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Homelessness, Not Hopelessness - A New Paradigm For Dignity And Quality Of Life

This is written in response to today's focus on the homeless in the Portland Tribune.
Homeless people are living, by definition, outside the box. Their co-existence on the streets with those who are inside the box is fraught with confusion. Those of us who are not homeless tend to be uncomfortable with the homeless for many reasons. These reasons may include the following and many more:
We don't understand them - why they are there, not somewhere else? What do they eat? Where do they sleep?
We fear them - they might rob us.
We fear ourselves - we could loose our jobs and become one of them.
We may envy them - they don't have exhausting 8 hour jobs that barely pay the bills to support empty lives.

There are real issues that are fuel for contention between the homed and the homeless. Some of these issues are perceptual, some are concrete.
The homeless detract from the attractiveness of a retail area, such as downtown.
They huddle on the sidewalks, often in dirty clothing, obstructing our path.
They beg for money offering nothing in return.
They root through trash cans for food and redeemable cans and bottles making noise and leaving litter scattered about.
A few commit crimes from shoplifting, to assault and robbery.
Many are intoxicated on various substances.

There are many good reasons to find solutions to the problems of the homeless. There are also many bad solutions that treat the homeless as simply undesirable pests. There are good reasons to move from homelessness being a "problem" to where homeless folks are an asset to the whole community.

We need to begin to look at the homeless problem in a brand new way - in terms that are relevant to the homeless, their lifestyle, and their needs. We need to find solutions that are not focused on making them less like they are, and more like the homed. We need to find the means of accepting and welcoming the homeless as contributors, not scourges.

This is a hard idea to have. It goes against the grain. Most solutions have been to remove the homeless from the environment by chasing them away, or changing their status from homeless to homed. New solutions need a new paradigm - that is, they need to recognize that the homeless are here to stay. They are homeless and they are a part of the community. They are, to the dismay of many, a growing part of society. They are long past the point of wishing them away.

Many homeless are willing to live at a subsistence level. They make do with begging and/or scavenging for money or resources. It is certainly a hard life, and likely not a wanted life by most, but it is as real and important to the homeless person as the life of any homed person. They deserve the dignity that any human wants and needs. Let's work with that. Let's all start thinking outside the box and find new ways to support each other with honor and respect.

Instead of the city and its institutions sheltering and feeding the homeless for free, and trying to clean and train them for jobs that they will likely never have, let's create a fertile environment for them to be themselves and serve themselves in ways that contribute to the community. Here are a couple ideas:
Create an alternative to local manufacturer's sending simple factory work overseas. Simple assembly work could be done with minimal training and the pay could be by the piece. This smacks of a sweat shop, but the focus would remain on providing a short term safe environment to earn a small amount of cash. Let's keep this work at home and let those who may be happy with a small income do it.
Create a simple crafts training center. Volunteers can train homeless folks who are interested in how to make things they can sell. These items could be simple knitting, or simple jewelry, or even artistic pieces like wood carvings. Sales could be at centralized markets, or on blankets on the sidewalk. Many cities in the world have incredible markets selling goods made by hand. These are not detrimental to the cities at all and are even tremendous tourist attractions. We should encourage, not discourage, an active street craft scene.
Create a street entertainment district. We have many very talented homeless people. Many can sing, play instruments, dance, and perform other creative amusements. They can teach each other and develop new ideas. A stage in the park could be the home to circus of talented acrobats, jugglers, comedians, etc, who could earn respect and a tip income from an appreciative audience.

Thank you for reading this essay. I look forward to comments. I would delight in this discussion leading toward a happy blending of the homed and the homeless communities.

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WHO in Vancouver 26.Jan.2005 10:11

gk

Vancouver is doing the Winter Hospitality Overflow (WHO) this winter. Many churches are offering volunteers for a week. The family site is at the St. Andrew Lutheran Church. I'm told the attendance varies, but there are about 20 people per night, and over 2,000 volunteers will have worked when this is over. Sharehouse volunteers do the intake.

An addendum (3rd try - something wrong with the posting mechanism) 26.Jan.2005 17:26

Mother

I have to write an addendum to emphasize a point. The very poor, street people, and homeless, if given a reasonable chance, can and will take care of themselves, and add value to the community. Sadly, we take from them choices that enable them to do this. We insist they either leave our sight or somehow act and look more like their wealthier neighbors. This is a very sad way to treat brother and sister human beings. It deprives our whole community of the value these folks can contribute, given a chance to do so on their terms and within the scope of their abilities.

