Can Homelessness Be “Prevented”?



On March 7th we’re having an election in this county and there’s only one thing on the ballot: Measure H, a proposal to increase the sales tax in this county by ¼% in order to “Prevent and Combat Homelessness”.

It sounds so noble: prevent homelessness! And so cheap, too. Only one-quarter of one percent increase in the sales tax!

But let’s take off the rose-colored glasses and deal with reality. First, homelessness will never be “prevented”, and the problem can never be “solved”. That’s just a fact of life.

Decades ago it was public policy to involuntarily confine and institutionalize the homeless under various vagrancy and other such laws. But those laws were ultimately – and rightfully, in my opinion – deemed to be an unconstitutional infringement on their right to autonomy and self-determination, so such practices were banned.

That means that today’s homeless can’t be forced to do anything, unless they’ve actually broken some law. It’s also important to understand and accept that a significant portion, maybe the majority, of homeless people are in that condition either by choice (yes, there are those who actually choose to be homeless) or because they suffer from some condition (drugs, alcohol, mental deficiency) that makes them incapable of functioning in a structured and/or ordered environment. Therefore, by default there are going to be many people who simply won’t avail themselves of anything offered by this measure if it passes.

So though this tax increase may provide some programs, policies and facilities that might help some of the homeless, in no way will it “prevent” homelessness. In fact, the long-term result may be completely the opposite, as human nature asserts itself. As word of such programs spreads, LA County may find itself the destination of choice for homeless folks now living in other areas, who then hit the road to come here, increasing our homeless population, a classic example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Then there’s the idea that this is such a “cheap” solution. Well, as I’ve just pointed out, it’s not a “solution” at all, and as we consider the money aspect, is it really even “cheap”?

The statewide sales tax rate is 7.25%, but here in LA County it’s currently 8.75%, which is 1.5% higher than the rest of the state. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s 20% more than the basic state sales tax rate. Twenty percent higher already!

This proposal would add yet another ¼%, which is another approximately 3% increase to our current rate, raising the county’s sales tax rate to 9.0%. That would place us second only to Alameda for having the highest county sales tax rate (Link).

How did we get to this position? Simple. By repeatedly passing feel-good tax increase propositions like this one. Just in the last election we passed Measure M, which continued an already extant ½% sales tax, as well as adding another ½%. Which means that if Measure H passes we’ll have added, for all intents and purposes, 1.25% to our county sales tax rate in less than one year.

tax-increaseNone of this even takes into account the constant bombardment of other taxes we’re repeatedly being hit with, such as gas tax increases, school bonds (yes, bonds are a de facto tax), “usage fees”, and every other gimmick the do-gooders and social engineers in government can come up with to euchre us out of our hard-earned money (at least, those of us who are actually still “earning” any).

When is enough going to be enough? Because let’s face it; when this program ends up not actually “preventing” homelessness, which is exactly how things will turn out, what do you think is going to happen?

They’re going to come back to the well for another drink. Yet another tax increase in some form or another will be put on the table. The very personification of “creeping socialism”.

Let’s put a stop to this right now. Vote “No” on Measure H.




©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today as a column in my local newspaper, The Signal)

20 comments on “Can Homelessness Be “Prevented”?

  1. slowcowboy says:

    First, I would submit that this is another example of conservatives recognizing that somethings just are. Second, and I was living in Fairfax at the time, I remember going to vote and considering another bond measure for schools. It hit me that while this sounds nice, there had been bond measures on every ballot I had voted on before in Fairfax County, VA. I thought, “when will they have enough money? And, additionally, this bond will have to be paid off at some point.” I voted no, and have become very choosy as to what bond measures I approve of. You’re right: they are but just another way to tax, and the tax man will always cometh. They are also almost always portrayed in a positive way and about matters that seem, on the surface, such good causes. Good schools, after all, who wants bad schools?

    Your homeless example is another. I also recognize this is a tax, but those taxes creep up, as initiative after initiative gets taxed only .025%. Pretty soon, you’ve added a couple percentage points…

  2. captgene1976 says:

    I’d like it if the proponents of these feel good proposals were required to list all the administrative costs that they expect to pay for with this tax. If voters saw the salaries, with benefits, rents, cars and other expenses they were voting to pay for, they may think better of it. I suspect that the percentage of the money that actually benefits homeless people is minuscule.

  3. Hardnox says:

    This is nothing more than the same old kumbaya crap coming from the Left. Same shit different day. The homeless were much better off when local charities were tending to them. Now that government got involved there are more homeless.

  4. Kathy says:

    It’s the Dems’ standard MO of tugging at your heartstrings to squeeze more money out of you. Helping the homeless is much more complex because the reasons for it are complex. The problem can’t be prevented or combatted with yet another tax – they know it and you know it, but they’ll make a lame attempt of it, then throw up their hands and say ‘we tried, but we need more money.’

