Socialism and Its Discontents

I found Starshine Roshell’s column “Panhandlers Beg the Question” [2/11/10] a refreshing perspective on panhandlers, the homeless, and poor people in general.

Having gone homeless several times in my 58 years, I have some first-hand observations and insights I’d like to share.

No matter how many shelters, soup kitchens, and outreach workers the community supports, the bottom line is that there’s simply not enough low-income and subsidized housing to get everyone off the streets and keep them there.

You could triple the number of jail cells and put them there, for one reason or another, at great expense. You could amend the Santa Barbara County General Plan Housing Element to mandate the housing, though I’m sure there would be legal challenges, and if you were successful the migration of homeless would still be too much to manage.

If something were done at the federal level to ensure that all communities share in the goal of housing our homeless, I’m sure it would be called “socialism” and the tea partiers would riot. (Not that Congress could get it done or Obama sign it.)

Then there’s the fact that many would not participate if it meant paying any taxes. That would mean supporting a society that spends 40 percent of its national budget on warfare ($636 billion this year and $708 billion proposed for 2011) and it would mean supporting 737 military bases around the world to ensure the exploitation of other poor people and their resources. It would mean unlimited support for fat-cat bankers, insurance execs, and the transnationals that control governments around the world yet have no allegiance to anything other than money.

Many would say, “No thanks.” — Michael Stowell, Goleta

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