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Gov't Proposes Massive Homeless Tracking System 808

Posted by michael
from the bagged-and-tagged dept.
Chris Hoofnagle writes "The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is proposing a massive system of tracking for homeless people and others who are served by shelters and care centers. The system will track people by their SSN, and will collect health (HIV, pregnancy) and mental information. Secret Service and national security agents can gain access to the database by just asking for it! EPIC has released a fact sheet on HMIS, and the public can comment on the guidelines until September 22, 2003, but no electronic comments are being accepted."
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Gov't Proposes Massive Homeless Tracking System

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  • by SoVi3t (633947) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:14PM (#6736720)
    Couldn't this money be spent in a better way? Better shelters, lower income housing, etc. We don't need to track them. We need to help remotivate them, and get them back into society.
  • by Adam Rightmann (609216) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:14PM (#6736731)
    and perhaps imprint on all those who don't resist a number.

    Makes you wonder what Revelations the department of Home Security will find.
  • Great. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Unknown Poltroon (31628) * <unknown_poltroon1sp@myahoo.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:14PM (#6736733)
    Now that guy on the corner wil be right about the government tracking him.

    I mean, seriously, a lot of these people already wont go into treatment as it is, why give them one more reson not to.
  • by rdewald (229443) * <rdewald @ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:15PM (#6736750) Homepage Journal
    So, the bottom line here is if you want government benefits you have to give up some privacy in order to get them. Why don't we just ear-tag the homeless with RFID's and track their migration like an endangered species?

    There are a significant portion of the hard-core homeless that will simply stay off-grid, that's why they're homeless in the first place, they decline to participate. Now, these people won't be able to stay anonymous and get fed or get medical care from the government. My suspicion is that the govt. knows this well and is anticipating a reduction in cost while being able to issue press releases about the decline in the numbers of homeless as they stop coming to the clinics and kitchens.

    This is analogous to the reports in the declining unemployment rate reflected in lower numbers of people collecting unemployment insurance. It doesn't count the people that have given up, or have turned to the black/gray market for a living.
  • Good to see. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JMZero (449047) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:15PM (#6736752) Homepage
    After all, why do you need rights if you don't even have a house?

    I think they should extend this to people in condos, mobile homes, or with insufficient equity.
  • by Shockmaster (659961) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:16PM (#6736771) Homepage
    I hope that no one is actually considering this in any sort of "real" sense. Besides, is homelessness a temporary or permanent thing? Would you be opening these accounts to track on every kid that ran away and stopped by a soup kitchen for some food, or only the "terminally homeless"? Also, how do they plan on tieing an individaul to an account? I sincerely doubt that the majority of homeless people are going to give government officials their truthful name or SSN. Maybe we can implant them with chips the same way zoologists track endangered species or farmers track cattle!
  • Great idea! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Magic Thread (692357) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:17PM (#6736778) Homepage Journal
    And how long before they start tracking everyone in this way? Sure, it seems okay when you apply it to faceless masses of homeless people, but soon they'll be tracking all of us like this.
  • by isa-kuruption (317695) <kuruption@kuru[ ]on.net ['pti' in gap]> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:18PM (#6736793) Homepage
    While I understand how Privacy Advocates might go to arms over this, I think there are benefits to the people who are tracked.

    As I recall, there have been instances in the past where mentally handicapped have been confused by cops as criminals and shot or wrongly imprisoned. To be able to determine someone as mentally handicapped would be beneficial as the person may not him/herself be able to notify the officer he/she has a problem. Also, this would help hospitals treat patients they have never seen before, as it could assist them in identifying a mentally ill person that needs a specific form of medication.

    But I guess you could say that the risks outweigh the benefits, and you are possibly correct.
  • Good luck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Uruk (4907) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:18PM (#6736794)
    Well, it's good to want things like this, but I don't think it will really happen. Homeless people tend to be trasients, which means they're going to be hard to track. Additionally, most don't use legal names (preferring assumed names and nicknames), and may invent social security numbers. Others will be illegal immigrants who won't appear in any other record.

    Why can't we take the collective ingenuity that it would take to build a privacy invading system like this and bend it towards helping these people rather than tracking them? By helping them, there'd be fewer to track!

