Category Archives: HOMELESS

A transnational elite racing its way to a revolution

In America and around the world, a transnational elite postures for itself and despises the people it rules. This is a recipe for a bloody revolution.

The other day, I was listening to Heather MacDonald speaking about homelessness during an appearance on City Journal’s Ten Blocks podcast. She was describing a visit to San Francisco, and it all sounded so familiar.

Before I get to Heather’s riff on the homeless, I want to do a little riff of my own about the homeless and others in America’s underclass. As long-time readers know, I actually have a conduit to the homeless and the underclass. A very dear childhood friend of mine has made life choices that see her living amongst them. When I visit her, I meet her friends, all of whom have, or have had, some extreme form of drug addiction. They also count among their number the homeless, although I haven’t met those guys personally; I’ve just heard about them.

When Obamacare was an issue back in 2009/2010, I learned something very interesting from my friend. Because she came from a middle class background, she was delighted to know that she could finally have subsidized middle class insurance. Her friends, however, were less delighted. Why? Because contrary to the assumptions in Washington, D.C., these people don’t have middle class values that include constant health maintenance and monitoring and they don’t care about having a personal relationship with a physician and a hospital.

What this meant in 2010 is that, without exception, this cohort of chronic drug users and homeless people were unimpressed by the opportunity to get fully insured for $50 or so per month — that is, to get the type of insurance middle class people were paying hundreds for monthly or that steered middle class people  to jobs with benefits and kept them at those jobs even if they were unhappy. To my friend’s friends, this would be $50 wasted every month. After all, why pay even that much when you can go to the emergency room for free?

This insight was yet another reminder that top-down policies do not reflect people’s needs. Moreover, the Left’s top-down policies exist only to serve a very narrow echelon of the Blue upper class. What the governing class is doing is virtue signaling. It makes assumptions about ordinary Americans (85% of whom liked their insurance before Obamacare destroyed everything), but doesn’t want to go near these same Americans to learn what they value.

Another one of those virtue signaling policies without regard for the concerns of most Americans can be seen in the Dem presidential candidates’ insistence that all Americans should be on the line for the student loans that kids take out to get useless degrees. And when I say “useless,” I’m not exaggerating. It’s not unheard of for people to amass hundreds of thousands in debt for a gender studies or fine arts major. There are no jobs out there in those fields that will provide enough funds for anyone to pay back one of those loans before death.

Ordinary people work hard and try to stay out of debt. When they incur a debt in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the bank usually gets a security interest to protect itself. But not student loans. They just hang out there with us, the taxpayers, on the line. We’re on the line because student debt is expensive for America as a whole (more debt, less wealth) and we’re on the line because Leftists keep threatening to make us pay for the kid who opted, not to go into dad’s plumbing business, but to learn advanced puppetry on our dimes.

Which gets me to Heather MacDonald and homelessness. Once again, our governing class makes assumptions. Sitting in ivory academic towers and political offices, our governing class assumes that people don’t want to be homeless. That’s certainly true for working and middle class people who are down on their luck, but these aren’t the people filling the streets in Blue cities, especially West Coast Blue cities with temperate climates.

What MacDonald pointed out in the podcast is that these people want one thing and one thing only: drugs. Blue city policies enable that. In the name of “humanity,” they give the homeless free food, they don’t arrest drug dealers, they do nothing to stop homeless drug use, and they no longer do even minimal policing against disturbing the peace, public nudity, or soiling city streets. All of this is ostensibly to decrease homelessness but the reality is that these policies make homelessness more appealing to those who want only food and drugs. In other words, these are virtue signaling policies.

These same policies are a disaster for the Normals living in the City: the people who go to work, buy homes, have children — and see their streets made filthy and dangerous by people high on every type of drug and, of course, now carrying medieval diseases on their person. And sure, there’s a mental illness component, but a lot of the mental illnesses involved are not the type that would ordinarily render people dysfunctional. There aren’t many schizophrenics out there. Instead, there are people who self-medicated ordinary depression or other dysfunctions and the medication got away from them.

The elite government policies aren’t for the homeless or for the taxpayers. They are financially beneficial for those in government (on the taxpayer dime) and those attached like parasites to government (sucking up the taxpayer dime). And as I said before, they’re emotionally beneficially for people who believe in virtue-signaling more than problem solving. The governing class, like warped fireflies, is sending out smug signals to others in the governing class: “We spent $12 million on the homeless and gave them free needles! We’re so very, very good.” And then they profess themselves bewildered as the homeless multiply on the streets like wire hangers in a closet.

The same disconnect between the governing class and our country’s needs shows itself with the military that Obama bequeathed to Trump. I covered most of that in this post: Under Obama, there came to be a cancer in the Pentagon. My point in that post is that Obama deliberately created an officer class more concerned with social justice and virtue signaling about things such as climate change than concerned with winning wars. It was this officer class (with some Clinton-era holdovers) that has professed itself shocked! Shocked that Trump would pull our troops out of theaters of war in which they shed their blood without benefit to America or that Trump would jettison social justice in favor of killing our enemies. (It’s a good post. If you haven’t read it, you might give it a look.)

During my podcast yesterday, I discussed that post — and I added a couple more points about the Obama military’s disconnect from ordinary Americans. Those points are relevant here, because they remind us that our governing class does not like us and does not share our goals or concerns. Even as Obama was firing officers who might well have been committed to more traditional military values, he was definitely encouraging officers to embrace his social justice, Leftist agenda.

That’s why, during the Obama years, this happened: In 2011, Obama did away with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in favor of open gay service. Frankly, I have no idea how this has turned out for military readiness. I just know that, in 2018, a proud, official Navy press release and a laudatory article in the Navy Times introduced us to Yeoman 3rd class Joshua Kelley, aka Harpy Daniels, a drag queen performing on Navy ships. I don’t mean to harsh on Kelley. He sounds like a perfectly nice young man whose father was in the Navy, so Kelley thought of the Navy as a good option when he was having a hard time making a living as a professional drag queen.

The press release and article tout Kelley’s “knack for life as a sailor,” something that sounds good. Except when you read down in the articles about Kelley’s life as a sailor, it sounds as if he’s sailing on the USS Social Justice, rather than a war ship. Thus, we’re told that Kelley was voted to be the president of Strike Fighter Squadron 115′s Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions and that he became the public affairs officer for the carrier Reagan’s Gay, Lesbian and Supporting Sailors association. He even got a “blue jacket of the year” award, not for being the person who keeps Navy pilot’s planes safe or ships running well . . . but for his work on the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions.

I don’t mean to slam Kelley. I’m just saying I find Kelley to be a surprising choice for the Navy to boast about. The Navy’s purpose, after all, the reason we taxpayers pay the big bucks for it, is to defend us in war against enemies, not to make drag queens feel good about themselves.

Obama also opened the military to transgender people (before Trump shut that down). Transgender people have a 40% or higher suicide rate, higher than any other population group. It’s trendy to point at discrimination as the culprit for these tragic numbers, but the fact is that other groups that have also been on receiving end of terrible discrimination (e.g., blacks) never had suicide rates anywhere comparable to that.

Moreover, transgender individuals, like other people in the cohort that Dave Chappell calls “alphabet people” have higher incidences of alcohol and drug dependency, risky sexual behaviors, suicide, depression, self-harm and spousal abuse. All of these are terrible things. I don’t wish them on anybody . . . but I also don’t wish them on our military!

Obama also opened combat to women., something that’s been a disaster in all standing militaries but for those, like the Kurds, that live on the front line. Even Israel, a front line country, backed away from women in combat when it was able to do so. Women’s presence was (a) dead weight because women are less physically able than men and (b) disastrous for unit moral, because of rivalries and the men’s inability to cope with the women being hurt or killed in battle.

And then there are those green, green climate change initiatives. In 2014, I had the tremendous pleasure of attending the commissioning ceremony for the USS America. It was a wonderful experience. But as I wrote at the time,

[S]ince this is a 21st century, here’s your assurance that the ship is as green as green can be. (I didn’t hear anyone assure me that a green ship is a safer ship or a better fighting ship, but I might have missed that part.)

