But, as I find is so often the case, I start off on one story and end up doing another. Officially there are over fourteen million unemployed in America. That is the official number that the politicians will own up to; in actuality the number could be as high as twenty million.
I have been unemployed myself for well over a year. I have twenty years of management experience, and I have a great track record with a proven record for results. However, I am over fifty years old and to prospective employers that is the kiss of death. They perceive you as about to keel over from a heart attack at any moment.
There are very few jobs to be had; the department of labor reports six people looking for every one job available. Because of the economy I became homeless and now live in a garage. I am not an alcoholic, and I'm not hooked on drugs. I'm just unemployed.
So as I began to research the tent cities across the country, what surprised me, although it really shouldn't have, was the attitudes of my countrymen towards their fellow homeless Americans.
Several years ago I read a book about a woman who was a holocaust survivor. She described how she would drag out the dead bodies from the barracks in the morning so that she could have the corpse's clothing. She could then trade the clothing for extra food or necessities. She said something that has always stuck with me. "Many people gave up on life because this was a world where it was very easy to give up on life. When you gave up then you just died."
When you are homeless it is very easy to give up on life. Every activity is an uphill struggle, cooking food, doing laundry, looking for work, etc. The industry in which I worked has virtually ceased to exist. Many unemployed workers were employed in industries that have now ceased to exist. Their jobs and careers are gone, and yet the public sneers, "Get a job." They also offer up the following helpful solutions, direct quotes all.
"As others have said..does it really help the homeless by providing them with a free home? I bet not. There are other solutions. I notice that when I give things to my children it does not tend to make them more responsible.. Just the opposite."
"I don't know the actual number, but what, isn't it like 70-80 percent of all homeless people have drug/addiction problems? Even if it's less how is tent city doing anything but enabling this problem? I know this is more about tent cities in general but honestly giving someone a free place to live along with free meals is not really motivating them to change."
"The poverty pimps will not allow the homeless to be housed without 24/7 babysitting. Without the babysitting the homeless could move on with their live and thrive; NO MONEY IN THAT FOR THE POVERTY PIMPS!"
Homeless people are not children. For the most part they want the same things that any other citizen of this country wants.
In my two decades in management I have had to deal with employees with both drug and mental problems. Mental problems are sometimes masked by drug problems; just stopping the drugs does nothing to solve the emotional issues. It is not uncommon for a widower or a divorcee to struggle with depression and to then medicate themselves with drugs or alcohol. Why should it be so difficult to understand that a person who has lost everything they've owned and worked for to use the same treatment?
Many of these people have lost husbands, wives, and children. Why is it so hard to understand their pain? These people are not made of wood or stone; they are breakable. "Many people gave up on life because this was a world where it was very easy to give up on life."
"You don't have to go beyond the first page of a Google search for "homelessness and criminal behavior" to find several links to studies, which find much higher rates of drug use, crime, and mental illness among the chronically homeless. It's sad, but some people are truly beyond saving."
"I understand unemployment is up and some people have lost homes and need a hand to get back on their feet. These tent city's are not for these people. History shows that this is just a party camp for the homeless. Help the people who want to help themselves not the ones who just want a hand out to support their criminal activity."
What is truly sad is how these people tend to view crime. They worry about the homeless man who might steal their purse but don't give a thought to the corporate executives who might steal their pension. They want all drug abusers locked away in prison because they are beyond saving. Then they listen to and watch talk show hosts with long and chronic histories of drug abuse and bob their heads, agreeing in unison.
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