This morning, the debate over healthcare reform vomited all over the social networking site I participate on. I do love these exchanges, but today I was stunned at the number of time I heard “Why should I have to pay for it?” One person even said “and is the next step going to be to build every homeless person a house doesn't a person deserve a place to live are u willing to pay for that as well. At some point it's got to stop.”
Yes, everyone should have a home. A number of individuals will focus on the failure of 1950’s and 60’s Housing Projects in the United States, but this was a failure of architecture and planning, not of intent. There is also the misconception out there that the homeless are composed strictly of derelicts, drug addicts and bums. But many of these people are mentally ill and are deserving of care that simply doesn’t exist. In the larger picture, these individuals make up only a small portion of the homeless in the United States.
Four years ago I had the privilege of serving on a volunteer committee with a gentleman who was actively involved with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. At that time, the average age of a homeless person in Chicago was 9. The fact is we don’t notice most of the homeless because they look just like us. Often, they are composed of the working poor. Transient and temporary jobs allow them to sometimes stay the night in an SRO, sometimes a shelter and sometimes their car, if they still have one. With the recession, I can only imagine that this number has grown.
While I would like to think that charities could exist as the sole support for the needs of this country, they suffer most in financial times such as these. What could your total charitable giving last year provide for? Would you have given with out the tax deduction? I myself could not give last year to a number of charities I support.
Why do we have to pay? Because it’s our duty. We have the privilege of living amidst an embarrassment of riches that we take for granted. As I mentioned on the same networking site last week, every citizen should take a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. There you can see, laid to rest, the thousands that asked nothing in return but the privilege of living here.