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Salt Lake’s Dem Mayor Goes Undercover As A Homeless Man For Three Days. Pledges Vital Assistance.

 This story has a ‘Brubaker’ feel to it.

It happened over four months ago, and until recently, was known by only a small handful of people.

Last March, Democratic Mayor Ben McAdams put into play something he long felt compelled to do. Due to a state law, he had to select possible sites for three new homeless centers/shelters. Two for men and one for women and children. Regardless of the choices, it would prove highly unpopular in the neighborhoods. Each perspective area arose in fury at the idea. But it had to be done. He needed a more personal perspective. And it was this catalyst that solidified his decision.

McAdams left work on a Friday with Patrick Reimherr, the Director of Government Affairs. They both wore three-day growth. No wallets, money, or I.D.’s  They were dressed in their oldest jeans, sneakers, sweatshirts and hoodies.

Each had a small bag with some clothes, a blue tarp and cheap disposable phones.

And they walked the miles from City Hall to Salt Lake City’s most troubled neighborhood, Rio Grande. They disappeared amongst the thousands of homeless persons in the city. And they immersed themselves with that population.

The first night, they slept in the street. They found a spot amongst hundreds in the area against a building. They wrapped themselves with their tarps.

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 “I didn’t feel safe,” he said. “I absolutely did not feel safe. It was a very chaotic environment. I wanted to understand why some people would choose not to go into shelter. It was cold. Below 40’s. And it was raining. You wonder why people would choose to do that, knowing that there were beds available in the shelter.” Fights broke out and their was yelling all night.

“Some of the folks i talked to said it’s better to be outside and get some space from the drug trade and shooting gallery that inundates the area immediately in front of shelter doors.”

After a fitful 4 hours of sleep, they headed to the shelter, named The Road Home. The closer they got to the shelter, the more drug dealers plied their wares…mostly heroin, meth, coke and spice.

 “The primary buyers are not homeless people. If you take the hundreds of people who are staying at the shelter and empty all of their pockets, there’s not going to be a whole lot of money to buy drugs.”

As bad as the night on the street was, the shelter was a nightmare. It housed over 1000 men. Though rules are in place, and employees and volunteers were present, it was riddled with violence and drugs. Reimherr was assigned a different dorm. McAdams’s bunkmate injected a needle into his arm in front of him. He saw similar in the dorm. The smell of the drugs was prevalent. He witnessed violence. He saw a man pulled from his bunk and heard the loud smack as his head hit the pavement.

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The first thing he was told when he entered was to not take off your shoes, use your bag as your pillow and never, ever go to use the bathroom at night.

He now saw why being outside in the rain and cold was preferable.  “At least it was warmer inside.”

The director of The Road Home, Matt Minkevitch, notes that though the area around the shelter is full of drug use, “…instances of people using drugs in the shelter aren’t incredibly common and don’t represent most of the clientele. For 80 percent of the 8,000 people who visited the shelter last year, it was a one-time, brief episode of homelessness before a quick return to stable housing. It’s hard to see that when you’re seeing this repetitive cycle of despair and desperation and the suffering that’s going on with the people who are living on the streets. Who are filthy dirty and confused.”

 His time was consumed by solving two pressing needs. “Where am I going to sleep? And where am I going to get food? You have to plan your day around that. It leaves little energy left to search for jobs or housing.”

They ate at Missions and had church sponsored meals. A group outside the shelter handed out sack lunches. A mystery-meat sandwich and a bag of Funyuns.

He met a family with a nine year old autistic child.  “She’s the age of one of my kids,” the mayor said. “It’s heartbreaking to see a young child who’s growing up in those circumstances. What psychological trauma is probably inflicted on a child who doesn’t know where he’s going to sleep or where his next meal is going to come from?”

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Mayor Benjamin McAdams. First elected in 2013. Re-elected in 2016. A good man.

McAdams ended his experience with one understanding. That “doing nothing is not an option, even if it’s the end of me politically.”

“I knew when I accepted this task that it would come with consequences for me personally. But this work isn’t about me personally. It’s about doing the right thing for people who are in crisis. If I have to pay a personal price for moving this work forward, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.”

 ”I ran for office to make a difference. Not to have a job.”

By mid-July of 2019, the three new shelters will open, and The Road Home will close. He vows to assist in every aspect of “the shelter experience” into one “focused on rehabilitation and recovery.”

In the meantime, The Road Home is having the area in front on Rio Grande Street made into a courtyard with a fence to help protect the homeless from predatory behavior. That meals will be nutritious with more fruits and vegetables. And he is trying to work out a deal for the local area’s state-run liquor store to move to a different location, away from it’s proximity to the shelter.

“I know that my three days and two nights is nothing. It was a helpful insight. But i knew that if something happened, i have health insurance. I have a family. I have a home. My backstop was a phone call away. I am very, very fortunate.”

Salt Lake, both the county and city, have been models for helping the homeless, compared to most other large cities and counties in the country. Mayor McAdams aims to raise the bar that much higher. In his years at the helm, he has already done so much to tackle this problem. Starting with having local law enforcement not unduly harass the homeless, but to help and assist. This has been something he has been passionate about since he became mayor in 2013. And it’s making a tangible difference. As the following clip shows….

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BIG ELECTRONIC BROTHER IS CERTAINLY WATCHING YOU !!!! –

The phone call starts:

– Hello there, Gordon’s Pizza.

– No sir, it’s Google’s Pizza.

