I recently received the following question from a reader of combatingglobalization.com:
“Would you mind giving me your opinion about the ways in which neoliberal policies & institutions perpetuate permanent/growing homelessness?”
This is a important question about one of the major consequences of neoliberal policies and institutions on communities across the US. The short answer is that the ongoing Reagan Revolution (the neoliberal era in US government) has sparked massive homelessness across the nation. Here is how it worked:
- The extensive offshoring of both manufacturing and service jobs has decimated the working class of the US.? An in-depth analysis of the neoliberal assault on labor can be found in The Evolution of Neoliberal Labor Strategy and the Decline of the American Working Class. Along with their jobs, many working people lost their homes, and some became homeless. This trend is continuing today.
- Historically, the working class of the US has carried the bulk of the tax burden. When workers lost their jobs and homes, states and municipalities lost much of their tax revenues and had to reduce their social services. A majority of states, including Texas where I live, shut the doors of their mental health institutions and dumped their patients in the streets. Many of these people ended up in state and county jails, and others became part of the permanent homeless population. (Cities passed no loitering and no camping laws to remove the homeless from public view. Regrettably, it worked!)
- The reckless lending practices of of unregulated financial institutions during the neoliberal era have created periodic economic crises, e.g. the saving and loan crisis in the 1980’s and the housing bubble that collapsed in 2008 leading to growing homelessness.
- Huge numbers of veterans of the neoliberal US wars in the Middle East have swollen the ranks of the homeless across the nation, adding to the surviving homeless veterans of the Vietnam war.
The phenomenon of permanent/growing homeless offers another reason to combat neoliberal globalization. Learn how to fight in A Primer for Civic Revolution.
Thank you, reader, for the insightful question.