Friday, August 25, 2006

America's Boat People

In many areas of the Third World, such as Cambodia and SouthEast Asia, you have very poor people who would normally be homeless living on boats. In the waters of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon right here in the U.S., there is a number of very poor persons now living on poor quality and unsafe boats as America's boat people.

These American boat people are too poor to afford a monthly apartment or trailer park rent, so they purchase or find an old boat and begin to live on it as a some sort of homeless camp on the river. By staying afloat these persons avoid trespassing or illegal camping rules, ordinances or laws. Often these persons will use heroin or other drugs while on these poor condition boats. Drug addiction of some type is often part of the reason for these persons living in poverty. Portland, Oregon per capita has the worst heroin problem of any American city.

Both the Multnomah County Sheriff and U.S. Coast Guard are concerned about the safety of these boats because they could easily sink because they are often rotting and very poorly maintained. And these boats could present a water safety hazard to other water craft. Even the Office Of Homeland Security is concerned that one of these junk boats could contain a bomb or some other device. Each year during the Rose Festival event, a number of American and Canadian Navy ships come to dock in Portland. A junk boat could be used to bomb one of these Navy ships like the attack in Yemen during the Clinton Administration.

There are many problems involved here. Very poor persons cannot afford rent so become boat people. Their boats are in very condition and often very unsafe where fire, sinking or drowning accidents are very possible. There is no opportunity to homestead as in the days of the old West for persons who are poor and have no land of their own. Modern society must find ways to eliminate homelessness and poverty. But it is very alarming that poverty among some Americans is so similar to the Third World poverty that you find in Cambodia and SouthEast Asia.


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