The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Coming Homelessness and Hunger Apocalypse in America

So, in June 30 percent of Americans couldn’t make their rent. July 25th, federal eviction protection ends. There may be another check, but another $1,200 (or even $2k) isn’t going to cut it, just as people couldn’t pay rent event with the $600 unemployment benefit top-up.

Covid now has more active cases than the previous peak. Less people are dying, because the new victims are mostly young (and due to the lag) but even non-fatal cases of Covid are nasty and can leave the victim with symptoms for months (or longer, we don’t know yet). Indeed, evidence is coming back that cases with no symptoms still do damage.

Even if there is an extension of eviction protection and some new checks, that will only push the problem back. People can’t make rent, and aren’t going to be able to. Because there are so many people competing for jobs (which are bouncing back somewhat), they have no wage leverage.

So, expect a huge wave of evictions, homelessness, and hunger. Food banks will be overwhelmed, people will go hungry.

Your lords and masters have decided that if you aren’t useful to them (aren’t employed, can’t make rent) that you don’t deserve anything, including life. This has been the case for a long time, it’s just that, in the middle of a pandemic, they see a lot of you as useless eaters towards whom they have no responsibility.

Besides, why should they care? Billionaires have actually gained wealth during the pandemic. Covid isn’t much of a problem for the rich, it’s mostly an opportunity.

Be aware, in your personal life, that this is coming down the stream. It is not going to be stopped. If there is an extension of the moratorium and a bit more benefits AND the economy continues to reopen (already being reversed in some states) then that might mitigate the homelessness somewhat, but will result in more deaths and long-term health problems from Covid.

This is going to lead to more, not less, riots. You should be ready for that, and for the possibility of civil disorder causing infrastructure and logistics problems. Stock up, have plans to shelter in place, and also to leave. Keep your head down. Make sure you are on good terms with your neighbours, friends, and so on. When shit really goes bad, the people who do okay are those other people care about.

I really hope I’m wrong about this, but the numbers on this are staggering. Assume that even five percent of Americans lost their housing over two months, that would be almost 17 million people. Each doubling is another 17 million. A ten percent loss is 34 million.

If anything like that happens, I cannot see how it does not turn into mass hunger and civil disorder.

Be prepared.

And if you are one of those who will be homeless, my genuine and true sympathy.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 5, 2020


America’s Elites Live by the Rule of Power (Covid Version)


  1. jeremy beck

    Unfortunately, this is what you get when you dumb down a people and then drench them in advertising to drive credit-driven, debt based, hyper-consumumption.

    George Carlin said it so well – \”They own you …. They got you by the balls …\”

    I always found it suprising that the trashiest looking mobile home parks and that exhibited the most squalor always seemed to fly the most US flags on their porches.

    Want to see how dumb folks are – be amazed!

  2. Willy

    I’d sure hope they wouldn’t make their disregard so obvious, for their own sake. A large part of their power play has been to gaslight the masses into believing that there’s nothing anybody can do.

    If the masses decide that they really are personally responsible for their plight, they could well be going after the rich peoples stuff.

  3. someofparts

    I never understood why anyone felt driven to stock up on toilet paper. However, I have more confidence in the good judgment of my neighbors when I see that somebody is stocking up on Progresso soups, especially the minestrone. If I ever see another can of the stuff on supermarket shelves again, I too will stock up.

    On a different collapse-related note, this is an up-close look at the crazy we will be facing. I found it hard just to watch the thing.

    Greenwald summed it up better than I could, “This is appalling & stunning to watch. The 2 women who think they’re proselytizing the anti-racist crusade they absorbed from the books defining the new civic religion are, in fact, toxic racists. It’s revolting to hear them spew this hatred under the guise of woke compassion.”

    Also this – a breakdown of the composition of crowds at the protests as harvested from cell phone data. Turns out they were overwhelmingly caucasian.

    Finally, this last one, besides giving me a glimpse of what my neighbors with children are going through, makes me think that this problem will radicalize/alienate the PMC soccer moms. Corporate Democrats kicked the working class to the curb to cater to these people. This is their base and if they can’t/won’t deliver for them, I look forward to watching the blowback. The cohort of professional women being pushed out of the workforce is overstocked with increasingly pissed-off, well-networked lawyers so, yeah, pass the popcorn.

