Welcome to Unsolicited Advice, an open column space for anybody who wants to tell someone (or everyone) what’s what. Submit your 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is about the “homeless” phenomenon, which is getting more phenomenal all the time.
Our idiot president of the ‘80s, Ronald Reagan, invented this ongoing crisis by closing down mental hospitals, gearing the economy toward the Fat & Wealthy and fucking everyone else. You have zero political power when you’re broke and sleeping under a bridge, and that’s why the right-wing always raise such a stink about paying taxes they could well afford to pay: social problems which are to their advantage might actually get solved.
Reagan, with his heart of cement, had the answer: “The solution to homelessness is quite simple: BUY A HOUSE.”
Some of us were without a home in the ‘60s and ‘70s—but we weren’t called homeless then, we were called hippies. However, the hippie lifestyle was very different from the homeless bullshit we have now. The hardcore homeless of today hate you. Their intractable problems are YOUR FAULT, therefore gimme- gimme-gimme, and fuck you if you don’t and fuck you if you do.
Is there really no answer?
Many things have been tried. Some towns have provided camps, which seems like a good idea, but those only increase the homeless population, with all its associated grief, because now they’ve got somewhere to be and word gets around. And there are shelters everywhere but they only accept “clean and sober” people, which is like having a house with no doors to get in and out.
In the old days they had vagrancy laws and would lock bums up for having “no visible means of support.” Of course, this was absurd because you can’t make it illegal for someone to be what they are—unless your name is Adolf Hitler.
We’ve tried not giving anything to panhandlers, hoping this would make them go away. No good.
We’ve tried giving them bus tickets to Elsewhere, shifting the problem from here to there. Also no good.
Maybe the biggest part of the problem: to those of us who are mostly self-supporting, the homeless are non-entities, some antisocial ugliness to be avoided. But they are a part of us—just a shabbier, smellier, more disreputable side which we’d rather not acknowledge.
If anything would fix this terrible jam, I think it would probably have to involve a change of perspective: we’d have to look at our homeless problem honestly and for what it is (a public and mental health issue) and act on it.
So, here’s my unsolicited advice:
1) Panhandle the panhandlers. Every time you see a homeless person, ask them for spare change or an extra cigarette. This should always be done while wearing your best clothes.
2) Kill ‘em with kindness. When a homeless guy begs you for a buck, write him a check for 500 or 1000 dollars. (Ask first if he accepts plastic.) Take him home with you. Get him to run your errands, or to do a little song & dance. Introduce him to your wealthy friends. Help him to get a seat on the City Council.
3) Quit calling them “the homeless.” Remove the stigma; take away that identification, destroy the image that appeals to so many down-and-out folks and causes them to think that homelessness is really a viable lifestyle.
Written by Bags