  • by wavecoder (695422) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:19PM (#6736810) Homepage Journal
    That's pretty tasteless. Most homeless people never aimed to be homeless, but they can't, realistically, get out of that condition, again. Try it sometime - give away your cash, credit cards, house, car, computer, phone, alarm clock... and see if you can get a steady job that pays you more than it costs to eat and replace your clothes as they wear out. It's not funny - it's tragic.
  • Too Invasive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by photoblur (552862) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:19PM (#6736814) Homepage
    "Entities that provide services would collect their names, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, race, gender, health status (including HIV, pregnancy, and domestic violence), veteran status, and income information."

    This sounds way too invasive. It concerns me because once things like this are manditory for homeless people (it sounds like this system is moving that direction), then it will slowly be introduced to the masses.

    Start with the outcasts of society as to make a quiet entrance. Then work your way up.

    I don't like it.
  • by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:19PM (#6736817)
    I wish I had mod points for the above.

    20-25 percent of homeless people are seriously mentally ill.

    http://www.nrchmi.com/facts/facts_question_3.asp

    They're sick, get sicker, and cause more problems for everyone around them, including other homeless, because they can't really get treatment for their diseases.

    If we're spending money to try and improve the situation of the homeless, making more free mental and medical help available will do a hell of a lot more than a tracking system.
  • by Magic Thread (692357) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:19PM (#6736825) Homepage Journal
    Only for homeless, right?
    Sure, it's only for the homeless... for now. Don't count on it staying that way.
  • by rot26 (240034) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:20PM (#6736841) Homepage Journal
    The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is proposing a massive system of tracking for homeless people and others

    They're not going to let this go away. This is just ANOTHER back-door version of TIA. We're going to see it introduced, again and again, under various disguises until they get it implemented. You can expect to see tracking systems suggested for the homeless, pedophiles, drug dealers, spouse abusers, bail-jumpers, tax evaders, etc etc and so on and so on, (each one being some particular organizations "most wanted") until it's actually implemented. And like stone soup, once it's in place, it will be "upgraded" to include everything that anybody ever wanted.
  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:22PM (#6736867) Homepage Journal
    Yes we do need to track them.

    We're tired of getting all those fake, inflated numbers of how many there are. Knowing how many homeless are really out there is a vital statistic.

    The bullshit about this has gone on too long. Let's have some real numbers.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:22PM (#6736881) Homepage Journal
    Why not slap a yellow star on them too, for easier identification from a distance?

    Excuse me, but are people completely blind to what's happening and deaf to the cries from history?

    Regards,
    --
    *Art
  • by chia_monkey (593501) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:23PM (#6736887) Journal
    C'mon...the SSN thing alone is nuts. First off...if I went homeless, I'm doing it because I'm broke, destitute, and can't function in society (either by choice or forced) anymore. I'm NOT going to give out my SSN to be tracked. Take my student loans and debts and choke on them while I disappear in my meager existence. Second, what if I simply don't have one or don't remember it? THEN what do we do? Seriously? I could be an illegal alien, never got one...who knows.

    And then the other issues. Like I want to stand in line and get my blood drawn for HIV tests and such? I just want food and shelter damnit.

    What is this for? Who thought it was a good idea? And just WHAT is the good idea? Tracking? Tracking for what?
  • by Pxtl (151020) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:23PM (#6736889) Homepage
    Well, being someone who actually lives in an urban environment (as opposed to suburbanite /.ers) I can say that these people do need to be tracked for their own benefit. Many of them cannot access social services precisely because they do not have a stable mailbox or other contact system. The government is unable to contact them with important information (such as the death of a family member).

    Many homeless don't want housing - there is little stable work for them, and a house ties them in place, while wandering from shelter to shelter allows them to be opportunistic with work (such as summer picking and carnival gigs that pop-up all over the place). Having a tracking system that would allow the government to stay in touch with them while they are on the move would be helpful.

    Still, this sounds like its being misused, tracking them like animals. They are human beings, and this violates their human rights to improper search. You would not want a police officer to be able to access your medical or personal information whenever they want - so why should the homeless be denied that?
  • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:24PM (#6736902) Journal

    And how long before they start tracking everyone in this way?

    What a naiive question. The reason they need to start tracking the homeless and not "the rest of us" is because they already are tracking "the rest of us." Try to buy a home or even rent an apartment without some sort of government ID. Hell, you can't even get electricity where I live without giving the electric company your social security number.