I have traveled in Africa, Asia, and Europe. I have spend many weeks in some very poor cities where our homeless would feel middle class. A striking difference exists between our poor/homeless and those in every place I have been. The dirt poor and the homeless here tend to live off the proceeds of begging, scavenging, stealing, or handouts of money, food, shelter. In general, they don't do that elsewhere.

In other places one encounters not a few dozen very poor people in the city streets, but thousands, even millions. The amazing difference is that outright begging, so common here, is quite rare and usually reserved for people with extreme disabilities. The poor and street people of other countries have a traditional life style to call on that gives them a workable structure for finding a means of simple subsistance. That structure does not seem to exist here in any functional way.

The choices here are basically limited to begging, stealing, selling drugs, or charity, none of which provide any degree of dignity. All of which are detrimental to the overall health of the community.

The poor in other cities include merchants of every kind, entertainers, shoe repairers, bike repairers, food/snack vendors, basket makers, carvers, grocers, etc. The streets teem with their miriad of activity. These places are not scary or unattractive, but exciting and welcoming. The folks who make it happen are vital and important members of the community. They don't drive away business, they draw it, in fact, from all parts of the whole world.

Consider some of the greatest tourist destinations in the world and you will see that a most impressive feature of almost all is their fantastic markets and bazaars. Who are the entrepreneurs in these places? The very poor for the most part, working their stalls, blankets, and selling from hand carried displays. Very importantly they do this with dignity and respect. The brick and mortar merchants don't loose a penny, instead they get the windfall of all the traffic brought to their doorsteps. Our Saturday Market is but a small and poor imitation of these fantastic marketplaces.

Consider Portland. Our merchants can't stand the riff raff. They do whatever the law and money can provide to drive them away. These wealthy merchants are idiots! Who needs an artificially sanitized and sterile city? Most of us today understand that cultural diversity is wonderful asset. This city could build itself into a world class tourist destination with a little imagination and courage. The homeless and street people can be a big part of this to benefit of all, rich and poor. They are in fact essential. They are the ones with the time and guts to live on the edge and take the biggest risks.

In the beginning I mentioned that our poor don't have the traditions of the poor in other countries. We are new at this, but we can study, learn, teach, and do. Our street people have not yet realized a sustainable and working culture. That does not mean it cannot or should not happen. It just means it has not yet happened, but can in time. It will take some work and risk to get this started. Our city is fertile with able and willing extreme poor. They will need a bit of help getting their culture into working condition, an innoculation is in order. Most of them have not seen the awesome world marketplaces to emulate. This vision needs to be brought to our city's people, rich and poor, by creative and resourceful means, like indymedia. It will take volunteers with imagination, and benefactors with cash, to grow this exciting alternative.

A cliche I heard recently: If you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. I don't know how to fish, but have no doubt someone around here does.

The very poor among us are not going away. There is every indication they are a fast growing part of our whole society. We have in Portland very many immigrants from the cities with the great marketplaces. In many cases you can see how well their ways have migrated with them and succeeded. Some of these folks might be our first educational resources. Let's find a wholistic solution. How about it Portland? Let's again be a model city for the rest of the US. Let's stop calling it a homeless PROBLEM and start having a lot of fun building a community for us all.

nearly there myself once 26.Jan.2005 19:43

herstorian

About 30 years ago I was laid off and my husband decided to leave in the same week. There were a hell of a lot more options then so I found my way out of the despair and didn't end up homeless because:

*Housing was almost unimaginably cheaper then and there were all sorts of nightly and weekly rentals that were bearable and better than shelters or urban camping.

*There was a wide variety of work and all but the all-day drunks and junkies had some sort of labor they could do. A person could lead an okay life on minimum wage, working at gas stations, restaurants, etc. The day labor (now called temp) agencies had a cattle call sort of procedure-you showed up and they'd send you out. The pay was crappy but they didn't demand that you have a phone, car or address.

*There were a number of free medical clinics and even regular doctors didn't charge a lot so if you got sick it didn't necessarily mean bankruptcy.

*Food stamps were pretty easy to get-no two page forms or nasty interrogation.

*While there were some terrible things done to the mentally ill, there were also more programs to keep them safe.

I see people on the streets all the time who would have been housed and working if this sick social darwinism hadn't become fashionable beginning during the reagan days (curses upon his soul eternally). There's no reason to put all the blame on the victims of a greedy and heartless society.

