Sunday, January 2, 2011

Homelessness And Tribal Hunter-Gatherers

I had a thought a few months back, that homeless people live in a way similar to tribal hunter-gatherers, and that to some extent it's a testament to the extraordinary abundance of our society that it supports the mode of survival we evolved with. But there are serious flaws in this theory.

First, tribal hunter-gatherers are tribal - they move in groups. Homeless people tend to be solitary. Second, tribal hunter-gatherers hunt as well as gathering. Homeless people typically just gather. You might see them going through the trash but you never see them chasing a rabbit with a spear.

Personally, I think that would be kind of cool. In downtown Los Angeles, I see a lot of homeless people, and in Elysian Park, I see a lot of wildlife. It'd be kind of cool to combine the two. I would love to see a whole pack of homeless people hunting squirrels with bows and arrows. They'd probably train the local coyotes to act as hunting dogs, and believe me, there are enough coyotes in Elysian Park that we could spare them a few. There's a ton of geese down the road in Echo Park, too, I bet one of those things could feed three or four homeless guys.

Unfortunately, however, this is not what you see homeless people doing in Los Angeles. They don't attack the geese or train the coyotes. Since this is obviously the only sane response to homelessness, this leads me to conclude that all homeless people are mentally ill. (I am obviously qualified to make such a proclamation.) And this is a problem, because homeless shelters don't seem to solve anything, giving mentally ill people money to spend is not really going to solve their problems, and Reagan closed all the insane asylums, despite the fact that he clearly belonged in one.

Bonus fun fact: "Ronald Wilson Reagan" is an anagram for "Insane Anglo Warlord."

Obviously, also, the solution is not to train homeless people to make bows and arrows. I think I'd get in trouble with the law if I tried that one. So I still haven't figured it out.