It appears some vocal elements in our community want to drag our society into a truly immoral war on the poor. Earlier this week one of our newly elected city councilors proclaimed that “Republicans hate the poor.” This morning [Wednesday] the Courier published a letter from an anonymous person complaining how she believes our community is inappropriately providing services for those who are poor, thereby attracting undesirable elements from all over the country. The examples given are not verifiable and at any rate are anecdotal. I frankly don’t understand why the Courier would print that letter. There have been neighborhood complaints from citizens over the past several years that we, the citizens of Alamosa, are providing too lavish a lifestyle for the poor to incentivize them to make efforts toward self-sufficiency. No thoughtful person, or anyone living in conditions of poverty would give any credence to those exaggerated and misleading statements. We are not serving lobster at the shelter, despite contrary opinion.
I have been a lifelong conservative. I still hold conservative values. I believe in self-sufficiency. I believe that every member of society should be given equality of opportunity and full freedom to exercise of their human rights. I also believe everyone capable of carrying their share of the weight of a civilized society should do so. I believe that the larger government gets, the less effective it becomes and the more of our tax money goes to the bureaucracy. But I have many friends who see a different path to solving societal problems. I cherish those friendships. They keep me balanced.
I recognize that the free enterprise system that I support and that has allowed many to create vast wealth, also leaves many behind. In our competition based society, what happens to: 1) the mentally ill; 2) the addicted; 3) those who had inadequate or absent parental upbringing; 4) those who have been emotionally or sexually abused; 5) those who made poor decisions as teens or young adults; 6) those who have had limited educational opportunities because of economic necessities; 7) the frail or elderly who failed to plan for old age; 8) or even those who are just too undisciplined to work? Are we to just send them elsewhere? Or because of a few blatant abusers of the system, should we abandon trying to do the right thing for our fellow man. Do we buy into the “not in my back yard” mentality? Do we ignore their needs and allow them to freeze to death under our bridges? Do we use them to advance our political agenda? These are questions we should grapple with individually and collectively.
I’m asking that you, the leaders of our community, to continue to support organizations in our community that seek the elimination of poverty, addiction & mental illness in every way you can. We can and should do a better job of addressing some of the root causes of the problems I have mentioned. Let us start by refusing to divide into Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, but instead work and stand together as brothers & sisters helping the most vulnerable among us.