Helping or Hindering?

Have you ever gone for a walk downtown? We have a great downtown it is alive and vibrant, and it is always changing. People shop and go to the movies and the theater. And there are great and wonderful restaurants. We have churches of just about every faith and denomination, and we usually get along very well. All our churches and many of our citizens work together to develop a safety net for homeless and indigent people.

We offer the indigent free meals, a place to sleep warm on cold nights, close haircuts and many had this back to a regular life. Many of the homeless will enjoy these various offerings, and yet not be interested in finding continuous employment. Many, perform a dangerous task of begging for money at major intersections, and at offramps to major highways. When they let people like me drive, I understand how dangerous, for both the driver and the beggar, such a precarious use of the road begging is.

I understand the desire for the homeless and indigent to do what they can to collect money. And I do feel for the plight of those who are stuck on the street. I was told that the homeless collect about $11 an hour begging at an offramp or a major cross street. I have also been told that those begging can collect $27 an hour.

I believe more protections need to be available to those begging, the drivers, and, the other pedestrians in the area. I am not sure though that this is totally possible. The ACLU protects the rights of the indigent and homeless to beg at the spots they use.

I do like and appreciate the work of the ACLU, and I think if they really want to help the poor and indigent, they should find better ways for these people to earn a living. After all, the ACLU is there to protect everyone, and we are all part of everyone.

The ACLU could work with the City and County, the local workforce center, and various state and federal grants, to find jobs for anyone who does not have a job. Some people can cut grass, and some people can use a leaf blower, or pick up trash. Some people can do assembly work. Some people can do assembly work, or help with recycling efforts.

Granted some people are just lost. They are confused, maybe with medical or physical impairments that make it hard for them to live a regular life. These people are the ones that we should really be taking care of. And, they are usually the ones, which are helped last.

I also understand, that doing one good deed for one person, often launches a bad deed of unintended consequences for another. Not so many decades ago, the legislature and mental health advocates worked together to empty mental health wards and hospitals. They believed, they were doing good for all those poor people who had been locked up for so many years. However, letting everyone go did some good for those who did not belong in mental wards. At the same time, it did horrendous damage to many who needed to be in and have the guidance of those wards and hospitals.

Many now roam the streets, and alleyways, with neither proper medication nor anyone to ensure they take the medication. I honestly believe we are doing a disservice to these people, and we should find better ways to handle the problem.Â

Of course, it all boils down to money. Emptying the mental wards in hospitals saved private insurance companies, and the federal government some big bucks. And they would prefer not to be required to pick up those funding streams again. Although, the costs and burdens now move to emergency services and transportation, city and county police forces and sheriff’s offices, businesses who have losses due to breakage or theft caused by those released from the wards in hospitals. And, private citizens who the mentally ill may attack.

I am earnestly searching for a better way to handle this concern. What we need is a more national discussion on this topic. I ask you to please send this blog to your friends and acquaintances. I also urge everyone to reply to the blog and tell us about any solutions you can think of.

 

 

Author: Mike Balof

Mike Balof, MEd, develops intensive, interactive courses which have helped contract manufacturing and nonprofit institutions. He taught youth and adults seeking employment to better represent themselves, leading many of them to successful careers. Mike taught in corporate training, teaching adults and high school students to build computers, work as a team, and to identify and fix problems using a myriad of tools from Total Quality Management(TQM), to 8-D, to Six Sigma. Mike now turns his talents to helping fellow veterans reach their objectives and desires through continuous performance improvement. As we start to live in a post knowledge world, where a doubling of common knowledge shrinks from months to days, our essential skills will include how we interact with those around us. Mike believes there is hope for growth and opportunity for everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to retool and find the career they want. Mike strives to present students of all ages, abilities, and means with a full plate of options for learning.

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