Friday, August 19, 2011

When Republicans Can't Stop Drinking Chateau Latour Wines

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. Alcoholics Anonymous. 4th Ed. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001.

This is the basic text for Alcoholics Anonymous members. Over 20 million copies in all editions and formats have been printed (circa 2001).

An alcoholic is considered a very sick person. Alcoholics find fellowship through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) where the only membership criteria is a sincere desire to stop drinking alcohol. The initial tenets of AA were most of the tenets of the Oxford Group (a religious movement in the 1920s and 1930s that believed that giving oneself to God would allow a sinner to convert away from sin), namely one should make a personal moral inventory, confess any defects in one’s personality, make restitution to people who’ve been harmed, become helpful to others, and become dependent upon God.

Dr. William Silkworth argued that spirituality could replace the hopeless feeling felt by many alcoholics. Alcoholics could help other alcoholics overcome their feelings of hopelessness.

The medical advice provided in this book is from the 1930s. (See Carlton Erickson book for medical information as of 2007). The body and mind of an alcoholic is abnormal. The body is allergic to alcohol. People allergic to alcohol can never safely use it. An alcoholic craves alcohol repeatedly. AA believes alcoholism is not solvable with just mental control and psychological techniques.

People allergic to alcohol are seen as a separate class from others. Allergic types lose their self-reliance when becoming alcoholics. They need a greater power than themselves to overcome their reliance on alcohol.

A psychic change can transform a person to easily control using alcohol. Yet alcoholism is not seen as a problem exclusively resolved from mental control. The craving for alcohol is stronger than one’s mental control.

Total abstinence is required for an alcoholic. An alcoholic can never drink again or the alcoholic will likely relapse into alcoholic behavior.

The real life experiences of alcoholics are presented. Some gradually drank increasing amounts of alcohol daily until they could no longer concentrate on their work and on their families. They found faith in God, creating a greater power than their own, that ended their destructive alcoholic behavior.

Many AA members find that former problem drinkers better empathize with their struggles and thoughts than do psychiatrists. Moderate drinkers often do not understand what heavy drinkers face, as the moderate drinkers can’t identify what heavy drinkers go through.

Many alcoholics won’t admit to being alcoholic. Many will resolve to stop drinking and later resume drinking. Alcoholics find they can’t stop drinking on their own.

The book urges agnostics to consider the possibility of God or some universal spirit whose powers are greater than their own. Everyone has their own concept of God, and one need not belong to any religion in order to join AA.

The book claims the AA plan works and those who fail at the plan do so because they aren’t honest with themselves, yet it is not their fault as they were this way at birth.

The AA plan is in 12 steps: 1.) admit to yourself (an alcoholic) that you lack the ability o overcome your destructive alcoholism, 2.) accept that a greater power is required to overcome this destructive behavior, 3.) turn yourself over to the concept of God, 4.) make a moral inventory of yourself, 5.) confess to God your wrongdoings, 6.) believe that God can remove the character defects you have, 7.) ask God to remove these defects, 8.) recall all people your alcoholism has harmed. 9.) make amends to those you’ve harmed, unless doing so would injure someone else, 10.) keep an updated personal inventory, 11.) pray to God to obtain what you need to know to improve your life, and 12.) achieve a spiritual awakening as to what to do and then take those steps.

Open discussions with other alcoholics is encouraged. AA members should help each other and should develop fellowships with others and with God.

Many stories of alcoholism describe how their drinking led them to lose control of their lives. Committing themselves to God and to AA helped them lead better lives.

AA discussion should never involve business deals. AA may work with hospitals and health care institutions. AA will never make an endorsement or affiliation. AA operates on voluntary contributions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Everybody, Except Good Republicans, Poops

Sarah Albee. Poop Happened!: A History of the World From the Bottom Up. New York: Walter & Co., 2010.

The history of human waste control is a delicate subject that more historians ignore. Yet it is an important part of life. Sanitation, or the lack of it, has played major roles in history. It remains important to city planners and sanitation employees today.

Many diseases have been associated with human waste (aka poop). Over 50 communicable diseases can be spread through poop. These diseases can be transferred by air, water, touch, or bites from insects that came into contact with the waste. Humans did not realize this until a few centuries ago. Cholera, typhoid, dysentery, Escherichia coli, polio, schistosomiasis, and polio, related to human waste, have killed more humans than did all wars. Empires collapsed from plagues of these diseases, and contributed to the downfalls of Athens. Rome, and the Byzantine Empire. Athens blamed Sparta for poisoning their water yet they more likely contaminated it themselves. Napoleon Bonaparte may have been defeated by having a half million soldiers living too close together. Typhus killed 220,000 of them.

