Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ignore Communities of Need at Our Collective Peril

By JIM PURCELL

I hear a lot of non-linear thinking going on about disproportionate military and law enforcement spending by people all hopped up about Right Wing politics. Well, there is a balance needed in things; this is true of our individual lives, our families, the communities we live in and the larger communities we live in.

I work with the homeless, the jobless, those in recovery from addiction and, by the way, every single client of mine is a military veteran. And, I am here to say there are no 'disposable populations' of people. People are not disposable, as much as some might want to wish them so.

Homeless people are not made less of a problem by putting them in jail overnight. I have heard the arguments from some people that most homeless people like being homeless. Well, let me dismiss that fairy tale out of hand, as I am someone who was homeless and, rest assured, not only was I on the streets because I had nowhere to go but the vast majority of homeless people have nowhere to go or they would be there. By rounding up the homeless every night and putting them in jail does nothing to curb the problem of the homeless. They need somewhere to go, they need access to health care and to vocational training, food and essentials if they are ever going to move beyond being a problem by those who do not want to see them anymore.

What company wants to move into a place where the homeless gather? What family wants to move into that neighborhood? More police -- and more violent police -- will still not give a homeless person someplace other to go than the street. And, frankly, there is a move by the Trump administration to de-fund places like homeless shelters, supportive employment programs, meal programs, vocational rehabilitation programs and the like.

In the news, it was recently reported that, because President Trump saw a report where a little Syrian girl was gassed in an attack by the Assad regime in that country, he had the Navy fire 60 tomahawk missiles into an airfield there, after the White House called the Russians to alert them that the strike would occur. During that strike, the U.S. spent $31,500,000 in missile, according to Wikipedia. The politics here are strictly Machiavellian. Why tell the people you are shooting missiles at the missiles are coming if you are going to fire any missiles in the first place? So, it can be expected that, upon seeing any random image of grief anywhere in the world that our president will shoot tens of millions of dollars of ordnance there and then sail away -- his anger abated? Well, $31.5 million would have cured homeless in New Jersey -- perhaps permanently.

Meanwhile, by building the largest standing military in the world, the president does something else -- he creates the largest pool of veterans in the world. There have already been rumblings that these veterans will not receive the same level of benefits that their predecessors did. Certainly, Post-9/11 veterans do not receive the same long-term veterans as their fathers or mothers, unless they are service connected. Yet, here is a vital question: What other military in the world asks kids to travel all over the globe and assume any mission given by their country -- sometimes thousands of miles from their home country? I say giving veterans the benefits and rights they have since World War Ii is simply the cost of doing business and the reason why American young people do and should sign enlistment papers into the various services -- and that amendment of their rights and benefits constitutes a serious mistake and breach of trust between veterans and the nation they protect or protected.

I bring up veterans because they are a notable population within the homeless population. And, by attacking the homeless, there is the consequence of attacking the homeless veteran population also. I would say, though, that regardless of whether someone is a veteran or not they should receive great consideration from the government because it is in the government's best interest to reduce the number of homeless effectively. By 'effectively' I do not mean putting them in jail or putting them up in a homeless shelter for a year. I am talking about housing them, retraining them and moving them into real work restoration -- so they can become taxpayers instead of tax drainers.

Individually and collectively, we reap what we sow. Rest assured that some random missile strike in some Third World country will not sow the United States anything but what it has created in recent years -- more enemies overseas looking to target our interests here at home. Meanwhile, re-investing into actual areas of need will do nothing but solve problems that are plain to the naked eye.

Enough of my ranting for the moment.

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