The debate continues between two writers on the progressive San Francisco DA's fall from grace and what it reflects about national debates over crime.
I’m so tired of hearing that homelessness is due to high rent costs/lack of affordable housing. As a recovering addict I can tell you- homelessness is due to addiction/ mental illness.
I used to support compassionate liberals because of the things they promised but I learned from years of observation that they never delivered anything but promises. They are in the promise delivery business. Most liberals are incompetent when it comes to solving problems or building things so they stick to what they do best:flapping their gums. If I was to be generous however, I would say liberals are good at identifying and bringing attention to problems (they just can’t seem to solve problems or fix anything).
Liberals and libertarians are more and more the same but I don’t think the freedom to be a homeless fentanyl addict is any kind of freedom. It is more ‘’compassionate’’ to block the drugs, jail the dealers and force the addicts into mandatory drug treatment than to leave them alone.
Crime, drug abuse and homelessness are not life choices, they are problems that need to be solved.
The idea that a police force or prison system should ‘’do no harm’’ is ridiculous. Criminals do harm and asking them nicely to stop doesn’t work. Sometimes they need to be handcuffed, jailed, imprisoned to protect those they do harm to.
Anyway it’s a worthwhile debate and interesting to read both points of view. Both writers want to solve the problem, how to do it is where they differ, so I commend them both for that.
Unfortunately there are people who don’t care at all and feel homelessness and drug addiction are problems not worth solving and that’s much worse than anything these two writers have said.
I have worked in addiction treatment in the criminal justice system for over 11 years, every day with high-need, high-risk addicts. Everything Mr. Woodhouse says is correct. It’s not compassionate to refuse to accept that addicts are ruled by fear, terror in fact, and that “forceful action” is needed to help them. Addiction is not choice. It’s the loss of choice. Someone needs to make the choices they cannot. Thanks to the false god of “justice reform,” we have abandoned a generation of people to addiction. “Wanting to stop badly enough” is not enough. I’ve met very few late-stage addicts who didn’t desperately want to stop. They can’t. That’s what addiction is. A fear of something greater than the fear of a day without drugs is necessary. Refusing to provide that is not kind or ethical. That is is the last thing it is.
Ben Spielberg strikes me as one of these highly educated fools who haven't been mugged yet. The very definition of a liberal.
When Ben gets mugged, or home-invaded, or watches as a flash mob strips his store of all its inventory (though, I doubt he has ever run a business, so scratch that one), perhaps he will develop a different perspective.
When Ben's mother gets beaten or worse by an insane homeless man at the train station or in the park or a thousand other public places that they infest, will he change his tune? "Oh if only we had cheaper housing. It's all those greedy white landlords' fault!"
Homelessness is a scourge and a disgrace on our country ever since the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill back in the 1960s-70s, with the closure of hundreds of state-funded residential facilities for mental illness treatment. Thousands of people were thrown into group homes or halfway houses or simply let out on the street, where they experienced violence, drug abuse, and death.
What kind of a civilized society would do such a heartless thing? A society that listens to an educated elite that is totally out of touch with reality. It was the psychiatric profession and the social scientists that infest academia and public administration, that advocated for this disastrous policy.
It has been reported for decades that most of the homeless since the 1970s, except for families, had either mental illness or drug addiction, or both. This is nothing new, and Ben Spielberg should maybe do more research before making silly claims about the economic causes of homelessness.
Of course there are economic homeless. California is a perfect storm of tightening the screws and making it impossible for middle class families and individuals to live there. That's why they're leaving.
In my opinion, California as well as New York and a few other "progressive" states should declare bankruptcy and turn over control to an occupying force composed of business and military leaders who will, as with U.S.-occupied Japan, just rewrite their constitutions, get rid of ridiculous laws, and turn things around.
---Our method was simple: talk to anyone who would talk to us, which, as it turned out, was most people we approached. We asked them straightforward questions about how they became homeless, whether they would choose to take shelter if offered and under what conditions, and what their drug use habits were. Almost everyone was as plain and direct with us as we were with them.
From these interviews it was clear as day what we were looking at: the tent encampments in all of these cities are sites where people who are addicted to (principally) meth and fentanyl can acquire and use those drugs. That’s the reason they exist. These are places plagued by brutal violence, rampant theft and human trafficking, as people who live in them will tell you. The only reason people live there at all is because the power of addiction is so relentless that the fear of withdrawal eclipses the fear of any of those things.--
This pretty much ends the debate.
I would add this. We’ve been doing various forms of talk therapy, often called “cognitive behavior therapy,” with addicts for about 60 years. The evidence supporting the stand-alone, long-term effectiveness of these “evidence-based practices” is nearly non-existent. In fact, the primary route to becoming an “evidence-based practice” has nothing to do with its long-term effectiveness. Modalities acquire this label by being popular among peers, not effective. Why do we continue pretending talk therapy alone is “treatment” for addiction? Perhaps money has a lot to do with it. Another reason is the refusal to accept what addiction is and how recovery happens. Addicts don’t think themselves into a better way of living. They live themselves into a better way of thinking. Only the combination of the compulsive power of courts, combined with trauma-based therapy, jobs, drug testing, etc., on a regular basis, for a long time, has shown genuine long-term effectiveness in reducing addiction and its related crime and homelessness. Real treatment is hard, long, and expensive. Those who care are willing to do that work, because they know addicts can recover and lead great lives. Those who pretend to care feel and demonstrate pity, not empathy, and they wax on about “justice reform,” while people die in the streets. Pity kills addicts. I am grateful every day that those who saved my life and gave me a wonderful new one showed me none.
