California’s Biggest Cities Confront a ‘Defecation Crisis’
By Eric Mack
Lamenting San Francisco rates as the “the doo-doo capital of the U.S,” and California now has the “majority of the nation’s homeless people,” Claremont professor and author Charles Kesler writes there is a “defecation crisis” in California’s biggest cities.
“Without wishing to return to the Elizabethan Poor Laws, we ought to consider what was lost when the courts discouraged Americans from thinking of ‘homelessness’ in light of the old laws against vagrancy,” Kesler wrote for The Wall Street Journal.
“Under that understanding, no one had a right to camp out indefinitely on public property, much less to defecate on it. Public property belonged to the public — to everyone — and couldn’t be privatized for the benefit of one or more vagrants, however poor or sick. Though that principle would need to be applied to modern circumstances, it is the indispensable starting point for thinking about the shocking problems of the Golden State.”The sub-headline of his Journal opinion piece remarked California lawmakers are banning plastic straws to reduce waste, but “a far worse kind of waste covers the streets of San Francisco and L.A.”
“The majority of the nation’s homeless people now live in California,” Kesler wrote. “There are myriad causes at work, no doubt. But there was no ‘defecation crisis’ — a term usually associated with rural India — in the 1930s, even with unemployment at 25%, vagabonds roaming the country, and shantytowns, and ‘Hoovervilles’ springing up everywhere.
“Today’s homeless and the hobos of the Great Depression are different in many ways. The triple scourges of drug abuse, mental illness, and family breakdown have produced anomie and derangements far deeper than those seen in the 1930s, when the widely shared nature of the economic and psychological distress provided its own grim comfort.”
Kesler lamented Californians are taking more care for dog feces than working on the problem of human feces. And, while plastic straws are banned, no one is coming after the plastic doggy bags used to pick up droppings.
“In California at least, one is struck by the contrast between the fastidious attention paid to the social duty of scooping up and disposing of dog feces, and the rather more paralyzed and guilty reaction to the plague of human feces,” he wrote. “The former is treated as a moral imperative among the enlightened — and the thin plastic bags used as the means to this moral end have so far escaped the fate of plastic straws, well on their way to being outlawed as an environmental outrage.
“Even social-justice warriors don’t consider it their personal duty, however, to tidy up after their fellow human beings on the streets.”