Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Homelessness
November 2, 2021 12:26 PM - Season 8, Episode 28 - Subscribe

This week.... Facebook announces their company is now called "Meta." (MeFi). Congress is hammering out Biden's final spending plan. And Now: Once Again, Our Annual Look At What Happens When Local News And Halloween Collide. Main story: Homelessness (25 minutes), and how our institutions make a bad situation for a lot of people worse.
posted by JHarris (6 comments total)
I would like to register my disdain for the Raining Tacos song, BTW. John can like it all he wants but I just have a built-in annoyance with that poorly animated autotuned bit of internet detritus. Personal opinion, sure, but, it is an opinion.

Now, about something important: GOD what a horrible situation. It really is all about power, isn't it, the people with it making the lives of the people without it as bad as possible, and blaming them for it in the process.
posted by JHarris at 12:29 PM on November 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would like to register my disdain for the Raining Tacos song, BTW.

I don't know what you are talking about, this song slaps!!
posted by Pendragon at 12:53 PM on November 2, 2021

It was strange to watch this last night then go in to work to hear a coworker was terrified to see a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the parking garage. I mean..they were sleeping, not any danger to anyone. But she was distraught and scared.
posted by emjaybee at 5:23 PM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ok, the survey of Halloween-themed news segments was pretty fun.

I couldn't help but appreciate the divide between "Money" and "clever." (and money+clever)

The homelessness story isn't new to me, but salient. I'm in Vancouver, homelessness (and associated ills the lead to, and come out of, it).

My side project just abandoned other sites and found one in Sacramento - the published median income if something like $90k+, but the google street map of the site shows it surrounded by burnt out cars, garbage, and people living out of vans/ etc.

All three of the team were aghast and two were super concerned. The one who lives in Palm Beach and myself were - "so, what? Yes, it sucks, yes it happens. What are you concerned about?" I might be a horrible person because of my response, but the "concern" was about whether the underhoused presents a security threat to the facility and whether we need to go Robocop with razor wire and additional fences, etc.

Which doesn't address the problem, and would make the site a target since it'd look so much more "secure" than the neighbours and make it site look more attractive to break into.

The comment about "Every time I've had to pick up human shit, my Liberalness gets lowered one more notch." resonates with me, though. Opioid addict shit tends to be solid and compact (if very very large) and much easier to dispose of than alcoholic shit (which tends to be wet, if not an actual slurry).

While I agree with Oliver, in my area (in Canada, Vancouver in particular), the things that he brings up are definitely legitimate issues, but those specific issues have been worked on my local government. Not perfectly, not universally, but addressed and improving. There remains massive difficulties working with people with addiction and unaddressed mental health problems, in addition to antisocial people who prey on the vulnerable/ take advantage of the avenues offered to the disadvantaged.

It's definitely been muddied by "poverty pimps" who make political challenges by muddying up the distinction in order to pull in charitable donations and public funding in order to aggrandize themselves (who themselves are not homeless or under-homed).

It's a very complicated situation, and maybe - I dare not say unique - a nuanced one with specific challenges with specific multifactorial causes that is very difficult to tackle, compounded by antipathy against reasonable realistic attempts at remedy.

UBI (universal basic income) can make a lot of sense, but in areas where landlordism and private ownership of housing is unfettered - that's just a straight line from government coffers to land owners. Rents will go up by whatever UBI is paying out, and that money will go straight to landowners, and accelerate society straight back into feudalism.
posted by porpoise at 6:42 PM on November 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Re UBI, that is true, but this isn't the first time I've heard those concerns expressed, I think the people who are considering that are cognizant of that issue.
posted by JHarris at 8:57 PM on November 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think the people who are considering that are cognizant of that issue.

I'm a downtrodden cynic, but I hope that you're right and that landed interests don't manage to sabotage UBI if it doesn't go straight into their pockets.

There is so much good that can would come from narrowing the wealth gap/ inequality. By a lot. Hopefully by pulling more people up than by upending everything, shake it around, and let the same oligarchic/ feudal hierarchy arise again (qv the dissolution of the USSR, the CCP now making noises about how billionaires aren't good for society, yet party members with immense wealth aren't exactly giving it away - and then all the billionaires living in "free market" economies).

As lower-middle economic class (relative to my environment), I do not begrudge at all raising minimum wages and rising service sector wages at all even though it makes my personal cost inflation relatively higher compared to middle-middle+ economic classes.

I want more people to have the benefits that I enjoy, even if my relative benefits lessen. I just don't like the idea of the gulf between myself and those with more economic power increasing by virtue of nothing other than that they have a head start in capital.
posted by porpoise at 9:04 PM on November 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

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