posted on Aug, 11 2006 @ 02:17 PM
It is nice that people are socially conscious and want to help others, but it's important to be able to understand when a problem is beyond the reach
of mere money so that we can ask ourselves if we are prepared to really go the distance or if we might need to concede to the reality that the world
will never be an ideal place to live.
Healthy people don't stay homeless except by choice. People who can't get out are either mentally ill, on drugs, or perhaps in a few cases severely
physically impaired and for whatever reason unable to recieve help.
Anyone can go to even the most meagerly funded shelter to keep himself safe and clean, find himself a minimum wage job (or two), and in 3 months or
less have a modest roof over his head and even a car.
And you don't even have to stop there. At that point, enterprising people decide what they want to do and find a way into it.
You choose a trade, pick a union to apprentice in, and go use a computer at the library to find out where the works hot, then you sock back cash as
best you can for the move and get yourself a greyhound ticket.
Or you take classes at a junior college... Even if you could only spare a mere 6 hours a week for study and you weren't a good enough student to pick
up credit by examination you could earn a certificate, AA, or AS in 4 years tops, which gives you better employment options and hopefully gives you
the wages to free up some of your time and pursue other things.
Life is not easy, but it is by no means unmanagable. Thats not the problem and so I doubt work camps are the sollution. If we determine that we must
solve the problem of homelessness, then we have to take on the underlying causes of those stubborn cases that homeless shelters aren't fixing.
1. Mental Illness. We can pay for care for the mentally ill, or we can pay the price of having them on our streets. Thats a choice we've got to make,
end of story. Mental illness is something that could happen to any of us- either we were lucky enough to be born normal or we weren't, and either
we've been under enough stress that we snapped or we haven't (obviously excluding mental illness secondary to drugs/alcohol). It's one of those
menacing risks that we all share and when it happens it had an effect beyond the individual who it happens to. We probably should have a program to
care for these people, if not entirely for their own sake then for that of society. I recall once getting into a fight with an irate bum in McDonalds
because he burst into a screaming fit and stormed up on my pastor just for praying before a meal in public. That kind of stuff is an issue of the
public good and needs to be dealt with in an effective and humane manner.
2. Drug abuse. You can't get everyone off the streets unless you get them off of drugs. Drugs will trump anything else. If they can do drugs or do
their job to earn a nice life for themselves, they'll choose drugs. If they can pay for drugs or pay for food, they'll pay for drugs.
Truth be told though, I don't generally believe in the duty of society to assume responsibility over the individual or to regulate him. I think drugs
should probably be legal, and if you screw yourself up, we leave you where you fall to rot. It's not because I hate people and want to see people go
through the misery that I have seen several family members go through thanks to meth, it's that I think John Stuart Mill was right: letting people do
the wrong thing keeps everyone mindful that it is wrong and why the right thing is right. If you clean up every drug addict, tell him its' not his
fault, and send him skipping along on his way good as new, #1 he will probably go right back and #2 there will be no deterent to doing drugs.
I think that school bus routes should be carefully planned to ensure that children get to see a crackhead lying dead in the gutter every morning,
because in 18 years there won't be anymore crack users then.
Take care of that, then if we've still got homeless people we can talk about work camps.