This year I resolved not to make any New Year’s resolutions. They never last. I remember the year I resolved to be a beast of a different number. By February, I was back to the same old number I’d always been.
I can’t change no matter what I do. All I can do is embrace my rut, which is rant. I rant. That is my essence. I am rant.
The British newspaper The Guardian told us last week about all the programs in the United States giving homeless people tickets to go anywhere else. Why is the Guardian telling me what is going on in this country when we have newspapers here? I wonder about this a lot. But never mind.
So they say the programs are almost entirely optional. People request the one-way tickets. The idea is the money spent is worth it, because it’s one less person using shelters and other services. The Guardian cites the case of San Francisco, where each chronically homeless person is thought to cost the city $80,000 per year, and compared with a few hundred dollars for a bus ticket to some economically backward town where the cost of everything is half what it is in SF.
Wait. If everything is cheaper in that other town, why aren’t all the other San Franciscans moving there?
If I can embrace my skinny rut, I can embrace anything. I am so stoked that we are finally getting to the root of the problem of homelessness. Instead of making places affordable, human beings should move to places they can afford. It’s just good thinking.
It also makes sense that all these programs strive to put people back where they came from, because we all know that any place you’ve been is a better place than you are. That’s why we are totally in favor of sending all White people back to Europe. They’d be happier there with their own kind, and they would thrive in their old environments. And I hear the cost of housing is quite low in Europe’s Dozydoatsland, back where White people evolved. A friend of mine argues that the city of Seattle was right to defund all the hygiene services for homeless people, because, gosh darn it, homeless people need housing, not baths and clean clothes. Exactly the same rationalization that the city would have had to have given, if the city were a person and not a bureaucracy without a heart and feelings and therefore requiring no justification for itself or its actions. My friend says better to house 50 homeless people than provide services to enable thousands to keep clean. I’ve seen pictures of Dozydoatsland and there are sticks lying around on the ground everywhere. You lean them together, voilá, a house.
Let’s accept my friend’s rationalization, that we shouldn’t spend a dime on services for the homeless except to house what few we are able. Let’s accept that combined with the knowledge that there is cheap affordable housing in Dozydoatsland and Mississippi. And let’s accept that bus tickets cost only in the hundreds and not thousands of dollars. And I think you see where we are inexorably led by the force of our own logic.
We can’t bus people to Dozydoatsland; there’s an ocean in the way. That’s stupid. I know that. But we can sure as heck bus them to rural Mississippi.
But why bus the homeless people there? We’re still talking about spending dimes that aren’t directly for housing. Not baths anymore, but bus tickets.
Instead of spending our money on bus tickets, let’s make the person moving to Mississippi pay their own way.
How do we do that? Simple. We send the housed people to Mississippi! They’re the ones who can pay their own way, and we can be sure they can afford a new place when they get there.
And what good is it that we send them out? We move the homeless people into their vacated homes, that’s what.
By the way, if any of you object to me picking on Mississippi, please feel free to replace all instances of “Mississippi” above with “Wyoming.”
I don’t really care where the rich people go. Just so long as they leave Seattle and take their high-priced ways with them.
Let them drive rents up somewhere else for a change.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full January 3rd issue.