Reagan Dunn is a King County councilmember who wants the county to spend $1 million on tickets to bus homeless people away.
We already have programs that do that, but they don’t have that much money. With $1 million, we could lob homeless people all over the country like paper towel rolls.
Ticket-out programs are popular. Communities all over the country are either buying Greyhound tickets outright or subsidizing them to get homeless people reunited with families or friends or just “on their way.”
There’s so much of it, the Guardian did a lengthy study of the practice. There’s so much of it, people in the state of Hawaii believe that all 49 other states are conspiring to dump their homeless people in Hawaii, even though there’s not one Greyhound bus route from any of the 49 states to that one. (I’m not making that up!) That’s just how much people think about possibilities.
Possibilities are everything to people who think a lot. Once, I was at a high school, speaking to a class about homelessness in a fairly wealthy neighborhood, and somewhere about 40 minutes in, a student with a puzzled expression asked, “Why don’t homeless people just buy houses?” That’s thinking.
Think about this: Our President Trump is now onto taking federal action to solve California’s “Democrat-caused” homelessness problem.
Earlier this year, Trump let it be known that the problems of homelessness didn’t start until after he was elected. This tells me he’s never met a homeless person in his life; he only knows about homelessness from watching Fox News; and he never paid attention to even what Fox News had to say about it until he became president, when it was “on his watch” and was an excuse for tossing out executive orders and looking presidential.
This is the genius who will solve California’s homeless crisis.
California does, indeed, have a lot more homeless people than they should. The state has 12 percent of the country’s population but nearly 25 percent of the total number of homeless people.
California also has the same problem Seattle has, a booming economy and furious real estate development that has little to do with supplying housing for poor people. Also, since that other Reagan, we have had less and less funding for new subsidized housing. Also, our governments tend to waste efforts dealing with what homelessness looks like rather than the causes.
That last point is not only a Democratic Party failing.
Trump’s main idea to fix California’s homeless crisis is just the same old tried and failed idea to move them somewhere, unlike Reagan Dunn’s idea to move them to another county or state. More like move them into work camps.
They’ll still be homeless, but they’d be out-of-sight homeless, doing great things like replacing immigrant laborers and working for even less money, roughly zero, making America great with cheap American labor.
I foresee a specific problem with moving homeless people into camps. I suspect Trump and his administration will underestimate the costs. Much the same way they failed to grasp the costs of refugee detention centers.
When you see homeless people living in tents in vacant lots, you think, “That doesn’t cost anything, right?” How much is it going to cost to shove them inside a camp 300 miles away in the middle of nowhere?
A lot. They have to be supplied with food and water and health services that they were previously getting from scattered services in the city. Now, what a city was doing — using hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours as well as local taxes only supplemented by meager federal grants — has to be done by your federal agency all by itself.
Trump’s camps would be obligated to take over all of those costs. If they don’t, the courts will shut down the whole system, or Trump will have to break the courts.
If Trump breaks the courts to hang onto underfunded camps for homeless people, then the rest of us will certainly be next.
It’s all about possibilities. Reagan Dunn sees that 9 percent of King County’s homeless people would accept a Greyhound ticket to leave. Why not arrange that?
Trump must know by now that we’ve had work camps ready to be filled since the George W. Bush administration. Why not fill them with all the inconvenient homeless people?
And, if they get away with that, why not round up the rest of us inconvenient people?
Dr. Wes Browning is a one-time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
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