Not normally a fan of Kevin Williamson’s work, but this is pretty good:
I am, as it happens, evicting my mother’s fourth husband’s fifth wife from a modest house (much more modest than the condition I left it in) in which she resided rent-free for a decade or so. I inherited the house from my mother when she died, and her husband inherited a “life estate” in it, meaning a legal right to reside there so long as he kept current on the taxes and such. He remarried (these are marrying people) and lived there with his new wife until his life estate ended the way life estates end, and I came around to take possession of the house and sell the damned thing. They’d had years and years to prepare for this moment, and, of course, they hadn’t.
“Why are you doing this to us?” the woman’s daughter demanded. Because I am the bad thing that is just happening to you today, the unforeseeable event that has been hanging over you by a single hair of a horse’s tail for a decade, the inevitable end of a terrible lamentation.
But people love their sad stories. They feel compelled to tell them. Local law here is pretty straightforward on the matter of evictions: If you don’t pay your rent (mine is the only case today not involving rent), then you have to go. “Did you pay any rent in February?” the judge asks two dozen times. “Did you pay any rent in March?” The judge’s power in these matters extends only to ordering (or not ordering) an eviction and ordering the payment of unpaid back rent. If a tenant wants to sue the landlord for violating the lease, or if the landlord wants to sue the tenant for failing to pay an electricity bill or damaging the property, that is a separate action. But even though the judge repeatedly explains that the sins of the landlords are irrelevant at this moment to the immediate legal question before his court, the tale must be told: He didn’t return phone calls or text messages. There were repairs left unmade. There were bedbugs. Tenants put scarce and desperately needed money into making unlivable rental properties just barely livable.
Go here to read the rest. Especially in Catholic circles we have a tendency to romanticize the poor, but all too many are poor because of endless bad decision making and the endless search for excuses. We all have a God imposed duty to help the poor, but after dealing with their immediate needs, the best thing that can be done is to tell them that they need to get off their dead behinds and work to improve their situations. Some can’t and will need lifelong help, but most can, and those who will not do not deserve lifelong assistance, and endless get out of jail cards in the game of life.