Monday, July 12, 2010

Failing the homeless

Here's something I wrote on a discussion board this morning and felt was worth reproducing here:


Homelessness is the biggest example in America today of how unfettered capitalism and the unregulated free market has failed the poor.

We have a huge surplus of housing in America today. And we have a huge group of people who need housing. Why can’t one problem solve the other? Because people raise the concept of the free market and private ownership to the level of a holy religion, and they resist any “tampering” of those market forces. Those market forces represent something intangible. It’s not like 1,000 years ago, when at least wealth could be counted in sheep or gold. Today it’s bank balances. And in most cases, the funds are electronic, or even anything you can hold in your hands. So because of some intangible concept of ownership and free markets, the conservatives (and most of the rest of us, frankly) are letting people starve and wander the streets.

Not to say that I think capitalism is wrong. It’s the best system we have. Unfettered socialism has proven to be an even bigger failure. But there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy mix of the two. Some compassion for the poor and some redistribution of wealth in this country wouldn’t impoverish the rich. But it could certainly help the have-nots become at least have-a-littles.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with every word in this post. Not that anyone really cares...