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[Commentary] © 2000 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire™, Box 622 Cambridge MA 02143 USA (617) 623-8080

Homelessness Stories, December/2000 & earlier

12/16/2000  While we were sleeping, by Adrian Walker, Boston Globe, B1.
Wednesday [12/13] at the Boston Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter near the Boston Common, the 175 beds allotted for clients were all spoken for shortly after nightfall.... As the [limit] approached, the staff began speading mats on the floor.... When the floor space ran out, the latest arrivals had to settle for folding chairs.... While women are normally separated from men, some ended up sleeping wherever there was space after the women's beds were filled. In total, the shelter took in 192 people, 17 more...than beds. ...Wednesday night...wasn't...unusually cold. Scrambling for a mat on the floor or a chair is normal for a population that has expanded beyond the public's will to provide for it.
People who [dedicated their lives to] housing the homeless...say this explosion was predictable last summer. Summer used to be the slow season in the homeless business.... Not last summer. Last summer, shelters were packed....
"This winter we're in uncharted territory," the Rev. John Samaan, the rescue mission's president, said yesterday. "We're as full as we can be. We don't know what we're going to do when people walk in and we have to tell them there's no place for them." The city's announcement this week that the homeless population is up 6.8%, to 5,906, attracted little response, beyond muffled yawns.
[Whence this 6.8% figure, Adrian? The figures from the Globe cited in the article immediately below, 5906/5820, yield only a 1.48% increase from last year. Be that as it may -]
...The runaway rents and housing prices brought about by our economic boom make a big difference to people fighting daily for housing and often losing. The state's emergency shelters have been filled beyond capacity for 34 of the past 37 months, including the past 26 months in a row. The 2,400 shelter beds in Boston last night weren't nearly enough to meet the demand.... The worst trend...may be that the...shelters include more families than ever. An overcrowded shelter is a tough enough environment for [an adult], much less a child..\..
Despite the stereotype of the homeless as dysfunctional, the number of working people living in shelters has risen steadily. ...The Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance [estimates] that 29% of people in shelters work at least part time, and many of those work full time. But menial labor isn't making it in this economy. The median rent in Boston now stands at $1,495, double what many who work can pay....
[Our analysis? Menial labor isn't making it because there is a global labor surplus in a world that constantly raises its levels of worksaving technology with no design mechanisms for automatically moving personnel from newly automated activities to still unautomated activities. The result is that people whose jobs get automated are simply dropped out of the job market via mass layoffs, and people whose jobs are not yet automated get more and more overloaded. There are no economic design mechanisms for identifying overloaded skills and spreading them (e.g., via continuous training) to those who have been dropped, or for automatically reducing the workweek to prevent a wider and wider employment gap from opening up between the over-worked and the under-employed. As far as we know, the only complete, market-oriented and gradually activating design for such mechanisms of skill and employment spreading, is Timesizing. It's very articulation defines the areas of challenge for any adequate solution to this mounting problem. But how are we dealing with our problems today? Piece meal and symptoms only, as another article today reveals, "80 Mass. communities get $32.2m in grants," by Thomas Grillo, Boston Globe, E1, in which we learn that this was the amount that Gov. Celluci's administration "awarded...in Community Development Block Grants...last week. The grants will fund housing assistance, handicapped accessibility, infrastructure improvements and senior centers [and] a domestic violence prevention program...and transportation planning."
[We can continue to attack the mounting problem of poverty despite employment and our host of other problems on the piecemeal symptomatic plan, throwing money at individual symptoms like housing, childcare, transportation, disability access, healthcare, hunger, crime, prisons, etc. etc. etc., or we can cut the denial and attack the problem at its root by taxing overtime (OT), exempting OT-targeted reinvestment in training and hiring, and trimming the workweek until our homelessness vanishes. The efficient, worksaving technology that is constantly pouring into our economy does not automatically "create more jobs than it destroys" as heard so often. That is contrary to its whole purpose. And unless we implement a program such as Timesizing to automatically convert overtime into training and hiring and CUT THE WORKWEEK, we are going to continue our unnoticeably gradual slide down into the Third World, all the way congratulating ourselves for being the greatest nation in the world. As it is, the decreasing leverage and increasing powerlessness of the workforce at large is lengthening the American workweek and workyear, because in this culture of downsizing, no one wants to be the first to leave the office in the evening. Many employees, even in high tech, are working long hours that have not been seen since 1900 and before. We are regressing through the sweatshop stage back to slavery, while congratulating ourselves that we are the best and most competitive nation in the world. Well we might be getting a lot of desperate immigrants from Third-World China, India and Latin America, but, funny thing, we're not getting many from Europe or Australia, where by law the yearly vacation for beginning employees is four weeks. Americans now have the least leisure time in the world, and maybe we impress the pathetic Third World with our claims to be God's Gift, but we're not impressing anyone else. How can rational people possibly believe our claims to know something about freedom, when we clearly do not understand that most basic of freedoms, free time?]