  4. bruce wilder

    I visited an old blog where I used to comment, Crooked Timber. I used to find their upper class, academic diffidence amusing in a way. The respected Australian economist, John Quiggin, with a book contract from Yale University Press to write, The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic, was fantasizing about “radical” reform under a Biden Presidency. (No, not very radical really, but also not remotely plausible.)

    Fatally clueless the neoliberal reaction is going to try what the UK Spectator insightfully labels, the Neoliberal Counterrevolution: a smug, self-centered attempt to return to a status quo ante that benefited an elite, but no one else. And, they do not even see the imminent collapse of the neoliberal order, just as they never saw its dark shadows as it rose to towering heights. I do not think Quiggin even knows he is neoliberal, let alone how his brand of economics is implicated in the present crisis. But, that economics, with its studied ignorance of economic reality, a reality of structures and capacities, is a large part of how we got here, following a song of good intentions to hell.

    The spectacle of an Australian economist contemplating the implications of U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule, as if that arcane McGuffin of political theatre matters, while the American economy crumbles, throwing tens of millions into hunger and homelessness, is an illustration of what the twilight of neoliberalism is going to be like: irrelevance confronts catastrophe.

  5. nihil obstet

    I went over and read the Quiggin post. Like my “centrist” Democratic friends, he can’t seem to imagine anything but very small, incremental baby steps in maybe the right direction. It’s all about what they deem as possible, and they’re convinced that serious problems will wait forever until they think there’s something possible that isn’t painless to them or their betters. The world has gone too long without a good revolution to put the fear of God and guillotine into them.

  6. Joan

    I know a Gen Z-er who is giving up independent living and moving back in with her parents rather than trying to continue to pay rent after her unemployment cuts off. Thankfully her parents are actually sane and respect boundaries and treat her like an adult (in my experience, a rare thing among parents in general, but especially Boomer parents). It seems wise to look around at who in your network actually owns their own home and whether they would take you as a boarder for extra income or free work on the property, etc. Tough times ahead. Best of luck everyone.

  7. S Brennan

    Ian, may have misunderstood, so could you please explain this:

    “just as people couldn’t pay rent event with the $600 unemployment benefit top-up”

    That’s a little over $1,000.00/wk in unemployment comp for the vast majority of recipients, that’s $52,000.00/yr. Median HOUSEHOLD income in the USA is $59,039.00, so yeah, your statement might have some truth to it but only if you are living wildly beyond your means.

    Personally, I am grateful for the extra $600/wk because it will allow me to pay the $10,000.00 dollar fine I owe the IRS because, I used AND paid for Obamacare, [required at the time], for 5 months last year before working a gig in SoCal. My Obamacare insurance cost me $300.00/mo but was valued at 1,500.00/mo by the insurance company, so when I went to work and earned over $17,000.00. I owed the entire difference for 3/4ths of 2019, $9,600.00.

    I knew that Obamacare was going to screw me over for working the gig for the USG and planned accordingly. BTW, my net profit for living in a motel room [can’t deduct expenses anymore] in the middle of a desert for 6 months was a little under $6,000.00. That’s not a lot of money for 6 months of isolation but, it was work in my field of expertise I was willing to put up with Obama’s shit in order to work on the project.

    So the congress under Trump gives me money, and the congress under Obama takes that money away…it sucks but, that’s life. And just as a reminder Ian, Obamacare effed me over in 2018 but, that was different scheme under Obamacar, were it allows employers to provide worthless “Obama-compliant” insurance. I settled that bill and will be paying it for the rest of my life. If I can’t make rent it’ll be because of what Obama and his band of thieves did, not Trump. Trump might not be saint but it’s Obama who’s, in the word’s of Chucky Schumer, dicked me twenty ways to Sunday.

    Long story short, this shit that you can’t pay rent when you’re getting over a grand a week doesn’t compute.

  8. Zachary Smith

    “The Coming Homelessness and Hunger Apocalypse In America”

    Quibble time: I fear Mr. Welsh’s assessment is probably too optimistic. Besides the growing despair among the “working classes”, there are other wild cards hiding in the bushes, and most of those will hurt rather than help the situation. And yes, I sincerely hope I’m wrong about all this.

    To the degree I’m able, I’m going to continue to make discreet tactical purchases. For example, if the price of high quality masks ever nose-dives, I’m certainly going to rebuild and possibly enlarge my stocks. Ditto for the food pantry.

  9. Ché Pasa

    Ah yes, that pesky $600 a week supplement to unemployment insurance payments really chaps the cheeks of a certain set of worthies.

