Day 14: Homelessness

Some of the best friends I’ve made here in the US so far either have been or are homeless. No, I haven’t been slumming it that much, and this is not my take on George Orwell’s classic Down and Out in Paris and London (tempting as that might be for a poofy class tourist social sciences student like myself). It’s simply that in the United States, homelessness is a fact of life for a huge portion of the population.

It’s something that simply can’t be comprehended if you’ve never visited the US and spent time among locals. There is, for all intents and purposes, no welfare other than corporate welfare, minimum wage is far below anything resembling a living wage and even then comes loaded with loopholes employers can use to avoid paying even that paltry $7 an hour or so, and IR laws are thirty-nine different types of rooted.

The net result of all this is that in the United States, you can work a full week – not Scandinavia’s thirty-five hours, Australia’s forty, Britain’s forty-five but often well in excess of fifty or fifty-five hours a week – and still not be able to afford a roof over your head. It’s pathetic. This is a failed state by any real measure. And it means that if you live in the States or have spent any amount of time here and don’t know any homeless or ex-homeless people, you live one hell of a sheltered life.

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