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The Ghost of Tom Joad

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 21, 2007




Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin’ in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad

The Ghost of Tom Joad-Bruce Springsteen


Here’s a story from California that is as eye opening as they come, even though it admittedly strays toward "great copy" over what’s currently happening.

Nonetheless the story does make an important broader point which is this: there are "trickle down" effects to associated with falling homes prices.

From Reuters by Dana Ford entitled: Tent city in suburbs is cost of home crisis

"Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.

The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck’s novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.

As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease.

"They don’t hit the streets immediately," said activist Jane Mercer. Most families can find transitional housing in a motel or with friends before turning to charity or the streets. "They only hit tent city when they really bottom out."

But it is not just homeowners who are hit by the foreclosure wave. People who rent now find themselves in a tighter, more expensive market as demand rises from families who lost homes, said Jean Beil, senior vice president for programs and services at Catholic Charities USA.

"Folks who would have been in a house before are now in an apartment and folks that would have been in an apartment, now can’t afford it," said Beil. ‘It has a trickle-down effect.’"

The wave continues to build.

By the way: Here’s an update on an earlier post entitled: "Fiscal Crisis" in California. As it turns out one of the ways that Governor Schwarzenegger is thinking about dealing with his massive budget short fall is to-get this— release some 20,000 inmates from the state’s prisons in an effort to save some dough.

Here’s the story by AP entitled: Mass inmate release possible in California

I mean talk about your unintended consequences.

First there was the housing crash which led to the fiscal crisis–which may now lead to a massive release of crooks onto the streets. But don’t worry the government says that they will all be "low risk", which kind of funny in a black humor sort of way.

It’s madness I tell you.