Haircuts transform the homeless

Sadly a haircut and a new suit was not enough…

Welcome to modern America, where we want band-aids instead of doing the hard work of fixing things. (And I know… image is important, but so are drug treatment programs.)

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And apparently, we want those “homeless bums” to suffer the “consequences of their poor choices”, even when it’s demonstrably cheaper to provide them with supportive housing.

Note: In the scare quotes above, I am parroting/parodying the common thinking, not expressing my own opinion.

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Yes, for sure - complicated. I just wish that we tried a little harder as a society.

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Sure, assuming that their choices are in the service of the same goals as others. What if their goals are to avoid employment and housing - are they then still “poor choices”?

Most of the problems seem to originate from bureaucratic processes which require people to have a fixed address. And it’s not a coincidence, they do this deliberately. So when people stipulate that you need an address to vote, start a bank account, or incorporate - it’s a recipe for instant marginality. So an entire way of life is subtly made a non-choice. I’d rather help people to live effectively, with or without homes, than “help” people by taking further actions to make rootless living untenable.

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Well, for those who want to be homeless, that is in fact their choice. I suspect most people do not want to live in a ratty sleeping bag under a bridge, and the issue is mental illness and substance abuse. The Happy Homeless are more stories libertarians and conservatives (and probably a few liberals) tell themselves so they can sleep at night.

Bureaucracy is an issue, but not in the way you think. We treat the poor like second citizens. Getting treatment can be a maze of what facility can accept them and who will pay. Check out Chris Arnade stuff. He was a Wall Street broker who decided to shuck it all and tell the stories from a south Bronx neighborhood. His telling of driving from facility to facility trying to find treatment for an addict might even make you teary eye.

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/chris-arnade

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Also related: The fascinating Mincome experiment

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This is one area in which secular folks owe a hat-tip to church-based nonprofits like the one providing these free haircuts. Agree with their faith or not, church-going people seem to make up more than their share of Americans actually hitting the streets to help the homeless.

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Why do they need to hide under a bridge in the first place? Why are they prevented from voting? With this criterion, the only people who are ever represented are those who refuse nomadism.

Saying that people are mentally ill because they don’t fit into some system which others find convenient is disingenuous.

Great, I’m a story! I bet that will get me recognized as having lots of agency in making my life decisions. I have been quite happily homeless. Right now I am living in a squat, a semi-normal arrangement, but I resent it. I was pressured into this for family reasons which are not very sound, by people who are neither fit nor smart, simply because they are conditioned a certain way.

This is what I think because it’s based upon my own experience.

Who are “we”? Many groups structure society to reward the behaviors they desire to see, and punish those they do not. Western countries tend to frame nomadism in the rest of the world as a quaint way of living. But living the same way in these same western countries is treated like disease or insanity. Still, in a society where people are supposedly free to choose how to live, an elephant become apparent in the room when one chooses to live nomadically. If you want to understand how deeply systemic it is, and how strangely blind people are to how this happens, try doing it sometime. As important as people make money out to be, banks seem to think it’s far more important that I have an address.

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It’s naive to think that how people look doesn’t make an impression. How could we possibly go through life not using signals from the world around us as heuristics to make assumptions? Yes there are biases and yes we are conditioned. And we can transcend initial assumptions, of course. But I certainly think it would be sad to go through life feeling like an asshole simply because it’s virtually impossible not to make assumptions based on minimal information.

Looks like a group of engineers getting promoted to management

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I look like the before pics. A guy offered me half his sandwich recently. It was pretty weird.

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Back in the day there were news stories about (redneck) barbers offering free haircuts to Hippies. Is this any different?

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Good for you. Again, I’m not against being homeless by choice. Play your cards right, and you can be a speaker at CPAC.

Except we aren’t talking about you. The 1 million children who are homeless probably aren’t out there do to choice. 30% of homeless have experienced domestic violence. As much as 25% are mentally ill. Many just don’t make enough money to afford housing.

If the video is attempting to show that there is no difference between the homeless and the rest of society, more power to them. But I fear the takeaway for most is that all the homeless need is a good haircut and a Tony Robbins (or Joel Osteen) book to get back on their feet. I think it can be read either way.

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You should have glared at him & said “You eat MEAT!!?? BARBARIAN!!!”

I don’t believe voluntary nomadism is the same as homelessness. There is a huge difference between planning how you will live in a safe way then doing it, and suddenly being thrown out into the streets (or couch surfing, as I did for six months). The difference is even bigger if you were living somewhere with a hostile climate.

One sounds enjoyable, the other is far from it.

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To which the answer is,

“Mmmmm, bacon, crispy bacon! And you will have none! Mwahahahahahah!”

QED motherfathers

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Holy crap, look at all of that grease! I think he combed his hair with some of shaddack’s bacon!

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Such a waste of good bacon grease!

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