Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Daniel Wallace’s mother had a favorite story about herself, one that was believable, but only just. Turns out it was also true, but only sort of. This is a kickass family detective tale and a masterclass in how people construct the stories they tell about themselve — true, false, and in between.
Now, I don’t know what else was made up, or if all of it was, or why my mother needed this fictional creation of self, of a controversial and even tragic past that never happened. Maybe she just loved how the story, like a car wreck, got your attention and made it impossible to look away. The sex part, of course, she loved. And the fact that it was against the law, even in Alabama, only made it better. She lied about her age to the judge and got away with it, and she loved that. The judge never even asked to see proof. She loved that, too. Apparently no one asked to see proof of anything, ever. Until I did.
The idea of offering people without a home a free bus ride to the city of their choice — a city with a lower cost of living, or where a supportive family waits — is alluring. But those are best cases, especially when accepting that ticket means promising never to return (let’s talk about consent in the context of being homeless, jobless, and entirely reliant on broken social systems, maybe?).
The Guardian spent eighteen months gathering data and stories from homeless relocation programs in the United States. It’d be ugly to call this massive state-to-state migration of the displaced a game of hot potato, but not as ugly as the reality itself.
Officials currently involved in running programs in Denver, Jacksonville, and Salt Lake City all told the Guardian they saw them as cost-effective programs that delivered their cities value for money by reducing the numbers living on their streets.
Yet it appears bussing schemes are also being used to give a misleading impression about the extent to which cities are actually solving homelessness.
When San Francisco, for example, reports on the number of people “exiting” homelessness, it includes the tally of people who are put on a bus and relocated elsewhere in the country. It turns out that almost half of the 7,000 homeless people San Francisco claims to have helped lift out of homelessness in the period of 2013-16 were simply given one-way tickets out of the city.
Residential trash collection is a dirty job, but commercial trash collection is a dirty job. Kiera Feldman investigates how poor regulation and private-sector competition have created what amounts to a war zone for garbage collectors who serve businesses in New York. It’s a dangerous, poorly regulated, and poorly compensated profession — for the people driving the trucks and lifting more than 20 tons of garbage in a shift. For the cartels and unions who’ve run the industry, it’s a cash cow. Note that the anecdote below is from 1993.
Controlled primarily by the Gambino and Genovese crime families, four trade waste associations enforced the property-rights system — the cartel — using extortion, threats and violence. Favored tactics involved baseball bats, firebombing garbage trucks and the occasional murder. When Browning-Ferris Industries, a major national waste company, tried to enter the market in 1993, an executive found the severed head of a dog on his doorstep one morning. A note was stuffed into its mouth: “Welcome to New York.”