An interesting fact about family homelessness: before the early-1980s, it did not exist in America, at least not as an endemic, multi-generational problem afflicting millions of poverty-stricken adults and kids. Back then, the typical homeless family was a middle-aged woman with teenagers who wound up in a shelter following some sort of catastrophic bad luck like a house fire. They stayed a short time before they got back on their feet.
In the 1980s, family homelessness did not so much begin to grow as it exploded, leaving poverty advocates and city officials stunned as young parents with small children overwhelmed the shelter system and spilled into the streets. In New York City, the rate of homeless people with underage kids went up by 500 percent between 1981 and 1995. Nationally, kids and families made up less than 1 percent of the homeless population in the early 1980s, according to advocate and researcher Dr. Ellen Bassuk . HUD estimates put the number at 35 percent of people sleeping in shelters in 2010.
“All of a sudden, around the early 1980s we started to see tons of families who were there because of poverty,” Ralph da Costa-Núñez , who worked in Mayor Ed Koch’s administration and is now CEO of the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, tells AlterNet.
The reasons behind the jump in family homelessness are not complex, Núñez says. “It was the gutting of the safety net. Reagan cut every social program that helped the poor. Then there’s inflation so their aid checks are shrinking. Where are they going? Into the streets, into the shelters.”
The administration was especially keen to cut low-income housing programs. Peter Dreier writes that Reagan created a housing task force, ” dominated by politically connected developers, landlords and bankers.” They and the president were in agreement that the market was the best way to address housing for the poor, and instituted cuts in government spending that yielded almost instant results. In 1970, Dreier writes, there were more low-income housing units than families who needed them, but “by 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units.”
Reagan—busted the unions, sent the mentally ill into the streets, and now this. I just shake my head.
You may prefer to simply avoid all the arguing, especially since it’s over a bunch of lies. If so, allow me to share. The video is of some really angry guys in an argument with the Senator because, in spite of McCain’s pandering to white nationalism in ads that promise he’ll “complete the dang fence,” undocumented immigrants, at least according to said angry gentlemen, keep coming, and they’re coming to steal valuable benefits like welfare, social security, and medicaid.
The argument should serve as a demonstration of why Republicans should avoid inviting unwanted guests to their (Grand Old) party just because they’re short on the political equivalent of green bean casserole and artichoke dip. Once invited, it’s hard to get them to leave. In fact, since they’re not really there to make friends, they have nothing to lose in taking over the joint.
But while I found McCain’s frustrated reaction mildly amusing, I was much more interested in this town hall argument as a strong example of the irrationality of racism.
The angry guys attended the meeting to give Senator McCain a hard time. And why? First, they want a fence and tougher enforcement. Senator McCain, at least according to his own report, won $600 million in appropriations in order to build a section of fence (or maybe it’s a banana). But they want more because they believe a flood of immigrants is still coming over the border.
The reality, as I’m guessing you know, is that this isn’t true. Net immigration from Mexico is about zero at the moment mainly because of our bad economy. The lack of jobs in the U.S. is what’s keeping Mexican workers at home where, I’m guessing, it’s easier to be unemployed in a place where you’re not being demonized and persecuted.
The fact that workers are staying home in Mexico should tip us off to an obvious fact about Mexican undocumented immigration into the U.S. That is, that undocumented immigrants aren’t coming to get “stuff.” They’re coming to work."
— Scot Nakagawa, “McCain’s War,” changelab.com 2/22/13
We do know that racists (those who say they would not vote for a Black president) are more likely to take the conservative position on the “willpower” explanation (76% vs. 50%) and on the discrimination explanation (78% vs. 64%) compared with those who say they would vote for a Black president. But that does not mean that the other conservatives who agree with them and who deny that racial discrimination affects the lives of Black people are also racists. People can come to the same position from different places. But people can also hide their racism behind seemingly non-racial issues. In the 1960s ,70s, and 80s, many observers thought that the Republicans were using first school busing and then crime as a proxy for race, as Republican strategist Lee Atwater famously explained. And some observers today (Tom Edsall, for example) argue that the Republicans are using welfare in the same way this time around.
Other bloggers have written about the questions Hayes raised–Tabarrok has links to three of these. The most interesting I’ve come across is Will Wilkinson’s (here). His original views apparently were individual-centered and much in line with Margaret Thatcher’s dictum that “there is no such thing as society.” But that was “when I was a Rand-toting libertarian lad.”
He has now come to see that individuals, with their ideas and attitudes and “non-coercive” behavior, can add up to something greater than the sum of its parts, i.e, society. But he got to this idea by walking down the left fork of the libertarian road–the road not to serfdom but to sociology."
— Well, we at the R and quite a few other folks have been saying all along that racism isn’t practiced only by the Right—virulence doesn’t equal monopoly. Guest contributor Jay Livingston’s post further explains how this is so on the R today.
Sadly it’s a recurring theme in our four centuries of being Africans in America. We African-Americans make any minor, major or groundbreaking progress and it’s ‘too much ’ for whites and whiteness to handle.
After it occurs, you have the inevitable panicked rush of white supremacists to roll back that progress or work to create barriers to prevent further advancement for my people while stirring up resentment in the huddled masses of low and middle income white people. When we overcome that latest created barrier or painfully get back to the previous point we were at evolutionary wise in terms of our development as African-Americans, the rush by whiteness to create a new way to roll our progress back begins anew.
The fact you have people of color routinely doing things ‘they’ don’t think we should be doing such as running Fortune 500 corporations, winning Nobel Prizes, walking fashion runways, winning major golf or tennis tournaments, being the governor of a state or living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue along with the news that whites will be a minority population in the United States by 2040 has made whiteness uneasy.
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 has sent the bigots into a frothing at the mouth frenzy and doubled down on pimping the dog whistle message of GOP=white leadership. When the GOP gained control of several state legislatures in the wake of the 2010 midterm elections one of the first things those Republican legislatures did was pass voter suppression laws designed to depress the turnout of African-American voters in the runup to this 2012 presidential election..
And the irrationality of the Massive Resistance 2.0 strategy the Republican party has deployed in order to deny him a second term speaks volumes to the level of racism in the GOP. They are willing to bankrupt and destroy this country just to oust one Black man and his family out of the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave my people built with their unpaid labor."
— Monica Roberts, “Any Progress We Make As African Americans Is ‘Too Much’,” TransGriot 9/4/12
"A number of ads during the Super Bowl Sunday night focused on the good things about Detroit and the auto industry. But the worst commercial of the day, aimed at Michigan voters, didn’t make the national airwaves.
"The ad shown above for Republican state senatorial candidate Peter Hoekstra hinged its attack on incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on Orientalism. The actress, playing a “Chinese national,” says:
Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow. Debbie spend so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow.
"The commercial, slated to run for two weeks, pointed viewers to its own website, of course, covered in a matching decor, with the video displayed front-and-center. The only mention of any of Stabenow’s policies comes at the very bottom of the page."
James Braxton Peterson and David J. Leonard, Code BLAH In The Republican Party, Racialicious 1/10/12
Now that Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary, he’s going to think that he has some “voters’ mandate” to keep carrying on about his nostalgic vision of an all-white US. SMH…