Dean Clough

October 9, 2023

Portico Darwin: The Hotel SOPTOC Chain - Longer Stays + Paying For It


4 Minute Read
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Today, I will conclude my Soft on People, Tough on Crime proposal for treating ourselves better in America.  I believe we have advocates on one side that want to almost always be soft on people, but also soft on crime.  And, of course, on the other, those who don't really care about people in the first place, and simply want to crack heads.

I ask:  can't we have both?

Before diving in:  I recognize the current and abject dysfunction among Republicans in the House of Representatives makes all of this even more of a fantasy.  It is obvious now the Republicans are not interested in governing; if they were, they'd negotiate with the Democrats and get something - anything - done. 

But they are not interested in governing, so they won't. 

At least we've got these guys.

In a previous post on this subject, I outlined the Hotels designed for Shorter Stays:

  • Back on Your Feet Lodges
  • Rehab Resorts
  • Mental Motels

I'll wrap up my SOPTOC proposal by accommodating longer and even permanent stays, and paying for it all.

Longer and Permanent Stays
There are 3 different Hotels in this category.

  • The Gateways
  • Mental Retirement Communities
  • Criminal Campuses

The Gateways
This is public housing, or in today's parlance, The Gateways are affordable rental housing communities.  But as I said in the last installment:  we can learn from our mistakes.

So instead of urban renewal and slum clearance programs that resulted in this (Cabrini-Green Homes in Chicago, to cite just one awful experiment in essentially warehousing our poorest citizens):

We get something more like this.  This is public housing in Germany.  Tell me again why we can't have nice things, too?

The Gateways are intended to be just that:  a gateway for a return to private-sector housing.  But they are also aesthetically pleasing and ergonomic.  They are safe, perhaps patrolled by off-duty police officers - like an Apple store.  Units in the Gateway consist of studios, kitchens, and lounges that can be combined to create space suitable for everyone, from individuals to larger families.  There is on-site and free daycare, and outdoor spaces for pets.  The Gateways are always well-maintained.

There is also completely zero tolerance for any shenanigans like drug dealing or weapons or violence.  It's a short trip to a Criminal Campus in that case.

The pricing in The Gateways is the same in every state:  rent starts at 30% of the monthly income of a citizen making minimum wage - that's $1,200/month if the minimum wage is $25/hour.

Can people stay indefinitely?  No - or at least most won't want to.  That's because there's an on-site volunteering requirement after 6 months.  Failure to participate will result eventually in an assignment - yep - to a Criminal Campus.

If you've been paying attention, you'll recognize SOPTOC gives people resources, healthcare, a job, and a place to live.  I would say anyone that still insists on creating trouble is either mentally ill, or a criminal.  Caring for each are the final two facilities in the Hotel SOPTOC chain.

Mental Retirement Communities
These are the dreaded state-run mental institutions of yesterday, except instead of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest it's a combination of Awakenings, White Lotus, Rain Man, and Forrest Gump.

10 Seconds of Seriousness:  we must have humane, properly-managed facilities for the most mentally ill among us.  These must be beautiful, clean places where nice people can live, and hopefully, make progress.   

The wealthiest can pay for their own care, but there must be destinations for those not as fortunate.  Forever, if necessary. 

Criminal Campuses
This is the Tough on Crime part.  These are benevolent prisons, and are designed to rehabilitate and educate, by building, staffing, and equipping SOPTOC Hotels.  Every prisoner is trained to return in some capacity to society, and that society begins with the caring environment of a Back on Your Feet Lodge and/or a Rehab Resort.  Which they will staff - if you're familiar with SF's Delancey Street, you know a model for this already exists

I envision a positive spiral being possible; the singular goal of the Criminal Campuses is minimizing recidivism.  Indeed, fully realized, a typical Criminal Campus would be more like a secured vocational college, vs. the revolving door hellholes we have now. 

This is Justizzentrum Leoben, a minimum security prison in Austria.  It's true.
Consider the very wide range of skills required to design, build, operate, and equip a given Hotel, and the chain itself.  It should thus be easy to envision the vocational and educational opportunities for the guests at a Criminal Campus.  And remember, if there's not a fit at a Hotel, there's always a job being productive elsewhere with a state or the Federal government.

"But what about the worst, Portico?"  You know, the real scum.  People that are not mentally ill, yet still refuse to live in dignity, after all of this, including previous stays at a regular Criminal Campus.  People that have repeatedly committed serious crimes and have refused to participate in society, after being given many opportunities.  After all, we're now Soft on People, and it wasn't enough for these cretins.

They go here, to a facsimile of this, Alcatraz, an actual Federal prison from 1934 through 1963. 

Those that choose to end up here will spend their days making goods used at the Hotels - soaps, brooms, sheets, towels, etc.   But even here the environment is respectful, clean, and safe.

But prisoners at this Hotel never, ever can leave.  Because we're also now Tough on Crime.  
Epilogue:  Paying for SOPTOC
Frankly, I say the question of how to pay for my societal utopian fantasy is mostly bullshit.  Why?  Where were you when we mindlessly invaded Iraq, in 2003?  That woeful lie of a war cost at least $2 trillion.

(For the record, Julie and I attended street marches here in SF protesting prior to Bush's invasion.)

Ask yourself:  what could have been built here in the US in 20 years with $2 trillion?  I do not remember being given a choice as to whether to spend that money or not.

We also sit idly by while the no-questions-asked Department of Defense gets more than what they want from our pandering and corrupt Congress.  The Defense Department's budget in 2022 was $740 billion.

So I'd start paying for SOPTOC by spending the war, gun and bomb money elsewhere.  

Next, and regular readers have seen permutations of this list before:

  • Tax capital and labor at the same rate
  • Income taxes are raised to what they were when Bill Clinton left office
  • Social Security or Medicare are means-tested; benefits decrease to zero for those with a net worth of $25 million or higher
  • The home mortgage interest tax deduction is eliminated
  • Those with annual incomes of $10 million or more pay a 40% minimum tax - period
  • An international minimum corporate income tax of 25% is ratified by all OECD nations

The components that could pay for SOPTOC are as much a fantasy as SOPTOC itself. 

But of course the whole point of this proposal was to ask and answer these questions:

Are people born with a gene that makes them want to steal and/or sleep outside? 


And if you give people every opportunity to live in dignity and they choose not to, can and should they be punished?


Thank you for making it through the entire SOPTOC series.  Yes, it is a dream, but its seeming impossibility is our own choice.

I will be editing and compiling the posts into one essay soon. 

Maybe while I'm here, starting tomorrow, revisiting sunrise tequila shots and Sea of Cortez swims.

And that's a reminder this blog is going dark until Wednesday, October 18. 

Until then, and beyond:  here's to being Soft of People, but Tough on Crime.


Very nice to hear from our friend and my former colleague, Lara Mohair.  

Have a fantastic time in Mexico.  I’ll miss the blog!  Hola to Julie, too.

I guess this is where I'm supposed to say hasta la vista, baby?

Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


Featuring "Shiny Happy People" and somehow not played to date on KLUF, here is R.E.M. and their Killer Out of Time.

Which we are, in terms of treating people properly in the United States. 

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