Monday, November 18, 2019

The homeless crisis and what it portends

In a recent interview, Doug Casey offers his perspective on the explosion of homelessness in parts of this country, and what it means.  He doesn't mince his words.

I see it as part of the continuing decline of Western civilization.

The West has always been distinguished relative to the rest of the world by its order, its cleanliness, its respect for property rights. These things are all going by the wayside. We were a middle class society with “bourgeois” values, essentially Boy Scout virtues. But these things are now held in contempt, even while the middle class is being squeezed. “Ground between the millstones of taxation and inflation,” as the phrase attributed to Lenin puts it.

Some members of the lower and middle classes are still moving up, but it’s easier to fall than to rise. Most of the homeless are whites who are headed down. We haven’t seen this since the 1930s.

This epidemic is concentrated in so-called sanctuary cities, which go out of their way to bring in people who are unwilling or unable to support themselves. But most of the newly minted “street people” aren’t migrants. They seem to mostly be failed ex-members of the middle class.

. . .

Cleaning up after these people isn’t a solution. It’s cosmetic, at best.

What we have are thousands on the streets who produce nothing, and only consume. They survive on food stamps, various welfare programs, handouts, petty theft, and the like. In other words, they’re not an asset either to themselves or to society. They’re an active liability, and they’re actually encouraged by being allowed to group together on other people’s property.

Will cleaning up after them solve the problem? No, it aggravates it.

It’s now an epidemic. It started in 2008 when lots of middle-class people lost their houses. And oddly, the trend toward people living on the street has been growing over the last 10 years of artificial boom.

We’re going to have a very real bust very soon. The high levels of debt that we have today have allowed the whole country to live above its means. When the economy adjusts to lower levels of consumption, a new avalanche of people will lose their jobs, and they’ll have no savings to fall back on. However, their debts will remain and keep them from getting back up.

. . .

This is an explosive problem. These are people who will have nothing to lose. They’re going to be overcome by envy of and resentment against the rich. You can count on them to vote Democratic in 2020. There’s no question the state of the economy will be by far the biggest influence in the election.

All the while, because of the financialization of the economy, the rich are getting richer. This isn’t just unfair—it’s dangerous. Incidentally, “unfair” is a word I hate to use, because it often implies a whole set of assumptions. But that’s another topic. Anyway, the situation is setting up the United States for class warfare, the haves against the have-nots. Middle class societies are stable; we’re becoming less middle class.

. . .

It’s another sign that the state of civilization in the United States is changing radically. So far it’s been a slow slide down. But when the economy falls apart this time, it’s going to look like we’ve fallen off a cliff. We’re going to have to adjust to a whole new reality politically, socially, and economically. I’m not looking forward to it.

There's more at the link.

Mr. Casey's comments reminded me of our earlier discussions in these pages about homelessness.  He's quite right about the problem being concentrated in cities that welcome and subsidize the homeless.  Almost all of those cities, as far as I know, have Democratic Party administrations.  Is it possible that they see homelessness as a way to ensure their political domination for years to come, by cultivating a "crop" of voters who are guaranteed to support the party that gives them the biggest handouts?  Is this a deliberate political tactic?  I have no idea, but I'll leave it to you to make up your own mind.

As for "class warfare", sadly, yes, that's happening right now.  Just look at the clash inside the Democratic Party between hard-left and centrist voices.  So far, the hard left is winning handily, and looks set fair to dominate the party for years to come.  They're going to become the party of agitprop.  Some of their current Presidential candidates are already mouthpieces for agitprop.  That doesn't bode well for their party, or for democracy.

The problem is, money can never solve the problem of homelessness, just as it can never solve the problem of crime.  One has to change the person inwardly - a true conversion.  That's come to be seen as a religious perspective, but it applies equally well to any transformation of a human life.  Unless the homeless regain some sense of self, of personal value, of pride, they have no motivation to improve their lot in life.  Unless they see a way up, they'll stay down.  Why shouldn't they?  Money can't provide that for them.  It has to come from within themselves, a desire to change.  Most of the homeless I've met don't appear to have that.

I've heard suggestions that we should resurrect something like the Works Progress Administration of the Great Depression era, but this time on a compulsory basis, forcing the homeless to work for their daily bread.  I've even heard religion advanced in support of this proposal ("If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat").  I don't see that working.  Homelessness is not a crime;  therefore, one can't "punish" the homeless by forcing them into what would be, in effect, a sentence of confinement, of loss of freedom.  If we do that, we take away one of their most fundamental rights - and if we do that to one class in society, how long can it be before it's extended to other classes, possibly including our own?

