Jun 3, 2011

The Begging and Supply-Side Market: And Outdoor Citizens

Changing the Current Supply-Side Paradigm in Santa Clara County and Beyond!

9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
10. And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
11.And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.

This is a follow-up up to last quarter's article entitled, 'Addicted to Homelessness'. After the people saw this man who sat for years, walking again, many of them ran to Solomon's colonnade (or porch). And they wondered, how could this be? Actually, that is what we are attempting to do at HOP, 'The Outdoor Citizen's Coalition & Think Tank of Santa Clara County'. We are attempting to do the miraculous. In order to do so , our work is cut off for us in that we have to alter the ways of thinking of 2 groups, that are both co-dependent, the suppliers, and the recipients of supply-side handouts which often lead to dependency.

We believe that in time, groups that helped to create the status quo and the beneficiaries will come running once they witness lives being turned around. And when they understand that they can walk again without the need for a handout, begging or depending on supply-siders! When you think about it, who benefits the most under the rubric of the current paradigm? The answer is in the question.

Author Derrick Bell, in his book, Faces At The Bottom of the Well, wrote: "if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you will keep getting, what you have been getting". HOP, with miniscule resources (the work is all being done by unpaid volunteers, former and current outdoor citizens), is working to help to change the dynamic, and therefore to benefit the outdoor citizens, by providing them with the know how, to get up and to get going again.

The winds of change are blowing, and the individuals and organizations, that learn to shift with the tides will succeed.

It is our hope that other outdoor-citizens (who prefer the current method of receiving something for doing nothing), and organizations in the area will soon follow suit and join us, even when it means revamping their systems and policies. Even the Apostle Peter, a fisherman who still had fish to give, stopped giving alms, and instead helped to lift a man to his feet so that he could walk on his own 2 feet again, when his paradigm changed.

Readers who are familiar with 'disruption theory', understand that from time to time there has to a change in the customary manner, and with the methods that have been used, if an individual or an organization plans to keep pace. Even a once great idea (the free delivery ice wagon, black and white TV, typewriters … eventually runs their course and are replaced by new and improved ideas or commodities. Smart leaders and managers on the cutting-edge, recognize when it is time to do, improve or create something that is different. Several organizations, some of notoriety in Silicon Valley, failed to forecast, evaluate their processes and to recognize the need for disruption and therefore change.

Some once venerable organizations have recently been overtaken by upstart organizations that didn't exist a decade ago. Why? Because the leaders of the organizations failed to keep up or to recognize that from time to time, even a venerable organization has to recognize when it is time to change its mission, its methods and ways of doing things. Geo-politically, consider what is taking place in the Republic of China and the other emerging global markets today.

Successful businesses that plan to thrive also recognize the need to be as effective as they are efficient and to modify or change at certain peak times. The Valley in my opinion, with Federal and State help, has effectively underwritten what appears to be permanent underclass (if things don't change), roughly 7,000 outdoor citizens in the region, who will continue to depend on the system for life support.

The outdoor-citizen's demographic is made up of women, children and men. Members of this permanent underclass have been on the dole for 5, 7, 10 and 12 years, before either recession in the Valley. The supply-sider provisioners will continue to respond to the demand, instead of recognizing that a problem has turned into a catastrophe under their watch. God help us!

In other words, the mission of these organizations,some are faith-based, is to sustainable burgeoning permanent underclass not matter how large it grows, as opposed to assisting recipients of the area's largesse (which cannot last forever) to get up and walk again – and other organizations are following their lead. The recipients of the Valley's largesse, as well as the systems who supply them both need to experience disruption!

Item I

Since my return from the nation's capitol several years ago, I ended up living in a shelter, a church's rear office, on a park bench, at the Salvation Army a few nights and occasionally with friends. I immediately recognized my problem, and that of my new cohort group, as a result of living among the outdoor citizens' demographic in Santa Clara Valley, and by observing what was taking place with well-intended government, social services and faith-based groups in the area.

During the time that I lived among the outdoor citizens in the Valley, I not only made observations, I also took notes on this side of the Bay, as well as in the Peoples Park in Berkeley, the opposite side of the Bay. The First Church of Christian Science on Dwight Way was most helpful, Priscilla was my teacher and guide. Rosie, a long-time resident of the People's Park and Terri (who was affectionately known as 'the Compost Lady', because she planted flowers and vegetables in the park to feed the outdoor-citizens there.

Then I began to collaborate with the outdoor citizens, as well as with service providers and faith-based groups in hopes of trying to determine what course of action should be taken in order to change the current dynamic. The first thing that I observed was that the outdoor citizens were mostly non participants in their own recoveries. Second, I noticed that there was a percentage of the outdoor-citizens demographic, who were satisfied with the way that things were operating at the present time, given the area's largesse.

Some outdoor citizens require support help true enough, however, others were unabashed moochers. The latter group, I concluded, needed what the lame beggar at the temple needed, someone to help to lift him to lift himself from the ground begging, so that he could get on with his life instead of depending on handouts.

I also recognized that there were physically and mentally handicapped individuals, that were also in need of a supportive lift, not a wheelchair for life. Helping people is a balancing act, one that requires wisdom and discernment. Otherwise, good caring people, end up being a pawn in a freighter’s hand! Many caregivers ... have, unwittingly become pawn in someone elses manipulative game. Aside from the fact that some of the outdoor citizens who lack a conscience, will pull the whole system down with them, some of the helpers, who were supposed to be change agents, were experiencing Stockholm Syndrome. Dr. Zimbardo retired from SU, however, given the Stanford Prison Experiments, he would understand what I am referring to, with regard to this syndrome.

In fact, I was stunned, given some of the responses and feedback that I received, directly from the mouth's of service providers in the region. Several of them were were more perturbed with me for suggesting that change was necessary, than they were with the individuals (some malingerers), who were co-dependent with them, their agencies and their faith-based groups. Again, in too many instances, outdoor citizens are still not participating in their own recoveries- and too many services providers, faith-based groups, agencies ... want to rescue you, rather than help their clients to walk again. It was incredible, the amount of resources that were being expended, both finances and human capital, to deal with a problem that many of the outdoor citizens were not helping to solve!

At present, along with HOP and several other organizations and individuals, that are ahead of the curve in terms of recognizing a need for disruption in the region, I have joined forces with current and former outdoor citizens, who want to make a difference in the lives of our demographic. It is amazing, the incredible amount of resources being expended, including direct handouts on the streets, by government, faith-based and other institutions in the region. And still, there are approximately 7,000 outdoor citizens, living in the leading state in this nation. In other words, instead of crisis, most residents and institutions in the area, have accepted homelessness, as a condition.

HOP, hopes to change minds and attitudes. HOP and other individuals and groups who believe in what we are doing are intent upon changing the current dynamic, not just among the outdoor citizens' demographic, but also among the agencies, faith-based groups and services providers that are co-dependent with chronic outdoor citizens (in particular the ones that can help themselves with a minimal amount of help). In order to do so HOP, had to create its own creative Think Tank agency. Now what is truly sad is, some individuals and institutions who make their living off of the homeless, don't want to have much to do with a professional outdoor citizen's organization that has an understanding of the problem, and is staffed with recovering individuals who have been there. Hmm!

Well, who is this Solomon dude anyway, a man who popped up in town from Washington DC, several years ago, and who has as much as said that the service-providers … in this area ... are co-dependent with the outdoor citizen's demographic in this area, many of them? Am I a T-Partier, or an individual on the Right who believes in the redistribution of wealth when when it inures to the benefit of the class group that needs it the least? Nyat!

Don't get upset with me, I am on the side of right and I would like to help, if I can to break through the powerful matrix of caregivers ... that exist in this area. And don't feel bad if you feel turned on at first by me, many of the outdoor citizens who have been enjoying a comfy existence as a result of the area's largesse, wish that I would shut up and go away as well. Can you blame them, Solomon is creating disruption, and spoiling some of their game(s)? How would you like it, if someone was tampering with your way of living? In fact, when you think about it, they have done so already.

