Minnesota has set up homes for alcoholics. This is the second time I have heard of this. Seattle set up an apartment building for them several years ago. Yes, it's expensive, but it's a lot less expensive than what it would cost otherwise. A dedicated, destitute alcoholic can cost the government and hospitals a $100,000 a year, and that cost is paid by the taxpayers. If you aren't paying any taxes, or you never pay a hospital bill, you may not care.
I am not sure these programs save any money, I mean you still have the same number of people staffing the emergency rooms and police stations, but at least they aren't wasting their time scraping drunks up off the sidewalk. And who knows when pointless errands like that have interfered with something serious?
The big benefit I see is the reduction in vomit on the sidewalk. As far as I am concerned, that is one of the big drawbacks of downtown areas. Maybe I'm just being prissy, but given a choice I'd rather not be exposed to it. I clean the cat's litter box once a day, and that's all the disgust I need in my life right now, thank you very much.
I realize that not everyone is as fussy as I am. Until someone puts a price tag on vomit, the bean counters will overlook these quality-of-life issues. In fact, what they will say is that if your emergency personnel are not working all the time, well then, you have too many people. You can cut back and save some money. On the other hand, isn't that what you want? Emergency personnel sitting around waiting, not having anything to do? If they are working it's because something has gone terribly wrong and someone's life has turned to shit. Better that they sit and enjoy their coffee and doughnuts.
The flip side is when things are too calm, emergency personnel don't get to practice their skills, which leads to things like giving an IV to someone who is getting a ride in an ambulance, not because they will die if they don't get one, but simply because the EMT needs to perform so many "sticks" in order to maintain his or her qualifications.
Friend of a friend is an EMT up in rural Washington and nothing ever happens. Spend a great deal of time and energy training and preparing for emergencies and the only call you get is some guy with a hangnail. Maybe we need to rotate EMT's through a war zone (like gangland in a big urban area), so they can get their fill of action, excitement, and maintain their qualifications.
4 months ago