Monday, February 27, 2006


by Skald

"Consider first how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary. I have seen Penobscot Indians, in this town, living in tents of thin cotton cloth, while the snow was nearly a foot deep around them, and I thought that they would be glad to have it deeper to keep out the wind. I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three feet wide, in which the laborers locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and hook down the lid, and so have freedom in his love, and in his soul be free. This did not appear the worst, nor by any means a despicable alternative".


Lets be clear, governments do not want to solve the homeless problem... that is to say, they are not concerned about providing shelter for homeless people. The problem, to their mind, is not shelter, nor food. The problem is how to domesticate homeless people and turn them into dutiful wage slaves. Thus, the homeless "solutions" we get all involve massive expenditures and plenty of "social work" designed to convert folks into worker bees. That these "solutions" are statistical failures in no way causes city/state governments to change their approach.

Homelessness is very easy to solve.. as Thoreau suggests. Dignity Village proves the same thing. People do not require super-expensive "affordable housing". For a couple hundred dollars each, mad-houser style huts could adequately house ever homeless person in SF.. at a fraction of the cost it takes to run shelters and other programs. These huts would be warm and relatively safe.. and would provide residents with a degree of autonomy. Of course, thats the problem. Good citizens dont want to give these folks autonomy. Theyd rather spend ten times the money to create failed programs that include heavy doses of social control.. than simply provide for the basic needs of "the homeless".

And so the streets of SF are filled with folks camped on sidewalks, in alleys.. all over the damn city. SF's homeless are either safely regulated and controlled in shelters... or they are consigned to misery. To simply give them cheap & comfortable huts would give away all leverage... why, theyd be under no pressure to become wage slaves. Better to keep them miserable or on a leash.. whatever the cost.. whatever the damage to the city's "quality of life".

1 comment:

Chris Rasch said...

Indeed. Zoning laws are big contributors to homelessness as well. I bet few people realize how many laws there are that restrict building height, number of rooms, the number of un-related individuals living in the same house, parking restrictions, etc.

BTW, I came accross two articles that might be of interest to you:

Seasteading: building a home on the high seas:

High Cost of Free Parking by David Shoup:

"Shoup shows that the magnitudes are huge. About 87 percent of all trips in teh U.S. are made by personal motor vehicles, and parking is free for 99 percent of these trips...The required parking lot at a restaurant usually occupies at least three times as much land as the restaurant itself.

Shoup reckons this subsidy to parking, and estimates the U.S. total of such subsidy between $127 billion and $374 billion a year. "If you also count the subsidy for free and underpriced curb parking, the total subsidy for parking would be far higher...Do we really want to spend as much to subsidize parking as we spend for Medicare or national defense?"