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Cloaking Device...Check!

Interesting story here, from the Toronto Star. A T.O. city councillor, Michael Thompson, was attacked in Nathan Phillips Square on April 26. The net result of this is a homeless man in jail, and another councillor requesting another go-round on a bylaw to restrict panhandling.
I'm honestly a little uncomfortable with panhandling, personally. I volunteer my time to help try to alleviate poverty in my community, and that to me feels better and more meaningful than shoving change at someone to make them go away. I may be wrong about that, but that's my philosophy. I want to create an atmosphere of social justice, not soothe my conscience a quarter at a time. And, you get to meet a lot of people with a lot of heartbreaking stories. Real, human, unfortunate people. I would encourage people to get to know these people, and those that advocate on their behalf. Locally, the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty work hard to make their voices heard, and those of the poor, often against very strong odds. There are undoubtedly similar organizations wherever you, dear readers, may reside.

In a broad sense, the 'safe streets' laws that exist in some localities are more about the sensibilities of the rich than the needs of the poor, or the safety of 'ordinary citizens'.
The process of gentrification, the reclamation of inner-city neighborhoods by the affluent, is praised by some as beautification, and as a move toward safer streets.
Those concerned with social justice, however, see it differently. It's the displacement of low-income residents to ever-more-expensive locations outside the downtown core. When these people are displaced, they lose their ready access to services, and the cost of obtaining these services now has to include transportation to get there. So, people are driven to desperate measures: begging for change for the bus.
But, these people are begging in the city centre, the heart of the newly-affluent neighborhoods. 'Safe streets' laws make it possible to legally remove these people from the areas that used to be their homes.
Not enough to make them homeless and powerless, let's make them invisible - all the easier to sleep well at night, I suppose.

The conscience doesn't recognize what the self-indulgence refuses to see.

A sad fact of homelessness in Canada is the number of homeless people who are mentally ill, and do not have the coping skills required to succeed in an increasingly meaner society. If politicians want to do something concrete to alleviate the epidemic of homelessness in urban areas, they could include more support for those people who fall throught the cracks of our mental health system. We should expect more from our leaders than pandering to developers.

Good point, Alex. Unfortunately we are probably going to hear a whole lot more carping from the right wing about self-reliance and responsibility that will only make matters worse for those that suffer from invisible diseases.

Well, I think it's a trifle naiive to say that's it's simply a matter of the government supporting tne mentally ill - I can say from bitter experience with at least one case that unless they've committed a crime or a family member can have them committed, the hospitals have no power to force mentally ill patients to submit to treatment or even to keep them in the system. Unless you're talking about giving the government the power of involuntary incarceration, and that's not something I'm entirely comfortable with.

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