A Political Lack Of Common Sense

Posted: February 17, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Employment, Family, Government, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Morality, Politics, Stupidity

Maybe it’s a side effect of the job. Perhaps it’s a result of the lust for power. Who knows – it might even be some type of latent genetic defect which is triggered by getting elected. Whatever it is, once they gain office, many politicians seem to lose the ability to use good old fashioned common sense.  

Case in point –

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (Dem.) is proposing that homeless families in his state be required to work at least 30 hours per week in order to seek shelter.

The article, in this past Sunday’s Boston Globe, Proposed rules would make homeless work, save more, goes on to say that they will also be required to save 30 percent of their income.

I’m trying to figure out how such a "proposal" makes any sense whatsoever.

Consider for a moment that the national unemployment rate during January 2009 rose from 7.2 percent to 7.6 percent. Also consider that Massachusetts’ unemployment rate for the month of December 2008 was 6.9 percent. That’s up 1.0 percent from November 2008, and up 2.6 percent from December 2007.

To me those numbers clearly indicate that unemployment is on the rise. Moreover, it doesn’t seem as though that trend is suddenly going to reverse itself – at least not in the immediate future.

With so many in his state unable to find jobs, how does Governor Patrick expect homeless families to work the stipulated 30 hours per week?

But, let’s say that a homeless family does somehow manage to find employment. What if their job will only provide them between 25 and 29 hours per week? Will he cut them some slack? Or, will they be forced out onto the streets? Plus, how does he expect to monitor how many hours they work? Will they have to present themselves to some government office and produce a note from their employer attesting to the mandatory 30 hours?

Here’s another example of political lack of common sense –

Down in Conroe, Texas, the city council unanimously approved an ordinance to:

"… prevent the homeless from sleeping in parks, overpasses and other public and private property…"

The Houston Chronicle article, Conroe ordinance aims to roust homeless from parks, also mentioned the penalty for any homeless who violate the ordinance: a fine of up to $500.

Supposedly, the city council’s goal was to,

"… maintain street, parks and other public and private areas within the city in a safe, clean, sanitary and accessible condition in order to adequately protect the health, safety and public welfare of the community and to limit camping to circumstances that do not create public and private nuisances or have adverse public safety impact"

So, where the city council expect the homeless to go?

The only shelter in that county is a local chapter of the Salvation Army.

The shelter’s director, Captain David Robinson stated that:

"… the 20-bed men’s facility has been filled nightly for more than a year, with many turned away, and they average about 14 women a night in the 15-bed unit."

Does the Conroe city council actually believe that such an ordinance is going to reduce homelessness in their community? As for the $500 fine – it is the epitome of a lack of common sense.

Heck, if a homeless person had the $500, at the very least, they’d be able to get a room at some inexpensive motel.

But, it’s much worse than that. Conroe’s new ordinance is a prime example of legislative harassment of the homeless. It penalizes folks who are living in abject poverty. It punishes folks for not having a home. And it criminalizes one of the most basic of human needs: sleep.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that the city of Conroe isn’t interested in helping its homeless. Its actual agenda is unmistakably clear: make it so difficult for the homeless to exist that they move to some other town.

I might not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but there is one thing I know for certain: neither Governor Patrick’s proposal, nor the Conroe city council’s newly adopted ordinance are going to make the slightest dent in the numbers of homeless in their communities.

Moreover, I’m even willing to make a prediction: the numbers of homeless in their areas are going to increase.

How can I be so sure?

Because neither offers a way for a person to escape homelessness.

Folks who apply for government jobs are required to take "civil service" exams. Only if they pass these exams can they get the position.

The way I see it, anyone who runs for any political office should also be required to pass an exam – but one which measures their level of common sense. After all, it seems to me that common sense should be a pre-requisite for any leader.

Considering the legislative tactics which both, Governor Patrick and the Conroe city council are using as a means to reduce homelessness, I wonder if they’d pass such an exam.

Probably not.

  1. A Grandmother says:

    Great idea !

  2. Skye says:

    If they had to pass a test for common sense, there would be no politicians left… hey! That has to be a good thing!

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