Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

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.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article

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DOES BELIEF IN GOD CAUSE WAR AND OTHER HUMAN OPPRESSION?

April 20, 2010

Is it really accurate, as some intellectuals claim today, to blame belief in God as the cause of war and other human oppression?  Is this any more correct than blaming science and education?  Isn’t it more honest to instead, blame people who mis-use technology and belief in God for their own nefarious purposes?

Obviously, someone can aim the fickle finger of fate at war waged in the name of religion.  But, even before the invention of the wheel leading to ever-improved knife, spear, bow and chariot design, human science and education has been intricately entwined with waging war. Military applications have long been interlaced with government-funded science, education and modern space exploration.

Consider the Manhattan Project, nuclear missiles and space-ray weapons.  And, the rise of oppressive imperialism alongside industrial age invention; the American, French, Russian and Chinese revolutions; WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.  Incalculable human oppression has been aided by science and technology and, waged in the name of nationalism, democracy, capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism, anarchism and other intellectual idealism and often, just plain old fashioned human greed and lust for gold.

Arguably because of their belief in God, billions of people have helped the sick, poor and oppressed masses throughout the ages.  Consider names like Isaiah, Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and, celebrities like Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis and Martin Sheen.  Consider the Union Rescue Mission and LA Mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles.  Throughout the European “dark” and Middle Ages, many individuals, including some popes, established public hospitals, housing and bread lines.

Consider modern electricity, medicine, surgery, global travel, computer technology and other marvels of a 21st Century age of science and wonder.  And to be fair, weigh this in the historical balances against WMDs, global mass pollution, depletion of fisheries, rain and other forests, fresh water pollution, mountains of garbage and cesspools of toxic waste left in the wake of the “Age of Enlightenment”.

Why is oppression waged in the name of Christianity, Islam and other religions any worse than that waged in the name of manifest destiny, communism and fascism?  Is human oppression a result of sincere belief in God?  Or, is it rather, a result of human beings wrongly using the sincere beliefs of others for their own devious purposes?

Isn’t it more likely that we all contribute to the negative downside of human history, whenever we fail to treat other people as we ourselves, wish to be treated?  Isn’t it more accurate, as Jesus pointed out and as Freud, Jung and modern behavioral science agree, to blame the “seething mass” of irrationality and frustration buried deep within individual human beings, as being the real cause of our problems?

If we are going to rationally and fairly blame something as being the “cause” of our problems, maybe it’s wise to first take a good look in the mirror.  Does belief in God cause human oppression?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article

WAS HURRICANE KATRINA GOD’S JUDGMENT?

December 28, 2009

One would assume that if Pat Robertson and John Hagee are correct about Hurricane Katrina being God’s judgment on the liberal folks of New Orleans, then it logically follows that recent extensive tornado damage in the conservative rural South and, extending into Hagee’s own home turf of Texas, represents the Creator’s wrath against pro-war, right-wing religious conservatives.

A recent infestation of zillions of ants in the greater Houston area sounds a whole lot like biblical plagues to me, but who am I, an untrained common layman, to argue?  However, what about the recent invasion of tiny frogs in Bakersfield?  What does the Creator have against Merle Haggard?

And logically following, since citizens of Pat Robertson’s red state of Virginia recently voted in record numbers for “godless” liberals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the home of Robertson’s onward Christian soldiers of fortune must be high on the Creator’s retribution list.

It becomes a rather selective and dangerous path to tread down when those claiming to represent Jesus, while promoting the opposite of what he actually said and did, determine within their own self-righteous minds, to point the fickle finger of judgment at others.  Perhaps there is a good reason why Jesus taught to “judge not, that you be not judged”.

If weather is a fair and reliable barometer of God’s judgment, then one must consider recent earthquakes in China and Iran, not to mention the great 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and resultant Tsunami.  And, one could go on and on, about recent horrific fires worsened by severe winds in California, drought in several farm belt states and unusually severe winters in the Northeast.

If one truly believes the New Testament record, as Robertson and Hagee claim to do, then according to what Jesus actually said, God will judge the United States and every other nation by whether or not we help the sick and poor.  And according to the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament, God destroyed Sodom because she did not help her sick and poor.

Logically one would assume then, that the most patriotic thing for Pat Robertson, John Hagee and the rest of us to do, would be to stop pointing a finger of judgment at everyone else and instead, start using our energy and excess financial resources to help the less fortunate among us.

Come to think of it, perhaps Robertson and Hagee have a point.  Just why wouldn’t our Creator be angry with a nation that is responsible for the deaths of over a million Iraqi civilians and the maiming of millions more, while it’s citizens back home continue to ignore homeless seniors, veterans and children, vote for leaders who oppose universal healthcare, allow imprisonment without trial and torture and, purchase SUV’s in the face of looming oil shortages and a global warming crises?

Maybe we have been weighed in the great divided red-blue state historical balances and found more than a little severely wanting.  Was Hurricane Katrina God’s judgment on New Orleans?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article

WHY ARE VETERANS HOMELESS IN AMERICA?

October 17, 2009

United States homeless veterans include a significant growing number from the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Many suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and severe sleep deprivation.  Often those who have never suffered from the inability to sleep are unaware of how great of a toll such a problem has, in preventing those who do from being able to function well enough to hold down a steady job.

Many veterans have lost their civilian jobs due to extended tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere and upon returning home, find it very difficult to support themselves and their families.  Many who are not currently homeless are in danger of becoming so, especially in growing economic hard times.

In 2006, approximately 196,000 veterans were homeless on any given night, up from an estimated 194,000 in 2005.  Estimates of the total number of homeless veterans in the United States currently exceed 500,000; this figure doesn’t include spouses and children, who may also be homeless or severely impoverished.

An additional half million more pay over 50% of their income to cover their rent or mortgage.  In the United States, 26% of the homeless population are veterans, while they represent only 11% of the adult population.  In Tennessee alone, there were approximately 2800 veterans homeless on any given night in 2006 and, numbers have steadily increased due to the worsening economy since then.

According to many social service providers, while lack of income, disabilities, physical sickness, mental health issues and substance abuse all contribute to homelessness, the primary reason veterans are homeless is the lack of affordable housing.  And, this problem keeps getting worse, rather than better.

Regardless of religious, political or other persuasion, there is no excuse for the citizens of the United States to allow even one veteran or one veteran’s spouse or child to be homeless.  Politicians who refuse to help them should be voted out of office and candidates who don’t place helping them at the top of their agenda should not be voted for in the first place, regardless of party or position on any other issue.

Americans who sit idly by and make no attempt to address and alleviate problems of poverty in general and the plight of homeless veterans and children in particular, demonstrate a severe lack of patriotism.  And, they display a severe lack of historical and moral understanding and absence of personal ethics, responsibility, respect and dignity.

Do Americans who ignore the plight of homeless veterans really support the troops?  Can we march in parades waving flags pretending to be patriotic while continuing to ignore our growing homeless population, regardless of the reasons why they are homeless?

What manner of nation claims to be the greatest nation on earth and to be a beacon for freedom and democracy to the rest of the world and yet, her citizens continue to look the other way while growing numbers of homeless veterans and children struggle in plain sight to somehow survive?

Why are there homeless veterans in America?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for the above article

SHOULD WE LAY DOWN OUR SWORDS?

October 17, 2009

Like most conceptual terms, it is not accurate to paint “pacifism” with a quick broad brush.  One form of pacifism is to never strike back, which was practiced personally by Martin Luther King, Jr.  While in the midst of a speech, a man jumped on stage and struck him in the face, knocking him down.  King, a former wrestler, got back up and offered the man his chair on the stage.

Another form of pacifism allows for the defense of one’s own physical person and immediate family or small group.  This form is possibly, but not necessarily in agreement with Jesus, when taken in context of several different teachings; it’s never accurate to extrapolate only some of what Jesus said, as conservative Christians often do.

Jesus drew a distinct line against war and violence.  From an accurate historical perspective, war is invariably about either protecting one’s own wealth or taking someone else’s wealth and almost always, about both.  Thus, war is not the same as self defense, which is protecting one’s physical person.

In war, soldiers are compelled to obey orders from the top down, regardless of how right or wrong they personally believe them to be. Following orders from the top down in WWII, soldiers who may never had previously violently attacked anyone, dropped atomic weapons on a large civilian population.

No side is right in war, because seeds of one conflict trace to a previous conflict.  Just as seeds of WWII trace to WWI and back even before the American Revolution, which was also about wealth; perceived unjust taxation, which was minuscule compared to what U.S. citizens routinely pay today, was a primary revolutionary motivation.

One of the supposedly most “justified” wars in U.S. history is WWII, based on the theory that Japan attacked the United States without provocation.  The problem with this theory is, long before Pearl Harbor, we had gained substantially monetarily by supplying England and France with weapons which were used against Japan.  And at the time, we were attempting to blockade supplies coming into Japan, which was a threat to their population’s survival.

It is not that Japan was right and we were wrong but rather, war is invariably about both sides being wrong.  No nation profiting from a war is guiltless concerning that war.

Perhaps the best American historical example of justifiable self defense in regards to war, is when Colonel Chivington attacked and massacred a tribe of natives, who were sleeping inside their homes with white flag raised.  If there was ever a justified response, it is how American natives responded to Sand Creek.

Jesus taught the way to achieve peace is to lay down our swords. This solution is so obvious, a small child can easily understand what apparently, is too profound for many educated historians and conservative preachers to grasp.  In the book of Revelation, this command is repeated and, those who resort to violence and war as a means to an end, are placed on the wrong side of God, human rights and human history.

Is laying down our swords wise?  Has picking up a sword ever “secured the peace”, preventing war from breaking out again?  Is there a better or any other solution to war, other than laying down our swords?  Are you smarter than Jesus?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for the above article