From the Editors: A Practical Solution to Homelessness in America
There is an abundance of housing in America. Millions are homeless in America.
California is the breadbasket of the world; it produces enough food to feed the entire world.
Millions in America are “food insecure.” For many children the only meal they get is a school lunch.
Healthcare in America is the most advanced in the world, boasting miraculous innovations in technology and science. In America millions go without health insurance, having to choose between paying for health care and putting food on the table for their families, or paying the rent.
There is something terribly wrong with this picture. This is what is at the bottom of the great unease that permeates our political process. In the midst of a land of plenty, there are the millions of those cast aside, who are fighting what seems like a losing battle to obtain even the most basic of human needs.
On a roadside in just about every city and suburb and rural area of America, there is a homeless person, a man or a woman or a child, holding up a hand-painted cardboard sign that reads: “Will work for food.”
This is the image that the ruling class would like for us to forget. That homeless person on the side of the road exposes the shocking immorality of a system that produces more abundance, while at the same time more deprivation. All across America, cities are demolishing homeless encampments and passing laws that make it unlawful for the homeless to be in certain areas, or even to ask for food. In Oakland, California, the city government is building “Tuff Sheds,” tiny storage sheds, as places the homeless can now reside. In the shadow of luxury, rents skyrocket and wages shrink.
Since the Great Recession, more than 10 million homes have been foreclosed upon. Many of those who lost their homes never got them back. Now real estate speculators have bought up those properties, causing the price of homes to shoot up to all-time highs. These speculative capitalists have also cornered the rental market and driven the cost of renting beyond the reach of more and more. For example, in Los Angeles, where there are more than 50,000 homeless, some pay as much as $1500 a month just to live in someone’s garage.
Another study has shown that in two-year community colleges, as many as one-half of the student population is homeless. Although most have to work while attending classes, their wages are not enough to pay for college expenses and to also pay for housing. So they live in their car, or on a friend’s couch.
It is really quite simple: the system of private property, in which great wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few is just outmoded. It is broken and can’t be fixed. Automation and robotics now produce an abundance we could only dream of, while at the same time eliminating millions of workers from production. And there is more to come. It is estimated that by 2050, as many as half of all existing jobs will be eliminated due to advanced electronics. A system which can no longer house its people, no longer deserves to exist. A new world is striving to be born.
It really all comes down to a question of private property. There is an immorality of a system where those who don’t have the money to pay go without, and are discarded and forgotten. And then there is the morality of a cooperative, sharing system, in which the welfare of every person comes first.
All of this could be resolved in a day. There is such abundance right now to house everyone who needs it, to feed everyone who is hungry, to care for the health and well-being of all. This is not an abstract problem; the solution is very practical. The only thing that makes any sense at all is to distribute the abundance of society to all in need.
We look ahead to a new year. Yet once again many of our homeless will freeze to death on the streets of our cities. It does not have to be this way.
The American people are a generous and caring people. We see this every holiday season, as food drives are conducted to restock the shelves of our food banks, clothing is collected, donations are made to help those in need. Yet we know that charity alone will never solve the problem.
The generosity and caring of the American people points the way to the new kind of society we have to build. It is a truly cooperative society, where every human being is valued, and one in which the abundance we produce is distributed to all in need. It is the only practical and moral thing to do.
January/February 2019. Vol29.Ed1
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011