Left Justified: The homeless are NOT invading

By Stanley Campbell

I interrupt my friend’s reminiscences of his tour of duty in Vietnam to bring you these important messages.

The chance for health care is slipping away, and the insurance companies couldn’t be happier. They, after all, have the most to lose in any public option plan put forth by the government.

And, god forbid we get a public option for the needy, much less the working class. Health care is a privilege in this country, one that must not be sullied by those unfortunate wretches who somehow got in God’s disfavor and contracted a strange disease, or broke something.

This nation claims to be Christian, but is run by fundamentalists who put bottom line before holy scriptures. They claim disease is a punishment by God. If science cures disease, then it is an affront to their religion.

Let me give you an example. Scientist Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod, a simple device that deflects lightning from burning down buildings. Fundamentalists of the time condemned Franklin because you’re not supposed to deflect God’s punishment.

The same could be said for today’s fundamentalists. If you cannot be healed by faith, and have no money to pay a doctor, then God must really hate you, and you deserve to die.

If you subscribe to this belief, then you can swallow the idea that government should not pay for health care (you better refuse Medicare and Medicaid when you get to be 65 years old).

The insurance companies have a lot to lose if government health care is made available to everyone, not just those who cannot afford it. Customers will stop paying big insurance and will start paying big government. I, on the other hand, would love to be able to walk into a doctor’s office and not worry about paying for it.

And the homeless are NOT moving in droves to Rockford. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s A DEPRESSION GOING ON!!! Whoever says other cities are dumping their homeless on Rockford should go to other cities, because that’s what other cities are saying about us (Rockford destroyed 200-plus affordable housing units just last year—replacing them with nothing).

The majority of homeless folks are newly cast out of their overpriced homes. We gotta help them get back on their feet NOW, or we’re gonna have big problems later (the longer folks stay on the street, the harder it is to get them back in the groove).

Those people on the streets are YOUR BROTHER AND SISTER! This economy threw them on the street because we allow monied interest to gamble with our housing stock, not to mention our health care and our food supply. When the economy goes south, people lose their homes, health and sometimes their sanity.

Instead of making up stories about where all these people are coming from, we should try to support the few social services this community offers. And Rockford has some very successful groups that are performing miracles with diminishing resources.

People complain about successful programs drawing poor people here, which is ridiculous. Yeah, sure, people are just dying to get to Rockford because of our great programs. Truth is, no one knows Rockford from Peoria.

It would be nice if Rockford were known for healing people and helping them get back on their feet. But the fact is, people move. And in America, people move a lot! If you can’t get a job here, move somewhere else. If times are tough, go visit a relative. Moving in and making do is the American way. And most Americans help make do when times are tough, so stop besmirching the poor, and start helping or get out of the way.

I will publish the last installment of my friend’s Vietnam experience next week.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Aug. 19-25, 2009 issue

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