USS America - Energy Warrior

I’m all for green ships if they save taxpayer money without impairing the military’s efficacy — or, even better, if they increase the military’s ability to fight wars. But that really wasn’t the issue there, was it?

Put simply, during his eight years in office, Obama revamped the American military so that it was dedicated to (a) social justice and (b) climate change. Interestingly, in 2017, not long after Obama left the White House – and before Trump could put his imprimatur on military — the Navy had a spate of terrible accidents:

A US Navy plane crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa on Wednesday afternoon, marking at least the sixth apparent accident involving a Navy asset in East Asian waters this year.

The C2-A Greyhound transport plane was carrying 11 crew and passengers to an aircraft carrier when it crashed into the Philippine Sea, the Navy said. As of Wednesday evening, eight people had been rescued, and three were missing.

Wednesday’s crash comes three weeks after a Navy and civilian panel recommended sweeping changes in a comprehensive review of the Japan-based US 7th Fleet, which covers East Asian waters.

The review found that two deadly accidents — the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain with commercial ships in June and August, respectively — were avoidable.

The review’s recommendations include new processes for scheduling ships; “ready for sea” assessments for all Japan-based ships; disseminating lessons learned form “near misses”; and ensuring that ships routinely transmit on their automatic identification systems to prevent collisions.

Of the six incidents, Wednesday’s is the only one directly involving a Navy aircraft. The others are collisions involving US warships.”

Maybe just bad luck – or maybe the military had changed its mission under Obama. After all, the fish rots from the head.

If you’re wondering why all these disparate anecdotes belong in a single post, here’s my answer: They remind us that America’s ruling elite has no concern about ordinary Americans. Hillary was speaking for an entire governing class when she said people who won’t hope on the Leftist train are a “basket of deplorables. *** They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it.”

We’re racist because we want to be color-blind, rather than engaging in endless victim wars and because we believe that a nation without borders is no nation at all. We’re sexist because we believe that women and men are different. We’re homophobic because we’re troubled by the pressure LGBTQ activists are placing on American institutions. We xenophobic because Hillary and her followers are proud of knowing a big word with Greek roots. We’re Islamophobic because we’ve noticed that 10% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims actively want to kill or enslave us and are supported by a much larger number than 10% — including, perhaps, the House’s own Ilhan Omar.

The anecdotes I told are concrete manifestations of this hatred. While ordinary people look to the military to protect us from foreign enemies, our self-styled elite class, which controls most of the levers of power in America, sees traditional military readiness as a tattered, irrelevant doctrine. For them, the military is a giant social justice experiment that pays homage to all the other Leftist shibboleths: only engaging in wars that are not for America’s benefit (because America bad), fighting climate change, and making marginalized people feel good about themselves. Once upon a time, marginalized people (i.e., the poor and/or minorities) felt good about themselves because they became highly competent parts of something much greater than each individual, creating indissoluble bonds and a sense of pride. Now they get awarded “blue jacket” because they advance alphabet people causes.

Likewise, homelessness is a problem, not to be wiped out, but to be magnified so as to showcase the enormous financial and spiritual generosity the elite class doles out to the homeless: using our money and making our cities dangerous at so many levels.

After thinking about homeless projects that magnify homelessness; military initiatives for victim classes, rather than America’s defense; high tax demands that will destroy a thriving economy; the insistence that grown men have access to little girl’s bathrooms; the fight to open our borders so that poor and working class people can lose jobs and housing to illegal immigrants; and all the other initiatives coming from the Leftist leadership in politics, in education, in entertainment, and in the news media, I have to ask: Just who do these people represent?

They certainly don’t represent the interests of the average American or the majority of Americans. We’ve come to the point at which we no longer have “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Instead, we have a government class that despises the people.

Moreover, this is true all over the world, not just America. A friend sent me an email pointing out that there are revolutions in Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Lebanon, England, Baghdad, France, Holland, and Iran. Some are bloody, or likely to be bloody, revolutions (Chile, Hong Kong, Iran); some are voter revolutions (the 2016 election here, Brexit in England); and some are tractor revolutions in Holland or yellow jacket revolutions in France.