Herstorian is right 26.Jan.2005 21:36

Snazmo

Herstorian is definitely right: with the election of Reagan in 1980 began the great dismantling of much of FDRs "New Deal"--a decent and humane social welfare system designed to keep social Darwinism from happening like it is today. Needless to say, Bush Sr., Clinton, and now Bush Jr. are accelerating the elimination of any safety net for the hoardes of jobless and homeless. These are the MOST SERIOUS of times, needless to say. Trends indicate things are going to get even more extreme over the coming 10 years. You now live in a corporate serving occupied police state.

The Bush administration is waging a vicious class war against all poor and disenfranchised. The oligarchy of corporate elites which have for decades planned this "Banana-Republicization" of the USA, despise the middle and lower classes and aim to make them into so many hoardes of wage slaves. They will drive this agenda home until it is realized in the coming 10 years. All coming elections will be rigged as the last two have been. Democrats (aka "republican lites") will be a marginalized party from now on, indefinitely with no chance of winning or gaining influence ever again. We basically live in a republican fascist state from this point on.

While we need solutions such as the ones being discussed in 'Mothers' article, there needs to be more aggressive activism against the corporate fascists who have taken over our government. It is all so worrying and awful to see what is unfolding now with Bush and Cheney and his ilk completely fucking over our entire country and democracy (which once was a pretty nice place to be). Now, there are thousands of skilled workers leaving this country for Canada, New Zealand, or other more civil, humane and peaceful countries. Remarkable!

In summary my point is that while it is great to try to figure out "band-aids" to help the masses of homeless today (like bizarres, or craft sales projects, and so on) they are really only so many band-aid solutions which are not addressing the root problem we are really now facing: we live in a corporate/fascist state.

Mussolini, of Italy WWII infamy, was quoted as saying "fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power". Further, John F. Kennedy once said "the biggest threat to American democracy is corporate power." The United States is now precisely this. To say otherwise is simply absurd.

To end homelessness we will have to TAKE BACK our government from the fascist corporate scum. I really don't know how this can be done as they seemingly have an iron grip on all the key elements of government; but this is the solution to the gross suffering and inequality we witness today. Finally: Martin Luther King once said that "there will only be peace and prosperity in America when it becomes socialist."

Yours in hoping for a happier, more egalitarian tomorrow,

Snazmo

Dignity Village 26.Jan.2005 23:11

Faraday

What about Dignity Village? Maybe this or something like it could be copied in other parts of the suburb industrial zones.

Corporate Control 27.Jan.2005 06:50

Marik

'To end homelessness we will have to TAKE BACK our government from the fascist corporate scum. I really don't know how this can be done as they seemingly have an iron grip on all the key elements of government; but this is the solution to the gross suffering and inequality we witness today. Finally: Martin Luther King once said that "there will only be peace and prosperity in America when it becomes socialist."

We have the numbers. We control the movement of the world, because we are the workers that drive it. Were we to strike, on a national front, the government would crumble. Refuse to pay your taxes. They cannot jail 250 million people. They cannot start wars with a military unwilling to fight. They cannot make humvees without factory workers willing to make them.

furthermore... 27.Jan.2005 11:40

Mother

The welfare state only seems benevolent. This is an attractive and dangerous illusion. It is a key root cause of endemic poverty. It fosters lower class reliance on cheap corporate sources of jobs and goods - like Walmart. It creates a mindset that is passive and subservient to the government and upper class, where the masses are educated to find their work in empty service sector "jobs", find their communities in idiotic television programming, and purchase their sustenance from corporate grocers of attractive, but low quality food.

The comment was made that a return to government entitlements is the real solution and that enabling lower class independence by tools of self reliance reflects the usual left trust in government entitlements as the solution to misery. The growth of the passive welfare class of the 2nd half of the 20th century, even while the economy grew richer for the most part, reveals this error, and leaves the dependant poor stranded without viable resources.

It is interesting that so many ideas expressed in indymedia are absolutely distrustful of government, left or right, yet when it comes to these issues of poverty we are willing, and even demanding, of their "gifts." It is nice to believe in Santa Claus, but just as that childhood myth brings a few years of joy followed by decades of disappointment, the welfare state is also a temporary delight based on a lie.

