It’s been roughly a year since this Pandemic has started and we’ve learned a lot about each other as a society. We’ve learned that a lot of people don’t have an understanding of how air works. Some people seem to believe that cover your nose with a cloth will hinder you from breathing. This means that superheroes like Spiderman, the Hooded Justice, the Black Panther are all suffocating as they fight crime…which I guess is what makes them super?
Or if you take your mask off, it’ll help you hear better. The amount of people I’ve heard say “Let me take my mask off so I hear you better” is staggering. Which goes to show us that a lot of people don’t have an understanding of the human respiratory system as well…or how ears work.
We’ve also learned a majority of jobs don’t need us to sit in traffic all morning, then sit in a cubicle in a gray building and be forced to talk about Game Of Thrones at the Water Cooler! Yes, I saw the tits on that show, Jerry and no I don’t want to discuss it because you make it weird. I don’t need you to describe the tits, my eyes work just fine! Most of us can do our jobs from home without pants.
One of the biggest things this Pandemic is teaching us is how truly awful Capitalism really is! Thanks to Capitalism, a system that claims to eradicate poverty and ensure that every citizen has the access to money, is well-fed and fully ejaculated, America is due to see unprecedented levels of homelessness.
During the Pandemic, there’s a lot of people who can’t work or pivot their jobs to a virtual setting or their hours are cut to less than part time work. These people look to the government to do their jobs by providing economic relief directly to their citizens. Government responded by…giving $6 trillion to Wall Street and the Banking Industry.
Americans were then told stay at home, unless you had to take care of the essentials. You know the really important stuff like groceries, medications…and booze. I’m pretty sure the fact that booze is in the America’s Amendments, twice, makes it essential. Soon we’ll add weed to that list as well. Frankly we should’ve legalized weed day the term ‘jazz cigarette’ went out of fashion in 1946.
Because there was no economic relief directly to citizens, and the evictions moratoriums were coming and going, Capitalism created a situation where Americans citizens were going to put out into the streets as a new wave of homelessness. And much like New Wave music, this will also be a disaster!
The oddity with this situation is the fact that governments wanted to us to be locked into our homes with no financial support, and now are creating an economic system where a bunch of us are going to be out on the streets, due to no financial support. Make up your damn mind! Are we supposed to stay in or be out in the streets? Stay at home orders don’t really work when you don’t have a home to go to.
But a lot of folks chastise the homeless population and blame the issue on the victim, rather than identifying the economic forces involved to push someone to live under the bridges, so to speak. This is the ‘stop hitting yourself’ of reasons. “Stop impoverishing yourself, stop impoverishing yourself!”
Right now America has over 553,000 homeless people, when you count the people living in their cars, couches and makeshift accommodations. At any given time there are probably at minimum 500,000 homeless people across the nation. Compare that to Japan, where they have a total of about 4000 homeless people. Again America proves that it is number 1 and doesn’t care in what it’s number 1 as long as it’s the first. USA! USA! USA!
70% of the homeless population are individuals and about 30% are families, and yes some have kids with them too. 37% of the homeless population are dire need of housing and help. Black, brown and LGBTQ folks that are a majority of the homeless. 17% of the homeless population are Veterans.
I have a rule that I think is a pretty good one. For serving in rich people’s wars Veteran homelessness should be zero. There should an Iraq War Veteran living with Dick Cheney, Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, the Bushes, the Rockefeller’s, and so on, non-stop. And these people should be waiting on them hand & foot. In fact, a Veteran should be allowed to fire one round of buckshot at Dick Cheney at any time at least once a day. Not to fatally wound him or anything, but just so he knows what they went through. And then Cheney apologizes to the Vet!
Homelessness to this scale is a result of Reganomics. Are we surprised? Oh man, a mediocre actor turned out to be one of the worst Presidents America has ever had. Color me shocked…and then Regan can imprison me because shocked is a different color than white and white is the only acceptable color under a Regan regime. And Barack Obama once said, if he could’ve voted in the 80s, he would’ve voted for Regan. The amount of proof that we live in a corporate oligarchy, ruled by one party is stacking higher and higher isn’t it. Ronald Regan is the “I’m not racist, but…” of Presidents.
Now under the Regan Regime, public & affordable housing programs, along with a lot of social safety nets were cut. Mix that with stagnant wages with little or no raises, increased cost of living and corporations moving their factories overseas to get cheap labor and enrich themselves, you’ve got a recipe for record high homeless rates.
But people can be absolutely callous towards to the homeless. More often than not, people ignore the homeless, as if they weren’t really even there. It’s like when a very endowed woman enters an all boys school. Everyone just look at the floor and hold your breath. It’ll all be over in a minute. The only one that stares is Jerry, who grows up to be the guy at the water cooler awkwardly describing breasts to everyone.
