By Jack Stevenson. January 31, 2020. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Does anyone remember shorthand?
Back in days before we became robotic adjuncts to our electronic devices, secretaries took notes in shorthand which they later converted to typewritten documents. I submit that the word “homeless” is shorthand. I shall attempt to translate it.
On altogether too many city street intersections, we see people holding signs that read “Homeless—Anything helps,” or some version of that message. The “homeless” part is clear enough, but there is a lot more the sign doesn’t say.
It very probably means that the person does not possess a currently marketable job skill. It surely means that the person does not have medical insurance, which also implies that health problems, physical or mental, are being neglected.
For each of those 600,000 homeless people, there are about 15 of us who own two or more homes.
The homeless sign suggests that the person has a poor diet. Sometimes the sign obviously reveals that the bearer lacks access to adequate personal and laundry sanitation. We can safely guess that the sign implies that the homeless person does not have transportation, doesn’t file a federal income tax return, and doesn’t have credit or a credit card, but may very well have an addiction or a criminal record. And, to be honest and fair, we need to recognize that some of the approximately 600,000 homeless Americans reached that predicament through no fault of their own. We can also conclude that the homeless person does not have close association with an extended family.
Homelessness in America has increased with urbanization, strong employment, and centralization of wealth, especially as reflected in real estate prices. For each of those 600,000 homeless people, there are about 15 of us who own two or more homes.
Whatever the cause, homelessness is a problem that neither local governments, state governments, nor our federal government have been able to solve—and we are the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world.
A significant percentage of us are going to be jobless in the future because software will be doing our jobs.
Oxford scholar Daniel Susskind contends in his recent book A World Without Work that a significant percentage of us are going to be jobless in the future because software will be doing our jobs. Wealth and political influence are rapidly being centralized in the United States. Susskind recognizes that it will be necessary for the government to redistribute wealth to millions of people who are jobless—a form of socialism! Otherwise, a lot more Americans will be joining the homeless ranks.
It isn’t too difficult to imagine a class society developing. The never employed will resent the prosperous, and the employed will disparage the non-working “drones.” Who will hold public office? What will be the purpose of education?
Passing money directly to a homeless person may help him or her get through the day, but it does not provide a permanent solution.
On the lighter side, what will we do with all of those out-of-date English words: lazy, fired, hired, promoted, pay raise, vacation pay, and maternity leave?
Passing money directly to a homeless person may help that person get through the day, but it does not provide a permanent solution. We need to find a solution because the homeless are human beings, because their plight troubles conscientious people, and because the number of homeless Americans could expand dramatically in the future.
Housing surely doesn’t need to be elaborate. During military service, I lived in Quonset huts, tents, and rudimentary barracks for years as did legions of other service members. Real estate developers are not going to voluntarily build low profit housing. A governmental incentive will be required. All of us require a lot more than housing, but housing is a basic requirement for a civilized existence.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Stevenson is retired. He served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently residing in Pensacola, FL, he reads history, follows issues important to Americans, and occasionally writes non-exclusive commentary for Blowing Rock News.
All opinions expressed by Mr. Stevenson are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Blowing Rock News or its managers and employees.