An Economic Nature
By Jason Miller
06 September, 2006
of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”
-- Mary Shelley’s
a logic-defying feat, the wealthiest nation in the world has “attained”
the highest rate of homelessness amongst developed countries. 3.5 million
human beings experience homelessness each year in the United States.
Almost a million are homeless every night (1).
In the most heavily militarized
nation in the history of the human race, 30% of its homeless men are
military veterans (2). What happened to “support the troops”?
Obviously once military personnel return home, the slogan changes to
“good riddance to bad rubbish”.
Ready for some “shock
and awe” on the home front? According to the National Mental Health
Association, “on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless”
in the United States.
And what is one to make of
a self-proclaimed Christian nation (overflowing with material resources)
that allows such travesties of economic justice to persist?
How can a Christian
nation ignore the compassionate teachings of Jesus?
“For I was hungry and
you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited
me.' Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that
we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something
to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you,
or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick
or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, "Truly
I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are
members of my family, you did it to me.'”
Yes, it is morally and ethically
abhorrent that there are indigent, starving, and homeless human beings
in a society of people awash in a sea of wealth.
Yet it gets even
According to Sixty Minutes,
the latest extreme means for teens to alleviate adolescent ennui involves
savagely beating the most vulnerable human beings in the United States.
This so-called “bum
hunting” has resulted in the murder of at least one homeless person
per month for the past 60 consecutive months. Accurate statistics are
elusive at best (since few people notice when a homeless person “disappears”).
However, the National Coalition for the Homeless determined that 500
of its lost souls have been victims of “bum hunting” since
1999. 180 of them met violent deaths as a result of this appalling blood
sport in which the hunters stalk human prey (3).
What could inspire
children to commit such depraved, barbarous acts?
Sixty Minutes suggested that
a wildly popular DVD series called Bum Fights was the principal catalyst
for “bum hunting”. Apparently, the producers of Bum Fights
paid homeless individuals a pittance (and bribed them with alcohol)
to brawl and attempt ridiculous stunts similar to those shown in the
Jackass series. Bum Fight movies also involve a character dubbed the
“Bum Hunter”. In producing Bum Fights, the “Bum Hunter”
attacked randomly selected sleeping homeless people, forcibly restrained
them, and sealed their mouths with duct tape.
23 year old Ryan McPherson
was the producer of Bum Fights. He and two partners sold the rights
to their creation for $1.5 million (4). Sixty Minutes interviewed two
of their victims, including a homeless man named Rufus, who confirmed
that McPherson paid them less than $10 and a “couple of beers”
to fight and do degrading stunts.
When Sixty Minutes interviewed
McPherson, he had this to say:
exposing something that I don’t think a lot of people know exists.
I think it's interesting. I can't imagine what would make somebody do
the things that Rufus was doing to himself...."
Not surprisingly, McPherson
claimed to see no connection between his DVD productions, the millions
of teens watching them, and the proliferation of “bum hunting”.
It is interesting to note that one of the teens who participated in
the slaying of a homeless person told Sixty Minutes that he had watched
Bum Fights “hundreds of times” before the murder.
While the reprehensible McPherson
and his grotesque digitally captured exploitations of miserable souls
almost certainly contributed heavily to the popularity of “bum
hunting”, McPherson, his perversities, and “bum hunting”
are merely symptoms of an insidious disease afflicting the collective
psyche of the United States at a profound level.
Beware the shadow…
It is true that since time
immemorial, the wealthy and powerful of human society have exploited
and preyed upon the poor and vulnerable. The tendency to abuse power
is an inherent aspect of the shadow side of each human being.
A spiritually healthy human
being acknowledges their shadow side and integrates it into their being,
hence minimizing the shadow’s destructive tendencies.
However, when repressed and
denied, the shadow side of the human psyche often manifests itself in
a variety of violent and malevolent ways. And throughout its history,
social, economic, and political forces in the United States have served
to nurture the growth of the collective national shadow into a loathsome
What feeds the beast?
Moral superiority has been
a critical piece of the argument the United States has used to justify
the genocide of the Native Americans, the enslavement of Black Americans,
the support of numerous murderous dictators supporting US interests
in developing nations, unwavering support for the Palestinian genocide,
and the slaughter of millions of civilians in imperial wars waged under
the pretext of fighting for freedom and human rights. People in the
United States are psychologically conditioned to believe that their
nation is the salvation of humanity and to ignore or destroy evidence
to the contrary.