People think the homeless are drains on society cashing in their welfare checks on booze and drugs, like this former Oregon resident. It’s not easy to get signed up for these programs without an address. Not just that, but try being a housed immigrant trying to get on Medicaid, defining and redefining citizenship and a Green Card once every 40 seconds. It’s exhausting.
But this guy goes on to say more callous things about homeless people. Trying to sell bottles for only drugs and booze? What about food? Not all homeless people are drug addicts, but can you really blame them for doing drugs or needing a drink. Most of us are ready to pound a fifth of whiskey because we got cut off in traffic. Most of us would take a hit of heroin if they didn’t find the right kind of cheese we wanted at the grocery store!
These people have to survive in rough conditions day in and day out, so if they want a little booze to take the edge of callous statements like Craig’s, then go for it. I’ll pour you the first fuckin’ shot myself. Cheers. Besides, don’t forget that in America, alcohol is essential.
People like this often call Homeless folks, drains on society, but champion people like Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, the Waltons and Bill Gates. Those guys are real drains to society. They don’t pay taxes, are creating the homeless crisis by pushing for deregulation on all private industries, creating monopolies and keeping the wages stagnant.
And therein lies our next reason for homelessness in America; the stagnation of wages. In America, minimum wage hasn’t increased in over a decade. That’s like if you were to watch the show Friends, and every episode was Ross & Rachel dating and then going on a break and dating again, for 10 straight years. At least Friends had the decency to stop that shit after 9 years.
With stagnant wages, and corporations skirting labor laws by hiring part time workers, most Americans have to get 2-3 jobs to survive and even then some don’t. A fair amount of the homeless population are employed. They just don’t make enough to afford a vehicle to take them to work and a home to house them. And that’s not their fault. That’s the fault of every CEO, corporate stooge and politician that lacks the will to increase the minimum wage to a livable amount because they need to satiate their greed.
The billionaires, CEOs, and the purchased politicians are the real addicts here. They’re addicted to money.
But look don’t worry, there’s slight, kinda sorta, but not really chance of the minimum wage will go up to $15/hour from $7.25/hour by 2025. That’ll be roughly 5 years too late to be ten years too late. Which for math fans out there means, it’s 15 years too late for the Fight For Fifteen.
The wage issue & the cost of living is one of the major reasons why cities like Seattle, San Diego and San Francisco are seeing an increase in their homeless population. When I was in San Francisco, the city streets were filled with homeless people. They didn’t panhandle or ask for money but they did give me a look like “Shit you probably don’t have money either”. And they were correct.
Despite my lack of money, I usually try to give homeless people something; food, water, some cash if I have it. And this is something I get chastised for by my friends. They always say “Krish you have no money, if you keep giving them money or food, then what’s left for you?!” And that might be true, but right now I have more than them so it’s ok. And if I do wind up homeless, when they’re off the streets, they’ll give me a dollar when I ask for it. That’s called the Circle of Life.
Another reason people try to avoid the homeless is because they all have mental illnesses! This is also not really true. Some do have mental illnesses and are in dire need of some kind of help. And really after being ignored by most of humanity, you might go a little crazy, just so people will acknowledge your existence. And if you don’t, that’s even crazier!
Have you ever gotten the silent treatment from your partner or significant other or your cat? And then after a while, you start wondering if you really exist or if you’ve become Patrick Swayze from the movie Ghost? Being homeless is that feeling 100% of the time!
And which one of us can really claim that we don’t have any mental illnesses? Everyone is a little crazy. I’m a hyper anxious dude with PTSD from an emotionally abusive relationship and decided Comedian was my full time job! I’m like 66% crazy!
Another major cause of homelessness is prisoners who are let out with absolutely nothing to their name. They are discriminated against for a lot of jobs and can’t find a stable home and therefore either wind up back in prison or homeless, which also winds them back in prison! Regardless, the prison system is set to recycle prisoners in America, which is the only green initiative this country believes in.
There are some folks who prefer the unhoused lifestyle. They live in their cars and are nomads through the land. They either hustle on the street or get temporary gigs as they travel around. Those folks are part of the homeless population too. But their reasons are often used as a scapegoat to not help the homeless. “Oh well they want to be that way. They made their choices!”
The reality is that homeless problem was created and escalated by Capitalism. You can’t run an economic system built on the greed of the few and expect the majority to benefit. This is an unequal system and it will continue to create further inequalities, till most of us are homeless and working for AmazoMart sponsored by MicroApple.
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!