The bottom line is that San Francisco’s DA Chesa Boudin, ran on his policies. He maintained that his policies would help the city and its residents.
But given how things have actually worked out, the majority of SF “voters” came to a very different conclusion and bounced him.
Beyond that, it will doesn’t much matter. After seeing how things were working out, SF voters simply didn’t buy Boudin’s version of the facts.
There were always addictive drugs but there was never this kind of rampant homelessness.
"The rent is too damn high".
Many countries have lots of drug addicts but they do not have the same rate of homelessness.
This is a multifactorial phenomenon that has numerous and complicated etiologies.
Homelessness is caused by more than one thing, and that's not debatable. The big increase in homelessness in California started when Hitler, er, I mean Ronald Reagan, closed the state mental hospitals when he was governor, throwing the patients onto the streets. It has mushroomed from there. People are homeless because they are mentally ill, because they can't afford rent, and/or because they're addicted to drugs. The plurality if not the majority of homeless are now military veterans, so I'm guessing PTSD is also a cause, though that would come under being mentally ill.
The false duality seen here, where people pick a side and stick to it regardless of the facts or reality, is really astounding. This should not have degenerated into arguments about lone causes of homelessness, because there is none.
Woodhouse provides factual, common sense information & solutions, and Spielberg makes my head feel like it's about to explode.
I remember that feeling well,. As a nurse, I watched in horror & disbelief as the left created & grew a cottage industry of self aggrandizement, while promoting & fostering this nightmare.
Their "compassion" drove these folks from institutions, where they were being cared for to the streets, where they were a danger to themselves & others. The trail of suffering & death furthered by Soros's DA are well documented & promote evil beyond comprehension for ALL concerned.
As long as the Spielbergs of the world continue to distort reality, accountability, & common sense solutions; the suffering, death & danger to innocent people continues. God Help Us!
So San Fran defines an area with no rules and offers no positive support to addicts. What could go wrong???
I have been deeply involved with NGO aid and help to the homeless in my city in the Central Valley of California for around 4 years. Our estimated 500 unsheltered homeless in proportion to my city’s population is close to equivalent to that of San Francisco. Our rent is much lower than San Francisco rent though it has been rising. My contact with the homeless and what a close friend has told me who was addicted and homeless for 15 years shows that drug use - tobacco, alcohol, opioids and meth is utterly widespread. Mental illness and self sabotaging behavior patterns and emotional hang ups are equally widespread, plus for some homelessness is a lifestyle choice. Because of this, even with free housing, support, aid, counseling - rehabilitation is a slow process with fits and starts and failures, and trying it again and again. No easy solution. A local motel was remodeled and made available and despite attempts to manage and help and guidelines the place was a scene of police action and drama and rule breaking. Of course there are exceptions to these patterns and causes, but they are in the minority. The solution is time, a lot of money per person helped, patience, generosity, accepting that money and effort will be”wasted” and failure will be part of the process, and a peculiar blend of kindness and strictness and giving and accountability.
This part of the debate was something of an improvement over the first part, I think. Spielberg's post was pretty good, and rightly went into specific questions to get the debate back on track after Woodhouse moved a bit away from the main issue. It was also helpful when Woodhouse responded to those questions, but Woodhouse didn't answer all of them. (More on Woodhouse in my reply to this post.)
Spielberg still retains a few of his flaws from the first part of the debate. He continues to maintain, without adequate justification, that a law-enforcement system should not have "incapacitation" as one of its aims, even though incapacitation just means physically preventing people from carrying out more crimes. This view of his is so bizarre that he needs better arguments for it than he's given. And although Spielberg conceded in his very first post that "it is the job of people who recognize the problems with our criminal legal system to provide a better, equally concrete answer" on how to keep people safe, he's still basically no closer to doing that.
I gather, although he doesn't say so directly, that Spielberg is emotionally invested in thinking that surely most people's safety issues (including the problems that non-dealers experience in the Tenderloin) will be adequately addressed if we just focus enough on "prioritizing" things the way that typical lefty people want and apply that approach diligently. Spielberg constantly makes me suspect that, in the end, he doesn't really feel he has to be convincing on the specific point that Boudin would help these Tenderloin safety issues as much as a typical prosecutor would, because he has faith that a lefty-style prioritization will fix most things overall regardless. And when he tries to make his readers feel this way, he's kind of trying to reduce the need for him to be fully convincing on Woodhouse's more challenging points.
speaking from personal experience. my sister was caught up with addiction during the early 2000s in northern CA .. i believe if she didnt get arrested for low level usage and ultimately jailed for failing mandated drug tests she would be dead today.
she got the help she needed while incarcerated and today lives a healthy life as a grandmother.
thanks Glenn. praying for your family's health.
Good discussion. My confirmation bias has become much too great. If people can't afford to live where they are we need to help relocate them to a more affordable area. Bus tickets and meal tickets seem suitable.
Drug addiction has become a way of life with no respite until the addict dies wherever that might be. For those on the streets, we need to provide dormitory facilities where they can live and the government provides food, shelter and drugs; the addict can stay until they wish to leave but return with a 30 day wait. The addicts clean themselves/personal area and are assisted in meals by staff. Staff are available for those who wish escape to reality. We may find psychedelics help rewire brains beyond talk work; 12 -step programs on-site. The cruelty of society for these lost people is astounding and tolerance for the illegal trade involved relates to many levels of corruption.
We seem to have tried a lot of things that don't work. Sadly some of us can't be saved by simple caring. But the shame of the streets is cruel in itself. Take the profit motive away from addict creation and there might be fewer addicts.