LR24: Homeless Crisis in America

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Liberty Revealed Episode 24 Show Summary

Mike talks about homelessness and how philanthropy should be used to solve the issue.

Listen to Liberty Revealed Episode 24

Liberty Revealed Episode 24 Show Notes

Welcome to another episode of Liberty Revealed. I am your host, Mike Mahony. This is the show that puts personal liberty at the forefront of all discussions.

Today I want to talk to you about the homeless crisis in our country and specifically, Orange County, California where I live.

I will start by telling you that I do not have a particularly libertarian view of the solution to this problem. As I’ve explained many times, I am a pragmatic libertarian, believing that a utopian libertarian society would be the ultimate place to live, but understanding that we must integrate into the society we currently live in, a society where, unfortunately, the government does play a role in social issues. While I am completely opposed to this, I understand that solving problems in today’s world depends upon the approach used in today’s world.

As many of you listeners know, I live in Buena Park, California, a city in Orange County. Like most places in the United States, Orange County is struggling to solve a homelessness crisis. Due in large part to an impotent Board of Supervisors who does nothing to help the community, this crisis has continued to get worse as time passes.

As if it isn’t bad enough that our tax dollars were collected and then earmarked for the homeless issue, the Orange County Board of Supervisors sat on $900 million in funding while the homeless crisis continued to grow. They failed to even apply for other grants and funds that were made available for this issue as well. Their complete inaction has created a crisis of epic proportions that must be solved.

Let me explain to you what a libertarian approach would be and then add my own spin to that.

It is my strong belief, and has been for a long time, that since the tax dollars will never be returned and since they are specifically earmarked for the homeless crisis, they should be used towards solving that problem. I do believe that private charities should spearhead the effort, but the government can take the money it has earmarked for this issue and give it to the private charities so they are well-funded and can begin to work on a solution to this issue. Supporting these private charities is going to create the most efficient solution to the problem.

Everyone needs to be held to the same standards. It is just wrong to say that people with jobs and homes can’t pitch a tent on the street while allowing the homeless to do so. I understand that the 9th Circuit court has ruled that there must be adequate resources available for the homeless before there can be enforcement of anti-camping ordinances. That’s why I feel we need to get busy on this problem. We need to provide the resources to the homeless so we can get back to enforcing the law equally.

We need to let residents own the safety role in their neighborhoods. When the person doing the work is close to the person paying for that work, everything works more efficiently. Let residents of an area decide who will police their streets. Perhaps they want to pool their money and hire a private police force? Let them! The government does not have to handle this for us.

We also need to remove the barrier to cheap housing. Things like tiny houses, RV parks and Alfresco Gardens go a long way towards providing cheap housing. The government needs to step aside and stop with all the red tape that makes it almost impossible to implement these kinds of programs. Let people choose to love in housing they can afford.

Get rid of the “too libertarian” approach often used by libertarians. We clearly don’t agree with the war on drugs, but there is a role for law enforcement in these matters. We want drug dealers to be afraid of being arrested. That is a good thing.

Hard-core libertarians believe that private charities can help those in need better than governments can, in part because coercive government programs often subsidize the wrong behavior. In a speech about what some call the “voluntary city,” economist Robert P. Murphy stressed that it is wrong to equate free-market conservatism with sink-or-swim social Darwinism. “You can admit that ‘yes, there is a need in a humane society for institutions that take care of people who are poor, who maybe made poor life decisions, or who just got struck with some rare disease or things beyond their control.’ We don’t want as a society to sit back and let those people die in the street.” He sees the answer in voluntary philanthropic organizations.

This brings me back to the local situation here in Buena Park, California. In an effort to comply with the 9th Circuit ruling, the city began seeking locations for a homeless transitional housing center in the city. They initially selected a building on a main street. This building was close to a school, houses and a senior housing area. The argument was that it is “too close” to these things. The naysayers complained that while they are not opposed to helping the homeless, they didn’t think that location was good and wanted to see the shelter in an industrial area.

I personally found the arguments against the shelter location uncompelling. The homeless are already near the residences. The homeless are already near the children. The homeless are already near the senior housing. How can one use as an argument against something things that exist before the something exists?

After much debate, the city identified and approved a location in an industrial area. Guess what? The same people who were in favor of helping the homeless as long as the shelter was in an industrial area are now opposing the new site. Seriously! You can’t make this type of stuff up!

To me this exemplifies why we have some work to do before the libertarian idea of philanthropy takes hold. We need to educate the public on the importance of contributing to these things. We need to show them that philanthropic solutions work. Once that is in place and we have the public on our side, it will be far easier to fight against taxation. Right now, when I mention cutting taxes completely, I hear questions like “Who will pay to fix the roads” and other similar questions. Philanthropy is still the answer.

If there were no taxes and the roads were getting in bad shape, companies like Amazon and WalMart, who depend upon the roads to deliver their goods, would chip in the fix the roads. That’s exactly how it should be. Private enterprise making a profit off the use of the roads should be paying to maintain the roads. This is a mindset change and we need to begin the process of showing society that this will work better than the system we currently have.

The homeless crisis can and should be solved the way the rest of society’s social issues should be solved–through private charitable organizations. Since we are not yet at that point in our society, we should allow the government to provide the cash to these private charitable organizations so they can get the job done.

I’ve had libertarians yell at me and cuss me out for the stance I take on this issue. I say be realistic. We cannot snap our fingers and find ourselves in a utopian libertarian society. That is just not happening. The money they have earmarked, while coming from tax dollars, is never going to be returned to us. Would we rather have them not spend any of that money and watch as the homeless on the streets die or would we rather have them spend it to save lives?

Isn’t it time that we realize there is a need in a humane society for institutions that take care of people who are poor? Let’s encourage this and help it grow.

That’s it for this episode of Liberty Revealed. .If you like what you’ve heard, please rate us 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. If you’d like to learn more about personal liberty, grab your free copy of my book “Liberty Revealed” by heading over to Until next time…stay free!

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