Thursday, April 16, 2015

SNR supports anti-camping-law moratorium

Cover of the 4/16/15
issue of SNR.
In the Sacramento News & Review this week, there is an unattributed editorial [which, I'm told, should be presumed to be the product of an ad-hoc Editorial Board, consisting of a bunch of employees and freelancers who happen to be in the SNR office when the topic for an editorial comes up] that proposes enactment of a moratorium on enforcement of the city's illegal-camping ordinance. The editorial is titled "No home, no fine," on the 6th page in the hardcopy edition of the publication and has the more-long-winded title "Sacramento should enact a moratorium on enforcement of its illegal-camping ordinance," online. Hooray for a moratorium, I say.

But in introducing its topic, the editorial first lauds a bunch of folks and their tasks to address homelessness and then there is this: "These are important moves that show Sacramento is dealing with homelessness as a social issue, not a criminal one."

My response at this point is important. It may, at first, seem that I am being nitpicky or promoting something trivial, but I would say that it is the pivot where Sacramento News & Review and many in the homeless-services industry and on the city council lose their way. While there are social issues that will need to be addressed, first off people need to be clear about civil rights matters that are denied homeless people. Definitions, snagged from the Internet, of "social issues" and "civil rights" appear below.
"No home, no fine"
For starters, making it impossible for people to have a place to sleep or rest is a civil rights matter. Mark Merin is right to be pursuing the anti-camping ordinance in court. This civil right isn't specifically identified in the Constitution, as amended, but it is easily in the arena of being a civil right based on Supreme Court rulings over the course of centuries. [You can't deny people the right to do what having a physical body commands.]

The way our economy works nowadays -- leveraging inflation against employment -- guarantees that there will be a significant amount of unemployment and, thus, with the lack of other safeguards, guarantees that there will be homeless people. It used to be, from after WWII and into the 60's, that the Federal Government sought Keynesian "full employment." Pretty much ALL men worked after WWII up until the middle of the 1960's, and women [in this preWomen's Rights period] who sought work could hope/expect to find low-paying employment.

I would say -- though I am sure it is not now THE LAW in any sense -- that homeless people in every jurisdiction must be given access to some sort of overnight shelter space. A person is de facto denied a viable existence, absent some sort of 'base' to get his life rebooted. Better than shelter, though, of course, is housing of some kind that gives a person privacy and more command such to craft a meaningful, substantive, productive life with real possibilities for a good job, happiness and fun. The GOOD news is that "Housing First," which means that an aggressive effort is made to give homeless folk a good meaningful life ,MORE THAT PAYS FOR ITSELF, AND BENEFITS EVERYBODY IN SOCIETY!!

The social problems of homelessness can be addressed by Obamacare and by some homeless-help charities that could be skeletal as compared to what we have, today, in Sacramento.

One important social problem that waylays homeless people's lives is the way publications report on homeless matters without information from homeless people. The Sacramento News & Review is starkly socially ill in this realm. With their inept "reporting" they retard the effort to boost homeless folk into a better station in life which would benefit the whole of society. There are many insightful, thoughtful, knowledgeable homeless people around, each of whom is 30 IQ points smarter than the average SNR co-editor, who could correct the myriad errors in SNR articles on the homeless topic before they go into print and misinform, confuse and confound the public.

"No home, no fine" ends with a heap of questions about possible law-enforcement mis-expenditures, but then supposes that the intense anti-camping enforcement may be "making a positive impact in the community." By 'community,' here, I don't know if SNR means society as a whole, downtown, or the homeless community, but it is wildly weird that SNR reverses field and reveals that it doesn't know what it's talking about, at the end.

Allow ME to be quite clear: The anti-camping law undermines homeless people's fragile lives. It is, on the whole, very destructive and meanspirited.


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