Memorial Day : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread


By BuzzFlash Contributing Writer Rebecca Knight

Memorial Day
May 27, 2002

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."
- Samuel Adams

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration has pressured American citizens to silence their concerns or criticisms about policies implemented or actions taken in the name of national security or in unified support of the war on terrorism. Considering the history of this nation, this is an appalling strategy for an American president, vice-president, and attorney general to pursue. By seeking to squelch open debate, they may accomplish the opposite. They may have heightened the curiosity of Americans who are ingrained with a most powerful sense of right and wrong and the ability to discern the difference.

Perhaps the time has come for all Americans to give serious consideration to what our freedoms mean to us, the glorious fight of our founding fathers, and our most revered documents that established the bold experiment that is America.

In debating the American Revolution, Patrick Henry, one of the most brilliant orators in history, spoke these words:

"No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the house. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony.

Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Our founding fathers struggled mightily in determining their most eloquent wording in our beloved Declaration of Independence and Constitution, for they wanted our independence and our freedoms to pass the test of time. Originally the Constitution was remarkable in that it represented a radically new governmental concept by quantifying the liberties with which Americans are endowed. However, during the ratification process a heated debate ensued because it did not address the right to individual freedoms. Patrick Henry dissented on principle during the ratification process over his concern for individual liberties. The ratification convention was notable as a showdown between Henry and James Madison on this issue. As a result, James Madison authored our Bill of Rights, guaranteeing our individual rights.

Our First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Democracy and liberty are not the same thing. Democracy provides the right of the people to vote for public officials in fair elections, and make most political decisions by majority rule. Liberty means that even in a democracy, individuals have rights that no majority should be able to take away.

The Constitution's framers wanted to protect certain rights from government abuse. These rights were referred to in the Declaration of Independence as "unalienable rights." They were also called "natural" rights, and to James Madison, they were "the great rights of mankind." Although it is commonly thought that we are entitled to free speech because the First Amendment gives it to us, this country's original citizens believed that as human beings, they were entitled to free speech, and they invented the First Amendment in order to protect it. The entire Bill of Rights was created to protect rights the original citizens believed were naturally theirs.

Is our First Amendment under attack by those who would attempt to silence criticism? Absolutely! Those who love America should not be pressured to conform to any leader’s requests for silence, nor should they be labeled anti-American. Patriotism does not require blind loyalty to any leader. It simply requires loyalty to the documents, laws, and institutions that govern this nation. Patriots zealously love, support, and protect the best of America and strive to make it greater. In that respect, principled dissent is patriotic.

President Theodore Roosevelt expressed those sentiments with this statement:

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country.

It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.

In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth -- whether about the President or anyone else -- save in the rare cases where this would make known to the enemy information of military value which would otherwise be unknown to him."

Now is not the time for American citizens or elected officials to be cowered into accepting whatever our leaders espouse. The motivation behind Dick Cheney warning Democrats "to not seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9-11" and suggesting they be "very cautious" about their criticism is obvious. The Bush administration is trying to squelch dissent in an effort to avoid any kind of investigations. No one should fall for this obvious political ploy.

Anyone who does not believe that our liberty and freedom of speech are under attack should consider this statement made by Attorney General John Ashcroft in his testimony before the Senate: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this," he said. "Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."

Mr. Ashcroft’s words indicate a fundamental lack of respect for the First Amendment, for if it stands for anything it is that the government cannot shut down the citizens’ right to criticize their leaders. The power of speech to persuade others is a gift and if it convinces others that our leaders are wrong in actions they take on our behalf, we are within our rights to do that.

The Bush administration, by declaring a full-scale war on terrorism, may have only heightened the anger of those who hate America. Since Sept. 11, America’s wealth and attention has been focused on broad military actions, rather than homeland security. Police work and intelligence at home and abroad seems to have been neglected. Rather than focus their attention on the problems America faces and work to make progress in avoiding terrorism at home, they seem to be determined to avoid any criticism or investigation, thus causing themselves even more problems. They seem to be their own worst enemies for they are at the mercy of their basest fears of political survival. Their own paranoia and unhealthy penchant for secrecy may be their downfall because it is indicative of leaders who are deathly afraid of being caught at something illegal or unethical, thus causing their critics to be even more inquisitive.

