They yelled, fought, had fires, used power tools, and behaved in various undesirable ways

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

One of Scott Alexander’s commenters changed his take on homelessness significantly in the last year and a half:

The lot next to my house had a giant three story tree which formed a dome around its base. Shortly after moving into my house a camp of 5–15 homeless people (depending on the day) moved into the tree. They yelled, fought, had fires, used power tools, and behaved in various undesirable ways. I called the police on them for various offenses ~5 times without ever having even a single officer or official appear on site. About 8 months after they had moved in (I found the backstory out in retrospect) the lot was purchased by a developer. Construction workers came and told the homeless people they should leave because the tree was being cut down tomorrow. Per said construction workers the response was “over our dead bodies, we will burn it down first!” to which the construction workers, who were planning to cut the tree down anyways, responded with a shrug. Mind you the edge of this giant tree was ~15 feet from my house. That day/night the homeless people gathered >20 propane tanks and strapped them to the tree, then lit it on fire.

I woke at ~2 am to rattling bangs shaking my house, a weird bright red glow shining through my kitchen window, baking heat emanating from the windows, and my wife and six day old child screaming. We fled the house naked with our child, injuring my wife who had just given birth. I went back in once for some documents and clothes after determining the house was not actively on fire. After maybe 5 minutes the fire department showed up and put out the fire. The next day the construction workers cut down a sooty and much reduced tree. One cop spoke to me on the phone once and never followed up. All the same homeless people still roam the area and now live in a wash ~150 feet away.

I’ve now moved to a fancy expansive HOA community that costs more than twice as much. I used to think homelessness was a hard problem with no good solutions. I no longer think that. I’m now in favor of basically anything that results in fewer homeless people.


  1. Jim says:

    Mugged by reality, etc.

  2. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Per said construction workers the response was “over our dead bodies, we will burn it down first!”

    That is a good way of stopping “The Man” from cutting down a tree. Evidence of a link between “homelessness” and idiocy.

    There used to be laws against vagrancy; there probably still are — just they are no longer enforced.

    The Chinese Communist Party would clear up in no time flat the vagrancy problem that we peons are forced by Our Betters to tolerate. Under CCP rule, the vagrants would have less freedom and responsible citizens like Alexander’s commentator would have more freedom. Why can’t “democracy” give us the same standard of civic behavior as the CCP — the same standard that we used to have within living memory?

  3. Mosby says:

    Another former Liberal. Gee, wonder what changed his mind? Homeless scum sure haven’t changed any. Maybe instead of moving to an HOA it would have made more sense to move to an area that had community, but those rednecks in the sticks aren’t going to eat vegan or put up with homeless drug addicts next to them. Heaven forbid those deplorables might have DONE something. The thing that people seem to have forgotten is that the Biblical definition of ‘Meek’ is not the present one. The term came from training animals; to ‘Meek’ an animal was like breaking a horse. Not to castrate or breed an animal into a wimp state. The idea was that a strong man could be led to Christ and accept that a Christian life, with Christian piety and discipline was superior to the barbarian lifestyle. Classic example is the Vikings; tough and strong men that nonetheless found that Christianity was superior to human sacrifice and constant combat. These same people were now willing to fight for Christ, rather that submit to decadence and perversities, which have always existed. This was a prime example of how the Homeless Industrial Complex is used by a cynical elite. Those dirtbags saved a developer money, and no doubt kept the price of the land down until a larger fish could swallow up the previous owner and cash in. San Diego’s local government uses this ploy extensively. Clear out legitimate business and allow the scum to inhabit and keep areas blighted until the desired major development occurs. Funny how the same city government that claims its hands are tied in a working class area won’t allow excess parking in the wealthy enclaves. Maxine Waters comes to mind…. Why not ask (acks?) how her jurisdiction is a third world slum while her home is patrolled by the same po po she spouts off on.

  4. Wang Wei Lin says:

    Gavin, I’ve traveled in China more than most folks staying in 5 star hotels in Beijing to village homes. Homes that are now gone because of road construction and the owners put in high rise apartments. I’ve also seen men bathing on the sidewalk nude and children sleeping on the sidewalk. Yes, there’s a lot less vagrancy. Just ask the Uighars. I agree with you that US vagrancy should be seriously reduced, but our rulers won’t do it. However, using China as an example overlooks the greater problems that would occur.

  5. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Wang Wei, I have travelled a little in China, mostly staying with Chinese people rather than staying in hotels. In terms of public behavior, it reminded me a lot of movies from the 1950s — clean streets, absence of graffiti, no threatening types wandering in public places. Nothing like today’s San Francisco or Portland!

    We need to remember that we used to have the kinds of civilized society that China has today. We don’t have to copy the strong-arm no-tolerance approach that apparently underlies the Chinese success; we just have to go back to what we ourselves did within living memory.

  6. Lu An Li says:

    Having more “affordable” housing is not going to work either. 75% of those homeless are either drunks, mentally insane, drug addicts. No amount of “affordable housing” is going to help them. House them in some sort of dwelling and the place will just be totally trashed in one month. Of that remaining one-quarter homeless almost none spend a full month on the streets.

