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March 1, 2020 / Congau

Homeless Freedom

Do some people like sleeping under bridges?

The most convenient solution to any problem is plain denial. If it’s not a problem after all, there’s nothing to worry about and we can concern ourselves with problems closer to home; our own home that is.

The most radical distortion of the idea of individual freedom is to think that whatever people do, it’s their own choice, and trying to help them might rob them of their liberty. Some people seem to think that the homeless people seen roaming the streets of big cities eating from garbage cans or lying lifeless on the sidewalk, do it because it’s their preferred lifestyle. Such views sound too absurd to be taken seriously and maybe no one would express it quite that crudely, but it’s a fact that some conservatives dismiss the problem of homelessness with reference to freedom.

Absurd as it is, at least they draw the ultimate conclusion of their basic ideas and thereby they illustrate the fallacy more clearly than their opponents would have been able to do.

“Whatever people do, expresses their freedom of choice.” It may be more difficult to disprove that in less extreme cases. After all, it looks as if you and I do what we want, and it’s hard to imagine that someone else would have done a better job choosing for us. But that’s not to say that we wouldn’t benefit from advice and assistance and in a few cases even compulsion. It does occur that we do things we don’t really want to do.

If it’s true for us, it’s obvious for the homeless. Living in a shopping cart is no one’s childhood dream, and we can be quite confident that they wouldn’t have become homeless if they had had a choice. You need a home to go home.

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