Nearly endless streams of
propaganda extolling the virtues of the United States enable large numbers
of US Americans to support a ruthless empire because they believe it
to be a benevolent superpower. Aside from people suffering a serious
deficit of conscience, those living in a nearly perpetual state of denial
are virtually the only ones capable of pledging their loyalty to a nation
with a predacious foreign policy and a morally bankrupt economic system.
How else would one explain
the corporate media and the Empire’s loyal adherents celebrating
Congress’ passage of the Military Commissions Act as a “victory”?
Even after viewing numerous explicit photos of the blatant torture committed
by the United States military at Abu Ghraib, a frightening number of
US citizens remain unperturbed by the fact that a man who would be fortunate
to flirt with a score of 100 on an IQ test now has the power to define
and authorize torture, to imprison virtually anyone as a “terrorist”,
and to negate Habeas Corpus.
Remember when the Magna Carta
was the basis for our legal tradition? How absurd that people actually
believed that this excerpt from that other “goddamn piece of paper”
was a cornerstone of a just society:
No freeman shall be taken,
imprisoned, . . . or in any other way destroyed . . . except by the
lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. To no one will
we sell, to none will we deny or delay, right or justice.
Many in the United States
have welcomed shredding both the Magna Carta and the Constitution by
entrusting a feeble-minded tyrant with nearly absolute power. In their
delusion, Bush will protect the United States from the “evil terrorists”
by continuing to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings
who had nothing to do with 9/11. Denial is indeed a potent force. It
enables supporters of the Bush Regime to continue believing that they
live in a benevolent meritocracy that actively pursues peace, freedom,
and justice for the entire human race. And it prevents them from even
considering that they might become The Decider’s next victim.
And the profound suffering
of the past, present, and future innocent victims of the “Torture
Bill” is not even on the radar screen of the Empire’s loyalists.
Empathy and compassion are scarce commodities indeed in the United States.
And why wouldn’t they be?
Saturated with spiritual
Employing a bizarre reverse
aversion therapy—let’s call it saturation therapy—corporate
news outlets, the government, Madison Avenue, revisionist historians,
television, and Hollywood work in concert to proliferate the spiritual
cancers of narcissism, avarice, hubris, materialism, self-absorption,
pornography, gluttony, pathological nationalism, obsession with external
beauty, and xenophobia.
It is not a leap of logic
to conclude that perceived superiority over the rest of humanity, deeply
rooted denial, an inculcated devotion to rapacious capitalism, and the
spiritual ills resulting from “saturation therapy” combine
to form a strong impetus for sociopathic behavior.
Bludgeoning a defenseless
human being to death is one such behavior that immediately leaps to
The United States has the
financial resources to end homelessness tomorrow through the intelligent
use of public money. Instead its decision-makers elect to line the pockets
of corporate cronies and war profiteers by pouring $600 billion per
year into entities and programs which exist to kill human beings.
By deliberately lavishing
obscene sums of public money on the murderous military industrial complex
while seriously neglecting programs to attack the root causes of poverty,
the ruling elite of the United States are waging an agonizing form of
economic genocide against homeless people.
Preserving the delusion
In a society that worships
money, material success, youth, and beauty, homeless human beings are
anathema on several levels. Ultimately, to preserve the delusion of
the American Dream, those caught in the American Nightmare must be eliminated
in some fashion.
The number of US homeless
people relative to the number of the homeless in other developed countries
exposes the brutality of the United States’ “survival of
the fittest” socioeconomic system.
Don’t think about
them. You could become one of them.
The very existence of these
indigent vagabonds reminds US Americans how fleeting and unattainable
the American Dream truly is.
Don’t look at them.
You could become one of them.
3.5 million deeply impoverished
human beings forage in garbage dumpsters while heirs like the Waltons
and the Mars hoard fortunes large enough to sustain hundreds of thousands
Don’t touch them.
You could become one of them.
Homeless people are the antithesis
of the American ideal. They are often impoverished, unemployed (or under-employed),
unattractive, dirty, beaten down, and addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Kill them so you don’t
become one of them.
If horribly misguided youths
don’t eradicate our homeless population, the United States’
woefully inadequate (and rapidly shrinking) publicly-funded safety nets
will leave homeless people wallowing in their misery until they are
All the while the wealthy
elites of the United States will smile with the satisfaction of homeowners
who are successfully exterminating a roach infestation.
And as each homeless human
being dies, people like Barbara Bush will have one less “blight”
on which to focus their beautiful minds.
is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually
and spiritually. He writes prolifically, his essays have appeared widely
on the Internet, and he does volunteer work for a homeless shelter.
He welcomes constructive correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org
or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/
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