I don't think we'll find a solution for homelessness on a national level.  I think it's up to local communities to do what they can, in their own local circumstances, to deal with it as humanely as possible.  However, I do believe very strongly (and I've said before in these pages) that subsidizing homelessness, by throwing money at the problem, is not the way to go.  As the late President Reagan said, "If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it."  Throwing money at homelessness is effectively a subsidy.  It will solve nothing.  If it were a solution, how is it that the billions we spend on the problem as a nation have so far produced nothing except more and more homeless people?



LindaG said...

Didn't Johnson throw money at something that was a complete failure also?

CDH said...

I disagree strongly with your premise that we can not solve this at a national level. Stop subsidizing it (eliminate welfare except for the truly and severely disabled, make it short term only, etc) and the problem will be greatly reduced. That has to happen at the national level first and foremost. Most of the rest can be managed with better mental illness treatment including, unfortunately, incarceration of those that won't take meds. Let the criminal justice system lock up the criminal drug users. Not much of a problem left after that...and most of these steps start in Washington DC.

It is sad but true that many (most?) of the solution to homelessness, and welfare in general, is best termed 'Tough Love'. Only deep fundamental discomfort, hunger, medical issues, etc are going to generate the mass turnaround of this problem. So long as the idle are comfortable, they WILL remain idle for the most part. Yes it is cold, but not nearly as heartless as most on the left will paint it...

mark leigh said...

Black plague is an endemic problem in ground squirrels in the west. Los Angeles has plenty of flea-ridden rats to spread it around. If conditions don't improve homelessness will solve itself in plague. Already cholera and dysentary are widespread.


I see part of the problem being what I'd call "predatory capitalism".

To (somewhat) paraphrase Milton Friedman, the business of business is profit - and I have no problem with that. The problem in attitude of workers towards the C-suite is that companies close plants that are profitable and offshore them... this devastates whole communities and is perceived as the C-suite getting richer at their expense.

This post echoes my thoughts - or, technically, pre-dates them.

Ray - SoCal said...

I read homeless were 40% Black, so that’s a red flag on the article. Homeless seems to be a combination of bad judgements (9th circuit), bad laws (no enforcement of low level laws - public camping, urination, petty thievery, etc), mental illness, and drugs. And most homeless are male.

Plus the disintegration of families of the poor. And the offshoring of many jobs, illegal immigration job competition, increased housing costs, and the increase in minimum wage.

End result is Ca has 50% of the us homeless population.

Ray - SoCal said...

Reference on the % Homeless by Race:

40% Black
49% White
22% Latino

Demographic Data Project: Race, Ethnicity, and Homelessness

Males are 67.5% per another report of the homeless.

34.7% have substance abuse issues.

And the definition of what is homeless varies.

artbyjoe said...

people talk about homelessness as if that really describes the situation. it does not. the absolute problem is drug addiction. if you look hard enough at any homeless person, living on the street, you will find that person is a drug addict. a drug addict does not care what his living situation is. the addict only cares about where his drugs are. Heroin and Meth are most of the problem. solve that, or completely interrupt the supply, and the problem will go away. nothing else will work. the reality of that is rough. the solution is rough.
nothing about it is easy. here is an example of what worked. When the communists took over China, China had a huge heroin problem. it was everywhere. brought originally by the British, because it was so profitable. the communists solved their problem by drastic measures.
they made the penalty for possession of, use of, sales of to be death. they started with the rich and worked their way down. before they got to the bottom, everyone believed them and cleaned up. the drug problem went away.
i am not advising this as a solution for us. i am only trying to show what a real problem it is, and that a solution has to be found.
i don't know what a solution would be. i do know that it needs to recognized as the real problem. that a solution must be found.
before people start blasting at me for this post. understand. i am not pro-communist, pro-socialist, homeless phobic. i believe that people should be able to do what they want in life. that they should have goals. that they should succeed at something. that they should live within their means. that they should invest in themselves. the alternatives are not pleasant. thank you for reading this. God bless all.

Sam L. said...

One may hope that the Dem governors and mayors and their administrators will eventually piss off the reliable people and drive them into the arms of that GREAT BOGEYMAN, Mr. Trump...and sooner, not later.

Old 1811 said...


The figures you quoted add up to 111%. The source, which also includes Native American (3%) and Asian (1%), adds up to 115%. Rounding errors couldn't make the total more than 105%. So . . .
Mixed-race individuals claiming more than one category? Maybe. Reporters who can't count? More likely.
No offense to you, you didn't write the report, but I'd like to see something that adds up properly.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

I had blogged several years ago about the CCC the Civilian Conservation Corp. Where people worked, did conservation projects and what ever else was called for. It worked back then because society as a whole believes in "work to eat". Taking money for loafing was considered a "social sin" and most people wouldn't do it. But in this day and age. people have no problem taking money and not working, It is socially acceptable now. And if the government tried to make the people getting assistance "work", the victim crisis network would spool up and the screaming and crying would start up.

