Next week, a group of millionaires is asking the City of St. Louis to vote for a sales tax increase to give them $60 million so they can build a soccer stadium that will further enrich them.
Three days before that election, a homeless shelter that has served St. Louis' homeless population for four decades is being forced to close.
When millionaires beg, we hold elections when the poor and homeless beg we get offended and pass ordinances to prevent them from begging. When the billionaire owner of the Rams wanted to leave St. Louis, we spent $16 million dollars trying to give him money he didn't even want.
As Rev. Larry Rice mentioned, the homeless people he serves come because they were turned away from other shelters and have nowhere else to go. The video below serves as a reminder about the basic respect we owe to one another.
I'm not a particularly religious person, the bible verse below is an additional reminder to treat each person, no matter their station in life or circumstances, with basic humanity. Matthew 25:40-45, English Standard Version (ESV).
- And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
- “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
- For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
- I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
- Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
- Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
What's Your Special Talent?
Do you have an extraordinary skill or talent? If not, you might be the next victim of heartlessness.
New and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics, 3D Printing and other innovations will continue to strip away jobs. A few years ago, it was predicted that by the year 2025, half of all jobs will be eliminated by automation. Your job may not be as safe as you think.
My wife and I were both unemployed at the same time. Legal research skills helped us defend against predatory creditors and lawsuits. Otherwise, my family, years ago, could have been counted among the millions of people who became homeless during the financial crisis of 2008, which is still affecting families today. AI is now performing some functions of doctors, lawyers and other professions that were previous assumed immune from technology.
A 2015 report by the PEW Charitable Trust, “The Precious State of Family Balance Sheets,” indicates that the majority of American households (55 percent) are savings-limited, meaning they can replace less than one month of their income through liquid savings.
Low-income families are particularly unprepared for emergencies. The typical household at the bottom of the income ladder has the equivalent of less than two weeks’ worth of income in checking and savings accounts and cash at home.
Despite the studies like the PEW report, the majority of people still believe in the myths concerning homelessness: that most homeless individuals are alcoholics, drug addicts, thieves or mentally unstable. The homeless often are your former neighbors and under the right circumstances could one day be you!
Use of the law that criminalizes the homeless generally takes on one of five forms:
- Restricting the public areas in which sitting or sleeping are allowed.
- Removing the homeless from particular areas.
- Prohibiting begging.
- Selective enforcement of laws.
- Selective creation of laws.
Being homeless is not a crime. People should not be penalized because of their misfortune or by exercising their basic right to survive which might include begging or sleeping outside.
The United States Supreme Court implied an aggressive begging ordinance unconstitutional in Thayer v. City of Worcester. The ordinances prohibited “aggressive begging, soliciting and panhandling in public places.” (Under the ordinances’ definition, virtually all begging would be viewed as aggressive.)
The ordinances also created twenty-foot buffer zones throughout the city that prohibited activities from handing out leaflets to selling newspapers to selling Girl Scout cookies. The zones also covered all the most desirable areas to sell a product or deliver a message.
The court declared the City of Worcester’s ordinances regarding begging, soliciting and panhandling unconstitutional in their entirety and also declared unconstitutional that part of the ordinance regarding the restriction the ordinance placed on activities on traffic islands.
St. Louis City has a similar aggressive begging ordinance 15.44, that may also be unconstitutional.
In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional an attempt to ban the display of content-based outdoor signs without a permit.