    Some things to keep in mind: Nobody is receiving it for a year, so how much it amounts to over a year’s time doesn’t matter. $1000 a week in unemployment insurance payments and supplement is not a princely sum though in some cases it may be more than the beneficiary received in wages. On the other hand, in some states the standard maximum benefit is only a couple of hundred dollars when any benefit is paid at all. Typically only 40% of unemployment applicants are deemed “qualified”. It may be slightly more under the current circumstances, but state UI offices are a mish-mash of overwhelmed inefficiency. It really depends on where you live and what your job was whether you receive payments or not. Some estimates are that 30% of applicants in some places are actually receiving payments and even fewer are receiving the maximum. Of course, if an applicant goes back to work, payments cease.

    This means there is already widespread hunger among the masses, and it’s going to get worse. Soon. Many people already had trouble making rent before the pandemic. If 30% can’t pay rent now, expect 50% or more to face the problem of rent and eviction soon.

    People are already leaving cities for rural areas — even out here in the middle of nowhere derelict houses are being sort of refurbished and people are moving into them. I’d say our local population has increased by 100 or more since March. And yes, households are doubling even tripling up.

    Lots of elderly people out here who get government payments, Social Security and SSI. It’s not much, but at least it’s regular. How much longer will that be true? Nobody knows, but nobody’s counting on these benefits continuing to be paid no matter the outcome of the election.

    City, county and state government revenues have largely collapsed, and there are few signs of recovery any time soon, if ever. The gazillionaires are hoovering up every shred of “money” they can find, sharing nothing with no one. Public infrastructure deterioration will accelerate. There will be no “money” for maintenance and capital improvement. Water service will get much more expensive. Electricity will be unreliable when available at all. Roads, highways and bridges won’t be maintained — because there’s no “money.” The rich will almost disappear from view — not that we saw them much anyway. Nobody will quite know where they are.

    And so it will go. This faltering and deterioration won’t be limited to the United States. Anywhere that neo-liberalism has a foothold or command will face the same things sooner or later. Keep your eye on France.

  10. S Brennan

    Ian, obviously D’s want to hang as many ornaments as they can to any UI supplemental extension bill. D’s know that they can use the ordinary unemployed person as hostage in an election year or, for that matter, any other year but, the administration has indicated that it’s willing to spend to keep the economy from tanking.

    “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he’s open to the idea of another round of stimulus payments. “I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy,” Mnuchin said while testifying… the White House has appeared to come on board with the idea of more direct payments as well. “I think the president has been very clear that he’s supportive of another stimulus check,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said on Monday. ”

    Yes Mabel, Trump wants to get re-elected…and yes Mabel, DNCers have shown they are willing to trash any person, any law, any institution…anything at all to get their neoliberal/neocolonial blood funnel jammed down the nation’s throat…so we’ll just have to see how much Wall Streets DNC minions want in exchange for the hostages.

  11. krake

    “Prepping” is a wealthy white sport, like skiing, lacrosse, golf or tumblering micro-aggressions.

  12. Have no fear, is here! It’s primary purpose is to spread the word about Vitamin D and immune system robustness with respect to covid-19. But it secondarily calls on citizens to self-organize a trans-partisan political response.

    In a sense, it’s fortunate that not only the Federal Government, and relevant agencies, have failed to promote a simple and inexpensive intervention that might have reduced the impact of covid-19 to that of an average flu – but also that EVERY state web site’s covid-19 section showed a similar dysfunction. So, this is not about Democrats and Republicans – this systemic corruption has a deeper cause than some partisan defect. But citizens need to take over the Democratic and Republican parties, if they want to seriously address this corruption, whatever it’s true roots turn out to be.

    Even if you won’t do anything to save your fellow citizens from the effects of Vitamin D ignorance, you can at least take care of yourself and your family. Especially during the summer time – you can build your blood level of Vitamin D via sunlight exposure, which has benefits beyond taking a supplement. It won’t cost you anything, and you will probably feel good. (Don’t burn, though. Also, some people can’t get sun. E.g., a black neighbor has something called sarcoidosis, and his doctor advises against sun and Vitamin D supplements.)

    I have theorized that leaders of Vitamin D sufficiency campaign might most naturally emerge from the ranks of small business owners, and members of religious communities. On that theory, if you decide to tell anybody outside your family and friends, please try members of those two communities.

  13. S Brennan

    Krake Your:

    “Prepping” is a white sport, like skiing, lacrosse, golf or tumblering micro-aggressions.”