Most, nearly all, of our present general state of wealth in this country has been enabled by the nearly free work done by petroleum energy. Cheap oil energy came on line right in time to take up the slack of the abolition of slavery. Perfect. While the timing is controversial, it is clear that this non-renewable energy resource, mined from the earth, is going to soon become scarcer due to supply and demand and more expensive due to the greater difficulty to extract and refine it. Totalitarian agriculture has raped the surface of the planet, killing every plant, animal, and culture in its way, to feed an exponentially growing population, fueled lately by the conversion of natural gas to nitrogen fertilizers. This, too, is an unsustainable trend. The bottom line, as it relates to the topic of poverty, is that the overall wealth cheap petroleum and totalitarian agriculture has enabled is going to diminish - there are going to be many more poor folks in the future, not less. Even a worker's revolution will not restore what the lower and middle class has had the past 1/2 century because there just is not going to be as much to go around and there are far more people that want it. The growth of the number of extremely poor, street people, and homeless is just the beginning of a trend. It is likely that this trend is going to continue to follow its trajectory. It serves no one to serve up the false hope of a return of government entitlements. It serves everyone to find a new way to live, with dignity and happiness, and with fewer material comforts.

A growing government budget deficit, fewer entitlements, fewer and lower paying conventional jobs, a higher cost of living - these are all the reasons to abandon usual solutions offered up by our unadventurous would be leaders. It is just more of the same and the same is breaking down and won't be fixed.

You don't like the idea of the US becoming a "banana republic?" Do you think we, here in the US, have some inalienable right to enjoy greater wealth and comfort than the far greater populations of the rest of the planet? This is not the thinking of a revolutionary, but of a reactionary who would wish to continue this country's policies of imperialism and dominion of every other people who we can press to work for us at near slave labor wages, where we can pour our waste, and take their resources for our comfort.

The world market is a shitty and miserable eventuality, but only if think of it in the terms defined for you by the elite - their terms, not yours. It means we are going to be a 3rd world country some day - sooner, not later. Not because someone took something away from us, but because we are going to have to stop taking something away from others. Sucks to be a radical. Sorry about that. The elite have already realized this. What they are up to is to build up their positions so as to remain quite comfortable while the rest of us tank. This is their strategy, in their selfish interest, that can only work for them because they are already filthy rich. You take 1/2 the weight off a fat man and he is still fat. Think of it as their building of virtual fortress cities. What the rest of us are doing wrong is not thinking about it, or thinking about it in the elite's terms. They think our future is going to be a horrible place of rampant disease and hunger, and they don't really give a shit. They can afford this point of view. We cannot. You take 1/2 the weight off a skinny man and he is dead. This is where the revolution is going happen.

It is getting a little easier to see what we are headed for, but it is still mostly on the horizon. It looks like the edge of a flat earth. It looks like we will fall off if we keep going this way. Well, we are going this way. There are not many options other than to hit it sooner or a bit later, straight on or at some angle. There is no turning back. You have to take it on faith that in spite of all appearances, this horizon is not really the edge of a flat earth. There is a worthy destination out of the sight of most of us. Our efforts now should be to discover what we are headed for, and working out how we will deal with it when we get there. This is where the study of other cultures, the ones that we have historically raped for our pleasure, will help us to discover how to live quality lives with less of just about everything we now take for granted. There is no good reason to be frightened of moving in this direction. People in poor countries have meaningful and happy lives. Their lives will improve if we stop our plundering. With thought and planning, we will meet them half way. Humans have lived well on this planet for 1,000's of generations. It has only been in the past couple hundred generations that we have had the means to create and live in relative luxury - largely totalitarian agriculture and petroleum energy. Both of these factors have led us, in the first world, to unsustainable cultures. Unsustainable means there will be an end. The end is not a bad thing, but the end of many bad things, and the start of many good things. The end may even be coming just in the nick of time to save us from ecocide.

I have not been to Dignity Village. I trust it is a valiant effort and I wish it well. It is, however, not the way to go. A separate, isolated ghetto where poverty is ok is more of pushing poverty out of sight. Poverty needs to be in sight, with us daily, so that we might all see where we headed, learn to not be fearful, and find the path to all of us living together harmoniously, frugally, creatively, with health, happiness, and care for the planet, dependant not on the government, but each other, as friends and family. This is where the revolution lies.

Tear down the walls. Portland is a great place to lead the way. What happened to the daring we had to build such outrageous structures as our city building? The Pioneer Square had its beginning as a public place where anything could and did happen. Somewhere along the way we lost the spirit. The Square became sanitized, like my aunt's living room in the 50's, all covered in protective vinyl, only to be used by special guests, not friends and family. We can stir this up again. Dignity Village is like sending our family to the messy den. Let's tear off the vinyl and live where we are. Our future depends on it.

