Friday, May 15, 2009

The workhouse test

National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez is "pro-life". She also has a very strange attitude to homeless people. Back in March, she found it odd that a homeless person could have a cellphone. The incident occurred when Michelle Obama visited a shelter and one of the residents took a picture of her on his phone --

But we are a blessed people when our poor have cell phones.

Thus the apparent notion that you're only really poor if you have no posessions at all. How exactly a homeless person -- who might after all, be trying to find a job or a house -- is supposed to maintain contact in the modern world never enters her head. When the Iraq war was at its worst, conservatives were also promoting the supposed access of Iraqis to phones and satellite dishes as evidence of George Bush's military prowess. But a fact of modern life is that technology is cheap. It's all the other stuff that makes it expensive.

So anyway, K-Lo is back today slamming homeless shelters. This time in the guise of a link to a NR article by Julie Gunlock. Her complaint is that some homeless shelters are imposing high standards on the food that they will accept as donations. It sounds like someone is trying to turn a Seinfeld episode into a trend.

The country has thousands of food donation schemes. Her entire evidence is two anecdotes, one from Washington DC and one from California. And it never occurs to either her or K-Lo that loading up the homeless with processed carbohydrates -- which is what the anecdotally-reported restrictions amount to -- is not a bad idea with the likely incidence of diabetes among the homeless. "First do no harm" and all that.

But for the National Review crowd, homeless shelters have to be about punishment. The food that you wouldn't want to eat at home.

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