According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “there are an estimated 553,742 people in the United States experiencing homelessness on a given night.” According to a report in The Guardian, that number would be higher if it weren’t for crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.
“In the last three years alone, people have created more than 280,000 GoFundMe campaigns in the US related to homelessness, raising over $69m from more than 1 million donations,” The Guardian said. “Other crowdfunding sites, such as YouCaring, HandUp and YouHelp, also handle thousands of campaigns for people seeking to avoid homelessness each year.”
In my late twenties, through a variety of circumstances out of my control combined with my bad choices, I found myself dependent on the kindness of others for a place to sleep. For about a month during that time period, I slept in my car. Well, “slept” isn’t really the correct description. More like tried to sleep but was constantly woken by my own fear, despair, and the occasional cop tapping on the car window. In other words, I empathize with those who find themselves in a place that few of us ever dream we’ll find ourselves.
Homelessness can be a debilitating and self-perpetuating cycle of hopelessness and poverty. Thankfully, I had friends, family, and even strangers who helped me and it didn’t take me long to get back on my feet. Reading the article in The Guardian prompted me to be thankful that thousands upon thousands of people apparently have friends, family members, and benevolent strangers willing to help them stay off the streets. The Guardian, however, sees private individual’s charity through the prism of leftist statist cynicism.
Immediately on the heels of the paragraph quoted above, The Guardian opines, “Depending on which way you look at it, this development is either an uplifting testament to the compassion of strangers or an indictment of a broken social safety net. Only about one in four Americans in need of government housing assistance actually receive it.”
The Guardian then goes on to reveal “which way” they look at it:
Experts warn that such sites hardly offer a level playing field to get help to the neediest.
“It’s a shift away from distributing resources to where they will do the most good, to more of a popularity contest” said Jeremy Snyder, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, who has studied the effects of crowdfunding on medical patients and others in need. “If you have a large social network, media savvy and the ability to use computers, you tend to do well. But that might not match up with those who need the help the most.”
Translation: Jeremy Snyder would prefer that the government tax people more so that they don’t have the money to help their family and friends because he wants our “efficient” government to do it. If you doubt my translation, take special note of his use of the words “distributing resources.”
Granted, it’s not a surprise that leftists have taken a good thing — kind, generous people voluntarily helping thousands upon thousands of people avoid homelessness — and turned it into a socialist manifesto about the need for the government to do more. It would be nice if they stopped to ask themselves, “I wonder how many more people would be helped by private individuals if they were taxed less?” Instead, they want the government that can’t manage to deliver my mail consistently to manage a problem that’s actually serious.