Archive for January, 2014

CAN WE AFFORD TO HOUSE THE HOMELESS?

January 11, 2014

It may sound callous and indifferent to say it would save taxpayers significantly to house the homeless. But we apparently live in a nation of many callous and indifferent people, who seem to think it’s in their own best interest to simply ignore the homeless.

Based on actual calculations by the state of Utah of how much it costs to arrest and jail the homeless and provide emergency room services, the average cost per homeless person to the taxpayers of Utah is over $16,500 per year. Utah has discovered housing the homeless instead, including the cost of providing a social worker, costs the taxpayers about $11,000 annually, a savings to the taxpayer of over $5500 per homeless individual.

Unlike many cities continuing to pour taxpayer dollars down the drain arresting, jailing and re-arresting the homeless, Utah has since 2005 began offering those without shelter an apartment and, the entire state is on pace to eliminate homelessness by 2015. While housing the homeless for no cost might not be the best idea, most certainly housing them for one-third of their income, regardless of what it is, would save taxpaying citizens significantly.

Not included in the above calculations, are many other additional not so obvious costs to taxpayers when cities refuse to provide affordable housing. Perhaps most importantly and least understood by American citizens in general, it is a well-established historical fact that pandemics and plagues typically arise among the poorest sections within large urban areas, where adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care is most lacking.

Scientists for several years have been warning that major plague is long overdue and could erupt at any time here in the 21st Century. Disease knows no economic or other boundaries and can quickly spread in all directions upward and outward. It isn’t an exaggeration at all to say that failing to provide adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care for everyone within our borders, is simply begging for national and global disaster to erupt. No one is safe from contagious diseases, regardless of how wealthy or insulated we may be, nor are any of our own children.

Many millions of federal, state, county and city tax dollars are spent in various ways on social outreach services and similar programs that would not be spent if there was no homeless population. And, many billions more are spent by private charities, where much of this is donated by taxpaying citizens. The total cost of private donations combined with various taxpayer funded social outreach programs, significantly adds to the cost of not housing the homeless.

With all costs included, it is at least 50% less expensive to house a homeless person, charging them one-third of their income, than to not house the same homeless person. American cities could begin buying up vacant homes and other structures and start housing the homeless, which would have the added benefit of reducing crime, stabilizing and driving up property values in distressed neighborhoods. Can we afford NOT to house the homeless? You decide.

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SHOULD WE BOYCOTT WALMART & EXXON-MOBILE?

January 11, 2014

There are sometimes well-meaning but misguided efforts pushed by various organized groups to protest high fuel prices, encouraging consumers to not purchase gasoline on a specific date. It is highly unlikely such token resistance will result in positive change.

Refusing to purchase gasoline for a day or, just not purchasing from Walmart for a weekend, is ineffective and a waste of valuable organizing time and energy. It will require significant economic threat to reform the greedy corporations currently holding a corrupt stranglehold on the American political and economic reality.

A much more effective way to protest is for consumers to target boycott Exxon-Mobil and Walmart, agreeing to purchase only from their competitors. American citizens could force significant reforms, just by agreeing not to purchase from the two worst economic enslaving human rights debasing offenders.

Anyone can protest and complain. It is quite another thing to act wisely to actually correct what is wrong. If American consumers had already united using wise activism, as demonstrated by Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, we could long ago have corrected several of our worst 21st Century problems.

Attempting to boycott every offending corporation on a widespread basis is an obviously impossible task. However, if consumers would join together and agree to permanently boycott just Exxon-Mobil and Walmart, until such time as they engage in reasonable human rights, environmental friendly and other fair and just practices, major reform in America could easily and peacefully be achieved.

That is all it would take. Target boycotting of salt by Gandhi in India resulted in substantial positive gains for poor people who were in effect, slaves of the British Empire. Target boycotting of city buses in Montgomery eventually resulted in a Southern president signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And, target boycotting in California by Cesar Chavez resulted in substantial wage and other improvements for migrant farm workers. 

Target boycotting not only serves to reform the targeted industry or company, it also serves notice on all other companies that if they fail to treat workers and consumers fairly, they will be next. There is no reason for violence here in the 21st Century, in order to achieve substantial positive human and civil rights gains. We the people hold the power of the consumer purse. As such, we have the power to bring greedy corporations and their corrupt political pawns to their nefarious knees, without firing a single shot.

Until Americans stop voting for corporate stooges, stop listening to divisive political and religious pundits and, start practicing wise united activism on a large scale, we will likely continue to march down a freedomless road to historical oblivion. It doesn’t take much courage to complain about what is wrong. It requires bravery and perhaps a little personal sacrifice, to stand up for actually fixing America.

Where are great leaders of heroism and sacrifice, like Gandhi, Parks, King and Chavez, when we need them the most? Should we boycott Walmart and Exxon-Mobil? You Decide. 

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ARE AMERICANS WELL-EDUCATED?

January 11, 2014

Albert and Agnes attended the same American Elementary School in Anytown, USA. From the first day, they were both taught to study hard and get good grades, so they could receive a scholarship, attend college and earn more money.

They weren’t taught to treat other people like they wanted to be treated, a theory long censored from American classrooms. Nor were they taught education should be focused on learning what is true so we can be free, rather than being focused on money, another theory long forbidden in American schools.

Albert’s wealthy parents had paid for him to attend a private preschool. He now attended public school because his father believed it was good for him to associate with “regular” children. Agnes’ parents were poor and poorly educated and thus, she was already far behind a learning curve Albert easily adapted to without hardly trying.

Though rarely paying much attention, Albert received mostly A’s throughout his American school experience. Several times he was caught dealing drugs and was twice accused of treating Agnes inappropriately. But his wealthy family hired an expensive lawyer, who convinced a friendly judge to keep his record clean.

Agnes tried hard to learn, but her grades remained poor and she fell behind a year after Albert forced an unanticipated pregnancy. Albert was taught from an early age he was smarter and better than most of his peers. Constantly applauded for superior intelligence, he became president of his high school science club and won two state spelling bee championships.

Agnes was ridiculed by other students for being the plainest, poorest and mentally slowest student in class. Her teachers told her parents she meant well while insinuating she wasn’t exactly born to achieve intellectual greatness.

Albert went on to graduate from an expensive American college and an even more expensive graduate school. He was hired by the American government to design advanced weaponry, lived in an expensive American home and drove several expensive American cars. He joined the Mensa Society and helped design an IQ test excluding any notion of intelligence in relation to helping other people.

Agnes went to work in a garment factory, where she helped organize a sweat shop union and consequently, lost her job. She tried to read the Bible but reading wasn’t her best subject and, her strange archaic English translation was difficult to understand and relate to. Nevertheless, soon she moved to one of the poorest slums in India and founded a mission without any money or religious organizational backing.

Agnes remained very poor throughout her life but, by an incredible twist of fate, she eventually became one of the most famous people in the world. Rock stars and presidents waited in line to meet her. Because of her example, missions to help the poor were established all over the globe.

Agnes ultimately helped raise billions of dollars to aid the sick and poor and, will long remain an international inspiration for generations to come. Are Americans well-educated? You decide.

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