Is There Hope in A Hooverville?

Because the government got increasingly more involved in people’s lives during the 1920s and 30s, homelessness increased. We the people turned our decisions over to big government, especially during the reign of Presidents Herbert Hoover and FDR.  

In fact, homeless camps, shanty towns that started cropping up by 1930 were called “Hoovervilles”. Give credit where credit is do. Homelessness started cropping up before the Great Depression, but mushroomed during the 30s, growing during the term of President FDR. 

Government programs didn’t resolve the homeless problem. Like today, people without a home started building their own dwellings.  They used stone, wood from crates, cardboard, scraps of metal – anything they could find.  In D.C, a group of veterans whose VA benefits were delayed, created a Hooverville in 1932. They had hopped trains and came from far away. At one point the government tore the homeless camp down, where up to 15,000 people lived.   

In 1930 in St. Louis, Mo, the largest Hooverville was created through private philanthropy. This racially integrated community had an unofficial major, churches, and other social institutions. In 1936, the Works Progress Administration, an agency of FDR’s New Raw Deal, allocated funds for “slum clearance” with the idea that the government would provide housing for the homeless. 

Today in Bucks County, PA, county government thinks it would resolve the problem through assisted housing. A few years back I pitched my idea to Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia, who is running for reelection in November, that county public land be set aside to create a homeless village, similar to the St. Louis camp and the more recent Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon. 

The commissioner poo-pooed the idea. She said that this kind of thing would make the homeless too comfortable and would not want to avoid going into government assisted housing. This philosophy that creates dependency on government was the case championed decades ago, as evident in President LBJ’s alleged Great Society. In A More Perfect Union; What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties, Ben Carson MD writes “…our society is still plagued by people who propose and enforce policies that encourage the descendants of the freedmen to accept a state of social dependency. People in such a state tend to be much easier to manipulate than people who are independent and well educated. Therefore, with a few perks and promises, their votes can be cultivated, creating a significant power base. Manipulative people convince them that others are responsible for their misery and that they should be grateful for the aid being provided by their saviors.” 

It’s everyday people, driven by faith in God, not career politicians, who can create a more perfect union. 

The role of government, everyday people and the church is illustrated in: 

I Saw The Best Minds…

The shrinks and the mental health hustlers are whining that they don’t have enough money to treat what they call “substance abuse disorder”, which is psychobabble for choosing destructive, stupid behavior. Why do you think they call it dope?

When you are hooked on something, nothing matters except self-satisfaction, whether getting high on drugs, drunk on booze, or even smoking cigarettes. On an episode of Twin Peaks, a guy managed to walk away from the edge of a nuclear blast. He wondered through the New Mexico desert with an unlit cigarette. He asked the first people he came across “got a light? Got a light?” Over and over again.

Without more money, Jennifer Smith, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said druggies will be desperate to support their habit and will end up with a criminal record! I thought that using and possessing drugs was criminal! The drug trade has nothing to do with customers doing dope does it? Maybe this substance disorder is contagious, picked up from exposure from passing drug dealers in public areas.

What’s more, Secretary Smith added, is that this “disorder” creates homelessness. So, according to those on the front lines of the opioid war, if we fork over more money to the official state drug rehab industry, we can prevent homelessness!

Unless you’ve been living on Mars and don’t have satellite transmission, you’ll know that people from all walks of life are doing dope. As Bob Dylan sang “everybody must get stoned!”

How prophetic was beat poet Allen Ginsberg with the opening to his poem Howl: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night.

Back in 1955, when the beat poet wrote Howl, freaky people like Ginsberg were on the fringe of society. The Beat Generation sought meaning from life in an industrialize society but concluded that “society sucked.” Today, this view that because life has no meaning, anything goes and it’s cool to escape this though sex, drugs and rock and roll was celebrated at Woodstock and is becoming the new normal –more mainstream.

Dumping money on a problem doesn’t automatically fix it. More and more money to fight the drug war but the problem appears to be getting worse.  Albert Einstein is said to define insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to homelessness, but that’s not the only cause. The economy, driven by progressive social engineering, particularly during FDR’s New Raw Deal, wrought massive homelessness. Decent, working men were heavily taxed and businesses were heavily taxed and regulated. Consequently, men became hobos who hopped trains to look for food and work. Government overreach, for example paying the large farm conglomerates to burn crops to increase prices, favored the fat cats at the expense of the average person, the middle class.

The Great Depression was not just an economic depression; it was a moral depression. Leading up to the depression was a world of gangsters and corrupt politicians.

