The article on the homeless problem in Red Deer, which appeared in Saturday’s paper, was apparently written as a promotional effort on behalf of those who do not work but who want to make an economic claim on those who do.
The claim by Raye St. Denys that the homeless “need a wide range of options just like the rest of us when we’re looking at how we want to live our lives and what we believe will work for us” shows that she knows nothing about how our society works or about economics.
When I was going to school and looking at future career paths, I do not recall a career path that was titled professional homeless man/woman.
The ability to look at life and decide what way we want to live our life implies that the individual has the responsibility to direct his/her present and future actions.
A fundament belief of a free society is that as long as the choices that an individual makes are within the established laws governing human behaviour, then no one else has a right to restrain the individual from his/her chosen path.
Therefore my question for Denys is:
When did homelessness become a legitimate choice for the individual?
It should also be pointed out that St. Denys seems to lack an understanding of economics.
At the root of all markets are individuals who exercise their economic freedoms by independently, without coercion, make their purchasing decisions on the various products that are set before them. Any legal product can be offered for sale but in the end if there are no purchasers for that product, then it will be removed from the market.
Now given this basic understanding of how our economy works, then it should be obvious that there can be no “housing choices” for the homeless since they have no money with which to participate in the housing market.
Does all of this, therefore, mean that it is the moral obligation of those who have worked and have money to create a “false market” of housing choices for the homeless by handing over their hard earned money to the government?
We all know from history what ultimately happens to government sponsored housing enterprises. The resulting product of such programs is the inadequate housing which existed under Communism or the crime ridden housing projects which exist in the big cities of Toronto, Chicago, New York etc.
Lastly I was left even more confused by Ms. St. Denys when she says that ‘”The fact that they live a different way of life is not something they should be punished for.”’ My question for her therefore is, why is it that some people are allowed decide how they want to live their lives but are not to be held accountable for the ensuing results? My question for the citizens of Red Deer is whether or not they believe that our society has any future if there is no longer any legitimate chain of causality that can be drawn between the choices of the individual and the results of those choices?
The last argument which is advanced in support of securing our sympathy for the homeless is that they are somehow of superior character, “I think you need a huge amount of strength and courage to live the way they do. It would be beyond me.” I believe that it is a horribly tragic world when we hold up as models of human character those who are unwilling to provide for their own basic needs. What happened to the world where the person who worked everyday, under less than ideal personal conditions, at any available job was held up as a role model and an example of adult maturity?
How should we then look upon the homeless? It would be more productive to administer homeless shelters not only on the assumption that a person who comes to a shelter is incapable of availing him/herself of market housing. The other assumption though is that social housing is graciously provided at the expense of the public purse and that since it only consumes resources that this housing will be of the minimal quality that sufficient to protect the body from harm. Such housing should not be used as long term housing but must be of short duration and governed by the strictest rules of human behaviour. If people don’t want to have their behaviour restricted by another party then they should provide for themselves.