12/15/2000  1 homeless item -

12/02/2000  1 homeless item - 11/27/2000  3 homeless items -
  1. [Boston mayor] Menino tackles lack of shelter beds, housing, by Daniel & Bombardieri, Boston Globe, B6.
    Word had yet to reach shelters, sidewalks, and park benches last week that Mayor Thomas M. Menino was unveiling an ambitious and widely hailed five-year plan to beef up support for Boston's growing homeless population.... The many shut out of Boston's prosperity are plagued by a shortage of shelter beds and a dearth of affordable housing. The mayor announced a plan to address both. He also criticized state leaders for proposing new rules that would bar families from homeless shelters for up to 12 months after they had been kicked out of public housing.
    The mayor's plan...welcomed by advocates for the homeless [who warn, however, that] it will take years to implement [Ah, liberals are always trying to make themselves indispensable with big-government bandaids, when really what we need is something much more simple and central - to convert overtime into training and hiring and LOWER THE WORKWEEK until all the homeless can easily support and house themselves. The fact that we have the world's most worksaving technology and yet the longest working hours in the world - and possibly the fewest on-the-job training opportunities, is just insane. And we keep chanting about an economic "boom" when wages throughout most of the economy are flat and low (see our article on moonlighting teachers today 11/27) and when we're talking out of both sides of our mouths on unemployment - Let's cut the doubletalk and give ourselves some genuine progress - with Timesizing. With our advanced worksaving technology today, the only thing between us all and a fabulous pay level for 16-20 hours work per week is our own stupid doubletalk about our high/low unemployment, about worksaving/jobcreating technology, about "plenty of jobs out there" but 'scuse us in here while we downsize another 10% and send Bill Gates and his buds another $billion. Two other people weighing in today with palliatives in this area follow -]

  2. Homelessness among the elderly, letter to editor by Susan Stockard of Cambridge, Boston Globe, A14.
    Thank you for your timely attention to the issues that cause homelessness among elderly people ("Homeless and elderly," Nov. 21, editorial [see below, 11/21]). In addition to the resources you name, I want to bring attention to Match-Up Interfaith Volunteers [which] for 16 years...has addressed issues of social isolation, depression and health care for elders and adults with disabilities. [by matching] volunteers with recipients for weekly companionship and assistance....

  3. Giving elders a helping hand, letter to editor by Lillian Glickman of Boston, Boston Globe, A14.
    Your Nov. 15 Metro story, "Shelters see rise in homeless seniors" [missed this one], omitted two major steps being taken to alleviate this growing problem.
11/21/2000  1 homeless story - 10/29/2000  Homelessness - Students take to the streets to hear from those who live there about what it's like, what causes it, and what can be done, by Robert Chadbourne, Boston Globe, C5.
...For the past two semesters...University of Massachusetts at Amherst [has offered] an honors program course called Homelessness & Shelters....
[This is a "Good, But...." It's good that homelessness is getting some attention instead of being ignored, but unfortunately, it's only talking about doing something instead of doing it, for example, designing and implementing a solution.]

10/25/2000  After 7-year fight, homeless get $816,000 in back wages, by Nina Bernstein, NYT, A27.
[From pointer summary, "Cheap-labor settlement," A2 -]
Nearly 200 men and women who were homeless when they took menial dollar-an-hour jobs in the 1990's with two Midtown [NYC] business improvement districts will receive awards totaling $816,000 tonight, the result of a settlement of a suit over wages.

5/27/2000  Homelessness of young growing, by Thomas Grillo, Boston Globe, E1.
Young adults from 18 to 24 years old are the fastest-growing group among the increasing homeless population in Massachusetts, according to a recent study by the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance [MHSA]. During the first quarter of 2000, as many as 3,100 young adults entered emergency shelters for the first time this year - a 30% increase over last year, the report said.
[There's a statistic to put beside the "first time unemployment applications"!]
The homeless population for all other age groups also is rising at an alarming rate, the report said. First-quarter reports indicate an unprecedented overflow seen in emergency shelters statewide last year is worsening. Shelters are operating at 116% capacity, a new record, the report said.
[Now, what was that you, yes you, the insulated gentleman from Melrose, Mass., was saying about the booming economy? This looks just like the "booming economy" of the Roaring 20s.]
MHSA, a coalition of 73 agencies committed to finding solutions to end homelessness, said the rising number of homeless people stems from families who are falling from state systems of care to the streets and shelters.
[But that Melrose gentleman is certain that it's their own fault! They just refuse to get a job! (Employers, of course, are extremely eager to hire people literally right off the street or out of the shelters.)]

