I have a link to the proceedings of the Thursday, April 10, press conference that attempted to blame the disgust with the vagrancy issue on a "hostile" news media and, by name, your faithful blogger on Homelessness and the Working Poor.
Eight organizations participated: Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County, Madison-area Urban Ministry, Tenant Advocacy Group, Affordable Housing Action Alliance, Community Action Coalition, Housing Initiatives, Porchlight, YWCA, and Brenda Konkel's Tenant Resource Center.
Notice who is not among the conspirators? The Salvation Army, for one. (Also, Port St. Vincent.) No wonder Ald. Konkel crosses swords with the Salvation Army regularly, to use a military analogy. This religious organization displays a compassionate, no-nonsense approach to the issue.
Doing the hard work required
This arrived in my mailbox from the Salvation Army:
There is tremendous concern for the homeless people throughout the country, and rightly so! While politicians continue to argue how to best care for them, few solutions have been found that actually work.
The Salvation Army, on the other hand, has developed comprehensive programs to help homeless men, women and children. ...
When a homeless person comes in for food or shelter, we make sure they understand that we are prepared to help them make the changes that will remedy their problems. It won't be a surprise to you to find out that not everyone wants a remedy, nor even wants to change. Being homeless is sometimes easier than doing the hard work required to change their circumstances.
I am sure that you, like most of us, would prefer to help someone who wants to be helped, who is ready for a change.
Did you catch that? "Not everyone wants a remedy, nor even wants to change. Being homeless is sometimes easier than doing the hard work required to change their circumstances."
Major Paul Moore is asking for donations. Send a check to the Salvation Army at P.O. Box 1223, Madison 53701-1223.
Mark your calendars!
For Tuesday, April 15:
- Hey kids, good news! Your Blaska Blogger will bring his message of hope and inspiration to Mitch Henck's Outside the Box program Tuesday on 1310 WIBA-AM. That's Tuesday, April 15, from 9 to 10 a.m.
- Join me later the same day at 4 p.m. at the Social Justice Center, 1202 Williamson St., for a public planning meeting on strategies to fight homelessness. I didn't call the meeting but I'll offer a few strategies on fighting vagrancy, if they'll let me. If they're interested.
It might sound something like this...
A primer on vagrancy
Here are some quick pointers:
1. Quit the guilt-tripping. Blaming racism, a sad childhood, NAFTA, George W. Bush, rampant consumerism, or global warming does not cut it. That feeds the victim mentality. It prepares the soil for the vagrant condition by excusing the victim "from doing the hard work required to change their circumstances."
2. True compassion requires tough love. Anything less is merely enabling. Step Number 1 is to help these troubled people off the booze and dope or get them to take their meds. It cannot be done for them. If the individual does not take responsibility for his life then he will act irresponsibly.
Heather McDonald of the Manhattan Institute writes:
Compassion ... demands that people in need of charity through their own destructive habits be nudged towards rehabilitation, rather than maintained in a state of dependence.
3. The work requirement is essential. The Madison entitlement industry is aghast that I would propose a work requirement. The Left will man the ramparts to fight any work requirements. They did the same when they fought Tommy Thompson's Wisconsin Works program. Why single men should not have to work beyond some minor "chores" for their hots and cots is unfathomable unless one understands that work cuts at the concept of victimhood.
"The attack on work ranks as the most destructive ever undertaken by the city (of New York's) poverty promoters," The Manhattan Institute's Heather McDonald wrote in 2002:
Nothing is better designed to keep the homeless marginalized and infantilized than a prohibition on reciprocal work. The homeless know this; only the advocates refuse its truth.
Fred Mohs agrees that a prime ingredient to reform vagrancy is "More responsibility for the homeless interfacing with people who could help them with their issues and certainly employment, if it was adequately supervised."
4. Build it and they will come. More and better shelters and food attract more vagrants. People who are addicted to drugs and booze have different priorities. The less time required in the pursuit of food and shelter, the more time is freed for the pursuit of their fix. The City's most recent annual Homeless Report (PDF) noted that more than half of those single men in a shelter had lived in Dane County for less than one month.
5. Anti-social behavior is not part of "big city life." The survival of the public square requires responsible behavior. People who have exercised restraint and good judgment and self-sacrifice should not be expected to sidestep pools of piss or required to take the other side of the street, walking a little faster and keeping their heads down, to avoid the harassment and foul language.
McDonald relates that on Los Angeles' Skid Row, to keep ahead of the filth, business owners hired a power-cleaning truck to wash the sidewalks. The "homeless advocates" showed up en masse to protest.
A member of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker movement lay down under the truck to block its advance. Sidewalk cleaning was another tactic, the advocates said, in the "criminalization of homelessness," a ubiquitous slogan used to discredit any effort to apply social norms and laws in areas colonized by vagrants.
6. Policing works now. "Root causes" are maybe later, if ever. Madison Police Chief Noble Wray is an adherent of former New York Police Commissioner William Bratton's "Broken Windows" concept of policing.
I'll have more to say about that anon.