We love a deeply secretive, politically sensitive conspiracy theory. It gets our blood flowing; provides a wonderful cocktail party conversation, and validates our distrustful nature.
Did Lee Harvey Oswald kill John F. Kennedy on his own or was it the FBI? Or the Russians? In 2003, 70% of Americans thought our President’s assassination was part of a deeper plot.
Did Americans really walk on the moon back in 1969? Or was it just a hoax to show the Russians that America was better? NASA is still posting stories on why moon walking conspiracy theories – and I don’t mean Michael Jackson’s dance step (that was real) – are just not valid.
Is Osama Bin Laden really dead? How about Elvis Presley? The conspiracy theories go on and on, as if movie director Oliver Stone is looking for more story plots.
How about this one? There is a conspiracy in this country to intentionally keep 643,000 Americans homeless (the total number of people experiencing homelessness).
I know. Why would one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world intentionally keep so many of their citizens living on the streets like animals? It sounds like an Oliver Stone movie.
This country certainly has the resources to house every person who is homeless. In 2010, America possessed 18.4 million million empty homes due to foreclosure. We have become an empire of people-less homes and home-less people.
If we wanted to build new homes for these 643,000 people who are homeless, we would need nearly $100 billion (at a cost of approximately $150,000 per unit). Sounds like a lot, especially during these difficult economic times. But America spent over $800 billion for the war in Iraq. If ending homelessness was a national security issue, we certainly could afford it. Besides, the iPhone and iPad company, Apple, could fund the houses on their own, with their $128 billion.
We all know that everyone wants to end homelessness. The business community does not want people panhandling in front of their businesses. Families don’t want their children playing in parks overwhelmed with homelessness. Community-based organizations work hard every day to house people who are homeless, and even people living on the streets yearn for a permanent place of residence.
So why does this country struggle to end homelessness?
Is homelessness in America really a conspiracy? Should we blame it on the Russians? No, that’s so 1970s. How about an al-Qaeda conspiracy? Are they hiding terrorist sleeper cells among the homeless population?
Maybe the rich just want to keep that $100 billion for their own tax breaks? Or maybe the liberals want to keep the homeless industrial complex – the whole social services and housing system – operating? Because what would a homeless shelter employee do if we ended homelessness?
We have the money. We have enough empty houses. We all agree that homelessness needs to be ended. But this country struggles with homelessness like an overweight middle-age man struggling to return to his high school-age weight and physique. A little bit of sacrifice and sweat is not enough.
Perhaps homelessness in this country really is a some sort of conspiracy to keep two-thirds of a million Americans living on the streets, as if they are a bunch of convicts being shipped to Australia back in the 18th century.
Perhaps homelessness is a conspiracy of neglect. We close our eyes for a few decades, ignoring the consequences of extreme poverty in this country, and voila… hundreds of thousands of Americans end up living without homes.
But if we cannot end homelessness in the next five or ten years, then even I might think there is some deeply secret conspiracy going on behind the walls of this country’s leaders.