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The Problem of Homelessness

Kaleigh Stock

Homelessness is a seemingly never-ending problem. The numbers only multiplied during the recession. People were pushed out of their homes during the housing crisis as they were unable to pay their mortgages. There are approximately 600,000 to 800,000 on the streets on any given night and about 2 to 3.5 million who experience homelessness at some point within a year. Then there are the chronically homeless, whose numbers are tallied at about 155,000. Most of them have psychological disorders; many have drug addictions. No matter what the cause behind their absence of shelter, it is distressing to see them roaming the streets, lost and forlorn. Many of us automatically avert our eyes and spring to the other side of the sidewalk when we encounter them. When ambushed and forced to make contact, we thrust money at them in terror before they can force us look at them directly for more than five seconds, or feel any guilt for walking into a local fine diner and sharing $100 meals and $18 martinis with our significant others. Cynics may see this as a problem too complex and arduous to have a solution, but they simply are not thinking out of the box. I have considered this issue for some time, and have come up with several thorough and tidy solutions. All of these add up to my main objective: making homeless visibility to the general public illegal.

The first step is to stop feeding the homeless. How are they going to learn their lesson if we keep allowing them to sustain their lives? It is like feeding pigeons in the park, they will just keep coming back for more. Why not put up signs like we do for the other animals? If certain "do-gooders" want to ignore these recommendations, we may need to step it up and make it illegal to feed them in public. Twenty-one U.S. cities already have since 2013, and twelve others are considering pending legislation on as we speak. This will take care of public nuisances such as Arnold Abbott of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Abbott is a 90-year-old man who has been feeding the homeless for 23 years. He has been arrested for this act multiple times and could face two months in jail or a $500 fine. Can you imagine how many of the homeless he must have been not only sustaining but breeding with his handouts? How many of us look at these free meals and think, "Hey, why should I be breaking my back every day at work when I could be getting free food and plenty of sunshine by living in the streets?" Disallowing the homeless to be fed in public places such as parks or beaches, along with banning people from sleeping in public spaces, another luxury that is being accosted by several state legislatures, is aimed at making it so wretched for the homeless to stay in certain cities, they are forced to leave. Thank the good Lord we have put an end to such charities. In the words of the good Lord himself, "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind...to shove off," or something like that. (Luke 14:13)

As mentioned before, most of the chronically homeless have preexisting psychological conditions, most often Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and, not too uncommonly, PTSD. Approximately 250,000 mentally ill are homeless, and this number is growing. This is about a quarter to a third of the total homeless population, and close to the same population of Salt Lake City, Utah. At any given time, there are more than twice as many of schizophrenics and severe bipolars living on the streets than there are in hospitals receiving treatment and therapy. There are also more in jails and prisons than in hospitals. With numbers like these, it is easy to believe that many of these are feigning psychological conditions, much like the fools studied in Monty Python's documentary, "Village Idiots." It seems more than suspicious that there would be that many out there with no one doing anything about it if those numbers were not in fact inflated due to their fraudulence! The government even went so far as to cut $4.35 billion dollars in public mental health spending from 2009 to 2012. If it was such a problem, why would the government be cutting back spending instead of increasing it? Particularly when 62,619 red-blooded veterans, many of whom suffer from life-shattering PTSD, were counted in 2012. Who would let that happen? I'm sure not you or me, and certainly not our virtuous political leaders, or the philanthropic lobbyists that back them!

It seems particularly unbelievable when it ends up costing the government more to NOT take care of the homeless than it does to ignore them. With two of his colleagues, Dennis Culhane, a researcher from University of Pennsylvania, kept track of the costs of 4,600 mentally ill homeless in New York From 2002 to 2011. It cost the city and state an average of $40,451 a year to have the homeless play the musical chairs game between jail, emergency rooms, and the streets. Those placed in supportive housing cost $17,277 to house, and they tended to stay off the streets. Of course, if they are feigning it, as I quite assuredly suspect, we diligent, hard-working, tax paying Americans should not bear any weight of such costs! The approximated $20 billion dollars needed to entirely eradicate homelessness in America in five years needs to continue going toward far more important areas, such as the equivalent costing subsidies for the oil industry, the $60 billion in corporate meal and entertainment write-offs, and $70 billion capital gains tax cuts. It costs us that much to decorate our homes for Christmas every year, and what could be more Christ-like than celebrating his birth by buying a 6-foot blow-up snowmen for our front yards instead of helping the needy? And liberals, do not even start up that tired argument about the $4 to $6 trillion that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to cost us that could have this problem eradicated 75 times over. No one listened before, and no one is about to now. Besides, now we have to deal with the additional threat of ISIL, also known as ISIS. The threats to this country and our liberty is never-ending, as terrorist group after terrorist group continue to breed under our war on terror. How else would we keep America safe, and with America, the American dream? The dream that must keep all these homeless warm at night; the dream that gives them hope for a better future. These wars are just as much in their favor as everyone else's, and it is our job to keep voting in the politicians that have found these to be some of the best allocations of our tax dollars since we know what is best for them.

