An Interesting Perspective On Homelessness

Christopher F. Rufo posted an article in The City Journal about the homelessness that has become so prevalent on the west coast of America. The title of the article is, “An Addiction Crisis Disguised as a Housing Crisis.” Please follow the link above to read the entire article; it is very insightful.

The article states:

By latest count, some 109,089 men and women are sleeping on the streets of major cities in California, Oregon, and Washington. The homelessness crisis in these cities has generated headlines and speculation about “root causes.” Progressive political activists allege that tech companies have inflated housing costs and forced middle-class people onto the streets. Declaring that “no two people living on Skid Row . . . ended up there for the same reasons,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, for his part, blames a housing shortage, stagnant wages, cuts to mental health services, domestic and sexual abuse, shortcomings in criminal justice, and a lack of resources for veterans. These factors may all have played a role, but the most pervasive cause of West Coast homelessness is clear: heroin, fentanyl, and synthetic opioids.

Homelessness is an addiction crisis disguised as a housing crisis. In Seattle, prosecutors and law enforcement recently estimated that the majority of the region’s homeless population is hooked on opioids, including heroin and fentanyl. If this figure holds constant throughout the West Coast, then at least 11,000 homeless opioid addicts live in Washington, 7,000 live in Oregon, and 65,000 live in California (concentrated mostly in San Francisco and Los Angeles). For the unsheltered population inhabiting tents, cars, and RVs, the opioid-addiction percentages are even higher—the City of Seattle’s homeless-outreach team estimates that 80 percent of the unsheltered population has a substance-abuse disorder. Officers must clean up used needles in almost all the homeless encampments.

The article reminds us that drug-dealing is a lucrative industry for the cartels:

For drug cartels and low-level street dealers, the business of supplying homeless addicts with heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids is extremely lucrative. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the average heavy-opioid user consumes $1,834 in drugs per month. Holding rates constant, we can project that the total business of supplying heroin and other opioids to the West Coast’s homeless population is more than $1.8 billion per year. In effect, Mexican cartels, Chinese fentanyl suppliers, and local criminal networks profit off the misery of the homeless and offload the consequences onto local governments struggling to get people off the streets.

The article concludes:

No matter how much local governments pour into affordable-housing projects, homeless opioid addicts—nearly all unemployed—will never be able to afford the rent in expensive West Coast cities. The first step in solving these intractable issues is to address the real problem: addiction is the common denominator for most of the homeless and must be confronted honestly if we have any hope of solving it.

Part of the problem here is that some cities and states are moving toward legalizing recreational drug use. Obviously not all of that drug use will lead to further problems, but a percentage of it will–adding to the homeless problem. The other problem is that treating a drug addict will not be successful unless the addict desires to be free of drugs. You can lock up an addict until he is clean, but there are no guarantees that he will stay clean once he is out on the street again.

 

This Is Simply Harassment

Anyone who celebrates the Congressional search for any smidgen of dirt on Donald Trump might want to consider that if this continues, it could happen to any President or any citizen. The two-plus year witch hunt needs to end, and those responsible need to be held accountable. The latter seems to be about to happen. The former has no end in sight.

On Tuesday The City Journal posted an article about Congress’ demand for President Trump’s tax returns (including years he was not in office). This is harassment. However, you only have to look at the events of the past week or so to find out what is actually going on–the quest for tax returns is simply a bright shiny object put in front of the American public to divert from the news that John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, will be investigating the origins of the surveillance on the Trump campaign and transition team.

The article points out:

Disappointed by Robert Mueller’s failure to demonstrate President Trump’s perfidy, Democrats are focusing anew on the president’s tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to order the release of Trump’s federal returns to the House, saying that there is no legislative purpose for doing so, but a new effort to expose Trump’s tax history runs through Albany, where Democrats in 2018 gained solid control of the state senate for the first time in decades. Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign a bill making its way through the legislature that would submit any New Yorker’s state tax returns to Congress, on request from the chairs of any of three revenue-related committees.

The excitement among Democrats is palpable. “We are facing a constitutional showdown,” says State Senator Brad Hoylman, the legislation’s sponsor. “New York, as the home of the president’s state taxes, has a special responsibility to step into the breach.” Assemblywoman Pat Fahy concurs, saying that “we can help hold the president accountable and we will set future precedents for all elected officials, that neither you as a president nor your business interests are above the law.”

Is anyone going to want to run for office under these ‘new’ rules?

The article concludes:

It’s likely that Trump’s pursuers don’t expect to find smoking guns in Trump’s tax returns. Decades in public life, including multiple infamous bankruptcies, have produced no hint of major scandal or criminality. So why should we expect his tax returns—already submitted to the government and scrutinized by forensic professionals with power to arrest—to reveal anything shocking?

Those demanding Trump’s tax returns probably just want to embarrass him by proving old rumors that he isn’t as rich as he pretends to be. For all this effort, though, that would be a weak payoff—especially since the people likely to care about such revelations aren’t Trump voters, anyway.

