Monday, August 26, 2013

They're Rousting Out A Hooverville Today

     There've been a group of homeless folks encamped under a railroad bridge for the last year or more -- now the rail operator needs to work on the bridge and the city is pushing them out.  Some have already pulled up stakes; others are refusing to go.

     No tanks or flamethrowers, though I won't be surprised to see a bulldozer or two before it's over.

     Plenty of people in comments at the linked story are expressing support but so far, none of them are offering their own back yard.  Funny, that, but not very.  What're you gonna do?  Chase them off to shelters?  (Not always the safest option.)   Should the city find some tolerable spot for a "hobo jungle," a barrio?  Ought tax money dig 'em latrines and pipe in water, police them for crime and too-obvious vice?  Or do we keep letting them settle in overlookable corners and then shoo them out to find another when the mess and bother gets too offensive?  --Either way, they're not going to just dissolve.

     (And how come it's not an "Obamaville," or, by historical analogy, a "Bushville?")

     The poor, we're told, will always be with us, and there are few folks poorer than those living under a bridge.  Some of the people and organizations trying to help out seem to've provided tents...but no land to put under them.


Ed Skinner said...

In Tokyo Japan, the city provided overnight blue plastic tarps to be lashed to trees, etc for shelter in select areas of city parks. But every AM the residents had to pack up and leave, only to return at sundown and make up the shelters again. other than that, the homeless were almost invisible there.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Seems to me that a lot of the problem really stems from turning folks out on the streets who probably ought to be institutionalized. Which makes them Reaganvilles.

But I think that's too simplistic. The plain fact is that a lot of today's "street people" wouldn't work if you gave them a job. "Will work for food" really means "Cross my palm with fiat money and I'll leave you alone, and you can feel good about yourself." The organizations that give them tents and bicycles and food and what have you only perpetuate the problem.

The fact is, homelessness is now a racket. And it would be a much smaller racket if we didn't have an administration that's bound and determined to make us all dependent on government handouts.

Sabra said...

Quite honestly, I think the last option is the correct one. Shelters here are over-full; a permanent encampment would likely invite crime and, well, where would you put them? Letting them find out of the way places to set up, and only making them leave when necessary is the simplest and probably most fair option, provided they keep things sanitary.

Roberta X said...

How're they suppose to accomplish that latter, then? --I'm not being snarky, I just wonder.

Anonymous said...

There's crime involved with the ad hoc impermanent encampments as it is, no?

I once thought that towns might acquire plots of land and set up water points and latrines, maybe with a sort of "police keep" so that LEO's would be constantly on-scene, and then ruthlessly enforce vagrancy laws, but we haven't advanced (I daresay progressed) far enough into the "Fallen Angels" scenario of local autonomy arising from economic collapse and glaciation--I'm thinking here of the chapter about The Alderman of Milwaukee.

Libertarianism through collapse. Let It Burn.

Before anyone asks, I wouldn't have things work out that way. Neither will the libertarian impulse be cultivated by hardship, scarcity, or reverting to feudalism. We're headed for a great crack-up, I'm just holding on to some comforting illusions, I think.

Mike James

markm said...

Fuzzy: They "wouldn't work if you gave them a job" is true of many, but I suspect it's an oversimplification. I suspect that if you showed up at one of these camps in the morning and offered *one* day of work, with breakfast and lunch so they've got the strength to get through the day and some cash to bring home *that night*, you'd get plenty of takers. But you can't legally hire that way nowadays - you have to get SSN's, check citizenship or legal residency, pay social security, unemployment, and other taxes, and have insurance. You could do the job yourself in the time it took you to do all the paperwork.

And if you offer them a *job* that would last long enough to make the paperwork and other hassles worth it for you, the honest ones will turn you down. They're not capable of getting up on time every day and doing the same job every day. At one time, such men were hobos - mostly honest wanderers who earned their meals one day job at a time. But government regulations have turned them into bums.