The United States is the wealthiest country ever known. So why are there more than half-a-million homeless in the country? And how did it happen? What has the government done to prevent homelessness? How is the government protecting the homeless during the current pandemic? A pandemic that is spreading throughout the homeless population. These are questions that must be answered to find a solution to homelessness in America.
Abraham Lincoln saw government as the mechanism to do what individuals could not do independently. Unfortunately, our government is failing in that respect! The government is meant to protect its citizens' well-being, and it is not doing that right now. Government officials take an oath of office when they promise to uphold the Constitution..." insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare...". The welfare of the people doesn't seem to enter the political leader's minds these days. This past fall, Nancy Pelosi's goal was to prevent Donald Trump from signing his name to another $1200 check. That childish behavior was more important to her than helping those in need, a seriously wrongful act from our country's leadership. Both political parties taunt each other to gain points with the public; instead of producing a functioning government, they push the people further away from the political system.
The recent pandemic's devastating impact on families that have lost loved ones is tragic. And the financial shock to the economy and the government's insufficient actions are bringing millions to the point of eviction. Thousands have lost businesses leaving local economies with vacant stores and lost jobs. All while government does nothing of substance to help. Congress was eager to give big business billions of dollars while giving only $1200 to the average citizen begrudgingly to cover months of expenses. Considering a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn is $3,216 a month, how does that $1200 help families? Without assistance to pay rents, 30 million people could be thrown out of their homes by the end of this month.
You may be thinking that the government has already set up shelters and spent millions on the homeless before the pandemic. So what is your point? My point is that the government is not solving the reasons people become homeless.
There are four main reasons people become homeless.
- Lack of good-paying jobs
- Unaffordable housing
- Mental illness
- Drug addiction
Lack of good-paying jobs: You don't need to be a Marxist to realize that capitalism looks to exploit workers. And to accomplish that exploitation, capitalists look for the cheapest labor markets to produce their goods. Since the 1970s, net productivity rose 69.6 percent, while worker wages grew, only 11.6 percent. Instead of protecting American workers, Washington signed trade agreements that have caused American workers to lose their jobs.
While Congress has helped big corporations move their businesses overseas, there has been little thought of protecting the workers affected by these changes. Because we live in a Capitalist Utopia and have a free market economy, the government cannot stop corporations from moving production to other countries. However, the government can create laws to make moving production more difficult and less beneficial to big business, but it has not done so.
When factories are closed, companies should be ordered by law to sell the operation to workers, and monies should be made easier to help workers obtain the business site. Corporate tax rates should increase on those corporations too. Trump has applied tariffs on products in some markets, but it was only to bully foreign governments into a more favorable treaty. In the long run, tariffs hurt American buyers more.
In another area that impacts workers is the use of technology. Car manufacturers began using robots in the 80s, but now they are everywhere. You can't go to a store and not run into a scanner in place of a real person. And now, Google and other tech companies have given us robotic conversations. Banks and many other companies make use of artificial intelligence to reduce head-counts. Utility companies have installed smart meters in homes to read meter usage and reduce reader employees'. In addition to forcing workers out of jobs, these smart meters transmit microwaves into the air around your home. Studies have shown a connection to an increase in Autism due to increased microwave transmissions. Just wait until 5G is fully implemented.
Andrew Yang has been the only candidate talking about AI and the use of hi-tech in business today. Congress and our City Council must begin to address these kinds of issues.
Trade unions have proven themselves lately to be unable to muster enough strength to frighten companies into submission. There is a video on this site:
of Chris Shelton, President of Communications Workers of America. Chris gets fired up at a rally in Manhattan and says, "companies want them gone, but we're not gonna let them." A few days after I shot that video, the strike came to an end. Two hundred jobs were saved from being outsourced to India. Good job, Chris. No! Six months later, Verizon fired one hundred workers. Did the union go back out to strike again? No!
If we are ever to grow jobs in this country, unions must regain the strength they once had. Below is a massive issue that unions must fight:
Autonomous trucks are in their infancy but are not far from filling highways. Here is an article from boston.com you might find interesting:
"UPS has been testing self-driving tractor-trailers since last year through a partnership with autonomous driving company TuSimple. The 10,000 Arrival electric delivery trucks will be delivered to UPS starting in the second half of this year through 2025."Mar 22, 2020
Those of us in Red Hook must be sure that these trucks never operate here.
