October 14, 2019

BUYING FENTANYL ON THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO—An Interview with Heather Mac Donald:

Quillette: What’s a nice lady like you doing buying fentanyl from drug dealers on the streets of San Francisco?

Heather Mac Donald: I wanted to test how easy it would be. Very easy, it turns out.

You weren’t worried about being hurt?

It’s a possibility. But I figure that my value-added as a writer is on the ground reporting.

It cracked me up that you offered just $8 for fentanyl. Was that because you were worried they would think you were a cop?

I really didn’t want to overpay! Literally, I had no idea what the going rate was for fentanyl. I’ve never used drugs in my life. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be outed. I just didn’t want to be a patsy.

* * * * * * * *

What is your basic argument?

On homelessness my argument is simple: You just don’t allow this behavior. That’s the starting point. It’s not compatible with the long-term life of cities. Once you establish that — something that was uncontroversial 50 years ago when the police would move people along, and there was unanimity that if you were in public you would have to meet basic norms of public behavior — then you don’t let people colonize the sidewalks.

Why is any given city where someone ends up on the street morally obligated to provide housing to that person? Nobody’s ever explained why that is. Say somebody comes from Seattle or Iowa to be homeless in San Francisco. When did San Francisco taxpayers become obligated to provide housing for him?

So is this just about enforcing norms?

Once you establish that this behavior is not acceptable, then you have to answer the question of where to put people. And so for the sake of argument, let’s assume that cities are obligated to provide housing for everyone who ends up on their streets.

If that’s the case, there is still no entitlement to be housed in the most expensive housing market in the country. Politicians should be far more careful stewards of taxpayer dollars. We can get far more addiction and mental health services from building clean and sober facilities in abandoned industrial or rural areas than spending $800,000 for a single unit in San Francisco.

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