Homelessness in America; Dispute/support the claim: "For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is always wrong" by H.L. Mencken.

Essay by liseli October 2007

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It is shocking that in a wealthy nation like ours that homelessness still exists. This profound problem plagues practically every major city in America, and many Americans need only to look out their windows for signs of those without homes. Nevertheless, while discussing the plight of the homeless with my peers, many were surprisingly indifferent about homelessness, claiming that homelessness will exist no matter what and that the homeless deserve their lot in life. Others had a more socialistic outlook, asserting that if the government built more homeless facilities, the problem would go away. However, as H.L. Mencken said, “For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is always wrong,” in this contemporary dilemma, we have the inclination to oversimplify the complex problem of homelessness by offering two solutions that are sadly inadequate.

Those who are disposed to accepting homelessness as a fact of life often justify their apathy by stereotyping the homeless as lazy and arguing that their choice of lifestyle caused them to be put out on the streets.

However, through my participation in activities such as Sandwich Patrol and Peace Community where I had the unique opportunity to make and pass out food for the homeless as well as have discussions with them, I learned that the apathetic justification has several major flaws. Many of the homeless I met were surviving at a marginal level of income before they were put on the streets; it took just a small catastrophe such as illness or an unexpected accident to lose them their job and eventually land them on a city park bench. Some of the homeless I met once even had college degrees and families. Although drug addiction and alcoholism is common amongst the homeless, it is unfair and immoral to categorize all...