By Josh Spring
If you flip off the lights in a room, walk through the room and run into a pole, do you ask what happened? Probably not, because you know what happened. If you do the same thing the next day, do you ask what happened that time? Nope. If you fill a glass with water and then dump it on your head, do you ask why you are wet? What about if you turn a stove burner on and hold your hand on it, do you wonder why your hand hurts? If you dump a bucket of dirt on someone else, do you ask them why they are so dirty? No, probably not. Outside of mental health decompensation, none of this makes any sense. You don’t ask why these things are happening because you already know the answer, and you know how to prevent them from happening again.
If you heard a weather report which called for rain and you left the windows of your car (if you have one) open and later came out to find a soaked seat, would you try to figure out how your seat got wet? Would you call your friends together to study how rain gets from outside a car to inside a car and on a seat? Would you re-listen to the weather report and try to figure out how better to understand what the report meant? No, you would express frustration at having left the window open, especially when you knew rain was predicted, you would try to dry your seat and commit to not leaving the window open again. If you park that same car, get out to walk into the office and someone hollers at you that your left your lights on, likely you would say thanks and then turn around and turn your lights off. Why? Because you know if you leave them on it is likely your battery will lose power and your won’t be able to start your car when you return. You don’t wait for proof that this will happen because logic dictates it will, you don’t want to risk it and likely past experience tells you choosing to not put in the effort to walk back and turn off the lights will result in more problems in the future.
So why when it comes to much more important decisions do we very often chose to not follow basic common sense?
As a society, city and county we invest millions of dollars in luxury housing, give tax abatements to companies that displace people from their homes, allow landlords to evict without just cause, don’t require companies pay a living wage, subsidize tourist bars and shops that drive out neighborhood-serving businesses and applaud the removal of people with lower incomes from neighborhoods as revitalization and then act surprised when housing instability and homelessness increase. We enact policies that support the depletion of affordable housing and then say we are not sure why we have homelessness to the extent we do and so we must study the problem more and then perhaps temporarily pilot possible solutions.
Maybe we don’t yet have the right people in the room to figure out what is going on or maybe there is some best practice model we haven’t considered.
Give me a break. If you have a house and you invite your friends over to be entertained by shooting off fireworks in the living room and your house catches fire and you and your friends stand outside watching, debating how best to use the garden hose to decrease the fire when you should be calling the fire department and your house burns down, again outside of some extreme circumstances, you don’t get to say you didn’t know what to do. If you get a new house and this time you only use small fireworks inside, you don’t get congratulated for improving. You don’t get to call people in to do a study to try to figure out how to prevent fires in your home, because the answer is always going to be that you must stop the activity that is causing the fires in the first place.
These are all just little analogies, but what if people are trapped in the house and can’t get out of the fire? In 2017, in Hamilton County, least 137 people suffering from the effects of homelessness died.