Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Phoenix: Church Not Allowed to Feed the Poor

Phoenix officials are fighting in court to stop a church from holding a daily free breakfast for the homeless on its grounds.

The reason? The church is in a wealthy neighborhood, and the rich neighbors want to preserve their property values from the "blight" of homeless people.

I'm on the side of the church in this one, for two reasons.

One, you do not have a right to property values. Real estate, like any other commodity, is worth only what someone else is willing to pay at any given moment. It has no absolute value- except as itself. The value of your home is just that- a HOME. Efforts to use the law to preserve a dollar value in a home invariably lead to violations of the rights of others- in this case, the right of the church to fulfill its mission by aiding the needy. There are arguments to be made for basic protections- for example, that a 24-hour scrapyard cannot set up shop right next to a pre-existing residential neighborhood- but not for zoning ordinances made for the sole purpose of preserving real estate investments.

Two (and more important), this is what Christian churches are supposed to do. The very people who complained about these dinners- wealthy, mostly white, mostly Republicans- have been crowing for years about how government welfare and aid to the poor needs to be abolished in favor of private charity, especially church-driven charity. Of course, they never meant THEIR church. They meant someone ELSE's church, someone ELSE's charity, someWHERE else... preferably nowhere if it could be managed.

Not In My Back Yard.

Of course, there's a simple solution: call Joe Arpaio. Joe, who has earned the love of Phoenix-area voters for being openly racist and for ignoring or openly defying the law to do what he wants, would simply wade in, arrest all the homeless and any church members he finds, haul them off to his tent-city jail, stick them in pink jump suits, and force them to work at hard labor for the county for weeks or months on two baloney sandwiches per day, until a court finally gets around to them, all the while claiming that "we don't need to mollycoddle terrorists."

Or, alternately, the rich white people of Phoenix can quit being such enormous assholes. But that's not likely to happen.

No comments: