Friday, January 23, 2015

Homelessness

Spencer Dryden



Homelessness

It's cold here in the frozen tundra, too cold to live on the streets, so homelessness disappears into the shadows for six months out of the year.

I don't have a good little story to post with a homeless theme to demonstrate my sensitivity. If anything, I am insensitive to the subject, but aren't we all, really. As a good liberal, my knee jerk reaction is to demand that we take some money from the one percenters and give it to the zero percenters. I'm very generous with other people's money. I jump up higher on the soap box over the issue of homeless veterans. It seems that if we have trillions to spend on wars without end, we could carve out a few billion to better serve those who served us. Hell it's only a couple of B-2 bombers were talking about. Neither argument is working and neither are our safety nets. Maybe that's why we become insensitive, it's too frightening to think about...there but for the grace of God...

I've been following and contributing over at The Good Man Project for the last few months. One of the themes there is "the disposability of men". Who is more disposable than the homeless? The face of homelessness is a single male, they make up around 75% of the long term homeless. Why more men? Complications abound as you search for answers. Some say it's because women end up with the children and there are more programs supporting women and children than there are for single, childless men.  A second explanation is that men are less likely to ask for help. Blame the victim. That'll work. But when you factor in the mental illness and substance abuse, the argument is clouded. People with mental illness and addictions often can't ask for anything aside from another hit. 

Inevitably, the conversation turns to sex and the fur starts flying. Do women avoid homelessness through sex trade?  Men's rights advocates square off against feminists, the issue quickly becomes more heat than light and the humanity of the problem disappears. Recently I saw a very touching article that addressed the humanity. Rather than speak about things I don't know, here's a link. to a woman's story about her homeless father. Maybe if we could reconnect with the humanity of the victims, we'd be more sensitive and proactive.

8 comments:

  1. There's a lot of opportunity for controversy here, The only homeless people I've known have been women.

    Then again, my story on Monday chronicles exactly the sort of scenario you're talking about.

    In fact, in the U.S. these days, it's all to easy for anyone to slip into homelessness. Very little in the way of a safety net, and a definite lack of compassion, especially at the level of the Federal government. Meanwhile "affordable housing" has become an oxymoron.

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  2. Very interesting story you linked to, also. It stimulates a whole lot more questions - like how this woman's father became homeless in the first place.

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  4. My grandfather was a street person after my grandmother committed suicide. We'd get calls at all times of day or night from someone who'd seen him unable to take care of himself. My parents (aunts and uncles too) did what they could, including taking him in to live with us, but he was stubborn and pretty old when finally institutionalized.

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  5. My mother was homeless for a while, my brother and I didn;t know, we had no idea where she was or if she was even alive. We finally got word from a nursing home in Chicago where the police had dropped her off a couple of years earlier in a snow storm. She was one of the lucky ones I guess.

    Garce

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  6. I think you're too hard on yourself when you state "I'm very generous with other people's money", especially with regard to the 1%ers. By and large, they've grown fat and happy on the backs of the rest of us, so they should be taxed into sharing some of it, since doing it willingly isn't working out so well. Outsourcing, sending work overseas, worked very well for the owners of the companies...for the workers, not so much. A global economy is on its way, and unfortunately we here in the US used to lead the way in well-paying jobs. But others in other countries were willing to do that work for a fraction of the cost. And that's what they're doing. So their wages are going up, while ours had a train wreck and fell below what could support us here in our over-priced economy. Which leads to older adults with advanced degrees working beginner jobs at Wallmart, while Sam Walton's evil spawn are consistently among the top richest folks in the world. Something is VERY wrong with that picture.

    And I give as I can afford it, but the problem is that the biggest givers, percentage-wise, are those who make the least. We give as much as we can. I draw the line at grocery money to feed my family. If I gave any more away, they'd have to start a charity to support me. But with the big guys, it's whether or not they buy a new yacht this year...or a tenth home (Mitt Romney and new Illinois governor Bruce Rauner...yes, I'm talking to you a-holes.)

    The US has always been run by and for the rich, but for a while after WWII, the middle class was allowed to share in some of the prosperity that a good economy brought in. Now workers are way more productive, but their pay is stagnant to the point of being less now, in real dollars, than it was back then. When I read about CEOs who can't possibly take on a job that "only" pays them a few million, without billion dollar bonuses and golden parachutes, my stomach hurts at the destruction of the American dream. And no where is this more obvious than in our treatment of young people who took the only way out of poverty by joining the armed forces, then are kicked to the side when they return home carrying their baggage from experiencing war to protect the money of the richest folks. How truly depressing.

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  7. Thanks for that link, Spencer. And I appreciate the questions you've raised in your post about comfort, sensitivity, and the way people argue over things like this.

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