(This was posted a week ago in talk.pol.misc, but thought I'd let you mull it over. It is original writing, and is typical of my callous mode of social thought which I occasionally fall into.)
Like many people, I have been thinking about the problem of homelessness in America's cities. Besides the obvious suffering of the homeless people, the spectacle of raggedly dressed people bent for warmth in the subways and bus stations of the cities greets visitors with a pronouncedly negative image. I have struck upon a means of eliminating the privation of the homeless while lessening the adverse impact they have on the surrounding neighborhoods.
At a cost of about $250 per individual, each can be outfitted with a friendly Disney character costume. Generous insulation and bright, stain resistant colors would help to insure that the occupant remains warm inside and cheerful outside. As there are so many different characters, each participant would be able to choose which outfit most closely fits his style.
This landmark project would have manifold beneficial effects. Travelers arriving at the bus and train terminals would no longer comment on how awful it is to be met with wave attacks of unkempt panhandlers. Instead, their kids could laugh and feel safe and recall fondly how Mickey greeted them upon their arrival to the Big City. Replace the heart-rending image of a woman swaddled in torn clothes crouching for shelter in a shop doorway with that of a warm and sweetly blushing Snow White settled snugly down with her pullcart of possessions in the same alcove. A societal blemish has been instantly transformed into a fantasy attraction!
The boost this program could provide to the participants' sense of self-image would be tremendous. They would enjoy a strong sense of camaradery. Instead of facing a bleak street existence alone, they would belong to a happy family of playful ducks, dogs and chipmunks. This would give everybody something to be proud of. The necessity of keeping one's uniform spiffy and one's antics competitively endearing (to bolster handout revenues) would be easy and fun. And, as George Bush has observed, many of the homeless people on our streets already identify with popular cartoon figures. The transition would be painless for most everyone.
Expensive and marginally effective substance abuse recovery programs could be avoided by the simple expedient of dressing addicts and drunks as either pink elephants or Dopey the dwarf. A person suffering from a nervous tic could become Pinnochio the dancing puppet boy. Persons who habitually argue with demons or devils could be suited up with muffled headpieces to squelch the sudden shouts. Creative application of the basics outlined here would enable the administrators of this plan to massage away almost ANY obstacle, and allow them to artfully blend these people back into society.