Gandhi’s famous injunction to his followers that they must ‘live more simply so that others may simply live’ gets at the heart of our predicament. If most of the increase in wealth goes to those at the top, and most increases in productivity are reduced through economic externalities, that is, costs that do not get factored into production and so are transferred unto the commons or into the future, we can never solve the core problem of poverty. Thinking that economic growth can solve wealth imbalance is a fool’s errand. What is needed is proper stewardship, progressive taxation, and a social safety net that reflects our higher moral aspirations. Part of that is getting people off the streets so as to give them a chance at basic human dignity and minimize the costs to society. Homelessness, especially with substance abuse or a mental disorder, is a public health and social stability problem that deserves our highest attention. It would be a shame to fail as a society because we did not plan a social system that had a place for everybody. Hubert Humphrey regularly made the point that a society is judged by how well it treats its youngest and its oldest and its most vulnerable; it would be a sad commentary that America today has become as rich and as powerful as we now are and failed to measure up to that most basic challenge.
For further reference, click below: