Murdering the Homeless: Teens Obey Conservative Message

For 30 years, conservatives have been advocating Class Warfare, pitting one group against another for political advantage – whites against minorities, the poor against the middle-class, and the rich against everybody who isn’t. They have fueled their divisiveness with violent, eliminationist rhetoric and a relentless “blame the victim” ideology aimed at promoting guilt-free greed and self-supporting selfishness. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

The AP is reporting that five teenagers in Orlando, Florida, killed a homeless man for kicks.

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After Katrina: Why Isn’t HUD Building Housing?

Katrina + 10 months

(Video from truthout.com)

An editorial in today’s NYT finally does what, so far as I know, no newspaper has done since Katrina hit New Orleans: connect a few dots in the aftermath.

The Bush administration’s mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina housing crisis has often looked like an attempt to discourage survivors from applying for help. The House has taken an important step toward reversing this policy with a bill that would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue tens of thousands of new housing vouchers under the Section 8 program, which allows low-income families to seek homes in the private real estate market.

Many of these families would have long since found permanent homes and settled into new lives had the Bush administration brought HUD — which was created to deal with these kinds of situations — into the picture at the very start. But Hurricane Katrina arrived just as the administration had made up its mind to cripple HUD and the successful Section 8 program, partly as a way of offsetting tax cuts for the wealthy.

The administration instead rigged up a confusing and inflexible housing program and put the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge. FEMA frustrated landlords and Katrina’s victims alike. Last year, one federal judge likened the convoluted application process — which too often led vulnerable families to lose aid without knowing why or having reasonable recourse to appeal — to something out of a horror story by Kafka.

With thousands of families scheduled to lose their temporary aid by September, the Senate should move quickly to pass this much-needed legislation. Hurricane Katrina’s victims should not have to keep paying the price for the administration’s misplaced animosity toward low-income housing.

It doesn’t go far enough, of course. It has become painfully clear in the year-and-a-half since Katrina that the Bush Administration sees the new New Orleans largely as a predominantly white corporate theme park. It has scattered hundreds of thousands of homeless black Orleanians to the four winds and targeted Federal money to reconstruction efforts downtown and to upscale white neighborhoods. The touchy racist aspect of the BA’s response is apparently not something the NYT is yet prepared to deal with.

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Homelessness: The Invisible Epidemic

A couple of years ago at The Revolution, I wrote about accusations that some hospitals in Los Angeles had been dumping indigent and homeless patients on Skid Row but couldn’t be charged with anything because it wasn’t actually a crime to do that. Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the California State Senate that would require hospitals to discharge homeless patients to any place they designate as “home”.

For a year, reports have surfaced that hospitals here have left homeless patients on downtown streets, including a paraplegic man wearing a hospital gown and colostomy bag who witnesses say pulled himself through the streets with a plastic bag of his belongings held in his teeth.

***

Advocates for the homeless said it was common in many cities for homeless people still requiring medical treatment to end up on the street or at the doors of shelters ill prepared for their medical needs.

“Hospitals don’t know what to do with them, and they think it’s the homeless agencies’ responsibility,” said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, a Washington advocacy group.

Mr. Stoops said local and federal laws were murky, at best, over where homeless patients should be discharged.

The proposed California law, written by members of Mr. Delgadillo’s staff and introduced by Senator Gilbert A. Cedillo, a Democrat from Los Angeles, would require hospitals to transport discharged patients to their residence or, if they lack one, to the place they identify as their home, typically a shelter.

“There currently is no law making dumping homeless hospital patients on Skid Row a crime,” Mr. Delgadillo said Thursday at a news conference. “What we really need is legal clarity that specifically prohibits it.”

This is canary-in-the-coal-mine stuff, to some extent. Though you won’t read it in the press, naturally, the homeless problem has been growing by leaps and bounds the last 6 years. Continue reading

Feds Shirking Responsibility to Homeless

Can homelessness end? Not this way

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD

Like many cities, Seattle is working on plans to end homelessness in 10 years. But no city can pull off such a worthy goal without help.

Unless the federal government is a true partner, the now-chronic problems will entangle men, women and children who today still have decent shelter. But even as hard-pressed cities (and states) look at what they can do better, the federal government is in retreat.

Increasingly, the federal vision focuses on spotting opportunities to shirk more responsibility without getting much blame. Another small step backward is likely today, when the House Appropriations Committee votes on housing funds for next year.