The appropriate response to constructive criticism would be to accept it as contributing to a healthy national dialogue. While they may be acting out of concern for proper legal procedures, they would be wise to apply the same honorable motives to their critics. The fact that they do not does not bode well for the Bush administration.

So, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and Mr. Ashcroft, we who dissent are not anti-American. We are not disloyal. We most definitely are not traitors. We are not causing your problems. We merely want some answers. We have the liberty given to us by our founding fathers to disagree with you and to ask probing questions. When you attempt to take away that liberty, it is you who have become the traitors in our midst. It is you who are anti-American. It is you who are responsible for eroding our national unity. Leaders who have nothing to hide have no problem answering questions.

The liberties we were granted by our founding fathers are what make America great! We will continue to speak out. We will continue to ask questions. We will continue to demand accountability from our leaders. That is our duty as patriotic citizens. We willingly and lovingly embrace that responsibility. We treasure our liberty!

* * *

Copyright © 2002 by Rebecca Knight


Rebecca Knight may be contacted at

The Declaration of Independence:
The U.S. Constitution:
The 25 Amendments to the Constitution:
The full text of Patrick Henry’s speech:

Rebecca Knight is a native daughter of Tennessee.

BUZZFLASH FINAL NOTE: On Memorial Day, let us remember those men and women who have fought to preserve our Liberty.

-- Patriot (, May 28, 2002


I must say I agree with the writer's position far more than with Attorney General Ashcroft or Vice President Cheney's quoted remarks. President Theodore Roosevelt's quoted remarks were right on the money, too. When an administration tries to stifle criticism of their administration by associating it with disloyalty to the country (as happens with great regularity), the only proper response is the one given here.

Anyone here disagree?

-- Little Nipper (, May 28, 2002.

Anyone who disagrees will be shot.

-- (che guevara@radical.chic), May 28, 2002.

From my chair, it looks like both sides are engaging in the right to free expression. Ms. Knight (the "native daughter" of Tennessee) has been published. She has accussed Messrs. Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft as being "anti-American." Have the secret police arrived at Ms. Knight's door? Has she "disappeared?" Does Tennessee count as living in exile?

As long as I can read Ms. Knight's plaintive cries, it seems to me that the First Amendment remains in force. Unlike Ms. Knight, I do not expect any modern political leader to invite dissent or provide bullhorns to the opposition. To suggest the opposition is "anti- American" is even older than America. Personally, I find the current administration rather tame compared to the blacklisting of the 1950s or the censorship of earlier eras.

The native daughter of Tennessee reminds me of the princess and the pea. I am sorry she is so bruised by the current political leaders, but the Constitution has withstood far greater challenges than the misplaced jawboning of the current adminstration.

-- Ken Decker (, May 28, 2002.

Cute, Ken. You overlook the fact that the native daughter of Tennessee did not claim that the administration was engaged in silencing critics in the ways you enumerate. Do you disagree with anything she said, or only with the straw man you built?

-- Little Nipper (, May 28, 2002.

I disagree with Ms. Knight's characterization of the First Amendment as "under attack." Think of me as a "native son" of Missouri and show me. If Ms. Knight can publish her essay calling the members of the current administration "anti-American," how has her liberty been curtailed? I disagree with Ms. Knight claiming to know Mr. Cheney's motives. Where is her proof? Does Cheney make a plea against partisanship or an attempt to "squelch dissent" and a "political ploy?" One can make both arguments... without channeling the ghost of Patrick Henry.

I disagree that actions of the administration have "eroded national unity" or these persons are "traitors in our midst" or "anti- American." While I may not agree with some actions, I think Ms. Knight's characterization hyperbolic.

I think the administration has the same right to call dissenters "anti American" as the dissenters have to call members of the administration "anti American." This is how freedom of expression works. If Ms. Knight does not like it, she may exercise her right to whine until the next election. And I will exercise my right to become quickly bored with a partisan attack wrapped in a flag.

Should leaders welcome dissent? Sure... and they should be enlightened, wise, honest, insightful, courageous and overflowing with countless virtues. I suppose we must wait for your candidacy, Nipper.

Until then, I find Ms. Knight's essay shallow and self serving. If we boil away the turgid prose, we are left with a simple argument: My dissent is patriotic; yours is not.

And I disagree.

-- Ken Decker (, May 28, 2002.

LOL, you disagree with everything except the crap that Dumbya spews!

-- (that', May 28, 2002.

