Circulating around social media and in some opinion columns is the quote “Adversity [or Crisis] does not build character, it reveals it.” That comes from the pen of American author James Lane Allen, who, until two months ago, was completely forgotten in the dustbin of literary history.
Allen was a best-selling author at the turn of the 20th century. Even back then his “Adversity” quote was so popular that he also wrote, “Circumstances do not determine a man, they reveal him.”
Not wanting to encroach on a best-selling author—and knowing no one will ever quote my writings 100 years from now—allow me to offer my own “quote.” “Adversity [or Crisis] does not build or reveal character. It just makes other people notice it.”
By that I mean that sensible and silly ideas both come out during times of sunshine and storm. Maybe it just becomes more obvious that a person never carries an umbrella when you see him wet in the rain.
San Francisco, California has been a septic tank of government policy for many years, with the local government being completely unable to deal with its homeless and drug problems. Since 2011, there have been at least 118,352 reported instances of human fecal matter scattered on city streets, in the tourist capital of the US West Coast. You can earn more than $184,000 a year for cleaning up human feces as an employee of the “Poop Patrol.”
Bear in mind that this waste is generated by approximately 10,000 people in a city with a population of over 800,000.
With California now under a “shelter-in-home” protocol, what do you do about the street-living homeless? The San Francisco city government has decided to rent rooms for 3,000 of these people in some of the empty five-star hotels, including the Mark Hopkins and The Palace. “Guests” will receive three meals per day, hygiene products, and access to nurses. Others will be sheltered at the Moscone Center, a convention and exhibition venue.
Filling rooms with guests of any kind is attractive for hotel owners, especially since tax dollars will pay nearly all the entire bill. The Palace Hotel would certainly be my first choice with its “lush carpeting, restful beds, and bright, marble bath.” But at least some of these homeless luxury hotel guests are hardcore drug addicts. They may get drug abuse help but how will the city manage their drug needs in the midst of a pandemic?
What happens if they want to leave their Superior Room in search of drugs in the streets? Will the police be expected to maintain order and prevent drug addicts from leaving their rooms?
In addition, there is no exit plan. A four-month contract for the room occupants is being considered, but where these people will go afterward is unclear. Further—and you are going to love this—California law says that a person who stays in a hotel room for longer than 30 days is considered a tenant. Therefore, thousands of homeless people who have stayed in the hotels would become legal permanent residents, with protection against eviction.
And certainly, the homeless, after a month or two in a five-star hotel, would not be happy to be returned to the streets.
Were I to draw a comparison of adversity that makes you notice “character,” it would be in the relationship between the national and local governments even after nearly 30 years of the Local Government Code. We still have to figure that out, like San Francisco’s poop problem. Stay safe.
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