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a point and counterpoint discussion of our values

Point
All right, I’m convinced.
Poverty is a terrible thing and apparently most of you are convinced that only government intervention can mitigate it. You have argued and advocated that housing problems and homelessness must be regulated by the most progressive (socialist) legislation imaginable. As a result, I suggest, using your logic, that this strategy must be used to combat hunger as well. The eviction laws have worked well to keep tenants in housing that they don’t have to pay for, so they are an appropriate model to emulate in alleviating hunger. I propose the following:

Any grocery store customer who doesn’t have the money, or just refuses to pay at the cash register, must be allowed to take his food home without payment. If the greedy grocer objects, the manager of the store can serve the customer a seven day notice to quit taking food without paying. If they still refuse to pay, or simply cannot come up with any money for food, then let the store owner hire a lawyer or take a half day off work to go down to court clerks office, pay them about $60 in fees, then pay some more to have the customer served a summons to appear in court. The customers must have an opportunity to explain to the judge why they should be allowed to continue taking food without paying. The court date will probably be set for at least two weeks away so the customer will of course continue to eat without payment until then.

When the case gets into court, the food provider must be required to follow every one of the myriad of rules exactly to the letter of the law, or start the process all over. Society should also provide the hungry with any legal assistance that might be helpful in using the system to guarantee that they can continue to eat for free if they wish. The new food legislation must also guarantee that the defendant be allowed a full blown jury trial to consider such facts as: whether all of the food that has been consumed without payment was in fact in perfect condition at the time it was taken from the store, and whether each item met every possible health and safety code. Further, the court should consider tests for color, texture, taste and freshness of each and every item for which the grocer seeks payment. If any item fails to pass such tests, the grocer’s case should be dismissed with prejudice because no one should ever have to pay anything for an inferior product.

If however, the grocer should win his day in court, the hungry customer must be allowed to continue to eat without charge while the case is appealed. Should some judge suggest that payment for food be held in escrow until the case is resolved, the customer can wreck the store. Then move on and began taking food from a different one.

This solution should help to punish the people who are making profits from the people's need to eat. It will also decriminalize the actions of people who need to feed themselves or who would rather spend their money and food stamps on something other than food.

A. Landlord

Counterpoint

Hunger is a real crisis and we are enthusiastic in our support of the new food laws. However, we will have take the following measures to protect our stores from excessive loss:

  • We will require a security deposit of at least one month’s average food purchases from every customer.
  • We will need to check everybody's credit before letting them enter the store.
  • We will need references from two previous stores before allowing customers into our store.
  • We will be increasing our prices by 20% to cover the anticipated food losses.
  • We have decided not to renovate any more stores because of the damage we expect.

We understand that these measures will make it more difficult for people who are not known by our store to shop here. Although it may be troublesome for people who do not have good credit to buy food, it will be fair because everyone will have to pay a higher price and a post a security deposit at the grocery store. I know that our stores and our shareholders will learn to live with these new rules. It is our competition, the small Mom and Pop store, the places where they still trust people, who will be driven out of business.

John Gaunt - Manager

Hunger Vs Homelessness was originally written by John Bates of the Lambaste, PA Real Estate Investors Association, then revised and updated by Larry Lick for Rental Housing News. The analogy that is drawn here is a clear demonstration of how differently landlords and housing are treated from other businesses. Keep this in mind next time you are considering the fairness of new legislation. Is housing all that different from food or clothing, except in the way providers are treated?

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