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Gun Violence and the Homeless

It seems to me that the bulk of local news items (Seattle specifically) involves gun violence or homelessness or both. Easy news to cover perhaps. But these are two problems that are going to be with us for a long time because we don't have the political will to fix them. I have written about a potential fix for the gun violence problem. Now in my infinte wisdom and humble opinions (IMIWAHO) I tackle homlessness.

Political correctness seems to evolve. Years ago we had a crisis of homeless people. then it became a crisis of the unhoused (as if were society's function to provide housing for all). Now, almost suddenly the former homeless or unhoused have become people experiencing homelessness. I guess homeless implies permanance whereas for people who are experiencing homelessness it is a a temporary situation. Ha Ha!

In reality, there are some people who are experiencing homelessness through bad luck and would like help. These people have my sympathy and I am glad that our progressive Washington society is trying to help these people. In some cases we are actually succeeding.

The vast majority of the homeless, those we see in tents in our neighborhoods, are not experiencing temporary homelessness... they have chosen it as a lifestyle. This has typically not been a conscious decision on their part. This has often not been a mentally healthy decision. But they have none the less chosen this fate.

Many of these people are truly mentally ill. These people are the neglected because we (as a society) have chosen not to force the mentally ill off the streets and into treatment. We have also chosen not to fund mental health treatment for those who voluntarily seek help. When I was a kid "Western State" (Lakewood) was where mentally ill people were sent. I grew up in Northern California and in those days "Napa" didn't mean wine, it meant "looney bin". When the mentally ill were set free ( I believe in the 1980s), and the funding for their treatment stopped, Homeless became a true problem. We truly cannot consider ourselves a just and progressive society while not providing mental health services to those who need it.

However, many (perhaps most) of the truly homeless are drug addicts and criminals by personal choice. These are the folks with the guns, and fortunately (for us) they tend to shoot each other. They have created the multi-billion dollar drug trade.

As a society we fight this by trying (almost entirely unsuccessfully) to interdict the trade. We seize tons of illegal drugs at the borders and within the country. The leaders of the Mexican cartels have become some of the richest people in the world. It hasn't worked. There are more smuggled, illegal drugs in the country now then when Pablo Escobar was in business.

Fortunately for society (and unfortunately for the addicts) the drugs are more addictive and provide more pleasure than the guns.

How about if we create safe School Free Drug Zones. (Easier and more likely to work than the other way around. No Guns...Free drugs. Free... safe... drugs. I'm talking fentanyl, heroin, cocaine. I'm talking a fenced facility out in the desert. Meager housing, Meager food... but all the drugs you can shoot up. Free to enter, Difficult to leave...Just pass a drug test. Stoners would't be able to figure out how to climb the fence. No cell service, no TV...None Needed. Cheap to operate. Barbaric.. certainly. But not Auschwitz... No tatoos, No forced drugs, no executions.

Not likely to happen either. We have too much invested, and there are too many people getting rich on the current system. but it might work.