Poop wasn’t a big problem for humans for about two million years until humans stopped being migratory about 1,200 years ago. Human waste build-up was often a major reason why early settlements moved to new locations.

The Harapans first developed sanitation about 5,000 years ago. They developed public bathhouses away from their private homes. Their sanitation had a complex system of pipes going into sewers. The Cretes developed plumbing around 4,000 years ago, then developed flush toilets operated by gravity, but for the King only.

Babylonia during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzer (circa 630-562 BC) had cisterns and canals. The rich had toilets.

The Dead Sea Scrolls explain why only 6% of Essenes lived past age 50. They burned their poop. Parasites that normally died when poop dries survived burning. These parasites were found in many excavated Essenes.

Poor was a Biblical matter. Deuteronomy teaches that people should carry a shovel, dig, and cover one’s poop.

Chamber pots were a home staple for several centuries. Alexander Cummings patented the modern toilet, the water closet, in 1755. Smells were trapped in the U bend. The first toilets still had smells, leaked, and filled homes with flammable sewer gas, which was a problem as homes used candles for light and fires for heat.

A major boost to the Roman Empire was piped sewers. The Romans were the first to use lead, rather than wooden, pipes. They had 144 public toilets for a million people in 315 AD. There were even a few heated toilet seats. The sewers and aqueducts were constructed so well that some continue being used. Rome had a Goddess of Sewers, Cloacina.

Christianity during the Middle Ages halted sanitary advances. Washing was denounced for creating impure thoughts. People used to think smells in the air carried disease. By removing waste and dumping it into rivers, they reduced the smells but polluted the drinking water, causing more disease. Early toilets did not help, as they moved waste into the rivers.

Toilet paper first appeared in China in 1391, but only for the Emperor. Toilet paper for consumers began in 1857. It took awhile to gain acceptance and people were embarrassed to purchase it.

Paris built a wall around itself for defensive purposes. Human waste was dumped outside the walls. The walls were raised several times for fears that invades could climb the piles of waste and enter over the walls.

In ancient Europe, water was contaminated with sewage and rarely used for drinking. Fermented drinks tasted better and the fermentation process destroyed germs. Wine, ale, and beer were drunk by all, including children, at an average rate of a gallon per day per person. People then were likely constantly intoxicated. Tea and coffee weren’t popular in Europe until the 17th century. In 1771, 9,000 children died from gin poisoning.
American colonists continued the European tradition of avoiding drinking water. They drank rum, beer, whiskey, hard cider, and, in some southern colonies, peach brandy.

The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) began with an angry crowd that two Catholic ministers and a servant from a Prague castle window 50 feet above ground. The three survived when they fell into a large pile of poop.

About 100,000 of London’s 400,000 residents died of the plague in 1665. The plague resulted from crop failures driving starving rats, infested with fleas, into the city where waste piles allowed the population of rats to expand. London’s Mayor incorrectly surmised dogs and cats were causing the plague and had them killed, thus removing predators to rats. A fire erupted and destroyed four fifths of London, Only give deaths were officially noted. The five ironically killed most of the rats. London was rebuilt with brick and stone structures replacing the destroyed wooden ones. Streets were widened. London became a healthier city in which to reside.

The plague erupted almost annually in some part of France throughout the 17th century. 96% of the French in the 18th century lived in poverty with deteriorating sewage and drainage systems. This helped lead to the French Revolution.

Venice in the 18th century had no toilets.

China in the 18th century collected human waste. A building residents’ poops and urine were the building owner’s property. They were sold and the poop was used for fertilizer.

Benjamin Franklin realized there may be connections between foul water and disease. He created the first street cleaning in America in 1757. His will left money to create freshwater piper in Philadelphia.

Easy chairs in the 18th century which could transform into cushioned seats with chamber pots.

As London expanded increasingly into farmland, it began taking longer, and thus it became more expensive, for night soil men, who since Medieval ages emptied cesspools and then sold the sewage to farmers, to operate. This led to cesspools reaching their limits more often and many new cesspools being created. Many threw their waste into London’s creeks and rivers while ultimately polluted the Thames River. New homes were built over cesspools and streams. Sinkholes resulted which sunk homes, carts, and people, often killing them.

