Friday, November 30, 2012

How Libertarianism Can Help to Solve the Homelessness Problem in Pittsburgh

Guest posting by Eve Pearce epearce -at-

According to the charity Pittsburgh Cares, there are over two thousand homeless people in the Pittsburgh region. Seventy-eight percent of them are adults and twenty-eight percent are children. Of the adult homeless population, seventeen percent are veterans. Over one hundred homeless people have died on the city’s streets since 1989. What can be done to help alleviate this problem? According to award-winning libertarian author and social commentator Dr Mary Ruwart, the situation would not be anywhere near as bad as it is today if libertarians were running the country as opposed to the current leaders, who are stifling American society with far too many rules and regulations.
Stop the Government from MeddlingRuwart highlights the fact that towards the end of the 1990s, Mother Theresa’s church order the Missionaries of Charity purchased two abandoned buildings in New York City for a dollar each and managed to raise the sum of five hundred thousand dollars to fund the repair work that was necessary in order for them to be usable as homeless shelters. City officials initially stated that they were fine with the order’s plans to create shelters for the homeless but after work had begun, inspectors broke the news that a hundred-thousand-dollar elevator needed to be installed so that disabled people would have easy access to the accommodation. The nuns responded that the religious vows that they had taken meant that they weren’t allowed to routinely utilise modern conveniences. They suggested that they could carry disabled residents into the shelters manually and applied for a waiver from the regulations governing handicapped access, stating religious reasons. However they had their application rejected and as a result of this, the project was cancelled and the homeless people remained without a place to live. In a libertarian society, the regulations and restrictions that forced these individuals to carry on sleeping on the streets would not exist.
License to Sleep RoughThe USA is becoming a nation where the people are left desperately struggling to remain afloat within a sea of rules that dictate every element of their lives. The problem is that the authorities don’t know when to stop sticking their noses in to matters that don’t concern them. Over the course of the last few years, they have been inflicting unnecessary regulations upon the credit industry, encroaching more and more upon the constitutional rights of the public and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Officials in Nevada City, California, are even pushing for a law that will prohibit individuals from being homeless until they are given a license. Only a small number of these licenses would be handed out, effectively making it a criminal offence to have nowhere to go. What would become of the city’s homeless people if this law came into effect? They would be constantly on the lookout for policemen looking to arrest them simply for being homeless, which would push them even further into the margins of society. 
Ruwart’s Solution
Ruwart states that by removing some of the regulations that the government places upon the US, the economy would improve and less people would lack a fixed abode. There would also be no laws in place that persecute the homeless. She is however realistic and admits that some people would still have nowhere to live. The difference is that more Americans would be wealthy so the homeless would receive more donations.   
She claims that seventy-five percent of every tax dollar goes towards administration costs rather than those who really need it. This means that the main form of help that homeless people receive is from volunteers working in soup kitchens, kindhearted health workers who provide medical care free of charge and people dishing out spare change. In a society where people were wealthier, they would be in a better position to help other people, meaning that the best way to aid the homeless would be to adopt libertarian principles, which would also be extremely beneficial to society as a whole. Perhaps once those without a place to live were financially better off than they are at the moment, they could finally begin to address the issues that had led them to become homeless in the first place and get their lives back on track.

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