Friday, August 30, 2019

California's homeless crisis engulfs its capital as Sacramento's business owners tell how they confront naked junkies and streets covered in feces, urine and syringes - with no solution in sight

The visible results of Democrat "compassion".  Their loony ideas just create chaos

Carlisle is part of California's growing homeless emergency. The state has around 130,000 people without a roof over their heads. But she is not in downtown Los Angeles where Skid Row is a symbol of the national crisis or San Francisco where nearly one person in every hundred lives on the streets.

Instead, Carlisle and her fiancé Brian Workman are in Sacramento, the state capital, where homelessness has shot up by a shocking 19 per cent in the past two years, putting the problem squarely on the doorstep of Gavin Newsom, the state's Democratic governor.

Last week, salon owner Liz Novak brought the nation's attention to the problem when she announced to great fanfare that she was shutting up shop because she could not deal with the needles, the human waste, and the general aggravation that comes with having a business in the city.

'I just want to tell you what happens when I get to work. I have to clean up the poop and the pee off of my doorstep. I have to clean-up the syringes. I have to politely ask the people who I care for, I care for these people that are homeless, to move their tents out of the way of the door to my business,' she said in a video posted on Twitter, which gained the attention of Fox News and other national media outlets.

'I am angry about it. I wouldn't be relocating if it wasn't for this issue,' Novak added. 

Every few days, workers from the California Department of Transportation backed by Highway Patrol officers clean up under the freeways.

They post notices, giving three days' notice and announcing exactly when they are coming and they trash any unattended items.

Carlisle and Workman — and many others — merely move their possessions out from the limited protection the highway gives them from the elements to the corner of the street, which is city land.

Within a few minutes they move back again. 'It's a game of cat and mouse,' said Workman. 'But moving my stuff keeps me in shape. I'm in pretty good shape really.'

Highway Patrol Officer Caleb Howard, whose work includes backing up the CalTrans clean-up crew, said they rarely junk stuff that the homeless want.

'If they abandon it, they don't want it,' he told 'They know when we are coming.'

Over the last two years, the rate of homelessness  in Sacramento has risen by 19 per cent.

More than a tenth of that number, 688, were children, and 70 per cent were living without shelter. 

According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, California has the largest homeless population in the country, with 129,972 people living on the streets as of 2018.

The issue has long plagued Los Angeles, which has seen its homeless population rise by a staggering 75 per cent in the last six years.

A report released in June this year revealed there are 59,000 people living on the streets across Los Angeles County - a 12 per cent increase from 2018 - while the city has seen a 16 per cent rise with 36,300. 

By comparison, Sacramento, which has an estimated population of 1.5million, seems to have a significantly smaller homeless population, with 5,570, but the problem appears to be growing.

Many of Sacramento's homeless are expected to leave town in the next couple of months. 'They're migratory,' antique shop owner Steve Sylvester told 'When the weather gets cooler they'll head down toward San Diego.'

Sylvester's store is just across the street from Novak's salon. He has sympathy for his fellow business-owner but says he would never close up just because of the homeless.

'I understand it is more intimidating for her, she worked alone,' said Sylvester, a Londoner who has run his store in Sacramento for 20 years. But he recognizes the problem. 'We've had two major incidents in the past six weeks,' he said.

'We had a young man come in 95 per cent naked — he had underpants on but below where they mattered. I asked him to leave and he asked why. I said he was upsetting my customers and he wasn't really dressed for shopping.

'As he left, he held out his arm and wiped out a whole china dinner service, worth $300-$400. 'He was a drug addict. He didn't know what he was doing. He was on Planet Zog.'

In the second incident a man threw a rock through Sylvester's window at four in the morning. He clambered through the shattered plate glass, found his way to the outdoor area and fell asleep. That's where cops found him.

'The problem has gotten noticeably worse in the past 18 months because Sacramento is the place where people are told you can get a quick fix with cheap drugs,' said Sylvester.

'Sacramento is a wonderful place, great weather, with nice, accommodating people who give the homeless money, which unfortunately too often goes to drugs. This area has 30 or so restaurants so there is always food to be had.'

But he says there is another problem. 'I know homeless people are being given bus tickets here from both Davis and Reno because they are told Sacramento will look after them,' he said.

That allegation — that other cities give one-way tickets to Sacramento to get them out of town — is a common claim around town.

Officer Howard of the Highway Patrol told he knew of people getting tickets from Oregon.

City of Sacramento spokesman Tim Swanson said a Sacramento Bee article from 2013 found that Nevada was busing the homeless away from Las Vegas and one high-profile case had ended in Sacramento, but he did not address the specific allegations.

But he said a recent survey showed 93 per cent of Sacramento's homeless either grew up in the city or had lived there long-term before hitting the streets. 'This statistic contradicts the notion that people are coming to Sacramento specifically for services.'

Police officers and transportation authority employees remove homeless encampments under the freeway. Officer Howard says they rarely junk stuff that the homeless want

Swanson said the city has allocated $15.7million to sheltering the homes this year with another $1million for women, families, and children.

Last year, Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked each of the eight council members to identify a possible area for a shelter within their districts.

In four days that spent in Sacramento, not one homeless person was seen on Novak's property. But the problem is clearly real.

Across the street at Pancake Circus diner, 70-year-old waitress Terri — she would not give her last name or agree to be photographed — starts every working day at 4.15am 'cleaning up needles and poop and washing down urine,' and shooing the homeless from the property.

'They'll strip their clothes off. I often find them out front completely naked,' she said. 'Heroin is a huge problem, it's not just Oxycontin and other opioids, it's heroin.'

Terri says she tries not to call police. 'I'm not going to call if they are just panhandling, but if they are spitting at me or throwing their defecation, then that's different.'

She says she lets the homeless use the diner's bathroom — 'everyone should have that dignity.' 'But I tell them if you pick up what you have in your hand and smear it on the walls and I have to clean it off, then you're not coming in again.'



Why Bernie Sanders Is Wrong About Sweden

What is socialism? Some of its advocates have trouble defining the ideology. “Being a socialist means different things to different people,” a leftist podcast host told actress Cynthia Nixon last year. “For some, it is a Nordic-style welfare state. For others, it is the liquidation of the capitalist class and the democratization of the means of production.” The host asked a flustered Ms. Nixon, then a candidate for New York governor, where she came down.

“Being a socialist, um, I, I, I would say is—I am more in, I am more in line with the Nordic model myself,” she replied. When the alternatives are Cuba, China and Venezuela, everyone becomes “more in line” with Sweden, the classic Nordic example.

The ‘Nordic model’ of socialism, which he and other leftists tout, is more like ‘ruthless capitalism.’

Trouble is, most Swedes aren’t in line with American socialists like Ms. Nixon, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “All of their models that they could point to, given a couple of years, they end up in famine and killing,” Swedish author and historian Johan Norberg tells me. “So they always come back to Scandinavia in the end.” True, Sweden has a significant welfare state, but Mr. Norberg says it’s underpinned by “ruthless capitalism.”

Mr. Norberg studied the history of ideas at Stockholm University. After graduating he joined Timbro, a Stockholm-based free-market think tank, where he researched and wrote books about Swedish history and economics. An important lesson from his academic training: “Many of the great disasters that have befallen on us have come because people have changed their interpretation of the world economy.”

Ideas can produce prosperity too. By the mid-19th century Sweden had legalized emigration, he says, “which resulted in most people just wanting to leave Sweden immediately for the U.S.” Back then, Swedish politicians and intellectuals looked to America as a model. Between roughly 1840 and 1870, classical liberals took power. “They basically did everything: save property rights, open business, free trade, beginning to open up for religious freedom, freedom of the press.”

Sweden was one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for nearly a century. But by the 1960s, the country began to take its wealth-creating prowess for granted. I tell Mr. Norberg about New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s assertion: “There’s plenty of money in this world, it’s just in the wrong hands.” In 1960s Sweden, Mr. Norberg replies, “that’s almost verbatim what they said back then: ‘Now we’re this rich. Shouldn’t we just distribute it, and give it to the people and the places we like?’ ” Such thinking overtook the country’s dominant center-left Social Democratic Party.

“We thought we could do anything, and we had all of those other preconditions: the work ethic, some sort of social pressure, which meant that people were doing the right things, and they wouldn’t want to live on the dole,” Mr. Norberg says. “And then for 20 years, from 1960 to 1980, we doubled the size of the government spending as a percentage of GDP. That’s the aberration in Swedish history.” The Swedish welfare state first was a safety net for the needy. Over time the political class moved to “socialize the lives of the middle classes as well.” The plan: “Increase their taxes, and their benefits, and then they will buy into this system.”

The consequences were predictable. “It resulted in less work, people preferring to stay at home and paint the house rather than hiring someone to do it, general lack of getting the kind of education that matters. It led to entrepreneurs leaving Sweden.” Private sector employment declined from the 1970s to the ’90s, while disposable- income and economic growth was relatively slow. Some of the country’s best companies and brightest minds fled an onerous inheritance tax.