A subcommittee has approved across-the-board cuts of some 4.3 percent for most housing programs. The full committee’s members, including U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and George Nethercutt of Washington, ought to reverse the cuts. Sad to say, housing advocates fear committee Republicans might decide to do even worse by housing so they can restore money for space programs in House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s Houston-area district.

Homelessness is almost always an unnecessary tragedy. The federal government must join cities in resisting the apathy that treats this serious social problem as a routine and acceptable part of American life. (emphasis added by me)

‘Let’s see: housing for those homeless welfare bums or pork for The Hammer’s home district? That’s a tough one. Lemme think….OK. All done.’

Why isn’t it possible to restore the money for the space program and help build housing for those who need it when we’re talking about less money in total than the amount the Pentagon spends in a month on Star Wars R&D–the single most pointless and massive waste of government money ever devised? Why is that a priority, this sinkhole of $$Billions and Billions$$$ of our tax money over the course of 20+ years for a pipe dream that scientists admit doesn’t and probably won’t ever work and even the Pentagon’s strategists say isn’t necessary or an efficient use of defense dollars, when we’ve got hundreds of thousands of people living on the streets? When did paranoid fantasies get pushed to the top of the list and hard-core reality to the bottom? How did our priorities get so far out of whack?

The Shame Of Cheap-Labor “Conservatives”

by Phaedras

The shame of American homelessness

The economic crunch faced by America’s working poor is stark. Since 1979, U.S. housing costs have tripled. Some of that growth is the result of well-meant initiatives, such as slum clearance and rigorous building-code enforcement that forces rents upward. But governments have not compensated for the low-income housing deficit with more rent subsidies or more public housing. Both, in fact, have been gradually disappearing. Meanwhile, real pay, in dollars adjusted for inflation, went up just 1 percent from 1979 to 2003, the same period housing costs went through the roof.

They don’t adjust the change in housing costs for inflation, and they should have. But if you use the trusty-dusty CPI inflation calculator you will find that real housing costs, the biggest part of any working person’s budget, rose 20% while real wages rose 1%. This was during a period in which America as a whole got indisputably richer. Measured by the increase in GDP, America got 90% wealthier. Nearly double. But real wages went up one percent over the same period. That huge increase in wealth sure didn’t go to much of anyone in the bottom 60%. Ya know, the majority?

My question to any working person would be, don’t you feel cheated? Republican or Democrat, I don’t care. Don’t you feel cheated? Throw out the ideology, throw out the wedge issues, all I’m asking is, don’t you feel cheated? Because you should. Do you honestly think that the wealthy elite who collected most of that new wealth are really that much better than you? I don’t.

You could look at some of the abuse I’ve taken on this site, though I doubt you’ll feel like hunting for it. I will try to honestly summarize some of it. I’m an idiot because I used to be a janitor. Remember the days when there was no shame in honest work? I’m a mental defective because I’ve never risen above the working class. The same working class my great grandfather belonged to, and there was no shame in it in his day. The same working class that my grandfather started in, though he did rise to a high executive position eventually. The same working class that my mother, an LVN, was a part of. And there was never any shame in their being working class. Now I’m supposed to hang my head in shame for being a member of the working class because some Republican says so. If you’re one of those who think that, I got a little message for you: Sit on it and rotate, motherfucker. I’m at least as good as you and probably better. Money is not the measure of all things.

Like most Americans, I’m working class. Therefore I don’t deserve to make a decent living, not should I be allowed to reproduce. Who says? By what authority? It’s way past time working class people in this country started voting for their own interests. Yeah, I know, neither party truly represents our interests. The liberal elites don’t really give a shit about us, as right wingers love to point out, but the conservative elites, who seldom get mentioned, are downright hostile towards us. For better or worse, I think the Dems are where we have to start. If you strongly feel differently, I can understand that. If that’s the case, then work to change the Republican Party. Make them represent us. Someone should sure as hell be representing our interests. We are the majority.

Cross-posted at No Fear of Freedom.

S.F. Has a Plan for Homeless Problem

By Lee Romney, LA Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — City officials announced an ambitious 10-year plan Wednesday aimed at one of the nation’s most intractable homelessness problems, saying they hope to “abolish chronic homelessness” by replacing emergency shelters with permanent housing that includes supportive services.

The new plan, which Bush administration officials have praised as a potential national model, would try to move the most desperate street people out of shelters and into permanent housing where they could receive treatment for addiction, mental illnesses and other chronic health problems.

“It’s a significant day in San Francisco,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom, who campaigned last year on a pledge to attack the problem aggressively. “We’re moving … toward a goal and desire not to manage but to end homelessness. It’s brilliant in its simplicity, if we have the courage to change.”

