Sunday, April 2, 2017

After Libby is gone ... let homeless people, themselves, be in charge of their lives

The great philosopher Isaiah Berlin wrote about Freedom and Liberty, two words he held to be much the same.

I think it is a great shame that in Homeless World, Sacramento, poor people who are barely scraping by are marginalized as much by many of the charities that claim to support them than by police and other authorities that act as their overlords.

Sacramento homeless people are (effectively) told to get it in their head that they have no rights whatsoever.

Certainly, it is true that there are people who have it in their hearts to want to help homeless people by supplying them with food and clothing and other services they need. But this "help" comes at a cost. The homeless are little in charge of their own lives. They do not have many options as they make their way around Sacramento. They are not capacitated with a generous supply of options as to what they might do each day.

Many are alive without much of a life.

Isaiah Berlin wrote about two types of freedom/liberty. One sense of Freedom is this [note that Berlin, writing a half-century ago talks of "men," which, of course, should be written as "women and men," today]:
As in the case of words which everyone is in favor of, ‘freedom’ has a very great many senses – some of the world’s worst tyrannies have been undertaken in the name of freedom. Nevertheless, I should say that the word probably has two central senses, at any rate in the West.
One is the familiar liberal sense in which freedom means that every man has a life to live and should be given the fullest opportunity of doing so, and that there are only two adequate reasons for controlling men. The first is that there are other goods besides freedom, such as, for example, security or peace or culture, or other things which human beings need, which must be given them, apart from the question of whether they want them or not. Secondly, if one man obtains too much, he will deprive other people of their freedom – freedom for the pike means death to the carp – and this is a perfectly adequate reason for curtailing freedom. Still, curtailing freedom isn’t the same as freedom.
Berlin provides a second sense of Freedom, which is this:
The second sense of the word is not so much a matter of allowing people to do what they want as the idea that I want to be governed by myself and not pushed around by other people; and this idea leads one to the supposition that to be free means to be self-governing. To be self-governing means that the source of authority must lie in me – or in us, if we’re talking about a community. And if the source of freedom lies in me, then it’s comparatively unimportant how much control there is, provided the control is exercised by myself, or my representatives, or my nation, my people, my tribe, my Church, and so forth. Provided that I am governed by people who are sympathetic to me, or understand my interests, I don’t mind how much of my life is pried into, or whether there is a private province which is divided from the public province; and in some modern States – for example the Soviet Union and other States with totalitarian governments – this second view seems to be taken.
The many, many problems with homeless life in Sacramento have to do with the failures of the overlords of many types who choose to impose structure on homeless people's lives that they are disallowed to choose for themselves as FREE CITIZENS -- which is what they are as a birthright in America.

Now, make no mistake. I am not saying that a homeless person going into a McDonald's suddenly has the right to eat a Artisan Chicken sandwich that is on the menu if he doesn't have the scratch to pay for the meal.

But I AM SAYING that the great multitude of homeless charities in Sacramento city and county don't give a minute's thought to the idea of WHAT HOMELESS PEOPLE WANT FOR THEMSELVES.

Homeless citizens in Sacramento need to be on every Board of Directors of every so-called homeless-services charity.

There are many very smart people who live on the streets. These very smart people know what being homeless is like that homeless-charity directors, in their offices with their feet on an ottoman, don't know about at all.

It seems to me that the failure of the Kevin Johnson Administration in the city of Sacramento regards the so-called "Homeless Problem," has been too much just a precursor for the Darrell Steinberg Administration.


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