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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    This is one of those topics I know a lot about. Chronic homelessness is so tied to mental illness and substance use. 

    Troy, you did a fantastic job on this. I have an experience of anti Gell-Mann listening to this. Bodes well for the stuff I don’t know as much about.

    Good place to talk about this: 

    https://ricochet.com/955934/diversion-courts/

    I do believe that some day in the future, our future generations will look at how we treat mental illness with total horror. 

    • #1
  2. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik
    @TroySenik

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    This is one of those topics I know a lot about. Chronic homelessness is so tied to mental illness and substance use.

    Troy, you did a fantastic job on this. I have an experience of anti Gell-Mann listening to this. Bodes well for the stuff I don’t know as much about.

    If more people knew what Gell-Mann was, this would be one of my go-to blurbs for the site :) Seriously, this is one of the nicest things anyone could say about our work.

    I should note that we have an exhaustive process in place to maximize accuracy. First off, most of the issues we deal with are topics that we worked on during our think tank days, so we’re not coming to them cold. Second, all the factual claims in our videos are cited back to original sources (and not exclusively, or even primarily, conservative outlets); and we put all of those links up on the website and encourage people to explore for themselves (we also provide links to additional reading, including sources that have a different take than ours). In addition, we have an issue area expert review every script before it goes into production to make sure we’re not over-, under-, or misstating anything in the material.

    We simply got tired of people saying “reality has a liberal bias,” so we figured the easiest possible way to confront that was: ok, let’s show the work.

    • #2
  3. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    Troy

    What kind of distribution and uptake are you getting on the videos?  They are very well done.

    • #3
  4. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    I though of you, @bryangstephens, when I saw this video. I’ve been wanting to do some reading on this subject for a while. I wonder if we will ever do the right thing for this segment of our population. It is a complex situation. 

    • #4
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Blondie (View Comment):

    I though of you, @ bryangstephens, when I saw this video. I’ve been wanting to do some reading on this subject for a while. I wonder if we will ever do the right thing for this segment of our population. It is a complex situation.

    I pray for it.

    • #5
  6. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Blondie (View Comment):

    I though of you, @ bryangstephens, when I saw this video. I’ve been wanting to do some reading on this subject for a while. I wonder if we will ever do the right thing for this segment of our population. It is a complex situation.

    I pray for it.

    I have been involved in Civil Commitments where the person is legally committed to psychiatric facility by the Court and then is released “on probation” knowing that he can be placed back in their facility if he stops taking his meds.  

    • #6
  7. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Excellent video. 

    The problem, as with so many other things, is prog cant: the presence of the mad on the streets is a useful cudgel against capitalism and conservatives. The former, because it doesn’t provide affordable housing, and the latter, because Reagan kicked everyone out of the institutions because he hated the unfortunate. They have a grim pleasure in seeing cities despoiled, because it rubs the bourgeoise’s noses in the world they created, or at least endorse: this is the truth of the free-market model.

    One of the reasons everyone nodded and went along with deinstitutionalization? “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the mental-health equivalent of “The China Syndrome.” 

    • #7
  8. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    One of the reasons everyone nodded and went along with deinstitutionalization? “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the mental-health equivalent of “The China Syndrome.”

    Excellent observation.  Too bad the Gosnell movie didn’t have the same impact on the abortion industry . . .

    • #8
  9. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik
    @TroySenik

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Troy

    What kind of distribution and uptake are you getting on the videos? They are very well done.

    That’s so kind of you.

    We broke big on Twitter first, then Facebook (which is now outpacing Twitter). At over 3 million views since we started in March. We have yet to mount a full offensive on YouTube, where the numbers are still pretty modest, but it’s the next big mountain to climb. YouTube has a different value insofar as users there regularly consume material that’s not brand new, whereas the conventional social networks are driven almost entirely by what’s happening that moment

    The other thing we’re really pleased by is the diversity of the audience. We’re cutting across a lot of demographics, but I’m especially pleased to see the material working across ideological lines. We’ve had a great reception from MAGA types, libertarians, social conservatives, RINO squishes, and even a lot of center-left viewers. The whole concept of the project is to present these issues on the merits and leave the partisan and ideological arguments to one side. It was a bet that there was a universe of viewers out there who wanted something a little less heavy-handed. So far it seems to be working. 

    • #9
  10. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik
    @TroySenik

    Blondie (View Comment):

    I’ve been wanting to do some reading on this subject for a while. I wonder if we will ever do the right thing for this segment of our population. It is a complex situation.

    If you go to the link in my comment above, you can find the ‘Delve Deeper’ tab on our website, which can give you some good resources to get started.

    I particularly recommend DJ Jaffe’s book, which was featured in the video. DJ (who, sadly, passed away last year) was a former colleague of ours at the Manhattan Institute. He did not set out to be a policy wonk. He was a former advertising executive who became immersed in this issue because of a family member with severe mental illness.

