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the homeless are people too

October 11, 2011

A fairly disheartening story I read in today’s Macomb Daily:

Mount Clemens business owners concerned about vagrants, teens, bar crowd

What I mainly gather from this story is that the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority (DDA) cares more about harassing the homeless than it does welcoming alternative energy into the city, which is obvious from the things business owners are saying about the homeless themselves. (Of course, the article also mentions teenagers and rowdy bar goers, but the focus is predominately on the homeless.)

Instead of talking about these people as fellow human beings, they’re talking about them as if they’re some kind of pests, e.g., “We can’t just tell them to get out, but we can enforce our loitering ordinances. We’re doing what we can.” They’re idea of ‘doing what we can’ reminds me a lot of the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) and their repeated attempts to help pass the various sit-lie ordinances over the last 8-9 years.

The money — which could be used to help install electric charging stations, or even go towards some kind of program to help the homeless get off the streets so they don’t have to sleep “in the crevices of City Hall” — is most likely going towards more foot patrols downtown in order to “make the public feel more secure.” And, apparently, ‘the public’ doesn’t include the homeless, which is one of the business community’s primary targets.

(Incidentally, one of the issues I have with the institution of private property in relation to our current political-economic setup is that it essentially links private property to liberty, and through private property rights, secures the liberty of the propertied. Consequently, the greater one’s property, the greater one’s means of self-determination; while no access to property means a complete lack of self-determination whatsoever.)

It’s not surprising to me that businesses value short-term profit over long-term sustainability or the welfare of the less fortunate; but it surprises me that we’re not more critical of this kind of attitude as a community. I really hope that the budding Occupy Detroit movement will be able to help reverse this trend in some by giving the homeless and other marginalized segments of the community a voice they so desperately need, and in my opinion, deserve.

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