Earlier in the month I offered my opinion in a blog post about the degree to which the ”collective we” are responsible for homeless people in the United States. Since my comments were made in a post about a television show, they would likely only have been read by those interested in the program. For this reason I decided to restate my arguments in this new blog post. Sixteen days ago I wrote:
Mayor Ed Koch and the ACLU
“Just to what degree are “we” responsible for the homeless? Democrat Mayor Ed Koch, one of the most effective mayors any big city has ever had, came up with a solution to much of the problem of homelessness in the 1980s. Koch accepted what all reasonable people know. A great many street people live the way they do because they are severely mentally ill. Koch decided he would send out a large team of professionals to interview and medically examine the homeless. Those who were determined to be so mentally ill that they could not care for themselves would be institutionalized. If Koch’s plan had been implemented, a large portion of the homeless would have had a warm, safe place to live, healthy food and free health care. If at some time their mental health problems improved to the point that they could care for themselves they would be released. Unfortunately, the awful American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)… successfully stopped Koch’s plan in the court system. The next time you see a poor unfortunate soul shivering in the gutter while arguing with himself and stewing in his own bodily excretions, thank the august ACLU. Are “we” responsible for what the ACLU did? Only those amongst us who are supporters of the ACLU are responsible for that segment of the homeless population that is homeless due to severe mental illness.
Homeless and Poverty
Some homeless are so because of poverty. A research study completed in the recent past showed that if a person living in the U.S. never gets arrested, completes high school and waits until marriage before becoming a parent there is a 93% chance that person will never spend a day in poverty and therefore never become homeless. Only a minority of those who become homeless for economic reasons therefore become so for reasons other than bad life decisions. Since individuals have free will the collective “we” are not responsible for the bad choices some make which lead them into homelessness.
Drugs and Alcohol Addiction and the Homeless
I believe that another portion of the homeless population can be attributed to drugs and alcohol addiction. During a visit to Manhattan late last year I walked about forty minutes north from Penn Station and noticed an average of one nodding off, begging opiate addict per block. It was unsettling to see how bad things have gotten under comrade Mayor Bill de Blasio in the world’s greatest city.
As I have gotten older I have begun to wonder just how effective is drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Is the reason why Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) refuses to release statistics on how successful the program is because its success rate is so dismal? Perhaps some are just born with a physiology and psychology that is so heavily inclined toward addiction that throwing away their lives away on drugs and alcohol is almost an inevitability and no amount or type of rehab will save them. Are “we” responsible for the way people are born?
I do believe that society can and should do a better job of treating mental illness and educating people about how to live their lives in a manner that allows them to avoid poverty. However, I nonetheless strongly disagree…[with the notion that] the collective “we” are [very] responsible for homelessness and the homeless.”
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