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Drug users, welfare, work ethic

95 Percent OK Prescription Farm Work

 By Dr. Gifford Jones  Thursday, October 7, 2010

I recently reported that many women in hostels were spending government cheques on crack cocaine. That they refused to clean their rooms claiming they had “rights”. My medical prescription was “farm work for a year” and I applauded Singapore’s method of dealing with drug pushers. I asked readers for their opinion.

A social worker writes,” I’ve spent 30 years with these problems and nothing has changed about substance abuse. And I’ve seen the terrible effect of crack-cocaine on babies first hand. There should be harsh penalties starting at the bottom of the drug hierarchy. The top people can’t be touched due to smart lawyers.”

A school-teacher says “I see drugs and welfare rampant in our schools. Time and time again authorities back down often because they fear retaliation from offenders. The names of these students should be published and they should be sent to farms for hard work. Keep writing about these issues.”

From S.B; “The work ethic in this country has gone down the toilet. We hand out tax dollars and expect nothing in return. They should work on the farm just like others who are providing the cheque.”

From Vancouver; “Congratulations on tackling our welfare system and our soft justice. I expect that all the do-gooders and silly chattering classes will call you a primitive oaf who desires nothing but cruel punishments for the down-and-outers in our society. But as an over-burdened taxpayer I’m tired of supporting druggies. I also think that prisons should be places that no one wants to return to.”

From EK; “You are not alone in advocating farm work for those who want a free ride. If there were more who thought like you our sickening society might get cured.”

But not everyone sent me roses. A farmer from Niagara-on-the-Lake said “I’m tired of hearing that farm work is the answer for social misfits so stop trying to dump this problem on farmers.”

He explained that hires people who are beneficiaries of social assistance programs. That they either never show up, give up working, can’t work without supervision ,damage property or steal. In the end the farmer claims, he faces increased expenses and work that isn’t done. Moreover, he says, farmers have enough stress, no time for supervision and no training on how to deal with either psychiatric or addiction issues.

He suggests cities should tackle this problem. That welfare recipients should work in parks or with large companies where human resource staff can supervise them. In effect, this reader suggested I should go back to the drawing board!

But another from Toronto related that his brother, a hard core junkie, lied, cheated and stole from family and friends. He was finally persuaded to enter a privately funded rehabilitation center called “Carita’s Project”. It’s a combination boot camp-farm run by a Catholic priest. It accepts all faiths.

Clients are initially sent to a home where they’re weaned off drugs and put on a well-disciplined schedule. Up at 6:00 a.m. they make beds, clean, and undergo therapy. T.V is allowed only for news. After six months they’re off to a working farm for one to two years. There they’re taught discipline, humility, love for others and that they are a “community” where the emphasis is all about “we”. The writer says this process cured his brother.

So reader response? 95 percent were in favour of “tough love” and harsher punishment to deal with drug pushers. But apart from this specific issue I detected an underlying current of despair in these letters about what was happening to our society. Some stressed that we were sinking into the same decadence as the Roman Empire. They felt helpless to deal with it but welcomed the opportunity to vent their anger.

A reader from Oshawa best summarized the feeling of many others. He said George Bernard Shaw beats Nostradamus when he wrote, “When extraterrestrial beings land on earth they will instantly declare it a lunatic asylum!”

I’d say “amen” to that.

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Dr. Gifford Jones  Bio
Dr. Gifford Jones Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones

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