The issue of homelessness again hit our show Friday as we discussed the ongoing explosion, mainly across the major West Coast cities, of Americans living in the streets. The Greater Sacramento area, alone, has seen a 30% increase in homelessness in the last year, and it shows. In Los Angeles, the spread into business and residential areas of tent cities has started a sidewalk war which sees property owners running sprinklers all night and planting spikey plants to deter homeless people from setting up in front of their homes or business.
In Los Angeles over the past year, they have spent over $600 million dollars to alleviate the homelessness problem and yet they have 12% more homeless. One thing they didn’t spend any of that money on is rat removal. LA is America’s only major city that has no rodent control program; rats are attracted to garbage and human waste, the two main side-effects of a homeless population estimated to be 60,000 people. Rats eat our waste, become diseased, and spread, of all things, typhus, not to mention the plague. While there is obviously no way to accurately count rats, the current estimate is that 12 million rats live within the city of Los Angeles. There are only 10 million humans in all of Los Angeles County! When words like typhus and plague are used, you’ve shot past comparisons to third-world-countries and you have become medieval.
Meanwhile, Rents are so high in LA that non-homeowners spend an average of 41 per cent of their income on accommodation. While median family income is $69,300 a year in LA County, median rent is more like $100,000. And those figures are mirrored in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Denver, and the ever-growing list of cities seeing huge increases in tent cities.
Whenever this topic arises, the natural inclination to shout “what’s the solution,” occurs…which is usually where the problems only escalate.
Many people argue that you can’t fix a problem unless you what caused it (I am not one of those people, but sadly too many of you are). Once this can of worms is opened it immediately divides people into two main corners:
- It’s the Democrats fault! All of the cities with problems are run by the Libtards!
- It’s the fault of the rich and income inequality. All the rich people are too blame (AKA Capitalism sucks)
Bored yet? I am.
My answer, because of these polarizing and idiotic responses to queries for solutions has been “it’s so convoluted I don’t know where to start.”
But that’s a cop-out, I realized over the weekend.
If you’re inclination to respond to a viable solution to a major problem in America is to say “that will never happen,” you have short-term memory loss. “That will never happen,” was the most spoken phrase in 2016 in response to anyone who said anything close to “Donald Trump could be president.” Have you checked the occupant of the White House lately? Love him or hate him (and apparently those are the only two choices we’re allowed these days) he’s there, despite all of being told he’d never be.
Similarly, there are far too many amongst us who simply feel that America, en masse, is no longer capable of great things, nor of tackling or solving enormous challenges. This, too, is a function of ideology. We have made major strides forward as a culture and society in just this century. Rebuilding after 9/11 is simply taken for granted, which should speak to what this country is capable of, but for some reason is dismissed. We’ve legalized gay marriage, something 75% of America supports today. We’re moving towards legalizing marijuana more and more, something more than 60% of Americans agree with. We were told countless times after the economic crash of 2008 that America’s economy would never again thrive and yet we have rebuilt it into one of the greatest in America’s history.
And obviously that’s a very basic, almost elementary list simply meant to illustrate that whether you like or agree with those few things, they are major achievements, and they happened. So, another one can.
Want the solution? Look to the cause (oh wait, I said I wasn’t going to do that didn’t I?).
While I am the first to demand we always look to the population, half of which doesn’t vote, and the half that does is overwhelmingly uninformed, it is simplistic to simply say “well this is what we get.”
America is controlled and operated by two equally large and equally powerful entities; big government and big business. They team up all of the time; usually to the detriment of most of us and the betterment of themselves. Occasionally, because there’s so much upside to them, they engage in partnerships that also benefit society as a whole. This is such an opportunity.
The United States of America has the largest and greatest economy in the world, by far, and it’s currently soaring. In 2018, our gross domestic product eclipsed $20 trillion dollars. That’s unfathomable.
With numbers like that and more than 600,000 people living in the streets, it selfishly behooves the government to solve this problem so fewer people keep calling for it to be torn down and rebuilt into an entirely new system. Similarly, it is in the best interest of the biggest industries in America to eliminate the blight that is the visual horror of this homeless scourge so fewer people continue to believe it’s a condemnation of the very system that has allowed them to become so big and powerful. Plus, done right, it creates a whole bunch of new potential employees.
You’re telling me that the minds who created and/or run Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and every other behemoth can’t sit down with the best and brightest of both political parties (and yes, there are some intelligent public servants) and in one day formulate a partnership in which facilities are donated, purchased, and built to house, evaluate, teach, and train 600,000 Americans? Wal-mart employs 4 times that many people currently. The 10 biggest employers in America provide more than 6 million jobs and we’re supposed to believe that they can’t create a plan to offer a hand-up to 10% of the equivalent of their total combined workforces?
Why isn’t it happening? That’s for another column…