I actually argued a similar position, with a group of do-gooier social workers ... who converged on Washington DC, over 2 decades back in in the nation's capital, these services providers came from all other the nation, in order to focus on nationwide social and public policy issues. Approximately 1,000 of us, busily, spent the week in the nation's Capitol at a forum that was put together by The United Neighborhood Centers of America, an organization who brought together top professionals ... to come up with ways to solve the problems of America's permanent underclass in the inner-city. We caucused daily, met with representatives, debated issues, created our planks ... Eventually, the bleeding heart among us came around. I explained, that they were not being very realistic when it came to addressing the needs of America's permanent underclass, who were surviving in the nation's inner-cities.

Prior to leaving Washington (in 1983), neither my first nor my last time working on social and urban issues by the way at the Congressional level, there was a change of heart among the individuals who came there to bleed for America's permanent underclass, as opposed to coming up with some realistic proposals and solution. I hope that some of you will eventually recognize that you will do the same in the valley. Let me put it another way, stop enabling the able-bodied outdoor citizens, would you please?

Some of our outdoor citizens need to feel the kind of pain that will shock their sensibilities, and spring them back into action. Pain, can be a motivator for positive social change, and to reverse lethargy and inaction. Given the number of individuals who are unhoused in the area or living on someone's floor... given all of the manpower and resources distributed, wouldn't you say at some point, that what you done, successfully before, is not working today? The crisis is worsening, and the Republican House has already proposed to role HUD Funding for example, back to 2007 levels to star. It's time for disruption and a change in the old ways of doing thing.

For example, it is time to" TELL THE OUTDOOR CITIZENS WHERE TO GO, in other words where you send your money to. Explain to them that a organization with skilled personnel will help them to get going again. Whatever you do, stop supporting begging and dependency, you are reinforcing bad habits, which will only result in re-enforcing long-term chronic dependency. Again, tell them where to go 'to meet your money', in order to get help!

Item II

Jesus believed in and taught individuals to be responsible. It seems to me that the faith-based groups, agencies, and recipients of all of the public's and their congregation's largesse in this area, are intent upon doing just the opposite. Instead, too many of them are busily maintaining the 'we will take care of you status quo”. Let me give you an example. The outdoor citizens get everything for free in this area, to the extent that other outdoor citizens travel to this area because they have heard of 'how sweet it is in Santa Clara County'. Yes, San Franciscans travel here to get what they no longer can get in San Francisco. Outdoor Citizens from as far away as San Diego..., come here to take care of the area's largesse. From all across the nation they come, knowing that if you can make it the Bay Area's shores, that you will be taken care of, shortly, after you arrive.

And even though I admire the spirit of giving in this area, I was even helped when my fortunes turned, however, with this caveat, I immediately engaged in a personal recovery plan. However, many of the helping organizations in this area neither understand when you are doing too much, nor when the able mind and bodied outdoor citizens, are not doing enough to help themselves - some, haven't sat down to make a recovery plan yet, and some of the helpers don't seem to mind!

And having said that, what you are doing is contributing to cultural dependency and social anomie. Outdoor citizens, ought to be required to take action steps themselves before receiving more than the very basic help. And afterward, when they are helped, benchmarks need to be set, with targets in mind, accompanied with frequent compliance reviews. Otherwise, permit the ones who refuse to a tour at The Pain Station!

The by-product of all of the, 'we will solve your problems for you', that too many of our chronic outdoor are experiencing, some for a decade or more, is that many of our outdoor citizens have remained right where they were long before I, and others like me, got involved in the fight. While being supported without condition, many of them have lost jobs, homes, apartments ... before the most recent recession, and some before the 2001 recession in this region. Has there any accountability? What happened, given all of the resources that have been expended already, I can't see any results. We can blame what has transpired on the the economy ... however, that is not the whole story. Over-dependence on a free-handout economy, including a guaranteed job is the problem. It is time for a new way of thinking and reckoning to be put into place.

Sadly, I can't seem to get faith-based groups to understand that not even Jesus, continued his 'miracle healing feeding crusade', once he realized that his program enabled individuals (who were merely following him in order to obtain fish food, and other miracles. At HOP, the Think Tank and Advocacy organization, one that is comprised of current and former outdoor citizens mind you - we are teaching a new paradigm. Hopefully, others will get on board and try something new for a change.