  7. Bomag says:

    These homeless had access to power tools and were able to gather 20 propane cylinders. I’d say lifestyle people; not homeless.

    Another phenomenon is what I call “performance vagrancy”: guys who dress the part and carry themselves with a little too much gusto. I figure they must watch youtube videos to get tips on perfecting disheveledness and carriage. And a preternatural ability for obnoxiousness.

  8. Altitude Zero says:

    The “homeless” problem slipped its leash during the early 1980′s due to three factors; the deinstitutionalization of many mental patients in the late 1970′s, the chattering classes deciding that vagrancy and public behavior laws were racist, and the decision by those same chattering classes to use the “homeless” as a club to beat the Reagan Administration over the head with. In order to solve this problem, you don’t need to invoke the CCP – any sane government that wasn’t at war with its own majority population and that didn’t romanticize mental illness could solve it in no time. Even as recently as the late 70′s, this wasn’t a problem. The movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” has a lot to answer for.

  9. Bomag says:

    “The movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has a lot to answer for.”

    Also the 1966 movie King of Hearts; more stark in portraying the asylum residents as good and centered, the outside world as bad and needing intervention.

    At least it was played for laughs.

  10. Wang Wei Lin says:

    Gavin, I agree. I feel safer in any Chinese city than in Detroit, Chicago, etc. We’ve gone from a high trust society to low trust tribalism. Unless morals improve it will only get worse. John Adams stated the Constitution succeeds only if the citizens are moral and religious. As it is the trajectory points to a 3rd world existence for the US in a few decades.

  11. Jim says:

    Very disappointingly, I can’t include a long s!

  12. Jim says:

    Wang Wei Lin: “John Adams stated the Constitution succeeds only if the citizens are moral and religious.”

    That’s true. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other,” he said.

    It is as much a description of how the people must be constituted as it is of who is to be permitted to constitute the people.

    Perhaps, then, if we find our present definition of “the people” to be demonstrably corrupted and incurably inadequate for the sustenance of high civilization, we may, we should, we must—indeed we are honor-bound to elect a new one.

    And a man who holds as self-evident the proposition that the Founding Fathers were right about almost everything would rightly suggest the simple remedy of the First Congress’s Naturalization Act of 1790.

    Any such man might most properly be called a “Constitutional Originalist”.

    After all, if the Founding Fathers were for it, who are we to be against it?

    Who are we to overrule the will of men so inestimably great?

    Who are we to cause our Side of the Globe to reflect a duskier Light to the Eyes of the Inhabitants of Mars or Venus?

    Who are we to So gravely Sin in the Sight of Superior Beings?

  13. Wang Wei Lin says:

    Jim, The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the recipes for high American civilization, but for a recipe to deliver the desired results the proper ingredients must be used in the proper proportions. We have neither the necessary quality nor quantity to maintain American civilization. One of the problems is not just proper ingredients, but wrong ingredients with the assumption they can be made to work. In short, if we import the third world we become the third world.

  14. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Wang Wei Lin: “In short, if we import the third world we become the third world.”

    That is self-evidently true — and happening today!

    However, open borders are a symptom of the problems besetting the US; the real cause started long before Our Betters decided to invite the world in (and give them free health care in California).

    It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when things started to go wrong, but the 1970s would be a good place to start looking. Was the infiltration of the US government by people who wanted to undermine the US a plot by the (now defunct) Soviet Union? The case could be made!

  15. Jim says:

    Wang Wei Lin, you apprehend the matter readily.

    Constitutional Originalism, however, is not only about citizenship.

    It is about all of the fundamental concepts on which the American republic was founded, such as coverture.

  16. Bomag says:

    “It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when things started to go wrong, but the 1970s would be a good place to start looking. Was the infiltration of the US government by people who wanted to undermine the US a plot by the… Soviet Union?”

    Even that is a symptom of the general feeling that the US and the West in general was too successful, and must reduce itself in order to let others rise.

    A chunk of Columbus Day was celebrating the technological achievement of ocean going ships; navigation on a global scale; and figuring out the trade winds. Now the movement is to rename it Indigenous Peoples Day, a group with scant tech achievement and little that anyone wants to copy. But Feelz now rules.

  17. Kunning Drueger says:

    I happen to believe that the anti-monarchist, proto-antifa founding fathers were not the gods amongst lessers they are portrayed to be. The formation of a republic is always a solemn promise of invited entropy down the road, because republics have no method of renewal or course correction that keeps power centralized, rather constrained, within the aristocracy. Change in policy and process in a republic always requires an expansion of franchise, which is the demotic slope towards lawlessness and waste. As such, there’s no single moment you can point to after a society abandons the natural law of Kings that indicates that “things got worse.”

    That being said, here’s an interesting website:

  18. Jim says:

    Yes, yes, Kunning Drueger, all of commerce and government throughout the free world aren’t absolutely, undisputably, uncontestedly owned and operated by organized crime groups run by intelligence agencies run by banks run by a cabal run by a handful of air-quotes “great” families. The current year is 2015 (up to but not including June 16) and I believe that the organizing principle of politics is essentially people power and c’est la vie! Haha.

