This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 21, 2012.
One of the endearing problems of capitalism is that as society becomes more competent and expert, it finds it can produce things from food to space vehicles better with computers and robots. It can be highly efficient, safe, and economically pointless. Because without a market - much less a growing market - for the product, there is not only no profit, but there is no income whatever. That is the very definition of irony. When that was realized, the term 'consumer' was substituted for the word 'customer.' The Customer was once always right. The consumer doesn't deserve that.
Socialism, in its various forms and not excluding academic and real world communism, realized or sensed this and settled on a fantasy: pretend jobs replacing machines with people doing more or less the same mind numbing repetitious labor they excoriated in the early Industrial Revolution, only with more pay for party dues. That, too, is ironic.
Because so few are actually needed, because most of us are superfluous, unneeded to actually envision, construct, and run the machines, or the formulas, or the cows in to be milked, expense on education, when money is tight, can be viewed as superfluous for the masses. Contrary arguments - that we're admitting defeat and existential pointlessness without fully exploring and examining alternatives which would require much education lest the minds with right ideas are lost - find increasingly slim purchase these days. Space seems only potentially full of life on other planets in distant solar systems in galaxies far, far, way far away. There is no longer any clear connective tissue between our imaginable future and the present. The visible frontier is gone, and we haven't fully admitted that or understood the mental illness that inflicts.
Here in Boulder the Damned, we too are confronted with unemployable citizens and their financial drain on the city. It's a repetitious issue that appears loudly in every election year. It began in the sixties with the supposed Hippys, who annoyed and infuriated the blue class segment of the nation. These supposed deadbeats didn't work, didn't bathe, didn't obey social conventions, and didn't allow themselves to be socially humiliated by others, and this infuriated a society rather focused on social strata and who was where in it.
The Depression era bums and hobos became Hippies became transients, became the Homeless as they passed through the media's cliche-o-matic mindsets. Since we succumbed to libertarian thought and released our mentally ill upon the public, and since we take pleasure in seeing others lose their home because it elevates ourselves and allows us to publicly exercise Christian and Righteous compassion for silent applause but applause nevertheless, many people including those in Boulder are confronted with toothless, hideous, drunk, and aromatic beggars outside our finest restaurants, endangering themselves and others begging at major intersections as if they were cub scouts or working for newspapers.
In 1987 the city put a homeless shelter in North Boulder, on Broadway so it was on the bus line. It was near a strip club, then Boulder's only one, and cheap bars and restaurants and it was alongside trailer parks and housing not featured in issues of Pretentious Architect Magazine. The Shelter was essentially surrounded by the next social rung up. But now, the people running the shelter want an apartment building nearby for those working their way back up, so they can have living quarters with some subsidy till they get clean and employed and can move on. Horrors.
The neighborhood has changed in recent years, and the old cottages and trailers are hemmed in by some nicer homes, apartments, restaurants and other features of developer lust. And armed with new support, the neighbors are objecting to this new structure, saying it's NIMBYism at its worst, and North Boulder ought not to be the perpetually designated bad side of the tracks. You don't have to listen hard to hear the refrains of There but for Fortune. And they don't want to be reminded of that.
I've often thought a statue of the Second Spirit from A Christmas Carol would look good on the Pearl St. Mall, engraved with these lines: "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!'' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ``Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!''