Wednesday, November 02, 2011

OWS and the Homeless

The Occupy movement is having to come to terms with the homeless. The Occupy camps is a draw for the homeless with free food and the promise of less crime than normal homeless camps (there have been reports of theft and violent crime including rape at the Occupy camps). At the same time, the homeless add numbers to the camps which is important as winter approaches.

But, there are problems. The homeless are not part of the movement. They are just opportunists. They may add numbers but they dilute the message. If the homeless begin to outnumber the Occupiers then the movement will lose credibility.

Many homeless have mental problems or engage in substance abuse (which is why they are homeless in the first place). They may also be contributing to crime in the camps, especially theft.

There is a poor fit between the Occupiers and the homeless. The Occupiers may not be the 1% but, with their smart phones and other gear, they are not in the bottom 50%, either. At minimum, they aspire to be in the top 10%.

There is also a disconnect between the protesters goals and the homeless. OWS is all about income redistribution but they do not seem ready to redistribute their own wealth to those with nothing. This is a dilemma. Any attempt at pushing the homeless out of the camps makes a mockery of their redistributionist demands. "Tax the rich and give it to us!" is not an inspiring message.

No comments: