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Ask Not What the Homeless Can Do for You, Ask What They Can Do for Themselves

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In an earlier article I wrote briefly about homelessness, and stated that a primary cause was mental illness, followed by substance abuse. I would like to clarify and elaborate on that, give some cites (and sites) for more information, and posit a possible solution.

I started my recent reading using the Wikipedia article on homelessness in the US.  A word about Wiki articles: some of you don’t trust Wikipedia, and you are right to be suspicious but there is frequently good information to be found there. I have been using it for basic research for many years and found that it is mostly reliable. The best articles will be lengthy and detailed, have extensive references, and plenty of external links. At the least, it is a good place to start for a basic understanding of a topic. I followed several of the internal and external links to find more information, and also checked many of the references to satisfy myself that the information presented was good. I think that it is, but caveat emptor.

The actual numbers of homeless are hard to quantify, since there is no national effort to do so, only the collation of local and/or state reports. Most large cities have a fair estimate of those using shelters, but the numbers for those not using government or charity shelters is at best a guess, and in small towns and rural areas it is worse than a guess. Lest you think that Congress is not in this loop, here is the annual report to them for 2011.

This article has a description of the methodology used in estimates of homelessness and some statistics from 2008 estimates. Even in that year the numbers were ugly. Over 600,000 people were estimated to be in shelters on a single night in January 2008, which is about twice the population of my home town.

Here is an article about criminalizing homelessness and the source of the statement that the UN was concerned about safe drinking water in our homeless population. I have wondered in the past why so much advertising money is spent on charities to provide food, water, and shelter for foreign children (Please help. For only $0.23 per day you can help), when we have adults and children in our own country who have those same needs. The cynic in me believes that most charities are scams to provide money to the organizers, but realistically, I know that some of them probably do some good. As Thomas Fuller said, “Charity begins at home, but should not end there.”

The prime cause for homelessness is said to be a lack of affordable housing, and I can’t argue against that. But as I recall, in almost every large city, there are what we call projects that were supposed to be low-cost housing. I also recall that these have become breeding grounds for drugs, gangs, violence, and crime. It shows up in the news as in this story, or this one . I don’t know why this doesn’t work as we expect, but it may have more to do with racial or ethnic segregation and discrimination than we would like, as described in this paper.

We can trace the genesis of the mentally ill homeless to the late 1960s and early 1970s when there was a movement towards deinstitutionalization. The idea had lofty goals: to move mentally ill people from large, impersonal institutions into a more community-centric care system. Unfortunately, and to our shame, this did not work as planned, and I hope that this was not done at the behest of a rich cabal solely to make more money. This article has both a good description of the problem and some references. For those of you who want to understand the numbers better, here is a paper using 29 different studies. This PBS site has a good list of the statistics and some links to other good information.

There is some question as to whether homeless people are more likely to become mentally ill while living on the streets, or that mentally ill people are more likely to have no other place to live. I don’t see that being homeless is causative; it seems more likely that homelessness makes their illness worse, if only because they lack access to medical treatment and counseling. It would seem likely that this is more true of substance abuse than of mental illness.

Here is an article that discusses the problem in our friendly neighbors to the North, Canada. I have run across several studies that were performed in Western Europe, so we know that the problem is not isolated to America, or even the North American continent. I’m not going to cite those since I am most concerned with the immediate US problem.

There is also a high incidence of co-morbidity with mental illness and substance abuse, probably stemming from the prevalence of using drugs to self-medicate. It is much more difficult to treat a mental illness when drug abuse is present. Here is an article describing this dual diagnosis from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. There have been some studies looking into all three of these co-linked problems: housing, mental illness, and substance abuse. This article talks about all three.

We don’t want to forget that a large portion of the homeless are veterans, to whom we owe a large debt. They, being a subset of the overall population of the US, have similar ratios of substance abuse and are more likely to have a mental illness with the additional possibility of PTSD.

On my personal blog I wrote an article about how we might provide some jobs to the unemployed. One of my solutions was to copy, as much as is feasible, the CCC and MPA programs from the 1930s and 1940s. This was the same New Deal that is currently being talked about disparagingly in Washington. These programs spent a large amount of government money, but also provided work for those who needed it, while building needed national infrastructure. It looks to me that we could stand to do both of those things again now.

