Tag Archives: homeless

OUT OF TOUCH

Jeb Bush

Following the Republican debate Thursday evening, one newspaper quoted on PBS’ McLaughlin Group observed that Jeb Bush spoke as if he thinks that America’s problems are all psychological and not real at all.   The Bushes have done well and live the dream and can’t understand why others have failed to achieve the same.

On Sunday, reports from Moscow showed a similar problem. President Vladimir Putin, by some accounts now the richest man in the world, thanks to the accumulation of ill-gotten gains, ordered the destruction of 350 tonnes of food from the EU in retaliation for western sanctions on Russia.   Mr. Putin’s decision shows that he is oblivious to the fact that millions of Russians are struggling to feed their families.  40% of Russia’s food was imported before the sanctions were announced.

Jeb Bush and Vladimir Putin aren’t the only two politicians who are out of touch with reality.   It’s difficult, for example, to imagine how Hillary Clinton, who, together with her husband, earned approximately $30 million last year, can possibly claim to represent the middle class.

It’s dangerous when politicians at the top are out of touch with people at the bottom.

In 1789, France’s Queen, Marie Antoinette supposedly said: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”   That same year, the monarchy was overthrown and, three years later, the hated Marie lost her head to Madame Guillotine.   It wasn’t that simple.   The queen actually did a great deal for the poor through her charitable work and the words she supposedly uttered were recorded over a century earlier, attributed to the Spanish wife of King Louis XIV.

But hungry people don’t care about historical accuracy – they just want to eat.

A lack of food has been a regular cause of revolution throughout history.   In 1917, a bread riot in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) started the revolution that led to the downfall of the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty.   It’s not inconceivable that something similar could happen to Mr. Putin.   Of course, the revolution did not improve the situation – seven decades of communism included many years of famine and regular food shortages even at the best of times.

No nation is exempt.   If billboards in Michigan are to be believed, one in five Michigan children go to bed hungry.

Former presidential candidate Ross Perot warned a few years ago that food stamps are all that stand between us and anarchy – in other words, take away free food for the poor and you could see a revolution in the United States.

In June, 1932, veterans marched on Washington demanding that a bonus they were promised by Congress should be brought forward as, in the midst of the Depression, they could not afford to feed their families.   They built shanty-towns outside of Washington and were determined to stay until Congress met their demands.   President Herbert Hoover sent in troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur to tear down the camps and send them home.   Reports at the time tell of great hunger amongst the vets and their families, including young children.   President Hoover was seen to be out of touch and uncaring (the shantytowns were dubbed “Hoovervilles”) and lost the election a few months later to Franklin Roosevelt.

Mr. Bush should remember the fate of the last Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who lost the 2012 election to Mr. Obama.   Mr. Romney was recorded dismissing the “47%” of the electorate who depend on government and who, therefore, were not going to vote for him anyway.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Bush, both claiming to be conservative, should have read a biography of Benjamin Disraeli, the nineteenth century Conservative British prime minister who warned of Britain becoming “two nations,” one rich and the other poor.   He reshaped the Conservative Party to be a party that reached out to the working-man.   If the Republicans are to succeed, they have to do the same, to show how their policies will help improve the life of Joe Citizen.   To do this, they need to distance themselves from Big Business.

They can do it.   The 1896 election was held in the midst of a Great Depression that saw 50% of the people unemployed, at a time when there were no unemployment benefits for those who were out of work.   Understandably, the election saw the highest turnout in American history.   80% of the electorate voted.   The presidential election that year was won by Republican William McKinley.   He promised the people sound money and high tariffs to increase employment at home.   It’s interesting to note that the same issues still prevail.

Left-leaning parties, whether the Democrats in the US or the Labour Party in Britain, do not represent working people.  They are the parties of Big Government, which gives jobs to their supporters, but leads to a rise in taxes.   Those taxes are paid by ordinary people and small businesses, making life harder for the majority of people.

Leaders, and aspiring leaders like Jeb Bush, cannot afford to be out of touch with the common people.   This is especially true in democracies where every citizen has the vote.   Perhaps Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin should copy Britain’s Prince William, who spent the night sleeping on the streets of London to get the feel of homelessness.   At the very least, his gesture showed empathy with the poor, a realization on his part that tens of thousands of people are homeless and unable to take care of themselves.

Only a return to conservative values, including restoration of the traditional family, can help people get out of poverty.   Conservatives everywhere need to convince the voters that they represent them and not Big Business.

They could start by following the example of Menachem Begin, an Israeli conservative and former prime minister.   Mr. Begin spent many years in prison under the Bolsheviks.  Reading a biography of Benjamin Disraeli helped him maintain his sanity and inspired his future conservative course.   Focusing on struggling voters makes more sense than pursuing big business!  After decades of Big Government, people want change.

Advertisements

HOMELESSNESS & THE DECLINING ECONOMY

homeless-and-hungry

We live on the west side of Lansing, which is a part of Eaton County.  Two other counties serve Lansing – Ingham and Clinton counties.

Within the tri-county area there are more than 8,700 homeless people, according to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.  Not all of these have been counted “through shelters or services used” (“Hoping for a Handout” by Belinda Thurston, City Pulse, September 17th).  That number is 7,800, which leaves a few hundred that don’t use city services, trying to take care of themselves in every respect.  There is always increased concern for the homeless as the winter approaches.

We see homeless people every day, especially at intersections where many hold up signs announcing their situation, asking for money.

Research in Michigan has shown that “of the single adult homeless in Michigan:

  • 66% had an identified disability
  • 72% were mentally ill
  • 33% had addiction issues
  • 33% had chronic health conditions
  • 66% reported more than one homeless event in their past; 33% reported more than two events.

“Homelessness is often a condition as a result of failed life skills, and it will take an inculcation across many skill sets to prepare the chronically homeless to be self-sufficient, reliable and accountable.”

Continuing:  “Common issues include long-term unemployment or unstable employment . . . ”

This brings us to the recovery or, rather, “The Recovery That Left Out Almost Everybody” (the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal by William A. Galston, 23rd September).

This article shows that only the top 10%, “with average annual incomes nearing $400,000,” have seen gains in their incomes since the Great Recession began six years ago. Median household income is 8% lower than it was in 2007, before the recession.

“About the same number of Americans were employed last month as in December 2007. But during that period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans working part time who wanted a full-time job jumped to 7.2 million from 4.6 million. Not only are hourly wages stagnating; America’s families want more hours of work than the economy is providing.”

Put simply, while 10% of the people are (slightly) better off, 90% are worse off. There’s clearly something fundamentally wrong. Not only is this issue likely to dominate the next two elections (this year and again in 2016), it’s also going to determine America’s future direction – a declining economy will inevitably mean a declining America.

The rising numbers of homeless people is not due solely to unemployment or under-employment as the study shows but it’s one factor that should be easy to resolve with the right policies.