Properly sheltering the homeless presents a mix of logistical and political challenges. In many cities, NIMBY residents block efforts to build supportive services nearby, concentrating those living in homelessness in dangerous and squalid conditions under highways and in under-populated areas. When shelters are built, they can be far from where people need them and are often plagued by crime, to the point that many people regularly voluntarily forfeit the opportunity to spend the night there.
One possible way around those barriers––design that utilizes cheap, easily-duplicated, pod-based living.
Today on the Young Voices podcast, managing editor Liz Wolfe joins Stephen Kent to discuss ordinances criminalizing the homeless – what it means for the city of Houston and why it doesn’t actually solve the root problems. Liz also sounds off on AHCA hysteria, where the media let slide critics claims that the bill would allow for rape to be a pre-existing condition despite fact checkers debunking the line. Lastly Liz and Stephen share their admiration for Arthur Brooks of AEI, and talk about their takeaways from his book, The Conservative Heart.
There’s nothing shocking, really, about Houston’s new law making it easier for homeless people to be arrested simply for being homeless.
Not when over 100 American cities have effectively criminalized everyday life for the homeless, making crimes of things from sleeping outside to brushing teeth in public. Even as cities become more socially conscious about LGBTQ rights and drug policies, they’ve become less tolerant of their neediest inhabitants and more comfortable with cops and the justice system sweeping up the human trash, as it were.
City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be.
For the past four years, Baptist World Aid Australia have been releasing their annual Behind the Barcode report into the working conditions of the global fashion industry. In an attempt to combat the garment industries sweatshop phenomenon, the report grades companies on their efforts to provide a safe workplace, a living wage, and freedom from forced labour. These grades ultimately culminate into the Ethical Fashion Guide, a report designed to allow consumers to “buy clothes from the companies doing more to protect their workers.” But while the sentiment may be well intentioned, in reality, the Ethical Fashion Guide does little to empower those they seek to help.
While forced labour, or modern slavery, should be utterly condemned and prevented in every way possible, voluntary sweatshop labour is a different issue. To be perfectly clear, sweatshops absolutely involve lousy working conditions and terrible pay. However, purchasing garments that are ‘sweat-free’ does not magically improve the plight of the world’s poorest. As grim as they may be, sweatshops represent real progress to impoverished people who are rationally committed to improving their lives.
During the confirmation hearings for Representative Tom Price’s appointment as Health and Human Services Secretary, Bernie Sanders took aim at Price’s claim that America is fundamentally compassionate. “No, we are not a compassionate society … In terms of our relationship with poor and working people, our record is worse than virtually any other country on earth,” the junior senator from Vermont claimed.
On 2016’s doozy of a campaign trail, Bernie Sanders focused his attention less on societal values and virtues — whether, for instance, we as a whole people act virtuously or otherwise — and much more on the size and scope of government programs and regulations. But the question of whether Americans act compassionately is distinct, and one Sen. Sanders gets wrong. Americans as private moral individuals are rife with the virtue of compassion. And this is not in spite of our wealth and relative freedom, as some might suggest, but because of it.
Sen. Rand Paul, for his part, addressed Sanders’ claim with statistics. At $400 billion dollars in 2014, and similar numbers annually, private individuals and organizations donated more than the GDP of many nations. Paul then compared that figure with “socialized” countries of the sort Sen. Sanders often professes a desire to emulate.
Here, Paul was plainly defining compassionate behavior as something individual moral agents display. The compassion of America is displayed through the generous actions of people. The paradigmatic case of this is in people like Bill and Melinda Gates, whose charitable foundation has received billions of dollars from the couple.