[ExI] Homelessness [was Re: A Small Request [was Re: Impressive book: Farewell toAlms]]

Fred C. Moulton moulton at moulton.com
Sat Feb 9 02:52:51 UTC 2008

I have changed the Subject since we have drifted far off of my original

Spike I am assuming that you are serious in your comments and not trying
for an ironic spoof. If that is the case then I feel I must disagree
with you on a few points.  If you were trying to be facetious then my
remarks might be useful for anyone who would be taking you seriously.

On Fri, 2008-02-08 at 09:56 -0800, spike wrote:
> Ja, I am not arguing that homelessness is good.  I don't think we disagree
> here.  I live near San Jose, I see the homeless will-work-for-fooders every
> day.  

One should not assume that someone soliciting for charity is necessarily
homeless.  There may be correlation but I do not think there is a
logical connection.

> San Jose has a homeless shelter that charges nothing, and will even
> feed them.  But of course they can't make the homeless go there.

According to news articles in the local (San Jose) paper the entire
issue of shelters and shelter usage is complicated and individual usage
may depend on a variety of factors.  Further the term 'homeless' can
mean different things to different people; for example I cite in part: 

11302. General definition of homeless individual
(a) In general
For purposes of this chapter, the term “homeless” or “homeless
individual or homeless person” includes—
(1) an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime
residence; and
(2) an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is—
(A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to
provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels,
congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
(B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals
intended to be institutionalized; or
(C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a
regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

Note that I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on the Internet or on
TV.  However the above definition appears as the first item appeared for
a Google search for: +homeless +definition.  I suspect many people
commenting on this topic had a different definition in mind.  My point
is that for something this complex it is important to check for the
current statutory as well as common usages in order to avoid

Further I suggest the we remember that for a person to be in one of the
following categories does not necessarily mean that the person is in one
or more of the others:
- homeless
- mentally ill
- unemployed
- user of illegal or controlled substances

> I know what you mean about San Francisco.  Certain areas of that city are
> downright scary because of the street people.  San Jose isn't as bad, but
> there are certain areas one avoids.

Well as a long time San Jose resident I think this needs a bit of
elaboration.  First while it true that there are some neighborhoods with
more crime than others it is important to remember that the most of the
major crime such as murder or serious battery that I have seen reported
is related to gangs and turf wars over drug distribution. We should
remember that San Jose usually ranks at or near the top of safety for
large cities.  This is not say that San Jose is crime free but rather
that we need to make clear and well informed descriptions of what we are
discussing.  It is my opinion that to understand crime in San Jose one
needs to understand how much is due to gang violence and related
phenomena.  I can tell you that personally as a San Jose resident my
concern is not about the homeless as a cause of crime but rather the
consequences of the 'war on drugs' and what I perceive to be a criminal
justice system with serious flaws and other factors.

> I have a solution I have advocated here before, but I will not speculate on
> whether such a thing could ever be made legal.  If a person is homeless,
> then they could theoretically be charged with vagrancy.

Not necessarily.  Again this depends on how we define our terms.
Consider for example a person who has not much money and has arrived in
the area and found work at with a janitorial agency cleaning offices
from 6:00PM to 2:30AM.  What if this person is saving up money for first
and last and deposit for a small apartment and so is living in their
car?  Are they homeless?  Are they a vagrant?  Do you really want to
arrest them?  Also consider that this person is contributing to the
economy whenever they buy a sandwich at Togos or a new shirt.  And I
while I am not much of a fan of taxes I will point out for the benefit
of those who are that part of what this person is spending winds up as
part of the tax base to support the sidewalk upon which he treads and
thus there might be reason consider the moral questions involved when
categorizing someone as a vagrant and arresting them.

> If a person is
> charged thrice with vagrancy, I would propose they be sentenced not to jail
> but to transportation, but not exile (exactly).

I strongly suggest that you read up on how historically vagrancy laws
have been used to harass minority persons (race, ideology, etc).  I am
not suggesting it is necessarily as bad now as it has been in the past
however it is a point worth remembering.

> We could set up a homeless
> colony in Darwin California, a former mining community, now a ghost town.
> http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/ca/darwin.html
> There are plenty of empty homes there (of sorts) so it would be transformed
> to a homeful community.  Once the several hundred existing homes are
> occupied, the feds could bring in the unused FEMA trailers (the ones that
> the Louisianans rejected.)

Since I know you are such a kind and caring person I am sure that you
screen out the trailers rejected due to contamination with excessive
formaldehyde and other substances.

> The now-homeful residents would not even be in
> prison, for they could leave if they wanted, but I propose a way to make
> them want to stay.  

This seems at odds with your comment above about arresting them to send
them there.  What if they are arrested after having been there already
and say that they do not want to go back.  Perhaps this is a bit more
complicated than it first seems.

> Supply the homeful with food, water and all the
> recreational pharmaceuticals they desire, using the controlled substances
> seized by the constabulary.

It should be noted that the chemical which causes a lot (perhaps even
most problems) is alcohol.  So are you proposing that the government
supply beer, wine, vodka, scotch, etc.  And if I ever have misfortune to
get caught up in one of the sweeps please remember that while I can
tolerate a generic Two Buck Chuck red I would really prefer a nice
old-vine Zinfandel.
>  We could empty our
> prisons of people who are there on drug charges only; parole them to Darwin.

It should be pointed out that there are persons who had jobs and homes
and then lost it not due to drugs but due to drug law enforcement.  They
might not want to stay in Darwin; they might want to move back to the
place where they had friends and family.

> The Darwinians could even offer society a payback, indirectly, by serving as
> counter-examples of how to live one's life.  

On the flip side how about putting in high speed internet and seeing
what develops.  Remember there are people in prison for drug offenses
who might be able to continue or develop employment and other goals.
Not everyone in jail for a drug offense is a loser, consider:

> We could discourage our own
> children from using recreational pharmaceuticals by showing them America's
> Scariest Home Videos, which would be webcams of stoner zombies from Darwin.

Do you have any evidence that this sort of thing has had long term
positive benefit in the past?  Everything that I can recall reading
indicates that it would probably not be very effective.

> As a parting shot, I would propose we rename the place O'Leary.

I have a parting comment.  Spike I have known you for many years and I
have considered you to be an intelligent person as well as kind and
considerate.  I do not think the solution you purpose is your best work.
I am confident that you can do better.


> spike
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