I read with interest Rich Lowry’s column on Jan. 5 regarding the problem of homeless encampments in western towns. Coming, as it did, just days after Christmas, I found it particularly heartless.
Christmas, of course, is the time of year we ponder Charles Dickens’ character, Ebenezer Scrooge, in “A Christmas Carol.” He is a rich man who very famously asks of the poor, “Are there no prisons? The Union Workhouses, are they still in operation? The treadmill and the poor law are in full vigor?”
This is Mr. Lowry’s column. He bemoans the increase of homeless camps, worries of their impact on crime and public health and wishes the camps gone. He never once indicates he has an idea of their cause or offers a cure.
Rising housing prices in an era of stagnant wages creates homeless. The poor must rent and rents, in Ogden and elsewhere, are skyrocketing. If Mr. Lowry were to have lunch at a local soup kitchen he would find most eating with him have jobs. Same for those getting food at the food bank.
They need free food so they can try to afford rent. If they fail, or the rent rises, out they go.
And where are homeless to go? Mr. Lowry does not hint. More laws is his answer. More police. More poorhouses.
Scrooge, at the start of Dickens’ book, would approve.
At the end of the story Scrooge is much chastened. He has seen the poor as human beings. He is touched by Christian kindness. He raises his worker’s wages. He helps.
Great book. Mr. Lowry should read it.