Drug and alcohol addictions are other major contributors to homelessness. Many of the aforementioned homeless with psychiatric illnesses attempt to self-medicate with street drugs. These vagrants obviously did not listen to their mommies and daddies, or pay attention in D.A.R.E. Even if they cannot control their own addictions or actions caused by them without counseling, and most likely psychiatric treatment and meds that they cannot afford, they were the ones to make the decision to take the drugs in the first place, and they should be made to pay for that mistake for the rest of their lives. There has been quite the controversy over which of three things we should do with the money used to fund the "war on drugs." The first is to continue pouring over $100 billion of our nation's funds into this war. The second is to reassess the allocation of those funds and put the money toward housing, medical attention, and psychiatric support so that the addicted and mentally unstable are able to start new lives and stay away from drugs, the streets, our court systems, jails, and hospitals. The third being to simply throw it into a giant pit and burn it.

The War on Drugs has worked, punishing those with drug addictions, getting them out of the public's sight, and probably even killing these criminals and deceptive child demoralizers. Undoubtedly, they learn their lesson after being thrown into jail for the17th time, particularly if they are one of the mentally ill that are vulnerable and several times more likely to be abused by cops and assaulted, attacked, raped, or even murdered on the streets by violent offenders. If that does not work, the "war on drugs" is so inadequate at actually getting people off of drugs and halting the trafficking over the border that costs tens of thousands of lives by the hands of the cartels, that if jail time does not teach them a lesson, they will take care of their own deaths when they overdose! The perfect system to weed out these debasers without having to be labeled inhumane for lethally injecting them. Any other solution would be far less costly but would take far too much work and actual thinking to bring about. Besides, why fix a system that is not broken?

Sometimes these eyesores are truly impossible to get rid of, continually coming back to their same haunts and lingering around like flies. It is like they feel like they need to be around humans or something. If none of these solutions succeed and you find yourself still looking at that same, unpleasant old man who is always shrieking at the bridge he sleeps under and pulling leftovers out of the KFC trash can, why not consider trashing your local homeless person? If even a small portion of the population pitched in to do his or her part and picked up just one homeless person to throw into a trash can to be carried off to the dump, we would have the streets clean in no time. Worried about the weight? You could always ask a friend for a helping hand, but in all reality, they probably only weigh about as much as the bag of trash in your kitchen anyway. The especially unwilling? Well, they will end up digging through the trash eventually. If we pick up the trash more often, I am sure they will end up at the dump just by chance and probability.

Bringing the homeless to the dump would take care of several problems. The homeless would be out of sight, out of mind, and they would have all the trash they could dream of. They would still have it as a food source, and they would not be guilting us into giving them our fresh food. They could even build homes out of it all the consumer products we never really needed and threw out! It is the best of both worlds: we do not have to feel guilt about our over-consumption, and the homeless get all that "shit we don't want anymore anyway." Recycling at its best!

Now I know what you are thinking, how are they ever going to learn their lessons and be encouraged to become upstanding citizens if no one has their eye on them? Of course, we will not have them thrown in the dump simply to be forgotten forever. The same law enforcers who continually accost and jail the homeless, particularly those who are mentally unstable and do not understand what is happening to them in the first place, can come by every so often and round them up for his or her usual time in the slammer. A few months here, a few months there, they will not even know the difference. We might as well make it a little tidier and turn it into a more literal game of "musical chairs." It seems only fair and humane to give them equal time in and out of the jails if no one can be bothered with paying attention to their civil liberties either way.

Trying to understand immense, underlying social issues is quite obviously out of our Nation's depths. Having legitimate compassion for people whose lives we do not care to know about, let alone understand, is an even larger hurdle. It is best to continue protecting our delicate egos. The easiest solution to this goliath of a problem is to pretend it is not a problem. Like the timeless axiom says: ignore it and it will go away.