    A nice note that serves as a reminder that the world of ideas can occasionally be kinder than the world of politics: DJ described his own politics as “to the left of Bernie Sanders.” But he was willing to work with us at MI because he thought that only conservatives were willing to grapple with this issue realistically. Further proof, I suppose, of Robert Conquest’s law that “Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.”

    • #10
  11. Cosmik Phred Member
    Cosmik Phred
    @CosmikPhred

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Blondie (View Comment):

    I though of you, @ bryangstephens, when I saw this video. I’ve been wanting to do some reading on this subject for a while. I wonder if we will ever do the right thing for this segment of our population. It is a complex situation.

    I pray for it.

    I have been involved in Civil Commitments where the person is legally committed to psychiatric facility by the Court and then is released “on probation” knowing that he can be placed back in their facility if he stops taking his meds.

    Even back in the mid-80s this was no easy thing.  My father’s bi-polar disorder had gotten so bad we had a restraining order placed on him.  He broke it, that landed him in the clink and the PA State hospital – forensic wing.  He was in there with some seriously scary folks, but he got the help he needed and was able to manage his condition – reasonably well – for his remaining years.

    • #11
  12. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik
    @TroySenik

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Excellent video.

    The problem, as with so many other things, is prog cant: the presence of the mad on the streets is a useful cudgel against capitalism and conservatives. The former, because it doesn’t provide affordable housing, and the latter, because Reagan kicked everyone out of the institutions because he hated the unfortunate. 

    This is a very good point and one that has now created some bad instincts on the right as well. A lot of people on the libertarian right in particular are enamored with the YIMBY movement, which aims to lower housing costs by relaxing zoning regulations and emphasizing greater housing density. I have some quibbles with the YIMBYs, but they’re broadly correct about this. If you don’t allow supply to meet demand, you’re going to get the kind of out-of-control housing costs you see in places like California and New York.

    That said, they too often wave away homelessness by saying “building more housing would solve that too.” You could surely reduce homelessness at the margins with more affordable housing stock, but it’s virtually immaterial for the huge chunk of the homeless population that are on the streets because of severe mental illness, chronic substance abuse, or both (we used a very conservative estimate in this video to avoid a superfluous controversy, but there’s good evidence that that cohort is closer to 75% of the homeless population). Housing may be necessary for them, but it’s not even close to sufficient.

    One of the reasons everyone nodded and went along with deinstitutionalization? “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the mental-health equivalent of “The China Syndrome.”

    James, you’ve crawled into my head. Our next long video (coming in a couple of weeks) is on nuclear, and the proximity of the two topics has led me to complain ad nauseam to the staff about how much damage both of these movies did to the average Americans’ understanding of those issues. The recent HBO Chernobyl series, while a fine piece of drama that got many of the details right, was also irresponsible in overstating the health effects of what happened there. It was bad to be sure, but not nearly on the scale the filmmakers implied. 

    • #12
  13. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    Troy Senik (View Comment):

    Blondie (View Comment):

    I’ve been wanting to do some reading on this subject for a while. I wonder if we will ever do the right thing for this segment of our population. It is a complex situation.

    If you go to the link in my comment above, you can find the ‘Delve Deeper’ tab on our website, which can give you some good resources to get started.

    I particularly recommend DJ Jaffe’s book, which was featured in the video. DJ (who, sadly, passed away last year) was a former colleague of ours at the Manhattan Institute. He did not set out to be a policy wonk. He was a former advertising executive who became immersed in this issue because of a family member with severe mental illness.

    A nice note that serves as a reminder that the world of ideas can occasionally be kinder than the world of politics: DJ described his own politics as “to the left of Bernie Sanders.” But he was willing to work with us at MI because he thought that only conservatives were willing to grapple with this issue realistically. Further proof, I suppose, of Robert Conquest’s law that “Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.”

    I recommend adding My Brother Ron by Clayton Cramer to the book list.  It is the story of his mentally ill brother intertwined with a meticulously researched history of deinstitutionalization. 

    • #13
  14. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    @gumbymark, I have that book in my list to read. I believe it was suggested by someone here years ago when we were having this same discussion. Thanks for the second recommendation. I will add Troy’s suggestion to the list. 

    • #14
  15. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Thank you for this.  It’s well-done and is succinct.  Like Bryan, above, I have more than passing knowledge of this staggering problem; my hope is that it gets wide distribution – and attention.

    • #15
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Troy Senik (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Excellent video.

    The problem, as with so many other things, is prog cant: the presence of the mad on the streets is a useful cudgel against capitalism and conservatives. The former, because it doesn’t provide affordable housing, and the latter, because Reagan kicked everyone out of the institutions because he hated the unfortunate.

    This is a very good point and one that has now created some bad instincts on the right as well. A lot of people on the libertarian right in particular are enamored with the YIMBY movement, which aims to lower housing costs by relaxing zoning regulations and emphasizing greater housing density. I have some quibbles with the YIMBYs, but they’re broadly correct about this. If you don’t allow supply to meet demand, you’re going to get the kind of out-of-control housing costs you see in places like California and New York.

