Friday, November 28, 2008

State of the World

I recently saw a comment online regarding helping less fortunate people, saying that the general public does not want to help by paying taxes. I think that is baloney! Okay, maybe not many actually 'want' to do it, but they have no choice in countries like Canada and therefore already do. We pay high taxes. I was bumped to a higher tax bracket when I was a single parent, making below poverty level for F sake. Now that I am with a partner, almost 40% of this month's money went to taxes and healthcare insurances. Combined we make less than $100,000 a year, which is not enough to buy a nice home in my city right now - but we still lose almost half our money to taxes and other programs every month. So how does anyone figure we should be paying even more? I think it comes down to how the money is allocated by the government, how they decide what programs to pump money into and how much. We don't have much say in that at all. So is it the general public's fault we have a lot of homeless and less fortunate people? I have a hard time believing that!

I decided to take a look around the web about countries that are supposed to be famous for their social programs and people over here have used them as examples many times about how great they are for helping people and how they don't mind paying higher taxes over there to ensure people are treated equally, blah blah blah. It took me no time at all to find that those countries still have their homeless populations too. They still have their problems and try to force those people out and brush them under the carpet.

A recent news articleabout Sweden regarding kicking Squatters out of buildings, when they are protesting the lack of housing available in some areas. ""Police in Sweden have embarked on a mission to evict squatters living in the south of the country, with the university town of Malmo turning into something of a hotbed of activism. The squatters are not happy about an ongoing housing shortage in the region, so they’ve taken to the streets in Malmo and Lund to protest the need for more homes in southern Sweden.""

A 2007 report on Homeless people in Denmark.
""30 pct. of 5.253 have been homeless more than two years, 52 pct. get social security benefits and 25 pct. get anticipatory pension (a social security benefit available to persons aged 18 to 67, who are not able to work). 30 pct. of the homeless people have a mental illness and 36 pct. of them sleep roughly. 69 pct. have addiction problems: 45 pct. are addicted to alcohol, 33 pct. of hash/khat, 25 pct. narcotics and 13 pct. medicine.""

Holland hides it's homeless problem until 1995.
""In order to apply for welfare benefits people must be registered at a permanent address within their residential area. For those who do not have such an address, or wander from city to city, this requirement cannot be met. Only one third of the homeless in Holland actually make use of welfare services, while others seeking help often get lost in a bureaucratic maze of rules and regulations.""

Switzerland study finds homeless with mental illness treated less efficiently than others.
""Social factors and psychopathology are independently contributing to the risk of homelessness. Health care inequalities were found with regard to pathways to inpatient care (high rate of compulsory and emergency admissions, low involvement of GPs) and hospital stay (shorter stay, less improvement).""

Habitat for Humanity reports, centering not only on homelessness but the severely sub-standard living conditions for many who DO have a 'home':
Poland - ""Poland has to deal with the legacy left by communist economic and social policies...The Economic Housing Institute research indicates that almost one in four apartments in Poland should be condemned. This sad statistic heightens the problem of Poland’s needing more than 1.5 million affordable apartments just to meet current demand. Of the existing housing stock, approximately one in eight do not have a kitchen. Almost one in ten share a toilet with an entire floor of apartments or have no indoor facility at all.""
Hungary - ""Hungary is grappling with the deep scars of communist economic and social policies... According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1.2 million people live in overcrowded conditions. Single-room apartments are frequently shared by multiple families. Out of the almost 4 millions homes in Hungary, more than 400,000 lack a water pipeline. Many homes have no sewage systems, and over 670,000 lack flush toilet.""
Russia - ""According to the official state statistics, 39 million Russians live in poverty. The housing situation in Russia quickly deteriorated when local governments were no longer able to build and distribute free or subsidized housing to all citizens. This has left many Russians in need of decent shelter.""
Canada - ""Today, there are four million people across Canada living in need of adequate and affordable housing," said David Hughes, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. "That is four million people who are waiting to hear a long-term plan to make affordable housing and affordable homeownership an attainable dream for hard-working Canadians - four million whose vote is possibly still undecided.""
United States- ""
An estimated 5.4 million American households face worst-case housing needs, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Receiving little or no government housing assistance, these families are unable to find a decent place to live at a price they can afford to pay.""

When I sit down with the available stats and divide them by each country's total population, I see that there really isn't that much difference in % of homeless people between these developed or developing countries. I realize it is not an exact science and many stats are actually guesses and each country does it's studies differently (for example, the Danish study did not include people living in temporary shelters or staying with friends/family) but just taking a rough calculation, I come out with 1-5% homeless or in dire housing need. If these systems abroad that I have seen people glorify were working so nicely, why do they still have as many homeless %-wise as the larger capitalist-based countries? It's like a dirty little secret that has only been coming to light over the past decade or so. I lived in Europe for years, visited many countries, and saw homeless and panhandlers everywhere I went. Whether it was Holland Belgium or England, they were there. Whether I was in Germany or the US or Canada, they were there. It is a world wide problem, not to mention the absolute terrible need for homes in some regions of Africa and Asia - but it is becoming more apparent to me that glorifying a higher tax system to share one's wealth with another is not the answer either. There are so many programs and so many people, extremely high populations in some countries, and therefore not enough money is able to be spread through the programs - or perhaps it is a terrible mismanagement of government money. I saw the price tag for some of the US election conventions and gasped. HOW MANY PEOPLE could they feed and clothe and house with money from even one convention? What did I see once - that Nancy Pelosi gave a state governor over $1 million towards his campaign this year (which he lost)? That one particular Democratic Convention cost $1.3 million dollars. Are you kidding me? I am not saying that McCain and Palin were cheapos who didn't blow money either but the fact remains, in my head at least, that people were bowing down to the new president while watching him blow literally MILLIONS upon MILLIONS on the campaign trail and members of his party were blowing millions upon millions on other campaigns.

Honestly, WTF is that all about? Why don't their adoring sponsors give that much money to homeless people isntead? Why don't these leaders say "I am not going to spend 10 million bucks on this campaign, I want my supporters to give money to charity instead and I will pay for my own campaign". If they truly want to help people, truly believe the words that came out of their own mouths about sharing the wealth, please explain the Hypocricy to me of thinking it is okay to spend many millions of dollars on a Campaign that lasts a few months. PLEASE explain that to me. I am so fed up with listening to people fawn and prostrate themselves over a person who is just as bad as the rest. It is deranged and disgusting. If you can't face that fact, then that is your own problem.

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