4/26/2000  Toronto's homeless men live longer than US counterparts, study says, Reuters via Boston Globe, A16.
...perhaps because the Canadians have better access to healthcare and less threat of violent crime.
Of 8,933 men who stayed in Toronto homeless shelters in 1995, 201 died 2½ years later. The average age at death was 46 years.
The death rate among New York's homeless between 25 and 44 years old was 39% higher than in Toronto, and 48% higher in Boston. Philadelphia's death rate among men ages 35 to 54 was 58% higher than Toronto's homeless in that age group....
In a range of age groups, Toronto's homeless men were 2-8 times more likely to die than Toronto's general population. The highest differential was among those aged 18 to 24..\..
Stephen Hwang of St. Michael's Hospital at the University of Toronto [was] author of the study....

3/31/2000  Fewer homeless died on streets of city in 1999, by Karen Hsu, Boston Globe, B4.
["Modified rapture!"]
Deaths of homeless people on the streets of Boston and Cambridge [Mass.] fell dramatically last year, state officials said yesterday. In 1999, just 4 such deaths were recorded compared to an average of 24 deaths a year for the last 15 years.
Officials said they attribute the decline to initiatives that began after more than a dozen homeless people died in two winter months of 1998. "The numbers are...directly correlated with additional resources targeted to homeless people on the street," said Philip Mangano, exec. dir. of the Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance. "To their credit, the city and DPH responded"....
Dr. James O'Connell, president of Health Care for the Homeless in Boston, said that an analysis of those who died on the streets showed...most had been recently treated in area emergency rooms and detox centers. Most had substance abuse problems, mental illness, or were suffering from trauma or chronic medical problems such as heart disease, chronic liver disease, and emphysema. But O'Connell said that [homeless] people who needed treatment often faced delays [such as overnite delays]. O'Connell said...that before the better coordination he had difficulty arranging mental health treatment or substance abuse care.... "Now we are able to do it much easier."
[But then, what's mental "health" in the context of homelessness?]

[Re the geographic variability of poverty -]
2/20/2000  Many in Silicon Valley cannot afford housing, even at $50,000 [salary] a year - Where millionaires are minted daily, some people with jobs are homeless - Families that would thrive elsewhere struggle in luxuriant Valley, by Evelyn Nieves, NYT, A18.

[Guess this would constitute record homelessness in America -]
2/01/2000  Study documents homelessness in American children each year, by Nina Bernstein, NYT, A12.
About 1.35 million children in the U.S. - nearly 2% of the nation's total - are likely to become homeless at some point in the course of a year, a new analysis of national census and survey data being presented today...by the Urban Institute, a Washington research group..\.. has found. The children are among an estimated 3.5 million people [ed: that's 1.3% of all 274m Americans] who become homeless at least once in the course of a year.... About 65% more Americans had an episode of homelessness annually in 1996, during a "sustained economic boom" [ed: our quotes] than in 1987 [when an estimated 1.8m people became homeless], the Institute found.
"Having been homeless as a child is a predictor of being homeless as an adult, so you're building the next generation here to an alarming extent," Martha Burt, director of social service research at the Institute, said yesterday.... About 21% of homeless adults experienced homelessness as children. She noted that nearly 10% of [impoverished] children annually experience homelessness. "The people who are doing well are pushing the price of housing up and taking over more space, and they're doing that all over the country," she said to explain the rise.... Most poor families, Prof. [Dennis] Culhane [of U.Penn.'s Social Welfare Policy Dept. added,] are paying 60-70% of their income on rent, twice as much as it was 25 years ago..\..
The national report found [much] illness among the homeless served in shelters and soup kitchens, though almost half were in their first episode of homelessness. The new projections are consistent with studies based on several years of complete, computerized shelter data in New York and Philadelphia, and with more recent data in eight other metropolitan areas. [Prof.] Culhane...said shelter data show that 1% of the population in New York and Philadelphia uses a homeless shelter for some period each year, with the rate about 10 times higher among young [impoverished] children and highest among [impoverished] African American children under 5....
[Note we've replaced the word "poor" with "impoverished" throughout this article to indicate that poverty is not an Act of God against which we are helpless. Per James Carroll's excellent op ed in the Boston Globe today (2/01 "The global divide (from Davos) to the campaign in New Hampshire"), it is something one group of us does to another group of us because we have failed to completely define "fair share per person." We have defined the lower limit where "poverty" starts, but just so that we can go tsk-tsk and maybe toss them some spare change - not so we can take any real system-redesign action, such as completely defining "fair share" by defining the upper limit where hurtful excess begins. Our Timesizing program suggests this is easier to do in terms of employment rather than in terms of income or wealth (they can wait until later).
[And this is the easiest and most obvious way to proceed. You define the lower limit, the problem, by regular public referendum, and you let the lower limit define the upper limit. In other words, as long as there is too high a rate of the problem at the bottom, you very slowly lower the upper limit, by such means as a tax with an exemption for reinvestment of overline resources in solving the problem. In employment terms, for example, this involves a regular referendum to define under-employment and a target rate of under-employment such as zero or one percent. Then as long as under-employment is higher than the target, the maximum workweek, starting at 40 hrs/wk, would gradually come down. Any company or individual wishing to work overtime could do so with having their overtime profits/earnings taxed away only if they were willing to reinvest in overtime-targeted training and hiring. It will eventually happen all over the world because we defy anyone to come up with a simpler and fairer and more intuitive system. Let us know if you think you've got one and we'll point out what you've overlooked (timesizing@aol.com or 617-623-8080). Plus it's maximally market oriented and automatically inflation-blocking. We call it Timesizing.]