  • by SoVi3t (633947) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:24PM (#6736913)
    .....perhaps I assume they're unmotivated and not involved in society because they're homeless, not working or putting any money into the economy (unless you count the bottle of wine they buy every once a week). I have NOTHING against homeless people. I was homeless for a short period of time when I was younger, and it opened my eyes. There are more than enough ways for homeless people to get back into society. There are shelters, welfare, care programs, and so much more. It does take awhile, but you can get back on your feet. You just have to work for it.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:25PM (#6736920)
    of course it is easiest to start with the homeless. Afterall it's ALL THEIR FAULT that they are homeless. Most of the population could give a rats ass if we tag them. "It will be good for the nation!" "It will stop terrorism!"

    First they came for the homeless...
  • by calethix (537786) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:27PM (#6736959) Homepage
    " It's easy to talk about homeless people in online forums"

    I dunno, sounds kind of like making fun of someone in prison [slashdot.org] ;)
  • What a crock (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jared_hanson (514797) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:27PM (#6736965) Homepage Journal
    This guy openly states that he thinks this is a good idea. How is this a troll?

    Wait, I have the answer. It is against the party line here on Slashdot. Anyone who thinks tracking anything is obviously trolling.

    New moderator rules:
    There will be no difference of opinion here on Slashdot. To become a moderator, you must become deeply familiar with the doctorine that Slashdot pushes. You must post pro-Slashdot-ideology to a number of stories. You're posts will be reviewed by those who have been deemed trustworthy. Once you have proven yourself acceptable, you will be given moderator access. At that point, you should mod down those with different opinions, and mod up those who push our agenda. If you are caught in violation, moderator access will be permanently removed.

    Yep, mod me troll, I am prepared. However, I am sick of this and am taking an open stand.
  • tracking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smatt-man (643849) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:28PM (#6736984)
    So, we can't track criminals, because of Constitutional rights, but homeless people are way too dangerous to let loose. I'd rather have some guy sleeping in a box in my yard than know my next door neighbor is a sex offender, but that's just me.
  • by Dragon218 (139996) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:34PM (#6737064) Homepage
    To be fair, some of those lockdown mental institutions were cruel and unusual. The closing down of those were a good move, but not providing something else (i.e. assisted living, community houses, employment help) was just ignorant.

    You have to remember, the United States has a saftey net... it's called prison, and it's only getting worse.
  • by wrenkin (71468) <alex.cooke@utorL ... a minus math_god> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:35PM (#6737071) Homepage
    What constitutes a mental patient? Millions of people in the United States meet the definition of Depression... that's a mental illness. Should they all be put in hospitals?

    Mental illness is just a group of illnesses, severe or minor, like 'liver illnesses' or 'skin conditions'. Do we put force everyone with acne to remain in hospital?
  • by sirbone (691768) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:36PM (#6737085)
    > ...that's why they're homeless in the first place, they decline to participate. Now, these people won't be able to stay anonymous
    > and get fed or get medical care from the government.

    I think the question is being looked at wrong. These "benefits" are not free. Rather, they are at the expense of others. So what you describe here are people who willingly put themselves on the street and demand a right to other people's labour. Rather than asking if they should be anonymous in their ability to be a willing freeloader of the system as described above, perhaps the question should be if they have a right to actively seek a lifestyle at the expense of others rather than taking the difficult moral high-ground of taking responsibility for their own lives.
  • by JimBobJoe (2758) <swiftheart AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:38PM (#6737114)
    In the past the Libertarian Party has had somethign called "operation homeless" (at least, that's what I recall) that asked homeless people the questions from the world's smallest political quiz.

    They were overwhelmingly libertarian. The party marketed this by saying that the homeless know that the government is holding them back.

    I believe (and I happen to be an employee of the party in some capacity, so keep that in mind) that this was the wrong conclusion. The real reason is that the homeless don't like to be entangled, don't like to make agreements, and really just want to be left alone with no responsibility, no registration, no contractural obligations.) There is so much financial help that one can get in the form of welfare, food stamps, et cetera...and they choose not to do it, sometimes it is pride, but often it's this amazing resistance to being registered (and i should also think dependent on one entity.)

    Being homeless is the ultimate form of freedom (though the quality of life leave much to be desired.) I dunno if homeless in other countries are like this, but this often appears to be the case here. Nothing better than making your living "anonymously."

  • Out of hand.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoeMoe (659154) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:38PM (#6737117)
    First we have RFID tags on food [slashdot.org] because we are afraid Saddam might steal our bananas. Now this?!

