A gun to our heads

Dear Hannah,

My current position on bums is shifting from "downtrodden children of God" to "round 'em up and gas 'em" -- a change I blame on the city of Seattle.  It used to be that the homeless were just a sore on the lip of society; but Seattle has taken the worst parables of Jesus and actually made a religion out of them, and now if you aren't willing to throw everything away for the bums you're an outcast and a heretic.

That's why I loathe them like the prophets of Ba'al, and every panhandler to me represents not just a failure of chemicals in the brain, or a refusal to get his act together, or a crime spree in waiting or a drug habit in action, but a whole code of ethics I hate for its enforcement -- not even really the bum, but the thing that he stands for.  A robbery in progress.  Some smug liberal's ticket to heaven on my back.  An endless tide of sermons with no actual payout, other than a fuzzy feeling and a fitting in with the sermonizers.  To hell with them, I say.

Things escalated quickly when the fanatical denizens of Seattle, or at least the people they elected to represent them, proposed that we charge every successful business $500 per employee to "end" our crisis of homelessness.  Nevermind the fact that the homeless here already buy their drugs with free checks from the government, or that they cause an exorbitant amount of minor and major crimes, or that free food is to be found at multiple places around the city, or that a judge ruled you can't search a bum's tarp without a warrant, or that an army of idiots can be found on every street corner, feeding their own egos by aiding these animals.  Nevermind, in fact, that we spend more here per homeless person than anywhere else in the nation, more than one billion over the past several years, and that the problem keeps growing the more money we throw at it.  Nevermind that a judge ruled the homeless could park almost anywhere they wanted, and so swarms of these locusts descended, with license plates from every state in the nation, to loot the earnings of our families and leave their needles and bottles and shit on the sidewalks*.  No -- they proposed this $500 head tax and were shouted down by people who said it was too much.  Too much, they said.  They would settle for $250, they said.  Please, sir, take my wallet, but not my wedding band**.

Some churches decided that instead of just putting the burden on the public, they would take care of it "at their own expense" --  by opening homeless encampments on their own personal parking lots.  Thus the love of Christ did not extend to their neighbors, who protested loudly, and whose businesses suffered because people were afraid to shop at them.  The mentally insane made it impossible for an intelligent parent to let his children walk the streets.  People began to complain and the church, with an air of Pharisaical sanctity, professed its duty to everyone except the people at large.  What about Lazarus and the rich man? they asked.  Do Unto Others has always had an asterisk, and the Devil, as we now know, is always in the details.

There was a moment this year when I thought all of this was going to end peaceably.  The solution seemed to come from Utah, the last place in the States where white people are healthy and happy and right-wing and thriving.  NPR said they'd found the solution in Salt Lake City -- that they had ended chronic homelessness in a single blow, or at least 91% of it; and that this model would soon be found across the country.  As with all other miracle fixes this required some explanation.  And boy did Lloyd Pendleton, a so-called cowboy "conservative" and head of Utah's Homeless Task Force, give it.

It turns out Lloyd was against giving handouts to the mendicants until he went to a forum about it, and at this forum he learned that the average bum costs the government, also known as the job-holding, trying-to-feed-their-families citizens, a boatload of money -- mostly because of jail time and hospital visits.  According to Housing and Urban Development somewhere between 30 and 50 thousand dollars every year per person.   In other words the entirety of a working man's income, every year, down the drain.  We could have put a man in a job, but our "morality" awards it to the man who either refuses one, or is so backwards and useless that he can't hold one

Lloyd's thinking on the matter was simple.  At best you can pay thirty grand a year to one of these Children of God, or -- in total sincerity -- you can not have them be homeless anymore.  So each of these saints got a free apartment and Lloyd Pendleton got on the national news.  Few questions are asked about what got these people on the streets in the first place, but clues are afforded.  One man named Joe Ortega said he didn't want to pay his light bill or a landlord, and so homelessness turned out to be fun -- until he got sick from his drug habit.  The article says he now does puzzles all day and watches tv.  "I make the best of every day," he says.  Not on Utah's dime or even Salt Lake's.  I bring to your attention that in a society where public debt threatens the very stability of the nation, NPR reports this program is paid for with federal funding.

