Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Homeless, The Mad, & Institutions

In this excellent article from Inside Catholic the institutional support—and not—that has sometimes characterized the care of the homeless and the mentally ill, and their emergence from Catholic institutional roots, is noted.

An excerpt.

“I'm an urban person myself, and a walker. Every day, I have the opportunity to look in the eyes of the victims of social-science modeling, who are often more than willing to help me "feel their pain." We could argue whether the mad in our streets are 95 percent of the homeless, or maybe only 82; that they are the majority is self-evident. The homeless problem existed a generation before Reagan could be blamed for it; two generations before Bush "created" it; and perhaps three before Sarah Palin could take the credit from all liberal media. The homeless are used as a lobbying lever to crank up social spending on a great variety of liberal causes.

“For the last couple of years, my life has also included frequent visits to a nursing home. Medical science has yet to deliver a pill that will suppress the symptoms of aging long enough to turn the old in these expensive institutions out into the street, to join the mad and the "elective indigent." But we're counting on bureaucracy to come up with a plan.

“These places are staff-intensive. And did you know that the staff have rights? They get paid bourgeois salaries, are protected by labor law, and work (usually) 35 hour weeks. A week has 168 hours, so that means 4.8 of them for each bureaucratically defined staff function. The staff thus frequently outnumber the inmates. Which is, if I am not mistaken, how euthanasia got on the public agenda, and we have all this glowing propaganda for "death with dignity."

“The huge, carefully interred truth is that all such eleemosynary activities -- not just homes for the old and the incurable and the mad, for orphans and the poor and for refugees, but every sort of school and university and hospital and mission known to the Western world and far beyond it -- originated in provisions of the Catholic Church. Many were sustained or added to by Protestants after the Reformation; but till the day before yesterday in historical time, the state restricted itself to prisons. Because that is what the state could afford.”