Posts Tagged ‘jobless’

WHERE IS THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM?

May 26, 2014

Today, there is a lot of talk about the wonders of science and technology, with little mention of any downside. The same science used to create medicine and jumbo jets has also resulted in nuclear and bio weapons and, has left our planet polluted possibly beyond repair. A science that produced the world wide web and remote controlled devices, has created an alternate reality where people interact face-to-face, less and less.

Modern technology is making us more introverted, self-engaged and lost within our own “virtual” existence. This can be dangerous on many levels, creating a social environment with less and less love and feeling for each other. It seems like American society is becoming less and less friendly; a society where everybody talks and nobody listens.

I was raised in working-class neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area, where the majority of families were supported by a single wage-earner’s income. Yet I never once heard of a child without access to health, dental and optical care. Out of 3800 mostly working class students in my high school, I never heard of a single one who was either hungry or homeless.

The term “homeless” was essentially off the public radar in Southern California until after I graduated from high school in 1968. I don’t recall this word being mentioned in any media or in any conversation during my entire childhood. “Poverty” referred to people living on Indian reservations, in Appalachia, Central and South America and especially Africa. There was virtually no conception of poverty within our own blue-collar environment.

As children, we interacted with a large group of other kids outside for hours nearly every day. We often played after dark and in local parks without parental supervision or fear of abduction. We learned to interact with each other on a face-to-face peer basis and experienced a healthy childhood reality.

Kids today often spend a lot of time alone or with one or two close friends, interacting with computers, movies, television, computer games, texting and talking on cellphones. Rather than interacting in real life situations, our children are growing up in a virtual world of digital unreality.

Many studies indicate obesity, suicide, attention deficit disorder and other serious problems are on the rise. Every year brings more media reports of growing school and public space violence. Our nation is artificially divided by a profit-driven media into “red” and “blue” sides, even though the vast majority of us share common complaints about corrupt leaders and concerns of our children’s future.

Today, many Americans working two or more jobs don’t earn nearly enough to provide what working-class citizens once took for granted. Meanwhile, American cities are “dealing” with growing poverty by arresting and criminalizing the poor. Apparently, we incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any other nation on earth.

Albert Einstein reportedly said: “It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity.” “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” Where is the great American dream?

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HOW APPALLING CAN AMERICAN CITY LEADERS BE?

May 7, 2014

Studies conducted by Philip Mangano, former National Homeless Policy Czar under both presidents Bush and Obama, reveal that it costs taxpayers far more to not house a homeless person than to house the same homeless person.

Recent studies conducted by Los Angeles, Phoenix and Salt Lake City arrive at the same conclusion. Salt Lake City, Phoenix and other cities have significantly reduced homelessness by providing affordable housing, rather than arresting, jailing and re-arresting homeless American citizens.

Costs for arresting and jailing America’s poor, as well as costs for hospitalization, medical expenses, shelters, social workers and other taxpayer supported services, can range from $35,000 to well over $150,000 annually per homeless individual, while costs to house the same individual range from $13,000 to $25,000 annually.  Many homeless people are employed, receive social security or some other income and, when cities charge them 30 percent of their income for housing, annual savings can be considerably more.

According to The Contributor newspaper, Metro Nashville made 4,175 homeless related arrests in 2012, mostly for trespassing and obstructing a passageway.  It makes no legitimate or rational sense at all for any city to be engaging in such cruel and immoral practices, as arresting American citizens for the ‘crime’ of being poor solves absolutely nothing.

The same individuals are soon back on the street and re-arrested again, often a great many times, all at taxpayer expense. Nashville’s homeless citizens are frequently fined considerable amounts they can’t afford to pay and, failure to appear or resolve such charges on their records, makes it even harder for them to find permanent employment and housing.

We as long-suffering taxpayers need to inform our district attorney, mayor, city council members, chief of police and other city leaders, that we are appalled when our cities arrest American citizens for the ‘crime’ of being poor, rather than constructing affordable housing. which would cost us taxpayers far less, as well as be greatly beneficial to the homeless.  Nashville’s current city leadership even refuses to provide public restrooms downtown, a clear and present public health danger for tourists and every local resident.

Providing affordable housing in the larger picture, besides being a great blessing for the homeless, would also be a significant benefit for public health, tourism and other business interests and every non-homeless citizen.  And doing so would quite literally save many millions of taxpayer dollars; tax dollars that are currently being carelessly and callously utterly wasted for no good reason at all.

Rather than invading and bulldozing tent encampments of the poor, American cities should be using bulldozers to clear the way for construction of affordable housing.  Otherwise, we the voting taxpayers should be using our vote to bulldoze them out of office.

Every conservative, moderate and liberal taxpayer should be very upset and utterly appalled at the cruel, indifferent, grossly immoral and economically nonsensical current approach of many American city leaders and other public officials towards the homeless and poor of our nation.

How appalling can American city leaders be? You decide.

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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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IS MUSIC CITY BECOMING THE MEANEST CITY IN AMERICA?

October 13, 2013

In July and August of 2013, I interviewed thirty-five homeless and formerly homeless individuals in Nashville, Tennessee. Virtually all of them say they have been harassed, cited and arrested multiple times for trespassing, sometimes while waiting for a bus, sometimes when standing near a bench where others were sitting and often when not acting any differently than other non-homeless persons in their immediate vicinity, who were not arrested.

At taxpayer expense, our morally bankrupt city leaders have removed some public benches the homeless used to sit on and otherwise, have installed new benches with bars in the middle so they can’t lie down. The homeless say there are no public restrooms for them to use, virtually no drinking fountains and there is literally no where for them to sit, walk or go to the bathroom without fear of being arrested and carted off to jail for trespassing. Most say they have been jailed two or more days multiple times and fined significant amounts for the ‘crime’ of being poor.

