December 1, 2009

Too Much Fish Giving

Justin Katz

Maybe it's my surfeit of familiarity with this sort of story, or maybe it's living through the worst recession of my lifetime, but this sort of comment, from a story about a woman protesting on behalf of the homeless by staying in a tent on the State House lawn, is increasingly jarring (emphasis added):

But housing advocates say the plan [to add beds to homeless shelters] doesn't go far enough. According to the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, the state's shelters were beyond capacity in late October, while nearly 80 people slept outside. The homeless population will grow as the economy worsens, said coalition director Jim Ryczek, who has asked to meet with Governor Carcieri to discuss the issue.

Why isn't Mr. Ryczek advocating for an overhaul of economic policy — removing burdensome regulations and mandates, reworking tax policy to create pro-growth incentives, and so on? Clearly, the single most effective method of helping the homeless would be to increase the number of jobs available to them. Shouldn't that be the subject of advocates' conversations with political leaders?

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"But housing advocates say the plan [to add beds to homeless shelters] doesn't go far enough."

It may not go far enough, but it is something we can do. That is a hell of a lot better than leaving people out in the cold while we figure out how far is far enough.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 1, 2009 2:08 PM

"Clearly, the single most effective method of helping the homeless would be to increase the number of jobs available to them. Shouldn't that be the subject of advocates' conversations with political leaders?"

Silly conservative. If the homeless problem were solved, how would the advocates for the homeless earn their livings? They might have to get real jobs even.

Posted by: BobN at December 1, 2009 2:23 PM

Justin, do you mean we should treat the cause and not the symptoms? Come on, that makes too much sense!

Posted by: Patrick at December 1, 2009 4:08 PM

I am in agreement with the comments about the "cause" above. But I think it may be a time to give more thought to charity (for which conservatives are famous).

Be it 1% of the population, or even less, I am sure we have all met at least one person who was simply unable to care for themselves in a sensible manner. This being because of either mental or emotional problems. No matter how they are presented in the media, I think that is more common among the homeless than we are led to believe. I am sure that the poverty jackals want to present a very different picture of people struggling to make ends meet.

I understand when Massachusetts adopted "least restrictive alternative" in mental health care, many of those previously institutuionalized people ended up on the street.

I think that an improved economy will increase the abilty of charities to provide care, but I don't think all of the homeless will end up employed.

Speaking of jackals, I recall that "Carlos the Jackal" was arrested by the French some years ago. I don't recall hearing of a trial, or outcome.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 1, 2009 4:36 PM

When I lived in Brooklyn in the 70's before going on with the Federal government,the State of NY,pressured by civil libertarians,started closing doown mental hospitals and just "dumped" the non-dangerous(or so they said) into residential neighborhoods-giving them subsidized apartments that were like mini-group homes but without any supervision.They were supposed to get their meds at a community treatment center.Like that was gonna happen.Better chance of me putting Steve Brown in my will.Anti-psychotic drugs,particularly back then,stuff like Mellaril,Haldol,and Thorazine,all had brutal and permanent side effects and the patients wouldn't take them voluntarily.
My neighborhood was picked as a "dumping" zone.It was a lot of fun to go to the supermarket and see people in the aisles opening cans with their canopeners and gobbling food before they got caught.They had money from the state,but they were just crazy.It was also a treat to see them urinating and defecating on the sidewalk.The police wouldn't even bother with them,because if they were "psycho'ed",they'd just be out in a day or two and unless they really hurt someone,there was no recourse by law enforcement.
the mental hospitals weren't so great,but at least they had warm beds,food,and showers(not to mention toilets)-and they could be forcibly medicated.They were not,by the way, all harmless as we were assured repeatedly by the accursed social engineers.
Institutionalization isn't a pleasant thing,but there are worse things waiting for the patients who are just discarded.
Well-run group homes are the best alternative,but there aren't enough of them.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 1, 2009 6:35 PM

Carlos the Jackal faced trial in 1997 and was found guilty, sentenced to life in prison.

Posted by: steadman at December 1, 2009 6:36 PM

Whatever happened to the Salvation Army? This has only fitered down to me from generations past, but I thought they provided a bed and a shower at a very reasonable rate. What about living at the "Y"? That is something I remember from black & white movies. I think both of those occurred in the "great depression".

I may be mis-informed but I admire the Salavation Army. I understand that in the event of disaster the Red Cross first "negotiates" with the government, the SA just goes. I remember stories from older relatives that when they were "shipped out" for WWII, the Red Cross sold coffee and doughnuts; the Salvation Army gave them away. Please don't trouble me with tales of minor corruption, I have already heard about the "donated" Samurai swords in the Commnadant's office.

Steadman, thank you for the info on Carlos. I had the impression he was just "put away" without trial.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 1, 2009 9:20 PM
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