Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Change You Can Believe In

I have a question.

When Ronald Reagan ran for President against Jimmy Carter, I remember the Carter campaign came out and said that when Reagan was Governor of California, he had closed all the state mental institutions and that there were now hundreds if not thousands of crazy people roaming the streets with no where to live bothering ordinary people. How low can this man go to show his ineptitude, I thought about the former President from Georgia?

Sure enough less than 4 years later, I was entering the World Trade Center from the south side at night to catch the Path train to Jersey where before it was always clean and empty, I noticed there were men lying on the ground stretched out and getting comfortable from the revolving doors through the lobby and all the way to the escalators that lead you down to the lower levels. Once again, my assumptions had been proven wrong.

Well many years later, after Senior’s, “1000 Points of Light,” Clintons “I feel your pain,” and Junior’s,” mission accomplished,” people are still sleeping in the street and begging for change at an ever increasing rate it seems.

Apparently, there are said to be 3 types of homeless person. The 1st one is one who dresses neatly, cleanly and you could never tell that they were homeless unless someone told you. You’ll probably find them sitting at the library during the day or the train station reading and or trying to figure out a way to make some change. The 2nd is the type is the one who will wear an overcoat in the summer and six layers underneath that. Or they will walk about not realizing that their privates are being exposed and being aired out so that you can smell them from about a half a block away. They will scream at you unintelligently making noises and guttural utterances no one can recognize. And the 3rd, will fall somewhere in between the other 2, the type who will ask you for change.

The 3rd type was the one that approached me the other night outside of Rita’s Water Ice. In the above picture, he was the one in the yellow asking everyone for change. The picture doesn’t really show the dirt that he was covered in or the pathetic way that he held himself as he went from person to person begging. I didn’t want to take advantage of his situation especially since I only gave him 50 cents and then only after seeing him for a second time that evening and asking him a silly question.

Close up, I noticed how young he was and how reasonably good looking he was and I wondered how he could have gotten himself into this mess. I could have thought the “there but for the grace of God,” line, but that’s something that anyone would have to worry about in my case. Yes I appreciate life but not that much. I’m the type who you would find floating down the river or lying splat on the side of the sidewalk next to a 10 storey building before I could accept that way of life. I’m not that strong. I’m not built that way.

Anyway, I wondered why the taxes I pay, or anybody pays can buy bullets and bombs and salaries for Halliburton, but not cover the costs for the homeless. Also, why after all these years, the sight of people sleeping in the streets or having them ask for your change has become acceptable and even normal in our major cities. When will all of this change?

That is my question.

And I bet you thought this was going to be about Obama.


  1. I wonder when all of this is going to change as well. It's disgusting when you see all the new expensive condos being built around the country. Not to mention all the empty acres of land that you see when flying in a plane. There's plenty of places to build housing for homeless people. What's the problem?

  2. D - I hear you, although I'm not really for more land development. That's just building homes for more people to commute from to a job that is miles away from where they live, increasing the amount of energy used and helping to drive up prices. And if the people are poor, then they probably don't have a car to begin with and with public transportation being so weak they probably wouldn't benefit from that either.

    Actually I was thinking of rounding up all the crazy people up like they used to do in the old days and putting them some place where they can receive treatment as well as shelter. They won't know their civil rights are being violated until they start taking their medicine and start to realize what's going on. As for the sane people, well there are so many vacant lots and buildings in many cities that can be refurbished that would take care of many of those.

  3. It's a catch-22 case. On one hand, the gov't don't really care. Hell, we have vets coming back from war who are homeless. Go figure. On the other hand, some of the homeless themselves don't care. My bf is an ex-cop, and he'd tell me he'd put the same person in the shelter night after night, but he didn't wanna get help and rather beg/live on the streets.

  4. It's a fallacy of truth to state or insinuate that poverty was a legacy born in the 80's. In fact President Lyndon B Johnson proposed the (continuing) 'War on Poverty' in his 1964 State of the Union address. Here we are 44 years later and we STILL have poverty.

    It stuns me how people will attempt to make the correlation between the expense of a war to protect our nation (I know the justifications are arguable but that's not for this discussion) which has gone on for about 5 years with great expense, to a social war that has commenced for over FOUR (4) DECADES with a success rate far less and NO clear end in sight not to mention the the financial cost FAR and BEYOND (continuies to)exceeds any cost born by the wars in Iraq/Afganistan.

    You say round up the crazies and put them in places and medicate them but there's no proposal to pay for this. Even for the ones whom are not crazy. Even to stuff them into refurbished apartments, who would pay for the refurbishment not to mention the cost of sustaining them. There are people in this country that believe in redistribution of wealth. I do not conform to that ideology especially since the tax policies in place in this country currently supports that ideology to a certain extent.

    Dusty Boot made a very good point in his comment. Not the one in which he states "The gov't doesn't care" because clearly 44 years of history suggest otherwise. However, the comment that some of the homeless just don't care themselves may in fact be true. I have a couple of people in my very own family whom have never worked a real job in their life and are for all intensive purposes, 'homeless'. One such relative when asked why, their response was, "I'm not giving the man any of my money!" The sad reality is that I AM THE MAN! YOU ARE THE MAN. WE ARE THE GOV'T and we care, but until an individual WANTS to do better for themselves, and take advantage of the federal progams in place (ie: Head Start, Job Corps, etc), we will ALWAYS have impovished people in this country.

