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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Society can't solve all personal issues

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We have such odd ways of solving social issues in this country and, quite frankly, most of us simply don't understand why we do what we do.

Here's the latest example. Seattle has taken a unique approach to the problem of homeless alcoholics. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on emergency room visits for the homeless drunks, Seattle has decided to provide an apartment for homeless alcoholics where they can get falling-down drunk in a "controlled environment." All that is required is that the residents remain drunk and violence free while they stay there.

The problem of the homeless is a costly matter in our society. But there is a spirited debate on the actual portrait of the average homeless person. Advocates would have you believe that the "normal" homeless person is a mother with children from an abusive home who flees for her safety and is now homeless. But the other side of the portrait is somewhat different. A vast number of homeless are in fact alcoholics and others with severe mental issues. These are the chronic homeless we hear of so often.

A homeless person is picked up by police and taken to a medical facility. They remain there until they are well enough to return to the streets. And the pattern is repeated time and time again.

Every medical stop and stay is a cost to taxpayers.

Well, Seattle has acknowledged that you can't solve the problem so why not reduce the cost. The homeless alcoholic apartment is actually cheaper than the repeated trips to the emergency room and the hospital stay that follows.

I won't condemn the homeless problem nor diminish its impact on our society. But it's just another cost that often is spent on those who battle personal problems none of which are the responsibility of society.

We cannot adequately address the homeless issue until we have an accurate picture of what creates the problem in the first place. I suspect the answer will fall into the same, tired category - a lack of personal responsibility.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen