Posts Tagged ‘peace’

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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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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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 THE GOLDEN RULE REALLY THE BEST IDEA?

May 28, 2010

What is today known as the “golden rule”, is found in similar form in at least 37 often non-connected cultures.  Thus, the laws of God are clearly written on the conscience of humanity, as the Bible claims and as Jefferson echoed in the Declaration of Independence.

According to Jesus, “Therefore, whatever you want people to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets”.  The added, “for this is the law and the prophets” in the society of Jesus, meant similar to as if today someone said, “this is the foundation of human rights and the sum and purpose of all reason, wisdom, philosophy, science, education, morality and ethics.”  Is this really the best idea for achieving human rights in the modern age?

Upon closer examination, most of the so-called “golden rules” found in other societies, including the one attributed to the Jewish teacher Hillel, are considerably different than that taught by Jesus.  A similar one to Jesus is found in a saying attributed to Mencius.  But unlike Mencius and all of the other known sages of history, only Jesus gives this positive, pro-active version the all-important status of being the foundation for all that matters towards positive human enlightenment and achievement.

So-called “golden rules” found in most societies instruct us not to harm others as we do not wish them to harm us.  But Jesus teaches us to reach out and help other people, even if they do not first help us. Consider how much less effective it is to tell a child not to harm someone, than teaching the same child to pro-actively treat others as they like to be treated.  For example, is a homeless widow better off if someone just doesn’t harm her or, if someone provides her food and shelter?  Isn’t it far more effective to teach us to help each other than just saying we should do no harm?

Some modern intellectuals claim we should instead, treat other people as “they” wish to be treated.  This supposed “improvement” contains at least two significant flaws:  1) It is rather difficult to know how another person wants us to treat them unless we first befriend them as we wish to be treated.  2) If we treat others as they wish to be treated without any measurement against our own well-being, we will soon be extremely tired, penniless and destitute.

Today, the term “empathy” is favored by many, apparently because it is less religious sounding than the idea of loving our neighbor as ourself.  Although it is a good idea to empathize with others, is this idea really an improvement over teaching us to pro-actively love our neighbor as ourselves?

Is the Jesus version of the golden rule the best idea?  Does anybody else have a better idea for curing what ails a race called “human”?  Do we want less than the best for our children?  You decide.

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