America's Homeless Problem: The Final Solution.
Municipal governments criminalize homelessness and the activities of charitable homeless caregivers. State and Federal governments are helpless in meeting desperate human needs. So what do we do?
By General Michael V. Hayden, former director, CIA.
Every day there are over 3.5 million people in the United States that are homeless. Of course, many of them are hungry. As part of what is increasingly called the "war on the homeless" local governments and businesses are united in trying to beautify cities by sweeping the destitute off the sidewalks along with the trash. New ordinances are being enacted and police sometimes use draconian methods to enforce them.
The severe plight of these down-and-outers is the result of two factors: Government provides meager assistance for them and charities and churches, which operate in public spaces to assist them, are often hassled by law enforcement.
"This is a recent trend, a new twist, to criminalize the care-givers, the service providers," says Maria Foscarinis, the Executive Director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. "The most extreme example is actually making it a crime to offer food to people in public spaces." Hundreds of U.S. cities have passed such ordinances.
Some pastors have been threatened with arrest and others actually jailed for attempting to give food to the homeless and hungry. In Orlando Fl, seven activists were arrested for attempting to feed the poor in a public park.
Another problem for the homeless is that when they gather into encampments, usually on a city's edge, their meager, unsanitary "homes" will be quite temporary. Throughout the country homeless camps, with their makeshift shelters, have been bulldozed out of existence.
One of the most interesting, and perhaps humane, strategies to deal with the homeless is a plan soon to be executed in Raleigh, NC. The city is building a 100 plus- acre- complex, which is 12 miles outside the city limits. When completed the city's vagrants will be bussed there, forced to stay and participate in a work program. In exchange, they will receive food, shelter and healthcare.
Given the hopeless plight of the homeless, coupled with the reluctance of inability of states and municipalities to cope with the problem, it is clear that a national solution is in order. At the outset, the homeless must be rounded up and sent to resettlement locations where they will receive the most humane treatment.
President Obama must invoke Executive Order 1101, which allows the Federal Government to take over all health, education, and welfare functions. The Office Of Emergency Planning, FEMA, and the United States Army can administer the program. While my former employer, the Central Intelligence Agency is, under the law, not allowed to operate domestically in the U.S., that has never stopped it from operating promoting cherished American values on American soil. The agency could be of great assistance in solving the plight of the homeless because of its understanding of the American people, homeless or otherwise, gained by years of spying on them.
It should be emphasized that the relocation centers will be so organized and provide such services that recognize the inherent dignity, worth, and value of the individual Equal treatment for women is of utmost importance. The resettlement camps will provide shelter, medical care, vocational training, education for the young, recreational facilities for all, senior centers, religious services and jobs.
The work done by the inmates will come from trans-national corporations and other businesses, as is currently done by privately run prisons in the U.S. Indeed, all services provided in the camps will be privatized in accordance with the customs of our greatest institution, unregulated capitalism. Minimum wage laws will not apply in order to give incentive for free enterprise to provide labor for the inmate prisoners. As it did during World War II for Nazi Germany, IBM will keep records on prisoner labor activity.
Whether abortions or birth control will be provided in the camps will have to be decided ultimately by the Congress. As a practical matter, the GOP dominated House of Representatives would probably not allow either. The same goes for the right to vote. One suspects that the House will vote to deprive the inmates of that exercise, in light of the fact that many of their colleagues, on a state level, have passed and enforced new Jim Crow laws.
The Secretary Of The Army will oversee a federal registry of the homeless. That registry is needed in situations where homeless prisoners escape from detention and need to be rounded up and sent back. Escapees will then be subject to court martial procedures held by a camp military tribunal.
It should be expected that few would actually break away from captivity because the army would need to guard and supervise the relocation centers for maximum security. Given the military's vast creativity in developing non-violent weapons for individual and crowd control, it could deploy guns which would emit high frequency electromagnetic rays (which cause unbearable heat] and similar weapons to discourage escape. This weaponry would aid in the periodic strip searches of the inmates to look for weapons that could be used against fellow prisoners or the camp guards. Because of the severity of the security issue, ever facet of the homeless prisoners' existence will have to be monitored by guards and ever-present surveillance devices.
Since a large number of the homeless are mentally ill, suffer from PTSD, have been recently released from prison, or are children, they must be protected from themselves and each other. This necessitates close supervision in the camps by armed personnel who could be provided by private contractors such as Blackwater or other operatives who have necessary experience gained by working with the military in such locations as Abu Grahib and Guantanamo Bay.
The problem of housing three million homeless people can easily be dealt with by placing them in such places as the numerous abandoned warehouses in the economically depressed U.S., e.g. bankrupt Detroit. (Cold temperatures in the buildings there will be raised by the installation of blast furnaces, even hot enough to melt organic materials.)
Providing accommodation to the resettled homeless can also be accomplished through placing them in abandoned, or soon to be vacated, military bases which are located throughout the country. Of course, there are many other vacant federal properties. Pre-fabricated materials might be used to build the camps on these grounds, as was done in the case of Japanese internment in the 1940's.
Given the recent criminalization of the homeless, as well as of those who would give them care, and the inability of states and municipalities to meet even their most basic needs, the solutions I have suggested must be put into effect on a national level.
It is imperative that, not only the basic requirements of the homeless inmates be met, but that they be given opportunities to develop self-respect as well as self-reliance through education and work programs. And, as noted above, their spiritual, mental health, and recreational needs must be met by a nation that acknowledges the humanity of all. Of course, these goals must be achieved in safe, secure surroundings.
The plan I have suggested is workable and the President has the authority and the resources to put it in operation. Our country has a history of experience with the internment of people in camps as well as reservations for native peoples. Furthermore, private military contractors, such as Blackwater Security or DynCorp, have acquired expertise in dealing with security problems that might arise in the concentration camps.
This is America! We are a "can do" nation that can achieve the final solution to our homeless problem. I say, get on with it!