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Where else are they gonna go?

Merced's tent city


The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.” – Anatoly France

From the Merced Sun-Stroke:

The students were among more than 30 people, including homeless advocates and Mercedians, who stood outside protesting at the civic center Monday.

Some carried signs that read “Where am I going to live now?” or wore tags that said “Where am I supposed to live?” Others sat in chairs on the sidewalk and one man even stood outside a tent with a sign that read “This is my condo.”

All were protesting against the Oct. 13 closure date of the homeless encampments, which had been previously pushed back because of a county holiday.


So my town has poor people with no place to live. They used to be called tramps, hobos and vagrants, but now we call them homeless. Many of them are parolees, drug addicts and/or mentally ill. They beg, scavenge and steal to survive.

Some of them started living along Black Rascal Creek, forming a “Hooverville” next to the railroad tracks in an industrial area on the edge of town. The lucky ones have tents, the rest make shelters out of whatever they can find.

Now the city is gonna make them leave, but they have no place else to go. They’ll still be poor and homeless, they’ll just have to do it somewhere else. “Out of sight, out of mind” meets NIMBY.

Some conservatives have this weird idea that if we make being poor unpleasant enough people will choose to not be poor. But if Welfare causes poverty, why was there poverty before there was Welfare?

The irony is that the City of Merced has hundreds of vacant houses due to the mortgage crisis. There are half a dozen within two blocks of my house, including one right across the street. People are simply walking away from places that are worth far less than they owe.

This isn’t a unique problem. I don’t have the answers, but we gotta do something. This is ridiculous, because even with our economy in the toilet we’re still the richest nation in the history of humankind.


“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

29 Responses

  1. With so many ex-workers now running out of employment benefits, this problem is going to balloon. I’m sure Dems will focus like a laser beam on the jobs problem; not to worry. And the Repubs will be there in full bi-partisan spirit to help the folks.

  2. That Anatole France saying is one of my favorites.

    Empty house, homeless people …. the solution should be obvious….

    • It would seem that way.

      • I wonder what the laws on squatters rights are there…

        • From a quick Google, adverse possession in California requires 5 years of continuous occupancy and payment of all property taxes.

          There’s probably somewhat more to it than that.

    • I’ve always thought about vacation homes that are sitting there empty all the time. Maybe declare eminent domain, house people in those.

      • Assume for a moment that you are not rich, but inherited a vacation home from your parents, a place where you and family got together over the years. You have fond memories, and do not feel like giving it away to the homeless. Imagine that, and the government decides that because you use it sparingly, that house will be put to use, and give you a few bucks for it.

        How does that feel?

        Disclosure: I don’t own a vacation home and I’m not rich.

        • Probably a lot better than sleeping on the street. I’m not sentimental when it comes to major national crises.

      • I meant the empty foreclosed homes, not vacation homes.

        • I agree with you. The government could easily rent those homes and make them available to live until people get on their feet. The taxpayers own Freddie and Fannie, so it should not be a big problem to use their inventory.

        • Oh, I understood what you meant.

          • If you’ve been keeping up with the BofA/GMAC/LPS foreclosure fraud scandal, it would appear that the titles on some of these foreclosed homes may be so screwed up that *nobody* actually owns them at this point. Think of it as a “feature” of mortgage securitization. Check out Yves’s blog for the gory details.

  3. a house should have a loving family in it 😦

    • I agree. Yet, I’ve dreamed of having a vacation home in Maui, which could be rented as vacation to other people, but available to me all the time. It’s not likely to happen, but it’s a nice dream. 🙂

  4. off-top but just caught this on Politico: Hillary in 2016 speculation. What gives with all this Hillary prophecy by the media suddenly?

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/43225.html

    • Desperation is driving the media and @holes, like Clyburn, to talk sh*t.

      Clyburn: Minorities Could Tip Scales in Elections

      House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggested Wednesday that Congress could enact a public health insurance option and energy legislation next year if minorities turn out to vote and Democrats retain control of Congress.

    • They need their 2 minutes of hate. She is SoS, and they can’t freely bash her everyday. It kills them.

      They need her in a position so that they direct all the hateful speech towards her, and blame her for all that goes wrong.

  5. IG.W.B. Jr.jr. doesn’t like scientists.


    Panel: Gov’t blocked worst-case oil spill figures (AP)

    WASHINGTON – The White House blocked efforts by federal scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could have been, according to a panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
    In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission’s staff reveals that in late April or early May the White House budget office denied a request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make public the worst-case discharge from the blown-out well. The Unified Command — the government team in charge of the spill response — also was discussing the possibility of making the numbers public, the report says, citing interviews with government officials.

    more

  6. It’s gonna get a lot worse, US corporations have an easy formula to increase profits….us the economic “crisis” to massively reduce their labor overhead. Mass layoff and wadge cut, works every time.

    “US corporate profits soar on layoffs, wage cuts”

    “US corporate profits are soaring in the midst of the deepest economic slump since the Great Depression, on the basis of a ruthless policy of using mass unemployment to slash wages and heighten the exploitation of American workers. In order to make the impoverishment of the working class a permanent feature of American life, companies are hoarding vast amounts of cash rather than hiring workers and expanding output.