[We ruined Russia by rushing, now we're ruining Japan by example.]
1/04/2k  Tradition of equality is fading in "new" Japan [our quotes - inequality is really very old] -
Homeless people sleeping in Shinjuku Chuo Park in Tokyo -
Spurred by economic and social changes, the gap between rich and poor is widening in Japan as people are living longer
[huh?] and accumulating more wealth [photo caption],
by Stephanie Strom, NYT, front page.
[Uh, that last should read, "the gap between poor and rich is widening in Japan as firms mimic American downsizing and funnel wealth to the top income brackets" = our standard U.S. formula for depression, all the while crowing about our "permanent plateau of prosperity" of course. We ruined Russia by rushing them into 'free' markets. Might as well finish off Japan just by the example of our own unDeming-like fostering of fear in the workplace, resulting in our Amazing Accordioning Consumer Base and Terrific Telescoping Prosperity.]
...Women, once relegated to the home, are trooping to office jobs.
[Soon their kids will start highschool shootings.]
Tax laws have been changed to let the rich keep more of their money [for what???], and loopholes once exploited by the middle class are closing.
[Just like our "tax reform" in the 1980s.]
Where once everyone seemed to be treated more or less the same, merchants and marketers are focusing on the affluent....
[More numerous and more desperate salesmen are zooming in on fewer and flusher markets. Well the wealthy deserve to get pestered if they don't see to it that this money stays centrifuiged by getting reinvested at the grassroots where the work is done. What would such a reinvestment system look like? Click here.]

1/02/Y2K  A firsthand lesson in plight of homeless - 'It's a totally different perspective when you're sitting down on the sidewalk than when walking down the street,' Tiffany Radebaugh, 18, by Joshua Robin, Seattle Times via Boston Globe, A7.
...For the first 5 days of their Christmas break, when others were home with families or on vacation, 18 students from..\..Seattle Pacific University [who] had said they wanted to feel what it was like to be homeless...elected to live on the streets of Seattle as part of a decades-long program called the Urban Plunge.... Tim Dearborn, who oversees the program..\..promised [that it would be] grueling and life-changing. That was clear from the moment the students took buses downtown from their [suburban?] campus. They were allowed only the clothes they were wearing, a sleeping bag, a Bible, a toothbrush, a notebook, and a few personal items.... Each of the 11 women and 7 men was given $2 and 2 bus passes. All were asked not to panhandle or seek work. They were told not to change their clothes or use their watches. They ate in soup kitchens and missions; they napped in ferry terminals and libraries.
The first day, when they looked clean, they read books at Barnes & Noble. After that, they became self-conscious and fearful that they would be thrown out of shops. They peered instead through store windows..\.. Cold rain pelted their faces.... As their hair became matted, as they began to smell, and as their posture drooped from hours of walking [like refugees?], many students said fewer people had met their attempts at eye contact..\..
[Funny, that's the way you often get treated when you're trying to get signatures for a political candidacy.]
The students said their time on the streets had [taught them] that not all people are homeless for the same reason.... Addictions...mental illness...[inability to] afford Seattle's rising housing and living costs..\.. So they wouldn't take spots at a shelter from those who needed them, they were also given a place to stay each night, on the condition that they leave at 6:30 every morning. In the interest of safety, they were also asked to walk in groups of three, which students recognized detracted from the authenticity of being homeless. "If we didn't have anyone to talk to, it'd be a different story," said Justin Rolfe, a 19-year-old freshman from Kenmore, Wash.... Many said the memories of the loneliness and isolation they saw in people living on the streets will stay with them. "Don't just make this a one-time event," Kelly, a homeless woman, told group members at the drop-in center at the Church of Mary Magdalene. "Just come back and let us talk with you." Some students vowed that they would....

12/17/99 Out in the cold - [Boston] hub's homeless population rising despite healthy economy, by David Weber, Boston Herald, front page.
Despite the booming economy, the number of homeless people in Boston rose 10% over last year, with many of the new homeless including families who could no longer afford their rents, city officials said yesterday. According to a count taken Monday night of men, women and children living on the streets or in shelters, hospitals and detox centers around the city, there are 5,820 homeless in Boston compared to 5,272 last year [up 10.4%].
Boston Emergency Shelter Commissioner Kelley Cronin was especially alarmed by the number of homeless families, which includes any combination of parents or siblings without homes. That number rose to 1,905 - an 18.7% increase over last year. "Many of those families had members who had jobs, but just couldn't afford their apartments any more," Cronin said.
[In other words, their wages were too low for even the cheapest housing. Don't know about you folks, but we here at Timesizing.com just before Christmas, recorders of suffering tho' we be, just can't take in 1,905 families right here in wealthy Boston (home of Kennedys, Cabots and Lodges) who have no home at the dawn of the Third Millennium. What an insult to human intelligence. What a blot on our self-respect. And we have the gall to constantly congratulate ourselves for a booming economy? What a bunch of blindered morons we are! Here's a description of our situation -

