Saturday, October 28, 2023

How St. Louis City Staff Could Immediately Raise $440,000 To Support the Homeless

Coming into this winter season, the City of St. Louis's Department of Health is conducting a donation drive for the unhoused. As Behavioral Health Bureau Chief Julie J. Gray mentions, "our focus is to have the City’s employees make donations". 

So let's go ahead and break that down. The typical vision of winter support for the unhoused is having low-income and middle-income folk dropping in unused clothing and a few dollars worth of hygiene supplies. The city "did something" and everyone feels good about themselves. Mission accomplished? 

But, let's really break this down thinking about the entire 3,000+ city employee roster. 

I'll start by pointing out Charles Coyle, Director of Public Safety, makes $206,000. We're out here asking even those at the bottom, those living paycheck to paycheck are barely even surviving, to still donate $5-$10 dollars. Instead, let's note that Charles all by himself could easily chip in $5,000 alone and still be doing quite well. In fact, if every one of the 23 director level roles directly under the Mayor, plus the Mayor themself, chipped in $5,000 annually, we'd have $120,000 per year that could be spent on clothes and hygiene. Every single year. And all the people donating would still be living on $150K / year.

Going even further, we could then ask the next 120 highest-paid city staff, all of whom make over $100K, to chip in $100, that doubles the aid relief package we could assemble to $240,000 annually.

From there, we could also ask the next highest paid 1,000 staff to give just two dollars each. At that point, we've now raised a very meaningful $440,000. And we could do this every single year.

How far does that go to help support the unhoused attempt to survive winter without dying freezing in the street? Pretty dang far I'd say. 

Do we choose to raise a few hundred or few thousand dollars, possibly coming from the poorest staff members (study after study has shown that poor Americans are the country's most charitable demographic)? Or do we ask the city staff, collectively, to raise $440,000 without any economic threat to anyone's well-being?

And yes, onations help from everywhere. But understand that the math on display here could, quite literally, be implemented first thing Monday morning. We could those most in need a few ratty old sweaters, or we could give them $440K in annual support without breaking a sweat. Is the latter plan not what any moral, compassionate society would do?

People literally die on St. Louis streets from the cold every single winter. As advocates point out - "St. Louis has not dedicated any money from its general fund to homeless services in nearly two decades, relying instead on federal funds and putting more pressure on volunteers to fill the gaps."

I mean really, what are we doing? The plan outlines above could happen tomorrow. There is literally nothing a single thing stopping us, collectively, from doing so. Except for the privilege to turn away and have each of the 1,143 well-off individuals dare to say "I won't do so". Not can't do so. They could. Please just ... do this already.  

Post on LinkedIn prompting this article:

Friday, October 20, 2023

Perfectionism, Liberation Psychology, and Perception Matching Reality

 Hi all,

Yes, this will be an almost direct repeat of an earlier article about social anxiety. It's a very similar concept at play with perfectionism. Another look at Blame the Individual thinking, this time as relates to perfectionism.

This short article is a reply to the following web comic that came across my social media feed...

My reply..

It is astoundingly rare (possibly even "never") discussed, when perfectionism is brought up, about the impact of external standards and oppression. In that second row of the comic, almost everyone reading it, especially anyone who's come into contact with mainstream mental health narrative, will assume the yellow figure with the sash represents some kind of internalized, made-up, self demon. This is exactly what most therapists will try to "teach" you about the concept of perfectionism. That it's all in your head. That it's a disease of the mind. And so on. 

Not discussed is either of...

1) They just outright, though ignorance, don't understand that for many people the demand of perfection is coming from a real person or systemic institution. A real, not imagined, entity demanding perfection under threat of violence (socioeconomic and/or physical).

2) They believe #1 exists, but still attempt to blame the individual for "letting" that external force treat them that way, wholly denying disempowerment as a real thing that exists. Going full-blown into Blame the Victim, which is a whole article that needs to be written. If you think victims only ever "do it to themselves", just .... no. I'm sorry but no

Again, as with the social anxiety article, this is not to deny that sometimes, only sometimes, perfectionism is some self-standard that is more in your head alone, and you are free to behave differently without consequence. But mainstream mental health never brings up the sometimes. And that's not just a "problem", it's a direct abuse-enabling support structure and form of abuse itself. A full-throated denial of actual reality under the guise of "care" and "compassion". 

You don't solve oppression with "I'm sorry", gaslighting reality, and blaming the individual. You solve oppression by stopping oppression. And act which requires actions on the part of the everyone, not just the victimized.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Feedback about Harm Caused is Not "Being Negative"

PSA. There is a difference between "that's won't work for you" and "just to note, that thing that someone else is calling "maybe" or "probably" help has also been hurtful to lots of people while helping some others and at times even has objective problems worth noting".  It can be true that things intended as help do help some but actively harm others, and it's a huge problem and ethical concern when we talk about only the help and never the hurt. And make no mistake - feedback about harm is constantly attacked with prejudice, hate, and rhetoric up to an including "stop being so negative".

Feedback about harm is not negativity in the sense of "wrongfully too dour". It's a sad but very real, and empowering discussion of real harms and refusal to let them be silent.

It is valid if talk of harm is hard to read. It is also valid that "you can't about harm" is, itself a form of harm.

Why is hearing the harm about others so offensive? Something to maybe to some introspection on without saying there's any right or wrong way to handle it. Complex topic.

I will say, I come from the DEI world where there is so much pearl clutching about things like "talk about racism is harming me!!!!", and we could draw parallels to reactions to discussion about sanism (prejudice against emotional distress).