Over the last several months, as I’ve monitored the headlines from around the nation, I’ve noticed that more and more of them are mentioning an overall increase in the numbers of homeless in their areas. The increase itself isn’t a new trend. Homelessness has risen quite a bit over the last decade. Sadly, the numbers being reported lately are alarming.
Government, however, isn’t stepping up to meet the need. In most cases, in fact, funding is actually being cut back. In its place, laws and ordinances designed to curtail or prevent the homeless from performing life sustaining activities in public, are being implemented. Subsequently, those who find themselves homeless are not finding the assistance they require to get off the streets.
Among those homeless who face a dismal Christmas this year are Veterans.
For fiscal year 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs will have a budget of $91.8 billion. Of that, only $158 million will be allocated towards assisting homeless veterans. While that amount may sound sufficient, when you do the math, it is actually more of an insult.
Consider that there are an estimated 400,000 veterans who are homeless. By dividing the $158 million among those 400,000, the net result is $395 per vet – or to reduce it further: the government will spend only $1.09 per day to help this nation’s homeless veterans. That amount is less than many of us spend on one cup of coffee.
On the other hand, the government will spend $700 billion in loans to bailout those Wall Street corporations which are partially responsible for the current economic and housing crisis. Many top level executives from those companies will or already have walked away financially unscathed with enormous "compensation plans."
For example, according to a recent CNN article, CEO compensation up 7.5% in 2007, Angelo Mozilo, former CEO of Countrywide Financial Corporation (one of the companies who were making subprime mortgage loans) earned a total compensation package of $124 million in 2007.
As the article point out,
"You’re still seeing a dichotomy between the experience of some employees that may be losing their jobs and the CEOs who don’t seem to be as affected.
Indeed, some of the highest paid executives in the study were at companies that have since collapsed or been forced into mergers."
But, it goes further than that – much further.
The Milken Institute Capital Studies Group will be releasing a report in January 2009 outlining what all of the proposed bailout programs already put in place by the U.S. Government will cost the American taxpayer. The total tally: approximately $7.5 trillion!
It seems to me that there is definitely a disconnect between what the government should be doing and what it is doing.
I understand the need to try and correct the current economic recession. I also recognize how important it is to do what we can to prevent the loss of too many more jobs. However, spending taxpayer dollars which seem to benefit top level executives while men and women who have served in our nations’ military are experiencing homelessness is unacceptable.
Perhaps what the government should do is offer to bailout only those companies whose CEO’s take a forced retirement without all of their compensation plans. Then take those compensations and reallocate them to help our nation’s homeless veterans find a way "back to the world."