Plenty of economists knew Sweden needed reform, but undoing the damage would take years. A critical figure was Prime Minister Carl Bildt of the center-right Moderate Party. He came to power in 1991, as the rigid Swedish economy struggled to cope with an economic crisis. Mr. Norberg calls the former prime minister “an ideas politician” who understood free-market principles. Mr. Bildt’s coalition government cut capital-gains and corporate taxes, while the top marginal income- tax rate shrank to 50% from around 90%. Sweden deregulated the telecom and energy industries while introducing school vouchers and other market-oriented reforms. The Social Democrats retook the government in 1994, but the trend toward economic liberty continued for another quarter-century.

“One thing the left gets wrong is that they think that Sweden has this sort of warm, friendly, fuzzy capitalist thing—no layoffs, no fierce competition, protecting the old companies and so on. And it’s really the total opposite,” Mr. Norberg says. “It’s more deregulated. The product markets are much fiercer competition, much more free trade. All of the companies know that they have to be world champions or they will be destroyed.”

American leftists, even those who shy away from the “socialist” label, generally call for higher taxes on “the rich” to support an expanded welfare and entitlement state. That, too, misapprehends the Swedish example. “We have much higher taxes on the poor and the middle classes than you do,” Mr. Norberg says. “And this is the dirty little secret that no one in the American left wants to talk about.” Nonprogressive taxes on consumption, social security and payroll are 27% of Swedish gross domestic product, 16 points higher than in the U.S.

Assumptions about Swedish health care often are wrong too: “Lots of Americans think it’s a Medicare for All thing. But it’s not even a national system. It’s a regional system.” Largely funded by a flat tax, the system isn’t all government- run: “We had a problem with productivity and investment in the health-care sector. So now we have more freedom of choice and more competition in the provision of health care.” Whereas American Democrats aspire to abolish private insurance, “one of the biggest hospitals in Stockholm was privatized, and you can go to private providers. And the first line of health-care defense, in a way, is often private clinics.”

Mr. Norberg acknowledges there’s some truth to the socialist stereotype. Heavy labor-market regulations and powerful unions survived the socialist era and strain the economy. The country has no official minimum wage, but its de facto rate is high. “For a while, that looked good in Sweden, because it meant that all of the less productive companies were destroyed.” While this worked with “a homogenous workforce with very high education and experiences in the Swedish language,” large-scale, low-skill migration has upended the model. With a massive influx of Middle Eastern refugees in recent years, “Sweden is becoming a normal European country, in a way, with a big anti-immigrant party.” To keep the far-right Sweden Democrats out of power, the Social Democrats currently lead a broad coalition government. Mr. Norberg says that reducing taxes on the rich, deregulating the labor market and liberalizing housing are at the top of the agenda.

If Sweden fails as a socialist model, what about its Scandinavian neighbors? “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy,” then-Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said in response to unwelcome praise from Mr. Sanders in 2015. “Denmark is a market economy.” Not long after lunch with Mr. Norberg, I asked Finnish President Sauli Niinistö if he leads a socialist country. His answer: “No, God bless.” Norway is similar, and a major producer of fossil fuels to boot.

Mr. Norberg does think his country has lessons for America— but they’re free-market ones. Whereas U.S. entitlement spending is on a path of uncontrollable growth, “our politicians basically said, from the left to the right, this is not sustainable. Our social-security system will collapse if we don’t reform it,” he says. Americans who talk up the Swedish model “would have to reform social security, and change it from defined benefits to defined contributions. And reduce social-security pension payments when the economy is doing worse.”

He understands Americans’ disdain for politicians. “Obama was going to stop the oceans from rising, and then Trump is going to get the old jobs back, and ‘I alone can fix everything. The world’s a mess, but I can do it.’ That kind of sets you up for some disappointment in the end.” Yet he sees much to admire across the Atlantic: “No matter how far to the left you are, if things go wrong in Sweden, yeah, if you can find a second career in the U.S. and move there in some way, that’s where you want to go.”

A couple of days after our interview, Mr. Norberg emailed a warning for Americans: The most dangerous place to be is top of the world, think you have it all made and can afford to experiment with socialism or protectionism, because you have plenty of room for mistakes before you hurt yourself,” he wrote. “That’s where Sweden was in 1970. It almost destroyed us, and it took some heroic efforts to get back on track.”



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