    Yeah sure but; that ignores the majority of history…the powerful of ALL CULTURES take from their minions that which they want/need, they do not “prep”.

    Prepping is for losers. That said; nobody can remember the names of the richest humans, [circa 350 AD] who lived upon the Palatine-Hill in Rome…all of it gone. It’s a tricky business to prep for a thousand or more years!

  14. S Brennan

    metamars; the bad timing of my post blocked yours, apologies.

  15. @Brennan

    ? I only made one post, and I see it, so I assume it’s not blocked for anybody.

    I wasn’t addressing any commenter, in particular. I was sort of echoing Ian’s “be prepared”, though not in a way that most people even think of.

  16. Vincent Smith

    As the vittles start getting few and far between, dollars to donuts some folks would grab a crusty old bottle of half empty BBQ sauce and start eyeing their neighbors funny.

    Yep, know em well enough to recognize the low hanging meals. Especially that fat lady down end of the hall. Bet you all that extra lard would work mighty fine to baste the prime cuts. Man oh man that is a lot of ground chuck.

    All that talk bout solidarity and mutual support takes a hike when the belly starts to grumble. Solidarity become a Salad with Dairy Tea and meat supper. Uh huh. Bet that fat lady cannot run very fast.

    Meat is meat, and man has got to eat!

  17. S Brennan

    Only meant I wouldn’t have commented without give giving your remark time to be digested…

  18. Guest

    Sunlight will do next to nothing for D if you bathe or shower every day. It’s the oils on your slim that react with sunlight and then vitamin d gets absorbed from oils. How long do you sit in your prep and post tanning sweaty funk to get your RDA?

    What is the game Pelosi et al are playing? Do they really think they don’t need to do anything except let the Rs self impeach/implode? If they somehow win in Nov, do they not realize it’s their heads that will roll first when their usual agenda of targeted tax credits for upper middle class doesn’t cut it? And it most likely won’t be the left that takes their scalps, sad to say.

    The Dems leaders aren’t the only clueless ones. I’ve met a few people facing financial distress already. But by and large most people think this won’t be worse than the last recession and that it will be resolved by Biden like the last one when the grown ups are back in charge. None of them see the big picture or how this time is different. I can’t see riots happening until at least January. Until then, people waiting on evictions, doubling up, burying dead, accepting their lots and not seeking anyone to blame.

  19. S Brennan

    Guest; go spread your misinformation elsewhere, vitamin D3 is NOT produced on the surface of the skin…sheesh, those skin cells are DEAD, like the very you have left in your cranial cavity.

    People…some basic grade school biology…PLEASE. Did you “smarties” learn anything in school or, were you too busy telling the teacher what they wanted to hear?

    UV penetrates the outermost epidermis to produce D3 at the innermost layers of the epidermis. Washing will effect only the tiniest amount of D3 that rises to the surface.

  20. If you look at the graph of influenza cases versus time of year, you can see that it maxes out in winter time, and minimizes during summer. I don’t know of any seasonality to vitamin D intake, so feel comfortable ascribing this effect to sunlight derived vitamin D. Research has shown that this graph can be flattened out with vitamin D supplements. So, it’s not just a question of the sunlight killing the virus when out of doors, more time spent breathing cleaner air, etc.

    When I lived in Texas, I found out that I was just about the only person who didn’t have an air-conditioned car. Pretty much everything is air conditioned. Even in southern states, I’m sure there are lots of people avoiding the sun during the summer, more because they’re avoiding being outdoors.

    This is why the government should be educating the public about the need for blood tests, to take the guessing out of it. And since the various governments and relevant agencies are AWOL, the citizen/activists will have to take up the slack.

    One idea worth trying is prevailing on mayors and city governments to open their mouths. Our mayor capitulated to BLM type activists, who objected to a statue of Columbus. Taking down a statue of Columbus won’t save a single black life, nor that of an Indian. Getting the blood levels of vitamin D in the black population up to par will spare lots of black lives….

  21. rangoon78

    In April, May and June, the majority of missed housing payments were made by the end of month, Apartment List reports. Almost 90% of households had paid some or all of their rent or mortgage payment by the end of June. But with late fees tacked on, those households may be more likely to miss their next housing bill, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

    “Delayed payments in one month are a strong predictor for missed payments in the next,” Apartment List says. While 83% of households who paid their May housing in full and on-time also did so in June, only 30% of households who were late in May did so in June.

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