Another Day, ...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

... Another Nor'easter

I'm not catching any breaks from the snow this season. Roads the other day were, before the snow crews could catch up, the worst I'd ever driven, and they might be comparably bad this afternoon and evening. So I'm helping with the commute again. Have to be out the door momentarily.


In the meantime, here's an incredible video (via Objectivism Online) about a city ordinance in Houston that is preventing a couple from voluntarily feeding the homeless.

Not that feeding the hungry and setting food preparation standards are a proper functions of the government, but this video shows it at cross-purposes with itself, and demonstrably making the lives of poor citizens even worse than they already are in the process.

-- CAV


: Edited last paragraph.


kelleyn said...

What the City of Houston is doing is definitely wrong. However, I wish I really understood what is going on there, outside of the safe assumption that some marginal contributors to the economy have been displaced by government intervention. We had a big homeless/street people problem in the beach town where I used to live. While the media focused on the altruistic importance of helping them, locals knew how disruptive they could be.

They flocked there to panhandle from tourists. They got so pervasive and aggressive that they frightened customers away from the downtown shops and restaurants. They also littered sidewalks and lawns with their used needles and shouted from street corners. When the "Lend a Hand, Not a Handout" poster campaign failed, the City enacted a series of anti-panhandling laws, such as the one that forbade panhandling within fifty feet of an open storefront, and supported them by citing the business owners' property rights. A large shelter and soup kitchen was opened, which made the problem worse since it pulled in recipients from surrounding communities and encouraged borderline cases.

The thing that helps the most is the Homeless Garden Project. It provides a way for those of good character to (re-)enter the workforce. Many of its alumni have gone on to gainful employment in the area's trendy small farm industry; and whatever can be said about the "eat local" movement, those farms do indeed produce excellent products.

Gus Van Horn said...

A big part of the homeless problem stems from a longstanding trend towards "deinstitutionalization" of the mentally ill (including the criminally insane) over the past several decades. Many members of the homeless population are seriously mentally ill people who can't or won't take care of themselves.

kelleyn said...

Thanks, that was very informative. So much of it rang true of Santa Cruz culture and the homeless and street people there: the Vietnam war, drugs, Buddhism, conspiracy theories. It's easy to identify some of them as being mentally ill; with others, it's less obvious (and some aren't mentally ill). Deinstitutionalization also explains why, when I was working in convalescent hospitals, we had so many patients who had been offloaded from the mental health system. The author has put a lot more of the book online, and I'm looking forward to reading about the history of deinstitutionalization.

I also remembered a third type of homeless: teenagers who have either run away from or been outright thrown out of dysfunctional homes. Most of those kids would be in grave danger if they were ever taken back to where they came from. Their chances in life are severely limited through no fault of their own, and they know it. There is a charity, Above the Line, that both finds foster homes for them and runs a shelter. The last I heard of it, it was doing a lot of good.

Gus Van Horn said...

That book was quite informative (and explained lots of things I'd observed myself and had been told by others). Found it while doing some other research and found it quite helpful. Perhaps a conservative publishing house will work with that author.

Gus Van Horn said...

Oh, and thanks for pointing out where Cramer posted more of his book. I left the teaser part wishing I could read more of it.