Cooper by LJ., on Flickr. Wife gouged out his left eye. She’s now dead….he’s homeless.
I grew up in America, but it’s changed a lot. George W. Bush basically wrecked the family car and Barack Obama’s been struggling to put it back together. Is one interpretation. Another interpretation is that these were structural problems that began in the 80s. I’m thinking bit of both, among other things. The end result is the same, however, you look at it. Human suffering.
I’d honestly rather be poor in Sri Lanka than America. In Sri Lanka you can at least sorta eat, not die of cold, and nature is there as an option. There’s also semi-functional public healthcare. In America when you slip out of the middle class you can really fall. One medical exigency can bankrupt you, even if you have insurance, and a car breaking down or something can spiral you out of work to the point that you can never get back in.
When I grew up in Columbus, Ohio was always work and there was this presumption that your future would be better than your parents. So you could buy a house, a car, the money would be there. But it hasn’t worked out like that. Things aren’t looking so good anymore.
These, of course, are just my ruminations, a prelude to link. To get a sense of the scene, I recommend this long read from Rolling Stone:
When floodwaters cover our homes, we expect that FEMA workers with emergency checks and blankets will find us. There is no moral or substantive difference between a hundred-year flood and the near-destruction of the global financial system by speculators immune from consequence. But if you and your spouse both lose your jobs and assets because of an unprecedented economic cataclysm having nothing to do with you, you quickly discover that your society expects you and your children to live malnourished on the streets indefinitely. That kind of truth, says Nancy Kapp, “really screws with people’s heads.” (The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America’s Middle Class)
These are the newly homeless. The main character in the Rolling Stone piece had her own nursery business earning more than I could imagine, until she didn’t. That article covered a new range of people who are living in their cars. Another look comes from these beautiful portraits of the ‘traditionally’ homeless, those living on the streets.
Latoria by LJ., on Flickr
The quality of the work is just incredible. I highly recommend checking out his Flickr. The artist is Lee Jeffries, via Andrew Sullivan. Unlike flood or accident victims, the victims of economic catastrophes are not so easily humanized. In fact, it’s very easy to even blame them. Reading their stories and seeing their faces can perhaps go a ways towards compassion and a more sensible policy that realizes that poverty can happen to anyone, even in seemingly prosperous countries like America.