Fellow travellers, a lot of people are saying that this story about Ted Williams, "the homeless man with the golden voice", is wonderfully uplifting; the first big feel good story of 2011.

But it doesn't make me feel good at all, just quite annoyed - and even a little depressed. You see, this upbeat approach relies upon many cultural assumptions that a compassionate and progressive person such as myself finds deeply suspect.

Firstly there is this idea that someone who is homeless is necessarily suffering, unhappy and unfulfilled. But surely having no possessions has the potential to be be a truly liberating, and ultimately joyful, experience? Sometimes we see the homeless muttering to themselves and laughing out loud. "Oh, how sad this is," we say. "They've been driven crazy by their ordeal!"

But isn't it possible that they're having a fine old time, free of so much of the cultural (and literal) baggage that we in the materialist West consider absolutely indispensable? Hmm?

Also, not having a roof over your head actually allows you to experience the elements more directly. You can really start to become deeply aware of, and attuned to, the glorious moods and rhythms of nature. Surely now, with strong Gaia soon to be manifest (as our Tim Flannery so presciently puts it) the more people we have like this in our midst, the better. As civilization inevitably collapses, we will need them as guides, seers and advisors. Not only will they know the mind of Gaia, but they will also be able to give us valuable tips and pointers on how to survive with no money, food and accommodation.

There's also an explicit and quite shameless capitalist subtext in the reporting that I find deeply offensive. I mean, his voice is described as "golden" - valuable in a monetary sense. And why? Because he can use it to promote products on commercial TV and radio. And now that he is doing just that, flogging stolen animal products for Kraft, we are told that he has "redeemed himself" and "saved his soul".

This sinister discourse directly equates money (and cheese!) with a person's inherent spiritual value. If that's not dehumanizing, I don't know what is.

Clearly, Ted Williams was living a much more authentic and meaningful life when he was homeless and therefore unburdened by the constraints and expectations of our soulless and materialistic society. Why didn't we just leave him be?

(That said, if he were offered - and accepted - work by NPR, PBS, or any other publicly funded, community-minded radio or TV stations, I might reconsider this critique. But as things stand I do find it all quite depressing. Quite depressing indeed.)