No. I actually disagree with many Bush policies. I often disagree with conservative and liberal ideas. Unlike Ms. Knight, I argue my points without playing the silly game of "I'm a patriot and you're not."

Unlike Cherri (or perhaps you), I can examine policies without a "knee jerk" reaction. Just because Bill Clinton advocated a policy (like welfare reform) doesn't make it a good or bad idea. Each idea should be judged on its merits and flaws.

Inevitably, the appeal to patriotism occurs when a given idea lacks a subtantial foundation. It's the old, "If you don't agree with me, you must not love America." Rubbish. I would strongly oppose any administration engaging in censorship. Ms. Knight fails to make any viable case of governmental censorship. Rather, she simply does not like what some officials are saying. Since when is a contrary opinion censorship (outside of a Monty Python movie)?

-- Ken Decker (, May 28, 2002.

No. I actually disagree with many Bush policies.

Yet, you are strangely silent about the Bush administration positions summarized by the quoted statements from Mr. Ashcroft. If it is difficult for others to grasp the breadth and depth of your many disagreements with the policies of Mr. Bush, perhaps it is because you keep that information quite close to your vest, while contrastingly you are quite voluable about your disagreements with many of those who criticize Bush's policies.

Under the circumstances, perhaps the source of our confusion about the frequency of your disagreements with Bush can be laid to this apparent reticence to communicate them.

Just to save you the trouble of referring to the Ashcroft statement:


Attorney General John Ashcroft in his testimony before the Senate: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this," he said. "Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."


In the face of your silence, may we then presume that you agree with Mr. Ashcroft's clear position that, for example, any members of Congress who voted against the PATRIOT Act because of reservations about the inherent loss of civil liberties involved in some of its provisions should be regarded as (rhetorically speaking, at least) traitors?

NB: I use the word "traitors" advisedly, since Mr. Ashcroft's words very clearly parallel and echo those of the Constitution's definition of treason, as "giving aid and compfort to the enemy".

-- Little Nipper (, May 28, 2002.

Ah, the logic of Russ "Big Dog" Lipton revisited, i.e. silence equals agreement. Now I realize why you seem so familiar. You may presume nothing, Nipper, unless I say it.

There are not enough hours in the day to take the Bush administration to task on every silly idea... and I felt much the same way during the Clinton era. The current administration is behaving in an utterly predictable fashion. They are using the bully pulpit to maintain American support for the "War on Terrorism." Part of this strategy is to paint dissenters in a negative light.

Pardon me, Nipper, but I do not find this a surprising tactic. Opponents of welfare reform were characterized as heartless cads who would cast families into the streets. Opponents of NAFTA were called "anti-American."

I think the "War on Terrorism" has about the same chances on the "War on Drugs" for many of the same reasons. Critics of the "War on Drugs" have been called essentially pot-smoking, pro-drug morons who want more crack babies. I think this criticism unfair, but making the criticism does not threaten my First Amendment rights. The appropriate response is not climbing onto a flag-draped soap box and humming "God Bless America" a la Ms. Knight.

Mr. Ashcroft has the right to call anyone he pleases "anti-American" as does Ms. Knight. I don't agree with Ashcroft or Knight because I think this type of bickering does little to elevate the debate.

-- Ken Decker (, May 29, 2002.

but I do not find this a surprising tactic. Opponents of welfare reform were characterized as heartless cads who would cast families into the streets.


Q. Why do we need a Tent City?

There are approximately 6,000 people homeless in the City of Seattle each night. Homeless people and advocates tend to put that figure higher; city officials tend to put it lower. 6,000 is a number that most people can agree on.

By the most generous estimate, counting all shelter beds, emergency mats on the floor, transitional housing units, the motel vouchers that DSHS provides for homeless families, and the few respite beds for people mildly ill or recovering from surgery — there are 4,000 places provided for homeless people to sleep each night.

Some of the 2,000 remaining people are "squatting" in abandoned buildings. Some live in their cars. On any particular night, some may have found a temporary friend to stay with. But hundreds of people — including women and children — are sleeping outdoors. Every night.

It is illegal to sleep in parks or on other public land. It is dangerous to sleep on the streets or in alleys.

When people can camp together, they can put together more resources, like Porta-Potties, handwashing stations, food and coffee; support each other; watch out for each other's safety and possessions. Those who work can safely leave their belongings in camp and know that they will be there when they come back.

