Another nice article came out about me on Authority Magazine. Read it here: Medium
One of the tenets at the heart of my philosophy is a quote attributed to Mahatma Ghandi:
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.
As someone who was once very vulnerable, I will be eternally grateful for the safety net that existed at that time to protect and assist people living with mental illness. I was let go from a position recently. The contract ended. I planned to get health care from Covered California, but they said our household earned too little, and referred us to Medi-Cal. Even though neither of us is working, Medi-Cal has denied our claim, so we are not allowed to use Covered California or Medi-Cal and have to pay over 1,000 per month for the bare minimum ‘Bronze’ coverage.
There’s something broken with our society. The city of Los Angeles has estimated the homeless population is 45,000. I’ve also read that the estimate is ridiculously low, and there are nearly 80,000 people living without shelter. In a city of 4,000,000, that’s 2% of the population. LA city leaders point out that New York City has 120,000 people without homes. However, if you divide that number by 9,000,000, it’s only 1.3% of the population. Something doesn’t add up.
A person who lives with mental illness recognizes someone else who is struggling with the same issue. So, too, does a recovering addict recognize a person in the throes of addiction. Me, I’m both, and I can say with great certainty that a vast majority of the unhoused population is suffering from one or both of these conditions. It’s not simply a matter of choice, as some politicians would like us to believe. These are the vulnerable members of our society who need our care and assistance. And it isn’t just a social issue; it’s a medical issue.
If we had an effective public health care system, there would be lasting assistance for a vast majority of the 80,000 Angelenos without homes. It’s impossible to solve the problem by putting people who are unable to care for themselves into a hotel or tiny home. There needs to be a medical option – rehabilitation or short term inpatient treatment followed by halfway housing or board and care. Instead of just throwing money at construction of homes, we need to allocate resources to bring people in for treatment. They have to go willingly; we can’t herd them into camps. There should be triage in the field.
How do we make this happen? It is extremely expensive. Health Care reform is forever at the mercy of the politicians who oppose any kind of public care. I beseech those people who never knew a hungry, homeless day in their life to consider the words of Gandhi. I am ashamed of the society we have become. There has been much social progress, but very little has been done to save the lives of people in need.
If my books were to accomplish anything, I would hope that they would invoke empathy and compassion for the vulnerable members of our society. I don’t know when ‘Socialism’ became a bad word. When visiting a country in Europe, look for the unhoused mentally ill with no health care. Oh, that’s right, you won’t see that, because they have integrated Socialism into their democracy to create a better society.