• Arne Mortensen

Repeated questions

Today I received a call from Hayat Norime from TDN, asking me two questions, one on the coal terminal and the other on the homeless, as a follow-up to the League Of Women's forum this past Sunday.

The first question was to ask whether I supported the coal terminal. I guess I wasn't clear on that at the forum? The next question was what I would do about the homeless problem.

Regarding the coal terminal, I was puzzled. What did I need to say that I had not already said at the forum?

About the homeless issue, I also was puzzled. Am I supposed to have a cure for a problem that has vexed society for decades? How can I communicate that the homeless problem is one largely self-inflicted injury that society tends to facilitate by subsidizing the homeless? How can I get people not to think of me as a neanderthal when I suggest that the solution is not found in the government?

So, I wrote this email to Hayat to try to give my thoughts a little more perspective and organization.

Coal terminal:

The idea that any person or business needs government permission to develop their property is backwards. Instead of the individual or business having to justify why they may proceed with their plans, it is the government that needs to PROVE that the proposal is flawed. Millennium already has spent around $12 million to develop an EIS and there is still opposition by parties who cannot accept a conclusion contrary to their wishes. The government should not let Millennium be further extorted, especially at the hands of a group who, having their own interests firmly in mind, choose to deny opportunities for others.


As I mentioned at the forum, the US Government has spent trillions of dollars since 1965 on the “war” on poverty. The end result is no progress or negative progress. That should be clue enough that the usual recipes, such as make housing affordable, don’t work. There is so much wrong with the current thinking that I’ll just highlight a few points.

  • If you subsidize homelessness, you will get more of it. Giving people money outright is a great mistake.

  • Government has no money, so when it gives to the homeless, it must take from someone who works for a living. There is NOTHING fair about that.

  • Government charity is neither compassionate nor efficient. The private entities, typically religious organizations do a better job than the government ever can. Compassion is owed to the citizens who produce and take care of themselves.

  • The attitude that people receiving welfare should be treated with dignity is counter-productive. Taking from someone else is not dignified. Their claimed self-esteem is not directly our concern.

For whatever changes in programs I would advocate, a phased in approach is necessary. Although a proposal might require a drastic change, it is unfair to enact change without giving people time to adjust to the new direction. That being said, I would start with working with the various agencies for the homeless and pressure them for consolidation of effort and for a direction that establishes guidelines that has rules that keep people off the street if they receive support. Workfare is the concept.

Unless we change our assumptions and try new approaches, we will fail.

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