    Why don't we just throw tracking collars on them while we're at it and see how they progress through nature "undisturbed"...

    The sad part is that I'm sure that this kind of thing will be paid for through tax payers' dollars... If we have money to blow, why not blow it on something more useful.... Like supporting /.'ers caffeine addictions!
  • by chia_monkey (593501) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:41PM (#6737159) Journal
    And to this, the homeless shall reply "screw that. I'll steal my food. I really don't have anything else to lose. I've lost my house. My family. My dignity. If I'm having to go to a shelter, it's not much more to dig through a dumpster or steal it from someone". And thus the once proud worker turns to a life of crime.

    Just one scenario that comes to mind.
  • Re:What a crock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:43PM (#6737179) Journal

    Where is the breech of civil liberties?

    It's in the implementation details. You can't possibly track the homeless without forcing the homeless to provide information and forcing the caretakers to collect that information. That's where the breech of civil liberties comes into place.

    Honestly... I don't see the harm. They already track what I do based on my social security number, why should the homeless expect more privacy then I?

    Because providing information allowing yourself to be tracked should be voluntary, not mandatory.

  • Sure you are (Score:5, Insightful)

    by missing000 (602285) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:43PM (#6737187)
    Yes we do need to track them.

    Fine, but now I want to track you.

    Why? Because you fit in some economic group I don't really like. I think all of you need armbands too.

    We're tired of getting all those fake, inflated numbers of how many there are. Knowing how many homeless are really out there is a vital statistic.

    Here's an idea -
    Go take a walk in the city tonight. It won't kill you. There are lots of homeless. All you need to know is that there are a bunch of people starving in your backyard.

    If you really care about the numbers, I bet the census bureau could help you come up with something.

    The bullshit about this has gone on too long. Let's have some real numbers.

    Oh all right. In 2000 it was 280,527 people according to the census bureau, I'll let you search for it yourself if you don't belive me.
  • by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:45PM (#6737219)
    My father in law is homeless and it is his choice. He has family that would take him in, but he is unwilling to:
    a) get a job
    b) pay taxes
    c) stop smoking pot
    d) stay sober

    Programs are not a solution for someone who does not want to be helped. He can't wait until he can start collecting SS checks that can help him sustain his "lifestyle." According to the SSA, he's scheduled to collect more benefits during the first year of eligibility than he has paid in taxes during his entire lifetime!

    Free medical and mental help won't help someone who doesn't want to change.

    Respectfully,
    Anomaly
  • Re:Good deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greedo (304385) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:48PM (#6737260) Homepage Journal
    ... or forearm.

    Oh wait. That's been done.
  • I agree (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:57PM (#6737357)
    Homeless people in urban areas already shun shelters because they are so dangerous.

    Basically shelters are the same kind of situation as jail, some really big strong individual or maybe a clique sort of claim it and basically extort people who show up and threaten violence and steal what little they have. It's like a jail with no walls. So with no walls, who the hell is gonna stay in jail?

    Do you think a paranoid schitzophrenic is going to be more likely to a shelter if he thinks the government is tracking him?

    This is kind of really intrusive system just gives homeless people another reason to avoid shelters.
  • by TopShelf (92521) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:57PM (#6737359) Homepage Journal
    WRONG!!! The "point" of the system, as outlined in HUD's document, reads as follows:

    "An HMIS provides significant opportunities to improve access to, and delivery of, services for people experiencing homelessness. An HMIS can accurately describe the scope of homelessness and the effectiveness of efforts to ameliorate it. An HMIS can strengthen community planning and resource allocation."

    My wife is a social worker who spent several years working in mental health access clinics, and let me tell you, the tools that they have to do their job SUCK. There is little or no coordination between various government agencies, and one of the biggest challenges is simply putting people in touch with the programs that already exist to help them. Anything that helps make social services more readily available to the people who need them is sorely needed...
  • Isn't it funny (Score:3, Insightful)

    by praedor (218403) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:58PM (#6737376) Homepage

    the reaction from /.ers. If this were a new plan to track "normal people" then the mass of posters would be up in arms and screaming to kill it before it even gets past the brainstorming phase. As it is, it merely refers to lessor humans, those disgusting, lazy, dirty homeless creature sub-humans who are where they are because they either chose to be there or otherwise deserve their lot. You can make equally strong suggestions as to the benefit of tracking "normal people" as you can for the homeless. It is just somehow more acceptable if you are a defenseless loser homeless person rather than a superior "normal".


