There are things one can do as king that one cannot accomplish as congressman. Even with relatively absolute power, the intricacies of human nature appear to thwart the most altruistic and effective solutions.
In the 19th century, alcohol abuse became such a national problem that it was destroying society. Drunken husbands beat cowering wives and once old Demon Rum took over mind, body and soul, well. It was nothing short of Gehenna. Husbands spent paychecks on booze instead of food and shelter. Prostitution flowered. But, an unintended consequence of the Temperance Movement was it organized women and paved a way for them to the vote. I think the jury’s still out on that one. Hard-core drinking is the hunger insatiable. From eventually outlawing alcohol came the rise of not just speakeasies, but organized crime and all its inherent deviltry.
In a blink, my country, my culture, has changed. It’s as if some massive UFO mother ship passed over Santa Clarita and the lands beyond. The spacecraft sprayed aerosol that induces insanity, depravity and stupidity on a grand scale. One small aspect of this spritzing? Homelessness.
Chronic poverty is a spectrum wide and conniving, often a universal, self-fulling prophecy. Homelessness has unintentionally bred an imbecilic governing class that save for handing out the rare fresh doughnut, only seems to exacerbate the problem. I remember smiling sardonically at the time, watching one of the endless wringing-of-the-hands features on a L.A. TV station. They interviewed some 30-something surfer in Venice. Editing out a few dozen “Whoa, dude(s)…!” the suntanned wave catcher giggled about how stupid he’d have to be to get a job. After all. He made $35,000 a year in government benefits and that didn’t count all the odd cash jobs he did on the side that went unreported.
There must be some government dumbness test people take for many of the jobs The Man offers. Officials hand out free tents, sleeping bags and sometimes syringes for the next government-sponsored hallucination. They’ll put up a person, hopeless family or drug fiend, in a hotel. Few people, at least those in power, seem to notice that under their watch, the problem just keeps getting worse.
I have friends, right next door to Beverly Hills, in multi-million-dollar homes. They share stories of indigents taking up residence on their property. They all have stories of finding the homeless wandering around their abodes — not buried in the ivy, but INSIDE the house — going through closets, refrigerators, drawers. All my friends — artsy types, the ones who still might own a McGovern T-shirt — now carry guns. Then, they worry that some crazed bum might find the gun and use it on them. Worse? In defending their lives, should they shoot one, the victim might end up being sued for all they’re worth, which would, of course, make them homeless.
It’s not just getting your heart rate pumping, finding an indigent uncomfortably curled in your bird bath. Besides being the harbinger of the end of civilization, too large a percentage are a deranged, dangerous, destructive and criminal force. And our politicians and bureaucrats greet them with open arms. Why? It allows the politicians and bureaucrats to secure and expand their power base by creating yet more useless programs.
To paint all the luckless sidewalk souls, the families sleeping in a rusting Mazda, with one brush is not accurate. In real time, our society is devouring itself. Businesses are closing because the Mad Max crowd is making it too dangerous to walk from parking lot to the popsicle aisle. Forget shopping. Many of our communities are more dangerous than the African rainforest and you’d need an armed squadron to walk through many neighborhoods. Closed businesses mean fewer jobs — and many of those jobs are being taken, often under lower wages, by cheerfully willing illegal aliens by the millions, living under the radar. Can’t blame them.
There are solutions. Unfortunately, we are awash, again, in a rotting bureaucracy that breeds flies and attracts attorneys. The things you can do as king as opposed to congressman or columnist are not accessible.
To build a series of enclosed homeless camps in the wilderness would be a Herculean task, and, again, we’re not assigning this solution to Hercules but rather to an uncountable amount of useless czars-de-jour with the uncanny ability to jam the leaf mulching machine with $100 bills. Common sense would say we will not allow shoplifting, leaving “doggie presents” on the street, being a zombie, breaking into cars and simply suffering your drooling, ugly butt on our tree-lined avenues.
Simply, it’s creating a society where there is both kindness and consequences.
Build a holding pen on the outskirts of Mojave for the willful and criminal wretches? Air-conditioned? No. Sub-Spartan? You betcha.
Build another community for the truly downtrodden? As they’re “regrouping” their lost lives, they’ll require work. Purpose. Hope. An investment in America. For some, it could be manual or white collar. For others, it might be sitting in a wheelchair, drying dishes or something menial — but, doable. Perhaps we put together a private and government coalition to help those lost souls be found and get back to the daily task of becoming themselves.
We did this before in the 1930s, to come out of the Great Depression. Of course, times were simpler, people tougher. We built a pretty good and beautiful America, one, of course, with problems. There always will be those.
All this, and any solution on paper is a pleasant fairy tale, one fraught with those dreaded unintended consequences. The people who caused the problems are the morbidly mentally obese people.
Us. We who tolerate posers, resume-builders and retirement package cement heads who endlessly measure how many solar panels can fit on the head of a pin.
Send the chronic homeless to Mojave? Perhaps it would be better to send the insufferable and useless ambulance-chasing lawyers, pinch-sniffing politicians and nugatory bureaucrats with one 8-ounce bottle of sunblock to share amongst them.
The world’s most prolific satirist, Santa Clarita’s John Boston has earned 119 major writing awards. Visit his bookstore at johnbostonbooks.com.