|A handout that Loaves & Fishes gave to all those asking for lunch tickets, yesterday. CLICK HERE OR ON PHOTO for large, easy-to-read view of text.|
The woeful thing about all of this is that I know that, in Egyptian terms, the SafeGround crowd sees itself as the noble, historic protesters in Tahrir Square. "We want our rights, and we don't care how. We want our revolution, NOW." But, truly, they are more like Mubarak: Incapable of seeing the other side of an issue; fully lost in the mirror hall and echo chamber of their perception of complete victimization.
A comment to a Sacramento Bee’s article yesterday “Homeless must leave parkway” has been getting positive attention in Homeless World for stating very well the contra-position to SafeGround (and that niche of other communitarian-politics homeless-help organizations, including Loaves & Fishes; Francis House; SHOC and Sacramento Housing Alliance)..
The commentor, “educatorspouse,” wrote this [Be aware I did a little copy fluffing]:
We moved back to Sacramento 28 years ago. [Homelessness] was a problem then. It is a bigger problem now. And every winter attention is paid by the TV and press to the plight of the Homeless. All the "I wanna feel good and help" folks come down and cook holiday dinners at the various soup kitchens. And the problem remains. Loaves and Fishes, while a noble endeavor, is enabling this mess to continue in Sacramento. It has grown into a huge compound. Almost an industry unto itself.What educatorspouse doesn't know [And how could (s)he!?] is that there were many efforts to corral homeless people into programs that, supposedly, offered real help to pull homeless people's lives back together — up until when the economy went kerflooey.
And the end result is the same. More homeless people. I don't have a solution. But letting people with mental illnesses, alcohol addiction or drug addictions run the streets with no supervision is getting us nowhere. And then there is the “I like this lifestyle” group.
We are paying law enforcement to clean up after these people. People wait on them for free. And how in the end is this benefiting anyone? The politicians pay attention when it is politically expedient to do so. This problem is one the voters must change. By changing the existing laws so some of the folks can actually be helped. Oh yes. They may actually have to follow some rules of polite society.
The problem with many of these expensive programs was that MOST NEVER ACHIEVED MUCH OF ANYTHING, and this was hidden because there were no metrics in place to hone the programs into ones that would be better at achieving good ends. The programs were just sort of 'out there' as show trophies of Do-Gooderness. Nobody much cared if they worked or not. They gave jobs to friends and ran homeless people around in circles. What's not to like?
But there do exist real programs, out there now, that have proved efficacy and do transform lives. Clean & Sober and the Union Gospel Mission Rehab program often succeed at turning guys' lives around. The "problem" is that, as good as these 12-step-like programs are, the recidivism rate is very, very high. Guys relapse into their addictions by dropping out of the programs or by returning to their old addiction [or a new addiction] soon after completing a program. This just, simply is what happens 90% of the time. The lure of alcohol and substance abuse is a beckoning siren song, too beautiful and seductive to disregard. A homeless addict has a very long road to walk to find a meaningful life away from the pleasures of being benumbed and karfoblasted.
There is also the problem that we have an economic system that leverages unemployment against inflation. Even in the very best of times we are going to have homeless people. This is so because the unemployment rate is kept above 5% at all times such that wages aren't pushed upward. This is done intentionally by the Federal Reserve Bank to stifle inflation.
There will always be circumstances in a free country where people will fall out of their lives. The only guaranteed way of preventing homelessness is to put an utter end to freedom. That's, basically, what the communitarian homeless charities want. And THAT would be catastrophic — but that's a whole other blogpost.