Libraries and the Mentally Disturbed
Reader gatitabonitasen links to a story about how libraries have become de facto shelters for the homeless and mentally disturbed. Some random questions:
1. At what point does a person’s right to do what they choose get over-ridden by the fact that they have serious mental illnesses?
2. If society has a right to lock up such a person because they might, for instance, harm a child at the library can we lock up a CEO of a company that is emitting pollution that definitely causes harm to thousands of children?
For the tax cutting crowd (including libertarians):
1. For those who don’t like paying taxes because those taxes might inadvertently benefit other people, who benefits when folks who are a danger not just to themselves but to others are out on the streets? Might the benefits of giving such people proper care, or if we’re too stingy for that, at least warehousing them away from children and access to items that could be used as weapons be worth the costs?
2. If you don’t think society should pay for the costs associated with treating these folks, who should? And who should be responsible for the damage the mentally ill cause, if not to themselves than to others?
3. Is Reagan largely responsible for the current situation? If so, did he do right or did he do bad?
For folks that are slightly left of center (like me, and I assume many readers of this blog):
1. How much care is enough for folks with mental illness? Should society offer more care to those who can become productive?
2. What’s the best way to take care of this problem for all involved, including the mentally ill folks?