Saturday, August 8, 2009

America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Ruthless Bastards

With the economic crash and the epidemic of foreclosures, the homeless population of the USA is now estimated to be a million people. Violence against them is now so bad that Maryland and the District of Columbia have made attacks on the homeless into hate crimes. Similar legislation is pending in other states.
The most frequent perpetrators of these attacks are young men and teenage boys who sometimes videotape their assaults. The motivation appears to be nothing more than a low cost thrill. They know that this population is largely outside the law and will not go to the police. Attacks frequently end in murder. The situation is so bad in Las Vegas, with a large population of the newly homeless, that they now prefer to live underground in the flood tunnels under downtown.

Read about it here in the NY Times.

8 comments:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

This is so sickening...I feel terrible that this is going on...I recently returned from a trip that included near dowtown Portland, Oregon...a beautiful city that was mostly empty buildings and homeless people on the streets...my encounters with these folks led me to believe that many were suffering from addiction problems too...trapped from all sides.

Counterlight said...

Leo,
I've had similar experiences in San Francisco. There appears to be a core population of addicts and the mentally ill among the homeless. I don't quite know what to do about them, but casting them out onto the streets clearly is not a solution.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Hadn't you heard? The homeless people choose to be homeless. Never mind about the economy, job loss, foreclosures, etc. It's their choice.

There's a sickness abroad in our fair land, and it's not just the young thugs who are infected. The health care debate exposed the ruthlessness of many so-called civilized people in our midst. The true dog eat dog, I've got mine, and you can't have what I have mentality shines brightly.

1 million homeless, 47 million without health insurance, I don't have the number of children going hungry - all of it sends me nearly into the depths of despair about my country. I know better than to put my trust in politicians, but that small ray of hope that things in the country might improve is fast fading.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Around 1990 hospitals for various categories were closed in Sweden. I know they had closed down in the USA by then. Result: many if not most ended up in the street.

They need a home above all - and then a job they can cope with.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Meanwhile back at the mansion....

Brian R said...

When I first (1974)travelled outside of Australia & NZ I was shocked but expected the begging in Bangkok but surprised to find it also in Europe and later (1980)in San Francisco where it was, if anything, worse. The homeless are now seen in places in Sydney (including around my church) and occasionally begging. Fortunately serious attacks are rare enough to make headlines but they do occur. As reported by Goran much is due to the closing down of mental hospitals. They were terrible places but there has been nothing to replace them. Like Mimi there are no tears from me when people have to sell multi-million dollar mansions. However it was announced at a recent boatshow in Sydney that million dollar boats were still selling well.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

In California when Regan was Governor the first thing he did was a 10% cutback...the mentally ill were, as you gentlemen stated, off on there own...Agnew State Hospital was what I remember most because I had a friend who worked there...he just shook his head and said this ¨cutback¨ as it related to the mentally ill was a very dangerous thing...can it be true, decade after decade after Regan, have we ignored, turned our head, on a HUGE population of mentally ill folks who have slipped through the cracks of everyday life? It scares me to think that yes, in fact, this is somekind of gross and deadly political sorting system...it also has all the earmarks of the great AIDS silence of Regan. Gives me the chills to think of the potential REAL reasons, cleansing the defectives, the homos and in Central America it was the mass murdering of ¨Commies.¨

motheramelia said...

All Saints' in the Haight feeds the homeless every Saturday. (another church did Mon-Fri) Nothing on Sundays. I used to cook once a month and noticed that so many had addictions or mental problems, but some were just down on their luck. The worst times were rainy winter days when some would bring in their sleeping bags to try to dry them out a bit. Most of them lived in or near Golden Gate park in encampments where they could help (or prey on) each other. We rarely had problems with anyone, they policed themselves. It was heart wrenching. When I did my interim in Sausalito, I also helped out at the local "kitchen" on Fridays, although there I worked the clothes closet. Again, rain was a problem for people who lived on rickety boats on the bay, or who found out of the way places to sleep. One man's boat sank during bad weather and he lost his few belongings. Fortunately we had some blankets that day in addition to clothes. He carried that blanket under his arm throughout the meal. A local woman who had mental problems was fed breakfast every day by a local restaurant. It might have been her only meal for the day. I don't remember her at the Friday meal site. In Marin, they had a bus to take people to the daily site, but I wonder how many of the really needy used it. There, a synagogue did the Sunday meal. It's just a drop in the bucket though. The need is for mental and all health services and a safe place to live and that we do so badly. It would be wonderful to be able to put these daily meal sites out of business.