Class Tensions and the Falsity of “Choice”
What kind of choice is working 40 or more hours every week just to spend over half of that money on rent for a place to sleep, eat, and have privacy, only to find out that you barely have any time to spend in this expensive place? What kind of freedom is conditional upon submission to the noxious reign of capitalism and private property to legitimize membership in the community?
What other choice is there but to withdraw from this sinister con-game that fools us into participating in our own demise, just to meet our immediate needs?
There has been much speculation in Arcata lately about those who “choose to be homeless.” For most homeless people, if not all, being homeless is not a choice. Most would prefer a safe warm place to sleep and to keep their stuff. Even the highly politicized research recently done by Humboldt State University makes this obvious. Even those who “choose” to be unhoused do so because their other options are too fucked-up to realistically consider.
The capitalist economic system, with its grip on space as private property to be paid for, demands scarcity. While buildings sit vacant with “For Sale” or “For Rent” signs, people are harassed off of cold concrete storefronts. Meanwhile, a vocal bunch of house-owning and business-owning individuals make excuses for this inane system, and blame the homeless for not doing enough to house themselves. Most of us are a paycheck away from being homeless ourselves, but as long as we stay obediently out of sight in our paid-for private dwellings, we will not be bothered.
If it hasn’t already been brought to your attention, perhaps the local debate on homelessness reveals the state of our freedom in this country. Those who choose to either boycott the rent/private property paradigm, or who simply cannot operate within its domain, are expected to hide from public view, and are harassed or cited for sleeping wherever they can. Some have been assaulted by the police with Taser stun-guns, which have been found to be LETHAL (New England Journal of Medicine, September 1, 2005 http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/353/9/958).
Does the community approve of the tax-funded police-enforced policies of keeping the poor and homeless living in fear and out of sight? Does the community know how much tax-money is spent on enforcing these policies compared to how much tax-money is spent making sure that everyone has enough to eat?
How much does the non-homeless community know about those labeled as “homeless by choice”?
What kind of choice do we have?