Columnists, Denver, Featured, Jon Caldara

Caldara: Enabling homelessness by choice in Denver

Have you ever had one of those moments where you witness something that makes you do a double-take? It just happened to me.

The other day I was driving to work and waiting at a red light a block from my office at the Independence Institute. Walking across the crosswalk in front of me was a young man, mid-twenties I’m guessing, his dog on a leash a few feet behind him.

The dog did what all dogs do, except they usually do it on some grassy patch.

Yep. It pooped right there, in the street, in the middle of the crosswalk for all to admire, drive through and step over. Poor pooch mustn’t have been feeling well.

Now, at this point I should admit the prejudice that all us bald, mid-fifties men have against the young (you know, with all their hair, energy, idealism, romance and potential in front of them).

So, in my best get-off-my-lawn attitude I was waiting for this man-bun sporting, don’t-go-near-my-daughter miscreant to just keep walking and let car tires and the bottom of other people’s shoes take care of his dog’s mess.

Instead, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a plastic bag (the ones virtue-signaling progressives are outlawing) and picked up his dog’s business just in time to beat the traffic light.

You’d think this small act of personal responsibility would re-kindle my faith in humanity. It instead reignited my anger over Denver’s encouragement of lawlessness and vagrancy.

What I failed to mention was this responsible young man — who, all the same, had better steer clear of my daughter — was cleaning up his dog’s poop right next to an encampment of about 10 “homeless” tents.

I walk by these delightful structures and their inhabitants most days on my way to lunch meetings. I get to navigate a minefield of trash, passed-out bodies, human excrement, vomit and urine on the sidewalks and streets.

The people, including women, inhabiting this kibbutz of tents and trash are about the same age as the dog walker. They all are young and seem physically fit and healthy, perhaps more so than the dog walker himself.

These aren’t people “currently experiencing homelessness.” They are currently choosing homelessness. Maybe it’s the Bohemian lifestyle they enjoy.

You see the dichotomy. This young man cleaned up his dog’s crap while human excrement was literally all around him.

Denver’s finest haven’t the basic human courtesy to bag up their own waste and given the trash they leave, they have bags-o-plenty.

These are self-absorbed, entitled people, at least those not suffering severe mental illness who, if we were truly compassionate people, should be institutionalized and treated.

This is the Denver created by Mayors John Hickenlooper and Michael Hancock, and a progressive city council by encouraging by their constant financial incentives and lack of law enforcement. What you subsidize increases. And as the Common Sense Institute’s latest report attests, Denver spends at least a half billion dollars a year encouraging homeless.

Back to our responsible dog owner. Perhaps he didn’t clean up after his furry friend out of a sense of communal obligation. He knows it’s the law. Maybe one or more of his pet-owning buddies got ticketed and fined for not cleaning up after their animal and he didn’t want it to happen to him. Perhaps he remembered his last speeding ticket.

How fascinating that cleaning up after your dog on the sidewalk seems to be more strictly enforced than you defecating on the sidewalk. Welcome to the Mile-High City.

So, where do we go from here? I have a modest proposal.

I suggest that all Denver dog owners continue to be conscientious and pick up after their pooch, but don’t throw it into the nearest proper receptacle. Gather your dog’s business and unbag it at the entrance of City Hall.

Yes. Dump dog crap on City Hall.

Since Denver has turned to excrement on their watch, they should own it. Denverites should show their city pride. I think it’s time we reach into the civil disobedience toolbox and celebrate those who encouraged this sign of urban living — those who won’t enforce the laws to stop it.

What are they gonna do? Ticket you? That only begs the question — why aren’t you enforcing this same thing for human waste?

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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