    That said, they too often wave away homelessness by saying “building more housing would solve that too.” You could surely reduce homelessness at the margins with more affordable housing stock, but it’s virtually immaterial for the huge chunk of the homeless population that are on the streets because of severe mental illness, chronic substance abuse, or both (we used a very conservative estimate in this video to avoid a superfluous controversy, but there’s good evidence that that cohort is closer to 75% of the homeless population). Housing may be necessary for them, but it’s not even close to sufficient.

    One of the reasons everyone nodded and went along with deinstitutionalization? “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the mental-health equivalent of “The China Syndrome.”

    James, you’ve crawled into my head. Our next long video (coming in a couple of weeks) is on nuclear, and the proximity of the two topics has led me to complain ad nauseam to the staff about how much damage both of these movies did to the average Americans’ understanding of those issues. The recent HBO Chernobyl series, while a fine piece of drama that got many of the details right, was also irresponsible in overstating the health effects of what happened there. It was bad to be sure, but not nearly on the scale the filmmakers implied.

    I did not want to bring that up when I was praising you, but I am there on the much higher number. 

    • #16
  17. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik
    @TroySenik

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Troy Senik (View Comment):

    …the huge chunk of the homeless population that are on the streets because of severe mental illness, chronic substance abuse, or both (we used a very conservative estimate in this video to avoid a superfluous controversy, but there’s good evidence that that cohort is closer to 75% of the homeless population). Housing may be necessary for them, but it’s not even close to sufficient.

    I did not want to bring that up when I was praising you, but I am there on the much higher number.

    Yep. You’ll notice that we actually used the higher estimate in our previous video on homelessness. Two separate studies — one from UCLA and one from the Los Angeles Times — both came to similar conclusions, one right after the other, a few years ago. This was particularly embarrassing on their home turf, where the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority had been trying to lowball the number for years.

    (As a sidebar, I once asked a LAHSA employee about my intuition — that’s all it was at the time — that mental illness and substance abuse were the main drivers of the problem and she looked at me as if I had said “Have you ever considered that they might all be assassins sent from the future?”)

    The mental illness industrial complex — which is similar to the homelessness industrial complex in how little it actually accomplishes for its supposed beneficiaries — has a real problem with shying away from uncomfortable truths. More consequential, to my mind, than the haggling over homelessness numbers is their steadfast refusal to admit any linkage between severe mental illness and violence, especially when it comes to mass shootings. They don’t want to make the concession because they’re worried about ‘stigma.’ They (correctly) point out that the majority of the severely mentally ill aren’t a threat to anybody — but that elides the fact that mass murderers are 20 times more likely to have a severe mental illness than the general population.

    • #17
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Troy Senik (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Troy Senik (View Comment):

    …the huge chunk of the homeless population that are on the streets because of severe mental illness, chronic substance abuse, or both (we used a very conservative estimate in this video to avoid a superfluous controversy, but there’s good evidence that that cohort is closer to 75% of the homeless population). Housing may be necessary for them, but it’s not even close to sufficient.

    I did not want to bring that up when I was praising you, but I am there on the much higher number.

    Yep. You’ll notice that we actually used the higher estimate in our previous video on homelessness. Two separate studies — one from UCLA and one from the Los Angeles Times — both came to similar conclusions, one right after the other, a few years ago. This was particularly embarrassing on their home turf, where the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority had been trying to lowball the number for years.

    (As a sidebar, I once asked a LAHSA employee about my intuition — that’s all it was at the time — that mental illness and substance abuse were the main drivers of the problem and she looked at me as if I had said “Have you ever considered that they might all be assassins sent from the future?”)

    The mental illness industrial complex — which is similar to the homelessness industrial complex in how little it actually accomplishes for its supposed beneficiaries — has a real problem with shying away from uncomfortable truths. More consequential, to my mind, than the haggling over homelessness numbers is their steadfast refusal to admit any linkage between severe mental illness and violence, especially when it comes to mass shootings. They don’t want to make the concession because they’re worried about ‘stigma.’ They (correctly) point out that the majority of the severely mentally ill aren’t a threat to anybody — but that elides the fact that mass murderers are 20 times more likely to have a severe mental illness than the general population.

    That is all true. What I saw in 25 years of community mental health was that the system is poorly run and underfunded. Hospitals are still being closed, and not enough resources flow to the community. Literally, as CEO, I saw my budget be transferred to private hospitals to support acute beds, away from our chronic treatment. Tax dollars went to private companies for most acute costs, while not supporting the ongoing costs needed. 

    A friend of mine who worked with me once said “These are the new untouchables.” My father, of a more religious bent called them “The Least of the Least”.

    I think someone once talked about “The Least of These” and how we are supposed to treat them. We fall far, far short of His commandment. 

    • #18
  19. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Thinking it’s likely people have read similar articles, this one – from three years ago – clearly addresses the ‘homeless industrial complex.’ Since its publication, things in Seattle have only become worse.   My thoughts jibe with those of Bryan (again) that this population is regarded as the lepers in ancient times were.   Seattle wants to be all about ‘compassion’ but in reality is anything but.

    • #19