Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser says that her city can no longer continue to support out-of-towners at the city’s homeless shelters. “We have an obligation to serve our residents,” said the mayor. “But we cannot serve the entire region … We’re serving everybody else’s residents. We can’t serve our own. Our own residents are standing at the back of the line.” Last month she proposed a new policy that would require homeless people to prove their residency before being admitted to homeless shelters.
Proving residency can be quite tricky when a person does not have, um, a residence. Mayor Bowser demonstrated the absurdity of her proposal when she asked, “Do they have utilities? Do they have a lease? Do they have any way to demonstrate that they live here?” No, doofus. People who live under highway overpasses do not usually have leases or utility bills.
Bowser compounded the stupidity of her comments when she categorically refused to exclude illegal aliens. “Anybody, regardless of their immigration status, would have to demonstrate that they are a DC resident,” she said. So the city will gladly take in the poor from other countries, even those who are in the country illegally, just not people from outside the District. Yeah, that makes sense.
Despite the insanity of Mayor Bowser’s proposal, I can understand the bind she’s in. Budgets are, by definition, the apportionment of finite resources. She’s determined that the social services budget is overburdened and that she has to do something about it. She doesn’t want to slam the door in anyone’s face but unfortunately she must or there will be no social services for anyone.
Naturally, she isn’t willing to take the issue head on, pretending as she does that DC’s strained budget has nothing to do with the illegal aliens who have invaded the city. She’ll blame Virginians and Marylanders because they don’t have a grievance lobby to agitate on their behalf but she’ll never blame non-Americans. It doesn’t occur to her, I suppose, that people from other countries are also from out of town—really out of town.
To hear the Left tell it, the flood of immigration from the third world is a boon to the American economy. They don’t like to distinguish between the illegal and legal varieties of course, and they became incensed whenever anyone else does. Immigrants, they say, contribute to the economy and even pay taxes. They fail to mention however, that what little illegal aliens pay in taxes is dwarfed by what they cost the taxpayer both directly and indirectly. Despite the fact that it’s illegal for them to collect welfare benefits, they do it nonetheless. They send their children to our public schools—some of whom are also illegal aliens and some of whom are anchor baby citizens. (Yes, I said anchor baby. Get over it.) They demand ESL programs. They displace other workers who then turn to public assistance for their daily bread. They commit all sorts of crime then make use of court-appointed interpreters and public defenders. Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you that enforcement is just too expensive. We’ve tried non-enforcement and it’s costing us out the butt.
My initial reaction toward Washington’s budgetary crisis is schadenfreude. Serves them right. Washington is a boastful “sanctuary city” located within a country that is for all practical purposes a sanctuary nation. Immigration enforcement is a joke and has been for quite a long time. If some big city Democrat mayor can’t make ends meet because of stupid policies that she supports then too bad for her. But of course it won’t be Muriel Bowser who suffers the most when there isn’t enough money to keep the homeless shelters open, it will be homeless Washingtonians.
I often wonder if the burdening of our social services by illegal aliens is in fact an intentional effort—a “conspiracy,” if you will—to bring the whole system down. Recall the infamous Cloward-Piven strategy, first articulated in a 1966 article in The Nation magazine. Drs. Cloward and Piven were a married couple, both professors and sociologists, who argued that there just weren’t enough people on the welfare rolls and that those who were on the welfare rolls were only accessing a fraction of the benefits they were qualified for. They advocated a mass movement to enroll more people for the purpose of collapsing the system.
Why would they want to do that? I’ll let them tell you: “A series of welfare drives in large cities would, we believe, impel action on a new federal program to distribute income, eliminating the present public welfare system and alleviating the abject poverty which it perpetrates. Widespread campaigns to register the eligible poor for welfare aid, and to help existing recipients obtain their full benefits, would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments.” The basic idea was to federalize all anti-poverty policy, to redistribute wealth, and to institute a minimum guaranteed income. It was a socialist’s dream.
From this 1966 article was born the so-called welfare rights movement. Activists combed the slums in search of people who weren’t receiving all of their benefits or any benefits at all. Welfare recipients marched for more handouts. A lot of time and energy that would have been better utilized looking for jobs was instead spent on organizing and making demands.
But the Cloward-Piven strategy showed a surprising lack of ambition. They were “thinking small,” confining their movement to poor Americans when in fact there was a bottomless well of impoverished people in our backyard. I’m speaking of Latin America, of course. Fifty years after the article was published it appears that the Left has overcome its provincialism. These days they’re trying to get Latin Americans here by the boatload and to care for their every need. And why stop there? There are plenty of poor people in exotic places like Somalia and Syria. Just keep importing more and more of the third world’s most desperate people until the system heaves and gives way under the strain. Then replace it with something a little more Venezuelan.
Is this the 21st Century version of the Cloward-Piven strategy? In recent years I’ve asked myself that question with increasing frequency. Illegal immigration has swelled, states have granted drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition to people who shouldn’t even be here in the first place, and “sanctuary cities” (lawless zones) are now commonplace. The center cannot hold—and that may be the point.
It’s schemes like this that remind me of just how dumb it is for anyone to vote Democrat, even poor people. Especially poor people. I’m sure this will be a tough sell but I believe that it serves the best interests of America’s poor to show the jackass party to the door. Why? Because the welfare system as we know is it unsustainable, burdened a little more everyday with illegal aliens, the children of illegal aliens, and people who are just trying to get over on the system. For people who really need those services the prospect of collapse ought to be frightening. They should be telling their elected officials to stop importing wards of the state but they never do. Perhaps they believe, as many poor people do, that there’s some rich guy out there who can and should be squeezed a little harder. But there isn’t a rich guy in the whole world who could keep our social services afloat in the long run even if the government seized every penny he owns. The answer isn’t more taxes it’s less spending.
But don’t Republicans want to slash social services? Not really. For as long as I’ve been observing politics, Republicans have generally favored the status quo, opposing Democrats’ attempt to expand social services while doing little or nothing to undo what’s already been done. In the case of Medicare, they actually expanded the program with the Part D prescription drug program. Republicans have occasionally tried, with little success, to crack down on welfare cheaters but I don’t know of any elected Republican who wants to abolish welfare or even roll it back in any significant way.
For people who really need those benefits it makes no sense to continue to vote for a party, the Democrats, that is wittingly or unwittingly crashing the system. The first victims of the coming implosion are those Americans who actually need the benefits that government will no longer be able to provide.