by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In French, a “bidonville” is a shantytown. A “bidon” is a large container, like the giant yellow vegetable oil bottles used to carry drinking water in developing countries.
I’ve seen plenty of shantytowns in cities from India to Togo; they are an unfortunate consequence of rapid urbanization.
What surprised me when I came home to Washington, D.C., a few months ago was seeing shantytowns both outside the State Department, where my old office was, and Union Station, near my new office.
In America under President Joe Biden, the word “Bidenville” is beginning to gain traction as a term for a waste-filled, insalubrious tent city inhabited by what the left calls “people experiencing homelessness,” who often suffer from an unfortunate combination of drug addiction and mental illness.
Shantytowns aren’t new to America. During the Great Depression, they were ironically called Hoovervilles after President Herbert Hoover.
However, at that time, Hoovervilles comprised able-bodied people who were out of work due to the worst economic crisis and highest unemployment in U.S. history. Now, unemployment is low and entry-level jobs go begging. The Bidenvilles of today are filled more by ideology and incompetence than economic duress.
The District of Columbia now has 97 “encampment sites” scattered across the city. Maybe that’s one reason why Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., is calling the District a “disgrace for our country” and opposes the “home rule” enjoyed by the nation’s capital since 1973.
While politicians bicker about whether to call inhabitants of the camps “people experiencing homelessness,” “unhoused persons,” or “persons without shelter,” they fail to make the hard choices required to help. …
… For the most part, however, mayors in cities such as San Francisco and the District pour money into supporting the outdoor lifestyle of thousands of seriously unwell people, including by facilitating their consumption of drugs.