Monday, March 9, 2009

What Do The Homeless Deserve?

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This picture of a homeless man taking a snapshot of the ever popular Lady O was taken at DC homeless shelter where she was volunteering her time.  Of course Michelle Malkin could not resist the opportunity to wallow in her class privilege and snark about the level of need a homeless person has when they own a cell phone.  Perhaps she needs to see someone rolling in the dirt covered in excrement before she decides that they are worthy of help because as far as I can tell she has yet to point to a situation and decide that an individual  really is in need.  People like her are only about conserving their privileges at any cost.

The homeless are part of the invisible underclass that we don’t even bother to count.  Many view them as a nuisance rather than a symbol of the various ways in which our system is a failure.   How many times have you heard the excuse that I don’t give money because they will only spend it on alcohol? Not all people that live on the streets have an alcohol or drug problem and why should they spend every single dollar that they make on food?  We have become anesthetised to their condition and feel little remorse as we rush about our busy lives.

Even with the state of the economy people still refuse to see that this is not the problem of the individual, rather it is the commodification of the essentials of life.  1 in 8 people are either in foreclosure or are behind in the mortgages.  How many are also behind on their rent due to job loss?  40% of the people who are facing eviction are in that position because the landlord has lost the property to foreclosure.  Often times they don’t have the money to quickly find new lodgings. They are given little notice and quickly find themselves falling between the cracks.

If you don’t have a job, you cannot subsist in a society that has decided that all of the essentials of life come at a cost.  I suppose these people were also irresponsible.  Imagine the nerve of showing up to your job faithfully every day and expecting a company to make less profits in lean times so that you can continue to survive.  More than 500 have applied to become a school janitor in Massillon, Ohio and yet we still function with the belief that poverty is caused by the individual. 

Those that  are attempting to do advocacy work must become even more creative to draw attention to this problem as the ruling elite struggles to hold onto its undeserved advantages.  Tales fade into one another and we turn away from each other in real fear that the next story that we see on the news will one day be an accurate description of our lives.

Tim Edwards is a homeless man living in Houston.  A website entitled pimpthatbum has been created to document his story and raise funds to help him get off the streets.  Some have claimed that the owners of this site are exploiting his life however, Edwards asserts that he has moved beyond the point of shame and only wants a hand up. 

How is it possible in a country that is known for its richness that men like Edwards find it a struggle to survive everyday?  In a perfect world websites like this would not need to exist.  The point of the matter is that there are many people like Tim Edwards and though we would like to pretend they do not exist they are real and are in need of help. 

There are countless stories on the streets but the one thing that they all have in common is how difficult we make it for a person to survive.    We often times treat animals better than we treat our homeless population. In answer to the title of this post; the homeless deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.


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