April 10th, 2009

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Another Side of the Housing Crisis

I found this article today that reveals a different side of the housing crisis.

More Squatters Are Calling Foreclosures Home

Miami - When the woman who calls herself Queen Omega moved into a three-bedroom house here last December, she introduced herself to the neighbors, signed contracts for electricity and water and ordered an Internet connection.

What she did not tell anyone was that she had no legal right to be in the home.


In a purely capitalist society, you have no right to anything unless you can pay for it. That means, if you have no money, you have almost no rights at all. You have no right to be anywhere unless you can pay for it, including public places -- they'll run you off if you don't look like you have money to spend in a store, or if you stand around somewhere too long. But they will let houses stand empty and degrade rather than use them to house the homeless.

I don't think that set of priorities is very ethical or effective or good for society. Housing -- shelter -- is one of the fundamental survival needs. Lack of it spawns a whole host of other problems. A society that cannot meet people's basic needs is unlikely to survive itself, and right now, our society is failing the shelter requirement for a rapidly increasing number of people. That's very bad. When the illegal ways of meeting one's needs are more accessible than the legal means, that's worse. We need to find ways of fixing this, quick.

Since the government is throwing around merry bundles of cash to keep banks from going bankrupt, I propose that one way for taxpayers to get something out of it would be to pick up the houses along with the debt. Then hand those out to people who need them. Hand them out to soldiers crippled in the line of duty, so they'll have somewhere to live and only need to pay utilities. Hand them out to charities that want to make homeless shelters or day cares. Heck, set up a volunteer system where if you work a certain amount, you get a house; that ought to be hugely popular. Use them as low-income housing. But use them, don't waste them.
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Another Poetry Poll and Discussion

There is currently $52 in the general donation fund for poetry. Most of the "custom pricing" epics from April's fishbowl fall within that range:

Pawsoldiers -- $28
A Doe in Velvet -- $36
The Odd Trio -- $43.50
The Sword from the Foundling House -- $44

I'm inclined to throw in this one because it's only one dollar short:
The Henchmen's Hitch -- $53

Also worth noting is that this one is only $12 short, so if anyone is super fond of it and wants to kick in enough to put it on the voting list:
Where Have All the Heroes Gone / Different Gifts -- $64

Now here's the discussion: This is the first time the general fund has held enough to cover a custom-priced poem; those usually get published here only when someone sponsors them specifically. So, would you rather get the biggest possible poem (like "The Sword from the Foundling House" or "The Henchmen's Hitch") or would you prefer to get a shorter epic (like "Pawsoldiers" or "A Doe in Velvet") and still have room left for one or two of the normally priced poems?

The issue is complicated enough that I think it will work better as a discussion than a poll at this point. Feel free to include your reasons for favoring a particular poem, length, or combination.

And just to make things extra interesting ... I'm going to post the epics custom-locked for donors only. (If you contributed this month or last month, you'll be able to see them.) This is strictly temporary; I'll delete them after the decision is made regarding which poem(s) gets published.