If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be … For the poor you will always have with you in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)
If your neighbor is suffering from hunger, mental health issues, lack of good shelter, and gainful employment, then it falls to us to do what we can to help him in these regards. We don’t have to be assholes about all of this — We all just need to do what we can, and according to our own means.
Though the homeless and indigent have always been with us, record keeping of the problem started back in the 1870’s and from that, the problems have become increasingly worse. The civil rights and civil liberties movements of the 60s accelerated the problem, and government policy accelerated the problem even more starting in the 80’s with gentrification of the inner city and the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill.
Our nation used to offer work to those who were homeless, and they accepted it. Then our nation offered welfare (free money) and the homeless accepted it. As it is now, our homeless are offered a free spot to pitch their tent and they accepted it.
It’s hard to believe just how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone as a society over the past 150 years — Government policy supposedly designed to make things better has only served to make things worse. And the proof of my statement resides somewhere in downtown Great Falls, living in a tent.