So, here is my basic plan: we build small, self-sufficient villages for these people, as near major population centers as reasonable. The homeless will help construct and maintain these small towns, each contributing as their ability and health permits. Overseeing these projects will be the thousands of returning military service people, many of whom will need facilities like those being built for themselves. For those requiring it, medication can be supplied, or in the case of abuse, their recovery and rehabilitation can be monitored. In both of these cases there would be an absolute requirement for living and working in this place. It may turn out that some of the severely mentally ill people can never significantly contribute to society, and if that is the case, they will have a pleasant location to live out their lives in safe surroundings.

As skills and abilities are acquired or enhanced, these newly enabled people can move back into the general population. This would seem to satisfy the basic need of housing, the secondary need of work and building self-esteem, and a tertiary need of gaining education and skills to be able to reenter the workforce. The concentration of efforts should allow for maximum efficiency in distribution of funds to start and maintain these facilities.

I don’t have any estimates on what this program might cost, but whatever that is; doesn’t it seem like a good investment? If this basic works, then it seems possible to expand it to the original goals of the CCC and WPA; having the newly skilled work force apply themselves to infrastructure projects. Construction and maintenance of the levee system looks like a good place to start.

I’m sure that there are people out there who have a better understanding than I of what needs to be done, so please speak up. I would think that it is possible to get, even the ultra-conservatives behind this. We sell it as “making the streets safer”, or “making the city more attractive”, or something similar. Advertising agencies could be hired to make it sound compelling to the rich.

What do you think?

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About One Americans Rant

  • Glenn Contrarian

    “Humility” –

    Well said.

    That’s a major reason (the other being their national tradition of tolerance) the people in the Philippines where I’m at now are generally happier than in America – most people here don’t look down upon those who are poor, whereas in America, “What, you don’t have a car/HDTV/computer/iPad/whatever? What’s wrong with you???”

    Culturally-induced depression. That’s something to think about.

  • #45 – I had not really counted clinical depression as a major causative factor in continued homelessness, but it is likely THE major cause. I have never been that depressed, but I have heard that it is impossible to do much of anything while in that state.

  • I think if you count acquired depression from a cultural “ass whipping” then it’s probably even higher than 30%.

    I have noticed there are quite a lot of people that bemoan doing anything that helps people that are so beat down that they have given up.

    The mentality seems to say:
    “I have been disappointed in my life too, guess you were just too weak to handle it. You don’t deserve to be helped since you are too lazy to try to get back up.”

    Then on top of it it seems that they require actually being successful as the stick to measure whether you are trying.
    “What you aren’t successful yet? you lazy f^

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OAR –

    Well said (and the same goes for Roger in his quote you included).

    I must admit that most of the time, with articles that receive more than one full page of comments, somebody starts going off on a tangent…and this is true of every political stripe and level of education or integrity.

    And it does take an effort to pull things back on track, and sometimes those efforts are not successful…but sometimes they are.

  • We seem to have wandered afield, and I doubt we can get back on target. I do want to post this quote, that seems to be about the comments on this thread, although not about the original topic. Some of you may recognize it as it was posted here.

    “Most of us, as a matter of fact, do our damndest to live by our own lights, and we shouldn’t diminish anyone simply because we disagree. Again, different conceptions of justice are at stake, nothing more. To raise it to another level, to deny a person their basic humanity simply because we disagree, to regard them as somehow different from you and me, categorically and absolutely, is to commit a far graver error than they themselves may be guilty of. It is to regard them as somehow less than human. Apart from the self-serving, emotional satisfaction such pronouncements may or may not serve, the far greater damage comes by way of breaking off all communications with the very people you should want to reach.”
    —- Roger Nowosielski

  • Roger, Roger, Roger, what are we to do with you?

    Here we are addressing the issue of your communication problems and there you go repeating them.

    Not only did you say you were out of here – although nobody who knows you as you present online believed that for one minute but half an hour before your most recent comment I already wrote that I had no interest in hurting you.