    I was shocked at the number of posts that either say its cool or not much of a big deal. Obviously, it is because the target of such tracking is less than human and less deserving of privacy and the right to anonymity.

  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:59PM (#6737377)

    20-25 percent of homeless people are seriously mentally ill.

    ...

    They're sick, get sicker, and cause more problems for everyone around them, including other homeless, because they can't really get treatment for their diseases.

    Ah, but therein lies the problem. We can only forcefully medicate people that are either a danger to themselves or others. If a person is neither a danger to himself nor to those around him, but is mentally ill and homeless and we can not force them to take medication. There will always be a percentage of the homeless who are mentally ill and choose to continue living that way and there is nothing that anyone can do about it.

    If we're spending money to try and improve the situation of the homeless, making more free mental and medical help available will do a hell of a lot more than a tracking system.

    I totally agree. While there will always be those that don't want help, the money would be much better spent helping those who want help rather than trying to track them. This just seems like a complete and total waste of tax dollars in addition to a total invasion of privacy. I wonder how many people might refuse to even go into a shelter if something like this was instituted.

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @03:59PM (#6737380)
    "20-25 percent of homeless people are seriously mentally ill."

    But they aren't proposing tracking the diagnosed mentally ill. They are proposing tracking the *homeless* which includes a lot more than just "mentally ill" people. There are plenty of people who are homeless by choice. I know quite a few who live nomadic lives. And they are by no means mentally ill or incompetent.

    To suggest that they are not entitled to the same rights as anyone else is downright unamerican.
  • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:06PM (#6737461)
    yes, as a matter of fact they are...

    so... does anyone know whats happening down in guantanamo?
  • by robogun (466062) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:06PM (#6737462)
    Good point... many of the homeless are quite content, unlike us wage slaves. Simply because we apply our values to their lifestyle, find it lacking, and wring our hands constantly over it, does not make it wrong.

    There have been beggars since the earliest city states sprung up out of the Mesopotamian mud and it will never be cured.

    My feeling is, if someone elects to "drop out" of society, he has the freedom to do so. Well, until this system is implemented, anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:07PM (#6737471)
    Do you consider begging for change on a streetcorner being "part of society?"
  • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kfg (145172) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:10PM (#6737515)
    "Why can't we take the collective ingenuity that it would take to build a privacy invading system like this and bend it towards helping these people rather than tracking them? By helping them, there'd be fewer to track!"

    We're the government and we're here to help.

    For time immemorial these words have roughly translated as "Run away! Run away!" to the "helped." It's even become a joke cliche.

    Who determines what "helps" them? It seems unlikely it will be they themselves. God protect me from those that want to "help" me in ways I perceive as harmful.

    While many homeless are legitimately mentally ill many have simply fallen on temporary hard times, like the guy who actually has a job but gets locked out of his house by his drunken girlfriend and can't find an apartment in his large city for several months. This actually happens. I have a friend who ran a homeless shelter in SF for a year and he says people like this often made up half the residents. The worthless drunken girlfriend is treated like a valuable member of society and the poor guy is lumped in with the drug addicts and paranoid schizophrenics. Now they want to tag and track him?

    There are also people who simply live, by choice, outside the normal realm of behaviour, but aren't mentally ill. In fact, many of them are simply excesively sane to fit well in our idiotic society. Musashi Miyamoto and Euripides fell into this catagory once upon a time. Ghandi tried to. These people aren't sucking on the government tit. That's the whole point, they want to avoid all of that. They live or die on their own. These people are actually taking care of themselves in the true meaning of the phrase. I belive they make up a fair percentage of the homeless. They also scare the bejeezus out of the government. Round 'em up and track them. Them when something bad happens we can't explain we can just "round up the usual suspects" until we find one we can pin it on the make the populace feel secure and happy.

    In the old days these people would simply aquire a canoe, an ax and head out for the frontier to become a "fur trapper." Many of our treasured national heros, like Daniel Boone, were such people.

    Now there is no frontier and people with real independant gumption, the sort of people who could feed a tribe or conquer a continent are "mentally ill" or feared as criminals and terrorists.

    If humanity is destined to become a race of endentured clerks and marketing managers screw the whole lot of 'em and I'll join the homeless myself.

    Only problem is they don't make caves on the edge of town like they used to and the FBI is poised to track down anyone who deigns not to participate like rabid dogs.

