By Andrew Friedrick
What happened to California? That is a question asked by most individuals with a pair of eyes and some common sense. Progressive ideology and policies have led to a significant decline in California’s wealth and public living conditions. In particular, homelessness has become a major problem for a state that claims to be humanitarian down to its core. At the end of 2019, there were over 150,000 homeless individuals in California. 1 Los Angeles is infamous for having a large homeless population known for spreading diseases. The city also is rampant with drug addicts. So how did California get into this horrible situation?
California is notorious for its progressive policies, whether from enacting a high minimum wage or getting rid of reliable forms of energy. In attempting to decrease the homeless population, California has failed spectacularly. Michael Shellenberger, a writer for Forbes, explains in detail how California made the homeless problem significantly worse, “California made homelessness worse by making perfect housing the enemy of good housing, by liberalizing drug laws, and by opposing mandatory treatment for mental illness and drug addiction,” he writes. 2 Shellenberger explains how California made their homeless situation exponentially worse by abolishing mental institutions. This, of course, resulted in a drastic increase in the homeless population. By getting rid of mental hospitals and institutions, the “vast majority of released patients ended up homeless on the street,” Shellenberger explains. California slammed government clinics as too oppressive and attempted to devise an entirely new system. The state’s new approach has not been effective in the slightest. Shellenberger explains how a lack of shelter and government leadership, along with progressive idealism, have hurt the situation instead of making things better.
California’s government has failed to utilize the appropriate funds needed to improve the homeless population or the severely mentally ill. High living costs and taxes have also been a big issue. So what can we learn from California’s failed progressive approach? Instead of treating the homeless as the “unlucky” or “oppressed” individuals in society, we must take a different approach. We must lower housing costs and taxes, address drug addiction and crime, and teach people struggling with homelessness the importance of work.
Andrew Friedrick was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He will be attending the University of North Florida in the fall. He loves all things related to sports, enjoys the outdoors, and is passionate about politics.