    To correct another of your misunderstandings, it isn’t you that has had three years of my comments but me that has had three of yours!

    I know you you think you’re one of the site regulars but in fact compared to many you’re still a new kid and one that is incredibly slow to get the hang of things to boot!

    Your opinion of me probably is pretty well formed but that’s not to say it is well informed; that would take an ability to understand words properly…

    It would take a miracle for you to actually change your opinion, not to consider it, as your thinking process are slightly more rigid than a stone carving.

    Keep comforting yourself with your strange perceptions and philosophical musings, whilst life goes on and other people do real things in the real world rather than talking about it whilst hearing nothing and learning less!

  • Shoot, Glenn, if Chris even in his wildest dreams entertains the notion that he’s hurting or insulting me, he’s got a think coming. And I couldn’t care less about his intent either.

    I’ve had close to three years of experience of Chris’ usually drive-by “contributions” to BC conversations, so yes, my opinion of him is pretty well formed, and it would take a miracle for me even to consider changing it.

    So yes, I always consider the source; it’d be a fool not to.

    Worry not, Chris, I lose no sleep whatever over what you say or do. And in the long run, lest it hadn’t occurred to you yet, the only person you’re hurting is yourself.

    Enough of this foolishness. Bye bye!

  • Roger, I had no idea you had a talent for comedy

    This armchair philosopher walks into a bar…

  • Roger, I had no idea you had a talent for comedy but congratulations, your #36 made me laugh out loud!

    Glenn, I’ve no idea what the “seat of judgement” is but if you find it incredible to describe the behaviour of someone who apparently wilfully misunderstands and/or distorts what people communicate then you need to get out more often.

    I strongly recommend that you get off your high horse and stop issuing unwanted and unhelpful advice.

    I reject your baffling and inaccurate presumption as I’ve no interest in hurting either Roger or you. I am puzzled by your depiction of you both as mature though, unless you mean old, which would be odd even if true; I’ve not seen any sign of maturity from either of you although I do know lots of young people who display far more of it than the two of you.

    Finally, if you think that whether the opinion of dogmatists impacts on my credibility in any way, or that I think you have any ability to assess what credibility is, you are very seriously mistaken.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And I’ll follow Roger’s lead and bow out as well.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Incredible. Absolutely incredible.

    He puts himself in the seat of judgement proclaiming that a man has “many and profound mental inadequacies”…

    …and then, when called on that statement, says:

    What I wrote in #29 isn’t a puerile insult because it is an accurate depiction of what Roger did and therefore true.

    First, the “many and profound intellectual inadequacies” statement describes what you believe to be Roger’s mental capability, his state of being. THEN you tried to justify it by claiming such was “an accurate depiction of what Roger DID and therefore true” (caps mine).

    I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, Chris, but there’s a yawning gulf of difference between what a person IS and what a person DID…and your puerile insult was a judgement concerning his state of being and in NO way depicted what he did or did not do.

    Chris, I strongly recommend that you back off and reassess your tone and your conduct, because you apparently don’t realize that you’re not hurting Roger or myself – we’re both too mature for such vulnerability – but your uncalled-for (and quite inaccurate) insult followed by your frivolous attempt to justify it are doing nothing more than tearing down your own credibility.

  • Confusion is your forte, Christopher, not mine. Of course it was addressed to Glenn because he had balls enough to inquire as to the meaning. But in effect, the remark was addressed, in only in general terms, to the article’s author, Dreadful and all the drive-by commenters such as yourself who think it fit to jump into the fray just for the hell of it.

    But as I said, Christopher, I’m only wasting my words on the not-so-wise, so please forgive me if I’ll bow out.

  • Glenn, I acknowledge and respect the value of people who are committed to a spirit of enquiry and discovery, communication and sharing, not to those who blow their own trumpets or manage to block or confuse communication.

    Based on your words above, you seem to respect people who are committed to dogma of one kind or another, which is understandable as you are that kind of person too. I don’t respect that kind of thinking though.