The homeless say some Nashville police officers try to be fair, while others are deliberately mean to them, going out of their way to constantly harass, cite and/or arrest them for trespassing, obstruction of a passageway and doing other things that tourists and the non-poor are not arrested for. A man who had only been homeless for two days told me he had already been harassed twice by the police when asking passers by for directions to the mission.

Many say they have been arrested for public intoxication when they were sober and carrying no alcohol or drugs. Several claim the police routinely search their belongings without probable cause, frequently kick them out of public parks and many say their tents, backpacks and other belongings have been confiscated or destroyed by authorities.

The homeless situation in Nashville is far worse than city leaders pretend. Most of the thirty-five I interviewed said they have been homeless over a year in the Nashville area; several said they have been homeless more than seven years. One day walking only a few short blocks from the downtown bus terminal to Church Street and then back, I interviewed thirteen people who said they were homeless, while many others passed by who appeared to be.

When tourist and other events are scheduled, the homeless say police conduct general sweeps of the downtown area, arresting groups of people for appearing to be poor. A homeless man on crutches said he was arrested for trespassing for walking across a store parking lot diagonally instead of going around the long way on the sidewalk. Several said they have been harassed and sometimes cited when selling a homeless newspaper.

One man told me he was arrested for obstruction while sitting on a downtown step because one of his shoes was touching a public sidewalk. A formerly homeless woman said she has witnessed numerous homeless individuals arrested for trespassing while walking in public alleyways and on other public taxpayer-funded property. She said the police rarely volunteer their name or badge number and some become angry when asked. Several say their shoes and other belongings have been stolen at the mission and some say they have been physically harmed.

Some told me they have been arrested even when not homeless at the time, just because they appeared to be poor. Several homeless veterans told me the police show them no respect for being veterans and harass them just as badly as the rest. We as taxpaying citizens of conscience should stand united and immediately demand that our city leaders cease and desist using our tax dollars to harass, cite and arrest people for the ‘crime’ of being poor.

We expect police officers to protect us from real criminals who murder, rape and steal, rather than to waste their time and our tax dollars harassing, citing and arresting citizens because they are poor. Does the mayor’s office and city council vainly imagine they can get away with such ongoing violations of basic human and civil rights, morality and common decency, without God in heaven and the rest of us noticing?

It is less expensive to house the homeless than for cities to repeatedly arrest and run them through legal and service systems, better for business and, much less of a public safety and health risk and expense when the basic needs of everyone are met. Music City’s lack of affordable housing, lack of basic common health sense and common decency to even provide public restrooms and ongoing harassment of the poor, is an open American shame. It was reported last year alone, over thirty citizens died in the Nashville area because they were homeless, including one who froze to death on a downtown church’s steps. And, that is over thirty American citizens too many.

May all citizens of the United States who fear God unite together and demand that our cities begin immediately constructing enough affordable housing and in the meantime, demand that our immoral leaders provide portable toilets so citizens don’t have to live in fear of being arrested for doing what nature requires of us all. Let’s demand that our cities immediately begin construction of facilities where the homeless can shower, be connected to job opportunities, health, food, shelter and other valuable services and freely congregate, without constant fear of physical harm, harassment, citation and arrest.

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IS OBAMA SMARTER THAN BUSH?

November 5, 2009

According to George W. Bush, we are fighting in Iraq to “secure the peace” and, to “secure freedom and democracy”.  Is there any historical or other rational reason to believe this?  If war can secure peace then why, after 10,000 years of war, isn’t there peace on earth by now?

War didn’t begin with the American Revolution, nor did it end there; many soldiers who fought against the British rose up in “Shay’s Rebellion” against wealthy colonists who were taking their land and throwing them into debtors prison.  Soon after, another war against the British erupted.

Then came the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War and War in the Philippines.  And then, the so-called “war to end all wars”, WWI, soon followed by WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War and now, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Spaced among this long sad bloody list of war after war after war, were several slave uprisings, a long drawn-out war against Native populations and many smaller wars and battles.  There have also been many “uprisings” within the U.S. population, including mob murder of African-Americans, Irish, Jews, Mormons, Chinese, Latinos, adult and even, child workers on strike.

Yet today, after all this bloodshed, we find ourselves at war, yet again.  In spite of the overwhelming historical evidence, a morally bankrupt American population remains quick on the trigger and very slow to understand, that war will never “secure the peace”.  Is President Obama acting any wiser than Bush by continuing to stay the course in Iraq and increase troop levels in Afghanistan?

Some people claim Gandhi was wrong because he ended up a martyr.  Yet, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and a great many others claim to have been inspired by him.  Did Gandhi lose in the great historical war between pro and anti-human rights forces, the only war that really matters?

According to Jesus, the solution to war is to put down our swords.  A small child can easily grasp this crystal clear logic of Jesus, yet we find people today pretending to follow him, who still promote war as the solution to somehow secure the peace.  The life of Jesus has inspired millions of people to promote peace and goodwill.  Thus, he won a far, far, far greater victory than all of the military generals in history combined.

It is entirely logical, that if I promote peace and goodwill, I will help humanity and leave a positive legacy for others to emulate.  It is likewise, entirely logical that if I promote war as a solution, I will hurt humanity and extend the trail of tears for others to emulate.

We as individuals have little choice what our leaders or other people do.  However, we each have a personal choice to make, to either stand up for peace and goodwill or, to bow to peer pressure and promote war and other violence.

It takes courage to stand up against one’s own society, which is why Isaiah and Jesus continue to be revered by millions.  It takes only a victim of societal pressure to promote war.  It is mature to promote peace and goodwill; it is childish, historically and patently absurd to promote anything else.

Is Obama any smarter than Bush?  You decide.

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