In 2017, over 553,000 Americans were homeless with one out of every five of them living in New York City or Los Angeles.
You will find more statistics at Statista
As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, 65 percent of the country’s homeless population was provided with emergency shelter, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The largest number of homeless people was recorded in New York City (76,501), with Los Angeles in second place (55,188).
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And this is what we get for record high stock prices, record high debt, record high central bank balance sheets, and record high complacency?
It is perhaps no coincidence that the density of homeless Americans tends to focus on left-leaning states run by politicians who might lead one to believe that the poor in America are held down solely by the machinations of the rich and connected.
As xRugger writes at Jim Quinn’s Burning Platform blog, there seems to be a sentiment out there that the poor are simply not responsible for the state in which they find themselves and that one day they will rise up and throw off the shackles that bind them in poverty and want. Everything has been done to them; therefore, we are obligated to do everything for them.
As xRugger explains – and will be obvious shortly – he disagrees.
Do not put your hope for change in the poor and downtrodden of this country. Your faith in the supposed virtuous poor is badly misplaced. The majority of the American underclass are neither virtuous nor (by any rational standard of true poverty) are they poor. This is not a statement meant to absolve the wealthy and powerful of their sins in that they have done much to degrade and destroy the “disadvantaged” of this nation. They will have their own millstone to deal with. Having said that, let’s chat a little bit about the true state of the American underclass.
First, let’s dispel the notion that the American poor are truly poor. Oh sure, by the standards of the poor in other western industrial nations, the American version may indeed be worse in some ways than, say, the German poor, or the British poor, or the Australian poor. However, when you bring the grinding poverty of Africa, India, or rural China into the calculation, then what it means to be poor in America becomes discernable in its proper context.
If you have central heat and air conditioning in your subsidized housing, or even in the homeless shelter for that matter, then you are far better off than sub-Saharan Africans who burn buffalo dung for heat. If you cook your subsidized meals on an electric or gas stove under an electric light, then you and yours exist at a level of comfort unknown to huge numbers of the truly destitute. If you have the luxury of indoor plumbing, then you have far exceeded the standards of the rural poor in India where the majority of the population still defecate in the open.
If you claim to be poor, yet you own a car, a cell phone, have a TV, a CD player, and a microwave, then to be poor in America is to have won the poverty lottery. The fact is that the vast majority of America’s poor have some, or all, of these things in addition to widely available public safety nets for nutrition, health, job training, etc. Being poor in America is an extremely advantageous position to be in vis a vis the poverty stricken who live and die in the more benighted regions of the globe. To arrive at any other conclusion is intellectually dishonest and is a denial of reality.
So, having established that most of the poor in this country are not actually poor, let’s have a look at whether or not the American underclass are the virtuous, honest, just-need-a-hand-up people that the media would have us believe. After all, touting the supposed good qualities of the poor who just need a bit of help is the constant justification for throwing more money at them. They are really good people at heart, it’s just that poverty and want cause them to behave badly. Allow me to suggest that, in fact, the opposite is true. People do not behave badly because they are poor. They are poor because they behave badly. If the poor are entitled to our help by virtue of their destitution, is it not then incumbent upon the poor to behave responsibly as the price of that assistance?
Lest anyone accuse me of being some uninvolved academic, or an ignorant bigot who has never experienced want and has no right to pass judgement, let me offer this. I have been homeless twice in my life: Once when I lived in a large Canadian city and once when I initially moved here to Montana. I reached that condition both times due to the choices I made and the behavior I engaged in. That’s it. That’s all. I was the reason I was poor. This essay is no academic exercise. These words relate the experience of someone has faced his own demons and recognizes those demons in the minds and hearts of others. I know the truth of what I say because I have seen, and heard, and lived that truth.
When I had descended into that world, I quickly realized how dangerous and soul-destroying it really is. The level of chaos in day-to-day living is barely imaginable to one who has not directly experienced it. There is no honor among thieves. Lying, backstabbing, cheating, and stealing are the order of the day. In my personal experience, whatever virtue survives among the American poor has been eroded to such a degree by dependency as to be almost nonexistent. If the entitled poor of this nation redirected the significant creative effort, labor, and time they devote to gaming the system for freebies and put it into productive pursuits, they would vastly increase their chances of finding a way out of the social station to which they have consigned themselves. Pursuit of a better life with honesty, decency, and self-respect as guideposts would also engender the goodwill of many who now withdraw their hand.
The honest poor do exist.
Cream and scum both rise to the top, and this screed is not meant as a universal indictment of the poor in America, nor is it meant to denigrate those who truly cannot help themselves. It is however, meant as a universal indictment of those who will not help themselves. It is meant as an indictment of the apparatus that profits from and perpetuates itself on the backs of the both the honest and dishonest alike. It is most certainly meant as a universal indictment of a system that fosters dependency, helplessness, and self-pitying indolence. Distinguishing between those who want something better and those who don’t is the trick. The honest poor must struggle every day as they try to extricate themselves and their families from the chaos in which they live. The scum disguise themselves as cream in order to game the system. The cream must constantly prove themselves in order to have any chance of escaping the system. It is a sad reality, but it is reality nonetheless.
The American underclass will indeed rise up one day, but the result will not be what you think. Over the decades, the poor in this nation have willingly accepted a level of dependence and subservience to the god of self-pity that has destroyed much of their humanity. They are vicious, deviant, deceitful, and dangerous. The bread and circuses of the modern American welfare state have done what bread and circuses have always done, created a lazy, violent, and restless mob no different from any other of the past. The rising will not reform the system. It will thoroughly smash the system, but the people who have destroyed it will have neither the intelligence nor the ambition to replace it with anything better. They know no other path. When they have eaten the rich, they will come for the rest. They will boil out of their filthy hovels and advance upon what bastions of decency remain and if they triumph, they will squat amidst the rubble and wonder why no one is coming to save them.