Letters to the Editor

Letter of the month: Homeless people are canaries in our coal mine

The Dec. 13 Olympian reported on Olympia's attempts to use police to deal with homeless people. The assumptions are that homeless people are the problem and tougher policing is the solution.

Coal miners used to bring canaries down into the mines to monitor air quality. When a canary died, the miners knew their air was toxic, so they would evacuate.

Homeless people are our nation’s canaries in the mines.

Escalating homelessness reveals the widening gap between our nation’s few rich people and everyone else.

The problem is not homeless people. The problem is poverty itself — and the massive shift of our nation’s wealth from the working class and middle class to the extremely rich.

Sadly, Congress has failed to address this devastation during the past few decades. The 2011 Congress seems eager to favor the rich with tax breaks and slash the safety net that the American people desperately need.

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis stated, “We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can’t have both.”

The remedy is not to police the victims of an unjust economy.

The remedy is to restore the wider distribution of wealth that the U.S. enjoyed in the 1950s and 1960s.

We need to tax the rich and restore services to the poor.

We need to cut the wildly wasteful military budget and use the savings to restore the American people to health and prosperity.