Many 18th century residents kept their windows closed to avoid the stench of the outside air. This unfortunately led to methane and hydrogen sulfides, often emitted from decaying sewage, to remain inside rooms and build-up. People died from breathing these poisons.

By the early 1800s, there were over 6,000 water closets in England.

Trade with China introduced tea. Boiling water to drink tea killed germs in the water and saved lives. Tea drinking also led to lowered intoxication levels amongst the public.

Pigs were used as garbage collectors in New York, London, and Paris in the 18th century. A problem was pigs left their own manure behind. People, usually children, collected animal manure, using their bare hands. What they collected was sold to tanners for tanning hides.

Water companies in the 19th century provided running water to working class London neighborhoods only three times a week, for one hour. One neighborhood received only ten minutes of running water. When this water was reduced to five minutes, a riot erupted.

Cholera erupted in England and France in 1832. Cholera is spread by microbes in human feces that enter the drinking water. 20,000 died in Paris and 18,000 died in London that year. Passengers spread cholera to Montreal and Quebec and then beyond. It would kill 3,500 in New York City.

Sanitation Commissioner Edwin Chadwick, beginning in 1848, began a movement in London that made streets cleaner, water carried away, and sewers flushed.

Dr. John Snow, observing cholera attacked the intestines and not the lungs, theorized that cholera was spread through water, and not through the air as people then thought. Snow’s theory was widely doubted. Snow later observed people drinking from a water pump fill ill while their neighbors, who breathed the same air but drank from a different water pump, did not contract cholera. Further, brewery workers in the same neighborhood, who drank ale and no water, did not contract cholera. It was discovered that a cesspool was leaking into the well of the pump that sickened people. Louis Pasteur in 1870 would discover microbes and helped prove the causes of many diseases.

New York City built a reservoir in 1832. Piper did not reach the poorest neighborhoods of southern Manhattan. A cholera epidemic hit there in 1832. In 1842, the Croton Aqueduct was completed connecting the Croton River over 30 miles to a receiving reservoir at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, holding over 180 million gallons of water.

Paris began constructing sewers in 1852. Paris continued putting raw waste into the River Seine until 1899.

By 1857, 200,000 flush toilets existed in London. All took waste to the river. By 1858, the Thames River smelled so bad that Parliament, situated over the Thames, could not meet. Chief Sanitation Engineer Joseph Bazalgette led construction of 82 miles of new sewers that led to a most distant river. The last cholera epidemic in London happened in 1966, which hit a poor neighborhood where the sewers didn’t reach.

Soldiers in the Civil War lived in unhealthy conditions. About 60% of soldiers died by typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea.

Florence Nightingale was a nurse who saved the lives of many British soldiers. She may have saved the most lives by insisting upon sanitary living.

Dr. Herman Biggs fumigated rooms of cholera victims and burned their clothes and bedding in New York City. This reduced the city’s cholera deaths to nine in 1892.

George Waring, beginning in 1894, led 2,000 New York City employees in marching in white uniforms to clear over 2.5 million pounds of manure daily. Prior sanitation employees were much less efficient and, as part of the city’s corrupt political system, seldom worked.

When President James Garfield was shot, he became sicker while attempting to recuperate in the White House. He left the White House yet died later. The new President, Chester Arthur, was convinced sewer gases in the White House had harmed Garfield. Arthur fought living in the White House and asked it be torn down. Garfield settled for plumbing improvements.

The flushomter toilet was invented in 1907. This operated by pressure instead of gravity.

Plumbing became an important but dangerous profession. Before valve traps were invented and used, gases or explosions form gases killed some plumbers. Peppermint was put into pipes and leaks in pipes discovered by smelling for peppermint, as well as observing the presence of dead rats killed by leaking gas.

Sanitation and water laws passed under President Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Era. About half of U.S. homes had indoor plumbing in the 1930s.

A baby uses about 5,000 diapers.

Sanitation remains a problem in many countries. The costs of creating proper sanitation is more than many can afford. A solar powered sewer than will cost far less is in development at Pennsylvania State University.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

For People Dependent on Chateau Latour Wines

Robert P. Fairbanks II, How It Works: Recovering Citizens on Post-Welfare Philadelphia. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Philadelphia has a national reputation or its network of drug and alcohol assistance centers available to abusers to seek services. Philadelphia is responding it a crisis, as the Kensington section of Philadelphia leads the nation in per capita heroin and cocaine purchases. Temple University assists several centers. It is important, though, for a person to have insurance and identification in order to receive most formal services.

