The Conservative Answer to Homelessness

So there’s a post up over at Mr. O’Shea’s place titled “Homelessness: Is There a Conservative Answer?”  I’m not up to speed on the conservative credit score of the author or most of the respondents, so I’m not throwing stones — just answering the question.

I’ve never seen a person who was federally homeless, so I don’t know why it should be a federal issue.  To elevate every pothole and soup-kitchen problem to the federal level is to make the left’s case for big government.  If the states wish to involve themselves in this issue (after all, I’ve never seen a person who was homeless at the state level either), then they are welcome to, but I don’t see a federal role.

The comments bring up some good points, such as that homelessness is a symptom, and that the term “homeless” actually describes several different problems which just happen to share one particular consequence.    Treating homeless by the application of homes just raises the comfort level the same old vagrant bum, mentally ill person, or drugged-up husk.

Even looking at the worst cases, the mentally ill and the intellectually deficient, the right answers are probed with questions concerning where the family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances of the people have gone.  Why does this person have no human resources (e.g., family, friends, etc) to fall back on?  Typically, the homeless person has proven himself untrustworthy (for whatever reason) of continued inclusion in society.  The chronically homeless have settled into a way of life, and if you think that changing the behavior of competent people is difficult, it’s a walk in the park compared to trying to improve the decision-making skills of the incompetent, which is a walk through a very different park, possibly pursued by some stinking freak.

Non-chronic homelessness is a different beast, frequently the understandable “down on his luck” person who will work but is severely disjointed — hard to obtain and hold down a job when you have no home in which to shower.  Still, temp agencies and day labor outfits, on or off the books, have much to offer.  The migrant camps in front of home improvement and landscape supply stores are evidence of this.

Life is a series of rungs.  Miss too many and you not only stop climbing, but you simply fall off the ladder.  The Federal government is powerless to address the causes of most homeless cases.  And it certainly has not the authority.

There’s your conservative answer.


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One Comment

  1. Yep. As a wayward teen in 1970, I was ‘homeless’ before the word was invented. I slept outside in parks and bummed money and cigarettes from strangers. I went to missions where you could get a meal – the whole 9 yards.
    Ultimately, I did finally fall back on my parents and was able to stop drinking (probably the main cause) and get my life together.

    Generally I have zero sympathy. I’ve lived in downtown areas a lot in my life and always saw the problem in a different light than most of my contemporaries. It used to be much more fashionable to ‘help’ the homeless, until finally public sentiment turned and parroted exactly what I’d been saying, in the face of disbelief that I should hold such callous positions that giving spare change to these people did more harm than good.

    The only sympathy I have is that todays society has many, many requirements and once you fail to check every box you can fall into mental illness and addiction and overall inability to ‘fit in’. I don’t feel like I fit in myself.
    However, living in a tent with no need to pay taxes, fines, utilities etc, and really nothing to lose, isn’t such a bad life after all. I know, I’ve been there, and sometimes it look tempting….


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