After reading John Balentine’s recent column on Portland’s homeless, I was left wondering whether his ignorance on the issue is exceeded by his hypocrisy or vice versa.
After a cursory and rather glib attempt at empathy, Balentine gets down to business, recommending that social services be shut down, the “bums” cleared from the streets and, if possible, sent to institutions regardless of their civil rights. As a former journalist, Balentine might have discovered that a coalition of Portland service providers has made great progress in helping the most chronic users of shelter services to find housing. He might have discovered that most shelter users are short-term and strive, with able assistance from Preble Street, to resolve their circumstances. But I suppose that he is more satisfied to demonize the poor and sick, while promoting tax breaks for the privileged rich. I note that he makes no mention of how we would pay for increased institutional services.
Perhaps Balentine is now in favor of expanding Medicaid and reversing the gutting of DHHS by LePage and Mayhew. Probably not. My hunch is that he will continue to feign concern while ignoring the facts and offering unrealistic and cruel solutions.
Mark A. Krogman