    If people are going to indulge in what I see as a kind of dishonesty I am going to oppose it, regardless of whether I benefit or lose as a consequence of their particular dogma or whether I like them personally.

    What I wrote in #29 isn’t a puerile insult because it is an accurate depiction of what Roger did and therefore true.

    I really don’t care whether dogmatists respect me or not and when I want some advice I’ll seek it from some one whose thinking I respect, not those blinded by their beliefs, who I don’t trust at all.

    As such, I give respect to and get it from people who can actually think for themselves…

    I don’t find anything of value in your “lesson”, except a reminder not to trust the corrupt and dishonest that debase and limit us all. For that, at least, thanks.

  • Roger, once again your confusion gets the better of you; your #26 was addressed to Glenn in response to his #23, so had nothing to do with our little exchange.

    You are right in depicting your #30 as a stupid remark though, although it was stupid in a different way to your other comments. There aren’t any stupid remarks on this thread by other commenters though.

    It’s not about winning and losing, Rog, although it is interesting that you cast this as some kind of contest or game, it is about reaching out to others and communicating honestly. Unfortunately this is something you are really bad at because you don’t listen, which is where communication starts or, in your case, starts to break down.

    Attentively yours…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    That’s right, Roger, ignore the meat of a comment so you don’t have to confront your intellectual inadequacies, which are many and profound

    That statement speaks volumes about you…and most BC regulars (but not all) have read such volumes before.

    I’ve had a longstanding disagreement with Roger, but as with Clavos and Dave and others, while I disagree strongly with some or most of what they say, I acknowledge their worth and I give them my respect…and I’ll stick up for them whenever I see puerile insults such as your #29.

    Generally speaking, Chris, you’ll get just as much respect as you give…or don’t give. That’s a valuable lesson, a tool you can use as the decades go by. I suggest you use it.

  • Wasn’t my #30 that matters — it was just a stupid response to a stupid remark — but my my #26.

    But that’s alright, Chrst. It only serves me right for responding to a fool.

    So once again, you win. I’m more than happy to grant you that.

  • Roger, your #30 is largely incomprehensible and what isn’t incomprehensible is incoherent.

    The FACTS here are that Doc D praised OAR for a “refreshing lack of dogma” and then referred to mental illness being a major cause of homelessness.

    You then chimed in with the somewhat confused and confusing remark “Dogma? I should think the notion that ” … mental illness is a major cause of homelessness” is more of a dogma than letting go of “the conventional wisdom.”

    Ignoring the largely low content level of your remark, you also managed to criticise OAR’s remarks as being a weak presentation, which nobody else thinks, and then accuse Doc of somehow encouraging bad habits by his response to OAR, which he wasn’t.

    Not being content with one bout of bullshit, you then responded to the Doc’s reasonable and reasoned repudiation of your interjection with an even more tangential and irrelevant remark that ignored what he said and accused him of using the royal “we”, which he wasn’t. He simply pointed out that your interpretation of what is being said and what is actually being said are normally poles apart.

    That is both a matter of historical record and proven yet again by your every utterance starting with comment #17.

    Not content with that, you then pompously proclaim that you see this as a compliment!

    I then tried to point out the error in understanding you were making but presumably that was too much for your rampant ego to contemplate so you ignored that and seized on my use of the term “good doctor” to make an even more irrelevant remark.

    You are free to ignore bullshit of course, but as the only bullshit on this thread has come from you, that would put you in the odd position of trying to ignore yourself.

    What you ought to do is stop trying to present as some kind of intellectual and philosophical whizz, which you really aren’t, and enter more into the spirit of honest and humble enquiry, which is the only position of integrity it is possible to take.

    All you are doing is contributing ever more evidence to support the conjecture that philosophy is barely a science at all, thereby undermining that which you claim to love…

  • I’m just as free to ignore what consider bullshit, Chris, as you are. Which, according to your definition, makes us both charlatans. But at least I don’t claim any title as part of my handle.

  • #24 – That’s right, Roger, ignore the meat of a comment so you don’t have to confront your intellectual inadequacies, which are many and profound. There’s only one charlatan on this thread…

  • Since we’re on the subject, Dreadful, how is this one for size?

