Quote from CNM2B
Tweety, in this case, I most certainly completely agree with you.
In 1980 I was working nightsin the samecriticalcareunitI work in now. A patient in her 80's in the 80's,ventilatordependant wasfrantically trying to mouth words around the ET tube. Guessing "Pain?, Suction? and so on gor frustrated "NO!" head shaking. I gave her a pencil, paper, and clip board. She wrote, "Don't vote for Reagan. He's another Hoover."
I got that because 'My folks was Okies'. "Hoovervilles" of the homeless, including WWI vets were on the outskirts of towns. People literally starved to death in the fertile fields of our California central valley. American citizens who had once owned farms. Others died in cities. Read "THE GRAPES OF WRATH" by John Steinbeck.
Personally we were doing OK because of low interest on our ten year old mortgage. Just the interest on our money market account was enough to feed the family for a week. High interests are good for those with savings. Still Reagan was likeable and Carter while a good, kind, Christian man doing his best did not have the ability to inspire the people.
There were NO homeless in most communities! It is hard to imagine that now, but I know for a fact. Governor Reagan had closed the psychiatric hospitals. The halfway houses were in residential neighborhoods with dazed people jaywalking day and night. Bany talked to nobody, walked around the same pole constantly, and sometimes took off their clothes.
After Reagan became President the halfway houses closed. Veterans and families became homeless along with those unable to effectively communicate.
I understood what my patient had been trying to say.
Friday, June 11th, 2004
Reagan's budget cuts and overhaul of tax codes led to an explosion of homelessness in the U.S. during his 8 years in power. We speak with Carol Fennelly, a leading activist on homeless issues during the Reagan presidency.
Throughout the week, Ronald Reagan has been praised almost non-stop on television, in newspapers and in magazines. Politicians and pundits from both establishment political parties have been practically falling over each other to heap praise on Reagan. And as he is glorified for what are termed his accomplishments and legacy, there is one term that was rose to prominence during Reagan's time in power that is seldom mentioned. That is "homelessness."
In fact many homeless rights activists say the single most devastating thing Reagan did to create homelessness was when he cut the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by three-quarters, from $32 billion in 1981 to $7.5 billion by 1988. The department was the main governmental supporter of subsidized housing for the poor. Add this to Reagan's overhaul of tax codes to reduce incentives for private developers to create low-income homes and you had a major crisis for low-income families and individuals. Under Reagan, the number of people living beneath the federal poverty line rose from 24.5 million in 1978 to 32.5 million in 1988.
And the number of homeless people went from something so little it wasn't even written about widely in the late 1970s to more than 2 million when Reagan left office. But as Reagan proudly declared that the number of homeless shelters had increased significantly during his presidency, the homeless epidemic did not go ignored by everyone, especially not in Reagan's back yard in Washington DC. Homeless rights activist Mitch Snyder and a dedicated group of homeless people and activists waged a many year campaign to win rights for people forced to live on the streets. Ultimately, they formed a movement based at what came to be known as the Community for Creative Non-Violence or CCNV. We are joined now by one of the people who was a leader of the homeless rights movement at CCNV during the Reagan years.
Carol Fennelly, was a leading activist on homeless issues during the Reagan presidency. Along with Mitch Snyder, she was instrumental in establishing the Community for Creative Non-Violence in Washington DC. She is currently the Director of Hope House in Washington.
AMY GOODMAN: Carol Fennelly. We welcome you as well to Democracy Now!.
CAROL FENNELLY: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe these years?
CAROL FENNELLY: You know, I remember the month that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated president. Our soup line, which would grow from the beginning of the month to a short line, to a large line by the end of the month, and then it would drop down when people got their small checks or whatever. At the first part of the month, it could get small again and grow up through the end of the month. But that first month, it was almost as if there was some cosmic energy out there, you know, telling us what was coming in the future, but the first of the month rolled around and the line didn't get shorter. It stayed the same. It grew and grew and grew and the soup lines just went around the block in those years. I mean it, was a very difficult time. There were not enough services. We were literally claiming people off streets who had frozen to death in Detroit and, you know, in the industrialized states like Michigan. People who were out of work went into double digit unemployment. There were around Houston, there was a tent city of homeless people, most of whom had come from the Midwestern, you know, states like Michigan. They were looking for work. They called them black tag people, because back then, Detroit had black license plates and they would pack up their families and go to Texas looking for work in the oil fields. It was a scene out of the depression. I mean, what people fail to remember is that we were in a massive recession during the early 1980s. People were out of work. People were homeless. When we hear about this great economic, you know, victory that Ronald Reagan had in the 1980s, I think, who wrote that history, because I wasn't there.
AMY GOODMAN: At the same time, that the conditions you describe were intensifying, there is also a resistance movement that you are a part of. What did you do?
CAROL FENNELLY: We went on fasts, hunger strikes for months at a time. We went to jail a lot. You know, we built a Reaganville in Lafayette Park, and homeless people stayed in Reaganville for the whole winter one year. We ended up actually finally passing homeless legislation, the McKinney Act, that is still around. It was a huge victory for homeless people back in the mid to late middle 1980s. And, you know, it -- there were great victories for us as well. But it cost us with our health and freedom as any social movement costs people who are active in it.