Many recovery centers provide unofficial, unregulated services to people with problems with drugs and/or alcohol. There are 30,000 abandoned homes in Philadelphia that attract recovery centers, as they often materialize inside an abandoned home. There are approximately 400 to 500 recovery homes in Philadelphia. None are government regulated. Most operate by word of mouth. Many attract people from out of state. Newark and Baltimore hospitals are known to give substance abusers one way bus or transit tickets to Philadelphia. Churches and local governments in Puerto Rico give abusers one way plane tickets to Philadelphia.

It is debatable how good the services are that are provided, and they may vary greatly amongst the recovery homes themselves. To some, the provide hope and improve the lives of the most troubled substance abusers. To others, they provide unqualified services in illegal and shoddy housing conditions.

A person typically enters a recovery house by agreeing to place one’s General Assistance, Social Security, and food stamps into a group pool. In return, the person receives housing and participation in a traditional 12 step recovery program to attempt to overcome problems with drugs and/or alcohol.

These homes create challenges for residents. Most exist in neighborhoods where drugs are readily available.

Many recovery homes have strong local political support. Home recovery residents provide Election Day campaign labor for State Rep. John Taylor, who in return is an advocate for these homes. Recovery home residents were also noted being involved in campaign for officials such as Mayor John Street, Rep. Chaka Fattah, and Sen. Arlen Specter. One group of centers, One Day at a Time, provided 50 to 60 Election Day workers form Sen. Specter. Specter then helped provide a $250,000 unrestricted grant to One Day at a Time.

Residents are used for lobbying purposes and are sent in buses sent to Harrisburg seeking support from state legislators. Some political leaders oppose these homes. City Council member James Kenney argues many of the homes are operated by corporations with no credentials, no insurance, and provide substandard housing in return for profit.

Some houses have failed and, instead of helping people, have reverted into becoming homes supporting drug use and other criminal activities, such as prostitution.

Since the recovery home facilities operate without licensing, there is little government does to close exploitative recovery centers. The only government oversight is for basic housing matters from the city’s License and Inspections Department (L&I). It takes a complaint made to L&I to get an investigation as whether a place is warehousing people. The License and Inspections Department has no official category for “recovery house”. The author argues L&I lacks the funds and means to inspect all of the homes. The author also suspects some recovery homes may bribe L&I inspectors to overlook infractions.

Day care centers are licensed and inspected by L&I. Licensing could require the homes to follow proper zoning which could be enforced by L&I. Some believe this could reduce houses that warehouse, or overpopulate their homes. Some believe this would matter little, as some believe L&I is ineffective. Further, L&I is concerned only with the physical structure and not the program quality. L&I seldom issues “cease and desist” orders because they know the residents would then lose housing and many would be back on the street. State Sen. LeAnna Washington has fought to keep recovery homes open to reduce homelessness and to keep addicts from committing crimes.

The author interviewed L&I officials as well as state Public Welfare Department officials. They agreed they lack the finances and staff to inspect and monitor recovery houses.

Recovery homes are recognized by people in related institutions. Hospital employees, probation officers, and social workers refer patients to some recovery homes.

Most recovery homes teach residents the traditional Alcoholics Anonymous instruction that a resident has no ability to overcome drug and/or alcohol problems alone. The residents love all ability of self-governance. Indeed, the author argues “a central purpose of this book, therefore, is to understand something more broadly about the relationship between the techniques of self-government---as embodied in recovery---and systems of power” within their communities, including political, social, and spiritual/religious institutions.

To some, the recovery homes teach people how to become responsible for themselves, become responsible citizens, and achieve upward social mobility. These homes are seen as improving moral values and encouraging civil participation. Some advocates sees recovery home residents as resources for community improvement, The residents can work on cleaning-up neighborhoods and work on neighborhood crime watches.

The author sees the recovery homes are a reflection of current social services ideology where government programs dating back to the New Deal are responding more to private markets. Recovery homes are private institutions operating for a profit.

This book explores how some recovery home operators have utopian visions of improving society by resolving the difficulties faced by illegal drug use actions.

The author argues recovery homes are an unintended consequence of state law and the welfare reform movement that has led to a rise in informal delivery of social services; some of which take advantage of their clients. The author finds many recovery home residents return to their drug and/or alcohol use. This keeps these residents in these homes and these homes continue having a large supply of clients. The author discovered much informal transfer of patients between legitimate recovery program and the illegal recovery homes. Thus, the recovery homes have become part of community structure which tolerates them, declines to intervene to stop them, and often works with them.