I agree we need to take back the government. The mistake is to think we can re-make it into something like we have known before. Trying to re-create an image of government from the past is as dumb for us as it is for the republicans with their 50's moral values fantasies of barefoot pregnant mom, apple pie, and Jesus watching from heaven. The future is going to have some features from the past, but they are not, and should not be the kind of features taken from our history of imperialism. Our future needs to find what modern cultural and technilogical features are sustainable and healthy, then blend them with the time proven features of much older and less wealthy cultures that have worked for millennia.

response to homeless article 27.Jan.2005 21:20

Donald mcat@teleport.com

While your article is well intentioned it is just not realistic or practical. Why not just have the national defense budget cut by 10% (freeing up about $40 billion) and use part of it to end homelessness.

I worked with the Homelessness Working Group (HWG) for about 18 months and through this effort I learned a great deal. The HWG was started by people thinking just as you do. When the results were in everyone just wanted the government to solve the problem. This really bothers me because the root causes of homelessness lie in the private sector. It is caused to a large extent by a lack of jobs, a lack of living wage jobs, a lack of affordable housing, and a lack of universal health care. The situation is getting worse not better.

The businesses that want homelessness to go away, cannot do anything about it except appeal to government and/or complain. They want lower taxes so they can have bigger better businesses that can hire more people. Never in my life have I seen the "rising tide" theory live up to its claims.

Since the homeless have the weakest of all possible constituencies they will always be last in line at the public trough and get the least. Therefore government won't solve the problem either.

It is a sad state of affairs. The HWG wants to build the "public will to end homelessness". Unfortunately it will require many thousands of dollars to just have an appropriate education campaign or its equivalent in the media, etc. How can this be justified with people dying on the streets? This is an old problem and it has been studied to death. There are 100 books about it in the Multnomah County Library. There are many web-sites devoted to it on the internet. It is also a national problem and needs to be addressed nationally. But the internationally problem is so much worse and much more sexy. Our homeless are rich by international standards.

The best hope lies in the "Portland 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness" that is to be adopted by the Portland City Council and the Multnomah County Commission soon. The unfortunate thing is that there is not enough money to fund it even though we are annually spending about $35,000,000 locally on these issues. But the state will probably cut the funds again this year and the local income tax will expire within a year or two.

Just think what could have been done if the money that went overseas for the tsunami relief could have gone instead to help the homeless and other disadvantaged here. This is an example of what the media can do it they choose too.

For further information go to the SE Uplift website and find the Homelessness Working Group under projects. Go also to the City of Portland Bureau of Housing and Community Development and look at their homelessness information.

re: donald 27.Jan.2005 21:55

another pov

as suggested in the original article, not all homeless folks want to be homed. it is a different lifestyle and the times i spent homeless were somewhat intentional.

you wrote that we could end homelessness with money. i dont think that is the case. it isnt about money. it is like saying that we can cure hunger with ge foods.

there are enough homes to house everybody. the problem is that the property is owned by the rich.

there is enough food to feed everyone. the problem is that the food is owned by ther rich.

the problem is class. that is why people continue to call for class war. it doesnt matter if you put 40 billion dollars towards homelessness, there is still one person in the world that is worth that much money.

we need to redistribute the wealth of the world to benefit the people that live here, not the people that own it.

the new world 28.Jan.2005 18:23

Mother

Donald, I totally agree with you that the billions borrowed and spent on war is a total, absolute, horrific waste. However, I am not sure you can spend to solve poverty. As I read and study more about the global population, poverty, and hunger problems, the more unsure I become about the traditional giving programs as lasting solutions. Let me try to re-create an imaginary experiment here, and see if you can understand what I am getting at.

First, let's do this without people. Let's use mice in a very large enclosure. Unlike the earth, this enclosure is without any significant boundaries to expansion. We just want to use two things in this experiment - mice and food. The metaphors will be mice to humans, and food to all other resources. Things like water, light, etc, are omitted to keep it simple. This is imaginary and that works.

Start with a healthy breeding pair of mice in the enclosure. Every morning open up a one pound block of high quality food and put it in with the mice. They are free to eat all they want. Each morning you will replace this block with a fresh one pound block. The old block will be removed no matter how much is eaten. For several weeks the mice happily fuck and eat and their population grows. As the population grows the remainder of the block each morning grows smaller. Finally one morning there is no block to replace. It was completely eaten. A census of the mouse population is taken and you find that there are now 500 mice.

