International Man: There is a growing homeless crisis in liberal West Coast cities, including San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and many others. People living on the street are overrunning these cities.
Residents must deal with human feces, syringes, disease, and filth every day. In some areas, it’s worse than the dirtiest slums of Brazil, Kenya, and India.
How did this happen?
Doug Casey: Well, taking a long-term view, I see it as part of the continuing decline of Western civilization.
The West has always been distinguished relative to the rest of the world by its order, its cleanliness, its respect for property rights. These things are all going by the wayside. We were a middle class society with “bourgeois” values, essentially Boy Scout virtues. But these things are now held in contempt, even while the middle class is being squeezed. “Ground between the millstones of taxation and inflation,” as the phrase attributed to Lenin puts it.
Some members of the lower and middle classes are still moving up, but it’s easier to fall than to rise. Most of the homeless are whites who are headed down. We haven’t seen this since the 1930s.
This epidemic is concentrated in so-called sanctuary cities, which go out of their way to bring in people who are unwilling or unable to support themselves. But most of the newly minted “street people” aren’t migrants. They seem to mostly be failed ex-members of the middle class.
It’s quite novel to see people in camping tents on city sidewalks. It’s different from the occasional bum sleeping under newspapers on a park bench. A tent implies a measure of permanency. It stakes out a property right.
Let me pause over my use of the word “bum.”
I learned a few things when I went on a couple of adventures “riding the rails.” There were three classes of people you’d meet in and around the railyard, on the “wrong side of the tracks”: hobos, tramps, and bums. They were all “homeless people,” but that term wasn’t used. Hobos were people there for the lifestyle; often well-read, dropouts with wanderlust. Tramps were people down on their luck;