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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Communicator

Ronald Reagan is acclaimed as “the great communicator,” but some say he sometimes used his rhetorical skills to stigmatize the poor. During his poverty speeches while dutifully promising to roll back welfare, Reagan often told the story of a so-called “welfare queen” in Chicago who drove a Cadillac and had ripped off $150,000 from the government using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen social security cards and four fictional dead husbands. Journalists searched for this “welfare cheat” in the hopes of interviewing her and discovered that apparently she didn’t exist.

Another of Reagan’s enduring legacies is the steep increase in the number of homeless people, which by the late 1980s had swollen to 600,000 on any given night – and 1.2 million over the course of a year. Many were Vietnam veterans, children and laid-off workers.

In early 1984 on Good Morning America, Reagan defended himself against charges of callousness toward the poor in a classic blaming-the-victim statement saying that “people who are sleeping on the grates…the homeless…are homeless, you might say, by choice.”

In this regard, recently, a Homeless In America poll came to an end. For about the past year bloggers and visitors have been sampled about this blaming-the-victim view. They were asked . . . What do you think? Are they homeless by choice? Are they homeless because of complex societal/personal factors? Here is how everyone answered:

One hundred percent of respondents believe that the poor homeless are suffering homelessness because of complex societal and personal factors. No one polled believes that they are homeless by choice.

Thank you for participating in this and all the Homeless In America polls. Please scroll down to near the bottom of this main page and participate in all of them. Your opinion counts!
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Donate! to the poor homeless at or post checks to - Servants of the Father of Mercy, Inc., P.O. Box 42001, Los Angeles, CA 90042. All Donations are Tax Deductible.

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