Even though the food is limited each day, the mouse population continues to grow for another week or so. Then something happens - the population stops growing - births and deaths balance out. The population peaks at 550 mice. As the days pass the population goes up and down a bit, but you find there is an average of 550. It now appears reasonable to conclude that the total daily resources available to the mice can sustain about 550 mice.

An interesting thing to notice is that some mice eat a lot, some eat less, some are fat, and some are lean. Overall, as a population, they have reached an equilibrium matching their food resources.

Taking this a little further, you change the daily allotment to 2 pounds a day. As you might predict, there is a sudden population expansion and a new limit is found a couple weeks later at 1,100 mice.

Now that you have to buy 2 pounds a day of food for all these mice you start thinking this experiment is getting a little hard on the pocket book. You have too many mice and none of your friends want them. Being a kind hearted person you struggle to keep feeding them day after day and try to find a solution. Finally it dawns on you!

The next day you don't put the full 2 pounds of food in. Instead, you put in 1 pound and 15 ounces. As the day passes all the food is eaten and not too surprisingly, none of the mice seem to notice the shortage. After taking a census every day and continuing the shortage you find the population has dropped a little. There is no starving, but the birth rate has slowed a little. Soon you omit another ounce, a couple weeks later another ounce. In a couple months you are again feeding them only one pound and the population is again 550. And best of all, this has happened with no suffering! Keeping this up you continue until you have returned to a nice sustainable population of about 10 mice. They are happy, healthy, well fed, and best of all you can again afford to spend your money on beer instead of mouse food.

What is my point here? Probably confusing and too simplistic, but basically it is that the good intentions of providing unlimited increasing resources has the eventual outcome of the problem growing until it reaches equilibrium with the resources. This will always happen until (unlike the mouse experiment where there is a nice god taking care of the critters) the limits of either the container (earth) or food (all human needs) reach the limit. This is the problem of totalitarian agriculture. This is the problem with the welfare state. This is the definition of unsustainability. I think we are reaching the limits of the planet's ability to keep human population growing. By juggling resources we can move some from war to food, a good thing, but that is only going to buy an increment of time. My thesis in this whole diatribe is that the time has come, it is here now, that we humans have to start dealing with some absolute limits. We can do this and do it well, but not with the methods we have used in the past. These methods have been based on the illusion that perpetual growth on earth was possible. It turns out that is not possible. Now the time has come to start making new kinds of decisions and living new kinds of lives.

That's all. I am out of ink.

! 29.Jan.2005 17:55

.

I'm not homeless right now, but I was for a long time. I'm also a beneficiary of that "welfare state" that GWB and "Mother" are both eager to destroy, so I'll probably be back on the street eventually. I find this whole discussion incredibly patronizing. Homeless people occasionally complain about various factions of do-gooders attempting to "perform social experiments on us," and this is what they're talking about.

Mother does not want to destroy the welfare state, she wants to remove its need 30.Jan.2005 09:58

Mother

The welfare state is the crack dealer. Get a taste, like it, and a whole new life style opens up to you. There are some good times to be had, but the ultimate trajectory is not acceptable. The reason I titled this "new paradigm" is because we need to undermine the whole structure the poorly built welfare state is based on. The welfare state can only function in an infinite growth economy. The welfare state, and every other unsustainable aspect of society is going to break down, the only question is when. This IS going to happen whether anyone likes it or not. The question is are we going to let the elite and their well funded think tanks built the new world, with the wants of the elite defining the new way, or are the rest of us going to do it to suit us. How? We have the tools, we just to take them back. They are the tools of a representative government. One elected by folks who are not going willingly into the slaughterhouse of passive acceptance taught by our schools and television.

I have compassion for tough times. I have not been homeless, but did live many years in a marginal, impoverished situation. One of my children is a struggling musician who lives indoors only due to the generousity of fans and extended family.

In the US we have lost touch with out to live a good life with minimal material needs. We have sucked into the endless vortex of consumer want for crappy food, merchandise, and passive entertainments. This is what we need to rethink and redo. The objective is simple - quality lives based on sustainable needs, supported by everyone's working at what they can do for themselves and their community, not what they can do for Walmart. Etc.

Welfare missusedand abused by the lazy 01.Feb.2005 11:03

Masson

This system was built to help people now all it does is encourage people to sit on there asses, get fat, and have multible childern. Now I do know of some that are on welfare and they are appropriate and trying to improve there life .....but the mass that use the system do just that USE it.

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