February 5, 2013

Diary of an Advocacy Associate: The Making of the Precariat

Precariat: people suffering from precarity, a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare.

Precariat: a term applied to the condition of lacking job security or being beholden to intermittent or underemployment....... Resulting in a precarious existence.
Definitions from Wikipedia
I came across this great video recently.  It does a great job of explaining just how our society has gone about creating the conditions for increasing poverty and inequality.......leading to a precarious existence for many in our society.

The Making and Unmaking of the Precariat
Loïc Wacquant, University of California Berkeley

I have to admit that I often struggle with the words necessary to articulate the growing body of evidence telling us that poverty and inequality are detrimental to our society.  

In the course of my days, I often wonder..........

How do we go about communicating the idea that poverty and inequality are the direct result of the choices we make, of the choices we allow (and often encourage) our politicians to make?

How do we talk about the fact that poverty and inequality actually undermine economic prosperity?

And, perhaps most importantly, how do we, as a society, begin making decisions that create a healthy and prosperous community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and participate?

The video does not answer all of my questions, but it certainly outlines how we have gone about creating the circumstances that allow poverty and inequality to grow.  

Not only have our choices led to more poverty, but they've also led to more crime, more mental health issues...... the list goes on and on. These consequences affect us all--whether we are wealthy or poor.  In a society with more inequality, even a wealthy person is more likely to suffer from mental illness, to fall victim to a crime (or even commit a crime??), their life expectancy is shorter and they are generally less healthy.

The good news is that we can make better choices!  Now that we know what we've done to create the circumstances that allow poverty and inequality (ie crime, mental health, obesity, drug addiction) to grow, we have a road map for what we need to do to turn the ship around.

Change won't be easy.  There are many people who will disagree with me.  However, between the research that continues to come through and the stories we hear from the people we serve, it is becoming increasingly clear that something needs to be done to ensure our society is healthy and prosperous today and in the future.  Not only for the people who live on the margins but also for those who live in the centre of it all.

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