poverty is not pretty. i've never been around a family struggling for food that was dancing in joy because of their difficult circumstance. homelessness is not romantic. i've never met a homeless person that said they were happy to be homeless and that it was an incredible adventure. poverty is hard. homelessness is difficult. both can be crippling mentally, physically and emotionally.
government assistance came into being under then president lyndon johnson. it was created to assist the poor and the homeless under the most dire of circumstances throughout the united states. receiving money from the government does help if you are in extreme poverty or you're homeless. it alleviates the struggle somewhat and does give you a lifeline to survive. living on welfare or other government handouts for months and in alot of cases years, is a bottom rung existence for the poor and should be a very low statement about our country. barely existing is an understatement when you are dependent on a branch of the government for your daily existence. our country is heavily in debt. we can barely continue to pay our bills and have been doing so only by going farther in debt. help to the poor and the homeless cannot continue to increase. with elections coming in november and the trend in political america turning to austerity and budget balancing, as usual, the poor and the homeless will be caught in the crossfire of budget cuts and defunded programs. after november elections and the political dust settles, the conservatives are probably going to have gained ground in both the senate and the congress. even if the balance is not shifted, the gravitational pull is going to be toward cutting spending on social programs and safety nets by both democrats and republicans. we have put ourselves into the position of not being able to prevent this.
now, before this austerity begins to make its ugly presence known on twitter, facebook and other social media and all the examples of welfare fraud, wasted money and government entitlements begin to rear their head, it might be prudent to begin an honest reexamination of the poor and the homeless in particular. in an effort to rehumanize the homeless and the poor we often fail to use honesty as a point of judgement. poverty and homelessness are tragic no doubt. but it's not some dark evil force that was waiting in the shadows to envelope the first innocent victim that happened by. and once you're in poverty or once you're homeless, there is no stone tied to your leg to prevent you from raising yourself out of either. this is where i part paths with most of the homeless advocates and walk a different one. this is where i step off the free housing and free food with no strings attached forever proponents and take a different stance.
you are responsible for yourself. homeless or not. you are responsible for your own financial upward mobility. poor or not...living in poverty or not. it is not, nor should it be the governments responsibility to lift you out of anything. employed or not...it is not the governments responsibility to support you for an extended period of time while you find the job you want. the governments responsibility is to provide opportunities for everyone equally and ensure that you have a short term relief when you do fall on hard times. it should end there. anything beyond that is and should be your own responsibility.
changing your life means making responsible and often big decisions about yourself. moving upward out of poverty is possible for every american, whether you are black, white, hispanic or asian. lifting yourself out of homelessness is possible for even the most chronically homeless individuals. you can find a job, even in todays america. it may not be the job you are accustomed to. it may not be the wage scale you feel you are worth. it may even require working two jobs until things become more stable for you. but it is possible and even very probable if you look, in earnest, and with no preconceived expectations of what you will except to generate income. yes, said simply, if that means working at two fast food places in order to survive temporarily....then so be it. remaining in the situation you are in and expecting the federal government to support you until your dream ship comes in is not only no longer feasible but it's a foolish dream. it's time for all the homeless and all those living in poverty to wake up and realize that government support it not the answer and it is not a way out of the situation you are in. it is a way only to remain in your poverty and remain in your homelessness. only you can create true progress toward a better life and only you can lift yourself out of the situation you're in.
this doesn't mean that you shouldn't take or utilize government assitance or help when you need it. it simply means that becoming dependent on that assistance over a long period of time is not only self defeating to your dream of becoming better, it stagnates you and makes you become dulled to the fact that you are at rock bottom and need to move upward and forward. the american dream is more difficult to achieve in todays world no doubt. but you can never achieve it waiting for the government to give it to you. only those employed by government agencies designed to help the poor and the homeless would have you or let you believe otherwise.
we...all of us...need to stop believing the government will or can rescue us. it can't. we...all of us...need to stop excusing bad choices, poor behavior and the willingness to exist on government assistance. only the elderly or the disabled should be allowed that luxury. we...all of us...need to stop excusing away all the reasons and causes of poverty and homelessness and begin instead to focus on employment, building strong neighborhoods and cities and revitalizing this country to the point of its once very proud and very strong sense of being. we are this country. we are the government. we need to begin to accept that responsibility. more than anything, we need to accept the responsibility for ourselves.
see you around town