    These are the conclusions that flow from a Wall Street Journal analysis of second-quarter 2010 corporate profits, reported in the newspaper’s Monday edition under the headline “Propelling the Profit Comeback: Retooling, Downsizing.” The article gives statistics showing that US corporate profits are surging despite stagnant and even falling revenue, sharply increasing the percentage of revenue represented by profit.’
    (snip)
    Among the statistics reported by the Journal are the following:

    • The Commerce Department estimates that for all US companies, second-quarter after-tax profits rose to an annual rate of $1.208 trillion, an increase of 3.9 percent from the first quarter and a 26.5 percent rise from a year earlier. This is the highest annual rate on record, although it does not take inflation into account. As a percentage of national income, after-tax profits were the third highest since 1947, surpassed only by two quarters in 2006, at the height of the last boom.
    (snip)

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/oct2010/prof-o06.shtml

  7. More of the same, second verse;

    “UAW, GM slash workers’ wages by half at Michigan plant”

    “Setting a new wage-cutting precedent, the United Auto Workers (UAW) on Sunday announced that 40 percent of current workers at the General Motors Lake Orion plant will work at about $14 per hour, half the standard wage, once the temporarily idled Michigan factory begins production on a new line of small cars.

    This marks the first time that the $14 per hour wage, which was broadly imposed on new hires through the Obama administration’s reorganization of the auto industry last year, will be forced upon existing workers. Workers with 11 years or less of seniority—about 500 of the plant’s 1,300 workers—will reportedly be relegated to the “Tier Two” category.

    Workers were not allowed to vote on the agreement, which lasts through at least 2015, and only learned of its details on Sunday.

    The deal is based on vague language in the 2009 labor contract—forced on members with the threat of bankruptcy—that allows GM and the UAW to administer “innovative labor agreement provisions” related to the production of small cars. Obama’s Auto Task Force reportedly insisted on the provision as a condition of the auto bailout.
    (snip)

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/oct2010/auto-o06.shtml

    • This is disgusting. It’s union busting.

      “Workers were not allowed to vote on the agreement, which lasts through at least 2015, and only learned of its details on Sunday.”

      Another version of: but where are you gonna go? In this case, not your vote, but your job.

  8. And now the knife goes in and turns… on MSNBC they’re now saying all of this Hillary disruption and controversy is Hillary’s fault. And while everyone would like to be president, she just can’t.

    Now we’re seeing why all of this talk about Hillary. It’s so they can then turn around and say how horrible she his for being so contentious and divisive.

    God they’re pathetic. And desperate.

    • Curse her! Why doesn’t she just take herself out of contention once and for all so Obama can sleep in peace?! She’s so mean.

    • Pathetic, desperate, transparent, and idiotic.

      Who are they to define Hillary Clinton? Nobodies, that’s who.

      The only person who defines Hillary Clinton is Hillary herself. And as far as I can tell, the woman has no limits.

      Watch out, Asshats (TM The Rock)

      Hillary 2012

    • “Disruption”? What’s being disrupted, their enterprising attempts to alienate every voter in America?

      Let me guess, they’re going to blame her for Election Day wipeout?

  9. New thread up

  10. There is simply no excuse for allowing people to be homeless IMO. I’ve heard a few stories here and their about various tent cities but have noticed little or no coverage in the MSM. Still waiting for BO and/or MO to stop by a tent city and help out. Guess the just can’t squeeze it in what with all the vacations.

  11. simple question:

    Since conservatives, especially libertarians, want government to butt out of people’s lives, and since they want less regulation, and since they don’t want the government to infringe on people’s rights, wouldn’t it make sense to:

    Let people set up a tent for themselves somewhere in the middle of nowhere?

    In other words, shouldn’t libertarians and conservatives support the rights of the homeless versus the government??

    It seems that the government squats on the land, so it can in due time be passed on to the rich.

  12. One of the things that MIQ talks about is down here too. Other states have sent their poor out to California looking for work out of desperation. One of my last placements as an intern therapist was working with the homeless.
    Mothers and children, It broke my heart.

    The problem is simply too big.

    On the other hand, I don’t think it is fair for some people to work for years to buy a house and others to get free ones. But, unless government makes some corporate reforms in this country pretty soon? It will get worse, and worse.

    It’s a domino effect. Companies lay people off, and communities shrivel. Then? Stores go out of business and houses are vacant. Eventually it will affect all the big box malls? When that happens they will go out of business.

    It’s very, very tragic. The solution to this is the WPA? I hope Jerry Brown can do that. For California. Corporate America has done this. Corporate America should be punished?

    But, I don’t expect this admin to care enough to do anything. They are too busy partying.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/17/walmart-2q-profit-dragged_n_684557.html

    I never shop there or at the others, on purpose. Don’t like their politics? But — you can see in that first graf where things have gone.

    “NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a 3.6 percent increase in second-quarter net income and raised its earnings guidance for the full year as it benefits from cost-cutting and robust global growth in China, Brazil and Mexico.”

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