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Gypsy Encampments of the Hollywood Freeway

On our way to downtown Los Angeles Saturday night for the annual Churchill Dinner of the Claremont Institute at the venerable Biltmore Hotel, my wife Sheryl and I took the Hollywood Freeway, a route we had taken uncountable times before.

Only something was different.  Small encampments of homeless had been set up on the edge of the freeway.  We were used to them under freeway bridges, but these were more elaborate, makeshift tents and blankets positioned on slopes along the freeway, so that, we speculated, they were in full view of the constant passing traffic.  That way the violence frequently visited on the homeless by themselves and by others would at least partly be discouraged.

I was reminded of Victor Hanson’s poignant descriptions of the California Central Valley and also of when I lived in Southern Spain and would see impoverished gypsy encampments along the roads to Grenada and Seville.  But that was decades ago and that part of Spain, Andalucia, was desperately poor then, struggling to play catch up with the rest of Europe. It did -- for a while anyway.

The Hollywood Freeway was not so simple.  This was a parade of the haves and have-nots, Mercedes and Lexuses, streaming past the tattered homeless:  Obama’s America.

The president has a solution to this problem, even as it gets worse.  Tax those folks in the Mercedes. Only that’s been tried a thousand times, most notably in the Great Depression, and it never worked. For someone so versed in Frankfurt School “critical theory,” the president has a convenient way of forgetting history.

He prefers, as we know, the pursuit of “fairness,” but in so doing he has seemed to make things less fair.  The stock market is up at the same time as the number of those who have dropped out of the labor force reached a jaw-dropping 89 million in January.   I wouldn’t be surprised to find gypsy encampments along all the freeways soon. African-Americans, as we also all know, have been hurt worst of all.

And yet Obama’s adversaries are accused of racism. La vie à l’envers, life upside down, as the French say.