One HOP member proposed a slogan 2-days ago that will be incorporated, with regard to street and other beggars, and it is: REFUSE TO GIVE CHANGE TO PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO CHANGE. This slogan compliments, the new TELL THEM WHERE TO SLOGAN that we came up. In other words, don't give any more money to anyone on the streets, or at the expressway exists. Instead, give the money to responsible and ethical organizations, and at the same time tell the beggar where to go where he can be helped, supervised, monitored and given a helping hand (if he or she will do what they are told in order to help themselves. Giving on the streets ... have only buttressed begging and the lack of accountability, but more importantly, the lack of effort and change in the lives of beggars.

We know some things that some don't know, because we've been there. Many of our team members are already working to turn their lives around, instead of being dependents on a system that doesn't work to help individuals to get up and to get going again, sadly. During my last person-to-person meeting with late Congressman Augustus Hawkins of the 101st district in Los Angeles, in Washington DC; before he passed on, he told me something. He said, you can actually do more back at home by working with the ones who are in need in the community, than you can get down here in Washington DC …” Many other Representatives in Washington, for example late Representative John Seiberling of Ohio ... echoed the same sentiment and shared similar advice. Practically every Representative that I spoke with, admitted that Washington was in gridlock.

Representative Conyers from Michigan, once explained to a group of us in DC, that a certain bill that he tried to get on the floor for 25 years, was never permitted to come to the floor, out of committee ... for a vote. Washington, as most Americans already know, has been deadlocked - well that is unless you are an organization that owns one or more of the 300,000 or more registered (mostly corporate) lobbyists in this nation, who will do your bidding for you, they you will likely get what you want. Is it any wonder that many of the residents in DC refer to it as 'Dodge City', well, because of the killing that goes on there.

HOP, and several other well-intentioned institutions in America and this area, are not the place to go if one does not intend to alter their plight, and that is in consideration of individuals on both sides of the spectrum. At HOP, we are essentially teaching outdoor citizens, the ones who will listen, a new paradigm, and it includes the following:

  1. That the world has changed since the Post WWII economic boom that America experienced (which lasted more than a half century).

  2. That Europe was devastated, and broke at the end of the war, while America's blue collar industry, factories, banking and mercantile industries too, among other things, were booming.

  3. And as a result, there were jobs a plenty. (Many Americans in the rust belt where I hail from, held more than one job at a time). I can recall when I held 2 jobs and was working 16 hours a day around the age of 18.

  4. However today greed, coupled with globalization, corporate down-sizing, loss of market share to the emerging global economies, corporate down-sizing, the depression and the slow economic recovery (not to overlook the psyche of the entitled to a job Americans), too many Americans have lost that one well paying job - that they used to have. And more more and more of them are sitting in a stupor, while waiting for 'their job' to come back.

  5. That the shrinking manufacturing base, currently at about 27% of what it was decades ago, has resulted in many of blue collar workers having been simply put, eliminated. And as a result, homes, apartments, rooms and families have been broken up and lost...

  6. That even if you were able to garner a job, typically short-term, you would not earn a sufficient amount to cover your living expenses, particularly, if you live in northern California, especially, if you were return to the same market place, that along with 50 years of I AM ENTITLED conditioning.

  7. That the solution is, within you along with solid supportive help, of the kind that teach and help you to take back charge of your lives, and therefore your destinies with this in mind; you must take the responsibility for your comeback, and create income-producing opportunities for yourself. In other words, you will hone and depend on your current skill-sets, return to school if you must, and use what you have already in your toolbox, to compete in the market place.

  8. We remind our people that they have, 'not only marketable skills, but income-producing skills" and that American citizens will have to compete against American and global interests, in order to garner and with our support (and hopefully yours) garner their slice of the global pie (not just the American one), for that ship has sailed.

  9. Maintenance programs are just that, maintenance; and they will result in many Americans being on the dole for the rest of their lives - we lost over 50 lives in the area, last year alone, along with several outdoor citizens in this region just over the past 3 weeks..