In all cases, though, they represent the same thing: People fighting back against political and cultural leaders who have become an international class bound by ties, not to their own countries, but to other world leaders. The transnational elites posture for their fellow transnationals and enacts policies that enrich only themselves. The one thing they’re not doing is taking care of the people in their charge.

Back in 1992, when I was a Democrat, I remember that one of cheers that Bill Clinton liked to use at his rallies to get the audience revved up was, “It’s time for them to go” — with “them” referring to the Republicans who had held the White House for 16 years, to America’s tremendous social and economic benefit.

I don’t look back fondly on the Clinton years, and regret my votes at the time, but I like that theme. Across the world, as weary, beaten-down people look at a ruling class that sees them as despicable, dirty deplorables, these ordinary people, these normals, need to rise up and say, “It’s time for them to go.”

And here’s a word of warning to the ruling class: You managed to keep a lid on things for seven decades after WWII. The people’s discontent, though, is boiling. Bad things happen when the pressure from that boiling finally blows off that tightly pressed lid. I suggest that the Western world’s ruling class, as well as the ruling class in China and the Middle East, gracefully backs away from the levers of power before its members get their greedy, smug little hands blown off of those same levers.

Be assured that I’m not advocating a bullet-style revolution. I prefer my revolutions at the ballot box. But when a people become too discontent, the ballot box is suddenly no longer an option.

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Homelessness and drug addiction in Seattle: Message from a dying city

A locally-produced news story about Seattle’s homeless problem is a microcosm of what Leftist governance will do to a community.

You may already have heard about the hour-long special a local Seattle station did about the homeless crisis in that city. The video is very well done, although a bit heavy on the banal philosophical moralizing and curiously quiet about the immediate cause of this problem (which I won’t be quiet about in this post).

If you haven’t yet watched the video, I suggest that you do. It’s an hour well spent. I’ve embedded the video immediately below. I’ve followed the video with my observations:

The images are not new to me. As the video points out, San Francisco, my natal town and a mere 12 miles from my house, is in worse shape than Seattle. More than that, I was present at the genesis of this urban decline because I grew up in the City during the hippie area. Haight Ashbury, a former working class neighborhood that shaded into very poor inner city housing, was a microcosm of what whole cities have become: drug addled people using the streets and Golden Gate Parks as their home, with all the anti-civic behavior that entails, such as public filth (feces, urine, vomit, fleas, lice, etc.), car break-ins, robberies, muggings, and just a general degradation in the standard of living for those taxpayers still trying to live a traditional life.

I don’t know if San Francisco initially put up a fight against these behaviors, but I do know that, by the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the City took a hard Left turn, City Hall turned a blind eye to the lawless behavior driving this civic collapse. It helped that the problem was confined to a few specific neighborhoods: the Haight, the eastern end of Golden Gate Park and, of course, the usual suspects in the Tenderloin area south and west of downtown.

There’s no doubt that deinstitutionalization has a lot to do with the terrible problems we see today. In the years leading up to the de-institutionalization movement were pretty dreadful places. Two movies — The Snake Pit and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — capture some of the horrors of mental institutions.

They were dirty (in part because it’s hard to keep seriously mentally ill adults from soiling their environment and in part because there was no impetus to clean them), patients were subjected to awful “experimental” treatments, and there was simply a lot of brutality involved, both because of the aforesaid difficulty handling mentally ill people and because, sadly, sadistic people were attracted to working around made-to-order victims. These institutions were also a convenient way for families to rid themselves of difficult family members. Something had to change.

I found a great timeline here about deinstitutionalization and I’ve cherry-picked some of the (to me) more interesting facts:

1955 – The number of patients in public mental health hospitals reached a record of 558,000. They suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. Many had organic brain diseases such as dementia and brain damage from trauma. Others suffered from mental retardation combined with psychosis, autism, or brain damage from drug addiction. Most patients were not expected to get better given the treatments at the time. Congress passed the Mental Health Study Act of 1955. It established the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health to evaluate the nation’s mental health situation.

