Political Malfeasance

Why Have Los Angeles Public Officials Allowed/Enabled the Homeless Crisis to Manifest Into the Worst in the Developed World?

A politician should operate by the same ethos as a doctor – first and foremost, do no harm. Mike Bonin has inverted that principle of logic and moral responsibility to society. The policies he promotes present a grave danger to society as a whole, and put individual members of society as risk of physical harm and economic damage. At the same time, these policies proposed by Bonin will do nothing to help the homeless, and they will put the homeless at greater risk of suicide, lost opportunity for recovery, and an indictment to an entire life of homelessness. Furthermore, Bonin’s policies are not based on professional advisory or fact-based research from public health, human services, economists or public policy experts. The policies he is attempting to impose upon Los Angeles’ residents are his destructive personal whims.

The politicians who don’t speak out against Bonin’s dangerous policy proposals are just as culpable. Collectively, they set policy for the Los Angeles area, and their policies are detrimental to civil society. The track record of this Los Angeles political class in dealing with the homeless crisis is demonstrative of incompetence, and in many instances, outright malfeasance.

My colleagues and I are a group of friends, co-workers and residents spread across LA County and surrounding areas. We work in labor economics, data science, engineering, public policy, higher education, and logistics. We have been interacting will local government officials and policy makers regarding homeless matters since 2014. While observing the exploding homeless crisis in Los Angeles area, we have also studied what municipalities have done successfully regarding homeless problems in other regions of the US and the world.

What is unique to cities in California is that politicians here subordinate the interests of taxpaying residents to homeless persons. This is fatally flawed logic. There is no more important person in society than a tax paying, law abiding resident. That person is the backbone of neighbourhoods, communities, civil society, and furthermore, that person finances the existence of government. The same government who is bears the fiduciary responsibility of ensuring that society is functioning, police are funded to the fullest extent necessary, and that the taxpaying, law abiding resident can enjoy the benefits of their contributions to society.

Los Angeles has the worst homeless crisis in the developed world. Los Angeles ranks as one of the more costly metro areas of the US, with housing, transportation, healthcare, education and other services ranking above the US median in terms of cost by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Other cities in the US with similar cost and affordability characteristics do not have homeless problems to the extent of LA. Foreign cities such as Singapore, Zurich and Vancouver have significantly higher living costs than LA, yet they have lower taxes, more accessible public services, and far lower rates of homelessness.

Los Angeles City, LA County and the State of California have a very high relative proportion of employees who are specifically dedicated to working on homeless matters. The State of California and jurisdictions within have cumulatively spent over $10 billion on homeless matters since 2012. LA City raised $1.2 billion for ‘combatting the homeless crisis’ (prop HHH) which enabled a bunch of non-profits and other orgs to get big payouts for hiring ‘experts’ having lots of meetings and ‘community outreach initiatives’. Yet the homeless crisis continues to spiral.

Politicians such as Mike Bonin, Eric Garcetti and many others are the principle reason the homelessness in LA has become a crisis. At a minimum, they are incompetent. Arguably, they are worse than incompetent – in the case of Mike Bonin, he has proposed schemes that would exploit the homeless and use them to undermine residential communities.

The Political Class of Los Angeles is responsible for the homeless crisis, and they intend to make it even worse. They will make Los Angeles the most accommodating region of the US to homeless persons. This will attract ever more homeless to the area. Crime will continue to escalate. San Francisco decriminalized shoplifting for the reason that ‘homeless persons should not be deprived of necessities’. As a consequence, over 20 drug stores in the SF downtown area have closed. Civil unrest as seen in Portland, Seattle and other metro areas can eventually break out again in LA, as it did during last summers' riots. A large scale fire in the Santa Monica Mtns is a very real possibility. Any fire during a Santa Ana wind event can become a disaster. Homeless persons cause an average of 12 fires per day. 1 fire could be the precipitating cause of a catastrophe – and Los Angeles politicians and policy makers are aware of this fact.

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