The recovery homes operate to make a profit. Residents are recruited by word of mouth. Some advertise with flyers. Operators of recovery homes often recruit residents at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The residents often must attend recovery meetings, pay rent, and perform work, such as cleaning and repairing the house. The system breaks down regular, as clients often leaves, sometimes without notice, as it is difficult to enforce rules within an illegal and informal system.

The author found one person estimates a house could have monthly bills of around $600 with small houses earning $2,500 to $3,500 monthly with large houses earning $5,000 monthly before bills. Another stated an even larger house had $5,000 monthly costs while earning $20,000 monthly profit. Another observer noted that a row home can be purchased in Kensington for $5,000 to $20,000 or rented for $350 to $500 per month, with the owner charging $180 to $200 per month plus half of one’s food stamps. The author notes many homes struggle financially. The market system responds as operators of successful homes entice residents from failing houses to leave and move into their homes.

Recovery houses prefer residents who receive public assistance. Their checks are more dependable than most others’. The operators are careful not to claim to be a rehabilitation facility, as these are regulated and require licensing. The author observed an Attorney General inspector checking on the status of a house and how the operator knew not to cross that legal line. The author also observed recovery homes bending the law and violating the law in order to complete paperwork to obtain utilities.

Pennsylvania enacted its Welfare Reform Act 75 in 1982. The law redefined eligibility for public assistance such that a person could no longer receive public assistance unless the person fell into one of several categories, such as having a disability or for being a substance abuser. This had the unintended consequence of creating cheap housing capturing the public assistance paid to substance abusers.

In 1995, Pennsylvania eliminated transitional needy General Assistance benefits for substance abusers. In addition, Social Security Insurance was not allowed for substance abusers. This led many substance abusers to become classified as chronically needy in order to receive public assistance benefits. This had the unintended consequence of making recovery home more economically stable.

The criminal justice system is a part of the recovery home network. Treatment Court offenders and paroles are sometimes sent to recovery houses. Clients sometimes move from government-funded homes to non-funded homes.

Philadelphia city government officially approves only Coordinating Office for Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program (CODAAP) homes. Some of these homes have contracts to handle cases from the criminal justice an system and for handling homeless people during below freezing weather. In 2004, the City of Philadelphia funded 23 CODAAP homes. This compares to the estimated 400 to 500 homes in Philadelphia operating outside this official system.

A CODAAP funded recovery house has the approval of local community groups and District City Council member, liability insurance, 50 square feet minimum per occupant, one bathroom per six occupants, no bunk beds, has a business privilege license and business tax number, and has a designated managing agent who receives any summonses, notices, or orders from L&I. CODAAP requires staff to complete ten weeks of training.

In a CODAAP home, a person who uses drugs or alcohol is almost always evicted from that home. In recovery homes, users usually continue residing there, although they may be fined.

Most recovery homes will not accept methadone maintenance residents. Doing so often would destroy a recovery home’s reputation, even within the informal world of recovery.

Recovery homes have been found by L&I to have as many as 30 people within beds, furniture, or utilities. Some were found to be crack houses or brothels. Violence amongst residents has occurred.

The author notes he has heard about, as has been reported in the media, that some recovery homes have engaged in food stamp fraud. After they pool the residents’ food stamps, they allow unscrupulous food store operators to overcharge them for the food purchased. The overcharged amounts were then split between the involved food store operators and the recovery home employees.

The author notes distinctions between nonprofit recovery homes, whose reputations are better, and for profit recovery homes, some of which are known as “money mills” that provide little or no services. Some for profit homes have good reputations, indicating there is a large variation in how for profit homes are operated.

The author, a male, researched mostly male recovery homes. There are also about as many, and maybe even more, recovery homes for women. The author found one coed recovery house. Some formal women’s recovery homes operate with the child welfare system. Most women’s recovery homes operate informally. Most do not permit children.

Many recovery homes are racially segregated. There are Christian recovery homes that mostly serve Puerto Ricans, speak Spanish, involved Bible study, ban cigarettes, and have admitted some African Americans and whites. Many residents in Christian recovery homes arrive directly from Puerto Rico, often sent by a church or local government in Puerto Rico.

Some owners operate a system of houses. There are intake homes where newly admitted resident become familiar with the procedures. They often undergo a two to four week blackout period where they are not allowed outside contact except for meetings with governments officials, such as probation officers or welfare case workers, health care appointments, and 12 step sponsors. Some undergo withdrawal in intake homes during this period.