We believe Seattle must officially recogn ize and set standards for the operation of homeless camps until there is enough housing for everyone, and enough shelter for emergency needs.

Tent Cities are legal. The King County Court of Appeals said on September 27, 2001, that "tents are obviously habitations" and that the use of tents is not in itself sufficient reason for declaring a zoning violation or refusing to grant a land use permit.

Q. Who uses Tent City?

About a third of the residents of Tent Village are couples or families. (There are no shelters where couples without children can sleep together, and a limited number of shelters where familes can stay together.)

There are another dozen or so single women. (Many of the women at Tent Village feel safer in the tents than in shelters. Other comments: there's more privacy, and better ventilation.)

At least half of the residents are working full-time, and many of the rest are working part time or in an educational program.

The residents are a celebration of diversity in age, race, creed, cultural background, and sexual preference. No abuse or derogatory language is tolerated.


by Beth Kaiman Seattle Times staff reporter • Sunday March 31, 2002 at 06:28 AM 206-464-2441

Seattle tent city becomes temporarily legal

In the first days of the tents and tarps and portable toilets and people who could no longer bear to sleep in alleys or with their head inches from someone's else's feet on a shelter floor, the main goal was to keep one step ahead of police.

Being poor, the residents were told as they were shooed from site to site, was no excuse for trespassing, and living outdoors was against the law.

So there was no reason for anyone in this hard-luck community to imagine the scene earlier this month when, on a foldout table on the muddy grounds of the North Seattle Church of the Nazarene, Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr signed papers making the tent city, at least temporarily, legal.

"We were determined to keep this community going, with or without the city's approval,'' said Anitra Freeman, president of SHARE — Seattle Housing and Resource Effort — the homeless-advocacy group that has organized the roving tent city, which marks its second anniversary Sunday. "But to get their approval? It's pretty great."

How the residents of this homeless encampment came to know victory — and beat the system — is a story of persistence, pushiness, good legal advice and church alliances that have made hosting the tent city part of their ministry.

But it is also the story of backing city officials into a morally difficult corner: For the first time, Seattle's mayor, City Council and city attorney are officially allowing the most vulnerable citizens to sleep outdoors in what may be the nation's largest, longest-running and only city-approved tent city.

"They pulled off what no one else in America has done," said Tom Byers, who served as deputy mayor under Mayor Paul Schell, and agonized over the tent-city issue for the last half of the term. "... I give them credit for taking this issue of out the back alleys and greenbelts" and into City Hall.

But, he added, "my feelings are profoundly mixed."

The tent-city movement won its earliest successes — acceptance by clergy and unexpected tolerance by neighborhoods — as an ugly symbol of society's shortcomings.

By last fall, the group had moved beyond playing heartstrings. Tent city was winning in court.

A Superior Court judge ruled in September that city officials erred in not issuing a tent-city permit to El Centro de la Raza, the Beacon Hill community center that had hosted the tent city for six months. The military, Scouts and disaster-relief groups all have histories of establishing safe tent cities, Judge Thomas Majhan said.

The city appealed, but rather than risk losing on appeal — which could throw basic housing standards into doubt — Carr recommended the deal allowing the tent city to locate almost anywhere in the city for up to three months.

He wasn't happy, he said, just doing what was needed given Majhan's ruling and the code book's failure to address encampments for the homeless.

The tent city's position also was bolstered by a new federal law seen by many as giving churches the right to ignore land-use codes while carrying out religious practices, such as hosting a tent city.

When tent-city advocates made that point last year, Seattle's code-enforcement officials stopped threatening to fine churches that welcomed the encampment.

Good news rare


That the 100 people of Seattle's tent city have won anything or are happy about anything is close to a miracle.

They are out of work or underemployed. They are construction workers, often injured, without training to do something else.

They have some money, but not two months' rent. They are hiding from husbands who beat them. They are mentally ill. They are divorced. They never did get that job on the fishing boat.

"Good news doesn't happen much around here, no," said Ken Schuckert, who is 44, divorced twice — "depressed, I guess, after the last one" — and for five years has been without his own place to live.

He has been a forklift operator and more recently, last September, a janitor at a casino. In 1988, he took some college classes. He would have liked to have gone into advertising. He's good at thinking up slogans, he said.

