I had planned to write something entirely different this am, but was distracted by Matthew in the Middle’s latest screed. And in this case, given what he wrote about vigilante justice, I’m sticking to the term screed.
Here is the post, and the summary of the comment is below. I wanted to post it here because I really want to begin to link the policies that will only continue by conservatives like Matthew, Supervisors Bohn, Sundberg, and Bass and progressive/conservatives hybrids like Richard Marks and Supervisor Fennell.
Outside of Richard Marks who sits on the fence on this issue, all the others have been outspoken in their tough-talk Rob Arkley approach to homelessness where prison seems less as a place to mete punishments and more of a place to home people. Factors in lengths of stays in prison often seem tied not only to the crimes themselves, but also to the fact we’d rather not have these individuals in our neighbors once they’ve satisfied their sentence.
That’s the score on the one hand. On the other hand, all the individuals above now cozying up to Weed Inc. The reasons why are clear in all but Supervisor Fennell’s case. I think Supervisor Fennell may be a true believer in Weed Inc., but all the others are Johnny-come-latelys and will have to walk a fine line (read: not address this issue at all) between their social conservative base, like the KINS crowd that clearly understand a connection between Weed Inc. and homelessness.
I’m not so sure that link is that certain as many trimmers and aficionados are young and well off. However, I’m concerned about the political ramifications of another resource extraction industry for Humboldt. That’s why I think it’s important to connect homelessness and weed. I would like people to be aware of their own political principle shift as we all begin to bow to the power of Weed Inc. If legalization itself doesn’t strike many conservatives as that big of a deal, then at least they should be made to address the potential of a what a legitimized Weed trade centered in Humboldt County will mean for social ills that will inevitably follow it. Homelessness, a continued illicit black market, even greater access to teenagers, etc. etc. etc.
Solving homelessness does not look like volunteers in bright yellow t-shirts with a police escort. It will have to begin with hard looks at ourselves and our society to try to understand how we got to this place. One good place to start would have been working toward a minimum wage.
Matthew, Virginia, Ryan, Rex and Rob, if you really want to solve homelessness what we need to do is think proactively, not reactively. That includes being honest about connecting cause and effect of different policies you support.
Part of the LoCO comment in response to Matthew:
Matthew and folks like him are currently running our homeless policies in Eureka and Humboldt (see Supervisor Bass’s Thursday am meetings which began after Arkley’s anti-homeless mob gathering). At least Matthew is “in the middle” in the sense he realized the value of non-profit outreach, unlike Rob Arkley and those of his ilk.
There are no easy solutions and Eureka is in a world of hurt right now. Crime is the norm in certain neighborhoods, like mine and calls for increased community action like neighborhood watches are spot on. However, all this other right wing nonsense is simply that. We are not vigilantes, we are not victims, prisons are for punishing crimes, not housing undesirables, and we are talking about people, not a big screen distopian fantasy.
All Matthew’s vision of solutions does is give anger a place to vent and increase an already over taxed crime and punishment segment of our public sector. What we need to begin to understand is these problems are reflections of greater problems with our society at large and do not have easy solutions. I believe that Eureka’s people specifically and HumCo’s generally are the type of people that can begin to work toward real solutions that can be copied in other communities – much like Eugene’s micro housing example – if/when we get the right leadership.
People like Matthew, Richard Marks, Ryan, Rex, Virginia and Estelle also have to be up-front with their constituents as we legalize and legitimize weed. This latest addition to Humboldt exploitative resource extraction history will continue the trend of a very few becoming very rich off the riches of our land (in this case it’s size and terrain) and the labor of many others. The nature of weed itself will dictate a sort of culture and politics.
I’m not necessarily thinking what most of you are thinking. When I think weed, I don’t think of Arcata and the plaza. What I am really worried about is paralleling the politics of Virginia, North and South Carolina, etc. in the 18th and 19th centuries with tobacco or cotton. Not slavery South, but something approaching indentured servitude South with a tiny ruling elite, a small cadre of a comfortable class and way too many barely being able to keep off the streets or out of prison on wages that cannot support a family.
In the end this is how Matthew et. al. are in the middle. They will follow and support the expedient politics and policies based on the riches of their neighbors AND they will designate themselves as part of the victim class.
ICPS: International Centre on Prison Studies: Ranking of Prison Population.