Tag Archives: homeless people

Is it Time to Consider Leaving Los Angeles?

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Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Jimbolaya

Los Angeles is the future

Two recent competing articles, one (the link above, from the NY Post) from L.A.’s east coast competition (well, competition for cool, anyway) seeming to finally give the city its due, at least in some areas like dining and clubbing, transit, general livability, walkability.

The problem with articles like this one is that they’re most likely written by professional travelers/food writers looking for certain things and then finding what they were looking for, they write about it. In that process, though, they ignore the rest of what’s in front of them. They see the city that they expected to see, and write about it that way. Not from the perspective of a resident, but a tourist. One with a lot of cash, too. I’m happy they found the great places to eat in such varied spots as Downtown, Venice, Hollywood and Mid-City (and I’m happy for the restaurateurs and club owners, that they’re successful, really, that is an accomplishment).

But the overall impression you get from their story/review is of a city rich, laidback and carefree – of course, Los Angeles has that Entourage-y aspect. But that’s not the norm. The norm is that it’s a very difficult city in many respects: financially, socially, employment-wise, ecologically challenged, a diverse place but not without that tension.

There’s an incredible number of homeless people in the enormous city who don’t get to patronize these establishments. And, as it is the city of the car culture, there are many people who live in their cars. I’m not sure if that means they’re homeless or not – as a car is a roof over one’s head, I guess, technically. I come across a surprising number of people sleeping in their cars on my early morning walks. It never fails to startle me.

That’s what I flashed on – the homeless, in cars or on the streets – in the part of the story where they mentioned the daily celebrity sightings downtown –  I mean, OK, really? I’m not sure what celebs they’re seeing down there (though I know “Mad Men” is shot on downtown stages) but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. So if you see an actor or two you don’t see the thousands of desperately poor around you? I’m not sure what kind of person has that lack of filter.

Which leads me to the competing story:

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Empty House Syndrome

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Nation of Change

Houses are bigger, and we’re living with others less often. Not to mention all the empty houses in the country, that for whatever reason can’t be used to house people who live outside.

Doesn’t it all seem a little weird? Here we have both a terrible homeless problem and a terrible real estate problem. Empty houses on the one hand and on the other people who have no place to live. However, the people who have no place to live have no money to pay to live (either rent or buy) in those empty houses. So the solution – to let the people live in the empty spaces – can’t work, because of the “rules” we have.

We can’t have homeless people squatting in foreclosed upon houses – that just, I don’t know, just can’t happen? Why? Because it’s not the way “it” works. Blah blah blah. And the usual argument would follow, but then everybody would want to live in their house for free, etc.

But then again, just imagine the goodwill an organization like, oh, say, Bank of America would engender if it took a percentage of the vacant houses it now owns and allowed homeless people to stay in them till they got on their “feet.” Yeah, like you, I’m not holding my breath.

I’m sure there’s a million reasons why not to. I guess it all comes down to the kind of society we wish to live in and how we want to relate to our fellow human beings. Am I saying it’s wrong to deny the homeless shelter in vacant homes that someone else owns? Probably not. I know that’s not how the “system” works in this or other countries. I have a vacant porch and I have yet to invite a homeless person to camp there. However, I am curious as to when and how it got to that point, where an arbitrary economic model trumps compassion and extends misery.

Much easier to talk about the parts of the story which involve doubling up or living with friends, etc. Not only is there money and energy to be saved, there’s camaraderie to be had and loneliness to be stanched. There’s more people living alone today than ever before in history (myself included). Have you ever wondered why this is, and found it odd – after all, we are social animals. Cats and dogs have certainly benefited!

If you live alone, do you think you’ll always want to? Or would you like to live with other people, especially as a single older person?

 

Off the rails – the case for taxing the rich

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This clip of author Malcolm Gladwell speaking is well worth watching. He talks about the tax rates back in the 50s-70s, and how that benefited the country. That’s the era I grew up in – remember well the building of the interstate highway through my town, the construction of schools, sewer infrastructure spending, the race to the moon and more.

Honestly, from where I sit, the huge greed crisis we find ourselves in now began with the Republican rise in the 1980s, with Ronald Reagan and his cronies. That’s also when we saw the first large groups of homeless people on our streets. If you were born after 1980, or even the mid-70s, you would never remember that once this was a very different country.

I’d really urge you to watch this as he makes the case in a quite entertaining way, and also really illustrates the difference between the left and the current incarnation of Republican thinking. Spread and discuss.