thanks.

    • It sounds like we are saying…poverty is here to stay, an intrinsic part of society that we should all just used get used to and learn to live with… there are no alternatives to what already exisits.

      The RWNJs have been trying to tell us that since forever. I believe it’s even in the Bible.

      • adam 2.1.1

        You can’t save the bible from itself.

      • ropata 2.1.2

        It’s a matter of interpretation. Saying poverty exists is not an endorsement. That said, Marco Rubio has been tweeting out Proverbs to justify the Republican tax breaks for the rich

        Better to be poor and walk in integrity than rich and crooked in one’s ways. Proverbs 19:1— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 19, 2017

        Separation of church and state? Nahh

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2.1

          Saying poverty exists is not an endorsement.

          The RWNJ are using it as an excuse not to do anything. And then they blame the poor who are actually victims of the rich.

    • weka 2.2

      Personally, I think there will always be people who are homeless. If those numbers become much smaller then repurpose the vending machines, but in the meantime putting infrastructure in place that feeds people and gives them essentials seems the least we can do.

      • If those numbers become much smaller then repurpose the vending machines, but in the meantime putting infrastructure in place that feeds people and gives them essentials seems the least we can do.

        Wouldn’t it be better to put the vending machines in place and make it so that everyone could access the food in them for free?

        • weka 2.2.1.1

          That’s a lot more cost and infrastructure. Not saying it’s not a good idea though.

        • McFlock 2.2.1.2

          Interesting idea from a universal basic services context, but probably pricey.

          Also, vending machines have the personal packaging problem: small bottles of water, small tubes of toothpaste, shelf life issues. But not impossible to solve – having water bottles in the machine, and a free water dispenser on the side. And shelf life would be trivial for things like bogroll, condoms, pads and tampons.

          It might be interesting to bung a few test machines out there to get an idea of turnover. Possibly nix the food initially – shelf life issues.

          The thought also occurs that without the requirement for consultation with an agency, the machines could end up making homeless people even more anonymous. An extreme case of providing insufficient assistance without having to “see” them. Just another decaying corpse found in the domain. But then Bill’s objection is the flipside of that issue – it becomes a tool of abuse.

    • Bill 2.3

      Liberalism absolutely endorses the existence of poverty. (So whatd’ya expect?)

      Haven’t you noticed the “great” UK appeals to raise money for the homeless lately, and the self congratulatory slaps on the back in the British media because they raised x y or z amounts of money (eg – The Guardian and The Independent)?

      It’s sickening.

      Not one column inch given over to a systemic analysis. Everything slated back to the individual, or at best, some commentary on a ‘bad’ piece of legislation.

      • Liberalism absolutely endorses the existence of poverty.

        Without poverty the rich wouldn’t be able to force people to work to make them richer.

        Haven’t you noticed the “great” UK appeals to raise money for the homeless lately, and the self congratulatory slaps on the back in the British media because they raised x y or z amounts of money (eg – The Guardian and The Independent)?

        It’s sickening.

        QFT

  3. weka 3

    On other sick methods of shunning people on the streets, and pushing back against that,

    Barbara Ehrenreich‏ @B_Ehrenreich

    A robot employed to remove homeless people from the streets in San Francisco has been mutilated and smeared with feces by locals. This is class struggle in our time.

  4. SPC 4

    A positive development but one that occurs after the “alienation”.

    We need to reduce the numbers who get to this point. And one thing we need to do better is budgeting support – that extends into debt management (debt write-off and or re-financing) and financial credit to those at risk. It is the unpaid power bill (the energy payment income support is a welcome development) and rent bill that tips people out of their homes.

    1. Re-financing peoples debt.
    2. Providing people with a line of credit to cover occasional short-falls (to keep them in their rental).

    This is especially important to those losing employment and going down to a lower level of income or those facing one off costs.

    And of course we need better funding of drug addiction treatment and smarter programmes for rehabilitation and support of the incarcerated (on release from penal and mental institutions).

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    In terms of homelessness, the rental and speculative property markets must be tamed. Anything less is window dressing.

    Significant job market reform including closing sources of exploitable labour is also required.

    I’m not sure our self-styled representatives have the necessary rigour, though I’d be pleased to be proved wrong.

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