MOLA:42’s Guide to Hoovervilles (or Dealing With the “Visible” Homeless)
There’s yet another subject of discussion knocking around… and as usual I don’t know exactly where I stand… the modern “Hooverville.”
In principle, a Hooverville can sound like a very good idea: As the Progressive Left sees them they can be places where homeless people can be concentrated to get needed help.
The homeless would have available mental and physical health services… the children would get adequate nutrition and go to school.
The environment would be served by having sewage, washing and cooking facilities.
Sounds like a good idea.
However… as long time readers already know about me… My Dark Thoughts just will not let me take the simple happy route to anywhere.
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The term Hooverville comes from the Great Depression; so named in deep appreciation to President Herbert Hoover due to his making things just so much fun for folks.
Homeless people (and there were millions of them) gathered or were gathered into communities living in tents, shacks and their automobiles.
Hoovervilles varied wherever they sprouted. Some came to be because people could find work and/or food nearby. Some were set up by responsible people wanting to help. Some were set up by people wanting to separate the great unwashed from their communities (many guarded by armed men to keep them out of their towns). Some were set up by ranchers and farmers to secure (i.e.: imprison) cheap labor.
In short, a number of them were Concentration Camps (the rest were Refugee Camps).
Please don’t start getting angry about my loose use of words… because I’m not using the term Concentration Camp incorrectly.
In essence… a Concentration Camp is a place you put all your bad eggs in one basket so you can control them.
The first modern Concentration Camps were set up by the British during the Boer War. They were not nice places and the arguments still rage whether they were not nice on purpose, by incompetence or by accident.
Essentially, the British gathered the families of Boer fighters into camps and let them die of disease and/or starvation. No matter the motivation of the British, the camps did convince a lot of Boer fighters to give up (not wishing to have their family members die horribly).
How livable a Concentration Camp is depends on the humanity of those running them.
During World War II the United States (that’s us, folks) and the Nazis both utilized Concentration Camps. We gathered together nearly all the American Citizens of Japanese ancestry we could get our grimy mitts on. Then we sent them (men, women and children) to camps behind barbed wire and surrounded them with guard towers equipped with search lights and machine guns (in case somebody decided they didn’t like it there).
Of course, we did leave out the gassing, starving and working to death features the Nazi’s perfected; so I guess that’s a point in our favor.
In case you believe I am exercising my penchant for drama, just consider the saying, “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions”; and how often that has turned out to be true.
Assuming all motivations are noble then there are other issues to discuss. Besides the matter of who pays for our little camping adventure a really thorny problem would be: Where do we put our Hooverville?
How do we overcome the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) factor? No matter where we decide to put our Hooverville there’s going to be somebody unhappy about having a homeless encampment… no matter how well run… in their community.
If people fight tooth and nail to keep a detox facility out of their neighborhoods then how do you think the folks living near a Hooverville will feel?
No problem, we might say. We’ll build it out in the countryside where no one can see it and there is no one to be bothered.
That would solve one difficulty, getting the “Visible Homeless” out of sight.
Here’s the problem; the Visible Homeless are visible because they need to survive. They need to hold cardboard signs at street corners, buy food, buy booze, make drug connections, go to work, etc.
If we put our Hooverville too far off the beaten tracks then guess what? The homeless will not go there unless we move them there by force. And keep them there by force.
Also, we will need to police and govern a group of people not noted for their good behavior and governability.
Yes, we can separate out the disparate elements… the “professional (and very visible) homeless” from the victims of circumstance: Men, women and children caught up in economic upheavals nearly as traumatic as the Great Depression and wanting to re-enter Middle Class society.
And that would help… as long as they have a Middle Class to go back to.
Hint: A job at McDonalds is not the golden archway to the middle class.
In short, a Hooverville does not solve the problem; a Hooverville only works to solve a symptom of the problem.
Perhaps, though, better than nothing.
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Still, I can’t help but feel some of the people thinking about Hoovervilles are motivated the same way as our early 1930’s forebears; get the homeless out of sight and out of mind:
The problem for them is not that there are homeless but that they can see them be homeless.
So we must keep the riff-raff off the streets. We don’t want to upset the tourists.
What happens to the homeless then?
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Let us try to wrap up this week’s little ramble. What am I trying to get at?
I am not categorically against Hoovervilles. Well run and supported they can do a great deal of good in what is now a terribly bad situation.
The world is not as simple as we would like to have it. The solutions are more difficult and more dangerous to put in place than we tend to imagine.
Not having the homeless visible in front of us may cause us to change focus and use the Hooverville as a Concentration Camp (as opposed to a Refugee Camp).
And… not solving the root problem will mean we shall fail to solve the symptoms of that problem:
Why do the homeless exist in the first place?
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Standard Disclaimer: My opinions are my own and not necessarily those of the Tuluwat Examiner. I am not on the Staff of the Tuluwat Examiner. I don’t even know who these people are. However, the Tuluwat Examiner Staff have just learned who will be giving the Invocation at the next Eureka City Council meeting: the Reverend Mrch Chtulaflaat of the Cult of Cthulhu (Reformed). Instead of human sacrifices the Reformed Cult just eats a lot of live goldfish.
But due to their intense interest in the harbor they are considered important supporters to reviving our local maritime interests.
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