|Outside the box|
Technically, the United States is not the wealthiest country in the world per-capita. Those honours go to places like Luxembourg and a few oil-rich monarchies - but amongst the G20 we are the leader, most powerful, most influential and most envied. So imagine my surprise at OWS this week when a young man from Burma, otherwise know as Myanmar, and the 163rd poorest country on the planet according to the IMF, asked me, "why the most powerful country in the world had so many homeless people?" (Over 1.5 million people used a shelter last year - that's one in every 200 Americans.) I was dumbfounded. I had no answer. But it told me again why I am participating in the Occupy movement. Something is drastically wrong in America when Madoff clones control our national finance and we can't pay for society's basic needs. Photographer Eliud Martinez tells the OWS story powerfully here through black and white photography.
But this week I had another series of graphics tell me what we can't afford. It got down to the itty bitty things that I need to conduct my job search in the city. Here are a few:
1) NYC cannot afford to fix the Metrocard sales machines at Park and 28th Street to downtown for four days, so I can't buy a ticket.
2) My government subcontracted Back to Work program can't afford to refill a printer cartridge all week for the printer we use to print our resumes so we have to go elsewhere and pay.
3) The shelter I live in at 30th St. can't afford to fix the conveyor belt that carries bags through the x-ray machine meaning that bags must be hand searched - thus increasing the opportunity that weapons can enter the facility.
4) The same shelter also cannot afford to fix the one elevator that works forcing many disabled men to walk up eight flights of stairs. I am lucky here, I can walk.
These are just a few small things I encountered this week that my country cannot afford. And if these indeed are true, then it seems that we cannot afford to be spending billions fighting wars and bailing out corrupt financial institutions any longer. Long live OWS. Long live the occupants.