Fair warning: friends, because this issue rends my heart daily, I tried real hard to be calm while I wrote this. I failed. This is the best I could do.
Poverty is heartbreaking. I have been on the front lines in social work in Seattle, which is one of the biggest disasters in terms of housing crises in the United States. I've watched this get worse and worse in the 17 years I've lived here even as more and more money, resources, time, and people have been mobilized to combat this scourge. It keeps me awake at night. It makes me cry as I walk around my chosen city. It is paralyzing, enraging, and terrifying. The Left is right: this is a dire emergency.
But it, as Michael Shellenberger argues in San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities** (he focuses on SF, but it could just as easily be Seattle, LA, NYC, Chicago, and increasingly more - mostly likely Blue - cities in the United States), it is actually Left-leaning policies that are making poverty, and in particular, the housing crisis, worse. From decriminalizing drugs in the name of "harm reduction" - which really just means outsourcing the harm drugs do to the community (I have to check for hyperdermic needles before I sit down on public transit now as just one example) - to demonizing community members who dare to voice their concerns for their safety and the well-being of their once-beautiful city as "racist," "bigoted," "lacking compassion," the Left has disabled everywhere it has power (which is to say nearly everywhere) from taking real action that would actually benefit "all" like they claim they want to.
For example, we don't benefit everyone by "honoring people's autonomy and freedom," as the Left claims, in choosing to abuse substances, in no small part because people are not freely choosing to abuse substances. That's kind of the definition of addiction. It's not people making bad choices they know they shouldn't make; it's people being unable to make the choices they want to make: and no, by the way, it's not because they don't have stable housing. It's because their basic needs for connection and reciprocal engagement in community have been systematically destroyed by modern society, again, in large part because of Leftist ideology that doublespeaks its way into convincing you that it's all about "inclusion," "equity," and "belonging."
Y'all, to understand the fruit, look at the root. What the Left is actually doing is at very best compassionate neglect. For all the Left's fighting over what words to use and what definitions to change, do you think people wandering the streets of every major city in America high out of their minds with nowhere to sleep, unable to connect to people who love them feel "included"? For all the Left's demands for "empathy," do you think human beings stacking up soggy cardboard boxes to sleep on freezing concrete feel like anyone gives a flying fox about them? For all the Left's railing against oppression and injustice, do you think people digging through trash cans, long-estranged from their families and communities feel uplifted and supported in any way?
The fruit of the Left's "long march through the institutions" (which you can understand more fully in Christopher Rufo's amazing new book America's Cultural Revolution: How The Radical Left Conquered Everything) is an inmitigated lowering of the quality of life for more and more people (with the goal of "everyone" - have you noticed how much the Left says "all" in their policies/plans/goals? Here's James Lindsay to tell you what that really means). The only thing that will stop a society-wide slide into utter decay is to pluck up the story of identity-based victimization, the use of claimed oppression as currency to buy allegedly "scarce" resources, the increasing violence fueled/excused by us-v-them affinities, the denial of reality and the attending screams about being oppressed if others refuse to play along, and the contrived, forced, and false narratives all of these things stem from.
Here's the real way to care about the poor: stop debating whether to use "homeless" or "unhoused." Stop imagining that "harm reduction" from using substances that are killing people every day is a real thing. Stop kneejerk rejecting people and ideas just because they come from a political party we disagree with and have been told to dislike. And start actually building relationships with them as fellow humans: not as charity projects, not as "the poor" we need to save/advocate for, not because of "social justice" or some political agenda or because of anything about our or their identity outside of being a fellow human being who knows what it's like to suffer alone, who has had dreams crushed by life, who's gone through loss and who has something amazing to offer in community. Let's go.
**for how good 85% of this book is, the ending - where Shellenberger proposes solutions - is really disappointing and not something I can get behind at all. It's actually quite surprising: as much as he criticizes Leftism, his polices are more Left than anything the Left has yet been successful at implementing, unless I'm just wildly misunderstanding him, which is totally possible. His book on climate alarmism and how it harms us all (especially the poor!) is superb, though.