Currently, there are 600,000 long haul truckers in America. Overall there are 3.5 million truck drivers in this country. These are good-paying jobs for drivers with little education. What will they do?
Unaffordable Housing: Like everything else, when prices go up, so do rents. But rents go up for many reasons. For one, the rents go up because of a lack of housing. Populations in cities have been climbing, forcing a need for more housing, thus creating higher rents. The Real Estate industry has added to increased rents by moving into neighborhoods to build luxury hi-rise buildings for a wealthy population. All of which helped to push middle and lower-income families out of the community. Even if families can hold on to their apartments, the cost of living becomes too much for them. To satisfy these more affluent people and make more money in their developments, real estate creates space for high-end stores. Industry City's rezoning proposal was one of those events. The Barclay Center was another development. One that pushed out 1200 families and businesses to build a stadium that made developers very rich. Communities, not unelected city officials, must decide to build these real estate projects, and not by a single council member's vote either. Too many times, council members have denied the community the right to make those decisions. Say good-bye to Laurie Cumbo.
To change this dilemma, a disconnect between politicians and real estate developers must occur. Communities must take back control of their land.
Rodrigo Camarena, a candidate for City Council District 38, has laid out a well-conceived plan to correct the housing situation in New York City. You must read his plan:
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, mental illness estimates that untreated mental illness costs the country up to $300 billion every year due to productivity losses. As many as 90 percent of cases of suicide are attributed to mental illness. The stress of life puts many on edge. Life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, are significant for mental health episodes. In a society where so much emphasis is applied to wants, stress is bound to occur. Children growing up in families without fathers or parents who have abuse issues is too much for children to endure. Mothers living in a shelter with their kids has to be stressful. You must consider the impact on those kids. An estimated 24,000 kids go to NYC schools every day. Why are these people living in shelters and not in homes? Never has there been a time when we've needed public housing more, but Mayor de Blasio wants to privatize public housing, and we cannot allow him to do it. Fight for NYCHA, a group of activists fighting to protect public housing in New York City has created the People's Budget: https://fightfornycha.org/peoples-budget/ The budget, if put into effect, will generate enough money to prevent the privatization of NYCHA.
Drug Addiction: The biological mechanism that is the source of addiction is a rewarding brain system. Positive feelings rush through the brain with feel-good chemicals rewarding the substance use. This process also impacts the area of the brain that is responsible for stress and self-control. Many with high levels of dopamine in the brain are more prone to addictive behavior. If you have had to deal with any of the situations mentioned above, it is not surprising that you might want a drug to make you feel better. According to Drug war facts, these were the monies spent in 2015 for Drug Prevention, treatment, and law enforcement:
Treatment: $9.55 billion (36.9% of total)
Prevention: $1.34 billion (5.2% of total)
Domestic Law Enforcement: $9.4 billion (36.3% of total)
Interdiction: $3.96 billion (15.3% of total)
International: $1.64 billion (6.3% of total)
Total: $25.89 billion
As you can see, there are almost equal amounts spent on treatment versus law enforcement. If Congress were to give up its war on drugs and move to more treatment, we might be more helpful to the addict. This past week Congress voted to decriminalize the use of pot. We may be coming to the end of the war on drugs. This ridiculous war has destroyed too many people's lives.
A failed government is the main reason for homelessness in America. A government that should be investing in the lives of its citizen with free education, paid healthcare, improved job creation, and building a sound green infrastructure. Instead, we piss away hundreds of billions of dollars on the military to enrich the 1%. They have taken the wrong path, and we have allowed it.
Have you ever considered the dreams homeless people might have had before becoming homeless? Things they wanted in their lives but had to put on hold because of homelessness. Just like you, they have hopes and dreams. But with each day, their dreams fade deeper into a cloud of bureaucracy, becoming only another number in a graph. Our government must stop building weapons of destruction and start improving the lives of its citizens. And we must force them.