    KFG
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:10PM (#6737523)
    As I recall, there have been instances in the past where mentally handicapped have been confused by cops as criminals and shot or wrongly imprisoned. To be able to determine someone as mentally handicapped would be beneficial as the person may not him/herself be able to notify the officer he/she has a problem.

    So you think the cops would come up and check their ID or "homeless card" before shooting?
  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:14PM (#6737600) Journal

    Excellent post.

    Alot of homeless people are paranoid. Track them and feed their paranoia even more. Take away their ability to get aid without being tracked, and what are the alternatives? Theft, robbery, drug dealing, fraud, and other types of property crime.

    So then where do they go? Jail.

    I wager that the true cost of this program, both social and financial, far outweigh any benefits. As a tax payer, I protest this as an abuse of my money.

  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:20PM (#6737704)
    of course not. I guarantee that 99% of people you ask will a) not know what Guantanamo Bay is, b) if they do, they will only know because of A Few Good Men, and c) don't care because it has nothing to do w/reality TV [slashdot.org].
  • by dubbage42 (309316) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:20PM (#6737713) Journal
    Why would you think that wealth should be distributed? That is a load of socialist crap.
    Perhaps you should distribute some of your wealth around. Adopt a homeless person today! Make them live with you!
    And who pays most of the taxes? Not your precious poor, I can tell you that. So just who is it that is getting robbed?
    Most of the "homeless" people are there because of choices they have made over the course of their lifetimes up to that point. Not because someone is robbing them and giving their money to someone else.
  • by replicant108 (690832) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:21PM (#6737719) Journal
    You don't know how many homeless people there are, but you know that the numbers are inflated? That's pretty impressive, dude.
  • by LoneStarGeek (626553) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:24PM (#6737767)
    Not too seem cruel but why would we spend money on tracking the homeless if they are off the grid and non-taxpayers. I know of several private organizations that help the homeless and I see no reason to spend any taxpayer funds on such a worthless endeavor.

    On a comical note do they need to reverify the inventory of bumsicles up North ever winter. Joking of course.

    As you probably guessed I am a Republican.
  • Re:What a crock (Score:2, Insightful)

    by juan2074 (312848) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:38PM (#6737994)
    Where is the invasion of privacy if the Secret Service know a homeless person collected food from this shelter on Monday AND got soup from a different shelter cross town on Wednesday?

    Right there. Did you miss it? The Secret Service has no reason to be getting this type of information, since it has nothing to do with its mission. Most government agencies would have no justification for getting these data.

  • by miguelitof (67742) <miguelito.biffster@org> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:43PM (#6738056) Homepage Journal
    My father in law is homeless and it is his choice. He has family that would take him in, but he is unwilling to:
    [...]
    Programs are not a solution for someone who does not want to be helped. He can't wait until he can start collecting SS checks that can help him sustain his "lifestyle." [...]

    Free medical and mental help won't help someone who doesn't want to change.

    So are you trying to create a logical fallacy here, stating that since your father-in-law is trying to scam the system, then every homeless person is trying to scam the system?

    There is good and bad everywhere. Take a group of 100 people, chosen by any criteria you want, and you will find good and bad people within that 100. But that doesn't mean that all 100 are bad.

    Yes, it sounds like programs offering free medical and mental health coverage would not help your FIL. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't help other homeless people.

  • by Zandia (693416) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @04:53PM (#6738205)
    Obviously you are a very insensitive ignorant jerk. IF you knew anything, you would realize that a good majority of the homeless are mentally ill in one way or another. IF you were intelligent you would know that such people often have a hard time abiding by social norms.

    Also, IF you had any feelings of value, you would pity these people because most of the time they don't know what they are doing. Just because they don't always behave appropriately adn just because they don't have a place to sleep at night DOES NOT entitle the government to take away basic rights of citizenship.

    On the note of mental illness, many homeless people are very paranoid and suffer from schizophrenia, which causes them to yell on the street as you so indelicately put it. This paranoia of being tracked would also prevent them from getting the help they need at shelters and from free medical care. So, the won't be able to get off the streets. If you would take the time to educate yourself about the homeless you might have known that.
  • by Politburo (640618) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:00PM (#6738301)
    What?! You mean the government will give me a number and keep track of how much money I make, how many kids I have, and what money they are giving me?

    Idiot. We're not next, we were first.
  • Re:What a crock (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Politburo (640618) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:02PM (#6738340)
    Because providing information allowing yourself to be tracked should be voluntary, not mandatory.

