The Doctor Is In

in Poetry

Dr. Wes

Modest Proposals

We here at the Real Change are sensitive to the charge that all we ever do is whine about homelessness. Instead of proposing practical solutions that our city and county governments find acceptable, we write editorials calling for affordable housing, blah, blah, blah, treating people with dignity, blah, blah, providing services that cost money, blah, blah.

So I've decided to rectify this situation, medically speaking. I've set forth a number of proposals for solving homelessness that are all calculated to be acceptable to our hardworking local government officialdom and their deserving, fully paid-up allies. Please feel free to refer back to that last sentence, frequently, when the following brilliant ideas become confusing to you, as they surely will.

My first proposal addresses the very heart of the homeless problem. And it won't cost a dime. We declare homelessness to be a personal disorder. We get the Feds to go along. OK, that part might cost some lawyers' fees, but you were spending money on lawyers anyway. This way they'll be doing something productive.

Here's the beauty of it: once homelessness is a disorder, everything we do about homelessness can be put down as therapy or rehabilitation. For example, you can put homeless people to work on contracted work-crews, and not have to pay them minimum wage! Because it would be therapy! The government gets the contract money, and gets to keep it "to pay for other needed services."

Have I got your attention, Heidi Wills? This kind of thinking is just your speed!

My second proposal deals directly with the chief complaint of all homeless people. They have no places to sleep. My solution is so effective that you will be able to present it as proof of your compassion. Hey, if they don't need to sleep, they don't need a place to do it, right?

So when a homeless person asks for shelter, we should give them methamphetamines instead. We can cure them of their need to sleep. OK, meth isn't 100 percent effective, so we'll still have to give them shelter every four or five days, but (do the math) that would allow us to get rid of half our existing shelter space!

Moreover, it would not be necessary to dump meth-crazed homeless people on the general public. We could require them to work on one of those crews until they come down. Then, repeat the therapy as needed. I think you can see that the public benefits would be enormous.

All that meth will have to come from somewhere. Perhaps we could offer donuts to our cops for their hoards. Hey, cops work long hours around the clock. You know what happens to unreported drug confiscations. 2+2=4. Eventually a city-owned meth lab could cheaply produce enough for all of our homeless, plus replace our cops' stashes.

Once we have done so much to eradicate the problem of homelessness in Seattle, we will generate a new problem. We will make Seattle a magnet for homeless people all around the country, and the world. Therefore it would be irresponsible of me to make the proposals above, without also offering the means to prevent a massive influx of homeless immigrants.

My proposal is inspired by the great work of Mark Sidran. I could not have thought of the brilliant idea that I am about to explain, were it not for that giant of civic engineering. If I have been able to see further than he, it is only because I have stood upon his shoulders.

Sidran's great genius was realizing that if life for homeless people in Seattle was miserable, they'd go away. That sounds simple-minded, but it works! They did go away! To Los Angeles! Trouble was, Los Angeles was worse! So they came back! So you see, Sidran was right, but we must go further. We must out-Los Angeles Los Angeles. We must make Seattle a living hell for everyone who has to be outside.

Los Angeles has lousy air. We can top that. We can scrap Metro. We can have poisonous air and poisonous water in just a year. People living outdoors will start to drop like flies. Not that that will be the intent of the program. No, the intent of the program will be merely to encourage homeless elements to look elsewhere for comfort.

We already don't let them sit down. Let's not let them breathe. That ought to do it.


© Dr. Wes Browning:
2129 Second Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 441-3247

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