Last fall, he moved here from Minnesota, drawn by the milder weather. He has lived at the tent city four or five months and sat at the negotiating table as the agreement ensuring the tent city's existence was drawn up.

"It's a feeling of accomplishment," Schuckert said.

Gary Gibson, at tent city for 10 months, says the group has succeeded because of its record as a quiet, safe neighbor, where anyone who comes in drunk or disorderly is tossed out.

As for strategy, Gibson said, Scott Morrow, SHARE's paid staff member, lays out the options, as does attorney Ted Hunter, who works for free. But residents make the decisions. Sometimes, as with any lobbying group, those decisions involve a little hyperbole to make a point.

Last month, for example, even though Riverton Park United Methodist Church in Tukwila was content to have the tent city remain for a few more weeks, SHARE pleaded for a new site for the about-to-be "homeless" community.

Said Gibson, "We don't like to overstay our welcome, and we like neighborhoods to know we keep our word, that we won't stay forever."

Byers said SHARE knows how to play politics as well as anyone. But unlike other groups, there doesn't seem to be much appetite for compromise.

"They listened but didn't listen to the word 'no,' " Byers said.

All or nothing


"There was no issue while I was (in City Hall) that caused me as much pain and difficulty as tent city," Byers said.

Byers has admired the resolve of tent-city advocates, from the time SHARE set up a tent-city demonstration at a Schell housing conference at Seattle Center in 1998 to the last half of last year, when city officials held quiet negotiations aimed at exchanging more shelter and housing for a tent-city shutdown.

But he has been frustrated by the all-or-nothing attitude.

Based on those talks, Byers said, the city went ahead with a loan to convert the Pine City Inn on Fourth Avenue South to 42 units of transitional housing for homeless families. SHARE's reaction, as Byers recalled, was: OK, thanks, but tent city stays open.

Said Freeman, "The people in tent city ... do feel a responsibility to the couple thousand people who would be outside even if the Pine City Inn opened."

Which leads to whether SHARE could ever envision closing the tent city.

Only, said Freeman, when Seattle provides shelter for as many people who need it, thousands more beds if need be; overhauls the shelter system to let people come and go throughout the day and night; better segregates potentially dangerous shelter residents; and allows couples private space to sleep together.

"That's the deal," Freeman said.

Even with the court ruling that fell in the tent city's favor, advocates for the homeless might never have persuaded the Schell administration to make the same deal that Carr cut with an OK from Mayor Greg Nickels.

A judge still must sign off on the agreement.

For the Schell administration, which doubled spending on the homeless and pushed construction of transitional and permanent housing even more than emergency-shelter space, endorsing a tent city was too morally troubling, even offensive. And Byers, who spent part of his life working for better housing for migrant workers, felt the need to be consistent.

"Is it a victory, in the final analysis, to win the right to sleep in a tent in the rain?" Byers said. "I'm not sure it is."

City Council President Peter Steinbrueck, who also has spent years advocating investments in shelter and housing, has begun to see things differently. "Why is a tent settlement worse than a mat on a floor in the basement of a church?" Steinbrueck said. "Talk to those folks who are there. They're happier. There's self-determination. There's strength in that. ... They've convinced me of that."

But in the months ahead, some of Steinbrueck's colleagues on the City Council are expected to try to outlaw the tent city — at least on nonchurch sites — by requiring plumbing and other standards the encampment could never meet.

"Ultimately, it is my intent not to allow a tent city," said City Councilman Richard McIver. "It's not safe, it's not a standard that the city should be approving."

How the votes would fall is not known. Nor is it clear how long the tent city's celebration will last.

"We're happy for right now," Gibson said. "We're better off here, together, than alone in the street."

Early successes - Tent city timeline

March 2000: A tent city with about 20 residents opens at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Charlestown Street in Seattle.

January 2001: Now taking in about 100 people a night, tent city leaves El Centro de la Raza after a six-month stay during which the city ordered the grounds cleared. El Centro refuses, and the city threatens to fine it. The city rejects El Centro's application for a permit.

April 2001: Code-enforcement authorities decide not to fine a Ballard church for hosting the tent city, citing possible federal protections for churches.

September 2001: King County Superior Court Judge Thomas Majhan rules the city was wrong not to issue a tent-city permit to El Centro.

March 2002: Seattle and tent-city officials sign agreement that erases the threat of fines and allows the tent city to remain in one spot, in residential or commercial areas, for up to three months.