[snip]

1962 – Ken Kesey published “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was a fictional story about abuses in a mental hospital. The author dramatized his experiences as a nurse’s aide in the psychiatric wing of a California veteran’s hospital. The book helped turn public opinion against electroshock therapy and lobotomies. These were procedures commonly used at the time.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act. It provided federal funding to create community-based mental health facilities. They would provide prevention, early treatment, and ongoing care. The goal was to build one for every 125,000 to 250,000 people. That many centers would allow patients to remain close to their families and be integrated into society. But it ignored statistics that showed 75 percent of those in hospitals had no families.

[snip]

1967 – California’s Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. It limited a family’s right to commit a mentally ill relative without the right to due process. It also reduced the state’s institutional expense. That doubled the number of mentally ill people in California’s criminal justice system the following year. It also increased the number treated by hospital emergency rooms. Medicaid covered those costs. Other states followed with similar involuntary commitment laws.

[snip]

1977 – Only 650 community health centers had been built. That was less than half of what was needed. They served 1.9 million patients. They were designed to help those with less severe mental health disorders. As states closed hospitals, the centers became overwhelmed with those patients with more serious challenges.

[snip]

1990 – The Food and Drug Administration approved clozapine to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. That strengthened the prejudice against hospitalization of the mentally ill.

2004 – Studies suggest approximately 16 percent of prison and jail inmates or roughly 320,000 people were seriously mentally ill. That year, there were about 100,000 psychiatric beds in public and private hospitals. In other words, three times as many mentally ill people were in jail than in a hospital.

2009 – The Great Recession forced states to cut $4.35 billion in mental health spending in three years.

The material I snipped out mostly discusses various federal laws that tried to make mental health care a community issue while moving money hither and yon. Somehow mental health always got shortchanged.

Again, the Bay Area was a good early warning system of what was to come. I attended Cal from 1979 through 1983 and avoided Telegraph Avenue as much as possible. It was a haven for the homeless and many were manifestly mentally ill. Some just quietly muttered to themselves, but many had manic, violent arguments with invisible people, and would confuse passers-by with their invisible opponents. I saw the same thing in Austin, when I was at school there, for “the Drag” (Guadalupe Street) was a small scale Telegraph Avenue.

When I started working in downtown San Francisco, in the second half of the 1980s through the end of the 1990s, it was more of the same. Scattered throughout Market and Montgomery Streets were mentally ill people, sitting or lying in their own filth, begging and scrounging for food in garbage cans, and frequently covered with oozing sores. As long as they were not an immediate threat to themselves or others, they could not be taken off the streets on account of mental illness, and of course San Francisco had long since stopped enforcing its laws against loitering, begging, or public urination or defecation.

I remember having conversations with my friends (all of whom were Leftists in those days) and all of whom felt that these people, while pathetic and irritating, had a right to live as they wanted. I also remember having conversations with my parents (who were old-fashioned Democrats and sane) and we agreed that it is a cruel society that allows mentally ill people to live as these people did. There had to be a better way.

My parents and I were aware, of course, that drug and alcohol abuse played a large role in the problem. Some people behaved as they did because that was the effect active drug use had on them; some behaved as they did because drugs had literally driven them insane; and some people behaved as they did because they were mentally ill and they took street drugs as a form of self-medication — except that the drugs simply made their madness worse. We felt compassion for them, but we also felt compassion for those (such as me) who had to run the gauntlet of these people very day. It was disgusting and frightening.

Regarding drugs, back in the 1980s, law enforcement still took drug possession fairly seriously. However, thanks to a growing generation of young people for whom pot was a normative part of their college educations, the push to legalize drugs — and, in the meantime, to ignore laws making drugs illegal — meant that there was no push-back against the drugs driving the homeless problem in San Francisco. Moreover, as states have legalized drugs, the tacit approval has increased drug use and increased drug problems. Moreover, at least one author has done the research showing that legal marijuana doesn’t just drive up petty crime, and drives up the scary crazy violent crime.

(Incidentally, in the interest of full disclosure, while I strongly disapprove of recreational marijuana use, especially by young believe, I believe in exploring marijuana’s medicinal possibilities. Of late, I’ve used legal CBD to great effect to control both arthritis pain and migraines, without even touching the hallucinogenic aspects of the drug.)