This opulent nation has found it more economic...to supersede workers by machines; she has laid off, then hired, then laid off again, factory hands in cities, and (rural) artisans giving place to automata are now sinking under homelessness; she has found it more economic to reduce all working people to the lowest possible wages on which they can subsist; and these working people being no longer anything but a rabble, have not feared plunging into still deeper misery by the addition of an increasing family. She has found it more economic to give charity to the poor overseas, and clothe them in rags; and now every craft brings legions of immigrants, who, working for less than the native-born, drive them from every employment. What is the fruit of this immense accumulation of wealth? Have they had any other effect than to make every income bracket partake of care, privation, and the risk of complete ruin? Has not the nation, by forgetting humans for things, sacrificed the end to the means?
The example of this country is so much the more striking, because she is a free, enlightened, well-governed nation, because all her sufferings proceed only from having followed a false economic system. No doubt foreigners are struck here with the arrogant pretensions of the aristocracy, and the accumulation of wealth in the same hands tends continually to increase it..\.. The wise men's...theories, wherever they were put in practice, served well enough to increase material wealth, but they diminished the mass of enjoyment laid up for each individual; if they tended to make the rich more rich, they also made the poor more poor, more dependent, and more destitute. Crises utterly unexpected have succeeded one another in the commercial world [cf. the stagflation of the 70s (simultaneously high inflation and unemployment), the UNstagflation of the 90s (simultaneously low inflation and unemployment), domino currency crashes...], the progress of industry and opulence has not saved the employees who created this opulence from unheard-of sufferings; facts have not answered either to common expectation, or to the predictions of philosophers; and in spite of the implicit faith which the disciples of Political Economy accord to the instruction of their professors, they are obliged to seek elsewhere new explanations for these phenomena, which diverge so widely from the rules they consider as established.
[This passage, minimally modified to conceal its identity, was actually written, in French, one hundred and seventy-three years ago about the England of Dickens. It's from the foreword to a book on economics (Nouveaux Principes d'Économie Politique) by a European observer (a Swiss historian named Sismondi) that has still not been translated into English, despite his citation by the great Malthus, his contributions to journals and encyclopedias in English, his idolization of Adam Smith, and his correspondence with Ricardo, Macculloch, Say and other economic luminaries of the period. Our quotes are from his one publication in English - a collection only of his essays called "Political Economy...", which includes this preface (only) from the Nouveaux Principes, and which was published by a translator in 1847 just after the author's death and dedicated to his widow. What a disgrace to those of us who take pride in our English language and like to think that we can absorb any ideas and handle any criticism. This glaring gap in important works translated into English ranks with the conspiracy of silence in our history books and classes about the 30-hour workweek bill that passed the U.S. Senate on April 6, 1933, and the equal silence about the 1932 advocacy of a 20-hour workweek by sociologist Arthur Dahlberg, though we still hear plenty about his 1933 rebutter, FDR braintruster Rexford Tugwell, though he was tarred in the late 30s for his socialism. Truly the one thing that has given more anxiety (totally unfounded) to the power elite over the last two centuries than socialism is shorter hours, although no economy will progress beyond a masochistic split-society frenzy of high-tech buzzwords without passing through this key social technology.
[À propos of homelessness, a backup article, on homelessness around the nation, appeared in today's NY Times -]
Photographs of the homeless, at the Corcoran Gallery [NYC], pointer headline, NYT, B41, pointing to -
When a museum displays its heart, by Vicki Goldberg, NYT, B45.
Once upon a time, as recently as the 1970's, people did not live on the street in cardboard boxes with their feet sticking out the end. Homelessness, always with us but nowhere near as rampant as it is today, was essentially invisible. Then a combination of circumstances, including the emptying of mental institutions and cutbacks in federal funds for housing, drove all sorts of people onto the streets. Photographers were on the case almost immediately.... [The] show [is] meant to demonstrate that there are solutions to homelessness - some put forward by organizations that provide not just shelter buy also crucial services like medical care, psychological support and job training.... "The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America" is at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th Street, NW, Washington, (202) 639-1700, thru Jan. 31.
["As recently as the 1970's" coincides with the period, almost a generation ago, when rampant stagflation signaled to those (like Jane Jacobs) who could read the signs, that the labor-employment balance ("thanks" to World War II) of 1943-1969 was over and America's middle class was beginning a serious decline led by gross labor surplus and stagnating wages. Families were starting to get second wage-earners entering the job market to try to compensate for this lack of wage progress (i.e., women entering the workforce in large numbers) but of course, this only worsened the labor-employment imbalance and more strongly confined wages. Then along came the party of the rich in fateful alliance with the self-righteous right, and sensing the weakening of the liberal middle class, the Republicans cut housing funds and empied mental institutions. Funny how often events conspire to make a problem clearer by worsening it, though the media, following the centuries of obfuscation by the nouveau (and angry) rich - "I did it myself and ANYBODY can do it all by themselves!!!" - continue to treat the problem like an unaccountable Act of God beside which we all, including the wealthy, are helpless bystanders.
[In fact, we are all, especially the wealthy, active daily generators of the problem because of our failure to move our society's definition of "fair share" from the political "one person one vote" and "one person one education" to the economic "one person one whatever." Chesterton highlighted this problem decades ago and it is no small challenge to the economic designer's art. For one thing, it involves the new concept of equalizing, not on a point, but on a range with an upper as well as a lower limit - and the nouveau riche, verging ever on the megalomaniacal with delusions of omnipotence and immortality, have always had great difficulty with the concept of upper limits, however demonstrably necessary. For another thing, it involves programming a self-adjusting dynamic equalization rather than a consciously (or never) resettable static equalization. Witness the French today - jumping down from a permanent rigid 39-hour workweek to a permanent rigid 35-hour one. And for another thing, it involves the seemingly cynical but very practical concept of programming a minimalist solution - indeed, a minimum necessary departure from status quo at each point. And for another thing, it involves identifying the dimension and units of the range-based equalization. The economic choice is per-person skills, employment, income, payments, wealth, or credit. Timesizing.com suggests that all will have to be range-equalized in time as our sensitivities and expectations rise, but identifies the first choice as per-person employment. After all, it's a lot easier to motivate people to equalize work per person than income or wealth per person. And trying to equalize income or wealth first just creates dependency.
[In our innocence, we have assumed that the politically based sharing technology of "one person one education" (i.e., free public education) would take care of the marketable skills disparity, but we're seeing the market daily outdistance our public education further and further. So it would be nice if we could balance that one, skills, in with our employment-balancing design. All this we have done in the five public-sector phases of the Timesizing.com program - bearing in mind that a private-sector ramp-up of at least as many phases and at least equal duration would be not only advisable but necessary.]

