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Ovid (2709)

Ovid
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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Thursday October 27, 2005
12:04 AM

Get a job, hippy

[ #27326 ]

One idle thought I should mention about those folks who claim homeless people are just lazy and should get jobs. Let's assume they all snap out of it and want a job. How do they go about it?

Many years ago I was homeless. And you know what? Employers didn't want to hire me when I didn't have an address. They didn't like that I left the phone number blank. I had no washer and dryer so even basic sanitation was very, very difficult (I lived near a beach with public showers and would take showers with my clothes on). Given these problems and the fact that there tend to be relatively few public services available to help homeless people, how precisely is one supposed to get a job?

I was damned lucky to get out my situation and were it not for a very fortuitous series of events, I could have been homeless for a long, long time.

(It's also worth noting that until you've eaten your first meal from a trash can like I have, you have no idea how soul-destroying it can be.)

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  • Have you read George Orwell's autobiography Down and out in Paris and London? Orwell was homeless too. He gives at the end of the book some considerations on why homeless people are universally despised, why nobody helps them, why could a goverment do about it, etc. Your advice would be interesting, although I guess it's very different to be homeless in the USA today than in London in the twenties.
    • I'm going to have to pick that up, thanks. I enjoy reading Orwell and it would be fascinating to learn his background.

  • ... had your mail delivered to the local Salvation Army, or a church, or any number of charities' offices, or a friend's house. You could have given their phone numbers too, and they'd take messages for you. Sorry, still no sympathy.

    In a civilised society (and I'll admit I don't actually know whether you live in one) there is enough help from the state that no-one need live on the streets, no-one need eat other peoples' rubbish. Therefore I conclude that anyone living on the streets in a civilised soci

    • In this case there is no civilised society. (or maybe Finland ? :) I still recommend Orwell's autobiography, see last comment, to see how so-called government or church or Salvation Army help can be more alienating than no help at all.
    • In a civilised society (and I'll admit I don't actually know whether you live in one) there is enough help from the state that no-one need live on the streets, no-one need eat other peoples' rubbish.

      Right. Sure. Try it. It's interesting that those outside of a situation often have a peculiar idea about the situation of those inside of it.

      Having an address is not about having mail delivered. It's about being able to put something down on an application so the prospective boss doesn't realize you're

      • Right. Sure. Try it.

        I know for a fact that in *this* civilised society it is possible to claim income support and housing benefit, and to get help finding a home of some kind from the local council. That home might be a room in a manky "hotel" it's true, but it's a roof, with an address and a phone. Please remember, I did say that I don't know whether you live in a civilised society or not. Judging by your comments in this post, then you probably don't.

        Yes, I agree that asking to have your mail sent

        • Therefore I conclude that anyone living on the streets in a civilised society is either mentally ill and incapable of helping themselves (in which case they should be in hospital, and I pay the state to take that responsibility) or is there by their own choice (in which case they don't want my help).

          I really don't know how to read that other than to accuse the homeless of being lazy or crazy. Of course, you do say "civilised society", so perhaps that's a way out. I would definitely argue that the US i

    • ... had your mail delivered to the local Salvation Army, or a church, or any number of charities' offices, or a friend's house. You could have given their phone numbers too, and they'd take messages for you. Sorry, still no sympathy.

      Why in the world does the fact that he might have had unconsidered alternatives mean that we should not be sympathetic for his plight?

      --
      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
      • Because those alternatives are as obvious as the nose in front of your face.
        • Going to churches (including the Salvation Army, which is a church) is not very obvious to non-religious people or persons of other religions. Going to friends' houses is not very obvious to people with no friends. Going to charities is obvious, but you'll notice that he mentioned, "You go to a homeless shelter only to find, again, a sign on the door saying 'full'." I would presume that if there were any remaining obvious charities to mention, the full shelters would do so.
          --
          J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
          • I'm not religious at all, but I thought of it. Might as well get some use out of the otherwise pointless god-bothering centres. And as for people of other religions - if there's no local mosque or temple, then "beggars can't be choosers".
  • There is an excellent blog called the Survival guide to homelessness [blogspot.com] that discusses many practical matters such as how to get an address, where to shower, etc. Very educational.
    • That's one hell of a blog. Thank you. Interestingly, like the author, I also never slept in a homeless shelter. I ate at them a couple of times when I could get in, but I couldn't bring myself to sleep there. It stank, the other homeless people often made me nervous and it was far enough away from everything else that it was a rough trek for me.

  • Raise your hand if you've ever had someone break into your car...while you were sleeping in it...more than once. And then for kicks we can start a Pythonesque dialog of "at least you had a car to sleep in, all we had was..." :-)

  • For the record, I am against all federal assistance for the homeless, because it is unconstitutional.

    I am in favor of having private charities do most of the work for helping the homeless, and prefer the government stay out, but I do see some small role for government.

    You talk of compassion: the government is not supposed to be compassionate. That is not part of its reason for existing. It never has been, and what's more, it is actually incapable of it.

    You can vote to take care of homeless people. That's
    • With all that in mind (or not), what do you propose be done about the problem?

      Which problem? The problem which pisses me off here -- and that's the one the root post and much of the thread is about -- is people's attitudes. There's no way people will voluntarily help the homeless via charity, direct action or the government if they assume the homeless are mostly just lazy and unwilling to work. If you can come up with a way to get people to realize that there just might be a bit more to life than the

      • The problem which pisses me off here -- and that's the one the root post and much of the thread is about -- is people's attitudes.

        Ah. I thought you also were bemoaning the lack of government assistance. But you appear to be saying the first thing to do is change attitudes, and the details of the help that follow such a change are not the point.

        The ensuing discussion kinda threw me. :-)

        As this is primarily about attitudes ... then yeah, I am with you all the way. I just this weekend heard an interesting