The opioid epidemic is not just about people doing dope; it’s a moral issue, a result of people looking for meaning in life by trying to escape reality, rather than to deal with it.

Rather than making druggies victims and saying they have a disease, besides just saying “no” to drugs, they should get involved in a 12-step program, which addresses the spiritual/moral part of the problem. Medical doctors and nurses can deal with the medical end of the problem.

Historically, the 12-step program has been very successful. I know of one homeless person in Bucks County, PA who went through a 12-step program as has really gotten his act together.

He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.”
-Psalm 107:14

Homeless Pit Bulls

As I was walking my dog in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a hiker walking towards me frantically warned me that a pit bull was running loose in the woods. As we entered a landing by the “river”, there it was. The pit bull! We approached the much feared dog, who didn’t attack us, but was playful. I admit I was a little scared.

I threw a stick for the pit bull, to my dog’s vexation. The three of us found a spot to hang out. The pit bull, although a puppy, was twice the size of my dog, who got nervous when she got on top of her. I told the pit bull to sit away from us, take a time out. The dog obeyed as if she were my own dog, and waited for my permission to come back out and visit with my dog.

Like pit bulls, the homeless have gotten a bad rap.

My experience with the pit bull in the Pine Barrens wasn’t the only time I found that all the talk about pit bulls being vicious dogs was unfounded.

“Don’t talk about us – talk with us” – slogan coined by the homeless-run organization Picture The Homeless.

Just as pit bulls are judged by a few bad dogs (the result of the owner/trainer), the government hacks in the WIC office near the Veterans Memorial in Levittown, PA where the homeless hang out judged all the homeless by a few isolated incidents by individuals who happened to be homeless (or perhaps they were from one of the numerous recovery houses).  The Bucks County officer from the building where WIC is housed told some homeless people at the memorial that people are afraid to come to the memorial with them there.

As was the case with the pit bull, people should find out for themselves the truth of an assertion.

For the past nearly three years, I’ve been getting to know the local homeless. Like pit bulls, they don’t bite. When I visited the Levittown public library, I recognized some homeless people I had seen at a local community meal. I got to know them there and at the nearby vets memorial. At the time, after having lost my job and being low on funds, I struggled to find enough to eat. One of the homeless people told me about other meals for the homeless and the free bus that takes them there. It was a Godsend!

I learned some of the homeless’ stories and engaged in intelligent conversation with them. On a few occasions, we discussed Shakespeare. I found that many of them worked, sometimes intermittently and sometimes full time. Some homeless folks have found regular jobs and have found a place to live.

Unlike the druggies, people become homeless for different reasons. One of them is simply job loss, sometimes a layoff or sometimes because of sickness.  During the Great Depression/Progressive era of the late 1920s and 30s, many working men became hobos after they couldn’t find work, which was a result of the bad economy ushered in by progressives such as Presidents Herbert Hoover and FDR, with his New Raw Deal. Likewise, recent progressives have fostered homelessness.

In an attempt to alert the public about the homeless in Bucks County, PA, The Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) made a video, where actors talked about them rather than talking with the homeless. They tried to keep the homeless away from the shoot that day, but the homeless came anyway. The homeless were ignored; treated like mannequins!

Unlike AHTN, The Citizens Serving the Homeless on the other side of the Delaware River talked with real homeless people when they made their video.

The truth about the homeless:

Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.” – Proverbs 25:8

500 Miles from Home

“If you miss the train I’m on, you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles,
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.
Lord I’m one, Lord I’m two, Lord I’m three, Lord I’m four,
Lord I’m 500 miles from my home.
500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home.”

-Lyrics from 500 Miles, sung by Peter, Paul & Mary

Every time I see the car ad where a couple drives alongside a freight train and the woman daydreams about hopping the train and going wherever the tracks take them, I shake my head. She pictures herself in a boxcar. Her dog approaches and she pats the dog and soon her husband approaches. The vision jumps to the three of them sitting by the boxcar door.

What a romantic view of the world! As a recovering Romantic, I see this fantasy as silly, asinine!

During the Great Depression, people didn’t ride trains without a destination in mind because of a romantic notion. Like today’s homeless in places such as Bucks County, PA, who scout out a place to sleep, people hopped trains out of necessity.

