Re: homeless "cunning manipulators, not victims": business

Liberty (
Sun, 03 May 1998 20:32:02 -0400

Tom & Others,

At 01:25 PM 02/05/1998 -0700, Tom Boland wrote:

>The Forbe Lunch 
>Heather Mac Donald is a journalist who thinks much of what
>we do for the poor helps keep them poor.

I think she has a point here.  One can feed somebody fish for one day,
and they will get hungry again the next.  One can teach somebody how
to fish, then they will never be hungry again.

>SETTING: THE HOMELESS SHELTER at the Church of St. Agnes in midtown 
>Manhattan. While we are waiting for lunch to arrive, a homeless man picks 
>up a dining room chair and smashes it against the wall. "Not victims of 
>poverty," Heather Mac Donald notes dispassionately. "Victims of their own 
>demons, what happens after living on the streets with too much time on your 

There is a culture of poverty, what is accepted and what is not.  A peer
group of sorts develops, and people within it are pressured to conform
to certain rules, one of which is to honour the others, and to give and
accept support from one another, and to move on with one's own life, it
is very difficult to escape this network.  There is more pressure to
belong to the "poor peer group", than to improve one's life and move on.

>The City Journal, of which she is a contributing editor, has a circulation 
>of just 10,000, but its influence is out of proportion to its readership. 
>When Mac Donald blasted City University of New York for lowering its
>standards in the name of diversity, she spurred the current fight for
>wholesale changes.

I am like this too.  I don't think we need to lower our standards, just so
a "diversity" of people can belong, or benefit from a program.  I think we
need to help a "diversity" of people attain the skills they need, so they
can meet the standards that were there in the first place.

>Mac Donald is a bit of a rebel herself, though it is not capitalism she 
>rebels against, but mushy thinking.

I guess I can be considered a rebel of sorts here.  I have very little
tolerance for what is referred to as "mushy thinking" as well.

>"I was still a liberal," she recalls. "What was turning me around was race- 
>and gender-based hiring, which is insulting to everyone."

I think I became the most infuriated when the NDPs passed "employment equity"
here in Ontario, and many people falling in so-called target groups were
getting hired in very responsible positions, who were not capable of taking
this responsibility seriously, while very highly qualified folks (often from
the same target groups themselves) were living their lives out on welfare.
I began to write about this foolishness, and I suppose I, along with many
other writers and activists in Ontario in those days, helped bring the
public to their senses to vote the NDP government out of power ...

>Partly as a result, she says, we have created a network of people whose 
>interests are served by keeping the poor poor. Shelters compete for the 
>homeless to justify their budgets. At this one, run by privately funded 
>Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Corp., there was a special
>marketing campaign last November to engage new clients by offering a free 
>breakfast and $5 in cash.

True, other peoples' poverty keeps them in their jobs.

>After we said good-bye, Mac Donald descended into a subway station. As I 
>returned to the office, I found myself realizing: Sure we should lend a hand 
>to the poor-but well-meaning programs to help them often don't do the trick.

Definitely!  My point!