5/31/99 In two speeches, class warfare - Pine St.'s grads get Reich, Harvard's get Greenspan, by James Bandler, Boston Globe, p. B1.
...Economic titans Alan Greenspan and Robert Reich next week [June 10] will deliver dueling commencement addresses on opposite sides of the Charles River, [Greenspan at] Memorial Church in Cambridge to face Harvard University's class of 1999 [and Reich in Boston] to speak to the graduates of the Pine Street Inn's training program for the homeless.... It's a...commencement matchup that contrasts the world's richest university with a homeless shelter [featuring] a legendary inflation fighter who has helped steer the economy throught the longest period of peacetime growth [or rather "growth"] in history against a self-described champion of working people and the poor....
[And both are beside the point. Calling price rises "inflation" in the wage market but not the stock market and winking at rising rates of labor force non-participation is bubble, not boom. And fighting for the working classes while the middle class gets washed out is also an anachronism. We need full participation in the job market and the only way we're going to that in a future of never-ending work-saving technology, is dynamically sharing the remaining work as it vanishes. The fact that we've stuck the workweek at a 1940 level despite all future technology is injecting larger and larger distortions throughout our economy and our world. We have turned government into an increasingly pathetic and desperate job creation machine - and the charity of last resort - when all we need to do is get an unemployment rate that really counts something, and hook our workweek to it, so that if it goes up, the workweek comes down, and vice versa. We call it Timesizing.]

5/17/99 The 'new homeless' - Harvard Square street people increasingly are those just starting out, by Stan Grossfeld, Bos Globe, front page.
...The city of Boston's homeless census...neared an all-time record this year \but the new homeless\ don't turn up in [that census] nor do they like to go to shelters like the Pine Street Inn, which...reported only one male guest in its 18-to-24 age group, despite an average January population of 312.... What street workers are calling the "new homeless"...are young people from dysfunctional families, those who have run away from the state Dept. of Social Services or have passed the age of 18, the agency's basic cutoff point for services. They shun shelters and stay with friends and acquaintances until they wear out their welcome.
"This new homeless we are seeing is different than before," said Elizabith Ortiz, medical coordinator for Bridge Over Troubled Waters, the Boston-based social services group that serves mostly young people. "You won't see them sleeping in the street. They're too smart for that. They couch-surf in the winter and sleep outside in the summer. They don't see themselves as homeless, and you can never, ever tell these kids are homeless."...