Copyright 2002 The Seattle Times Company

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), May 29, 2002.

Opponents of welfare reform were characterized as heartless cads who would cast families into the streets.

Just do a search in any city in America on homelessness. I remember stories of previously highly paid IT's sleeping in their cars when they lost their high paying jobs and couldn't afford rent on their unemployment payments.

Unfortunatly it was easy to remove most of the safety nets when the economy was doing really well. But now, with the crash of the high tech insanity, the stock market nosedive, Enron fallout having a "trickledown" effect on many industries, and the fallout from 911, the economy nosediving, (when the nosediving slows down that is touted as a sign that the economy is improving-instead of stating the rate of the decline is slowing slightly-but still declining.

And now the government is reducing or removing what little safety nets were left. Those who used to live comfortably, own homes, live a lifestyle beyond their means through the use of "plastic", are suddenly without jobs, loosing their homes and dealing with a government that wants to make it easier for industries like Enron to go bankrupt, and harder for individuals to do so.

Something is seriously scewed in this country today, where individuals are thrown to the sharks without a thought, and industry has the "right" to make the largest profit they possibly can, unrestricted by costly oversight and regulations on pollution. In other words their right to profit should not legally be restricted by antipollution and safety regulations.

Something is going to give pretty soon and it ain't gonna be pretty.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), May 30, 2002.

Cherri, I take it you agree with the "heartless cads" characterization. You feel so strongly why don't you open your home to these misplaced individuals. Or do you just let someone else (replace: government) handle this, right? You're just as heartless if you do.

-- Maria (, May 30, 2002.

What Cherri calls a "safety net," I call a hammock or worse, a human gill net trapping the poor in dependence.

The old public welfare system was tremendously destructive, particularly towards women and minorities. It perpetuated a cycle of poverty and dependence. Public housing has been a catastrophe, as anyone who has lived in "the projects" can attest.

As for homelessness, the number of homeless in America has been routinely inflated. Is homelessness a problem? Of course, but it's also a problem where there is no easy solution. About two-thirds of the homeless have drug, alcohol or mental health issues. This is why P.J. O'Rourke said if you give every homeless person a house, half would jump out the window and the other half would sell the plumbing for alcohol or drugs. While you may find O'Rourke's humor mean spirited, his underlying point is trenchant.

Cherri can rail against corporate America, but it is our free enterprise system that allows the vast majority of Americans to own homes... houses that have doubled in average size since the 1950s. Capitalism has created a stock of housing and workers who can purchase ever increasing amenities. I suggest Cherri spend a year working with the homeless or with long-term welfare recipients and then write us about how society is oppressing them.

-- Ken Decker (, May 30, 2002.

Ken, I don't believe that Cherri will understand the need for corporate America and the economic structure. Not because she lacks the brain power but because she continues to wear blinders. They are bad, no matter how she slices it. Nice try though. :)

-- Maria (, May 30, 2002.

Just do a search in any city in America on homelessness. I remember stories of previously highly paid IT's sleeping in their cars when they lost their high paying jobs and couldn't afford rent on their unemployment payments.

People who have high-paid jobs and who don't put some of their high pay away for a rainy day are foolish and are not the responsibility of other more prudent folks. In fact, if they still own cars, why don't they just sell them and buy a tent?

-- (, May 30, 2002.

Over the years I've volunteered in public schools, Head Start, food bank, battered women's shelter, and a crisis hotline. I'm being courted by a group that volunteers for court duty with abused kids, but I'm not ready for that. After hearing details of only one case, I don't think I'll ever be ready for that.

Most of the needy adults I've met were

(a)undereducated (public schools can't teach all kids, many adults can't read)

(b) untrained in life skills for work habits (getting up on time, going to work clean, etc)

(c) poorly equipped to handle normal daily frustrations (won't take a word of criticism and walk of the job, walk out on family responsibilities, etc)

(d) in poor health (small illnesses lead to debilitating illnesses, and most of them do not understand the concept of dental care)

(e) mentally ill (although that may be due to all of the above rather than "real" mental illness)

(f) impulsive (quit a job, have unprotected sex, move away from support without a job, etc)

(g) mean, lazy, deliberately unwilling to take care of their responsibilities

A few of the needy adults were elderly former tax payers who simply couldn't make ends meet and had fallen through the cracks in the elder care system.