    Like slowcowboy said, the bonds never stop. Our county approved one years ago for a new athletic complex, then we had to add on to it, and now we need to continue it yet again, because we need to improve roads, for which we already pay taxes. Bonds are the never ending gobstopper.

    People are already migrating to San Antonio in droves, so unless you like large congested cities and being surrounded by dems, you might want to consider one of the outlying areas, maybe a smaller town with easy access to SA. Just a thought…

    • BrianR says:

      Oh, yeah, Kathy, that’s always the way. Some little anecdote to tug at the heartstrings, and make one out to be a heartless meany unless you shell out more of your hard-earned money for the latest cause du jour. I’m fed up with it.

      And thanks for the heads up on San Antone. Needless to say, if this ever moves forward we’ll recon before making any actual decisions. We wouldn’t live in the actual city, any more than I now live in Los Angeles. We’d find a great suburb to plant roots in.

  5. captbogus2 says:

    ” The very personification of “creeping socialism”. Thank you, President Wilson.

  6. CW says:

    Great post/letter, Brian.

    The homelessness issue is a tough one for me as I have a brother who is mentally ill and who was homeless for a period of time many years ago. In a reasonable world – meaning a world without liberals – there might be a possibility of virtually ending homelessness because reasonable parameters could be established to determine who qualifies for help and common sense tells us this would be a small, manageable population who truly cannot take care of themselves. But the reality is that liberals do exist, and without exception they co-opt these programs and turn them into typical government bureaucracies where there is no oversight and the objective is to get as many useless people on the payroll as possible. Nothing travels like news of free money, and suddenly the homeless population mushrooms. There’s no getting around it.

    Everyone is better served if the homeless are helped by private non-profits that will ferret out the freeloaders. As in my brother’s case the federal government already has programs to help people who are chronically unemployable. That should minimize the burden on local agencies assuming, again, that the liberals are kept at bay.

    The only other thing I would add is that it really would behoove people to voluntarily assist the legitimate non-profits in any way they can to minimize homelessness. There are times when people truly need help and the more the private sector works the less there is the temptation to resort to a government solution.

    • BrianR says:

      Absolutely, CW!

      I have absolutely nothing against PRIVATE methods. I STRONGLY support them, including with my own contributions. I put my money where my mouth is.

  7. Nee says:

    My first thought was exactly: Why don’t you move outta that hell hole? 🙂 I know that it’s beautiful but good God. As Martin was going to work there…more commuting…we knew we could never afford it, permanently. I don’t know how my relatives living there or in CT afford any of it!
    As for what Slow said about when the money will be enough? Heh. The absolute ignorance of people and what they don’t know they pay for will continue. Fairfax, and Loudon and Potomac counties are the wealthiest of DC suburbs and they are so insulated, they don’t pay attention.

    I did a little experiment with one of my kids. He said we “owed” him money when he worked for us. I asked him how much he thought he was worth. $12/hr. I said that I was college educated and made $15/hr with 25 years experience. So, I compromised. I told him I would make him worth $10/hr. I gave him Monopoly money. And I proceeded to teach him about the reality of having a job he “didn’t like” and raped him of every red cent. In the end, he “owed” me 3k. As I put that roof over his head, paid for his food, phone, internet, car insurance, tuition, medical and gas. I billed him for that plus his taxes…and not working a true 40 hour week…he owed me. He now lives in Redding, CA. And cannot really make a living…but he does shovel chicken coop shit for money. Guess that beats all, hahahaha!!!

    • BrianR says:

      I had a good chuckle reading that, Nee.

      Yeah, it’s a real learning experience when reality walks up and slaps us in the face!

  8. garnet92 says:

    I just posted a bit on the latest “brainstorm” out of your great state: single-payer health care that includes illegals. That really kinda set me off. Of course, it won’t likely ever pass, but it demonstrates how the left has gone completely off the deep end by offering never-ending feel-good benefits to everyone and worrying later about how to pay for it – which ties into your piece about the ever-increasing need for more taxpayer money to pay for political largess.

    As previously stated, most of us have no problems with supporting folks who need help. It’s not only the Christian thing to do; we’d all like to think that we could get help if it became necessary. The problem is that government, as we currently know it, simply isn’t constructed to efficiently manage any program more complicated than drooling. In almost every case, a bureaucrat’s first priority is to protect his/her job, closely followed by enriching him/herself. As usual, follow the money.

    Lastly, come on to Texas! You’ll find a lot of like-minded individuals here who vote for responsible government by electing folks like Greg Abbot, our current Governor, or Ted Cruz, our junior Senator. We ain’t perfect, but I’ll take those two over Jerry Brown and Nancy Pelosi as representing true American values any day.

    • BrianR says:

      First of all, thanks for the heads up. I’ll be right over to your place to read your column.

      I think you nailed it on the approach, which is one of the main things that differentiates us from them.

      Texas is looking better by the day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s