Patterns Of Avoidance

Posted: December 2, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Family, Government, Homelessness, Politics

If politicians, bureaucrats and "industry experts" are so smart, why are they invariably the last ones to admit what almost everyone else already knows and accepts? Worse still, why do they seemingly insist on dancing around an issue with bureaucratic double talk?  

Case in point –

Two articles yesterday on caught my eye. The first, Congratulations, It’s A Recession, had this to say from the get go:

Good news. The keeper of the business cycle books, the National Bureau of Economic Research, announced Monday what economists have been saying for a long time–this is a recession. And, NBER says, it’s been a recession since December of 2007.

The announcement comes as no surprise to anyone with a TV, newspaper or more than 10 friends. Why is it good news? We’ve already gotten through one year, and now the question is not "are we in a recession?" but the slightly more optimistic "are we in a recovery?"

The second, Panel says US has been in recession since Dec. ’07, used these two lines as openers:

The U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007, the National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday.

The NBER – a private, nonprofit research organization – said its group of academic economists who determine business cycles met and decided that the U.S. recession began last December.

So, according to what the "experts" are now admitting to, the U.S. is officially in a recession. The bad news is that it took all of these folks a year to own up to it. In the meanwhile, the American public has been suffering economically. On top of that, they’ve had their tax dollars spent on the bailout of corporations who mismanaged the way they did business. It doesn’t seem right, does it?

Perhaps I’m simple minded. But, it seems to me had the folks in power should’ve admitted that the economy was in a downturn right from the beginning. Then they could have focused on fixing the problem instead of trying to deny it.

Sadly, this avoidance of admitting there are problems is a recurring pattern with politicians and bureaucrats.

For example –

Over the last two decades, there has been a sharp increase in the numbers of homeless families. Yet, there has been no major legislation passed to address the issue. At best, there have been nothing more than "table scraps" being tossed out from time to time. Just enough to make it seem as though something were being done – but nothing of substantive value.

In addition, this past year saw the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) redefining the criteria of who could be considered homelessness. Consequently, large numbers of folks who previously would have been eligible for certain types of assistance, were left with no supportive method to help them rebuild their lives. Among the hardest hit by this redefinition were homeless families – in particular, single mothers with dependant children.

Although HUD has created a Federal mandate to address homelessness in the U.S., the mandate focuses helping only "chronically homeless" persons. These persons represent only about 10 percent of the entire homeless population – leaving the remaining 90 percent with little or no available resources to assist them becoming housed.

It is this short sightedness – this avoidance of the issue – by the government which has allowed the numbers of homeless to increase. And, with the U.S. "officially" in recession, it is highly likely that the numbers of families who find themselves homeless will reach pandemic proportions.

All of this causes me to wonder.

If the government had begun addressing homelessness a decade ago, would there be as many homeless families on the streets as there are today? What if they had diligently started seeking a way to those families right from the beginning?

But more importantly – when is the government going to make helping this county’s homeless a national priority?

One other article from also caught my eye: How Do Americans Feel About The Bailouts?

According to the article,

What’s been missing, though, is a closer examination of the public’s reaction to the crisis and the officials who are attempting to quell it. Opinion research shows that Americans are, on the whole, leaning against the government’s rescue package and that many are skeptical about propping up the auto industry.

How is it that the government is willing to bailout corporations who were fiscally irresponsible, but do not seem willing to help families find a way out of homelessness?

Is it just me? Or, does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Homelessness will never be adequately addressed and the numbers significantly reduced unless the government ceases its pattern of avoiding the issue.

  1. AnAmerican says:

    I see plenty wrong with this picture of big government bailing out companies but not addressing the needs of Americans.
    Until we have measures in place to make government accoutable for their actions in the way they serve the citizens of this country we will have more of the same. Much like the long overdue announcement of the recession in this country, the issue of homelessness has yet to be publicly announced for the public at large…that would mean that we admit we have a problem with an expanding homeless population and then we would be obligated to do something about it. It’s much easier if government keeps it’s head in the sand about this topic because so far the solutions offered have not been effective.

  2. Skye says:

    It isn’t just you.

  3. Diane Nilan says:

    Worse than the above atrocities, it appears cities that have adopted HUD’s absurd 10-year plan have figured they could bully the few hold-outs (i.e. the programs with more integrity and courage than others).

    In Atlanta, the Mayor has ordered water shut off at the Peachtree Pine Shelter, nighttime haven for over 700 adults, seemingly for an unpaid water bill of $160k.

    Looking further into this issue, could it be that the Metro Task Force for the Homeless (operators of the shelter and longtime advocates for homeless people) are being punished? They’re not playing nicey-nice with the local homelessness continuum of care.

    Kudos for courage and integrity in the face of monied-pressure from the City!

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