It was a comment on this blog which struck me immediately upon reading it. The subsequent discussion in the comment thread was how antisocial behavior on the part of massive numbers of homeless people setting up massive, festering camps in the downtown areas of certain cities was making those cities less and less inviting for ordinary people. In the final analysis, no one really wants to come to work in a place where they have to step around feces on the sidewalk, dodge the aggressive panhandler outside a downtown restaurant, or run from the homicidal crazy looking to shove someone off the subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Downtown retailers can’t keep on in business long when the merchandise walks out the door, assisted by undocumented shoppers; so, eventually the normals – that is, those of us with jobs, property, and a liking for clean, non-threatening surroundings – decamp the urban jungle for something a little less edgy, usually taking our dollars, investments, responsible civic behavior, and tax base with us.
Why on earth do certain cities – San Francisco and Los Angeles being the two which spring to mind almost at once – allow this to continue? What benefit does it give to see gracious, scenic, and culturally-attractive cities descend into a condition which repels longtime residents and new visitors alike? What’s in it for the civic managers of such urban centers … and as it was pointed out, there’s money in it.
There’s money in it, administering programs which succor the homeless … which, if the homeless were ever successfully homed … would mean an end to that mission and money stream. So the civic powers that be have a vested interest in keeping those programs going, and even expanding them to minister to ever-increasing numbers of homeless. Which makes the powers-that-be feel all noble, responsive, responsible and unselfish-like … but which one commenter on the linked thread pointed out … for all intents and purposes they are farming people for a money crop.
And that was where I had that blinding flash of the obvious insight … yes, indeed; they are farming people for the money crop. Civic powers in certain locations are tending a segment of their population most assiduously, for the money crop to be harvested from them. Once possessed of this frame, I began to wonder what other collection of bodies are being farmed for the profitable money crop to be harvested by the controlling powers. Public schools came to my mind almost at once: students in a public school setting are the crop, and oh, they must be a profitable crop indeed for the teacher union farmers who make a gesture of teaching, but which are essentially farming students. What are the various impulses towards a national and universal health-care scheme, but another people-farming project on the part of various powers that be? Discuss as you wish.