Although most stories don’t end this happily — few of us have extra homes to give to the homeless — it says something about a new morality that is developing in America.
Today, homelessness is so in-your-face that many of us can no longer ignore it. In city after city, human beings are living in cardboard boxes, in parks, behind stores, underneath porches, in abandoned buildings, in cars and tent cities. Equally as appalling are the new statistics indicating the rise of a new stratum of homeless. The number of homeless children in some school districts is doubling. Whole families are seeking shelter. Yet shelters are turning people away for lack of space while government is giving billions to the corporations! These are the conditions forcing more and more Americans to ideologically separate themselves from a system that favors corporations while allowing human beings to roam the streets like animals.
Something must be done or millions more destitute Americans will be living in the street. Such scenes could resemble primitive societies where humanity had to forage for survival. The difference is that early societies were organized cooperatively. People had to work together to survive. Tools, food, shelter — all that people needed — were shared in common. If one person eats, the whole community eats. But, that was then, and now is now. The question now is how do we achieve a society where people’s needs are met and where human beings are not treated like animals? To solve the problem, we first need to know its source.
At the root of today’s crisis is that society is in the transition from an economy based on industrial production, with many workers, to one based on electronic production, with few workers. The corporations, in their drive for maximum profit, are forced to constantly introduce into production new labor replacing equipment such as robots and computers. The solution is a new society where the necessities of life are distributed to all based on need and where everyone contributes their talents and skills back to society.
Americans are already expressing their deep-seated longing for such a society, though in a scattered, individual, and disconnected way. For example, a young woman in one city gives a homeless person sleeping outside her door, breakfast and a blanket. A homeless advocate moves squatters into foreclosed homes. Some sheriffs refuse to evict families who are being foreclosed on. Revolutionaries applaud all such actions. However, the problem of poverty and despair is so mammoth today, it demands a collective resolution. Today, the government and the corporations function collectively, and so must we.
Our first step is to unite our scattered efforts and build a powerful movement to force the government to nationalize the vacant or foreclosed housing in the interests of the people. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the U.S. government owned 130.8 million housing units, including 2.23 million empty homes. The government must stop turning these homes over to the real estate developers who use them for the purpose of making profits. The government must use those homes to house the growing millions who need homes. Building a movement along these lines is a step toward achieving a whole new society based on cooperation and human need, not profit.
Those of us who seek fundamental social change are engaged in a battle to win the hearts and minds of the people. This can't be done without a revolutionary press. For 40 years, the People's Tribune has brought our readers the stories of those who are struggling to move forward in a world where corporate power is threatening to crush them. Along with those stories, we try to offer some strategic perspective to help put the struggle in context and point the way toward victory. We need your help to continue doing this. The People's Tribune gets no grants and has an all-volunteer staff. We rely completely on subscriptions and donations from our readers to enable us to go on telling the truth. Please donate whatever you can. See the subscription/donation form on the right. You can also donate using Pay Pal on our web site, www.peoplestribune.org.
People's Tribune Editorial Board
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