Accomplishing a logic-defying feat, the wealthiest nation in the world has “attained” the highest rate of homelessness amongst developed countries. 3.5 million human beings experience homelessness each year in the United States. Almost a million are homeless every night (1).
In the most heavily militarized nation in the history of the human race, 30% of its homeless men are military veterans (2). What happened to “support the troops”? Obviously once military personnel return home, the slogan changes to “good riddance to bad rubbish”.
Ready for some “shock and awe” on the home front? According to the National Mental Health Association, “on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless” in the United States.
And what is one to make of a self-proclaimed Christian nation (overflowing with material resources) that allows such travesties of economic justice to persist?
How can a Christian nation ignore the compassionate teachings of Jesus?
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'”
Yes, it is morally and ethically abhorrent that there are indigent, starving, and homeless human beings in a society of people awash in a sea of wealth.
Yet it gets even uglier…
Moral superiority has been a critical piece of the argument the United States has used to justify the genocide of the Native Americans, the enslavement of Black Americans, the support of numerous murderous dictators supporting US interests in developing nations, unwavering support for the Palestinian genocide, and the slaughter of millions of civilians in imperial wars waged under the pretext of fighting for freedom and human rights. People in the United States are psychologically conditioned to believe that their nation is the salvation of humanity and to ignore or destroy evidence to the contrary.
Nearly endless streams of propaganda extolling the virtues of the United States enable large numbers of US Americans to support a ruthless empire because they believe it to be a benevolent superpower. Aside from people suffering a serious deficit of conscience, those living in a nearly perpetual state of denial are virtually the only ones capable of pledging their loyalty to a nation with a deadly foreign policy and a morally bankrupt economic system.
How else would one explain the corporate media and the Empire’s loyal adherents celebrating Congress’ passage of the Military Commissions Act as a “victory”? Even after viewing numerous explicit photos of the blatant torture committed by the United States military at Abu Ghraib, a frightening number of US citizens remain unperturbed by the fact that a man who would be fortunate to flirt with a score of 100 on an IQ test now has the power to define and authorize torture, to imprison virtually anyone as a “terrorist”, and to negate Habeas Corpus.
Remember when the Magna Carta was the basis for our legal tradition? How absurd that people actually believed that this excerpt from that other “goddamn piece of paper” was a cornerstone of a just society:
No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, . . . or in any other way destroyed . . . except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to none will we deny or delay, right or justice.
Many in the United States have welcomed shredding both the Magna Carta and the Constitution by entrusting a feeble-minded tyrant with nearly absolute power. In their delusion, Bush will protect the United States from the “evil terrorists” by continuing to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings who had nothing to do with 9/11. Denial is indeed a potent force. It enables supporters of the Bush Regime to continue believing that they live in a benevolent meritocracy that actively pursues peace, freedom, and justice for the entire human race. And it prevents them from even considering that they might become The Decider’s next victim.
And the profound suffering of the past, present, and future innocent victims of the “Torture Bill” is not even on the radar screen of the Empire’s loyalists. Empathy and compassion are scarce commodities indeed in the United States. And why wouldn’t they be?
The United States has the financial resources to end homelessness tomorrow through the intelligent use of public money. Instead its decision-makers elect to line the pockets of corporate cronies and war profiteers by pouring $600 billion per year into entities and programs which exist to kill human beings.
By deliberately lavishing obscene sums of public money on the murderous military industrial complex while seriously neglecting programs to attack the root causes of poverty, the ruling elite of the United States are waging an agonizing form of economic genocide against homeless people.
Preserving the delusion
In a society that worships money, material success, youth, and beauty, homeless human beings are anathema on several levels. Ultimately, to preserve the delusion of the American Dream, those caught in the American Nightmare must be eliminated in some fashion.
The number of US homeless people relative to the number of the homeless in other developed countries exposes the brutality of the United States’ “survival of the fittest” socioeconomic system.
The very existence of these indigent vagabonds reminds US Americans how fleeting and unattainable the American Dream truly is. Homeless people are the antithesis of the American ideal. They are often impoverished, unemployed (or under-employed), unattractive, dirty, beaten down, and addicted to drugs or alcohol.
All the while the wealthy elites of the United States will smile with the satisfaction of homeowners who are successfully exterminating a roach infestation. And as each homeless human being dies, people like Barbara Bush will have one less “blight” on which to focus their beautiful minds.