Common Sense Is Not Always Appreciated

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about some recent comments by Dr. Ben Carson.

The article shows us how a smear campaign works. The article reports:

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson issued an agency-wide email Friday attacking a “blatant mischaracterization” of his comments about transgenderism during his visit to California this week, which reportedly offended bureaucrats in San Francisco.

The Washington Post broke the story on Thursday, citing “three people present” at a HUD meeting:

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson expressed concern about “big, hairy men” trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters during an internal meeting, according to three people present who interpreted the remarks as an attack on transgender women.

While visiting HUD’s San Francisco office this week, Carson also lamented that society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women, two of the agency staffers said.

Carson’s remarks visibly shocked and upset many of the roughly 50 HUD staffers who attended Tuesday’s meeting, and prompted at least one woman to walk out in protest, the staffers said.

A HUD official, who had not been present at the meeting, defended Carson, saying he never used derogatory language against transgendered people. The official added that “Carson was referring to men who pretend to be women to gain access to battered women’s shelters — and not singling out transgender women as “big, hairy men.”

The article concludes:

In May, Carson announced a new HUD rule that would allow local homeless shelters to decide for themselves if they wanted to use biological sex, not gender identity, as a basis for deciding how to provide housing. The policy under the Obama administration had been a one-size-fits-all rule forcing all shelters to recognize gender identity.

Carson has decided that the safety of homeless women must come before transgender concerns about identity — and before the political sentiments of agency bureaucrats based in a state that has failed to tackle growing homelessness.

The issue here is the safety of women seeking shelter from abuse. What is to stop an abuser from saying he is transsexual to gain access to a shelter and then terrorizing the women in it? Who wants to be responsible for the first death in a women’s shelter caused by a man who gained access by claiming to be a transsexual when he was not?

The policy here is common sense. It is in place to protect women. Are we willing to sacrifice the safety of abused women in order to placate the transgender movement?

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.

 

More Businesses Leaving California And Heading For Texas?

CNBC is reporting today that San Francisco’s Proposition C, which will tax the city’s biggest businesses to raise funds to combat homelessness, passed Tuesday.

The article reports:

Proposition C will increase gross receipts taxes for companies with more than $50 million in annual revenue by an average of 0.5 percent, generating up to $300 million a year to combat the city’s homelessness crisis through initiatives like new beds in shelters and increased mental health services.

…Critics of the proposition argued that it lacked proper accountability and oversight, and would unfairly affect financial services companies like Square. Outside the tech industry, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and state Sen. Scott Wiener opposed the measure as well.

In the weeks leading up to the election, the measure became a point of tension in a city where tech-fueled wealth stands in stark contrast with the human suffering on display on its sidewalks.

Overall, more than 7,000 people experience homelessness in San Francisco. The median house price hit $1.6 million earlier this year and one-bedroom apartments rent for an average of $3,300.

Although I agree with the idea of helping the homeless, has it occurred to the residents of San Francisco that if you increase taxes on companies, some of those companies will relocate? When those companies relocate, you will have fewer jobs, less tax revenue, more unemployment, and possibly more homelessness–exactly the opposite of your intention. The only good news is that as people leave the area, you might have a housing glut that causes the price of housing to go down. No one will want to live there because of the scarcity of jobs, but housing might become more available.

Some Things Can Be Done Better Without The Government

This video was posted at YouTube yesterday by The Daily Signal. It is the story of Solutions for Change, an organization that is helping solve homelessness in Vista, California. The organization does not receive federal aid because the program requires residents to be drug-free.

The article summarizes how Solutions for Change makes a difference:

Instead of simply providing residents a place to sleep, Solutions for Change takes a holistic approach to solving homelessness, requiring residents to go through counseling, take courses in financial literacy, parenting, leadership, and anger management, and eventually, get a job.

 

Solutions for change had to choose between keeping their drug-free policy or accepting federal money. I believe that they made the right choice.

Laws Without Common Sense

CBN News reported today that Love Wins Ministries, a ministry that serves breakfast to homeless people in a downtown part in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been banned from handing out food.

Rev. Hugh Hollowell, the group’s leader had to explain to 70 people standing in line on Saturday that he could not feed them without being arrested.

The article reports:

The police were enforcing a city ordinance that bans the distribution of food in any of the city’s parks.

Love Wins had permission to set up on the sidewalk as long as they didn’t block it and cleaned up after themselves. Now they will need to get a permit that costs $800 a day.

The city ordinance will be discussed Wednesday in town hall.

I understand that the city might not want to encourage homelessness, but the fact is that homelessness is already here. I would think that the city would appreciate the fact that Love Wins is engaged in feeding the homeless–helping the city in that effort. Hopefully on Wednesday common sense will prevail.

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The Pitfalls Of Random Acts Of Charity

It feels good to help someone who is less fortunate than yourself. We encourage our children to be generous, and we try to set a good example. However, our efforts are not always as helpful as we would like to think. I used to know a Pastor who when someone on the street asked him for money would offer to buy them lunch–that way he knew the money didn’t go toward drugs or alcohol. I don’t know the actual percentage of homeless people with drug or alcohol problems, but I suspect it’s fairly high.

Recently, a video of a New York City policemen went vital on YouTube because he bought a barefoot homeless man on the street a pair of new shoes. It was a beautiful gesture, but the story is not what it appears to be. Scott Johnson at Power Line posted ‘the rest of the story’ yesterday.

It seems that the homeless man actually did have a home–and multiple pairs of shoes. He earns a few hundred dollars a day (tax free) by walking the streets of New York City barefoot, asking for money.

The article at Power Line cites a New York Post article which concluded:

Hillman reminds us how easy it is to exploit generosity. His scam seems to have been directed at passers-by who take pity on a man who goes about Midtown pretending to be barefoot, poor and homeless. His example reminds us why it is important for the city to ensure that its own assistance is not exploited by those who don’t need it.

For in addition to the needy, New York also has a whole class of politicians and activists quick to denounce City Hall as cruel and heartless (and to sue) whenever it takes reasonable measures to weed out the deserving from the undeserving.

Scott Johnson draws a different conclusion:

I don’t think the Post quite gets the lesson offered by the Hillman saga as a case study. Despite Hillman’s exploitation of the kindness of strangers, I think his case is inherent in the welfare state. One way or another, however, it provides a case study worthy of continuing discussion.

The generosity of the policeman is commendable. The actions of the barefoot beggar are those of a con man taking advantage of the kindness of New Yorkers.

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