Corruption News

Homelessness is California’s hobby horse


In California, homelessness is a long-running crisis. Homelessness is a human tragedy for an estimated 160,000 unhoused people.

But homelessness is also incredibly useful for anyone who wants to complain about California. It allows us to say everything we want about our state.

Especially right now. Politicians, journalists, authors, professors, and social media trolls will tell you that California’s homelessness shows the utter failure of — take your pick — Democrats, Republicans, new progressive policies, old conservative policies, police, prosecutors, healthcare, the housing market, rent control, developers, YIMBYs, NIMBYs, socialism, capitalism.

The critics might be making novel arguments, but making homelessness a hobby horse is one of California’s most durable traditions, as old as the state itself.

In 1855, the North Carolina author Hinton R. Helper, in the first best-selling anti-California screed, “The Land of Gold: Reality vs. Fiction,” declared that the Golden State was destined to fail—by pointing to the homeless people who filled San Francisco’s streets.

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