  10. Finally, we help outdoor-citizens to understand that in the near future, the jobs that they were used to having, have been and are permanently being shipped overseas, with the full consent of the American government and American corporations, 2 entities that are competing for themselves, their share-holders and campaign-finance in the American and global market place.

Item III.

John Maynard Keanes, Kenneth Galbraith would be appalled, if they could witness the current economic conditions in America, particularly what is taking place in the American corporate marketplace, on Wall Street and with America's mercantile system (particularly in a nation with a 14T GDP, piled-up debt and Americans living in the streets). Who knows what Mr. Friedman would have to say if he were still with us today, with respect to current market conditions. And we all know that he was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and supply-side economist. Thomas Sowell, my soul brother, I don't understand you, but at the same time, we are moving on with our own economic recoveries. I feel that it is safe to say that the contract with America ala Hobbes and Keanes is DOA, at this juncture it appears to be, every person for themselves!

Mr. Volcker has had very instructive things to say from time to time. Mr. Greenspan, has to defend himself, since he presided over the Fed, during the downturn and slide, ergo, he has been somewhat muted and more of an apologist. Mr. Guytner and Mr. Bernanke are presiding over the current debacle and economic recovery, at the Treasury and at the Fed.

All of us know, I believe, what the real problem is and where it originated, in addition to all of the above (to include job losses, corporate down-sizing, repositioning, job furloughs, the stock-market crash), can you say hedge funds though? Where I disagree with many of the outdoor citizens and organizations that I am involved with, many of them are status-quo organizations, is that they do not understand that it is time to do something different and to alter the status quo again. Why? Because with the best of intentions many of them are doing the wrong thing today, and very little to address the systemic issues of our time. One thing that is need for sure, in the Santa Clara Valley, is DISRUPTION!

In other words the same organizations that have prevented a crises of hunger in and among our demographic, have fallen into a separate rut. Today, however, it is time to get on with the business of rehabilitation, by partnering with outdoor citizens in a way that will help them to get back to the creative ways of producing economic returns on their best investments, themselves. These institutions did an admirable job before, however, it is time to switch gears, and to kick some butt. There has been a massive redistribution of wealth in this nation and this area, to the ones who needed it the least - and they are not going to give it back.

In summary and I repeat, we believe the following:

  1. That organizations in the area need to adapt to a new paradigm, one in which individuals working with those who want to help themselves to recover, ought to be helped. The ones who do not, and will not help themselves, ignore them.

  2. That outdoor citizens must be encouraged, taught … those who can be taught to began working to create income producing opportunities for themselves, with support (to include cleaning, sweeping, painting curbs, mowing lawns, using their computer-skills, starting their own hi-tech businesses some have advanced degrees you know).

  3. That outdoor citizens must volunteer to work, when one is capable of doing so, instead of receiving the gifts that they have been receiving of late, gratis.

  4. That a certain amount of pain being felt, will inspire some of our able-bodied, but spoiled outdoor citizens to get back to work or to create income-producing opportunities for themselves. We are living in a new day, and certain jobs aren't coming back!

  5. That organizations must channel more dollars into self-help organizations, not only HOP, who are trying to create self-sustaining and independent human beings instead of dependents (and the latter is what is taking place all over the area today.

In conclusion: I wonder what our critics will have to say when we, HOP, a year and a-half old organization that began without money, a place and not very much of anything else, helps to alter the current paradigm and status quoin this region; or on the other hand, when the ones who are being served by status quo organizations make the turn around? Motivated outdoor-citizens, are turning to us already. The rest are staying in the parks, and relying on government, faith-based groups … to sustain them, to do their work for them - however, they are watching us. We plan to help individuals who desire to and are willing to work, to stand and to walk again. The answer is on the porch, not on the streets, or under another person or institution's control. And why are we doing what we are doing, because of LOVE!


Learn more about the growing supply-side dynamic and the outdoor citizen's demographic in Santa Clara County, by visiting 'The Outdoor Citizens of Santa Clara County', at HOPPEOPLE.org! We have our own think tank, and are working to bring about positive social-change for our demographic in the Santa Clara Valley and beyond. Again: www.hoppeople.org!

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