Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Note to Fergus Finlay: serious social problems need realistic solutions

Fergus Finlay is asking why are young children and teenagers becoming increasingly violent. He doesn't cite any stats to show that teens and younger children are getting more violent, but I'll go along with him anyway because I suspect this is the case.

So who or what's to blame? Finlay says there's no easy answer; he wishes we could "just blame the parents, or society, or the Gardai."

Finlay then sets out the case that poverty is a big part of the problem and he then mentions the fact that most of the inmates in Moutnjoy Prison come from a few postal districts.
Those postal districts are associated, indelibly, with deeply embedded, multi-generational poverty. Ghettoised poverty. Stigmatised poverty. The kind of poverty that breaks down parenting, and that all too often turns the presumption of innocence into the assumption of guilt.
I can sort of go along with Finlay, but what's his solution? More social workers and playgrounds.

More playgrounds sounds doable. We should defund all programs that funnel money to professional athletes and use that money to build playgrounds. Celebrating an Irish gold medal at the Olympics just ain't all that important and even if we only get one playground for the money it will be worth it.

What about the social workers Finlay wants? They're expensive and there can be no extra spending. In fact, Finlay would have provided some service if he'd identified some aspect of public spending that could be cut to allow for the additional social workers he wants.

It's all well and good identifying the problem, which Finlay does. However, everyone living in Ireland could identify the problem. It's the solution that requires real insight. All Finlay has to offer is spend more money. Great. This is not 2004. Again, we are BROKE, which means this is one problem that will be put on the longest of long fingers as it will be YEARS before we can increase spending as Finlay suggests.

In the toughest of economic climates we have the Presidential candidate who has only pie-in-the-sky suggestions for a serious social problem. Yes the President is not where the action lies economically or politically, but we still need one who is realistic.