    “Sia, most doctors have not been challenged with facts and asked to provide evidence to support their advice, they probably have women who say they don’t want to test because it’s painful, embarrassing, violating etc and Papscreen have a list of responses they can use to meet these “excuses”, but the facts have always been hidden from women.”

    Quite fortuitous, I should say, comment #6760 should appear right after your own.

  • As far as know, he’s not a doctor, which possibly makes him a charlatan.

    Well, I do call myself Dr Dreadful

  • @23
    Point simply was, Glenn, that blaming the victim, however warranted in a number of cases, prevents us from taking an empathic stance, the kind of stance I consider necessary in order to be able to grapple with the problem of homelessness with utmost seriousness. So yes, in this context, labeling is an easy way out, a way of absolving ourselves from any responsibility as members of the society for the existing state of affairs.

    Thomas Szasz had some interesting things to say on the subject in The Myth of Mental Ilness; and so had Michel Foucault in the course of his many studies of penal institutions and mental asylums; and Ervin Goffman as well. The general idea, however, is that labeling and ascriptions of deviance are proven societal devices which aim at marginalizing those segments of our society we find either troublesome or inconvenient.

    So yes, my attack on the so-called “objectivity” so applied in these cases was meant as stated. It smacks either of perversion or, more likely, naivete.

  • OK, I will revise my estimate based on the data linked to below. Mental illness is prevalent in the homeless, with between 15% and 33% being affected. I would tend towards the upper estimate since I doubt that many of the mentally ill homeless come forward to get treatment.

    In Detroit Homelessness and Mental Illness
    Year 2000 Stats
    More stats on youth problem
    Peer reviewed paper
    More stats
    More about causes

  • @21

    “Good doctor”?

    As far as know, he’s not a doctor, which possibly makes him a charlatan.

    What’s good about that?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Doc’s “way too objective” for you?

    Many men I’ve known would refer to that as a feminine statement…but they’d do it as an insult.

    It does, however, compel me to ask you if you are making your decisions based on evidence, or on which choice ‘feels right’? Most people would say ‘evidence’ is the better metric…but there’s studies that show the ‘feels right’ decision is sometimes the better choice.

    But in any case, this strengthens your long-ago advice to me that appealing to peoples’ heads won’t work, that success in discussion lies in appealing to the heart.

  • Igor

    Seems to me that we have to do a better job of distributing societies needs and rewards. We have to cut the workweek to free up more work for the unemployed (even tho that requires commensurate wage cuts) and we have to integrate the homeless into our housing facilities without ghettoing people.

    But I don’t think we have the courage to do it. We’d rather fight over diminishing resources rather than share them. That’s what the rightist belief system has dictated, and we’re all of us, each one, egotistical enough to believe that WE can be the winners!

  • Roger, the good Doctor isn’t using the royal “we”, he is simply stating a plain fact.

    If you choose to interpret that as a compliment, then your ego is blocking your perception, which is intellectual dishonesty.

    You are simply, yet again, misunderstanding what is being written, which just goes to demonstrate, for the umpteenth time, that you are neither as smart or perceptive as you like to think.

    As such, you are very definitely part of the problem, not the solution…

  • And BTW, if I fail to respond to your subsequent comments, it’s not for lack of anything to say, but we’re experiencing internet connection problems in the area.

    But then again, I don’t see how discussing this further with you is going to produce any worthwhile results. You’re just way too objective for somebody like me.

    And no, I don’t mean it as a compliment.

  • The rest of us, Dreadful. Again referring to the royal “we” as a matter of last resort?

    In any case, you’ve just paid me a compliment without realizing it. If that’s what the rest of you — and I’m leaving the reference purposely ambiguous — than I’m sure glad I’m not in that number.

    Glad though you think you’re all so right.

  • Roger, you’ve consistently shown yourself to be occupying a different reality from the rest of us and your latest comment is yet one more example of that.

    “Mental illness is a major cause of homelessness” is not dogma, it’s a fact. Many of the positions taken with regard to the homelessness issue, however, are dogmatic. That’s what I was referring to, along with the observation that OAR seems open to a number of different solutions.