A tiny percentage were working people with a temporary emergency.

(a) through (g) adults are allowed to breed. Not until damage is irrefutable is their right to keep what they breed challenged. Another generation ruined.

My impression is that homelessness and violence and hunger have causes that are rooted in one or more generations of family living previous to the person actually standing in front of me. I don't see much hope, although the object of providing the services is that there may be hope for every individual. I no longer believe it makes a positive difference to feed a homeless alcoholic drug addict if all it does is keep him alive to wander, drink, and do drugs. I wonder if it wouldn't be kinder to hand him the strongest cocaine available in large quantities and let him kill himself joyfully.

-- helen (, May 30, 2002.

I think you said it best, Helen.

-- Maria (, May 31, 2002.

Cherri will understand the need for corporate America and the economic structure.

I understand the need and beauty of corporate America, it is the corruption of what once was a great system that disturbs me.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), June 02, 2002.

"I understand the need and beauty of corporate America"

"beauty"? "BEAUTY"??

LOL, I definitely wouldn't go that far. Even the need is questionable.

-- (corporations@are.fascist), June 02, 2002.

Ken, I am in total agreement with you and moreso. Your observations are kinder Helen, than mine are. Having worked with the Medicaid system for nigh onto 19 years, and now dealing with the welfare system I feel like I have seen it all, and it's not a pretty sight. I daily wonder about the wisdom of our legislators and their use of taxpayer dollars, which include mine. I think I am becoming a libertarian! People who "demand" their entitlement as a profession are exhausting! And believe you me, some of them make a job of it!

Daily I deal with folks who say, "I can't feed my kids! I only have top ramen for dinner" I have to wonder what makes them think they could provide for the kids before they even had them? Hello?? I have a hard time wondering why Americans think the government should feed them, house them, and pay their medical bills, and oh yeah, give them a cash allowance for having kids. Do you and I expect this? No! While as Helen points out, there are the mentally ill folks who are clueless, and have no family or friends, they are in the minority. That system doesn't work either, at least in this state. My solution is to abolish the government beauracries and donate half the budgeted money to the private sector to handle it. The other half of the allocated monies only provides rent and personnel dollars anyway. I say let the local agencies and volunteers handle the monies and allocations. Then when the money is gone, so be it. A natural cap on dollars, so to speak! Where in the constitution does it say people are entitled not to work, and expect the government to pay them? Where?

Enough is enough! The poor lil Silicon Valley folks living in their cars is another example of folks expectations of the government. Why didn't they put a lil cash aside for the unexpected? It's not like they weren't amking the bucks once. Poor planning if you ask me! Some of the basics of family economics has been lost along the way here. Take care of yourself and your own. I have been unemployed in my life, and found a niche and filled it! There is always work out there, but ya gotta be willing to do it!

Sorry, my sympathy/empathy factor is at an all time low for folks not willing to work these days. There is always something one can do! Unfortuantely we have gotten away from our principals of community and helping one another, and instead rely on the government beauracracy to fill the void. Horsepucky I say. Spend my tax dollars elsewhere! Please!

-- Aunt Bee (, June 02, 2002.

Personally, AB, I think we have seen a shift in cultural values. In my youth, being "on the dole" was shameful. A social stigma was attached with receiving charity, particularly government support. Conversely, there was often a sense of pride in self sufficiency... the "beholdin' to no man" mindset.

The pyschology of entitlement has exploded, in part due to the liberal dogma that society "owes" people a certain standard of living. Having been in the home of welfare recipients, I rarely saw a dwelling absent cable television, a microwave, VCR, stereo, etc. During my adult life, I have lived without these conveniences during times when my income was lower (college, grad school, human services).

I find it difficult to feel overly sympathetic towards a person who chooses not to work while the working poor struggle. I find it difficult to endorse a system that rewards sloth or goldbricking. As you point out, AB, the most effective method of enlightment is actually to work with welfare recipients rather than develop one's theories from "Dissent" or "The New Republic." Is Nipper listening?

-- Ken Decker (, June 04, 2002.

Bee, my dear, you have said what many already know but choose to stay silent about. This forum looks like it could badly use some more ‘Advice From Auntie”.

Don’t be so shy, OK?

I may be in Tucson this summer and hope to have an opportunity to see you.

-- So (, June 05, 2002.

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