The War on Private Citizens and Organizations Feeding the Homeless

It has been the political right’s mantra of welfare and charity being best done by private organizations rather than be government sponsored. 50 years have passed since President Johnson declared war on poverty. It was declared an abject failure by the right as it did not make people independent nor did it make people want to get off of welfare. Accordingly, it could be only be through private organizations and then the poor would be able to succeed past welfare. One NBC article written not that long ago focused on a couple feeding the poor once a week in a park in Florida .  The police ticketed the Jimenez, his wife and others for violating a local ordinance on feeding the poor in a restricted park area. The Jimenezs refused to pay the fines levied against them, the fines were ultimately forgiven by the Daytona police, and Jimenez was warned.

 

In  a follow-up article, “Food Feud: More Cities Block Meal-Sharing for Homeless; it was learned “33 cities have either adopted or are considering food–sharing restrictions. Raleigh, N.C.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Daytona Beach, Fla.;  have recently fined, removed, or threatened to jail private groups offering meals to the homeless instead of letting government-run service agencies care for those in need.” The idea of restricting food to the poor is the same as with wild animals; if you do not feed them, the poor will not come around looking for handouts and your neighborhood will remain untouched.

 

Volusia County where Daytona Beach resides called on an expert to consult with the authorities on how to resolve the problem with the poor. Robert Marbut, a national homeless consultant does not believe in locking up priests, ministers, and groups helping the poor. Nor does he believe in ordinances criminalizing the helping or feeding of the poor. Marbut does believe in “24/7 programs that treat the three root causes of homelessness – a lack of jobs, mental illnesses and chronic substance abuse – have been shown to reduce local homeless populations by 80 percent” and not just feeding the poor. Doesn’t this sound a little bit familiar and it would appear we are coming full circle on localities, states, and federal government helping the poor if only it was funded. As stated by Marbut, It is only with a combination of approaches can the poor find the means of breaking the poverty barrier once they have gotten this far in life. Of course the ultimate would be to provide the education and help before the poor ever became adults; but then, there is the little problem of Milliken vs. Bradley getting in the way of better schools and economics in cities. 

 

People are more comfortable with a group of weapon-toting people wandering into a restaurant to express their 2nd amendment right to bear arms than with having the poor around them. John Adams once noted about the poor. “The poor man’s conscience is clear . . . he does not feel guilty and has no reason to . . . yet, he is ashamed. Mankind takes no notice of him. He rambles unheeded. In the midst of a crowd; at a church; in the market . . . he is in as much obscurity as he would be in a garret or a cellar. He is not disapproved, censured, or reproached; he is not seen . . . To be wholly overlooked, and to know it, are intolerable.”  It is to a life of obscurity in which many people would push the poor.

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