Poverty has been a perplexing problem for society since records begin. For some people it is just a part of life, for others it is a problem to be solved. There is an ethics of dealing with poverty but most of the time it is ignored for so many people want to be gods. Being a god is difficult yet a few people try to exalt themselves to a godly position. The mayor of Denver, Colorado, Hickenlooper, stated he was going to eliminate homelessness in Denver. How many times have politicians made that statement. When there is a big gathering of politicians there is the issue of poverty and the homeless. Politicians set themselves up as demi-gods when they state they can solve problems that no one else has solved.
Read the books of history and literature and one will see many stories of poverty and homelessness. Charles Dickens probably wrote some of the more intriguing stories on being poor and dealing with poverty. The most famous character from the past that was homeless was a Biblical character, Abraham. By today’s standards Abram could qualify for almost every welfare program on the books, yet he was one of the richest people ever. Abraham and his tent traveled many miles searching for the Promised Land, he had no place to call home. With his family they moved about the Middle East following a dream and where they were was their home at that time.
How many people are like that today? There are hitchhikers still, traveling in old beat up campers or cars and hopping on the railcars, these people wander about states looking for something. Sometimes they get no farther than going from one side of the city to the other. This group of people become hot potatoes during election times and become very prominent but after the election, the poor and the homeless go about their life.
Among this class is a sub group, the mentally unstable that usually have criminal behavior/backgrounds. These people usually have an addiction to compound there adverse behavior and this group defines different attitudes on how to deal with them. The liberals want to look the other direction while the conservative wants to lock them up and throw the key away. Either way costs society money. Looking the other way means they will still be out there destroying and or stealing property, an expense to the victim(s). Locking them up makes a big tax burden. No matter what money is being squandered on the issue. How to deal with it?
A paint sniffer roamed the warehouse district of downtown, living under the bridges and overpasses. He would go into the yards scrounging the dumpsters, getting to know the workers in the area. Some of them would feel sorry for him and give him some food, take him the office and get some water or a soda. He was known in the area and most of the time he was harmless. As time went on his use of the solvent in paint increased and he became more oblivious to his surroundings. He would become belligerent and some of the people would become uncomfortable around him. The women that worked in the businesses became the objects of a haranguing language and he would get into fights with some of the workers. Later windows would be broken walls painted and things disappeared.
Somebody would file charges and off to jail goes the guy. After a couple of days the paint wears off and he becomes very lucid. By the end of the week he is a model prisoner and becomes a trustee. The end of a few weeks later he is released and out he goes back to his old haunts. All clean with clean clothes , shaved and a haircut. He gets along with the people in the warehouse district. Times rolls on and he starts sniffing paint again, there is destruction of private property and language around the workers. Soon it is back to jail again and the cycle is repeating itself. 30 days in jail, straighten up, back out to the streets and the cycle goes on. In and out of jail for years is not uncommon, seldom a major crime but to the victims it is very expensive plus it costs the taxpayers and takes the police away from other situations.
Locking the addict up then releasing them later does nothing to resolve the problem and locking them up over a long time accomplishes nothing most of the time. There should be other alternatives to deal with these people but because of philosophies things don’t change. The political cycle stays about the same as the addict.
When a person goes to prison there is very little rehabilitation work, most of the people that are locked up are warehoused in a cell with another criminal and they figure out ways to beat the system. Rehab work is costly and time consuming. Most inmates do not want rehab because they have been able to blame society for so many years for their problem. As long as their excuses are bought there will not be much change. This is why so many want to lock them up and throw the key away. When a person makes up their mind to change there can be an effective change and these people can lead a productive life.
Lepers were condemned to a separation from the mainstream because of their problem. Many of them did not like it yet they understood it was for the benefit of all. Just to toss people out creates another situation. Most of these people understand work and can deal with it when they sober up. If they have a hard time functioning in society in general there should be places where they can go and work on their issues and learn to be a part of society. Programs for parolees have been developed for them to go out and live in group homes and have a job. Sometimes this job is like in a camp setting.
In some areas these programs have been successful. There has been counseling and the building of self esteem and learning self control to understand the urges. These types of programs are no acceptable for some yet it is something that works. It also helps to break the cycle of in and out of jail and screwing up lives and it is better than warehousing in prisons.
Currently most of the programs we have are very costly to society and provide on relief from the criminal cycle of behavior. How much money as a society are going to throw at programs that do not work.
A big thing to keep in mind is that as a society we an experiment on how to deal with each other for we all do no walk on the same path and one size does not fit all.