America: Land of Abundance, Insane Homeless
By Thomas Emmon Pisano
The Insane Homeless, dirty, odoriferous and often times belligerent to the point of actual violence, these unfortunate people are living solely on our urban streets, and as far as I can see from my meager association with them, with out any visible means of support. Mostly, I am speaking of the San Fernando Valley; it is a suburb of Los Angeles, California, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. It is also one of the largest populations of the Nations homeless. The reason I am writing this essay is to bring to light the number of insane homeless people we have in our fair city. One of our attractions to the homeless is the wonderful weather we have here in Southern California. The weather is the one great thing, which lures the homeless here from all over the United States, that, along with our basic generosity and tolerance here in Los Angeles. Our city government tolerates them with an 'out of sight out of mind' policy towards these obvious mentally ill individuals. I am ashamed that my city government has taken this attitude towards the infirmed, but they do. Moreover, if you ask the city why they are seemingly indifferent towards the homeless they will give you the stock answers. 'They have shelters they can go to' or 'we do our best, they are not breaking any laws' or my favorite; 'they can get help if they want it.' If you have tried to talk to the average homeless person lately, it is near impossible to get their attention, let alone try to give them any information or help other than a handout of money. The homeless develop a mind-set; they get use to the squalor and will squat in or near businesses, causing patrons of restaurants and other such establishments to be afraid to go in or near these places of business. I would say that they cause businesses to loose revenue and inspire the public to despise them on an unconscious level, if not overtly. This is a real dilemma and it is costing us money and comfort. This crisis is, from what I understand, a national epidemic, many good citizens are on the streets, mentally disturbed and most of us see them as a threat and a danger, but we try to put them out of our minds because we cannot be bothered. We as working class citizens are too busy to deal with this 'menace.' In addition, most homeless are content with their lot in life. They are treated like criminals or diseased animals and are ignored by the public. This situation is not the average citizen's responsibility; it is a problem, which lies squarely on the shoulders of the government and the health care community, and they, as health care officials, should be supported by the Federal and State Government to find a solution to this growing public problem. I said growing problem, because of this one fact; every day children, who are lost, poor, and mentally disturbed are falling through the cracks of our society and adding to this dilemma, which is on our sidewalks here in America. There should not be one displaced person here in our country, not one, every one should be helped, weather they like it or not. They cannot make rational decisions, so why are we letting them make the decision to sleep and defecate on the street? This again raises the question, where is the money going to come from to heal all these sick people? From our taxes, like every thing else that needs fixing in our nation, from the hardworking. Now, every one starts to complain, 'I don't have homeless where I am living, so why do I have to pay?' The reason is fairly simple; you have to pay for this, because you are directly and indirectly affected by this problem. If your loved ones are accosted by a homeless person in the parking lot of a grocery store for money or your children see these people and wonder what the person is doing, or you go to your favorite coffee house to get your morning Latte' and have to side step a person who smells asking you for some spare change, then it is your problem too. Think of all the times in a week that you have encountered an insane homeless person or a rationally minded homeless person for that matter, and then you begin to see just how much you have at stake in this problem. This is an eyesore and it is a national disgrace, this makes us, the most powerful nation on the planet, look like we do not care for the mentally ill here in America. The reasons for the rehabilitation of the homeless are endless and if every individual in this country would make a stand with their appointed representatives, we could make a difference. I watched some Japanese tourists the other day, they were horrified at seeing a homeless woman in front of a café, she had squatted at one of their outside tables. She was swinging her arms around and screaming into the air at nothing. She was basically harmless, but her actions were definitely scary. To the average gentle man or woman who doesn't want any trouble, she looked like a threat, and she acts like a ticking bomb. The Japanese tourists, they turned and went back to their car and didn't patronize the establishment. The loss in dollars and cents; about twenty, and tax dollars for the city of Los Angeles, well you figure that out. Multiply that by ten or fifteen lost sales daily and you suffer a significant loss per business. Now think of all the businesses nation wide that loose money every day due to panhandlers and harassments in front of their stores, you do the math. That alone is the economics of homelessness and is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a smelly, dirty homeless man who sits near the door of a national pizza restaurant and refuses to leave because it is his right to sit there and panhandle. He has figured out that if he does this, the people in the pizza place will give him a pizza and it is understood that he will then leave. However, as long as he sits there, some of the patrons will not come into the restaurant. He does this down the street at the burger place and across at the fried chicken restaurant as well. This homeless man has a good thing going, extorting food from the businesses in the area. This is not fair to the hardworking people who have to work in this neighborhood and who depend on the foot traffic on our streets for their survival.The examples are endless and I am hoping that my point is becoming evident; we need to change our notions about the homeless. We have to stop looking at them as the harmless discards of our society and start seeing them as drains on the average citizen's resources and a loss of revenue to the local governments in which they reside.Do not harm the homeless, have the government do something positive and substantial to eliminate this difficulty, we cure the sick when they get ill from any of the other diseases, why not the poor and indigent mentally ill?
|A homeless woman in the US|
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Mr. Thomas Emmon Pisano, an electronics-engineer-turned professional writer, serves as US correspondent for The Seoul Times. A New Jersey native he has lived in California. He has started his writing career in 2003 and has authored four books including “No Murder Too Small” and Big Crimes Small Miracles.”