A person needs a legal address to receive welfare in Philadelphia. A recovery house provides that address. A rental agreement or a voter registration card serves as this proof. A person must be determined by the Public Welfare Department to have been declared as having a chemical addiction and has no ability to work for nine months in order to enter many recovery homes.

Many houses charge a $40 intake fee or security deposit that is credited towards the first month’s rent. Some unable to pay have this fee waived.

After the blackout period in these systems, a person often moves into a recovery house. When the recovery house residency is completed, a person may move into a transitional house, also known as a worker house or a three-quarter house. The total period spent in these homes typically covers the nine months of public assistance provided for unemployable people with chemical dependencies. Many continue staying in the homes for years afterwards, so long as the public welfare system determines they are unable to work. Some stay through the five years lifetime maximum of welfare benefits. Some even stay afterwards using their food stamps as payments to remain in the houses.

Some recovery houses operate as food clubs. These often require residents to pool their food stamps. The homes typically return half the amount to residents for laundry and cigarettes. A person not collecting food stamps is required to pay the equivalent in cash. An advantage of this system is that people are fed well and often gain weight, which is especially good for those who have been emaciated from drug use. Further, everyone is treated similar, which reduces fights and stealing when residents purchase their own food.

Many residents perform labor within their recovery homes. This is part of their transformative process in recovery. The residents generally see working as giving something back. Houses where everyone works are viewed as being more harmonious than ones where some work and others are slackers. The author argues the best recovery homes show residents the meanings of freedom, consent, rules, and economic realities. Homes that exert too much control over residents are apt to fail as residents would be likely to leave such homes for other programs.

Most recovery home operators know that new residents often have hustler personalities where they may claim to want to recover when they don’t. It is the goal of the recovery home programs to turn them into people who desire to recover. The resolve to be sober is a key part of the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous. A person needs discipline to overcome dependency, but it must also be the person’s choice to do so.

The author finds most recovery homes eventually fail. Many homes require a profit, tend to become overcrowded to get more rental income and tend to reduce upkeep spending. Some residents “endure levels of destitution even more extreme than that which they endured while using drugs”.

Some recovery homes have connections to local employers for day labor so residents may earn some money. It is noted that this work could not be enough that it would lead to a cut off of public assistance benefits. Some recovery house operations receive some of the pay in their roles as middlemen in finding jobs and residents to fill them. This makes operators important parts of the temporary low wage markets.

A problem recovery homes face is when someone replaces into using drugs and/or alcohol. Relapses are a common difficulty. There is not only the problem of trying to keep residents off of drugs and alcohol but relapsed people often require money for their renewed habits. Relapsed residents may steal money and belongings from other residents and from the house. There is a strong black market in Kensington that absorbs these sales.

It is difficult to get feel for service health reimbursements for the paraprofessional counselors in recovery houses. These counselors lack formal training and have been prone to backslide themselves.

Scandals have hit recovery homes. It was disclosed in 1995 the New Jersey Probation and Parole Department illegally placed approximately 1,000 drug felons in Pennsylvania recovery homes without providing required notification to Pennsylvania officials. The scandal did not drive state or local governments to regulate recovery centers. It is theorized the houses are tolerated as they are providing housing to people who otherwise might become a public sector burden on limited public sector resources. There is a lack of government spending on drug and alcohol treatment services and on homeless shelters, which some years are even reduced. Recovery centers grew to fill some of the void created by this underfunding.

A person receiving public assistance is allowed to collect assistance payments from others for a recovery house pool. It is fraud for someone receiving public assistance to receive funds above one’s own public assistance. Thus many house managers on public assistance violate the law when they receive a percent of the pooled money. This illegality confuses the managers who understand the state wants them to find employment, and the recovery system encourages it, and then they are penalized when they do work.

As for the welfare system, the author observes “by scrutinizing where the money is coming from, and not to where it is going, the regulatory structure of welfare sweats the recipient-operator while absolving absentee landlords.”

The author believes the issue of regulating recovery houses is the wrong issue. He sees licensing as encouraging civil order while preserving classic liberal sensibilities against creating too much state authority. He believes the state will not have the proper resources to inspect and oversee recovery houses. The author finds the current informed recovery system operates to end fraud and abuse within its own system. Yet the more successful programs often vary in correlation with race and economic class.

The author views recovery homes as “survival strategy based on the exigencies of state policy and urban political economy”. They exist as it is hard to live off of welfare benefits, while pooling benefits allows a survival mode to succeed. This is “a new system of poverty management designed for the governance of insecurity in the postindustrial city.”