June 18, 2006

Life in Canada.

The NYT reports:
The Inuit are a traditionally nomadic people who migrated about 1,000 years ago from western Alaska toward what is today Arctic Canada. Until very recently, they had no formal political organization. Nuclear families lived together and occasionally joined other families to compose small, fluid bands to share their hunt.

Since World War II, the Inuit have been forced by the federal government to abandon their nomadic lives for remote settlements approachable only by airplane. The federal police killed their sled dogs, saying they were sickly. Young Inuit were required to leave their parents and sent to residential schools, where they were routinely abused physically and sexually.

Modern life has its benefits, but the Inuit diet of hunted game has largely been replaced by sugary and fatty packaged foods. Welfare has become a way of life, and 30-year-old grandparents are not uncommon. Housing is scarce, so crowding only exacerbates social ills.


Jake said...

Welfare is the modern way to destroy indigenous societies. The Crow Indian tribe in Southeastern Montana has been on welfare since 1880. Net result: 85% alcoholism rate and 80% unemployment.

Jeff said...

Not much different from the effects of welfare in most American cities.

the pooka said...

Man, I love neocons. It's all about the welfare.

Nevermind the forcible relocation, appropriation of property, and forced adoption of radical change in every aspect of their lives and culture, from family structure to education to diet.

Yep, the welfare did it.

Tim P said...

Hey Pooka,

How do you mange to twist the gist of the comments to the post to some anti neo-con rant?

You don't have a clue. As someone who spent eight years living in rural Alaska in the 80's, I think that I do have a clue.

First, with the advent of social spending in formerly neglected bush areas, Canadian and Alaskan, many bad things came with the good.

The good, healthcare, village safe water projects, sewage projects, housing, electricfication, limited roads, local schools. All these had to be subsidized because there was not a sufficient population (e.g. tax) base to make it happen on its own.

The bad, the lassitude that comes with having everything given to you for free, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, government intervention, via social workers and agencies, into lives on a scale that would cause a revolt in the lower 48. The erosion of self-sufficiency and dependence on the government. The slow death of the aboriginal culture. This has been well documented on reservations and in urban areas. It is generally accepted in this day and age that statist welfare solutions are not necessarily the best for the recipients.

Unlike in Alaska, the Canadian government, in what can only be characterized as social welfare statist policies, forcibly relocated many native communities. The damage to their way of life was profound. Make no mistake, what you have IS a massive welfare system. A system which does not work.

In 1985 a retired Canadian jurist, whose name, if memory serves was Berger, toured the Alaskan and Canadian bush commmunities and wrote a book on it called Village Journey.

One of the notable quotes I remember from a local in one of the villages that he visited and took testimony from was (I paraphrase since I'm too lazy to go grab the book and quote it verbatim) was, "if the government came in here with soldiers and tried to force us to give up our way of life, you'd be surprised at how many villagers would take up arms and fight, but now they come in with lawyers and if we kill them, we're not warriors, just murderers."

Again, unlike our Canadian brethren, the native communities in Alaska though having serious problems, are in a better position to deal with them precisely because the progressive nanny-statist solution was not taken to the bitter end here. We have not totally killed them with our good intentions. As a result, they are in a better position to recover than many Canadian native communities are.

Again, while govenment programs did help, they often brought harm as well. It's not as simplistically black and white as you try to paint it with your anti-neocon rant and to a not insubstantial degree, it IS about the welfare.

Johnny Nucleo said...


Neoconservatives are nefarious Jews and their tools who love war and dream of empire. They also enjoy forming cabals, hijacking administrations, and playing racquetball. They only hate poor people if they are Arabs. It's plain old Conservatives - racist, country-club white guys - who's raison d'etre is sticking it to the poor. Get it straight, man! You've got neocon fever. You can't just call everyone you hate a neocon. It's lazy.

