Homelessness 101: I moved to NYC in 3/1983

I was in my 20s (yeah, I’m old).  The Reagan era was a time of rampant homelessness, as the city had not fully recovered from its 1970s bankruptcy…and then, to save money, mentally ill people were being turned out onto the streets; there were not enough beds in homeless shelters and the shelters themselves were unsafe….

These problems got shoved aside during the gentrification years after Rudy Ghouliani took office.

there’s more:

I can certainly attest to that, personally.  In his mad rampage to make the city more acceptable to the upper crust, Rudy shoved the problem of homelessness aside.  I was staying with a friend after an apartment fire left my place temporarily unlivable, and one day, as I was taking the A train downtown from Inwood to work during the morning rush hour, I had to switch trains at 168th St.

There was an elevator.  A very large elevator that probably could carry at least 100 people at a time.  There was also a huge line (probably a couple of thousand people–this was, after all, the a.m. rush hour) for said elevator.  Some–well, hundreds of–intrepid souls were taking the stairs down many, many flights instead, b/c it seemed quicker.  I joined them.

Well, it probably was quicker.

But here’s what I saw on the way down (and nobody should have to live like this):

I saw the homeless that Rudy shoved out of sight.  Living on the stairs.  With no bathrooms, no garbage collection facilities–none of the amenities we take for granted.

The stench was horrific.  The trash was everywhere.  And the denizens of hopelessness who lived there just watched us as we moved past their “home” as quickly as possible.

There is no doubt that many of them were substance abusers, or nutcases, or both.

But that is still no excuse for a nation that at that time had the resources to take care of them to tolerate such indignities heaped upon “the least of us.”

This is one reason why I am a proud Democrat: Our party tries to make everyone’s situation easier.  Our scumbag opponents merely try to “disappear” the problems so that they–the GOP politicians, I mean–look better.

This essay began as a rather long comment in a dKos thread, so it’s maybe short for a full post, and I apologize for that.  But I think people should know what homelessness looks & smells like.  And–trust me on this one!–you really don’t want to smell it for yourself.

OTOH, it would be fitting to force Ghouliani and his fellow rethugs to spend an hour or so conversing with the people who live on the steps between the A train and the #1 train, much further underground.  It would be even more fitting for the rethugs to have to spend a night there, sleeping and eating and shitting where those they have tossed aside are trying to eke out an existence.  It would be karma.

I am not bitter, by the way: no: I am angry at how the least among us treated.

Okay, I’m an agnostic with Buddhist tendencies.  ;-D

But I think all the major religions have the same radical tendencies which, over time, get watered down so that the powerful will remain powerful and the poor and helpless will remain poor and helpless.

To wit:  I seem to remember this one, from Sunday School (& you can Google it!):

“Whatsoever you do unto the least of us, you do unto me.”


“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to attain the kingdom of God” [in some translations, “the kingdom of Heaven”].


the part about Jesus throwing the moneylenders out of the temple.  And the part about usury laws–this would have been the Christian church–and usury being 10%.  Have you checked the interest rate on your credit card lately?  Anyone at or over 25-35$?  The G.O.*fucking*P. stopped all limits on usury YEARS ago.  It’s yet another cause of the current economic collapse.

oooooh, don’t get me started.  The GOP should be fully discredited at this point: in fact, their leaders should be in jail for multiple crimes and misdemeanors.

President Obama cannot take over in time.  I mean that.  Literally.  Bush is about to host some kind of economic summit with leaders from Europe.

But any discussion of international oversight of financial markets is delicate and, in the White House’s view, problematic. American officials do not want other nations to control this country’s banking system.

Yeah, of course not: they want to dictate to others, not do as they dictate to others.  The fact that the Emperor George W. Bush has not owned any clothes for the last 8 years might just prove embarrassing to the GOP.  whaddya think?


And then there’s this, from my favorite Nobel Laureate:

Go, Jamie, go! We don’t have an entitlement crisis – we have a health care crisis, one of whose manifestations is high projected costs for Medicare and Medicaid. And the way Walker tried to hijack the financial crisis on behalf of a benefit-cutting agenda deserves every bit of withering scorn you can muster.

Please read the whole thing here:


It’s just too fucking good!


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  1. Just my 2 cents, fwiw.  I hope I’ve connected with a few like-minded people.

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