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Help for the homeless

It is discouraging to read of the “growing rift” among nonprofit organizations over how to allocate $1.7 million in federal funding earmarked for homeless services.

St. Matthew’s House operates the only two emergency homeless shelters in Collier County and one of the biggest feeding ministries in the area — all without soliciting any government funding.

Instead of being at the mercy of capricious politicians and Health and Human Services bureaucrats, St. Matthew’s House rejects government subsidies. Still, in little more than 15 years, St. Matthew’s House budget has grown from $1.5 million to $19 million this year.

How did it do it? The free market. Today St. Matthew’s House operate five distinct business lines, and this summer it will open a sixth business, Lulu’s Kitchen, a full-service restaurant. Over 60% of its budget comes from market-based enterprises. Better still, businesses provide employment for its residents. Over half of their 240 employees are from one of their residential programs.

If we are to provide sustainable funding solutions for homelessness, it is clear that we need to look beyond our increasingly divided government. Perhaps enterprise is part of the solution.

(From the vice president of development for St. Matthew’s House.)

Peter Johnson, East Naples

Who is lying?

Twelve witnesses are lying. The FBI is lying. The inspector general is lying. The ambassador is lying. The National Security Council is lying. The adviser to Vice President Pence is lying.

The special prosecutor was lying. The 15 women who accused Trump were lying.

The guy who has lied over 14,000 times since elected, told us he built a wall and posted his head on Sly Stallone’s body is telling the truth.

Oh, and Vladimir Putin is telling the truth.

Bill Linehan, East Naples

‘End of separation of powers?’

In grade school, I first learned the concept of “separation of powers.” Our democracy was run by three separate branches of government. They served to “check and balance” each other. No one branch could “overrule” the other in serious decisions.

Later, in my professional career as an accountant, I saw another, very clear, example of that same principle of “separation of powers.” In any business, the person receiving money is not the same person who deposits it; and yet another person reconciles the checkbook. Checks and balances, to prevent dishonesty.

Now, as a senior looking at power of attorneys and other ways to protect myself when senility strikes, I’m advised by professionals to select at least two individuals to make decisions for me. The “best friend for life” or the “daughter who visits daily” — both of whom I “trust entirely” might make better decisions if they have to answer to one another instead of acting alone. Again, separation of powers.

When government employees are instructed by one branch of government to refuse to simply answer questions of another, that feels like the beginning of the end of separation of powers. And that feels scary.

Paula Leighton, East Naples

Impeachment shows US divide

Impeachment teaches why we don’t talk to strangers about politics, religion, sex or the environment. Three of four are their own brands of religion — deeply held beliefs, often since childhood, shared tribal mythologies, unaffected by inconvenient facts, often mob-like when in defense.

Roughly 50% of the country backs either side of the impeachment debate, largely along party lines. On what other subjects of importance can the country be so evenly divided? Abortion? Immigration? Supreme Court nominations? Government spending? Socialism? All of these are political. Two mirrored philosophies — yin and yang — the cosmic duality of opposing and complementing principles.

Offense versus defense. Principle versus ends justifying means. Compromise or seek mortal wounding. Electoral defeat or nullification. These are the tactics of two bitterly opposed combatants seeking political power.

What brought on such internecine battles? Gerrymandered voting districts? Media dichotomies of political philosophies? Flawed candidates? Taxpayers versus tax beneficiaries? Wealthier the country, more bounty to fight over?

Is our country’s destiny greater and greater political divisiveness as the spoils become more abundant? Will more politicians retire in disgust? Will compromise return as voters retire politicians too uncompromising to deserve office? There are many such candidates on both sides of the aisle.

Brad Taylor, Naples

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