CAPITALISM 

Rich & Poor

The divide between the poor and the rich is known to many and for centuries. Yet the truth goes without meaningful notice by many. The divide’s political meaning mostly goes without discussion. Still the fact of this divide should be told and re-told. The following reports say about the divide.

A Los Angeles Times Editorial – Not even beach parking lots can be off-limits in a study of sites for temporary homeless housing – (Sun, May 23, 2021) – said:

“Among the many obstacles to providing shelter and housing for homeless people is finding available land. Private property is often too expensive for the city of Los Angeles to buy for housing, so there is a constant search by city officials to locate publicly owned land that is empty or underutilized and can be transformed into safe camping grounds, tiny-house villages or more permanent housing.

“Recently, Councilman Mike Bonin proposed to study the feasibility of several locations for tiny homes or safe camping (and, in one case, safe parking) for homeless people. Bonin wants to consider county-owned parking lots at two beaches in his Westside district — Will Rogers State Beach and Dockweiler Beach — and another at a boat-launch ramp in nearby Marina Del Rey. He is also looking at an empty lot — which the owner is willing to let the city use temporarily, and where homeless people have an encampment — near Ballona Creek. And he wants to consider using portions of Westchester and Mar Vista parks where homeless people are currently camped.

“But the mere idea of evaluating these sites has drawn vocal opposition from several Westside neighborhood and community councils, as well as an online petition signed by more than 20,000 critics. Another online petition, signed by more than 12,000 people, urges that Bonin be recalled. The executive committee of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, which represents the area by Will Rogers State Beach, wrote in a letter to city and county officials, ‘We reject in the strongest possible terms the proposition that an “immediate emergency” exists.’”

The editorial said:

“This proposal is not about allowing tents on beaches. The study would explore the feasibility of putting a sanctioned campsite or a tiny-home village in a beach parking lot, where there would be security, restrooms, food and water, and service providers to help people get to the next level of housing. It is possible that putting camps even in parking lots will pose too many problems. Will it interfere with beachgoers trying to park? Will the Coastal Commission approve? Those are legitimate questions. So let a study examine all that.”

It added:

“Homelessness is the moral crisis of our time in the city. And before you say, “It’s not my problem,” it is your problem. Homeowners need to remember that the market forces that have escalated their property values at warp speed are the same forces that have left the poorest of the poor tumbling out of housing. Homeless people do not have to move under your roof. But stop resisting them moving into a safe space near you or your favorite haunts.”

A report by The Telegraph – Hollywood elite fight plans for homeless cabins in upmarket beach areas (Sun, May 23, 2021) – said:

“Dating back to 1921, the Pacific Palisades has been home to intellectuals and Hollywood celebrities for decades.

“Larry David, Ben Affleck and Arnold Schwarzenegger – who went on to become California’s governor – are among the stars who have made the town with a three-mile coastline their home.

“More secluded than areas like Beverly Hills, the town – which has a population of just under 30,000 – is a haven of tranquility.

“House prices can be stratospheric. Francois Navarre, the owner of one of Hollywood’s major celebrity photo agencies, recently put his mansion on the market for an eye-watering $15.9 million.”

It said:

“Residents of the Pacific Palisades and other upmarket Los Angeles beach towns are fuming at council plans to house the homeless in temporary cabins next to the seafront.

Thousands have signed a petition to halt a proposal by local council members to dismantle unofficial encampments and move the homeless population to shelters in parks and beaches, including the famous Will Rogers State beach, where Baywatch was filmed.”

It added:

“‘Parents are frustrated,’ said Matt Stayner, 54, a long-term resident who said he can no longer take his four children to Westchester Park, one of the earmarked areas. ‘We’ve lost our park and I would like to see action.’

“Opponents said the proposed camps are not a solution to homelessness and would bring the problems of drugs, mental illness, crime and danger into the communities where the tent cities would rise.”

It said:

“Business owners say they are being forced to close their doors, while some residents say they are now too afraid to leave their homes after dark.

“Videos appear on social media every day showing fires being lit and fights breaking out.

Homelessness in Los Angeles was already on the rise before the coronavirus pandemic, which has further exasperated the problem in places like Skid Row, Hollywood and Venice Beach.

“The LA Homeless Services Authority says homelessness was up 13 per cent, this year reaching 66,000 people in the greater LA area.

“Other residents said that while the solution was not ideal, they did not see what else could be done to alleviate the problem.”

The report said:

“Gavin Newsom, the Californian governor, said he was committing $12billion toward the state’s seemingly intractable homeless problem in what he said was the largest amount of money spent at one time to get people off the streets.

“The move comes as LA, San Francisco and San Diego, along with smaller cities and towns, grapple with mushrooming homeless populations and the spread of unsanitary conditions and disease in blighted communities.

“The $12billion in homelessness spending is part of a larger $100billion package Newsom calls the ‘California Comeback Plan,’ in reference to economic damage sustained to the nation’s most populous state during the coronavirus pandemic.”

It said:

“Last month, the US District Judge David Carter ordered Los Angeles to find shelter for the roughly 4,500 people living on the streets of the city’s infamous Skid Row neighbourhood.”

An NBC News report – Homeless camp in church parking lot? Denver neighbors say, ‘No way’ (May 23, 2021) – said:

“A plan to help homeless people during the pandemic by letting them set up camp in a church parking lot has forced residents in an affluent neighborhood to question their progressive values and commitment to helping ease social ills.

“Advocates said unsheltered people were being left behind in Covid-19 mitigation efforts, so they devised a plan to provide safe outdoor spaces where homeless people could access meals, medical care and other services.

