The city of Miami is beaming about its new public restroom for the homeless.
Price tag: $312,976.
What exactly makes a rather modest public restroom so expensive? There is nothing revolutionary about the bathroom, Fastcompany.com reports in a detailed piece on the toilet itself. In fact, the design looks rather stripped-down and simple. A video accompanying a Miami Herald article on the grand opening reveals the bathroom is a “Portland Loo,” modeled on a design that first appeared in the eponymous Oregonian city. And the high price seems to reflect the natural phenomenon known as bureaucracy run amok.
Here’s where the dollars start adding up: During the original unit’s creation in Portland, police, fire department officials and maintenance crews “all gave their input.” This fact somehow contributed to the final cost of the bathroom reaching almost $250,000 in its first incarnation.
Say what? Oh, I already asked that. One might think such a pricey experiment would contain lessons for government, but the Miami incarnation of the toilet cost over a hundred thousand dollars more than the initial foolish venture.
Just because several different government offices had a hand in developing this rudimentary bathroom, that somehow justifies such a hefty financial hit? When it’s government officials playing with taxpayer money, the answer is always gonna be: you bet.
But Miami isn’t the only victim of the Portland Loo. The city of San Diego’s experiment with Portland Loos also turned into a fiasco. First off, since they are flush toilets, the Loos need to be hooked up to sewer lines, which apparently severely raises total costs. San Diego ended up spending $500,000 to install their two units. Local residents were dismayed to witness a myriad of problems with the coming of the Loos.
“The homeless population is up in this area since the Portland Loo was installed,” Jon Wantz, who ran a restaurant in a Loo-ified neighborhood, told NPR. “The increased activity, whether it be criminal or drug-related, or just transient-related in general, it’s not good for business.”
In other words, public officials’ desire to virtue signal their concern for the homeless led to an expensive boondoggle that literally flushed taxpayer dollars down the toilet. But $300,000 bathrooms aren’t the only crazy idea cities are warming to as “supportive” and “nonjudgmental” ways to clean up their streets.
If the most expensive toilet around wasn’t enough, how about free heroin for addicts?
Seattle city council members in June floated the idea of supporting a “large mobile medical van” to provide junkies with a safe space to shoot up. But that wasn’t going far enough for one official. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw wondered why the city can’t provide safe drugs for users to take while they are shooting up in the civic mobile vans. She said:
“I have heard of some other models where drugs are provided.
And that’s a public safety model. Because those who may not have the money to buy drugs are not breaking and entering to obtain whatever they need to buy whatever it is they are using. I would like to explore this. Not to say we are going to land anywhere on the issue. But part of what we are trying to do is reduce crime as well.”
Indeed, she’s not the only public official thinking along these lines. A July article by Susan Glaser at Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer noted how some European cities have been providing free drugs, including heroin, to junkies as a “solution” to overdose deaths on the streets. The article is rife with “key ideas” such as the proposition that drug addiction is a chronic condition that cannot be permanently cured in some cases and the belief that pragmatism, and not moral judgments, should guide public health policy on drug use.
Reporter Glaser says the idea of dispensing free heroin to junkies is “gaining some traction” in the U.S., stating that civic officials in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and even Ithaca, New York are mulling the proposal, even though such a policy would be illegal under federal drug laws.
Opposite of Humane
But should it really be the goal of government officials to help citizens avoid the worst consequence of extremely destructive behavior – death? And is death even the worst consequence of a life spent shooting up heroin?
The construction of safe spaces for addicts to shoot up free government heroin is akin to the belief that sanitized, regulated prostitution is better for the women involved than walking the streets. Sure, they may not get murdered by a trick gone bad in a safe space, but their souls will still be murdered by the repeated selling of their bodies for money.
Nobody wants to see junkies overdose and die or hookers killed out on the streets, but, sadly, doesn’t the fact that these terrible things happen serve as a natural deterrent to others who may be on the threshold of falling into such de-humanizing life situations?
Protecting people from horrible outcomes as they engage in truly damaging personal behavior is not in any way, shape or form a public service. In reality, it is just as soul-numbing and life-negating as the needle in the vein. But for preening politicians, free heroin is just as golden as a photo op on $300,000 Toilet Grand Opening Day. And that’s a high our elected addicts will never give up.