- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Homeless Shelters- A Libertarian's Dillemma

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( PCC, MA, USA ) on June 20, 1999 at 14:12:13:

Gee, I have a situation that I'm interested to see a libertarian response to, because it seems to pose a paradox if your only criterion is personal liberty. This is not hypothetical, by the way, it really happened (or at least something vaguely liek this happened).

In Hartford, CT a while ago the city placed a moratorium on installing more soup kitchens or homeless sheleters. Hartford is a city suffering from "urban decay" and economiic decline. Not only did the city refuse to spend public money, it asked individuals not to spend their own resources on soup kitchens, etc. I think the reasoning was that the soup kitc hens were attracting a homeless influx into Hartford and possibly hastening the city's "decline" and making it difficult to attract business.

Who should a libertarian support? The churches and citizens who want the freedom to follow tehir moral conscience and help the homeless? Or the citizens who've moved to Hartford for economic opportunity andx who want businesses to move in and create jobs? How does a libertarian decide whose "freedom" is more important here? Because they both have the "freedom" to live in the kind of town tehy want, right?

The solution, for me, lies in recognizing that there are things more important than this kind of freedom, such as the right of everyone, homeless or not, to decent food and shelter. But if you leave such equalitarian considerations out of it, how is a decision to be made?

Look forward to hearing your response.

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