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Poverty and Death

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Some weeks ago, I came across a five part series in the The New York Times called Invisible Child. The series is long, and follows a homeless child called Desani, who lives in New York. It was heart-breaking to read, and to realize there are 22,000 homeless children in New York, so much potential which may never be realized. I was at times enraged, at both the system, and her parents, then sad, as I think this type of poverty becomes a way of life for generations, and is then almost impossible to break free from. I used to tutor in the school system here, so while Desani is living in New York, I know this happens in many cities. This is a link to an interview with Andrea Elliot the journalist who came to know Desani, and her family.

In a previous post, I mentioned the great job North Shore Rescue does. On Sunday, after finishing an exercise on one of the local mountains, the leader of NSR Tim Jones, was making his way off the mountain, when he suffered a fatal heart attack, he was only fifty-seven years old. Tim Jones, not only made NSR a world class rescue unit, he was an Advanced Life Support Paramedic, and latterly, the Unit chief. He was a good man who did so much for our community, and saved many people over his years of service. He is going to be missed by many people. Tim Jones, Here and Here


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 22nd, 2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
I read that New York Times series on "Invisible Child" a couple of weeks ago after one of my flist posted about it.

Homelessness is a terrible situation and I can't see it getting any better anytime in the future. The gulf between the rich and the poor continue to grow in, I was going to say the first world, but the problem is probably even worse in the third world.

With the wage levels for unskilled workers in the USA and their lack of a good social welfare system, their cities must have a huge pool of the working poor, who even though they toil from sunup to sundown and then have a second job, don't earn enough to provide for their families.

But at least Desani has a roof over her head to keep out the rain and the snow. In many ways she is more fortunate than many other children worldwide.

But where does it end... Are we all responsible for the poor? is it a government responsibility?

Ore Liberal party is doing a huge review on social welfare because the numbers of people on it, and the cost out of our national coffers is not sustainable by our country.
We used to get a lot of money from our mineral royalties but the bottom has fell out of the resource market and the Government just doesn't have access to the amount of money that it had previously.

Should we all have a tax levy put on our wages that goes straight to welfare organisations? Are we only responible for the poor in our own western, first world country, or are we responsible on a global scale?

None of this is easy......

Edited at 2014-01-22 01:40 pm (UTC)
Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
I think the reason this type of story hits hard, is it shouldn't happen in a developed country. We expect to hear it happens in third world countries, not that that makes it acceptable, but for it to be the norm in a developed country, says that perhaps we are not as developed as we would like to think.

I live in one of the most desirable areas in the world, but we have a serious homeless issue, one we don't seem to be able to fix. Due to the high cost of living, there are more and more families who are working, but still can't make ends meet.

I think we must be responsible for those living in poverty, I'm not sure about a tax levy, but yes, something has to be done. I would like to think that the next generation of children were able to break the cycle of poverty, that seems to be never ending.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
I’m not trying to blame the victim here but I’ve tended to notice (through our church) that it can be very hard to help some members of the community.

One of the contributing factors to homelessness in Perth is State Housing (cheap rent government owned homes) tenants being evicted due to them not paying their rent, trashing their house and waging war on their neighbours.

I think we must be responsible for those living in poverty

In what context and to what degree?

Money spent at a Government level is generated through taxes (which we all pay), which means that money spent on government owned cheap housing is less money available for such things as education and hospitals.

There is always the possibility of raising taxes to get more revenue to pay for government housing but that means that people on a low income will lose more of their money through paying more taxes and be financially worse off.

If you are saying that we need to be responsible on a personal level; well that is opening up a can of worms.

Ray and I have a four bedroom home with only one child still living at home; I could house a homeless couple in the larger spare bedroom and their child/children in Genevieve’s old room. That would provide housing for one homeless family.

Ray and I could sell our big house in its desirable location, seven minutes drive from the beach, and downsize to a two bedroom, one bathroom house in a bad, crime ridden ghetto of a suburb.
The sale of my house would easily buy two such houses and have excess money over. So I could gift the other house to a homeless family and give a good donation to a charity organisation that helps the homeless.

But you know what Liz I don’t want to do that and I don’t choose to do that. Both Ray and I have worked hard and made sacrifices along the way to have the lifestyle that we now have; I want to preserve that.

If you look into your own heart Liz; I doubt that you want to do anything on a personal level to providing for the homeless.
We all want to help the homeless as long as it doesn’t impact on our own standard of living.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 07:40 pm (UTC)

I would agree that there are those who make it very difficult to help them, Desani’s parents are, I think, in that category. There is an argument that the changes needed, should start with the children, before they are so entrenched in the cycle of that level of poverty.

I can say that here in the Vancouver area, we do not have enough social housing, this has been an issue for many years now. Actual homeless here is usually due to mental health or drug use, not always though. There are a number who have fallen on hard times, but from what I understand that type of homelessness is temporary, and they are more ready, and able to accept help. Due to the high rental rates there are people working, who can’t afford the rents, this is where we need more social housing.

In Vancouver the start of our homeless population was a direct result of the government decision to close a psychiatric hospital, and initiate ‘living in the community’ it failed miserably. Without the necessary supervision, many fell through the wide cracks, and a homeless population was born. The PTB have now admitted that, but seem slow to address the problem with concrete solutions.

All that being said, and I can’t speak to New York, but I do think we are all responsible for those who live in poverty. I would love to say, “Here is my home come and share it,” but even if I did, that would only help a few, and it isn’t a realistic approach to the problem.

There are many programs here where those who have the ability can donate to. Even in our supermarkets at the checkout there are coupons to give $2 to the food bank. If everyone did that one thing every week, it would make a huge difference, but in many cases folk don’t.

Handing out money is not always the answer, especially if that money is not going to be used properly. And again I come back to the children. If the parents are so entrenched in the cycle, I believe we need to work and support the children. Sure they need food, and clothing, but they need support and aid to see they can change the cycle for themselves, if not for their parents. That’s where we need money and programs, people to mentor these children, networks which will go with them the whole way. See them though school, and further, to where they have the ability to work and support themselves.

Does that mean we are all responsible, yes, I think we are. In the theory of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ Should this be the parents responsibly? yes, but if they are not going to do it, then the ‘village’ is responsible. Not everyone can go out there and look to these children, some can, some will support in other ways, but in some way we all have a responsibility to do something. Many do, but not enough of us do.

This comment is way too long, it is turning into another post, so I am going to stop, I know I haven’t addressed all your points, nor answered those I have, very well, I have a feeling this may lead to another post.:)

Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:31 am (UTC)
Once upon a time homelessness was a problem we associated with third world countries, but it is becoming more and more of a problem everywhere it seems. And as you say, the poverty that is the main cause of it is an ever increasing situation more and more "first world" people and children find themselves in means that it is a vicious cycle that is so hard to break away from.

After I had done the supermarket shopping yesterday I was telling Mum how much it cost and we were both saying how we would hate to even try and feed a large family these days let alone rent or buy somewhere to live. There were six of us and I hate to think what the food bill would be for a family of six these days. So many are doing it really tough these days.

That is so sad that such a wonderful man died far too young!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 07:51 pm (UTC)
It does seem to be a problem in many places now, and the reason for poverty are complex, with no easy solutions. See my reply above.

I am spending more on groceries now than I did when both of the children were living at home. There are a lot of folk finding it hard to make ends meet these days.

He was a wonderful man, and will be so very much missed. On Saturday, there will be a full parade with honours for him, with a Celebration of Life fallowing. I have a feeling the streets will be deep with people.
Jan. 24th, 2014 12:40 pm (UTC)
That is wonderful that he is being honoured that way.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )