The Homeless. Have you given any thought to them lately? Homeless. The word conjures up images of people who are often referred as human detritus rooting through garbage, the lazy-dirty-shiftless-drug addicts or alcoholics who have wasted their lives and are now bothering us at stoplights.
My friend, you need to wake-up to a newer, frightening reality. The homeless have dramatically changed, particularly under the Bush administration. Not only are there many more of them, but old stereotypes no longer come close to fitting the reality. These faces are unexpected. The most vulnerable in society has expanded.
The first thing I would suggest is that we recognize that in these times, many of us, neighbours, friends, team-mates, workmates, casual associates… many are just one cough away from being homeless. If we look carefully at our own situation, we can even recognize that it can just take a few unfortunate circumstances to move us from one day Weston, the next a shelter in Ft Lauderdale with no choice in dinner menu.
We might think disasters like fires, hurricanes and tornadoes create temporarily homelessness with a quick to return to normalcy. But think again… divorce, major illness, job loss, depression, mild drug use, alcoholism, arrest but not necessarily conviction, automobile accidents, disrupted homes, lawsuits, bank failure, business failure, policy changes in government… any combination of these can drag almost any of us down that street.
Right now in America, it has been calculated that each night there are up to 2,000,000 people homeless, the fastest growing population… and the resources to help them are dwindling. Worse still in recent times, children are immensely affected. Whole families are tossed out on the streets because of the mortgage and credit crises, moving in a flash from Main St to Broke St, USA. Oftentimes there are no family support systems to fall back on, because they themselves are very near breaking point.
The royal statisticians claim that the jobless rate in the U.S. is just over 6%. I think 15% more likely. America has a way of hiding bad news in statistics, smoke and mirrors and a retreat into ignorance.
Here are some 2000 AD statistics that must now obsolete. Single men comprise 44% of the homeless, single women 13%, families with children 36% (the fastest growing sector in the fastest growing population), unaccompanied minors 7%. Blacks 50%, whites 35%, 12 % Hispanics. 68% have had problems with alcohol, drug abuse or mental illness. This is the one figure I know has changed dramatically. Many of the new homeless never or are hardly involved in drugs or alcohol, and at first, are quite sane.
The new homeless have nice cars, cell phones, laptops, jewellery, iPods… trappings of former lifestyles. Many adults, but particularly their kids, have not been able to come to grip with the abrupt physical and mental dislocation, and there is always the forlorn sense that they think that when they will wake up tomorrow, life will be back as they once knew it.
I have had occasion to see the fallen and their kids, and it’s a sad and humiliating sight… eye contact is rare, disbelief and stress are debilitating, and in kids, there is stunted growth. A loss of hope. Unconsciously blaming their parents for failure to protect. Many lapse into chronic depression and behavioural problems. Early-age suicides are not unheard of.
Their education gets stunted, friends gone, little niceties that they are used to, poof! More often than not, no father figures. He has long disappeared.
But he is not the only person that fades away. Our concept of the village has been eroded and we care for little for those who have stumbled, just rats booted out of the race. Ok, that’s unfair. But it’s true that we don’t recognize their presence either because we fear our own fate, or we‘re so caught up in trifling little things like Britney Spears’ love life, that we no longer want to be burdened by another man’s despair. We turn away more than our eyes. We can’t understand because we don’t want to understand.
But the homeless are our problem. One way or another. There are social costs and ramifications. Increased crime is one of them, but as a society, we shouldn’t be coldly turning our backs on human beings. Neglecting the issue of homelessness is destructive, even self-destructive.
Homelessness has become more complex and addressing it needs our understanding and caring… attributes this administration is grievously short of.
John McCain is part of this administration. With 7, 8, countless houses, he cannot understand homelessness. I think that Obama understands the problem but cannot make it a campaign issue. To raise its importance would be to alienate the middle class, who accepts his idea to share the wealth, as long as it is coming from the top. They have no inclination of having that wealth, or theirs, shared with the underclass. That would be socialism.
Sarah Palin remains the gift that just keeps on giving. This woman incurs controversies like it’s a way of life. This week alone she claimed that the real patriotic America is found in the small, rural towns, hinting that large cities are filled with unpatriotic people. She also misled third-graders as to the role of the vice president, “… they’re in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better…”.
The thing is that contradicts the United States Constitution. Now Palin, who keeps John McCain on the verge of a panic attack, should know that when a camera is in the room, she is talking to the nation. Nobody bushwhacked her but her tongue.
And her aides are climbing all over themselves trying to justify why she charged Alaska for her daughters’ joyrides, listed as official business… things like each daughter drawing a raffle ticket… the equivalent of me taking Rover to a function as the official greeter just because he wags his tail, and having taxpayers pay everything from plane fare, hotel rooms, to spa treatments. You’re such a goood boy, Rover, good boy.
While it is not exactly illegal to have family tripping along as long as they are doing official business, the very specious reasons that Palin gives for bringing her family along on taxpayers dime, is borderline fraudulent.
Mrs Palin, like her cohorts, have the morals and social conscience of a crackhead.