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  • Writer's pictureJay Abel


Updated: Mar 20

Capitalism is sort of like that glad-handing yuppie supervisor at work. Loud mouth, big smile, greedy and not too bright, with a barely concealed mean streak. Not actually demonic, just a selfish, one-dimensional, happy-faced prick. 

Certainly other economic theories have turned out to be worse, but capitalism is the only one I’ve lived under for 68 years, with very marginal success, and have any right to rag on, though it doesn’t matter much what I think of it.  Short of a revolution or an ICBM  exchange,  Americans have stuck themselves with capitalism for 250 years, can hardly imagine an alternative and are too dumb or too stubborn to know that it ain’t workin’ no more, not for them anyway. The bankers, bosses and landlords have become sort of like like blood filled ticks, a hundred times bigger than the host, pocketing most of what working stiffs earn by one dodge or another. 

For them it works just fine. 

All the same, Americans believe the sunny little promise of capitalism - work hard and get ahead, even after a lifetime getting no place. 


Americans just gotta believe, in capitalism or in baby Jesus, even though capitalism would gut most of them like a rainbow trout for any failure to fork over a jacked-up rent or a premium due, and put their ratty little viscera down the garbage trap.  It is now too expensive for a lot of people to occupy standing room in our capitalist Xanadu. Housing is so dear that the urban poor are packed away into tent cities that have become a vast, rolling, sidewalk Andersonville, only with less concern for the prisoners. Tent cities make one nostalgic for debtor’s prison. First they defined the big city, now they're all over the bedroom communities. To address the issue laws are being passed in California to demolish the shanty towns.

Restive bums may then be, presumably, bulldozed into a landfill.

Having denied them any object with which to cover their heads, what’s next?  Laws have already been passed prohibiting the homeless from going to the bathroom, particularly in places where they have no access to a bathroom.  Left to the same corruption that got rich from it, the problem is probably unfixable, like telling hogs clean their pen. Besides, the fattest hogs live in a castle on hill. Somebody else has to live in a pen, or is denied even that much consideration.   


I don’t pretend to know how this issue may be addressed sort of war, but I do have some idea about how it got this bad.

Back in the mid 80s I had a very good friend who took a job managing apartment houses in San Diego. He didn’t own anything, he just answered the phone, fixed toilets, and collected rents. The owner was a fat, angry little fussbudget with high blood pressure. He was always screaming about something and his head was the color (and about the size) of a ripe beefsteak tomato. I met him a few times. There are a few decent landlords, I suppose, but he was not one of them, and decently is certainly not a job requirement. 

My friend was an affable sort and a very good employee so he stayed on convivial terms with the owner and he told me the following story. 

“Every now and then he (the owner) would get together, informally mind you, with his circle of other  landlords  to discuss business, informally mind you, and complain about the people they were living off of and who they generally regarded as sub-human. They kicked around an idea, informally mind you, that went like this. Raise the rent by increments, like a 100 dollars every year or two, so the commie freeloaders won’t scream rape, and justify the increase by re-painting a bathroom every now and then. In twenty years the rent will double or triple and that will be considered acceptable by people who are either too dumb to remember last year or by another generation of suckers who will think it’s normal.”

Nice work guys. Tighten the knot slow. After awhile the sucker won’t remember a time when it wasn’t around his neck.


Long-term thinking. 

To his eternal credit, my friend quit his job in disgust. He was replaced by a man very similar to the one I described metaphorically in the opening of this blog, a bone-headed, yuppie glad-hander. The rent is San Diego is now equal to, or slightly exceeding, that of most people’s total personal income, and a dog house on 2nd street in San Diego goes for three grand a month. 


In China they shot the landlords. My solution is far more cruel - a massive nation-wide rent strike. Many landlords would long for the simple mercy of a bullet. 

Kirt Vonnegut Jr imagined another solution, just as likely to happen. Using a body harness, every homeless person in America could be strapped to a helium balloon, and then float around without occupying any valuable real estate.  

As an old socialist from way back, basking in my righteous evil, I find it poetically amusing that in the final days of this capitalist wonderland half of America can no longer afford to live in it, or even so much as inhabit the dirt beneath their shoes.   

With all those bums flying overhead a law restricting their bowel movements could not come at a better time. 


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