White House’s ‘War on Impoverished’ can be stopped

Doug Hite

Last week, The Washington Post released a four-part series about Dick Cheney’s role in policy-making within the Executive Branch. Beginning with a tell-all piece about Cheney’s early years – failing out of colleges while seeking at least five draft deferments during the Vietnam War – and his current position as vice president.

Now, Cheney spends his days making major decisions for the president and making secret deals with secret people.

The series continues to tell how pretty much every bad decision in the Bush administration was Dick Cheney’s idea. There: I saved you two hours of reading.

Last week, I was in Washington, D.C., and it seemed like a good idea to go to the White House for inspiration in my effort to bash the vice president in 550 words.

But I didn’t find the type of inspiration I was searching for.

One of my favorite things to do in cities is to talk with people who beg for spare change, so I spoke with Wesley, a man who was holding the familiar 7/11 cup half-filled with coins.

During our conversation, Wesley spoke of his current state of living: “I ask people for money. They give it to me. It’s how I make my well-being. And that’s all.”

I was surprised with his honesty. Is homelessness an occupation? Why the hell am I getting a degree when I can be making sweet bank by compromising my dignity?

Approaching the Capitol Building, I was amused by the Smithsonian Folk-Life festivals.

Among the sea of carnival tents filled with worldly music, hand-made wares and a hazy fog of patchouli thick enough to asphyxiate anyone who regularly bathes, there was no indication of the semi-visible world of homelessness in the nation’s capital.

I left the tourist-oriented downtown area and went to Foggy Bottom, home of the World Bank, two major universities and the International Monetary Fund.

On my way, I crossed paths with a man who had a limp reminiscent of a barefoot person walking on sharp gravel. As I approached, I discovered the source of his limp – he actually was barefoot. The man had not had shoes for quite some time.

His feet had deep cuts along the sides that were darkened with clotted blood and the gray remnants of miles of asphalt. He did not want to rely on charity and would not accept cash. His only material want was a pair of shoes.

But we’re focused on reading about how George Bush and Dick Cheney make bad calls. On the same street where the president and vice president make their secret decisions, men are hungry and without shoes and basic necessities. Outside the World Bank – an organization created to eliminate poverty in other countries – men are begging for coins. The irony bothers me.

Current statistics say there are 5,750 homeless in D.C. This number is indicative of the status of the nation. Our war on poverty is, instead, a war on the impoverished.

Many feel this is a complicated problem lacking an easy solution. But there is one thing we can do – help.

Help as much as you can, as often as you can, everywhere you can, as long as you can.

Doug Hite is a junior English major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].