Big City Compassion in Action
Big Cities, Liberal Hypocrisy, Los Angeles, The "Homeless"
Jacob Siegel, in American Affairs Journal, notes that the official policies of America’s large liberal cities have a rather merciless impact on the most unfortunate. The Left’s supposed dedication to welfare, compassion, and a government-provided safety net is largely wishful thinking, when it actually comes down to policy choices Big City Democrat Machines socially engineer high-priced living for those with very high incomes. They won’t actually let the cops prod the vagrant with his nightstick and tell him to move along, but they will reduce the total of number of public toilets in Los Angeles available to the homeless to under ten.
In Los Angeles, the cumulative consequences of decades of policy failures going back at least to the deinstitutionalization of the 1970s have settled like sediment at the bottom of an increasingly gilded city above. Homelessness hasnâ€™t gotten worse in spite of LAâ€™s wealth but because of it. A city where working families canâ€™t afford to live has fewer of themâ€”and the web of social connections they formâ€”to catch people as they fall into desperate circumstances and patterns of self-destruction. Without family and community, all thatâ€™s left for some are the jails and shelters of the state, or the tent cities granted all the freedom of leper colonies. …
In a major city like Los Angeles, the housing market functions as an invisible messaging apparatus. It conveys the priorities of the government and powerful private interests, and signals to people where they do and do not belong. In this sense, the realtor may be more honest than the mayor or your neighbor about where you are welcome and what purpose, if any, you serve. The message in LA is clear: the working and middle classes are not necessary for the functioning of the city. Those who get the message leave or, if they stay, must adapt to conditions of precarity. The problem is that the homeless live outside the norms and reach of the messaging infrastructure. The cityâ€™s poorest and most disturbed people are the least tuned in to the frequency of the marketâ€™s signals and otherwise unequipped to respond.