homelessness and hopelessness increasing as we are being told the economy has never been better

A fellow blogster observed over the weekend that while the administration brags about employment being at an all time high (questionable in my opinion), it is also true that homelessness and hopelessness are too. Why should that be? It would appear that the economy is not really doing as well as some claim.

Let’s look at the situation by starting with the past. I remember growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s when many would tell you they experienced the “good old days”. They were NOT the good old days for me. You see I grew up in abject poverty. From the time I was five till the time I was 17, we lived in a basement because the money ran out long before we could build a house on top. The basement leaked and every time there was a rain, there was water pooled on the floor beside our chairs and beds. We had no television, and for a large portion of the time no car for my father to get to his job in town, nor even a radio.

What was even worse than the physical conditions of my childhood, was the stigma attached. I remember my mother offering shelter to some other children having to walk home form our school during a rainstorm. There was, of course, water on the floor, and instead of being grateful, we became the laughing stock of the neighborhood because we had water in the floor. They accepted the shelter but we paid for it.

The stigma still exists for homelessness today. We are often told that if we work hard, we can do anything. The poor are told that if they are poor, it is because they don’t work hard enough and don’t deserve anything else. Except, those that work the hardest are often the very ones that are the poorest and most likely to be homeless.

So, today, why are we facing more homelessness instead of less. Using New Orleans as an example, it might just be because of the wage issue. The service workers in our city get close to minimum wage, if not under, for working in the industry that brings in the most money. That’s right, the owners of hotels and restaurants ofter rack up a lions share of the economic benefits leaving the ones the ones that enable them to make the money, in poverty and very often homeless or close to it.

Then the stigma sets in. Cities with high rates of homelessness, like New Orleans and San Francisco are then called “shit holes” by politicians and it is implied if no stated that homelessness and poverty is an evil that somehow magically reproduced itself. Well, I will tell you, if I was homeless, I would most certainly rather be in New Orleans than in Minnesota or San Francisco rather than North Dakota. Why? Because it is much warmer, and there are more people that might help me.

Now, let’s look at my own personal hopelessness. I am not homeless by a long shot..or not yet. However, when the so called “tax reform” went though in 2017, I was skeptical that it would help me as a middle class person. Let’s just define that a bit.

I get, after taxes and medicare payments, a social security check of about 1400 dollars and get about that same amount from a pay out from an IRA type account. That means I have maybe 2800 a month to live on. That’s isn’t too bad. However, my rent is 700.00 a month (1/4) and then of course there is the day to day living. Until 2016, I was living the American Dream.

What happened with my American Dream? First of all, my taxes went UP due to the tax reform. I have to pay taxes on more of my society security check and of course my entire pay out from the IRA. Admittedly my income went up a bit in 2018, but my additional tax bill was over 500 dollars. And that was the BEST percentage I am going to get.

What does the next few years promise me? A reduced amount of money to live on as the percentage of my income that has to go to taxes goes up. What is this happening? Because trump and the republicans decided that more money needed to be given to those that already had abundance in the opposite Robin Hood system of economics called “the trickle down” theory of economics.

I have always willingly paid whatever my income tax came to. I took the standard deduction and lived on the remainder. Because I had experienced true poverty and knew what it looked like, and had for a brief time had to have assistance, I was more than willing to pay it forward via income tax.

Now, for the first time in my live, I am actually considering what kind of tax shelter might be open to me. That would include finding a roommate to reduct rent and then cutting back on the pay out I accept from the IRA. I want to survive the remainder of what is left of my life, which I hope is another twenty or thirty years.

However, I am wondering if that will be possible with the rich continuing to get richer while the poor get poorer and things like social security and medicare being threatened by an administration that seems only concerned about the well-being of the rich and powerful.

We certainly need another Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and not the man in the White House who would probably sell his mother for a pot of gold.


66 and retired, and living my dream free, knowing that only by working with a union am I fortunate enough to be able to be where I am.