Thoughts on Oregon House Bill 2215 — the Right to Rest Act

I believe that in the coming years society will face unprecedented challenges from the growing simultaneous effects of climate change and economic disparity.

We are all human beings, and we all have a choice. We can choose to do what is right and best, or we can hide behind Doublespeak, try to make it Somebody Else’s Problem.

If we really want to make it Somebody Else’s Problem, lets stop beating around the bush. Implement immigration controls at the state borders: no entry without bona fide employment or a sponsor. Regular round ups and immediate deportation of all undesirables.

Does that seem too harsh? Not politically viable? Perhaps then we need to stop criminalizing the unlucky state of being poor, and start helping people.

Help people break out of illiteracy or poor education.
Help people break out of addiction.
Help people break out of cycles of violence.
Help people with mental illnesses.
Help people with disabilities.
Help people with a permanent place to call home, where they can have a hope of building up something of value, rather than seeing most of their few meager possessions lost in yet another homeless camp cleanup sweep when they couldn’t get their stuff moved fast enough.
Help people who aren’t any of those things – people who are middle class, educated, not addicted to drugs, mentally stable, healthy, but still unlucky. People who were hit with a series of unexpected expenses, followed by the loss of their regular sources of income. These people also end up homeless, and though they are harder to see sometimes, they need help too.

Lets do this together as a society and come together as one people.

Everyone deserves basic human rights. The right to clean air and water. The right to shelter and clothing. The right to food. The right to basic health care. The right to move about the world freely. The right to education. The right to information. The right to the sanctity of their own mind: to hold whatever beliefs, dream whatever dreams, and think whatever thoughts they want to in their own head. The right to a private space, out of the public eye, where they may speak freely and act freely with one or more consenting adults without fear of societal repercussions.

And if we’re not going to do that. If there just aren’t the resources to serve people, lets stop lying about it. Lets stop pretending that we care. Lets be like tales tell of olden times and put those who no longer have a place in our society (too old, too weak, too sick, etc) on an ice floe, a mountain top, throw them from a cliff or a bridge. (For details see the Wikipedia page on Senicide.)

It’s not that I honestly condone such horrific acts. It’s that I don’t think anyone condones such acts, and yet that is what we are sentencing them to by our de facto exclusion of them from the life that the rest of us enjoy. When it’s it couched in neutral terms like “reducing funding for social services by 20%” it’s meaningless. It doesn’t get real until we are talking about forced execution for all the crazy homeless people. And I think that’s the honest discussion we need to have, because they do die out there.

I believe that HB 2215 is a step in the right direction. A step on the path towards realizing that criminalizing being poor isn’t helping anything. HB 2215 moves us towards where we should be as society and as individuals. I endorse the bill and encourage legislators to look for opportunities to enact similar acts to ensure that not only do we have a right to rest, but that all basic human rights are secure in Oregon, both de jure and de facto.

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