  • @15

    Dogma? I should think the notion that ” … mental illness is a major cause of homelessness” is more of a dogma than letting go of “the conventional wisdom.” It’s precisely because OAR is beholden to this view — and I don’t care here about the exact proportions, because that’s debatable — which makes him blind to other causative factors and makes for a weak presentation — not balanced and evenhanded as you suggest (though that may be the standard in college introductory course (in logic or whatever) as to what constitutes a good argument.

    OAR is no kid though he may be new to blogging on a public site such as this. He ought to be able to handle constructive criticism without having to treat him with kid’s gloves.

    I understand, Dreadful, you’re looking for “new blood” — to invigorate BC, among other things — but let’s not encourage now bad habits of thought. OAR should be able to take it, especially if he thinks of it as “rites of passage.”

    Apparently, I have greater faith in him than you do.

  • It seems to me, that it is better to do something, continue to move forward, make and work through plans, TRY, than to do nothing. It would have to be a major effort and I don’t see how it could be done without government-level funding. What we have now is a result of hap-hazard, limited funding – too little, spread too far apart, to do much good. Not that the people and programs that are out there aren’t DOING SOMETHING, and that is laudable and I’m sure appreciated by the ones being helped.

    In any attempt to help, the end goal HAS to be getting as many people back on their feet as possible. Some will never be able to make it on their on and provisions for this must be taken into account. Others will likely decline the help for various reasons. I don’t advocate locking them in Dickensian work houses or group sterilization hospitals (there is a logical fallacy here that I can’t remember – taking the argument to illogical conclusions to show that it’s wrong), and it was never intended that this be a permanent home, except for those that are best helped that way.

    Glenn – I would hope that some portion of those helped would stay on and help others. I feel sure that a lot of the homeless have skills, or would be willing to learn them, that could help this cause.

    troll – I looked into local f-n-b groups and they seemed to have died out a few years ago. They have a website and email, so a I will try and make contact.

    ryland – we absolutely have to get rid of the NIMBY crowd, for other reasons, but for this one as well.

    Doc – I will look into the Fresno project. I think we need to stay away from ghettos, but there would be gains in efficiency by having some minimum size group. It would be easier to have doctors, counselors, teachers, etc. work from some number of centralized locations.

  • OAR, another even-handed and well-analysed piece. Your absence of dogma on what is often a highly emotive topic is refreshing.

    Notwithstanding the “ghettoisation” objections some have raised, your idea is neither without merit nor without takers. This project in Fresno, California, constructed under the auspices of my most recent employer, is one example. The (Republican) mayor has made solving the city’s homelessness problem her flagship policy. Part of this has involved shutting down camps, but there’s a lot more to it than just telling the tent dwellers to “move on”, which has been the default approach of city governments in the past.

    Mayor Swearengin recognises, as you do, that mental illness is a major cause of homelessness, and that even if helped into housing, many people just end up back on the streets again if they don’t have a support system.

    Ghettos aren’t the answer because they create autonomous communities and don’t help to reintegrate the formerly homeless. This is why the developments being built and planned in Fresno are urban, not exurban.

  • ryland


    I, for one, like your amendment. I also appreciate the fact that you are trying to find a workable compromise rather than shooting down anyone who tries to propose a solution with “devil’s advocate” queries and/or snide flaming comments.

    I think another necessary component to an actual workable plan would be to shut down the inevitable NIMBY groups, and get the media dogs to back down from reporting exclusively sensationalized bad news from the squats for at least a period of time. A bit more of a focus on the positive would do this country good, and allow potential solutions a window of opportunity to work…

  • troll

    oar – I appreciate your attempt to come up with on-the-ground solutions rather than highfalutin phraseology

    so take this as something of a friendly amendment to your plan –

    as it’s clear that local authorities and NGOs are incapable of providing the necessaries in the face of economic collapse I propose that we back squats wherein homeless folks can organize themselves coupled with appeals to the surrounding ‘communities’ for:

    -protection from wolves and the State
    -material support like food and building materials…the ever important porta-potties etc
    -medical services

    from these squats it might be possible to put together a project of taking possession of surplus houses

  • Glenn Contrarian


    It’s another instance of a need for a Goldilocks solution. There are those that DO need to be institutionalized since they are unable to care for themselves (and as a Foster parent of permanently-medically-fragile kids, I KNOW this), whereas there are others who can function in society, as high-functioning Downs patients can do.

