Monday, May 19, 2014

Nobility of the Poor?

Poverty is a tragedy, to be sure.  But that doesn't make the poor noble or "better" than anyone else.

The far left likes to make out the homeless as saints.   I am not making this shit up.   During the 1980's, one leftist group in the D.C. area, put up a "nativity scene", with Mary and Joseph as homeless people ("No room at the inn" - right?) and the three wise men and the shepherds as a bunch of bums and winos.

Their take?  If Jesus came back today, he would be a homeless bum.

I am not sure I agree with that interpretation of Christianity or the homeless situation.   The homeless are not noble, wise, and sanctified.   They are mostly crazy and drug-addled.  And I don't say this out of heartlessness, but out of necessity, as it is the reality of the situation of homeless people.   Most have mental health problems or drug problems or alcohol problems - or a combination of the three.

Hollywood has the same beatification attitude toward the poor.  In many television shows and movies, the poor are portrayed as "simple decent folk" who often save the day or are helpless victims of "big evil corporations."  They are depicted as more spiritual or as having supernatural powers (as in The Green Mile).   They rarely are depicted as evil, violent, and stupid people (which they usually are) except in such movies as Deliverance (which was made a long time ago, before the poor were noble).

The reality is, of course, that the poor are often very violent, racist, ignorant, and dangerous people.  This is directly the cause of their poverty, in most cases.   If you grow up thinking that being stupid is a virtue, then you won't likely ever climb the economic ladder.

It is like the family I met while RVing one time.  The little boy asked his Mother, "Momma, am I a redneck?" to which his Mother replied, "Yes, you are son, and you should be proud to be a redneck!" Talk about setting the bar pretty low!

The media paints the poor as noble victims of circumstance.   And in some instances, the poor are decent people who just aren't very bright - but try hard to work and keep a house and stay healthy.  But the homeless are often not part of that group.   The media paints all homeless as some sort of martyred saints.  Neither characterization is really a reflection of the reality of poverty or homelessness.  And skewing perceptions of reality rarely helps anyone.   In order to achieve progress, you have to first be able to perceive the problem in a rational, non-emotional, non-political manner.  Act rationally in an irrational world.

Sanctifying the homeless as some sort of noble poor does not help their situation.  Making them out to be harmless peaceful people who are just "down on their luck" makes it harder to help them, not easier, as it just polarizes the debate, and creates a false reality.  The people doing this, of course, have political agendas (from the Left or Right) and argue that "but for" the malfeasance of the opposing party, the economy would be so great as the homeless problem (which they posit as an economic problem) would simply disappear.

But poverty and homelessness are not economic problems.

But even in good times, such as the 1990's and 2000's, when the economy was going gangbusters, we still had a homeless problem.   And that is because the homeless problem is not economically driven, but driven by mental health and drug issues.   You can throw money at the homeless (many do) and they will use it to buy drugs or alcohol.   They won't use it to rise from homelessness.

Yes, there are a few people who fall down the economic ladder due to economic setbacks.  These represent the minority of the homeless or poor (and by poor, I don't mean someone who is working at a job, collecting food stamps and assistance, and living in subsidized housing - they really aren't poor are they?  Their taxable income may be low, but they have a comfortable lifestyle compared to the really poor or homeless).  Someone who ends up tossed out on the street, who really is "down on their luck" doesn't pitch a tent in a public park or begs on the street.   These people get help, and get back on their feet.  And they do this, because they realize being poor sucks.

Homeless people are not the saints that the political types make them out to be. Insane people and drug addicts can be very dangerous - as dangerous as rabid dogs. They may attack you, injure you, steal your things, urinate on your sidewalk, defaecate on your front stoop - or worse.   I've seen it all.  These are not fun people to have at parties.

Addressing the homeless problem means addressing reality. Sadly, few people like to deal with reality.  Homeless shelters are scary places simply because they are full of crazy violent drug-addicted people.   And that is why homeless shelters have "harsh rules" about not shouting at the top of your lungs in the middle of the night, or knifing your neighbor because his pudding portion was slightly larger than yours.

With regard to the latter, talk to someone who works in a homeless shelter sometime if you want to understand what I mean.   Often, the portions and types of food have to be standardized as these people, crazy and drug-addicted, will start deadly fights, if one is perceived to have received a slightly better meal than another.

And we're talking about a free meal they were given, too.   Still feel "sorry" for these folks?

And yes, there are homeless people in places like New York, who live in shelters and work for a living.   But those folks work for a living and simply cannot afford housing in the nation's most expensive city.   Likely those working folks are just as glad the shelter does have rules to keep out the violent and aggressive types who just want to do drugs and start trouble.

What got me started on this was when I went to get gas today. There was a "homeless person" loitering around the gas station, begging for money and looking for open cars to steal from.   It was a hot day, and my windows were down.  He kept circling me as I pumped gas, like a hyena circling his prey.  "Hey mister," he said, "Can I ask you a favor?"   I didn't respond.

When I didn't, he circled around my truck, looking for something to steal from the inside.  I chased him off, and was going to report him to the clerk at the station, but she was on her "smart phone" and talking to her friend about her latest prescription to Oxycontin.   He was probably her husband.

Needless to say, I won't be buying gas there again.  Gas station, or homeless shelter?  The owners have to make up their mind.