Dreaming about hopping trains or even just, as I did as a teenager, hopping a train for a short distance, is a far cry from the reality of what the hobos went through during the depression. Just past a nursery that abutted my backyard where I grew up were train tracks. Two were for electric freight trains, and ran fast, and one was an old diesel Reading freight line, that ran slowly. On one occasion when I hopped the Reading, it suddenly started speeding up. I thought it might slow down but it kept picking up speed. I jumped, and I partly braced myself with a hand that landed on a sharp rock. I still have a trace of the scar it left.

I got off a lot easier than some of the hobos who hopped trains during the depression. Sometimes they missed and lost legs and sometimes even died! The railroads, much of which were paid for by taxpayers, hired bulls to go after the hobos, who would arrest them and beat them. This is a little like the way today’s homeless are treated when they camp out on public or private land because they have nowhere to go. During the depression, sometimes the bulls killed hobos.

Hobos would hop trains in search of work wherever they could find it, often hundreds of miles away.

Along the way, benevolent farmers who were still in business fed the hungry hobos.

Many of the hobos were farmers whose farms folded, in large part due to President FDR’s New Raw Deal, which as I illustrated in earlier blogs, favored the fat cats and hurt the average Joe. Likewise, today’s progressives, such as President BO and Shrillery-Killery and Slick Willy Clinton, contribute to homelessness. As I said in a blog awhile back, fight homelessness; don’t vote for progressives.

Today, many people don’t understand the homeless and even view them in a Romantic way. Although they may romanticize about them, they want to keep them at bay.

A term used informally today, hobophobia, the irrational fear of the homeless, is derived from hobos, the forerunners of today’s homeless.

Just as benevolent farmers shared their food with the hobos during the Great Depression, charitable people today feed, clothe, and minister to the homeless. In Bucks County, well intentioned people who want to provide much needed shelter for the homeless are derailed by hobophobic government bureaucrats.

Not all the homeless are gypsies, tramps and thieves… Many are there because of circumstances similar to that of the Great Depression.

Where do we go from here? 

The homeless could develop PMS (poor me syndrome). Or they could make the best of their situation and persevere and move forward. Encouragement, which Christians have been giving them, is something the homeless need a lot of.

I just read on pastor and Christian counselor Jay Adam’s website where he discussed the role of sin in one’s mental well being. Dr. Adams explained that not all problems are a direct result of one’s sin, which was the case with Job. However, the way one deals with a bad deck one is handed is what counts. As in the case of Job, bad things happen for a reason. Job came to realize that, obeyed and glorified God and things turned out all right in the end.

You don’t resolve problems by hugging trees or by dancing with the daffodils! You do so by going to God.

“Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?”

-Job 38:41

Save The Homeless From Progressives

Like FDR’s New Raw Deal, the progressives war on traditional energy sources hurts the little guy, especially the homeless.

Awhile back, in her newsletter, PA State Representative Tina Davis praised the PA governor, Big Bad Tom Wolf for his mandate to stop harvesting resources on state lands. She admitted that by letting businesses to continue business as usual, it would help the economy, but, (drum roll) it is more important to save the environment. This is a bogus claim.

The generals in this war on traditional energy to save the environment do not give us any specifics as to how they are protecting the environment with their initiatives.

We need someone to save us from these charlatans. There have, in fact, been some victories against them.

In Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie, a large movie producer, Engulf & Devour plots to take over a small producer, who has a problem with alcohol by paying a bimbo to play up to him then break his heart so he could go back on the booze and ruin his business. Engulf & Devour writes a check to the bimbo for: “Pretending to be in love with…”.  If politicians like Tina Davis, the Bimbo of Bristol Township and Governor Big Bad Wolf were as honest as Engulf & Devour, they would put a check written by the High Priests of Ozone and Human Caused Global Warming on Facebook that would read “For pretending the sky is falling.”

As Chris Edwards points out in a piece in The Cato Institute, FDR’s New Deal   “favored fat cats over average families.”

The government catered to the large farms by having them even burn crops, while people go hungry, in order to reduce the supply to keep prices high.  This hurt the little guy, such as the Joads, the characters depicted in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath

Likewise, social engineering for alternative energy sources by today’s progressives favors fat cats over average families. We have clean air and water in this country already. When my daughter visited England she said the air was not as clean as in Levittown, PA, and she coughed a bit. What the elites’ social engineering does is hurt the economy. This leads to more homelessness.

We need to pay attention to the (wo) man behind the curtain. Oz, like Shrillery, can’t give anything to the Tin Man, that he doesn’t, doesn’t already have. The magical kingdom, a perfect environment, as found in the Land of Oz is fantasy. The real world is back in Kansas, where, as Oz said when he came clean, there are real things people can do to make things better.

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  –John 8:32