Thursday, July 30, 2015

Demand public toilets or live in squalor

Buenos Aires and other thoughtful cities have sidewalk toilets. Mexico has many public toilets that cost about a dime to use. The United States has newspapers and TV stations that publicize and shame homeless people caught peeing in public.  In the US, one must go into a place of business and ask to use a toilet. I duck into fast food joints, but when I encounter the need to ask an employee for the key I'm usually ok even if the sign says "For customers only." I guess I get by because I am well dressed. And white. Homeless people are in a bind and what are they going to do? Not go?
As a society, Americans are edging toward trouble. Sooner or later I think we will begin to jail more and more homeless people for unavoidable crimes. The cost of toilets is much cheaper than jailing, but since there are privatized jails and prisons, the pressure on lawmakers will be to jail ever more people. Common sense is a tough sell.
If cities would provide many more public toilets and pay to clean them daily you would see that everybody would use them -  the middle class and the rich get "caught" in need, too. It would cost some money and we have an entire class of citizens who can afford to pay more taxes. No one gets rich without society because "No man is an island." The rich cannot always avoid the messy realities of life. What kind of a society do we want and how can we possibly have a decent society without facilities for the poorest of the poor?

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