“But when Pastor Nathan Adams of Park Hill United Methodist Church announced on Easter Sunday that it would put faith into action and create a camp on site for about 40 unsheltered people for six months, many residents in the community were unsettled.

“‘When I bought in Park Hill, it wasn’t because there was a homeless encampment one block from my front door,’ said Jon Kinning, who lives a block away from the church. ‘If I wanted to live in downtown Denver and near homelessness in my face every day, having people sleep on my patio or go to the bathroom on my garage, I would live downtown.’

“About 4 1/2 miles from downtown, Park Hill is full of flowering trees, stately brick homes and cozy bungalows. Black Lives Matter signs adorn front lawns in the largely white neighborhood surrounding the church, and in the 2020 election, about 67 percent of voters in Park Hill cast ballots for Joe Biden.

“‘It’s a neighborhood where kids are used to being pretty free,’ said Stephen Booth-Nadav, who has lived across the street from the church for 20 years. ‘In the summer, kids are out playing in the street, playing in the parking lot, up and down the sidewalks, playing with their dogs.’”

The report said:

“Despite the call to action, five Park Hill residents filed a lawsuit earlier this month in Denver District Court to stop the encampment and sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the project from moving forward.

“They said in the lawsuit that the proposal ‘pose[s] a real danger to minors and school-aged children,’ does not address the impact on the neighborhood and displaces people from one part of the city ‘with available resources to an area not equipped to handle’ the safe-camping site.

“The lawsuit was dismissed by the court Wednesday, and the Colorado Village Collaborative is on track to open the camp June 14 after securing a city permit.”

It said:

“Cole Chandler, executive director of the collaborative, which has created tiny home villages for homeless people in Denver, said more people are sleeping outside rather than in emergency shelters to avoid catching Covid-19, to have more freedom and to avoid becoming crime victims in the crowded spaces.

“‘We’re seeing some of the greatest numbers of homelessness that we’ve seen since the Great Depression,’ Chandler said recently. ‘And there are not enough places for people to go. We need solutions like this that seek to mitigate harm, seek to reduce impacts in surrounding neighborhoods and, most importantly, seek to provide services and long-term housing connections to people on the streets.’

“A point-in-time survey conducted in January 2020 by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative found 4,171 people living on the streets in the city and county. City shelters can house about half that many each night. Results from this year’s survey are not out yet, but experts expect the number to grow.

“Daniel Brisson, executive director of the Center for Housing and Homelessness Research at the University of Denver, said innovations like the parking lot encampment are key to easing the crisis.

“‘There are just not enough beds in the current sheltering system to meet all the needs, so we need different solutions for the different people experiencing homelessness,’ he said.

“Yet Booth-Nadav’s daughter, Ariella Nadav, 18, said she will fear for her safety when she gets home from work late at night and has to park on the street.

“‘I don’t want to walk into my house every night over the summer and be scared for my life, and not just my life, but my well-being,’ she said. ‘I don’t want to have to deal with getting sexually harassed every day.’

“No violent or sexual offenders are allowed in the camps, Cole said. But the population includes people who have been on the streets for years and have addictions.

“‘We don’t exclude chronically homeless. Our site currently is about 40% people that are newly homeless and 60% that are chronically homeless,’ he said. ‘We don’t allow drugs or substances at the site. But this is a harm-reduction model. And we do certainly have people that are living with an addiction that are a part of this community.’

“On a recent tour of one of the collaborative’s camps downtown, a drug deal could be seen happening across the street near an abandoned diner.

“Cole was showing Park Hill residents around to help ease their anxiety about what a camp would look like in their neighborhood. Colorful outdoor fencing kept the encampment private, and bright red tents outfitted with electrical power for fans and heat were lined up in neat rows. Portable showers and toilets were positioned nearby, along with hand-washing stations and trash cans.

“The grounds were clean, and security guards and volunteers were on duty 24/7. Cole said no one in the Capitol Hill camp has tested positive for Covid-19, and 32 out of the 36 residents were vaccinated.

“Mark Montes, known as ‘Shorty,’ was helping himself to coffee inside a tent that served drinks and snacks.

“‘I was homeless 11 years on the streets,’ he said. ‘If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably still be on the street drinking and not even getting a job or anything.’”

Many are visible in the reports. There are the homeless – the poor, their precarious condition, the well off, their life, their attitude to the homeless, their psychology, their sense of security, the society’s condition, an economy’s failure to arrange home for the homeless. The economy does not have the arrangement for assuring home for all. There is politics.

Philanthropy

A Business Insider report – The Giving Pledge was supposed to boost philanthropy. But it may be doing more to benefit rich donors (Sun, May 23, 2021) said:

“Some of America’s richest families signed the Giving Pledge, a public promise initiated by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to give at least half of their wealth to charitable causes – but many have been slow to make good on their promise:

“Death was the Giving Pledge deadline. You could give half your money away beforehand, or you could leave it to charity in your will. Mark Zuckerberg, who at age 26 was among the second group of Giving Pledge signers, made clear that he did not intend to wait nearly that long.

“‘People wait until late in their career to give back,’ Zuckerberg said in a Giving Pledge press release. ‘But why wait when there is so much to be done?’

“But waiting, it turns out, is precisely what Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan have done. During its first five years, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative handed out a total of $2.7 billion in grants – roughly 6% of their wealth at the time they made their pledge.

“Zuckerberg is not the only signatory to take things slow. Elon Musk, who signed the pledge in 2012, has donated only $100 million so far – less one-tenth of 1% of his current net worth.”

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