    Okay. And getting free money and food from the government is voluntary as well. Those who don't want to be "tracked" (because this is not a 24/7, 1984, style tracking) don't have to be.
  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:30PM (#6738652) Homepage Journal
    Your idea is an old one. The nazis used symbols such as pink triangles and stars of David to mark the "undesirables."

    Oh, perhaps you were joking....

  • Re:What a crock (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:36PM (#6738718)
    Moron. I envy your innocence. Log-off and have mama wipe your nose.

    About a third of all americans are 2 paychecks from homeless.

    Most homeless are homeless because they lost their jobs and couldn't find another one before they were kicked out. How many of you have lost your jobs and then had to move home or in with a friend until you got on your feet again.

    I was homeless for a year. A+ CNE and MSCSE don't mean crap if you don't have an address or phone for the app.
    I was laid off when the .com i worked for went bust, and that after 5 mo. w/no pay (and yes, we were ALL looking for jobs, just like a million others)

    There are not "always jobs"

    With the financial demands of a kid and school loans it's easy to get behind. In my local area now the average time to find a job in my field is 14 months. Do you have 14 months of bill money in you bank?

    I'm sure that you are confusing the beggars with the homeless. BIG FUCKING DIFFERENCE ASSHOLE.

    I was homeless because like a lot of people, there was no-one to help me out for the time between jobs. Most homeless are just homeless long enough
    to get the next job. When you don't have a safety net like momNpop or buddy Joe. your in the street. I had friends at work who lost their homes before they lost their jobs. Just like thousands of other BS and MS and PHD's 2 years ago.

    Sorry if I come off angry, but about 4% of you out there know just what I mean, and 96% of you can't imagine.
  • by btakita (620031) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:41PM (#6738757) Homepage
    Aren't we tracked though? We have a SSN, pay taxes, have an address, maybe vote, etc...

    As long as this database is accessable to the masses, is this a big brother issue?

    Any why not try to attack the "problem" of homelessness on a national level? Yes, its behavior modification, but so is school. I think society will benefit from this. There will be a healthier population, we can find fugitives, find relatives, track the progress of helping the homeless, etc.

    I don't see the social harm in doing this.
  • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:46PM (#6738799) Homepage Journal
    If I weren't married, didn't have a house, car payment, bunch of loans etc, I'd like to take a few years off and be nobody in particular. That's exciting to me -- the whole beatnik lifestyle, urban nomad poets roaming the landscape in search of "truth within the modern, flashy lies." Got to get me some of that, fulfill that wanderlust I never got rid of because I had to go to college.

    And yes, I probably would spend a bit of time in shelters, soup kitchens etc, just to see how they seem to those who have to go there out of necesity. And yes, I would be kind of creeped out if people kept asking me who I was.

    In an earlier post this week, I mentioned that when you give somebody charity, you can't expect to control it once it leaves your hand (I was speaking against the GPL, but it fits really well here). I think if you're expecting to track people who are using free services, you're probably doing so because you eventually want to restrict them (otherwise, you wouldn't care). You can judge effectiveness through other means, like volunteer surveys.

    But TRACKING people -- and especially hoping to track possibly confused or paranoid people -- sounds like a really unfair thing to do in this case. Either help them, or don't...but trying to impose control over your help is not charity. Not in the christian sense of the word or in my lame tree hugging liberal humanist sense of the word.
  • Re:1984 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uncoveror (570620) <webmaster@uncover o r . c om> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @05:55PM (#6738880) Homepage
    In 1984, the government of Oceania did not care much about the Proles, and would have ignored the homeless as just more Proles. They only tracked party members. The neocons are worse than Big Brother. They want to track everybody! How are they going to track the homeless who frequently won't know their Social Security Number, if the even have one. Will they embed them with RFID chips? [uncoveror.com]
    Will they use bar code tattoos? [uncoveror.com] Scary stuff!
  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:04PM (#6738976) Homepage Journal
    I'm not exactly homeless, but have come close.
    I too have supposedly "refused to cooperate with treatment programs."

    Treatment programs that kept me locked up in a prison-like mental ward. Treatment programs that had lazy doctors put me on many psych drugs all at once to make me "manageable."
    Manageable, as in too fucked up to complain that the drugs had me too fucked up. As in too fucked up to complain that I had been imprisoned against my will for the "crime" of being depressed.

