Liberals ignore homeless facts
In the late 1980s, I was a pre-med major at Pitt, working part time for the great Dr. Thomas Starzl, the pioneer of organ transplantation. I loved what I did and had little to no interest in politics, at least when I first arrived at Pitt.
After a while, that changed. The liberals on campus were always carping and moaning — nuclear freeze, the Contras, El Salvador, you name it. They especially made a fuss about the homeless, some of whom I passed on the streets of Oakland.
I recall one unfortunate, bedraggled woman who wandered the streets prophesying doom and gloom. Students ridiculed her. The poor woman was clearly mentally disturbed.
“Ronald Reagan created these people,” one liberal angrily told me. “This is Reagan's fault.”
That perplexed me. I was a science major, prone to examining questions carefully and rationally, with test tubes and weights and measurements. Your emotions shouldn't determine your conclusions. I asked these liberals how, precisely, Reagan had created this alleged homeless epidemic. Their responses were utterly unconvincing.
So, I did my own research. I phoned local homeless shelters. I asked the staff I spoke to why the homeless were Reagan's fault. The first woman I spoke to reprimanded me: “Young man, I don't know what you're learning at that college, but this has nothing to do with Ronald Reagan. Most of these people are mentally ill.”
I dug some more, consulting newspapers, magazines, journals. I learned which sources had a liberal or conservative bias. In the end, I wrote up an analysis that I sent to the campus newspaper, The Pitt News, as a letter to the editor, arguing that homelessness wasn't Reagan's fault. The op-ed editor asked if he could run the letter as an op-ed. “Sure,” I answered.
As soon as the article appeared, I was immediately denounced with all sorts of names: fascist, Nazi and, naturally, racist.
Why mention this now? Well, for an interesting reason not being discussed by our media — the same media that went bonkers with the homeless issue in the 1980s: The fact is that the number of homeless at the end of Barack Obama's first term is higher than the number at the end of Reagan's first term. And liberals are saying nothing about it.
At the start of 1984, the final year of Reagan's first term, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a major study estimating 250,000-350,000 homeless. Today, under Obama, the most recent study is by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, titled “State of Homelessness in America 2012,” which provides data through the end of 2011. It lists 636,017 homeless in 2011, double the number under Reagan.
It's a stunning number. But these days, liberals are not using the homeless as a political weapon against the guy in the White House. That's because this time it's their guy in the White House.
Paul Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City College.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins trade for Toronto’s Kessel
- Pirates notebook: Cole cool about hostile comment
- Steelers submit application to host Super Bowl
- Saudi prince will donate all wealth, $32B worth
- Ligonier Township officer’s widow to file civil suit
- Second Blair County friar commits suicide in province under sex abuse investigation
- Remains of Korean War soldier from Apollon identified
- Leading on race: Communities, not elites
- Three seek to serve four-year term in seat of deceased county council member
- FBI searching for Homestead man indicted for sex trafficking in children
- Thousands of dollars missing from Ambridge Water Authority, police say