Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just Love Those Facebook Memes

Another oversimplified Facebook Meme that blames the victim.

…So there’s this little liberal do-gooder girl who wants to save homeless people.

She is offered $50 by a homeowner to do his garden chores. He says she could then help the homeless guy/woman on the corner by giving the $50 to the homeless guy/woman.

The little girl suddenly realizes something and says to the homeowner “The homeless guy/woman could just do the gardening and get the $50 for doing the work him/herself.

The homeowner smiles and says to the little girl, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

These cute stories are meant to simplify a complex problem and villainize the poor and indigent without actually offering any viable solutions: let the homeless losers work for their dinner.

If only it were that simple. I worked for a homeless shelter and know something about the complexity of the problem of homelessness and the difficulty people have trying to get their lives back on track. Those who do must overcome formidable obstacles with a determination most Facebook posters can’t fathom.

What details are left out of this cute little story?

Could it be that the homeless guy/woman is a Vietnam Veteran who’s either lost a job or could no longer hold a job? (…/specific…/homeless-veterans)

Could it be that this homeless guy/woman had a catastrophic accident or illness and lost everything because of medical bills? (

Could it be that this homeless guy/woman was prescribed pain killers and now has an addiction and engages in criminal activity to feed his addiction?

Could it be that the homeless guy/woman has been incarcerated and no one will hire him because of the application question “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” (

Could it be that the homeless guy/woman suffers from schizophrenia or manic depressive disorder and is unable to procure medication or medical care?

Could it be that the homeless guy/woman was a victim of Ronald Reagan, a Republican who was instrumental in shutting down mental hospitals all over the country and putting hundreds of thousands of mental patients out on the street? (…/consequences-…/2058)

Could it be that this homeless guy/woman has a medical condition that is debilitating?

Could it be that the homeless guy/woman does not have the computer skills necessary to fill out endless on-line job applications?

Or could it be that he/she does not even possess decent clothing to go on a job interview?

Could it be that the homeless guy/woman has no permanent address or phone number which an employer requires of all job applicants? Because he/she lives in a shelter at night but must vacate the premises with all his worldly possessions during the day.

Could it be that this homeless guy/woman actually has a part-time job and is required to pay a fee to the homeless shelter in exchange for room and board?

Could it be that this homeless guy/woman has an alcohol or drug addiction so is not eligible to remain in a shelter and cannot get into rehab without a social work referral?

Could it be that this homeless guy/woman had job training and has applied for 50 jobs and been turned down 50 times?

Could it be that this homeless person is a woman who’s been abused by a husband or boyfriend and had nowhere to go except to a shelter.

And back to the wonderful homeowner: will this middle-class Republican really hire a dirty, smelly, ragged-looking homeless person with alcohol on his/her breath?

And if this amazing homeowner would actually hire the homeless guy/woman, would he be willing to provide guidance and patiently show the homeless guy/woman what the garden job entailed and how to do it?

So the homeless guy/woman gets $50 for working for a day doing garden chores. Then what? The wonderful, generous Republican homeowner feels justified for helping a fellow human being who goes back to the street corner no better off that he/she was before.

Is this wonderfully generous home owner going to give him a permanent job? or job training? or education? or pay for his/her drug treatment? or pay his/her medical insurance? $50 doesn’t go far. Maybe as far as the next bottle or needle.

Is this wonderful, kind law-abiding Republican homeowner going to deduct federal income tax, social security and medicare from the $50. And pay workman’s comp and unemployment tax?

How long does the homeless guy/woman have to work in the garden in order to save enough for two month’s rent and a security deposit on a small apartment?

And let’s say this homeless guy/woman has diabetes and it is under control because he has Medicaid benefits…and then he gets a part time job, but not a living-wage and without health insurance (because that is how employers get away with not giving benefits - the Republican way of doing business). But then he makes too much money to remain on Medicaid but not nearly enough to pay for health insurance, even under the Affordable Care Act…why should he take such a job, lose health care and put his health and life in jeopardy?

So put the homeless to work to earn their welfare check: Oh, No! You’ll be taking jobs away from city or state workers, or other more deserving folk who are looking for jobs. Making welfare recipients earn their welfare is tantamount to giving them money, because giving them jobs is still giving.

Welcome to the Republican Party indeed! Telling people to “get a job” is just a white, classist, privileged cop-out.

…So little girl, volunteer at a homeless shelter, run for office and support real, viable, person-centered programs to end homelessness. And let that homeowner pay a landscaper real wages to get his gardening done.

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