Just got home from today’s city council session , or as I otherwise call it this city’s parliament, and the only valid commentary that I can deliver is Ich habe Bahnhof verstanden. That is a German idiomatic expression to be used when one has understood preciously little.
It could also be that I have a rather thick skull. After all I have lived in this country, give or take some seven years, for almost 25 years and I still do not speak the local bernese dialect although a new-born child masters that feat within three years. That said, let’s now get to the nitty gritty!
While the federal Berne is concerned with the antics around Federal Counsellor Blocher (1, 2) and gearing up for general elections on October 21, our city parliament had weightier matters to consider that included the fees levied on the water used to flush the city’s toilets, the recommissioning of a stairway already decommissioned and due for demolition, the merits of football over geography, and something that really left me perplexed, the motion pertaining to the “soup kitchen“.
Now this polemic with the bernese soup kitchen has me totally confused. To begin with this city has a well organised, efficient and accessible social welfare system that makes it unnecessary that anybody be dependent on other public means for their survival. Granted that soup kitchens are meant for those who not only do not have the means to procure themselves a meal, but who are also destitute in some other way. Still, from the point of view of administering or governing the city there is no need for such an institution per se.
Now if for whatever reason those whose luck or lack of it has brought them to the use of drugs (alcohol included) and that there is an additional need for a social institution to provide them with a warm meal and a social meeting point, that is altogether another matter. Can the city decide to finance such an institution? Yes…
For all I know there is also no law or regulation in this country and city that forbids any charitative organisation to offer a welfare program that includes a soup kitchen. However it seems that this one is not that simple and to me the arguments on the five sides of this issue all seemed rather obtuse.
For those who are terribly fascinated by what these arguments might be all you have to do is to wait for the minutes to be published within a couple of weeks and then you may delve into the goodies. Mind the fact that from each session about 100 pages of minutes are produced. To me it is clear that one of the performatives of these sessions is the productions of minutes which will occupy generations of historians to come. I feel good already!
For my part I will keep on asking perhaps not so innocent questions of the various speakers and it could be that I will learn something about soup kitchens, polemics, politics and cabarets.