Friday, December 20, 2013

Response to Timothy Egan's op ed 12/20/13

We liberals do no service by denying that many of those who need public assistance fail to help themselves and appear to be moochers. The self-righteous right, the smug who have enjoyed good luck all their lives, and many poor or lower middle class people who observe the homeless and the out of work up close, are responding to a highly visible reality. What is lacking, though, is an explanation. Why would homeless people spend their days onerously picking up tin cans, sitting in the cold or the heat to beg, living in proximity to psychopaths and other dangerous people, and subjecting themselves, their pets, and their children to filth, bureaucracy, public contempt, and deprivation? Calling them moochers (and worse) assumes that they are rational people who lack the moral fibre to act in their own interest, much less the community's. Yet as I understand it, many of the people on public assistance are either there temporarily due to misfortunes beyond their control, or because their minds lack the internal structures and capabilities necessary to function in our modern urban society. We act as if they stupidly and irrationally choose their misery. In reality, such people are the exception, not the rule.

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