American Middle Class Now the ‘Homeless Class’
By Victor Thorn
THEY USE METAL BUCKETS FOR LATRINES, and cook soup in discarded coffee tins warmed over propane grills. For heat, entire families huddle around lit cans of Sterno, while their only entertainment is battery-operated TVs or radios.
Transportation is found via makeshift bicycles, or grocery carts with broken wheels and rusty metal baskets. Morning showers (if you’re lucky) consist of standing beneath garbage bags filled with rainwater that are poked full of holes.
After living in the express lane for decades (well beyond their means), America’s largest cities can no longer hide a growing blight across their landscape. Tent cities are popping up in urban areas from Ohio to California, and Reno to Tennessee. Some of these homes are nothing more than canvas teepees propped up with metal poles, or simple shacks nailed together with rotting wooden planks. Here, the recently homeless congregate with others who’ve fallen on hard times in our latest “economic downturn.”
This new class of poor can’t be classified as stereotypical drug addicts, alcoholics, or released mental patients. Mike Harvey of the Times UK described them as “a new layer of middle-class earners—construction workers, farm laborers, retail workers, and restaurant staff.”
The people inhabiting tent cities aren’t generational welfare recipients living in the projects, waiting for their next check to arrive. Instead, they’re the working poor who’ve been laid off, suffered exorbitant medical expenses, or had their homes repossessed. Now, as the American Dream dwindles and fades away, they gather together in Great Depression-style shanty towns.
The basic amenities of life no longer exist, such as running water, flush toilets, electricity, or drainage systems. Their encampments are concealed behind the bushes of grocery store parking lots, or on rocky plots of barren dirt. Their furniture consists of broken plastic lawn chairs, or wooden fruit crates. When harsh weather strikes, tents are uprooted and blown away, or their ramshackle shelters lose flimsily constructed roofs and walls. With no official sanitation services, trash piles grow around the perimeter of these enclaves.
No socio-economic groups are exempt. In Tent City, USA, whites, blacks, Latinos, men and women, young and old are all represented. Mothers with crying babies sit beside grandparents as children and abandoned dogs play in the dust. The residents don’t have photo albums, heirlooms, or knick-knacks on the shelves; only memories of a better time.
Some have relatives living nearby, but pride keeps them from asking for a handout. Third World America has reared its ugly head, and as a result, the backbone of our country—everyday working class citizens—is forced to live in these harrowing conditions.
Matt Katz of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about Lorenzo Banks, who established a tent city next to an Interstate exit ramp in Camden, N.J. Dubbed its “mayor,” Banks retains dignity among his fellow dwellers by conducting weekly tent inspections and keeping trash bags neatly stacked along the railroad tracks. Fortunately, local churches contribute food and clothing so that the denizens can someday get back on their feet.
The most visible tent city to emerge can be found in Sacramento, directly in sight of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state capitol building. The uncomfortable presence of thousands of homeless citizens has created tension in the city, with Mayor Kevin Johnson torn between safety and compassion. On the one hand, he wants to allow the installation of running water, portable commodes, and dumpsters to ease the occupants’ burdens.
Conversely, Johnson told local ABC News 10 affiliate, “We do not want to create an environment where we become the homeless capital of America because we’re doing such an effective job.”
He also expressed his concerns to reporter Jamie Soriano of Fox News 40.
“We can not allow de facto tent cities to exist with people living in Third World conditions that are inhumane.”
As a result, residents fear they’ll be forced to evacuate their only homes, possibly by police. To protect themselves, tent city representatives such as John Kraintz and Luis Morales are meeting with the mayor’s task force to prevent these people from being made homeless yet again.
Although many try to ignore them, brutal realities are making Americans take notice that their country is undergoing some dramatic changes that exist beyond the high-profile dollar signs of Wall Street.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of
many books on 9-11 and the New World Order. These include 9-11 Evil:
The Israeli Role in 9-11 and Phantom Flight 93.
(Issue # 13, March 30, 2009)