It is a sad sight indeed to walk around any major city in our country and find the streets and side-streets and sidewalks littered with vagrants, seeking drink or fighting off sobriety, pleading and prodding for the change that jingles through our pockets. I think it is agreeable by all that this tremendous number of homeless is a grievance to our present deplorable democracy. We all struggle to make ends meet as we make less and less at work but pay more and more for the most basic of amenities, and not only are these vagabonds literally doing nothing to help us and the economy, they are actually a tax on it.
They ask and beg of us and they do indeed take from us, through our feudal payments to the federal government. These donations are ladled out to a long line of social handouts like addictions counseling, find work programs and affordable housing. It is truly disgraceful and discouraging to think of what our hard-earned pay is promoting.
As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this subject, I have found the only possible recourse to eliminating this embarrassing homelessness problem: encouraging it. While this may seem preposterous on the surface, it is indeed true that not until we are all homeless, will we be rid of this type of despicable homelessness.
While I have illustrated that homelessness is a deadweight on us all, perhaps if we choose to view it from a different lens, we can see how homelessness can be used as a positive force. It appears we have spent ourselves into our present predicament, where individuals and cities and countries find themselves deeper and deeper in debt. We are over-consuming and perhaps we are doing this because we are trying to keep up with our overproduction, which our economy greedily and constantly demands. The homeless are not interested in this at all. If we all went homeless, would it not follow that we would consume far less and, as a result, become no longer enslaved to overproduction. Our systems would become more honest and sustainable.
With less production, people will start earning less money, so there will obviously be a decrease in tax dollars in the public purse, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The greedy politicians charged with dispersing these funds would then be forced to spend our money wisely. Surprisingly, they would actually do a good job of this, while still thinking about their own interests. They’d have to keep spending money on infrastructure, lest their roads start falling into disrepair. Remember, these politicians will be the only people making any significant money and therefore the only ones able to afford to drive automobiles down our highways and byways. The politicians would have to dispense less to please lobbyists and would have to take fewer, and less elaborate, tours of foreign nations on business or else they would have to sacrifice the communications networks that would let them contact these lobbyist friends. They would be forced to forego the fee-hungry consultants and do their own work so they could pay the doctors that keep them in health, the teachers that taught the doctors and the tradespeople who built the schools, the hospitals and their very own homes.
By going homeless, we would force our government to pay only those professions that were absolutely necessary. It follows that there would be far fewer police and nearly no bankers to speak of.
We can actually thank the big banks for giving us a head start on this homelessness initiative. With the toxic mortgage crisis forcing millions to foreclose on their homes, the banks created a new, growing legion of homeless people.
As a by-product of our ‘going homeless’ we would have no trouble hitting our greenhouse gas emission targets. Let’s face it, homeless people can barely feed their dogs: they aren’t buying cars, taking extravagant vacations in jumbo jets or even heating a house. Who ever heard of a homeless person with a home? We would reduce our carbon footprint and be heralded by the international community.
Homeless does not mean hopeless, either. Once homeless, there are still many ways to succeed and survive. For instance, these days I must search in earnest to find a discarded pop can or beer bottle on the street when, in my youth, they adorned sidewalks and alleyways like dandelions. This is due to the recycling policies we have that pay people to pick up these items. By incentivizing the return and recovery of aluminum cans and glass bottles with nickels, dimes and quarters, we solved the environmental problems these objects once presented.
To think what we could do if we gave a monetary value to fast-food cups or cigarette butts. With job security where it is today, I would not hesitate to say that armies of casual, temporary and on-call workers – fed up with their meager pay and sporadic hours cooped up in front of a computer in a recycled-air office tower – would start roaming our cities with bags and tack-sticks to collect garbage so they could feed their families.
And the homeless actually wouldn’t be homeless after a short time. Homes boarded up and deserted after the mass exodus, would become reinhabited by responsible squatters. There are successful and well-documented instances of this in Buffalo and Detroit – cities particularly bitten by the recession. People can live safely and content in a home they don’t actually pay for. Every tenant learns a trade to fix up the dwelling and they earn their own way in the home. Just think of it: entire neighbourhoods would be revitalized and reinvigorated with energy and hard work. Subdivisions in suburbia would become self-sustaining communities, with a burgeoning new, hands-on labour class emerging where citizens have a renewed sense of purpose. Since so many over-priced stores would have gone out of business, resourceful residents would scavenge through the city and return with new pieces of furniture to add to their flourishing homes. And artists would be freed from their nine-to-five, or seven-to-seven, or on-call slavery to produce the works they’d always had locked up inside but never had the time to develop.
All we have to do to solve our problems and truly get ahead and succeed is to swiftly ditch everything we own and go live off nothing. That’s our only solution.
Unless, that is, you are prone to pessimism: because if some rich so-and-so has already figured a way to incentivize taking rusted, discarded cans off the ground and turning them into currency, then surely that person will surely figure a way to take homeless people from the streets and recycle them back through the machine to make them profitable once again.