Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Reverse New Deal - An all-out attack on the homeless (part 5 of 10): Fining them for sitting down

Above: In this video, posted in April 2014, police officers issue a man a citation for sitting down. Laws against sitting in public places are intended to punish the homeless and make them go away. Where will they go? Few people know, and even fewer care (see tomorrow's blog, "Banished to the tunnels, to the storm drains, and to the undersides of bridges").

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, "...over the past 25 years, cities across the country have penalized people who are forced to carryout out life-sustaining activities on the street and in public spaces; despite the fact these communities lack adequate affordable housing and shelter space. Ultimately, many of these measures are designed to move homeless persons out of sight, and at times out of a given city."

New Deal policymakers tried to lift people up. They created work programs for unemployed & destitute Americans, they distributed surplus food, they built resettlement communities for people whose livelihoods had been wiped out by the Depression (or by farmland that could not longer produce), and they gave shelter, food, and jobs to homeless young men (the Civilian Conservation Corps). Was it perfect? Of course not. But at least they tried and experienced some degree of success and, in some cases, a large degree of success.

Today, we aren't about to try a wide-scale work, food, and shelter program for the homeless. So, with positive alternatives ruled out, we arrest arrest people who feed the homeless, smash shopping carts in fits of anger, and ticket people for sitting down. Indeed, we're quite willing to limit our own freedoms (for example, the freedom to sit in public) if that's what it takes to punish the homeless and make them go away.

Isn't that amazing?

No comments:

Post a Comment