Musings on homelessness, and government

Today I attended the 2007 HUD New England Regional HMIS Conference at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. HMIS stands for Homeless Management Information System. It is essentially HUDs answer for collecting and tracking date related to the Homeless.

I think that many people equate the homeless with the jobless. This is a common misnomer. Over the past few years of working for my current employer my views of the world have been challenged, and I dare say broadened. There are several items that once realized forever change the world for you. The number of homeless veterans for example is staggering. So is the number of homeless whom are also mentally ill.

If one were to compare the amount of money being spent daily on the war in Iraq versus the amount of money it would take to house just the number of homeless we know about in this country would be very telling. Despite what any government official may state publicly in an speech, no one knows the real number of homeless in the USA. Any number is either a projection, or based on the number of contacted people. Who can count how many are not contacted or been outreached to? No one.

I believe that the only way to do so would be to implant everyone in the country with a microchip (like the RFID one that has been talked about in recent months). We would then have to place RFID receivers on every street corner and every door in the country. Even then I’m not convinced that it would be possible. So long as every new born child was born and implanted in the hospital the bulk of people could be accounted for in a few generations. Scary idea huh?

But how do you make the people want it? The government could pass a law. This would not be wise, nor easy. The best and easiest idea is to make them want it. Imagine a barcode or RFID tag system in which the federal government linked to a interest free “credit card account”. One which when used gave a 10% off any purchase made in which the RFID or barcode was scanned. People would line up and there would be huge waiting lines for people to get them. This would also allow them to collect demographics on their citizens. Thats an even scarier thought.

We’ve seen the government moving towards just this sort of thing. Have you heard about the Real ID Act? Now I admit that the Real ID Act is a long way away from what I proposed as a possibility earlier in this post, it is another thing going in the direction of a bleak future. The government seems more and more intent on taking away freedoms, and tracking its citizens movements. Can you say centralized government databases. In this age where data theft is starting to become a reality more and more, and corporate espionage no longer being firmly seated in the realm of science fiction… Why would anyone want this? Isn’t anyone else scared by what they see?