4/16/99 Sharing the bounty, by Steve Bailey, Boston Globe, p. D1.
[Steve is trying to make the point that there is more charitable giving today, but as to the assertion that this is really sharing more, he's got an argument on his hands. "To his credit, Ted Turner set an impressive standard with his $1 billion pledge to the UN, but others have not been so generous....General Electric CEO Jack Welch...earned $138.6 million in 1997 but gave away just $134,168...." Click and page down to Collapse story on 2/26/99 "Mogul worship" by Jason Gay, Bos Phoenix, p. Styles4. The same story makes the point that "the public should question not just how much today's moguls are giving away, but whom they are giving to. [So much is "coals to Newcastle", for example, going to the wealthiest colleges such as Harvard and MIT.] There's a difference between using wealth in a way that benefits society as a whole and using 'philanthropy' to advance status privilege and...the status quo...." Also, "Corporate philanthropy has undergone a historic change, becoming narrower and less dependable." Click and page down to Collapse story on 3/21/99 "Gone forever?" by David Warsh, Bos Globe, C1.]
This long bull market has created more new wealth than any time in our history. There are 189 billionaires on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans....
[189 billionnaires at a cost of millions pushed below the poverty line and into homelessness? This is nothing to crow about. This is an insult to human intelligence - an indictment of humans' lack of imagination and dearth of design smarts.
[Otherwise intelligent people like Steve mistake hollow stock inflation for solid market-supported wealth. When are these really stupid 'analysts' going to smarten up and look at even one long 'wave'? They typically look no further than 50 years into the past to the end of World War II, but we have not been in a deflationary boom like this since the 1920s.]
What are all those super-rich people doing with all that money?... Increasingly they are giving it away.... Foundations are proliferating and giving is skyrocketing. Over the past two years grants from foundations have risen 41% to $19.5 billion last year, says the Foundation Center in New York.
[It doesn't matter how much charity there is. It's a dead end. It's pathetic. Any economic design that relies for vital functions on charity is lethally flawed. Charity is non-systemic, arbitrary, capricious and unreliable. It's not a step forward. It's a huge step backward. It's a step backward to the Feudal Period when there was proportionately even more charity, because there was even more wealth concentration and even more poverty and even more spreading stagnation than today. The feudal period had two islands of income and wealth separated by a vast gulf - except the bottom island was a huge continent and the top island was tiny. There was little innovation, little social mobility, and lots and lots of starvation and disease.
[And let's push the charity model. Let's imagine that we go all the way with this. We wind up with maybe 18,900 billionnaires. This would be only a brief situation because with this concentration of wealth, everyone else would be jobless, starving, or in prison. Pathetic. Unsustainable "skimming and charity" capitalism instead of sustainable "reinvestment and earning capitalism". "Cheap labor and hollow markets" capitalism instead of "valued employee and solid markets" capitalism.
[Engineering a scarcity of labor by reducing the workweek is the most effective, flexible, diverse and reliable method of centrifuging income and wealth - and integrating a population - that we know of. By comparison, charity is hopeless and usually only leads to genocide or war. It's temporary, unsustainable. For example, communism amounts to skimming and charity by the central government. There is an intimate connection between charity and communism. Recall that the early Christian church was effectively communist in its economic design, such as it was. This is not advanced. This is primitive. In an advanced economic design, the income is reinvested right at its unimaginably diverse sources, and markets are sustained at their roots.
[Charity is the past, not the future. Consider that there has always been charity to make up for the flaws in whatever is passing for the 'social design' of the present moment. Charity is palliative, not curative.
[And the fact that we have sunk back into war at the same time as Steve can claim that charity is rising is no coincidence. War is "good" for poorly designed economies. It relieves the much denied labor surplus that is depressing wages by killing people, many of whom, feeling noble, go willingly to the slaughter under the blizzard of propaganda from the consolidated media.
[And charity does something else. It stifles the incentive for real progress, because it broadcasts constant examples of wretched horrible conditions to America, such as conditions in the refugee camps, so that people in America with problems on the level of a higher standard of living feel unworthy for even thinking about those subtler problems - let alone getting them corrected.]

1/24/99 [HUD] Funding cutoff for care of Maine's homeless, by Donna Gold, Boston Globe, p. C1.

1/15/99 Open and you'll be amazed at what happens during a booming economy, blurb on envelope from United Way of Boston (245 Summer St, MA 02210), just arrived in mail.
[Inside, it says - ]
In the midst of this booming economy, there are a shocking number of families struggling in Massachusetts:

  • 156,000 working families with children are living at or below the poverty line...
  • 20,000 families are currently homeless....

    ["Pay me now or pay me later" - ]
    1/14/99 As homelessness rises in Boston, HUD cuts funding [40%] by $5.5m, by T. Robertson and Z. Dowdy, Bos Globe, frontpage.
    [OK, but now we'll have to pay for a surge of burials or if they somehow survive, for their prison costs. The Military-Industrial Complex is dead - long live the new conservative makework campaign, the Prison-Industrial Complex!]

