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Saturday, May 1, 2010

What matters on the streets

Some vendors of the publication Street Roots list their priorities.

Comments (14)

No one listed bioswale?

it really reminds me to count my blessings and not sweat the petty stuff!

I guess I'm hopelessly jaded: As I scrolled through the images, tears welling up in my eyes, I could not drive out from my mind the voice of George Bush mocking the woman on death row who was begging him for clemency.

(For those of you who remained dry-eyed, try again -- but this time try to imagine each of those faces back as a six-year old child.)

Jack, Thank you for posting this.

We can put a soccer-only stadium remodel on the credit card for Merritt Paulson (before we've even paid off the last remodel), but we can't give this lady a bus pass, or a safe, warm, dry place to sleep. Such total bull-wash.


Not only can't we get a bus pass for any of these people, but we are also slashing bus service for the third time in 18 months pretty soon, for everybody.

Go by . . . car, I suppose.

Absolutely true to all of the above comments!
Homelessness will never be entirely solved, but our tax dollars could do so much more to solve the problems of hunger, homelessness, lack of medical care, that we all pay for as we build more prisons.

Back to the basics. Everyone deserves to have shelter, a job to support themselves and access.

I would love to see a photoshop of Mayor McCreepy holding a sign that says:

Millions for Merritt
Green is the new blackmail
Old sewers don't vote

The above comments all address physical needs that we normally have associated with government providing the poor through programs - housing, jobs, medical care, education, transportation, etc. These are all of course important.

But let's not forget that they also listed respect, dignity, friendship, compassion, sensitivity, understanding, and love. These cannot come from government edict, but must come from you and me as individuals.

And for the two brave souls who listed "Police accountability" and "Civil rights" on thier placards, I stand alongside you on those.

I think humanity's next logical evolutionary step, as a species, is to develop a social contract and economic structure that gives everyone access to at least the necessities of life. I don't mean having government just give people things (excepting a very few who are completely helpless); instead what we need is a practical way to enable virtually everyone to make some kind of real, tangible contribution to the greater good, no matter how small, while guaranteeing their basic needs. Maybe similar to what Sisters of the Road does, on a far larger scale, with massively increased public funding and other support for the nonprofit sector enabling it to employ (or find employment for) anyone who seeks work while seeing to their basic needs in the meantime. Or perhaps this is impractical and government does need to become an employer of last resort. (Certainly there's enough work that needs doing in our cities and public lands, probably much more than we have people for.) I'm not arguing for any particular system, just describing a necessary outcome. If we are ever to call ourselves civilized, we simply have to stop throwing people away when they lose their footing in society.

Bill Moyer, in an interview that aired recently on public radio, drew an important distinction between the government referring to you and I as "consumers" rather than "citizens".

The "consumer" moniker presumes operating under a business model which is profit-driven. Government must sometimes provide for the needs of citizens in a way that results in no profit and - indeed - even in a loss.

In a democracy there are certain necessities that all citizens are entitled to and which the government provides, chiefly through our tax dollars. Consumers, on the other hand, are expected to buy everything they need at the market rate and if they can't afford it, to go without.

Things like love, respect and understanding do not fall under the business/consumer/profit-driven rubric because pursuing or promoting them doesn't result in an influx of cash or swelling of shareholder's accounts.

I agree with most of the comments above, except for the person hearing the voice of George Bush, LOL. (Maybe the lunatic right wing fringe will be hearing the voice of Obama in 2015 or 2020 also.)

But regarding the signs, with a job (even minimum wage) can come a bus pass and a home (with affordable housing). So the order of priority should always be a job first. Not sure if that is the City's priority. With a job comes dignity, self-worth and money to buy the other necessities.

From my reading of Street Roots newspaper I think they would like the instatement of a comprehensive welfare state, too.

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