September 24, 2012
Today I drove to Santa Maria to pick up some class materials and to get a parking sticker for my car. While there, I got gas at one of those huge discount stations. At the exit toward the main street, a very tanned man with a straggly beard and unkempt hair stood. His clothes were blue, a pullover blue shirt, somewhat dirty, and a pair of blue denim pants, also dirty. He held a sign saying "Homeless, please help."
I don't know anything about this man, his problems, or how he got to his present station in life. But I do know that he was a beggar, yes, a beggar. Previous to my return to the U.S. in 2006, I had seen beggars only in India, an overpopulated, poor country. But here in the U.S., the richest country in the world by far, we now have a class of beggars. Is this someone's fault? Can they be helped? If so, how?
I thought back and the first time I saw beggars was in Portland, OR, in 1986, during the Reagan administration. At that time the government closed halfway houses and other care facilities for the mildly disturbed forcing them into the streets. Turning a corner my car was intercepted by one of these and he beat on it, mouthing obscenities.
It's gotten worse since then.