Madison Too Reaps What They Sow

Since Dan took a (well deserved) pot shot at my town of Chicago recently I couldn’t help but notice this article in today’s Chicago Tribune titled “Public casts colder eye at homeless” subtitled “In Madison, rising suspicions in wake of unsolved slayings fuel backlash”.

The article states that there are 224,000 people in Madison and 3,400 homeless. By some simple math that means that 1.5% of Madison’s total population is homeless, if these statistics are correct. Per the article:

“A backlash against street people is under way in this renowned liberal college town after an uncharacteristically violent turn of events. Two unsolved murders in the span of a little more than two months have shaken Madison’s secure sense of small-city living and, even though no suspect has been named, the eye of suspicion has been fixed on panhandlers who work the streets.”

To put this in perspective, there are 800+ murders in Chicago every year. However, even in Chicago these types of murders would count as “news” because they involve attractive college students who are presumably not involved in criminal activities themselves (and not the usual gang bangers and people living in areas that gang bangers tend to shoot up).

The article doesn’t dwell on some unspoken items. First of all, since Madison is a very liberal place and people tend to think that everyone who is homeless is there because of the guy in the White House who just doesn’t care enough, their generosity and social benefits are very attractive. It is a commonly whispered item that homeless and the jobless move to Wisconsin to take advantage of a far more liberal system of subsidies when compared to Chicago (where we don’t really even pretend to care about them, and can’t take down the projects fast enough).

Since virtually every student in Madison dreams of working in some non-profit and “changing the world” maybe living among a sea of alcoholic, mentally unstable lunatics can give them some hands-on experience of what their policies bring. Remember, all the lunatics were let out of institutions because the left didn’t want to limit their potential and believed that their human rights were being violated (and also because the Right didn’t want to foot the bill anymore, and all these people weren’t exactly going to be let out in the conservative neighborhoods, anyways).

But who could have guessed living among a sea of bums lured in by feel-good policies would have consequences? And it is only the definition of irony that they are preying on the students in this liberal area, whose belief that everyone is a victim can reach its logical conclusion. And hey, they aren’t armed, either, because no one needs guns, so they can call the police while a large man is threatening them. Women in particular are at risk because unless they are very skilled at self defense the fact that they are outweighed and the guy attacking them is mentally unstable or on drugs puts them at a massive disadvantage.

Obviously not everyone in Madison is a liberal and Madison is an island in the sea of generally conservative Wisconsin. A lot of the students are studying constructive topics like business, engineering, and science, and just going to school there because it is a high quality school and a great value for in-state residents.

But it is instructive that the school leadership, which is unabashedly liberal, and the sea of liberal arts students, can now contemplate the embodiment of their policies.

Cross posted at LITGM

11 thoughts on “Madison Too Reaps What They Sow”

  1. Good post, but you are laboring under the impression that progressives would comprehend, much less admit to, the unintended consequences of their policies. Being liberal means never having to say your sorry!

  2. Same thing in San Francico. “The Homeless” drift in from all over the place because they get good treatment there.

    One of many Iron Laws: If you subsidize anything you get more of it.

  3. Interesting post, but as usual the numbers don’t pan out, at least with my anecdotal experiences. That 1.5% number seems awfully high. I say this because I am all over this town every day of the week and don’t see masses of homeless people, just the usual panhandlers on State Street – and they migrate to warmer climes in the winter just like the geese.

    With both of those murders the cops have not come to any conclusions, nor do they have any suspects. The poor woman on campus got broken into and killed (the cops aren’t saying how but I think this is because it was extraordinarily brutal). The other guy was apparently walking down the street and got stabbed.

    Also you are 100% INCORRECT about people coming here to poach funds for their lazy lifestyle. The mass migration is to MINNESOTA since King Tommy Thompson put W-2 into effect. No work, no pay in essence. As a matter of fact many are migrating back to ILLINOIS to recapture these funds.

    But the main thrust of your post is correct, if you treat bums and panhandlers as victims and give them free handouts they will stick around and more will come. I will never forget how beautiful I thought Santa Monica could be if it wasn’t littered with bums.

  4. It occurs to me that, rather than it being a sign of an impoverished and uncaring society, a relatively high number of homeless people indicates a prosperous people. The leavings of prosperity, the dollar given to the panhandler, the dumpsters with excess food and miscellaneous, slightly used goods, allow that way of life, at least in the gentle climates of the country.

  5. Metro University areas seem to have a higher than average crime rate [and we’re not just talking drugs]. Contributory reasons? Transit population without any stake in the community, belief one has less to lose than established communities [who in turn are more inclined to protect what they have and have less tolerance for environments that promote crime], the buy in to ‘victimhood’ rather than human choice for one life’s condition, who knows? The kids look the other way. Someone pays the price.

  6. I find 3,400 to be an incredible number, given that Madison’s area is 68.7 mi² (source) and there are only 750 miles of city streets (source).

    The areal density of vagrants is therefore one per thirteen acres or thereabouts, and their linear density on the streets would be upwards of one every four hundred yards — less than two city blocks apart on average, if the blocks are an eighth of a mile each. And that assumes they’re equally distributed within the city limits, which is quite unlikely. With that many bums around I’d expect to pass several in every city block downtown, and a medium-double-digit number in the course of a ten-minute stroll. I’d think they would be rather obvious.

  7. Jay – your suspicions are correct – the number is totally out of whack. There are virtually no bums in Madison except on State Street. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, after living here for 15 years I can’t ever remember seeing a bum in Madison anywhere but State Street, with the one notable exception of an industrial area on the east side of Madison right off of a bike path I use. A few guys were using an abandoned building as their summer abode.

  8. “Jay – your suspicions are correct – the number is totally out of whack.”

    I have read various articles over the years about how homeless advocates systematically inflate and even fabricate numbers to get more money and more political influence.

  9. I lived by Brittingham Park 5-6 years ago while in college. This is directly between the two murder scenes and nowhere near State Street. At any given time, there were 10-20 homeless people in the Pavillion of the park. And that is the situation at most Madison parks, at least within a few mile radius of downtown. Take that into account…a homeless figure in the 1000s does not surprise me.

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