Richard Wolff and Rob Robinson on Homelessness

And what is this in an economic system
that simply can’t solve a fairly obvious problem? So is it that we don’t have enough,
Rick? Or is it that there isn’t the will to do it
to fit the needs of the people, right? I would argue that will never build our
way out of this problem. What we need to do is think a little differently and use
vacant spaces, right? And I always use the foreclosure crisis during that time
period because it’s a key indicator on how we operate as a society,
right? During the financial crisis there were (in 2010) 14.4 million
vacant homes, 2 million homeless people. So you just put the homeless people in
the people-less homes. Problem solved, right? I don’t think we
can build our way out of this and I say that because you only have an infinite
amount of land. And how, you know, you’re gonna start build New York cities all
over the country? Not everybody wants these towers in their particular states
or cities. So, there is an organized effort. Picture The Homeless has started
to push legislation within the New York City Council where they have to do a vacant census count, which I think is important, and now they’re pushing to fine
landlords who keep those buildings vacant for a certain amount of time. I
think you have to disincentivize people from doing the wrong thing. It sounds a
little, you know, a little tricky the way I just laid that out but I really
think you have to penalize people, right. Because it’s what’s our relationship to
space. We have to think differently. And then it’s it’s a little bit difficult in
a capitalist society, in a society that bases itself on profit, you know, there
are some elected members of Congress that particularly four women who are
being targeted now because they think outside of the box but I think that’s
the direction we need to go. We need to think about giving people who have a
certain income limit certain subsidies so that they can realize that right to
housing that everybody deserves. Or, we ought to have a proper jobs program that
gives everybody a meaningful function in our society, helping one another, and pays
them a proper salary.
Why not both? Rather than giving some people
(I like to pick on Jeff Bezos), some people have a you know hundreds of
billions of dollars and
– And you give them a subsidy. The thinking
fundamentally is wrong, right? We have a mortgage tax deduction in this country
to the tune of about a hundred fifty billion dollars a year for people
with incomes of $250,000 or more. If you took that away and put it into public
housing you would start to recreate or regenerate public housing the way it
should be. It used to be there for a social purpose, right? So what we’re doing in
this country is we’re subsidizing wealthier people more than who we are
poor people. hat’s been done for a longtime.

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