Ray - SoCal said...

What I would like in a report...

%male / female
% total population
% by race
% drug users
% criminal (have they been in prison)
% mental illness
Age break down
Number of years homeless
Initial Reason they are homeless
Definition used for homeless

Lots of articles on homeless seem to be political, and lack data.

Ray - SoCal said...

Living near LA I’ve been astonished by the growth of homelessness. I had to take a shortcut going to LAX, thru La just south of downtown. One street had mountains of trash. It was unbelievable.

I’ve not been to SF, but the stories I’ve heard, are even worse.

I don’t know what the end game of those promoting the root causes of this massive increase in homelessness. I see it as making me avoid areas, and businesses in them.

Ray - SoCal said...

I’ve not been to sf recently...

Robin Datta said...

One of the words used for "fire" in Sanskrit is "insatiable", descriptive of its nature. Any social program that is instituted without carefully defining the controls that will prevent the recipient group from expanding, and defining the ABSOLUTE limits for the program will allow for extension by creep. Anything less is the equivalent of pouring fuel ad lib on a sputtering fire so that the fire does not suffer.

takirks said...

Homelessness may not be a crime, but vagrancy and loitering certainly are.

The root problem that causes the "homeless" problem isn't the lack of housing, or the economy: It's the mentality that excuses people living like feral animals in among a civilized society. The old-timers had it right; you don't allow these creatures to take root in your community, or they will act to destroy it, if only by example.

I've been among "the homeless". The majority are either the dysfunctional sort of human being that belongs in care, or they're social parasites more concerned with their own self-gratification than with contributing to society. Offer one of them a job, and they'll spit at you--Work is beneath them. And, the social do-gooder is out there enabling and supporting them, with our tax dollars. To the tune of nearly a billion dollars a year in the Seattle metro area alone--For which the honest employed taxpayer gets to deal with mentally ill drug addicts attacking them at all hours of the day, having to clean their feces up off the sidewalks outside their businesses and homes, and on and on.

Day is coming, one way or another: Either the system collapses under the dead weight of all of this, or there's going to be an out-of-context event like the Cascadia Subduction Fault turning the entire region into a charnel house where the critters get killed off by fate and circumstance as civil society breaks down. Either way, it's going to be ugly.

And, just like what's happening in a lot of Africa, the efforts of the "do-gooder" are only making it worse. It would be kinder to shut the shelters down, and let winter kill off the feckless homeless, rather than let them accumulate in such numbers that they destroy the infrastructure around them--Which is precisely what they're doing to the major urban areas in the Western US. The inescapable fact is that these are not functional human beings, and if you want to maintain a civil society, they have to be either institutionalized or controlled like vermin. It's an unpleasant fact, but there it is--If you don't want to cede your public spaces to them, they cannot be allowed to take them over the way we have. This is a reality that I expect will either be recognized and dealt with, or it's going to be one of the things that kills off our civilization. You can't have feral humans living cheek-by-jowl with the civilized, and expect a civilized society to survive.

One shudders to consider the disease vectors alone, looking at the messes in our cities. The host of drug-resistant diseases building up in them will lead to us having to abandon the urban areas before long. Either that, or uglier solutions will be arrived at. I'm actually rather surprised that some of the business owners in San Francisco or Seattle haven't engaged the services of the local criminal elements, in order to rid themselves of the problems stemming from the homeless infestations.

Tom Grey said...

Military dormitory style bunks, like "voluntary prison", should be available to all who are willing to go thru "treatment".

Medium & Long term care for the mentally ill should include a reasonable clean place to sleep, communal toilets & semi-private showers, and communal soup kitchen level food.

More honesty about separating the "deserving poor", willing to work to change themselves, from the "undeserving poor", unwilling to change voluntarily. Those willing to work need more help and opportunities to help themselves.

Those unwilling to work need time in jail, arrested for vagrancy.

Building a LOT more housing will at least reduce some of the cost of housing -- more supply always means lower prices.

Quartz said...

Having been close to losing my house and thus becoming homeless myself (and being a single childless straight white male I would have been the bottom of the queue for help) I have considerable sympathy for the homeless.

There were no jobs. Even the fast food jobs.

Sometimes people need a hand back up. I got that hand back up thanks to the state.