By David Glenn Cox
People are a lot like pottery in that once you break them, you can’t always put them back together. The fissures and cracks are always still there, despite the tradesman’s craft. Imagine an economy so defective where the middle is squeezed so hard that the results squirt out at the top and at the bottom. Some people build model planes, and some people have their own space program and own Islands in Greece. And maybe they own a couple of yachts and jet plane or two.
Then we have cities filled with homeless becoming a permanent underclass. This is Merica; we work without a net God dammit. Get sick, fall behind, the boss runs off with the payroll. Or the boyfriend runs off with the checking account or the wife files for divorce. There are a million stories in the naked city. Getting in is easy and getting out is difficult.
Once you become homeless, you are homeless. No matter what the circumstances that brought you here. You are homogenized into just “Homeless.” Mentally ill or substance abusing, middle aged crack up or the company moved to China. After a week or two, you understand that once in the melting pot, it all becomes meaningless and all melts into a part of the same stew.
During the Super Bowl, the city of Angels moved the homeless away from the highway between the airport and the football stadium. “Problem? No problem, just sweep them away like fallen leaves on the porch. Now, be a nice fellow and go disappear for a while.”
This is the dark side of having your own space program. The negative side of a low wage economy, poor people can’t buy much. Even before they become homeless, their poverty makes them into non-consumers drawn into a black hole of financial failure.
An economy that works for the top, and squeezes everyone else until those at the bottom have none. Placed on a maintenance diet of food stamps and kicked to the curb literally. One slip, one mistake and you’ll fall all the way off the glass mountain. To live among the untermunchin and to have life’s problems compressed into either food or shelter.
It’s hard to imagine, that say a hurricane or a tornado ravaging a city and the government saying to the victims, they only have themselves to blame. No FEMA trailers for you! No small loans to help you get back on your feet. You chose to live in economic tornado alley, now deal with it! Jobs with pay so low, it doesn’t even cover the overpriced rent. Corporate scheduling to deny you health insurance at work, by denying you the hours to work. Easily available street drugs to help the uninsured to medicate themselves.
A rat race treadmill with no escape and only one eventual ending. Mental illness isn’t a diagnosis, so much as matter of time. You can’t live as a rabbit in the jungle without becoming nervous about your safety. Nervous about eating or nervous about sleeping. Nervous about nervous about, whatever unknown terror was waiting around the next corner to pounce on you. Terror as in the car won’t start. It’s not just your vehicle, it’s also your house. One more trip around Dante’s playground, only through the park this time.
Why do millions of Americans frolic with hard drugs? Futility perhaps. The lack of anything better to look forward too. The lack of opportunity that leads to frustration and boredom. Go to college and maybe get skinned; that’s a lot of pressure to put on a teenager. Go to trade school or join the Army maybe?
But there is trouble brewing between the Eloi and the Morlocks as more homeless encampments encroach upon urban neighborhoods. The Eloi with their shelters find themselves outnumbered and overpowered by the untermunchin Morlocks in their own neighborhoods.
And because the problem grows and grows, it is becoming beyond the power of cities like Portland to permanently remove them. Soylent Green without Charleton Hesston or Edward G. Robinson. People as refuse to be picked up off the street. (We will be there just as fast as we can! Maybe sometime next week.) Some institutionalized to live that way, some knowing no other way to live, and who is to blame for it?
There’s a TV commercial that airs about this office, where the worker was this real great guy and worked really hard. Well, he bought this old car and it got wrecked and so he was back to walking to work again. They felt so sorry for him, that they bought him a new car to ride in. Of course, if they had paid the man a decent salary. He could have bought his own fucking car and not have people looking at him as a basket case needing paternal help.
Maybe if we all work real hard the boss will buy us a new car too, but probably not. It’s the carrot on the swill stick hitting the side of the bucket. That no matter how futile your situation good things can still happen…but probably won’t. You just need to work a little harder. What you need are lottery tickets! Maybe a trip to the local casino to change your luck?
I suppose that is possible to build a society where the offal and unnecessary are just cleaved off and ignored. You don’t need any fences if the moat is full of alligators. An economic lottery where some get rich, and some eat shit and die. No top and no bottom. Private space programs with a million people living in the streets of mission control.
Living proof of trickledown economics as more than just a theory, but as actual proven fact. Living proof that pro-life is just an often-discussed theory. How can they care for the unborn so much, when they care for the born so little? A cheap chiselers excuse to offer free pizza and beer to all those not in the room. While not ever having to buy any pizza or beer. They stand with those who don’t exist!
“In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white-collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.” – Franklin Roosevelt
“Don’t accept that what’s happening
Is just a case of others’ suffering
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
The turning away” – Pink Floyd