Capitalism can make people heartless.

It is not easy to care about others, when all you’re doing is fight for your own survival. This is how capitalism can make people heartless and even stupid. After a discussion I had today with a local urban camper, I am still shaken up. Urban campers live out of their RV or car. One step away from homelessness, they are constantly moving, because the city allows them only limited time in one location. After 10:30 pm, they can no longer park in the parking lot across from our marina on Shelter Island, but they are allowed back the following morning.

Today this lady camper I know quiet well, sat down next to me, while I was grooming my dog, Samba, and we started an interesting discussion about her life and what led to her loosing her business and house, until I told her, that I find, that many Americans look down on others, who are less successful than they are, maybe to feel better about their own plight. Many reach out to help or donate, but few think that here is something wrong with a system, who turns a blind eye on people, who loose everything because of a severe illness or other unforeseen tragedies. The same system bails out the banks and caused an economic meltdown pushing millions of people into poverty since the 2008 recession.

I come from a country, where we see the weakest links of the society as indicators of what is wrong, rather than putting the responsibility on that individual. Or in other words: if the society doesn’t care about large percentages of the population going hungry and living at poverty level, there is something wrong!

She agreed with me on all of this, until I mentioned Trump and called him stupid. She launched onto me with that everything would be ok with the social security system, if there wouldn’t be so many illegal immigrants in this country. She mentioned 12 million illegal immigrants from Middle America. When I questioned her, how 12 million people (~3%) of a population of 350 million could have any impact, let alone ruin the entire economy, I could see that she was getting mad. For her, it was easier to put the blame on undocumented farmworkers and kitchen workers rather than blaming a crooked system, which allows the wealthiest companies and individuals to get major tax breaks or not to pay taxes at all. That rips a whole in the budget. Many individuals donate to thousands of charities to keep the basic social care to citizens, which are not provided by the state. The budget for most social services was cut because of budget cuts. Teachers routinely bring chalk to their classroom and pay for books out of their salary in the richest country of the world. Somebody explain that to me.

Then I tried to tell her, that also I had been illegally in this country overstaying my work visa for two years and how difficult it is to get a legal status here. Of how difficult it was and long it took me to get a green card and then finally my citizenship. She couldn’t believe. When I wanted to tell her about my Tunisian son-in-law for whom it took ten years and thousands of dollars in layer fees to get his green card and five more years until he became a citizen, she had enough and slammed her trailer door in my face.

This is the kind of person, who will vote for Trump. Semi-educated, barely survivors, who want to see ‘America Great Again’ without immigration and reversing reforms made by the last 4 administrations. Trump makes W. Bush look like a Democrat.

The discussion was 3 hours ago and I am still fuming. America will not be great again, whatever that means anyway. The US doesn’t exist in a vacuum and cannot stop evolving. It might be nice to eat in a 50’s diner, but that is not the world we live in anymore. Trump promises something, which cannot be done. Only in time-travel can we go back, like in the TV series ‘11.22.63’, where James Franco travels back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. So, what great time is Trump talking about? The 40’s of winning WW2 in which millions were killed? The 50’s of the Korean War? The 60’s of the Kennedys and the Vietnam War? The 70’s of Nixon, Watergate and the oil crisis? Or the 80’s, Trump’s glory years, when he dodged NYC building ordinances to build the Trump Tower and Reagan nearly ruined the country by racking up national debt to record heights with his to-date unprecedented tax cuts for the rich?

Since moving to San Diego a couple of years ago, I avoid talking politics. I actively ignore political comments, because I most always disagree in various degrees of vividness. If Austin is a bit of liberal California in Texas, then San Diego is a bit of Texas in California.

Today I slipped, naively thinking that a woman, who knows a ton of hardship, would be insightful and wise. Stupid me.

 

Epilog

This was written back in April of 2016, in the midst of the presidential campaign. I debated posting it before, but hope now, that it contributes to the political discussion ravaging in the US one year after the Trump election. Senate just passed a tax bill with a 4 seat majority, giving enormous tax cuts to the wealthiest and corporations.

Said to stimulate the economy, neither Reagan’s nor W. Bush’s tax cuts stimulated enough growth to balance out the revenue cuts, instead both bills added to over 100 million dollars to the national debt and left the clean up of the mess to the following, Democrat administrations. In due form, the expiration year of this latest tax bill is in 2025, when, in all likeliness, a Democratic president have to deal with the fallout of 1.5 trillion more national dept.

 

 

Phone credit: Tristan Loper for Voices of San Diego. Article and podcast about RV, Urban campers and homelessness in San Diego here