    These drugs fucked me up so much that they made me crave ANY kind of stimulation to let me know I was still alive - cutting my own flesh, doing any illegal drugs I could get my hands on, fucking anything that moved, running around naked in public.

    The drugs changed me from a depressed but sane person into a fucking LUNATIC. And no amount of complaining helped, I was told I would have to be on the drugs for the rest of my life because I was "bipolar" - this, determined after a 5 minute interview.

    I finally got into a position where I could get off the drugs on my own, and of course am now NOT running around like a fucking maniac, NOT cutting myself, NOT doing illegal drugs, and not only have no desire to do so, the very thought repulses me.

    They MADE me fucking nuts and made me suicidal by pumping me full of shit just to keep me from interrupting their coffee breaks.

    Some times the treatment is worse than the disease.
    I saw many, many chronic mental patients whose underlying problem was FAR worse than mine, and I saw the shitty treatment they received, how they got no respect, were treated as subhuman.

    People "choose to refuse treatment" NOT because being homeless and hungry is FUN, it's just better than the hellhole that most free institutionalized care is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @06:28PM (#6739164)
    Entities that provide services would collect their names, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, race, gender, health status (including HIV, pregnancy, and domestic violence), veteran status, and income information

    Big Brother already knows most of those things about you. What they're adding to the mix is the health information and the fact that you used services for the homeless.

    The data they collect certainly will be suspect. Hey, if you're broke and living on the street, what ID would you have to be carrying? If that ID isn't really yours, what can they do: assess a fine you can't pay, or give you "three hots and a cot"? On the fringes of society, the government simply can't apply the same set of rules that so effectively control the working and middle classes. Freedom's just another word/for nothin' left to lose..."

  • by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @07:23PM (#6739565)
    I just said that some folks like to scam the system.

    I have no problem with provision of treatment for people who want help, but I really believe that many folks take advantage of the system due to low accountability and the fallacy that substance abuse is entirely a medical problem.

    e.g. It's not my fault.....I'm genetically predisposed to [alcoholism,cocaine,crack,other chemical] -

    puhleeze - I have the apparent genetic tendency for alcoholism in my family. This is not an issue for me. I simply don't drink. Problem avoided.
  • by ralphclark (11346) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @07:37PM (#6739654) Journal
    Looks like everybody's missing the point here. What is the major roadblock for government when they want to trample on somebody? Their legal rights. Do they like this? No.

    So, what they do is start by eroding the rights of a group nobody cares about.

    (We all know by now surely that the so-called logical fallacy of the "thin end of the wedge" isn't a fallacy at all, it's just a description of a well-worn strategy that always works when your enemy is sufficiently complacent.)

    Already, if this becomes law, the homeless will have virtually no right to privacy. And if the state wants to track you, and they think it will be difficult to get permission, all they will have to do is make you homeless. Easily done.

    Eventually, when the homeless have altogether become "non-persons" in the eyes of the law, the next small step will be to extend this category of non-persons to include the unemployed. And it's even easier to make somebody unemployed.

    It's anybody's guess where it will go from there.
  • by zangdesign (462534) on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @08:48PM (#6740141) Journal
    I don't think the Bush Administration has any intention of helping the homeless (they don't vote Republican or donate large sums of money). This is another program designed to make the public think that the government gives a damn so they can suck the money off and use it to pay down the deficit.

    Sadly, not that the Democrats (or any political party) are any better.
  • by stmfreak (230369) <stmfreak@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 19, 2003 @09:29PM (#6740395) Journal
    There is good and bad everywhere. Take a group of 100 people, chosen by any criteria you want, and you will find good and bad people within that 100. But that doesn't mean that all 100 are bad.

    Perhaps not all 100 are bad, but if you put out free food, you get not only the song birds and the deer, but racoons, squirrels, rats, wolves and all the undesireables of nature. If we create a safe refuge for those in need, we will get many more who are simply interested in the "free" part.

    Do you believe any government can run a program that discerns which are deserving and which are merely lazy? Or would you propose that we should support all comers, the incapable and misfortunate as well as the parasitic and self-destructive?

    I would prefer to take such responsibility back from our government and see charity dispensed at the community level. Those who provide the resources are most interested in seeing they are dispensed appropriately and not wasted on the driftwood of society.

    This is how it used to be, back when there was a distinction between "the homeless" and the "vagrants" we're supposed to percieve as homeless today.

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