  19. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    “People Power” is the lie that helps allow evil men to usurp good men in power structures.

  20. Jim says:

    Pseudo-Chrysostom, you fail to think big enough, as wagies often do. There is no preexisting and inviolate “power structure” in which “good men” may or may not be usurped. The organization itself has owners.

  21. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Instead of going three parentheticals deep in modulation to satisfy every possible hair split of nuance, I write something short and punchy off the cuff that cuts at the heart of the matter.

  22. Jim says:

    You can call it a “hair split of nuance” if you like but it’s more like a fundamentally different perspective on the world. Aren’t people like you always going on about matadors and capes?

  23. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    You see my shill friend, what you do is bend over backwards to come up with the most stupid extrapolations of your interlocutors possible, so that you can pretend you are arguing with them; when of course, you are never actually arguing with them exactly, but with totems and simulacrums which you imagine are them, that occupy the same namespace as them inside your mind, but which exist nowhere except inside your mind, with any deviations by the object in reality from the preconcepted narrative rendered invisible, as the subject blithely continues attempting to follow on its imagined script to its imagined conclusions.

    This kind of congenital solipsism is an unfortunately endemic symptom in those who suffer from disabilities of spergmaticism.

  24. Jim says:

    I quiver in awe at the raw power of your intellect.

  25. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    And not the only thing that’s quivering i wager.

  26. Kunning Drueger says:

    Jim, why can’t you argue in good faith or make constructive comments? Do you just not take the site or this type of discourse seriously? I can’t figure it out.

  27. Jim says:

    Evidently when you inform employee-class neoconservatives++ that organizations have owners, there is no power vacuum, and the world is rational and its structures are internally coherent, they respond with stale word salads, pleb-tier personal attacks, and self-serious self-appointed gatekeeping.

    I or anyone else could talk at you until I or they run out of oxygen, but the simple reality is that you have to experience it for yourself.

    Quit your job. Start a company. Any company. The industry doesn’t matter. Food, cleaning, roofing, transportation, software, defense, it’s all the same.

    Figure out legal, figure out accounting. Figure out business banking and marketing and hiring and sourcing. Get to profitability.

    Whether you succeed or fail is irrelevant. The mere attempt will change you permanently.

    You’ll gain a fresh perspective on the world and with that fresh perspective you’ll know that I am right.

  28. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Evidently when you make obtuse assumptions about what other people think, and argue with your imaginary friends as if you were arguing with them, one finds it likely for you to persist in your solipsistic fantasy world, heedless of any feedback to the contrary from reality, however desperately or emphatically insisted upon by the principle agents.

  29. Jim says:

    Oh, I see it now: you’re but a crank.

  30. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Shocking twist: Jim follows 9,000 posts of unresponsive snark with a 9,001th post of unresponsive snark. Experts baffled. “Who could have predicted this?” – Nate Silver. “This proves we need to get the natural conservatives of central america on our side to turn the tide” – Jeb Bush. “I’m getting paid by the line for this right.” – Hunter Biden.

  31. Jim says:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

    More generally, the condition of wagery exerts an exceptionally powerful force upon man’s psyche in much the same way as the condition of captivity engenders the Stockholm syndrome.

    I claim that you are a wagie. On the off-chance that you are not now a wagie, I claim that your formative years and most of your adult life were spent under that condition.

    Qui non negat fatetur. He who does not deny, admits.

    Have you quit your job yet?

  32. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Careful ‘jim’, you’re close to letting your plausibly deniable mask of not being boy-fucking gommunist slip again.

  33. Jim says:

    Yes, yes, you know those pederastical c-c-communists, always imploring you email workers to quit your job and go into business for yourself if you want to really know how the world goes ’round.

    So do you look down your nose at small businessmen as if honest petite bourgeoisie-dom is beneath you, or are you too scared of failure, or (worst of all) too comfortable, to leave the service of another?

  34. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Sounds more like you’re too comfortable sitting on my dick lmao

  35. Jim says:

    You win, f@990+.

  36. Pseudo-Jim says:

    Well, that was entertaining, though the ending could have been better. You guys strayed pretty far from the article at hand, but anyway, your dispute comes down to this:

    One of you is talking about business (Jim), the other about government (Pseudo-Chyrs.).

    In business, the owners are not randomly selected; ‘good’ or ‘evil’ men don’t head corportations alternatively according to the whims of the population. Position is earned in business. True, very true.

    But in politics, there is a preexisting ‘power structure’ (the one established by the Constitution), and it can be filled by good and worthy men, or usurped by bad ones. If that were not the case, why did the Founding Fathers talk about the possibility of a tyrant being in charge so often, and take pains to make sure that the system could survive the slew of bad men that will inevitable fill the top spot once the bench of angels was empty?

    You’re both right.

  37. Jim says:

    Technically, I spoke of the business of government. How queer that every other organization should be a business, all the way up and down the pyramid, business organizations owning business organizations owning business organizations ad infinitum, but not the organization so jealously occupying the position of free-floating capstone. How very queer indeed!

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