Opinion: It’s not the county’s job to combat loneliness

OPINION

BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor

I’m puzzled why San Mateo County is launching a $1 million program to combat loneliness. I can’t fault the motives of Supervisor David Canepa, who is unafraid to tackle difficult problems.

But is loneliness a problem for the county government? I thought county governments existed to maintain roads, keep parks clean, run hospitals for the poor, operate a sheriff’s department and jail, and so on.

Instead San Mateo County is embarking on a costly program to let lonely people know what they can do if they want friends.

I don’t think you need a new program. Just offer a few simple suggestions to the lonesome:

1. Become a volunteer in order to work alongside others for a good cause;

2. If you attend church or a synogogue, join a Bible study, try out for the choir or sign up for other group activities;

3. Exercise. Scientists say exercise can trigger the endorphins in the brain, which make people feel happier. Sunshine also gets the endorphins going.

4. Adopt a dog or cat. Like President Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Not sure a pet is for you? Volunteer at the SPCA to see if you like it.

But here’s the point I think Canepa and other officials are missing: There’s no need to feel bad about being lonely. It’s not shameful or embarrassing. While some ill health effects have been shown in studies, for most people, loneliness is something that happens in life from time to time. It’s OK to go to a movie or dinner by yourself.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays in the Daily Post.

2 Comments

  1. “But is loneliness a problem for the county government? I thought county governments existed to maintain roads, keep parks clean, run hospitals for the poor, operate a sheriff’s department and jail, and so on.”

    Dave Price, thank you for stating what should be obvious.

    Let me also add that the same can be said about Palo Alto’s priorities which only 300 people bothered to weigh in on prompting the city to hold costly offsite pushing “mental health” and “sustainability” while the City Manager’s weekly newsletters offer us mental health tips and recipes instead of focusing on our REAL concerns.

    How much did those Priority Offsites cost? Do they plan to fix the buggy survey software on which the “priorities” are based?

    Are they planning more — or ANY — official outreach to the businesses on El Camino about to be destroyed by the bike lane zealots? How many redesigns of the city “parklets” that similar ignore feedback from the merchants and residents must we endure and how many millions more will be spent on multiple “retail consultants” with no local knowledge?

    Based on Pat Burt’s excoriation of Lydia Kou for demanding more outreach, I’d suspect Palo Alto will maintain its atrocious record on outreach even when people’s homes and businesses are at stake.

    When — if ever — will we see some accountability and fiscal responsibility?

  2. Dave, great simple suggestions that could go a long way….and cost less than one million of our hard worked for tax dollars. Always seems that our politicians never find a social program that they don’t like…or can possibly pander to a group at the taxpayers expense.

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