For years, San Francisco has poured funds into social and medical services for the homeless while dealing separately with the issue of housing. That approach, officials say, has proved to be inefficient.

The city government spends about $200 million a year on helping the homeless. Of San Francisco’s estimated 15,000 homeless, 3,000 who are defined as “chronically homeless” use up about 63% of the money, said former San Francisco Supervisor Angela Alioto, who led the effort to develop the new plan.

The care of one chronically homeless person using shelters for housing, hospital emergency rooms for medical treatment, or jails, where inmates also receive medical services, costs $61,000 a year, city officials estimate. Permanent supportive housing, including treatment and care, would cost $16,000, they say.

Providing services more efficiently for the chronically homeless would free funds that could be used to help the other 12,000 people who are homeless for shorter periods of time, officials hope.

Mark Trotz, who directs a small, but highly touted, supportive-housing program for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said the trick would be reallocating money from the criminal justice and emergency medical systems to pay for more supportive housing.

“It’s a matter of us waking up and realizing that we’re spending the money anyway, but we’re spinning our wheels,” he said.

(To read the rest, click the title)

Police seek leads in torching of homeless man

‘cul’ at ratboy’s anvil dug out a horrifying story that is surprisingly unsurprising.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Police searching for leads turned to local news stations for help Thursday, asking them to air a videotaped torching of a homeless man who was sleeping on a bench. The videotape of the Tuesday night attack is of poor quality but shows six to eight people get out of cars, approach the sleeping man, then flee after flames appear.

“Then you see our victim kind of running around in a circle, flailing his arms and trying to put himself out,” Corpus Christi Police Lt. Rocky Vipond said.

Three stations in Corpus Christi aired the footage.

Lucas Adama Wiser, 21, remained in an intensive care Thursday with third-degree burns.

“We’re hoping someone might recognize that vehicle and possibly the group of guys,” Vipond said. “I don’t know if this was a joke that they thought they were playing on somebody or what their mind-set was, but it was a pretty sick joke.”

Police could not read the license plates or determine the approximate ages or ethnicities of the attackers. Investigators said they had not yet questioned Wiser because he was on heavy painkillers.

Vipond said there had been a few reports of other assaults on homeless people in the city, but it was premature to say if they were related.

The attack was caught by a video camera outside Corpus Christi Metro Ministries, a private charity.

The Rev. Robert Trache, director of Metro Ministries, said the incident was at least the third against homeless people in a 24-hour period. He said one person was dragged along the street, another person was beaten with a belt buckle. He said both incidents involved “groups of young people.”

He said it prompted an emergency meeting Wednesday of caregivers around the city.

“We were concerned this was beginning to be a pattern,” he said. “My gut feeling is that there are people who sometimes decide that they will become vigilantes and attack people … and view this as a civic good when it’s really a crime.”

He said there were an estimated 5,000 homeless in the city of about 300,000.

This comes via Phaedrus at No Fear of Freedom, of course, and, of course, he wrote a piece on the evil event that I can’t improve on.

In order to claim that progressive taxation is theft, you have to insist that everyone earns everything that happens to them. The poor are poor because they’re bad people who make bad decisions. The rich are rich because they’re really good people who make really good decisions. The effects of luck and society are negligible at best. If you can’t assign to the individual total responsibility for everything that happens in his life, then you can’t assert that the rich have an absolute right to keep their money.

You have to insist that this is as just a society as it possibly can be. This is critically important. If all of this isn’t true, then it’s easy to morally justify a progressive tax in order to redress injustice.

I don’t know what happened in this individual case of course, but there have been many attacks on the homeless and other poor and immigrants and what have you. Do I think that David Brooks or Rush or the Savage would torch a homeless man? To tell you the truth, it’s not something I spend a whole lot of time thinking about, but I suppose if one of them did I’d be very surprised. However, most, if not all, human behavior exists on a continuum, with the Mother Teresas and Ghandis near one end, I suppose people like Torquemada on the other. Brooks is at least a little bit mean, Limbaugh meaner, Savage meaner than that.

Some people are so mean that they’d torch a homeless person purely for fun regardless of the social atmosphere. But some people are only mean enough to do it if they think homeless people are bad people. And the right is telling them that the homeless are bad people.

Far as I’m concerned, the right is sacrificing the poor and homeless on the altar of Mammon. I really hope they have to explain that to their vengeful God one day.

Amen.