I call this a robbery because it is.  It is even better described as an extortion.  We were threatened with thirty thousand dollars so we took ten thousand instead.  The homeless are not exercising their right to hit the streets and not have a job.  At this point they are a working and active threat on every honest family in the nation.

Your father,

PS: My editor (God bless him) has rejected this essay because it's too "hateful" towards bums.  In short he believes this hatred makes it unconvincing.  Nobody, so far as I'm aware, has been bold enough to make the case we're too loving towards them; and that this reckless empathy with the worst of us makes us hateful towards the best.  What else are we supposed to call a $500 head tax for sake of our junkies?  Is this "love" legitimate?  Is my case without merit?  Are all arguments to be made without anger?  Aren't our feelings the reason we argue?

There's a theory in the "conservative" world that prose ought to be plain and bald and that this plainness and baldness will allow the ideas to stand out more. I say to hell with it. It's a dumb idea in the first place, like saying women ought to dress ugly so we can focus on their personalities; and beyond this it is responsible for not even getting us to the good ideas. Reading conservative papers isn't a test of your intelligence but your endurance. If you can last to the end you might be better informed, but you'll be two steps closer to becoming a junkie. For this reason of sobriety I have given up reading The National Review.  The magazine, like all "conservative" rags I'm aware of, is all facts and no art.  It was founded by men who "loved the classics."  If this is the case, then where in God's name is the rhetoric?

The Muslims (and St Paul) had a kindred idea, and it was to rob women of their makeup and jewelry and throw a blanket over them. The theory was that then, when you were forced to confront their personalities, you would go on your way out of sheer boredom and forget every notion of sex -- a successful idea compared to purity rings, which in my opinion only make a woman more of a conquest, and thus far more attractive**,  But there are those of us who never treat an idea like a Muslim treats a woman.  We say deck it out in all the jewelry of emotion.  Let its hair shine in the sun of reason.  We see the eyes -- we want the lips and neck and shoulders too.  Let us fall in love with the beauty of ideas -- and if they're ugly, let us turn to better ones.

So back to the beginning: Why am I against Seattle's bums?  Because I love the sight of children playing safely on the streets, and the idea that their fathers won't be taxed out of their homes.  If this is ugly then there is no such thing as beauty.

*Mountains could be written on the crime and filth these sub-humans emanate; but aside from my directing you to any number of articles about Seattle's homeless encampments and the sheer danger they pose, one point is left to be made.  One look at these campgrounds of Satan will yield the fact that these savages have no appreciation of art.  None of them have either tried or been able to convince the others that all their garbage should go in one spot, or that walkways should be kept clean and clear, or that some order might make these tent cities more livable.  Instead, like on the streets of San Francisco, they shit anywhere they want and leave needles where children can step on them.  Rats live in ugly places, but a rat has never built a place so ugly.

People say Jesus wants us to care about the bums, but Jesus also said a man who can be entrusted with little will be entrusted with much.  He also said that we can judge a man not by what goes into him, but from what comes out of him.  On both counts the bums have failed us, and I think it makes them all the more disgusting.  You can tell a lot about what's going on inside a man by how things look around him -- and his surroundings in this case suggest he's worse than an animal.

**Seattle economics may be summed up as follows:
Step 1) Complain that there aren't enough well-paid skilled jobs
Step 2) Companies bring in well-paid skilled jobs
Step 3) Take exorbitant amounts of money from companies as punishment for bringing skilled jobs.  Increase taxes on skilled employees.
Step 4) Give said money to street junkies and professional panhandlers

***Besides this I've never known a woman with a purity ring to have held out until marriage; and this leads me to believe that if you're going to bet money on a woman's virtue or ruin her appearance you should put the money on ruining her appearance. Which the Muslims agree about, and the reason they throw a blanket over her.

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  1. Your editor needs to grow a pair. You are a reading pleasure and a cathartic treasure. I hope you can continue with your truth. As you get older, I fear it may become ---unfairly so---more lonely. Keep it coming for as long as you can.

  2. The magazine, like all "conservative" rags I'm aware of, is all facts and no art.

    I really read it as all farts. Doesn't it ring true?


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