    Keep the ones in society who do not present a danger to themselves or others (and that kind of designation is fraught with tendency to misread), but the others who can NEVER take care of themselves (like my former Foster child, a low-functioning autistic who is now an 18-year-old adult with the mind of perhaps a 12-18 month old child) need to go to an institution.

    Neither all in one direction, nor all in the other direction. In this debate, both are to some extent right…and the only real answer is to be found somewhere in the middle.

  • Roger B

    troll and Roger are right: it’s ghettoization. Traditional ghettoization. Get all of ‘them’ together in one place where they can be monitored. Then they can be lead into group sterilization hospitals. Finally they can be euthanised. It’s in everyones best interests. What kind of life could their offspring expect? Being brought up in such circumstances?

    We can’t let them mix in normal society! That would be a terrible moral hazard to our young people. To see such under-achievers rewarded. We should take everything they have and liquidate it and pass the money on to high achievers. That way our children will see for sure that the high-achieving are rewarded and the lazy under-achievers are punished.

    Because we all know that the children of low achievers will probably be low achievers also, while children of high achievers are bound to be societies leaders.

    It’s just more humane to insulate the unfortunate offspring of the weak from needless contamination with ideas of living beyond their heritage.

    It’s part of our natural sense of christian mercy to spare youngsters that disappointment.

  • By all means, don’t stop. Keep on pluggin’ …

    But here’s a better idea. Why don’t we put ’em back in the psycho wards from whence they came and release ’em once cured?

  • I’ve seen the light now. It’s obviously better to let things stay the way they are. Maybe they will die soon and then the problem will be gone.

  • Sure it was snide, you’ve got that right.

    You don’t want me to humor you now, that would be worse.

    I suppose the next thing on the agenda are the poorhouses for the boys, Dickensian style.

    Let’s bring ’em all up to snuff so as to make ’em all productive, for the benefit of us all.

    I’m fucking thrilled by the idea.

  • Now Roger, that sounded snide but I don’t know you well enough to be sure. If you have a better idea of how to: feed, house, and provide medical care; keep drugs and violence to a minimum; provide education and training facilities; and perhaps fix some of the national infrastructure then please let me know.

    As I said to troll, I don’t expect to come up with the perfect solution, but I do want to start a discussion about possibilities.

  • Hey, there’s nothing wrong with “homeless towns.” Just like the good ole boys clubs.

    The more, the merrier.

  • troll,

    It does kind of sound that way, but I don’t think that it HAS to be.

    I’m going to read up some more on the CCC/WPA camps to see if something can be learned from them.

    Keep in mind that I don’t expect to hit a home run with this idea. I would be happy if this just stimulated someone else that could hit a HR, or a triple, hell a single would help.

  • troll

    many f-n-b groups have web presences – here’s a link to the original f-n-b book courtesy of Anarcissie…it’s a fun read full of practicalities

    I’ve been sitting with your idea for ‘towns’ for a bit and can’t quite shake the ghettoish feeling

  • troll,

    I will check with as many local groups as I can. I not sure how to look up food-not-bombs in the phone book 😉

    This has bugged me for years and I can’t understand why it isn’t done regularly. Anyway, I’ll try and see what happens.

  • troll

    check with your local food-not-bombs group which undoubtedly could use your help

  • I had another thought about both the homeless and the poor that I didn’t put into this article. It was long enough already and I was trying to stay focused.

    Everyday the US wastes millions of pounds of food that could be used to feed people. Most restaurants, especially buffet style ones, throw out perfectly good food. Now, I can see why there would need to be some safeguards put into place to keep from poisoning anyone, but this seems doable. The same is true for schools, or more so, since that food was already paid for with taxes.

    I’m going to see what it would take to do this locally, and will write something about what I find out.