Sometimes it’s just best to go to the source of an issue to get good a grasp of the problem. Place the tools required to document it in the hands of those who are living it. This is what appeared to me the theme of a recent study conducted by student’s of the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh Campus. In this, my last report for Wisconsin Confidential, I wanted to cover something that matters. As with the students doing this study, I feel this issue is directly related to many other issues that not only effect the Valley, but the entire Nation as well. One way to get a close look at the issue is to equip those who are living it with the tools to document it. In this case, cameras.
By handing out disposable cameras to homeless individuals and having them document through photos the general course of an average day, they hope to gain insight into their needs and what services they use and are most valuable. It is an optimistic thing to have faith in the un-initiated to be able to document ones experiences though photography alone. I do have some of that faith, as I personally know many of the folks who agreed to participate in the study and were given cameras.
There will however be many roadblocks to doing so, just as they face many roadblocks in life. Roadblocks that are not faced by those of privilege. For example, any corporate journalist who works for Gannet or Time Warner can ask and be invited right into the Shelter, the Library, the City Center Plaza Mall, or any of the places that are simply and factually in the public domain. They will be welcomed with open arms. There is no concern as to who’s faces are or will be displayed and published. There will be no concern as to the benefit if any to any private person, cause or social concern (of course, the corporation is now considered a person too, just not with any personal responsibility to obey the law or serve the country, but to just benefit and profit from it and those who actually do create for it, fight to defend it, and work for it’s betterment), as long as the bottom line served and the profit margin is increased. If it will provide the stockholders and executives with a marketing line to say that they are reporting on and serving the “public good”, it will serve their interests and profit can be made and bonus’s paid out. We who are not corporate will face constant resistance and blockage regardless of the legality of our actions or the fact that we and what we do are protected by the laws under which we live and the Constitution of United States (as I consistently do to the point that I pay no attention to it any longer). The very same Laws and Constitution that many of us (including myself) have swore to defend and almost died in the process. They will take any blocking action to stop the reporting, then deal with it later. If they even have to. So those who take on such a project with no experience in the game face an uphill battle with no or little support. They will experience resistance and roadblocks created by many who are quite ignorant of the legal and civil realities of our free American Society and so are more than willing to block the path and to place themselves in a self vision of significance and importance.
Causes and Realities
In order to place an organized chronological perspective on not only the issue, but just what is the cause of homelessness and housing that is affordable, and what can be done to deal with it, I agreed to take on the same, but doing so in my own style, with my own cameras and equipment, and retaining final ownership of the content. Although I was not aware of the style and content of the photos that were submitted by the participants, I have a pretty good idea that they were at times of little use, while also able to provide some shocking and informative content. I think that was the mission of the study.
Alcohol abuse, drug use, having just a plain bad attitude. Maybe the inability to read and/or write (yes, I have met many who have this issue, though most are employed and not homeless). A lack of understanding standard etiquette, or what is and is not acceptable in modern society (and I’m talking the last 100 years of acceptability here). What ever the reason’s society and the privileged class give as to the reason “those people” are low class, undesirable, homeless, or can’t afford the “Bling Bling” the consumer driven world of obese over consumption, waste and environmental destruction, it can’t, just cannot be the fact they don’t get paid enough. Those people could use a pay cut even. Hey, maybe corporate could get another .5% increase there too!
The Privileged Class
One will quickly see, from this article/report and in the video report below, it is directly related to income and income inequality. In today’s economy, where the welfare of Wall Street, and those who run it, corporate profits and bonus’s, and special interests represented by highly paid K Street lobbyists are the most important, there is no solution. As the social hierarchy as it has been established in this, the new America Inc., the labor assets (us, the workers) of no importance. The fact that if the masses cannot afford to purchase the elementary needs of living in society, much less the goods and services of the professional class, an economy such as ours is not sustainable. From corporations to municipalities (see photo/read caption above) the jobs of the ones who actually produce the goods and physically do the job have and are being eliminated for the benefit of a small privileged class. Those jobs that remain are under financial attack in the form of compensation reduction. More and more, the privileged class are coming to expect those who can to do for less, below cost, or even for free … because they, the privileged class, don’t have clue how. The privileged class calls it class warfare when those they employ demand to be compensated for their work. As those in the privileged class increasingly make the purchase of the products they provide to be required by law (insurance), or a modern requirement of life (internet, power, fuel) they seem to believe they are no longer subject to the realities of the free market system. Eventually that belief system is suddenly & catastrophically destroyed, suddenly it “isn’t fair”, is a cause of this “class warfare”, or is “an act of god”. Thus the government that the same privileged class says shouldn’t be providing assistance to the low wage working class (a tax payer subsidized low wage slave workforce) should then bail them out … to the tune of billions of dollars. In some cases more in one month to one company or person than required to pay for a whole year of S.N.A.P. for the entire nation. If the government (and remember, that’s us, as we pay for it) doesn’t, it will have dire consequences for all. They say.
A real Class War
For those of us who have taken the oath, and wore the uniform, it takes on a different perspective. Social Welfare programs, good meaning and good preaching religious person’s who can go home to their nice homes in expensive gas guzzling SUV’s, and feel confident they have done the right thing before they go to work the next day and High Gross the next sucker that comes in the door. In the last year of any MBA’s schooling is “Business Ethics”, and it is a simple class with a simple theme. If is legal, it is ethical. Even if it’s not entirely legal, but would violate something that is not actively enforced … it’s ethical. Not only ethical, but great business … Period.
Nice words, good thoughts, and a new orange T-shirt that only has one hole in it won’t solve homelessness. It won’t solve corporate and big money influence and control over our congress, our senate and the revolving door between those who serve in the government agencies that are supposed to protect us, and the very companies they are supposed to regulate. I once thought of joining the ATF. All of the things I love. No, I am beginning to believe that’s it’s not going to be nice words and stately arguments that will bring the country back under control of the people who actually live and work and create in it. It will cold steel and hot lead. The argument will travel at 3700 fps. It will be many upon many 5.56mm messages that will make the “Change we can Believe” in. Our message .. will be eventually sent. And it will travel downrange with a bang that will be heard around the world. Then, after the rebuilding, after the healing, maybe our nation will be the nation, and as good of a nation, that we teach our children that it is.