The letter entitled, “Public Housing Must Have Rules That Are Obeyed” reads, “Of course, ‘these people will smoke, drink, and do whatever they want in subsisted housing,’ if they don’t have a manager to enforce rules and regulations.
“It seems that people in public housing think, ‘Well, I pay rent, I can party, smoke, drink and do what I want to.’ What happened to the rules and regulations? Yes, stop smoking in public housing, really everywhere. Think of the lives that could be saved – lung disease and other things that smoking causes.
“They should get better managers to enforce all rules and regulations. You go into public housing knowing they must be obeyed.
“I would think anyone who pays $55 a carton would want to quit for themselves as well as everybody else’s health.”
The letter’s author views those in public housing as being unemployed, lazy and generally unproductive citizens. Unfortunately such dangerous stereotyping is held by a significant portion of our communities. Yes, there are people in public housing who reflect the picture, but they are not the norm as I’ve discovered in working with and assisting people who live in public housing. While there are exceptions while there are those who are unemployed, including the disabled, in public housing there are far more productive citizens who are employed, but employed in low waged jobs. They are those who are drive our children to school on school buses, our receptionists, clean our offices, cook and serve our lunches, who look after our children in day care, are sales staff at discount stores, etc.
I wish that we could all agree that the cost of housing in many areas is out of reach for those earning a low hourly wage, and that because we are not willing to pay 10 to 15% higher costs for a TV bought at a discount box store or 15% to 20 more for our fast food meal, public housing is a necessary burden we carry. What we save on fast food and in discount stores becomes a larger burden on our taxes for public housing to help support these low wage workers that serve us every day. We pay one way or the other, and as a society we want low cost products from retailers who keep their overhead low by paying a very low wage.
The letter clearly states that the lays the problem of smoking, drinking and holding parties in public housing to the lack of rules enforcement. The thought that such rules as being unjust or improper escapes the letter's writer. Evidently he is comfortable with the government limiting and denying American citizens rights held by other citizens, and that those rights should be denied to them solely because they live in public housing. In other words, if you enter public housing, you become a second class citizen. What should we then deny these citizens next? The right to travel? The right to watch television or own a car? The right to vote? I would disagree with any rule in public housing which limits or denies legal behavior in the privacy of one’s home the rights allowed other citizens to the same behavior. This is supposed to be a nation where all citizens are treated equally. Since America is a nation that prides itself on personal liberty, we must be slow to limit those liberties.
The author of the letter reflects the all too common tendency of holding that as one has experienced life or religion in a particular manner, or reasons in a particular fashion, that too should others think in the and experience the world, event or religious experience in the same way. And if you don’t have the same experience, then you are deficient at some point and you need to correct yourself. It is a version of my view is better and more righteous than yours. Since humanity and life is not so simple, measuring/judging others primarily upon one’s own experience is a most dangerous enterprise.