Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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What's Really Going on with the Tent City

I found this interesting article about the tent city outside Sacramento:

"People Shouldn't Have to Live Like This": The Real Story Behind "Tent City" -- and How the Media Get It Wrong

Over the past few months, reporters from around the world have flocked to the now-famous tent city in Sacramento, Calif. When they find out that 55-year-old John Kraintz has been living in a tent for almost seven years, they turn around and walk away.

"They don't want to talk to me," he says. "They're searching for people who just lost their homes. It's kinda tough to lose a home when you've never owned one. Sorry, but most of the people here have been homeless for a long time."  

A couple of lines particularly caught my eye:

"We've had homelessness in this country for decades. Each person has his or her own circumstance, and you have to tease that out if you're going to address this problem. Why do we care so much for people who suffer for a short time versus those who suffer for a long time? What is that about?" 

Probably because people who have been homeless a short time are more likely to be victims of the current depression, having lost their jobs and homes for that reason. People who have been homeless a long time are more likely to be suffering from other problems such as mental illness, physical handicaps, addiction, etc. The media audience is mostly middle and working class people with jobs and houses (or at least, who recently had those things) so they are more inclined to sympathize with people they consider similar to themselves.

They tend to overlook how easy it is for someone's life to get smashed to bits, and in a system without much safety net left, the end result is people hitting the street.

"This has been happening for 30 years, but the powers that be have been able to pretend it doesn't exist. Why aren't reporters asking about flat wages, jobs being shipped overseas and the lack of affordable housing?" 

Probably because it would not get the reporters rewarded; it would more likely get them reprimanded or fired. The media outlets are mostly owned by megacorps who do not want negative news about corporations, and are willing to destroy people's lives to ensure that. If they don't, there are megacorp advertisers who will step in and do it. Coverage of homelessness reveals that our society is failing large numbers of citizens. That makes people feel bad, which makes them change the channel, which doesn't make the media any money. Since they currently exist to make money instead of news, what we get is the sensationalized stuff. Meanwhile real problems get ignored, by force if necessary.

Until someone you care about hits the street and goes splat, or the homeless clump together in a group too big to ignore easily; then suddenly it's an issue.
Tags: community, economics, news

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