Now, come back with something good. Remember, neocons are the root of most evil, not all evil. Neocons have only been around since the 70s. Was there evil before the 70s? Of course! There's been evil for a long time, since the 50s even! And who was behind it? Conservatives!

the pooka said...

On "neocons," fair enough. I'll stick with "conservatives."

(But "evil"?...).

My reading of the article was that the high welfare rates there were largely a consequence of other policies (most notably, those related to education/language, the aforementioned relocations, and the lack of state capacity in the nascent territorial government, the last of which is in part a consequence of the first), rather than the other way around. In fact, the piece reminded me that is exactly the sort of thing the U.S. did for many years, long before the existence of a "nanny-state," and I don't believe the outcomes were a whole lot better.

Getting from the NYT article to the conclusion of the first two commenters thus seems (to me) a death-defying leap of inference, albeit one made easier by the rocket fuel of ideology.

Johnny Nucleo said...

I said: "Neoconservatives are nefarious Jews and their tools who love war and dream of empire."

Then Pooka said: "On 'neocons,' fair enough."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

You do realize, Pooka, that I am a neoconservative and I was joking. I was exaggerating to the point of absurdity the view of the left. At least I thought I was exaggerating.

I'm going to try something new. I'm going to try to be fair. Pooka, when you said "fair enough" you didn't mean what I think you meant, did you? Would you care to clarify?

Ann Althouse said...

I think the fact that the Canadians go in big for welfare is unremarkable. The main reason I put this post up was because so much of it runs counter to the idealized/demonized view of Canada as especially liberal.

Jacques Cuze said...

Tenure has an equal affect on the mind as welfare does on the spirit.

Kirk Parker said...

Tim P,

Is this the book you are referring to? It's titled Village Journey:... and by someone by Berger, but the abstract on Amazon makes no mention of Canada or cross-country comparisons, only of Alaska.

Wolfe said...

Ann Althouse commented: The main reason I put this post up was because]so much of it runs counter to the idealized/demonized view of Canada as especially liberal.

I assume we reluctantly accept the commonly held view that liberal means 'left wing, somewhat socialized' (as opposed to classical liberalism).

I'd say these policies (forced relocation for a better way of life, residential schooling, etc.) are liberal. They were typical of centrally planned interventionist statist policies. Previous Canadian attempts had largely focused on polite policing and restricting aboriginal access to alcohol. A policy of 'benign' conservative neglect if you will. (While the results weren't great they were better than the results of the 1950's 'liberal' plan).

Seeing the 'success' of central planning in the second world war (from rationing to conscription to the whole command economy) a new generation of idealistic, interventionist civil servants, with the help of similarly idealistic church charities financially backed by the government wanted to do things.

And thus were born all sorts of policies out of the very best of motives -- liberal kindness.

Moreover the view that "I think the fact that the Canadians go in big for welfare is unremarkable", while currently true, is not the historical case. As recently as the 1960's, Canada was probably to the right of the US, economically speaking (talking especially about public spending as a % of GDP, taxes).

All that said, I found the article a good read, and the comments here interesting. Thanks for blogging it.


the pooka said...

johnny nucleo said:

Then Pooka said: "On 'neocons,' fair enough."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

You do realize, Pooka, that I am a neoconservative and I was joking.

Yeah. I got it.

(We liberals can be ironic, and sarcastic, and such things, too).

So, laugh, don't cry.

And thanks for being fair.

Pogo said...

This is in fact how socialism rids itself of identity groups that interfere with strict uniformity.

It worked for Stalin, and it is quite obviously working for Stalin (with-a-human-face) in Canada.

kcom said...

One of my most enduring memories from junior high school was watching this film series about the Netsilik eskimos (a direct quote from the film title, for any PC police out there) that documented their (previous) traditional way of life. It was utterly fascinating and not only do I still remember the series I even remember the names of specific indivinduals who appeared in the films. I highly recommend it.

Ann Althouse said...

Kcom: Thanks. The classic documentary "Nanook of the North" is really great too.