Years ago in the “Christian” kingdoms of Scandinavia the state church mandated the care, feeding, and shelter of the old and infirm. Parish pastors would assign people to the care of land owners for a period of time. The people placed in care were called “de som ligg” those who lay down. They would have a warm place, be fed and otherwise cared for. The responsibility would be rotated around the Parrish. In adverse weather anyone seeking shelter must be accommodated, usually in a barn with warmth from animals: if shelter was denied and death occurred the owner would be charged with murder. Another guarantee of life in Scandinavia are the “fri luft lover” free air laws, old common law which allows people to camp, gather fallen wood, pick wild berries, and wander almost anywhere not interfering with the lives of others. The free air laws continue in Scandinavia and care for the old and infirm has been mostly relegated to the local and state government although the church still plays a role with food pantries, kitchens, and clothing.
We in the U.S. have been cursed (IMO) with inheritance of English common law which only recognizes property owners to be people of any value, deserving greater freedom and protection under the law. The lack of value and protection for common people under English law was clearly exhibited when the Scottish cattleherding peoples were forced off their ancestral land so that wealthy land owners could raise sheep. In Ireland where the common people were forced from their meager shelters and denied aid due to their ethnicity and religion, over half the population starved, but it was all legal.
Today in this country we subsidize childbirth with tax incentives and promote population growth for the benefit of the economy, but we do not guarantee a place for those children to be. If they grow up without property and a livable income, they are hounded off the streets, public, and private property with nowhere to go just as the Irish and Scots, but it is legal. If you have no money you have no value. Our venerated Mayflower colonizers brought us a philosophy characterizing poverty or illness as a sign of sinfulness. In many evangelical churches today, this has morphed into the “gospel of wealth:” if you are good, God will love you and you will receive material wealth.
I remain cursed by the English colonizers, but far less so than Creswell’s homeless.