This is what desperation looks like.

A Resettlement Program Gone Awry

Yesterday Scott Johnson (one of the regular writers at Power Line Blog) posted an article at The City Journal website. The article was related to some recent events involving large amounts of cash flowing from Minnesota to Somalia.

The article reports:

When it was noted that the carry-on bags of multiple airline passengers traveling from Minneapolis to Somalia contained millions of dollars in cash, on a regular basis, law enforcement was naturally curious to know where the money came from and where it was going. It soon emerged that millions of taxpayer dollars, and possibly much more, had been stolen through a massive scam of Minnesota’s social-services sector, specifically through fraudulent daycare claims. To make matters worse, the money appears to have wound up in areas of Somalia controlled by al-Shabab, the Islamic jihadist group responsible for numerous terrorist outrages.

The article goes on to explain that beginning in the 1990’s, the State Department began sending refugees from the Somalia civil war to be resettled in Minnesota. Minnesota now has the largest population of Somalis outside of Somalia.

The article reports:

As the Washington Times noted in 2015, in Minnesota, these refugees “can take advantage of some of America’s most generous welfare and charity programs.” Professor Ahmed Samatar of Macalester College in St. Paul observed, “Minnesota is exceptional in so many ways but it’s the closest thing in the United States to a true social democratic state.” A high-trust, traditionally homogenous community with a deep civil society marked by thrift, industriousness, and openness, Minnesota seemed like the ideal place to locate an indigent Somali population now estimated at 100,000.

Fast forward to 2015 when the House Homeland Security Committee task force on combating terrorist and foreign-fighter travel discovered that Minnesota led the nation in contributing foreign fighters to ISIS. It gets worse. The refugees masterminded a very lucrative daycare fraud scheme that sent millions of taxpayer dollars to terrorists in Somalia.

The article cites one such example:

The case of Fozia Ali, recently sworn in as a member of the park board of an upscale Twin Cities suburb, is illustrative. Ali’s daycare center in south Minneapolis was suspected of billing the government for more than $1 million of bogus child-care services. According to Special Agent Craig Lisher, the FBI “found records that she was collecting a significant amount of money for a much larger number of children than were actually attending the center.” Ali’s case also had an international component. “We are aware that some of the funds went overseas, what she was cashing out, money from the business,” Lisher noted. He declined to specify the purpose to which the funds were put.

Ali used a phone app to register charges to the Minnesota state government while she stayed at an $800-per-night hotel in Nairobi. She pleaded guilty in March to charges of wire fraud and is serving time in federal prison. But the scam goes well beyond Ali. Though the total loss to the state’s $248 million daycare program remains to be determined, we have a serious case of deceit, obviously. But the real damage, harder to measure, is likely to be to the high-trust values of Minnesota, where newcomers can dupe the natives so easily.

These are not the sort of refugees we need.

One Of My Favorite Democrats

Tevi Troy posted an article at the City Journal entitled “The Last Sane Liberal” describing former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. Mayor Koch became mayor of New York City in January 1978. I left New York City after finishing school in 1967, but I visited on a fairly regular basis after that. There were times when it was not considered safe to ride the subways if you were a woman alone.

Mr. Troy does a very good job of explaining the appeal of Ed Koch:

But ego doesn’t fully explain Koch’s appeal. If he’d simply been selling himself in those TV appearances, New Yorkers would have seen through it. Rather, Koch conflated his mayoral success with New York’s success. As the New York Times wrote in 1989, “Edward Irving Koch has personalized the mayoralty with such delight that the line between Mayor and city blurred during the 12 years he has led New York.” What appealed to New Yorkers was the sense that Koch was out there selling the city, both to itself and to the rest of the world. The I, Koch team writes that Koch was “New York’s tireless, most optimistic cheerleader. No matter what the problem, the city was wonderful.” According to the late New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Koch had “given New York City back its morale.” Or, as Koch himself put it: “I gave the people back their spirit.”

The article concludes:

Koch became mayor at New York’s nadir and, using his signature mixture of media smarts, pluck, and sheer determination, managed to bring the city back from the brink. It surely doesn’t detract from Rudy Giuliani’s deeply impressive reign, which began in 1994, to suggest that Koch deserves credit for getting Gotham to the point where Giuliani could tackle the job. The renaming of the Queensboro Bridge after Koch in 2010 may be an imperfect way to honor a man who once said that going to Queens gave him “nosebleeds.” But it’s clear that Koch deserves a place of honor in the pantheon of New York’s most successful mayors.

Over the years Ed Koch has taken positions that put him at odds with the Democrat Party. He tends to speak his mind and form his opinions based on the facts as he sees them–not the party line. He is not afraid to stand alone when he thinks he is right. We need more people like him in both parties. I need to explain that I agree with Ed Koch on very little–but I respect him for his willingness to form his own opinions.

I strongly suggest that you follow the link above and read the entire article. Ed Koch is a fascinating man.

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