    1/11/99 Unprecedented Homeless Deaths in Boston Area, by Jason Beaubien, Morning Edition, WBUR-FM, 8:30 am.
    There have been eight homeless deaths in the Boston area so far this winter, an unprecedented number, mostly due to hypothermia. One man froze to death in the back of a truck. Outreach workers find that most homeless people they approach refuse to come back with them to the clinics and shelters. The reason, according to Phillip Mandano (sp?) of the Mass. Homeless and Shelter Alliance, may be that the shelters have overflow at the front door and gridlock at the back door, and more homeless people are reluctant to go into an overcrowded, volatile and fearful situation. Mandano's "solution"? People who see a homeless person can phone 911 because Boston police are caring, not punitive, toward the homeless. They will refer them to outreach workers or take them to a clinic or shelter. Plus people should stay hopeful about the homeless situation, that steps can be taken.
    [Comment - for a solution, "staying hopeful that steps can be taken" sounds pretty vague and unactionable. Exactly what steps, Phillip? And for what - solving it or just palliating it? And for whom - the homeless or us?]

    11/03/98 State to fund 500 emergency beds to ease overcrowding at shelters, by Zachary Dowdy, Bos Globe, D17 [Boy, they sure tuck this type of news away at the back, don't they!].
    Hoping to head off a crisis that grows as winter approaches, state officials have pledged funding of up to $700,000 to pay for 500 emergency beds to relieve shelters barely supporting needs posed by record numbers of homeless people....

    10/12/98 Homelessness rising despite brisk economy, by Zachary Dowdy, Boston Globe, p. B1.
    In a disturbing paradox of a booming economy...soaring real estate market....
    [When are we going to straighten out our economic indicators so we stop prattling about a "booming economy" merely because of inflation in the money-storing instruments of the super-rich? Clearly a major reason for a "soaring real estate market" is given by the story on 10/9/98 called "High anxiety - Investors are shifting huge sums of money in search of safety." Whither are they shifting money from careening stock markets? U.S. Treasury bills, real estate....]
    ...homeless people in Massachusetts seeking shelter has reached a record high.... Last winter, 5,016 people were counted as homeless, up from 4,948 the previous winter and continuing a steady upward trend since the early '90s.... Meanwhile, the number of public-housing units available to low-income families is dropping...as the economy pushes rents out of the price range of even the working poor.
    [And prisons are already bulging....
            O beautiful for patriot dream
            That sees beyond the years.
            Thine alabaster cities gleam
            Undimmed by human tears!
            America! America!
            God shed His grace on thee,
            And crown thy good with brotherhood
            From sea to shining sea.
    [Would we wake up out of our titillating Adventures with Greed if this was our national anthem instead of "Oh say, can you see...our flag...."? Would it get our American Legion fighting for this glorious vision for human beings instead of against flag desecration? We are slowly, quietly losing our claim to being "the land of the free and the home of the brave" due to our record growth of prisons and homelessness. The flag will be a hollow symbol if if we keep sitting idly by, counting our Web stocks while that happens.]
    Also, as many as 8,000 families could lose welfare benefits as soon as Dec. 1.... "We're finding that economic growth comes at a certain price, a heavy one for those at the bottom," [said Xavier Briggs, acting asst. sec. for policy for HUD.]
    [When are we going to stop calling half our current split economy "economic growth" and call it what it is, economic cancer? We have still not learned from our huge mistake in 1933. We have still not confronted, as a nation, Chesterton's pan-utopian flaw. We have still not solved Reuther's challenge to Ford's "let's see you unionize these robots" - "let's see you sell them cars."]

    9/24/98 Chinatown urban farmers profit from can-do attitude, by Ric Kahn, Boston Globe, p. B1.
    ...some neighborhood women are already at work [by midmorning] helping to keep their frail bodies fed - by plucking redeemable containers from barrels of trash. These bottle-and-can farmers have become fixtures of the street economy.... Now, their ranks have been swelled by new migration and cutbacks in immigrant assistance.... Foraging has become cutthroat 15 years after the bottle bill added a deposit fee to each container, with homeless cartpushers vying with motorists who raid recycling bins.
    [Alan Greenspan, THIS is your "U.S. boom". This article sure strains to put a positive spin on this pathetic situation! Ric, maybe you should get a job with an eviction agent, especially around Xmas - *Michael Moore, producer of Roger and Me, can direct you to some "good" ones.]

    [Just GOTTA put this in!]
    11/26/1992 Shelters a grim growth industry - 'In the early '80s, it was shocking... But over time...homeless people have become a permanent part of the [American] landscape': Thomas Callahan, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, by Peter Canellos, Boston Globe, p.57.
    ...The political leaders and celebrities joining the crowd of volunteers at Boston's Pine Street Inn [shelter] will find the shelter population up by another 9% this year, close to the 10% annual clip by which the homeless population has increased since 1982. ...Officials have moved this year to cut back the preference given to homeless people for rent subsidies. At the [Massachusetts] State House, the leading program designed to help move the homeless out of shelters and into apartments was slashed by 25%, or $75m....
    [Ergo American homeless shelters grow and grow, second only to American prisons. "Greatest country in the world"? Not any more.]

    For more details, see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available online from *Amazon.com and at bookstores in Harvard and Porter Squares, Cambridge, Mass.

    Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.

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