Sidewalks Are Not for Sleeping

Middle of November 2019, the Las Vegas city council approved ordinances to corral the homeless. The legislation will ultimately frustrate all involved and prove meaningless. The only good which may come from them is a somewhat honest public debate regarding transient control and the funds taxpayers will wish to dedicate to such.

There should be no doubt that a good portion of residents will suggest loading vagrants onto Union Pacific freight cars then shipping and leaving them in the Mojave. Here in libertarian Nevada, the idea of an individual making him- or herself incapable of carrying his or her own water, of being an intentional public burden, will rankle.

While the concept of “bootstrapping” is popular, in reality if the loudest proponents of this had tried practicing it they’d either be living at barely sustainable levels or already long dead. Deny it as they wish, we’ve all had help. Nobody advances without some kind of help.

Events call to mind a Herman Melville short story titled Bartleby the Scrivner. It wrestles with to what extent should society care for those who’ve forfeited any concern for themselves? The 21st century homeless now ask us the same question.

Furthermore, the chronically homeless are either unaware of their communal imposition or willingly imposing themselves on those of us paying freight.

The areas they select to bed down – “homesteading” at its most perverse – mustn’t need be vacant. They’ll establish “hobo jungles” anywhere. Ragtag encampments my parents and their contemporaries would’ve recognized from the Depression.

Nothing about ours compares to the past’s poverty.

Straits of the homeless aside, nothing condones the disdain they visit upon us. The bolder, dumpster divers among them especially.

Understandable their circumstances force raking through garbage. However, why must the tailings of such prospecting be abandoned outside the containers they’ve mined? Ordinary litter is unsightly enough. Blankets of it scattered by the uncaring justifiably lessens whatever sympathy for shitbirds.

Nevadans are not of the mind to increase revenues to improve the public good. That is a California notion. On this side of the border many view the Golden State with anathema. Public measures intended to improve society are confusing and mistaken, cursed as “liberal.”

In Nevada, in its denser precincts, bolstering public education and health are judged “liberal.” Therefore bad investments for the perilously shortsighted.

The measures won’t take effect until February 2020. Thus far outrage has been muted. What’s proposed isn’t draconian but something borne out of disgust and exhaustion.

Oh, wait. There is one facet of the measure uniting pro and con factions. The penalty. For noncompliance there will be a thousand-dollar fine. Let’s face it, if homeless people had $1000 would they be homeless?

No doubt in the committee formulating this ordinance, the levy made sense. But in real life … ?

The homeless have seemingly besieged Las Vegas. Not in the tourist areas certainly. Beyond them. In the neighborhoods the homeless are human talking, okay, mumbling and screaming, weeds. Nowhere outside the scoured areas can one go long, far, whether in an auto stopped at a signal light or pedestrian ambling beneath a brilliant blue sky, without being accosted by human wreckage.

Forget all that friendly helpful neighbor nonsense propagated about the West. At least today’s West. During the frontier era when settlers withstood the region’s solitude, its severity, they knew survival meant putting aside personal piques or animus. Whether grudging or not.

Nothing like raising a barn or needing to borrow an implement to compel neighborliness.

Politeness here is rote. Las Vegas a hospitality destination, courtesy pays mightily. Even if in most instances it’s so reluctantly offered one should wonder behind the bother.

Infringing on strangers’ kindness as they do, the homeless stand the above on its head. They practice a solicitude those in service industries ought. Jobs depending on tips to supplement them should produce the sort of cheese-eating that bolsters the price of dairy goods. Instead, the homeless generally attempt a graciousness so winning while beseeching “spare change,” the local soft touches feel obliged to fork over.

Perhaps if hospitality personnel delved to the same level their gratuities might notably increase. I saw one doorman at a swank hotel abase himself so deeply, the guests he helped with luggage and car doors threw more coin at him than they likely intended. Whether from his show or belief such self-degradation required greater reward, who knew?

His behavior easy to despise on one hand, one nonetheless admired the cash horsechokes he must’ve accumulated through his shifts.

The homeless don’t get that benefit. At least the doorman hustles and scuffs. He, akin to anyone else working in Las Vegas, is doing his utmost to avoid a shitbird existence. That is always commended.

No one sets out to be homeless. Not here. Homelessness in Las Vegas appears particularly vicious.
The transition from eviction to (hopefully) putting larger items into storage and essential items in a wheeled suitcase, and exhausting all possibilities of couch-surfing before sleeping rough is swift. Not so much because social services are lacking – in Nevada they’re between woeful and abysmal – but the city’s transient nature means few contacts have been developed and those mostly shallow.

Las Vegas cannot be considered “home” for a large percentage of its residents. Thanks to its nature or how it’s perceived by outsiders, probably more so than elsewhere, Las Vegas attracts a greater percentage of fortune seekers and those desirous of radical life changes. Moreover, living here is inexpensive relative to other Western cities. Particularly compared against Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Indeed, work in Las Vegas is plentiful and accommodations can be found for comparatively low amounts.
However, the Big Mayberry also offers diversions and entices in ways that lead the weak and unfocused astray PDQ. Those conditions contribute mightily to the homeless numbers. Job loss here can precipitate a rapid decline. Many suffering that misfortune aren’t capable of righting themselves with any immediacy.

Although they must’ve fucked up royally to get shitcanned, they never see it coming. Worse, through lack of awareness there’s never any Plan B.

They soon add their presence upon the pavement.

As for the long-term vagabonds homeless advocates do their damnedest by which to guilt-trip us Square Johns and Janes by emphasizing mental distress as opposed to character defects, drugs are the predominate culprit behind the “victims’” plights. And, no, they just didn’t become shitbirds overnight.

Most of the wretches littering Las Vegas sidewalks surrendered themselves body and soul to Schedule 1 drugs. (No. Marijuana and peyote do not belong on that list.) In the West methamphetamine is the main substance that bedevils. Once descending to the bleakness meth can send, and somehow still able to realize returning to semblances of normalcy pretty damned impossible, the abusers give themselves over to what those of us who’ve maintained balance determine as hopelessness.

If you’re hopeless, if you’ve chosen mental abandonment on purpose, if you’ve actively contributed to that condition, why should you be further considered?

Yes. That last sentence is harsh. True, too.

Returning to the mental distress homeless advocates use as favorite crutches for shitbird behavior, those activists attempt convincing the rightly skeptical that the abusers possessed vulnerabilities drug use exacerbated. That led to their current mentally decrepit states.

Not exactly a heartrending portrait, is it?

Those who’ve dabbled and sensibly decided to walk themselves back from the same precipice others leapt across might wish to disagree. They are acutely aware that for those spirals into personal disaster there were opportunities to turn heels and retrace paths into sanity.

The people adrift now have shrugged and accepted their fates.

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