Views in brief

September 26, 2017

What can end homelessness?

THANKS TO and Steve Leigh for the timely and valuable article on the homeless situation in Seattle ("Seattle's new fight for Housing for All").

Working as a tarot reader on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, I am in constant contact with homeless people. In fact, over the last month, no fewer than six of my fellow readers in the French Quarter, due to a slump in business, have made the painful transition from being housed to homeless.

Judging from Steve's article, the plight of the homeless in Seattle is virtually identical to the plight of the homeless in New Orleans--with one exception. The all-Democratic political gangsters who run the New Orleans' Mayor's Office and New Orleans City Council haven't bothered to declare a homeless state of emergency.

From painful exposure to the world around me in New Orleans since 1983, I have come to the conclusion that the starting point for tackling the affordable housing crisis for the working class that exists in virtually every U.S. city is the forging of a mass movement, like the one in the 1930s, that fights for nothing less than the construction of enough rent-controlled, public-housing apartments so that every person living in these cities is provided with "safe, sanitary and affordable housing."

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The idea that every person in the U.S. is entitled to "safe, sanitary and affordable housing" comes from the mission statement of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mike Howells, New Orleans

The right to take a knee in the NFL

THE BEAUTIFUL protest by NFL players "taking a knee" against racism, police brutality and Trump's bullying bigotry, has provoked a debate about free speech for workers.

Trump supporters have said that bosses have the right to control freedom of expression at work. Since the players are at work during games, the claim is that the owners have the right to make them stand for the national anthem.

This highlights a great weakness in U.S. constitutional law. The First Amendment does not protect freedom of expression on the job, especially for workers at private companies.

However, the law is not the end of the story. Black people had no legal right to eat at whites-only restaurants until 1964. Only the civil rights movement changed that. Students at the University of California at Berkeley had no right to freedom of speech on campus until they won it with the free speech movement. Workers had no legal right to a union until the mass strikes of the 1930's.

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

Those who want to protect the status quo always rely on the law as it currently stands. Those with the wealth and power always want people to respect the current legal order. They try to convince us that the law is sacred instead of constantly changing under the pressure of mass protest.

Professional athletes have shown the way for other workers. All of us should demand the right to freedom of expression at work. We should not respect the current system that denies those rights. We should support them and follow their lead.

The real issue is our basic right to freedom of expression, not what the First Amendment currently protects or doesn't protect.
Steve Leigh, Seattle

We'll defend access to clinics

IN RESPONSE to "The right is storming women's clinics": I was at the Everett, Washington, Planned Parenthood when the clinic was disrespected by the protester. He came back and tried to talk to me, saying that it was for God.

I just said, "You were trespassing and broke the law." He agreed.

The clinic escorts and personnel have always thanked us for being there to protect patients' access. This wasn't the case a few years back, and apparently it was quite disruptive with protesters banging on door windows, following patients outside the clinic, etc.

I'm proud to be there to represent women and their right to privacy and choice. No one forces any of us to give up body parts to save others--it's called bodily autonomy. Women should not be held to a different standard.

Once we remove medical decisions from patients, what is next? Thanks for this article.
Georgianna Morgan, Arlington, Washington

A crackdown that harms people in pain

IN RESPONSE to "Care not criminalization": I agree that it's counterintuitive to jail women who are having drug addiction issues. I feel it's not an issue that's limited to women alone.

Incarceration of people suffering from addiction, whether men or women, does nothing to resolve the issues they are dealing with. Recidivism is rampant because locking up someone suffering from a disease will not improve their likelihood of getting clean. It is actually more likely to cause repetition of this behavior, in my opinion, as the individual finds themselves struggling with the stigma of now having a prison record.

We can do better than this in the United States. The question remains: Do we really want to improve the chances of addicted persons, or do we just keep doing what we've been doing?

What we've been doing seems to be failing miserably. In the current scheme, not only does the issue of addiction go untreated, but chronic-pain patients are denied adequate treatment as laws and guidelines restrict access to opioid prescriptions.

Most overdoses are currently not related to prescription medications. The Centers for Disease Control report that people are dying from heroin laced with street-manufactured fentanyl analogs and Carfentanil, among other designer opioids. None of the most common causes of opioid overdoses are from substances available via prescription.

Chronic-pain patients are killing themselves at alarming rates as a result of these overreaching, nonsensical prohibition methods. Changes must be made, but care must be taken not to make chronic-pain patients committing suicide the next epidemic.
Kim Miller, from the internet