Feb 5, 201411:35 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Our obsession with the homeless
(page 1 of 2)
From the pages of In Business magazine.
I write this in early January on the coldest day in 18 years, with temperatures of 20 degrees below zero and wind chills that threaten life and limb. As Hyman Roth might have said, this is the climate we have chosen. On balance, we have decided the good outweighs brutally frigid days. But the human species is not always rational. A temple in India is devoted to rats, which have free run of the place. The Bears re-signed Jay Quitler. And many chronically homeless people shun free shelter, even in winter.
Motivated by honest human compassion with a dollop of Marxism, Madison is obsessed with solving “the homeless problem.” The homeless are victims of heartless capitalism. No one was homeless in East Germany, right?
Two years ago, Occupy Madison, a political offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, put up a tent city on a vacant car lot fronting East Washington Avenue. If the silent rebuke of its ramshackle squatters was too subtle, a hand-drawn poster advised rush-hour traffic, “We Can’t Be Bought.” But they accepted donations.
A home on wheels produced by Occupy Madison.
The economic refugees attracted at least one police call per day for things like theft, fighting, property damage, weapons, drugs, public intoxication, and sexual assault. Former Ald. Brenda Konkel explained that her group serves people who don’t abide by the rules of government providers. I guess!
“We need to remember the good that is being done for so many and not just focus on a few people who refuse help,” County Human Services Administrator Lynn Green told In Business.
Stung by public revulsion, Occupy Madison is building tiny houses, each containing a composting potty, sink, propane heater, and microwave. The 98-sq.-ft. boxes have wheels. After some neighborhoods were plagued with people camping in their cars, the city passed a law requiring them to move every 48 hours.
Folks here donated $37,000 to build the boxes at $3,000 each. Now comes the compassion stress test: Who will be the first good progressive to request one of these parked in front of his bungalow? The phone lines are open.
Occupy Madison wants to erect a whole village of these little houses. They are looking at a tiny used car lot on busy East Johnson Street. Not so fast, the local alderman told the Wisconsin State Journal. “It’s going to be tricky to make this work out in a way that would be satisfactory to everyone.”
Another possibility is a half-acre bound by East Washington Avenue and Hwy. 30. “This is not what this neighborhood needs,” said a second elected liberal, suggesting that a homeless village would degrade an area already chockablock with liquor stores, taverns, and a porn store.