Is California becoming a third-world country?
Ah, California and the blue-state model. Compassionate government. Numerous public services. Smiling, well paid government employees. Protected environment. Fairness, diversity, and a feeling of overweening virtue due to just how progressive everything is compared to where the redneck yahoos live in flyover country.
If you believe that illusion, you're dumber than you look.
The reality is much grittier and much grimmer: ruinously high taxes; middle-class flight; dangerous streets; and a homeless problem so vast, so serious, so incredible that coastal California is beginning to resemble Rio de Janeiro or Caracas.
The specter of homeless encampments steadily expanding across the downtown streets of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco – bringing with them a public health crisis – has one southern California community taking tough action to dismantle a two-mile-long camp just a short drive from Disneyland.
In a departure from the approach taken by other local governments in the state, officials in Orange County, Calif., have started to clear out the camp – by moving occupants and hauling away literally tons of trash and hazardous waste.
"It's becoming part of the permanent landscape in those communities and there is no way we are going to allow Orange County land that is supposed to be used by residents to be occupied by the homeless," said Todd Spitzer, who sits on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
Two miles of homeless people living on the street? In the U.S. of A.? In 2018?
Trash trucks and contractors in hazmat gear have descended on the camp and so far removed 250 tons of trash, 1,100 pounds of human waste and 5,000 hypodermic needles.
But the effort hasn't been without controversy as homeless advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union and a federal judge have all weighed in on the fate of some-700 people evicted from their home along the Santa Ana River – next to Angel Stadium of Anaheim and a few miles from Disneyland, outside Los Angeles.
Spitzer, whose district includes the encampment, has battled the advocates since last fall when the decision was first made to close the camp. The ACLU and others filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to stop this and several stays have ensued until last week, when the final go-ahead was granted.
Let's be clear what the ACLU and homeless advocates are fighting for: half a ton of human waste in the streets.
For those being evicted, a mediation with U.S. District Court Judge David Carter offered the choice of a bed in a shelter or a month-long motel voucher; medical aid; drug treatment; job training; storage for their belongings and housing for pets at the county animal shelter.
So far, 544 people have been moved to shelters and motel rooms and approximately 100 remain at the riverbed. Crews counted 207 tents, but it is unclear if they are occupied.
"Unclear" if anyone is in them? How is that possible? If it seems I'm asking a lot more questions than giving answers, you're right. How is any of this possible in a major metropolitan city in a grown-up, 21st-century industrialized democracy?
This sort of thing isn't the "shame of America." It's utter loony madness. These homeless "enclaves" are entirely and completely the result of the misguided, idiotic policies of a government that refuses to protect and defend tax-paying residents whose homes and businesses have been made virtually worthless by this onslaught of tragic, sick people.
You don't show "compassion" to the homeless by screwing everybody else. This notion seems to escape the city fathers in many California cities, who are so eager to demonstrate how humane they are to homeless people that they are willing to destroy their communities.
People are homeless because they can't afford the sky-high rents in these cities. There are people working full-time jobs who are living on the street because there is no affordable housing for them. It boggles the mind to contemplate the mental effort it takes to deny reality and substitute a fairy tale that living in a tent, defecating and urinating in the street, rummaging through the trash for food, and panhandling should be normalized and, indeed, embraced by city politicians and advocates as just another "lifestyle" choice and not evidence of a diseased body politic.