At a time when Wall Street is absolutely swimming in wealth, New York City is experiencing an epidemic of homelessness. According to the New York Times, the last time there was this many homeless children in New York City was during the days of the Great Depression. And the number of homeless children in the United States overall recently set a new all-time record. As I mentioned yesterday, there are now 1.2 million public school kids in America that are homeless, and that number has gone up by about 72 percent since the start of the last recession. As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as "the wealthiest nation on the planet", and yet the number of young kids that don't even have a roof over their heads at night just keeps skyrocketing. There truly are "two Americas" today, and unfortunately most Americans that live in "good America" don't seem to really care too much about the extreme suffering that is going on in "bad America". In the end, what kind of price will we all pay for neglecting the most vulnerable members of our society?
If you live in "good America", I very much encourage you to read an excellent piece about homelessness in New York City that was just published in the New York Times. What some young kids have to go through on a nightly basis should break all of our hearts...
She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.
Could you imagine having your own family live like that? The name of the little girl in the story is Dasani, and every night her family sleeps in a city-run homeless shelter that sounds like it is straight out of a horror movie...
Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.
It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.
You can read the rest of that excellent article right here. Sadly, there are countless other children just like Dasani that live like this day after day, month after month, year after year.
Shouldn't we be able to do better than this as a society? After all, the stock market has been hovering near record highs lately, and Wall Street is absolutely drenched with wealth for the moment.
With so much wealth floating around, why are New York City subways being "overrun with homeless" right now?
Something has gone horribly wrong.
I think that a recent editorial by David Simon, the creator of the Wire, summarized things pretty well. We are not "one America" anymore, and most of the people that live in "good America" don't really care much about those living in "bad America"...
America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.
There's no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be.
Once upon a time, things were different in America. Nobody resented businessmen for building strong businesses and making lots of money. And successful businessmen such as Henry Ford hired large numbers of American workers and paid them very well. He felt that his workers should make enough money to buy the cars that they were building. In those days, businessmen were loyal to their workers and workers were loyal to those that employed them.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Today, in business schools all over America students are taught that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for the stockholders. Not that there is anything wrong with making money. But at this point we have elevated greed above all other economic goals. Taking care of one another isn't even a consideration anymore.
In the old days, big businesses actually needed our labor. But that is now no longer the case. Today, corporations are shipping millions of our jobs overseas and they are replacing as many of us with technology as they possibly can. The value of the labor of the working man is declining with each passing day.
As a result, the fortunes of big business and American workers are increasingly diverging. For example, the disconnect between employment levels and stock prices has never been greater in this country. If you doubt this, just check out this chart.
And instead of fixing things, Barack Obama is negotiating a secret treaty which will result in millions more American jobs being shipped overseas. The following is a brief excerpt about this secret treaty from an Australian news source...
The government has refused the Senate access to the secret text of the trade deal it is negotiating in Singapore, saying it will only be made public after it has been signed.
As the final round of ministerial talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership resumed on Sunday, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote to each of the 12 participating nations warning that the deal and the secrecy surrounding it presented ''grave risks''.
So why aren't we hearing much about this secret treaty from U.S. news sources?
If this is going to affect millions of American jobs, shouldn't the mainstream media be making a big deal out of this?
And even if we weren't losing millions of jobs to the other side of the planet, we would still be losing millions of jobs to advancements in technology. In fact, a CNBC article that was posted earlier this week seems to look forward to the day when nobody will have to worry about the low pay that fast food workers get anymore because they will all be replaced by droids...
Maybe so, but as fast food workers protest low wages and the president of the United States equates hard work with the right to decent pay, the rise of technology once again proves to be no stunt, or laughing matter. McDonald's, where food production is already about as mechanized as food science allows, stopped updating the famous number "served" figure at its restaurants back in 1994—just short of 100 billion—but how long will it be before trillions are served their burgers and fries by a drone, after being cooked by a droid? Those machines work for cheap, and the best thing is, they have no concept of hard work, or dignity, or the foresight to consider whether or not the "cool" things they can do ultimately contribute, or detract, from a strong, consumer-dependent economy.
So what is the solution to all of this?
Where will the millions of desperately needed jobs for "bad America" come from?
Well, it appears that good ideas are in short supply these days. In fact, some of the ideas being promoted by our "leaders" are absolutely insane. For example, one prominent entrepreneur recently suggested that the solution to our employment crisis is for Congress to pass an immigration bill which would bring in 30 million more low-skilled workers over the next ten years...
Middle class Americans face a tough future because robots and machinery are eliminating their jobs, according to Steve Case, an entrepreneur who earned roughly $1 billion by creating the first successful internet firm, America Online.
But Congress could help the situation by passing an immigration bill that would import some foreign entrepreneurs and almost 30 million low-skilled workers over the next decade, Case told an audience of D.C. lobbyists and lawyers gathered on Tuesday by the business-backed Bipartisan Policy Center.
Exactly how would this improve the employment situation in this country?
I still cannot figure that one out.
But there are people out there that actually believe this stuff.
Meanwhile, many parts of Europe are suffering through similar things.
Over 124 million people in the European Union – or almost a quarter of its entire population - live under the threat of poverty or social exclusion, a report by EU’s statistical office has revealed.
Last year, 124.5 million people, or 24.8 percent of Europe’s population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 24.3 percent in 2011 and 23.7 percent in 2008, the Eurostat said in a document published earlier in the week.
So what is going to fix this?
Where are the good jobs for workers in North America and Europe going to come from in the years ahead?
If you have a potential solution, please feel free to share it below...