Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To the arrogant ignorant, homeless people just need a few kicks in the head to "straighten up"

It has been reported that two Seattle firefighters, Scott Bullene and Robert Howell, and Bullene’s girlfriend, Mia Jarvinen, will essentially “walk” after an unprovoked attack last month on a homeless man sleeping under a firefighters’ monument in Occidental Park, in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. This apparently was due to the failure of the victim to “cooperate” in their prosecution. 

While one must admit that firefighting is a dangerous job, it is also one of the most wasteful of tax payer dollars. In the “old days,” firefighting was a “volunteer” job, with the volunteers paid on work actually done basis. Today there are full-time firefighters on the public payroll, spending the vast majority of their time waiting or “training.” records every “fire” call, and in 2013 it appears that at least 99 percent are not fire related at all. Firefighters have so little to do that they are required to have some training in performing basic emergency medical procedures, although it seems more often they handle calls on inebriates sleeping on the sidewalks. 

These two particular firefighters—who happened to be inebriated themselves after a Seattle Sounders soccer game—also happened to be not just off-duty, but on “disability” leave. The encounter with the sleeping homeless man and another who attempted to come to his aid was more fitting of the fan hooliganism common during European soccer matches. As it turned out, the instigator of the attack was Jarvinen, who is reportedly a Nordic-type from Finland, employed in the rather cushy position of “senior finance manager” by Demonstrating the trio’s racial attitudes, they claimed that a “black man in a hooded sweatshirt” simply strolled up to them and just for the hell of it “attacked” them.

Witnesses told a different story. The drunken Jarvinen was “enraged” that a sleeping homeless man was “defiling” the firefighter monument. Although the two firefighters played their part in the attack, the Seattle Times reported that Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Munca accused Jarvinen as being “the primary assailant in the attack.” Furthermore, “This was a vicious, unprovoked attack on a defenseless person…The allegation is she kicked away a man’s food and then kicked him multiple times while he was lying on the ground”—apparently in his head and face. One witness claims that “I saw one of the victims after he was released from the hospital. He looked like Frankenstein he had so many stitches on his face from being stomped on.”

But to me, the real story here is the ignorance people have in regard to homelessness. In this day and age of low-income jobs, it is remarkably easy to find yourself on the street, particularly if get to the age where you have no family or friend support. If you are classified as an “able-bodied single male,” you can expect no assistance from social services in times of need. Most volunteer homeless shelters only accept women, with or without children. 

For the edification of the ignorant and those who are fortunate to make wastefully high wages like Bullene, Howell and Jarvinen while others live from paycheck-to-paycheck, consider the following: A single person makes $10-an-hour wage; that is less than $21,000 a year. The net income from this (if one is smart and takes no tax exemptions), is about $15,000 a year. That comes out to be $1250 a month. However, since one can only count on two paychecks a month, the actually amount per month is closer to $1100. These days, it is almost impossible to find a rental housing unit—even a simple studio apartment—for less that $700 a month that isn’t a rat and roach-infested closet, and I’ve lived in those before. This is what is called “affordable” housing.

Now, if you are a single person with that low-income job living in a $700 a month rental unit, that leaves you with $400 a month. That is supposed to cover food, transportation, and miscellaneous survival expenses. Obviously having an automobile is a luxury, since gas prices and insurance would easily eat-up at least half that $400, but even bus fare (if you can’t walk to your job) is at least $30 a week. A minimally “healthy” diet requires about $60 a week, and laundry and hygiene would eat-up the rest of your budget.

But what utility bills? Medical and dental? Those little “surprise” bills, fees and expenses? You of course have to use credit, if you happen to have it. It is very easy for such additional debt to get away from you, and of course you have to pay-off that debt on a monthly basis—if you can.

This is not “living”—it is hardly even mere “survival.” Such people are always one paycheck away from the street. And once there, it is very difficult to get back. Most landlords of rental units require first and last month rent, plus a deposit. These expenses can be overly exorbitant and impossible to meet for someone who has little spare money to begin with—and homeless living is not “cheap.”

And the truth of the matter is that a large percentage of the homeless are not “lazy bums” who don’t want a place to live. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 44 percent of all people in that condition actually do have jobs, but cannot find affordable housing. Especially if you are a single adult male, it may takes years, if at all, to “qualify” for subsidized housing.

Yet police conduct their nightly round-ups, and conceited swell-heads and superstars-in-their-own-mind can live well off the misery of others, treating those who are in lesser situations with contempt, and kick them in the face while they are sleeping in Pioneer Square.

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