– So I’ve dialled the wrong number?

– No sir, Google has bought it.

– O.K. Take my order please ..

– Well sir, do you want the usual?

– The usual? You know me?

– According to our caller ID, in the last 12 times, you ordered a pizza with cheeses, sausage and thick crust.

– O.K.! That’s it again.

– May I suggest to you that this time you have ricotta, arugula with dry tomato?

– No, I hate vegetables.

– But your cholesterol is not good.

– How do you know that?

– Through the subscribers guide, we have the result of your blood tests for the last 7 years.

– Okay, but I do not want that pizza, I already take medicine.

– You have not taken the medicine regularly. 4 months ago, you only purchased a box with 30 tablets at Drugsale Network.

– I bought more from another drugstore.

– That’s not showing on your credit card.

– I paid in cash.

– But you did not withdraw that much cash according to your bank statement.

– I have other source of cash.

– That’s not showing as per you last Tax form – unless you got it from undeclared income source.

-WHAT THE HELL? Enough! I’m sick of Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp. I’m going to move to an island without internet, where there is no cell phone line and no one can spy on me.

– I understand sir, but you’ll need to renew your passport, as it has expired 5 weeks ago.

Asch conformity experiments

momondo – The DNA Journey

Our Story In 2 Minutes

A Millionaire In Finland Gets a $58,000 Ticket For Doing 64 In a 50 MPH Zone

                            finnish flag photo: Finnish flag Finland20flag.gif

Finland doesn’t mess around when it comes to income inequality. Just ask Reima Kuisla, a Finnish businessman with an annual income of $7 million.

He was recently fined 54,024 euros (about $58,000) for traveling a modest, if illegal, 64 miles per hour in a 50 m.p.h. zone. And no, the 54,024 euros did not turn out to be a typo, or a mistake of any kind.Mr. Kuisla is a millionaire, and in Finland the fines for more serious speeding infractions are calculated according to income. The thinking here is that if it stings for the little guy, it should sting for the big guy, too

Traffic fines in Finland, and to a lesser extent, in other Scandinavian countries, are assessed depending on your income, through a complex system accessible by police through a one-minute inquiry to the Finnish tax office:

The fines are calculated based on half an offender’s daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month.Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense.

Mr. Kuisla was fined for “eight days.” If he had made only $54,000 per year he would have received about a $370 fiine.

The Nordic countries have long had a strong egalitarian streak, embracing progressive taxation and high levels of social spending. Perhaps less well known is that they also practice progressive punishment, when it comes to certain fines.

As one might expect, Mr. Kuisla did not take the news well, venting on Facebook to a (for the most part) bemused and unreceptive Finnish audience:

The ticket had its desired effect. Mr. Kuisla, 61, took to Facebook last month with 12 furious posts in which he included a picture of his speeding ticket and a picture of what 54,024 euros could buy if it were not going to the state coffers — a new Mercedes. He said he was seriously considering leaving Finland altogether, a position to which he held firm when reached by phone at a bar where he was watching horse races.“The way things are done here makes no sense,” Mr. Kuisla sputtered, saying he would not be giving interviews. Before hanging up, he added: “For what and for whom does this society exist? It is hard to say.”

Actually it’s not that hard to say. Finland boasts one of the most admired and successful educational systems in the world, with no tuition fees, highly educated teachers and professors, and fully subsidized meals for students.  Progressive taxation of the wealthy makes that and many other programs for social good possible:

Finns have one of the world’s most generous systems of state-funded educational, medical and welfare services, from pregnancy to the end of life. They pay nothing for education at any level, including medical school or law school. Their medical care, which contributes to an infant mortality rate that is half of ours and a life expectancy greater than ours, costs relatively little. (Finns devote 7 percent of gross domestic product to health care; we spend 15 percent.) Finnish senior citizens are well cared for. Unemployment benefits are good and last, in one form or another, indefinitely.

This explains why Mr. Kuisla’s highly publicized indignation has largely been met with indifference by the Finnish public. While there is general agreement that the fine in this case might be excessive, there is also acceptance that fines and taxes should continue to be assessed in a progressive manner based on income.  That’s because the system works wonders for the vast majority of the Finnish people. In fact, the general reaction to Mr. Kuisla’s blustering about leaving the country has been to show him quickly to the door:

“This says a lot about the times when the stinkingly rich can’t even take their fines for crimes, but are immediately moving out of the country. Farewell, we won’t miss you,” said one post in The Helsingin Sanomat, a daily newspaper and website.

Of course, one can sympathize with Mr. Kuisla to some degree. He’s hardly the first person to have been caught speeding, rich or poor. The fact is, however, that he should have known better. He was previously hit for an $83,000 fine for doing 76 in a 50 MPH zone.  Courts do take into account mitigating factors and Mr. Kuisla had that fine reduced to about $7000 U.S., since his “income” that year was based on a one-time stock sale.  A ticket issued in 2002 assessed a $103,600 fine against a heavy-footed motorcyclist who blew through Helsinki in too much of a hurry.  That ticket was based on an income of $12 million.Police note that very, very few tickets of this magnitude are issued, although they acknowledge they do not keep track of them.

Modern times

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Lord Robert Skidelsky – “The Future of Work”

Lord Robert Skidelksy’s keynote presentation – “The Future of Work.” Presented at the 12th International Post Keynesian Conference. Recorded Saturday, September 27, 2014. More details at pkconference.com

The Super-Rich and Us BBC Documentary 2015

Part two

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