    Happy 4th of July and God BLESS America!

    Yours truely,


  5. Even though Damnit and I disagree about the "war to protect our boarders," I would say the ownest lives on the individual. To say the government does not care and should do more is to show a level of ungratefulness and misunderstanding of our policies that is making me think about becoming a republican. If the government didn't care we would not have to pay into the welfare system, help fund the GI bill and the list goes on. In the case of the sane and capable, there is a lack of knowledge, motivation and/or desire to achieve. I will acknowledge that there are forces in play that make it difficult to achieve but the truth of the matter is it isn't impossible if the effort is put forth. Many people just have their hands out waiting for someone else to pull them out of their situation

    As far as the insane/mentally challenged, lock them up! ...Hope you weren't waiting on more or a just kidding...lol

  6. now thats a fridays flashback

    a gthousand points of light, i rember the first time i heard that i rolled, aall i could think of was a zmas tree

    b safe folk

  7. Dusty - That's what I'm talking about, those people who think that it's better to live on the street bothering pediestrians rather than staying at a shelter shouldn't be allowed to have there own way. What happened to all the vagrancy laws that used to be about?

    Damnit - I'm afraid you have got me wrong. Poverty has been around forever and will probably be around for a lot longer. That's a fact of life that I'm not fighting with nor am I insinuating that it was or is a legacy of the Reagan administration. What I am saying is that ever since the 80's the government has determined that care for those less able to care for themselves due to mental impairedness is no longer a priority. And that if the government can pay for 2 unnecessary wars, then why can't we pay for the care of those who can't do it for themselves.

    If a measure of a society is the way that it treats it's weakest members, then surely we have not lived up to the levels that I was born into or the ones that the late Dr King and Bobby Kennedy spoke of.

    You state that you do not conform to the idea of the redistribution of wealth through taxation. This may be true about your beliefs, but the redistribution of wealth has been going on for more than 200 years. In some cases not fairly and in most cases not even efficiently, but it has been done and all I am saying or asking is why can't we take what would be considered a small portion of government revenues to help with this. Oh and where would we get the money to cover the costs? The same place we get the money to pay for a standing defense force that cost trillions a year. China.

    Jay - I could jump on things like the GI Bill now as compared to after what the vets got after the big one, WWII. I can think about the sacrifices that people did during that period and the probably silly WPA jobs that were given out in the 30's and think about how things were handled back then with the sensibilities of their time, but I'm probably feeling a little elitist and want to have those who can't help themselves put out of harms way into an institution and those who can help themselves behind bars for vagrancy so I won't be bothered by them anymore. I don't know, I think I have mixed feelings about it all, but I also have a sneaky feeling that we both may have the same feelings about it.

    As for becoming a Republican, no problem. There are many fine and upstanding Republicans out there with thoughtful and creative ideas trying to make things better for everyone.

    T - You sound like Dukakis did when said,"what the hell is that?" and shrugged his shoulders.

  8. Curious once again you have this brotha thinking... I can not recall all the details surrounding Ron & Nancy when Regan was in office, but I do know that Nancy ran the show and closing sanatoriums would have been his decision not her's she would have strongly suggest that most people be placed in an institution of such.

    The number of homeless people has increased and they are getting younger and younger, we have that problem here in Madison. There are more than three kinds here, some are still rebelling from the actions of the war (Nam), post hippie era, the men that refuse to work for the establishment so instead he does without housing and mind you these people have degrees in higher education. We also have the brothas that will not work because has to pay child support and rent so it is easier for him to sleep in the park with his other deadbeat partners. We have the displaced families and the mentally challenged roamimg the street.

    You are absolutely right the taxes we pay should go towards suitable housing and most of us are just a payday or two from being homeless even after working umpteen years. I pay a great deal of taxes and the government takes the money to fund war, not a lot of hope for people if we should lose our jobs, homes and life savings there would be no place to turn, but the streets.

    I couldn't help, but to notice the brotha in the carnary yellow shirt, he looks to be young and fairly handsome by all means he should be able to lean on a woman or man for housing, but there is something wrong and it is probably illegal drugs and mental issues.It is a sad affair.

  9. Chet - True, there are people who will not conform to societies norms and I know there is nothing that you can do for them. But I hadn't even thought about those people who afflicted by drugs. That makes it even harder in some cases for them to be helped. I wish there was an answer, but I will admit that one probably does not exist.

    I can only hope that if Obama becomes President and carries out his interest in improving mental healthcare, maybe those of us less fortunate will be taken care of in such a way that the rest of us will be able to enjoy what little we have without having to feel guilty or indifferent to the plight of others.

  10. I wonder if any of you have actually looked at what goes into the annual budget of the United States of America... It appears from these comments that ya'll are consumed with the cost of the war neglecting the parts of the federal government dedicated to these 'social programs' which you request funding for.

    Balanced budget...HA!

    Curious, love ya blog man.


  11. Damnit - I just love saying that. It's like I'm cursing without really cursing. But yes as far as I'm concerned, I don't look at how the budget is broken down or where revenues come from but I do know that there are things that upset me, government not protecting their citizens is one of them and protection doesn't just consist of purchasing multi-million dollar airplanes to fight people in caves.

    Alright, that argument might be a little simple but you know where I'm coming from. We may never agree on this but I like that you make me think about the statements that I make. I think and hope that makes me better and I love you for it.


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