On Monday’s episode of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” the Daily Wire editor-in-chief talks about how Los Angeles has become increasingly unlivable due to the homelessness problem, and presents a “carrot and stick” solution for helping alleviate the problem. Video and partial transcript below:
America’s major cities are now collapsing in on themselves like dying stars. America’s major cities are becoming worse and worse in terms of living standards for the people who live there. That’s not true for every city, but it’s certainly true for cities like Los Angeles, where I live.
I’m old enough to remember when Los Angeles, where I’ve lived nearly my entire life, with the exception of three years in Massachusetts when I was in law school, it has gone from a very livable, nice city — particularly in the suburbs — to an incredibly dirty city where there are insane amounts of litter, trash on the streets, open needles in suburban areas in your schools, homeless people on nearly every corner, there is not an embankment in Los Angeles that is not occupied by homeless people — all over the city
That is because major cities around the United States have refused to do what is necessary in arresting people and ensuring that they actually have a place to go with regard to not just housing, but in terms of mental illness, [and] in terms of drug abuse. One of the obvious facts about homelessness in major cities is that is largely driven by mental illness — severe mental illness — and drug abuse and alcohol abuse. And that means that you have to approach the thing with both the carrot and the stick.
What the Left would like to do is approach this thing with just the carrots. “Okay, well here’s some housing that we’ve built for you,” and we’ve seen this in Los Angeles, where it’s costing like half a million dollars to build a unit of housing thanks to building regulations — because the government is insane — and that means that it’ll cost you more to house somebody for a year than to do pretty much anything else with them in the state of California and in the city of Los Angeles.
You’ve seen this approach taken also in Seattle, where they’ve set up what’s called “drunk dorms,” [buildings] where there are no restrictions on who can live in these areas, and as it turns out, a lot of homeless people don’t actually want to live under the same roof with a bunch of other homeless people who may, in fact, be violent alcoholics. So that’s been a serious problem. You have to combine this with a stick approach. Yes, you have to have the carrot of a place for people to go, but you also have to have the stick approach, which is if you violate the law, we will send you to jail. If you keep violating the law, we’ll keep sending you to jail.
And also, if we want paranoid schizophrenics off the streets, they will require some mandatory treatment. That does not mean that you that you get to simply walk out of the treatment facility when you feel like you are cured and then go right back to the streets where you are not taking your proper medication.
My grandfather was a schizophrenic, his life was saved by the fact that he was taking medication at a mental facility. He was actually put away in a mental facility for like a year — eight months [or] a year — and it saved his life. You have to have the legal ability to take people who cannot care for themselves and put them in a position where they receive the care that they need. The whole point of severe mental illness is that you are unable to control yourself, [and] the same thing is true of severe drug addiction. If you cannot arrest people for living on the street and then put them in mandatory drug rehab, it’s gonna be very difficult to ever move them off the street.
The housing-only approach has failed pretty much everywhere that it’s tried. The only place where it supposedly succeeded was Salt Lake City, and that turned into such a money pit that Salt Lake City had to cut its own expenditures on housing. Also, it happens that Salt Lake City is supported in huge amounts by the social fabric of the Mormon Church, which is there [and] provides all sorts of social support for people who are homeless, provides all sorts of services. Those sorts of services don’t exist in major cities around the country, and when government does provide those sorts of social services, it actually acts as a magnet for homelessness.
In fact, even in Salt Lake City, after a 91% decrease in homelessness over a decade, they saw, for two straight years, each year a doubling of the homeless population after it became widely publicized that they were giving away all sorts of goodies to homeless people — because, as it turns out, that is an incentive structure. Part of the solution has to be the threat of law enforcement taking your stuff, arresting you, putting you into mandatory drug rehabilitation, placing you into a mental facility — a mental health facility — where you receive mandatory drugs that will that will help care for your severe mental illness. All of these things need to be on the table.
None of them are on the table, and now the Supreme Court has turned down the appeal of an insane Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that suggests that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution to fine people for living out in public on the streets — really, this is what the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal found. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a few months ago found that it was a violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Constitution of the United States to give people a $25 ticket for living on a sidewalk. [This] is pure insanity, by the way.
You want to destroy a city? This is the way you do it, not just because living conditions go down, but also because you destroy the ability of businesses to do business in the city of Los Angeles. [I] have many, many friends who are police officers in the city of Los Angeles, and one of the big problems is that a business owner will call them up and say, “I’ve got a homeless person who is sitting on my stoop and peeing right in front of the business and my customers can’t get in,” and the police officers will [ask], “Was the person trying to break in?” [and then] “No? Well, there’s not we can’t do anything about that.”They’re just living right there, there’s nothing they can do about that because the city of Los Angeles has decided to go along with all of this nonsense.
So now the Supreme Court has ruled again that you have a right to sleep on the streets. They did so not by ruling that outright, but by refusing to overrule this Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rule. Now, that has some predictable effects. So, for example, in San Francisco, this picture was going around yesterday: It is a picture of a homeless man…this is taken by a journalist, the journalist said this person was clearly a drug addict. This person literally went into a supermarket in San Francisco and proceeded to defecate on the floor.
The good news is that they found the toilet paper aisle, so at least they have the toilet paper to deal with it. The bad news is there was an open bathroom with no one occupying it in the same store and this person just decided to go poop right on the floor of the supermarket. This has become San Francisco.
I had a colleague, Kassy Dillon, she went over to San Francisco and took videotape of all of the street corners in San Francisco, and San Francisco has become a feces fest. The entire city has turned into a trash heap — one of the most beautiful cities in America. The same thing has happened in Seattle, a gem of a city — I used to do a local show up in Seattle — a gem of a city has been turned into a homeless encampment, and the past several mayors have refused to do anything about it, citing the right to live on the streets.