Sometime after I stopped working in downtown San Francisco and moved to a nice clean suburb, governance in major urban areas became more and more left wing. It’s true, as the above quoted material shows, that money to treat mental illness and substance abuse started drying up with the recession. However, the reality is that, also beginning around 2008, with Obama’s election and the beginning of unbridled Leftist ascendance in America’s cities, the new approach was to make addicts and clinically insane people comfortable on the streets. We were told that it was morally imperative for us to give them safe places to shoot up and to ignore their petty crime.

We were also told why we should use this approach: It was the fault of stable middle class people (mostly white) that addicts and the mentally ill lived on the streets as they did. It was our systemic racism, classism, and economic inequality that was the real problem. The mental illness and substance abuse were symptoms that should be ignored or accommodated.

Thanks to this openly expressed hard-Left belief system, what you see in the above Seattle video is the pretty much the norm through Democrat-run cities. I fault the video because it assiduously avoids making that point. Many of those angry citizens you see in the town meeting were screaming at the government they elected:

Earlier this year, national media described Washington as “the epicenter of resistance to Trump’s agenda” after the state became the first to challenge Trump’s targeted travel ban and a federal judge in Seattle ordered a national halt to the ban’s enforcement. Seattle-area tech corporations vocalized support for the legal efforts.

“There’s a little bit of … reinforcing feedback that’s happening,” Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien says of the city’s population growth spurring progressive politics, while people around the country have been “flowing in the opposite direction.”

Political momentum among Seattle progressives reached a milestone in July, when the nine-member City Council – one member of which belongs to the Socialist Alternative Party – unanimously passed a proposal to impose a citywide income tax on wealthy residents to generate revenue to lower property taxes and provide affordable housing, among other funding goals. [That’s what the construction workers were yelling about in the video.]

[snip]

Voter statistics exemplify the phenomenon. In Seattle’s King County, for instance, Clinton won 72 percent of the vote, outperforming Barack Obama’s 69 percent in 2012, The Seattle Times reported.

Roughly 8 percent of voting Seattleites voted for Trump, one of the lowest percentages of any major U.S. city, an analysis by the newspaper found.

[snip]

During Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, he applauded Seattle for the minimum wage change and other progressive milestones, such as the election of U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who shares similar political priorities, including lowering student debt and reversing climate change.

Sanders won in a landslide victory in Washington Democratic caucuses last spring, taking more than 70 percent of the statewide delegate count compared to roughly 30 percent for Hillary Clinton.

The current approach to homelessness is 100% in line with the voter’s world view. Seattle did its virtue signaling, and the nation’s drug addicts and mentally ill people responded enthusiastically.

No wonder that, in hard Left coastal California, Oregon, and Washington, the citizens are not yet willing to acknowledge that their ideology spawned this catastrophe. Tent cities, medieval plagues, violence, filth, rats, drugs, crime, etc. — it’s all Democrat-caused.

Still, maybe the very real muggings these frustrated citizens are experiencing will be their political “mugged by reality” moment. Maybe they’ll figure out that the rule of law is a good thing, that societies survive best with norms that benefit the middle class taxpayers. Maybe they’ll recognize that pathological altruism is more pathological than it is altruistic. Maybe they’ll examine their closely held belief systems and cross the Rubicon into a new world of conservative beliefs.

Certainly those construction workers in the video had a moment of complete reality clarity. We need more of that if we want to survive as a society. The Rhode Island experiment that the video describes is a step in the right direction: don’t ignore the laws; enforce the laws, and then add in compassion and common sense to help at least the drug addicts walk the straight and narrow.

One more thing: As you can see in Venezuela, once Leftists gain full power, the downfall happens very fast. I was in Seattle in 2010 and there was nothing like this on the streets. The level of decay, chaos, crime, etc., has flowered in less than ten years. (The same is true, incidentally, for the Bay  Area. I go into the City infrequently, and it really seemed as if, from one visit to the next, the entire system had collapsed.)

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