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Eighteen Million, Out in the Road

By David Glenn Cox

March 30, 2010 "
Information Clearing House" -- How cold and callous can we become? When, as a society and as a nation, we can undergo a massive earthquake under our very feet and before our very eyes, how can we just ignore its victims?

RealtyTrac, the California-based authority on property trends and valuations, projects 4.5 million home foreclosures before the end of this year. That’s 4.5 million homes, and with four people to a household that is eighteen million people. Eighteen million men, women and children put out into the road, people who must scramble to find shelter and scramble to find new schools for their children.

Last year it was 2.8 million homes or 11.2 million Americans put out into the road. In two years that is 29.2 million people just put out into the road.

“I gotta see them folks that’s gone out on the road. I got a feelin' I got to see them. They gonna need help no preachin' can give 'em. Hope of heaven when their lives ain’t lived? Holy Sperit when their own sperit is downcast an’ sad?” Preacher Casey--The Grapes of Wrath

Twenty-nine million is more people than the population of forty-nine states in the union. Eighteen million is a larger population than all of the states except New York, Texas and California. Yet the problem is glossed over; the solution is discussed casually and the victims are ignored. I am but one of the citizens of this invisible empire. As I approach my one year anniversary of living in a garage and washing in a bucket let me tell you what I’ve found.

Number one, I am one of the lucky ones. I’ve lost my wealth, my wife and my home. But I still have a place to sleep and a bathroom to use. Over the year I’ve met people who are sleeping in tents and everyone I talk to tells me their own version of the same story entitled, “My Downward Spiral.”

I’ve got it made when I think about the women out there with small children. What must that hell on Earth be like? The other day I saw middle-aged man pushing an elderly man down the shoulder of a four-lane highway in a wheelchair. Could that have been for fun? To get out and see the sights or for a breath of fresh air? They were about three blocks away from Burger King, a used car lot, a Holiday Inn and a hospital. Where do you suppose they were going?

I would scream if I thought it would help. I could set myself alight on the steps of the Capitol if I thought it would do any good. I too-well understand that in America, the live, twenty four-hour sitcom, the actions of the invisible mean nothing. So instead I write and I write and I write. I write for me and I write for you, but I won’t write for anyone who tells me what to write.

I’ve had very kind people tell me that they like what I write and I truly appreciate that. I applied to a want ad for a political writer. The ad was non-specific; they wanted a conservative political writer. The editor, who bragged on himself as a regular Fox News contributor, sent me back a nice note explaining their conservative point of view and added that if I could write on the same caliber from a conservative perspective he would consider hiring me. “Sorry, No!”

Not a day goes by that I don’t become depressed by reading the want ads. Scams, come-ons, frauds and peasant pay. Writing jobs to sell cosmetics, I-pods or ear wax remover for less than minimum wage. You know what? I got better things to do with my time! I do have a job; it just doesn’t pay anything. I write the things the folks with money don’t want said.

“This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning—from 'I' to 'we'. If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into 'I', and cuts you off forever from the 'we'.” The Grapes of Wrath

We have a problem in this country and our government refuses to deal with it. It wants to pretend that all we need is an aspirin when our society needs chemotherapy. Our cities are falling into ruin; our public schools are warehouses where the children are caged like chickens until they’re old enough to be made into soup. A college education has become a high-risk crapshoot with tuitions rising and employment falling.

I want a bed to sleep in and I want a shower to wash in and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have those things again. I am a left wing FDR liberal with socialist leanings, but underneath that veneer I am a nationalist. I want my nation to do well. I want we the people to work for good wages. I want our kids to go to good schools and live in nice neighborhoods, and sadly I don’t see where that is ever going to happen with the people who are in power. I don’t see where that is going to happen with the media in power. I don’t see where that is going to happen until we are in power.

“Every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, marching with our bitterness. And some day—the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it.” The Grapes of Wrath

The current administration's solution to the mortgage crisis has been the same as his Republican predecessor. Leave it in the hands of the big banks which caused the problem in the first place. Leave Jesse James in charge of bank security and Tony Soprano in charge of financial ethics. The current administration's solution has had the same results as its predecessor, one percent of applicants rescued.

Fifty percent of applicants were disqualified from the start, so the administration is tweaking the program to pay the banks more money for each mortgage rescued. Meanwhile Wall Street warns that 50 percent of rescued mortgages will default again. We need jobs, we need help and we are asking nicely this time.

“Okie (Homeless) use'ta mean you was from Oklahoma (didn’t have a home). Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie (Homeless) means you're scum. Don't mean nothing itself, it's the way they say it.” The Grapes of Wrath

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression.” The Grapes of Wrath

"I know this … a man got to do what he got to do." The Grapes of Wrath

I’ll continue to write what I write and I’ll continue to be turned down by so-called liberal websites, but that don’t make no never mind to me. I write for me and for you, for the eighteen million this year and the eleven million last year and the ten million the year before that. To tell the truth as I see it, 'cause when you ain’t got nothing you ain’t got nothing to lose.

"It don’t take no nerve to do somepin when there ain’t nothin’ else you can do." Tom Joad--The Grapes of Wrath

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