Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tampa, Florida Joins the Fight Against the Homeless

by S. Paul Forrest

The Tampa City Council recently added their names to the growing list of those who no longer want to see the poor and downtrodden on the streets of their city.  In a recent vote, the council decided to ban panhandling during the week save for Sunday when newspaper vendors and church groups are predominantly collecting their ill gotten gains. By a margin of 6-1, the newest policy of “out of sight, out of mind” was passed without remorse or consideration for the homeless and their unfortunate situation.

This decision causes me great confusion.  Time and time again, I have heard from these same people about how America is a Christian Nation.  In the race toward condemnation of Muslims, illegal aliens, American Indians, et al…these people still claim they are good Christians only wanting to keep our country and our cities free from drug addicts and the criminal tendencies of street corner scum.  What they are really trying to do is hide the obvious.

The panhandling population has grown by 41% since 2005.  This number is a result of not only a slowed job market but a governmental system that has shot itself in the foot.  What is meant by this is how our jobs have left America due to free trade and an overzealous system posited by bank loan restrictions, union restrictions, taxation and development fees which have all but rendered business inept.  Many people want to start and expand their businesses but the government, in all its enormously overgrown capacity, has made it too difficult.

The result of this type of governing?: Businesses do not hire due to the financial stress of additional unemployment tax, FICA, worker’s compensation or union requirements and a risky economic forecast which is not bettered by the right-wing backed, projected image of a White House regime stuck in 1952 with Marxist ideals and socialist hopes.  They also do not hire because of the instability caused by a system which in and of itself, is dysfunctional; incapable of coming to any decision on a bipartisan basis in order to revitalize our economy.

I am far from being a corporatist but jobs come from businesses allowed to profit.   When the governing body of a nation creates an anti-business atmosphere, jobs are cut and those who are left have to shoulder the weight with extra hours, no benefits and decreased pay else join the numbers on the corner begging for money.  

Time and time again, I have heard people from the same point of view stated above tell those without jobs that if they just became more innovative, they would survive.  I would say that if a person has suffered so much as to find the courage to stand on a corner facing society’s scorn, they are at least trying, yes?  These same people want to end social support of the poor and defend the statement in this manner. So what will it be?  If you are poor and need cash and the overwhelming forces of business controlled government say you cannot receive welfare or medicare, what remains as a possible recourse to feed your family?

The people who cast these laws down are obviously suffering from either a complete lack of reality or they want those who stand on the corners to be out of sight and out of mind so the reality of their ineptitude in running our cities and States will not be seen.  The money needs to keep flowing and confidence in the system needs to be maintained in order for investment to continue and the reality of America’s impending economic disaster will not be revealed.  By hiding the street beggars and banning the homeless from the street scene, they will be better able to sell us all the lie of how they are helping us rather than the truth of how they are only helping themselves.

As I have stated in a previous article;
“Many try to ignore these people as they represent the errors and gluttony of a nation lost but they are still American citizens and need to be cared for.  The Right and their Tea Party counterparts vehemently expound upon the protection of our borders against illegal immigrants, terrorists, foreign influences and protecting the Constitution for the preservation of America’s citizens but in the same breath they condemn social services to support Americans in their time of need.  The simple reality is this:  American governance has become detached from the lives lived by those whom it has been charged the protection and care of.”
When a society denies those left hurting for the inept policies of their government, it defines itself as a soulless void without meaning or morals.  The confusion I suffer with is how this Nation and its neo-conservative bringers of jobs can so easily claim we are a Christian Nation but cannot provide for the poor and downtrodden.  To these quasi-christians, I can only quote what the Bible tells us Jesus has said in Matthew 25:
 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35 
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I wonder if these self-labeled Christians sitting in condemnation of Islam and determined to take us back to the roots of our Nation’s Christian founding remember this simple story in the Bible: Or maybe they just worship money first before God and before fulfilling their obligation to our country and us citizens who are just trying to survive the outcome of their short sighted, useless representation.

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