Random Observations While Living A Semi-Nomadic Existence in NYC (Part 2)

This is a continuation of an unfinished essay that was published accidentally. I was in the process of stating my feelings about the hordes of tourists that descend daily upon Times Square while trying to enjoy breakfast one morning.

1) {continued} As I was sipping my coffee I wondered how many of these people had visited the statue of liberty during their NYC trip. And I wondered if those who had visited it had bothered to read the inscription engraved inside. Then, I wondered what the people who had visited the statue and read the inscription had thought about the “huddled masses” who are “tired” and “poor” and braving the elements in their homes of discarded boxes and newspaper hundreds of yards away from the biggest tourist destination in New York.

I believe that this disconnect in the minds of so many people is one of the most important reasons why the Capitalist system continues operating despite the fact that a vast majority of beings on the planet suffer because of it. 

2) A Bronx Tale: I occasionally spend a night on a couch in the apartment of a friend in the Bronx. An interesting situation unfolded recently in one of the nearby apartments in this particular building. Because my friend’s apartment is close to the main door, I used to hear some guy yelling to a second floor window to be let in on a regular basis. Apparently his roommates were two hookers who forced their way into living there by way of an unusual arrangement. They gave him sex in exchange for the apartment keys. This guy had to beg by screaming from the sidewalk to get into his own apartment. The word around the building was that he’d tried many ways to get his apartment back from these two women. He’d apparently been beaten up on more than one occasion and was unwilling to go to the police for help. Eventually, he found a way. He set the apartment on fire. The fire damaged three other apartments in the building. Now he has free rent on the state and the hookers are back on the street.

3) I went to Penn Station one morning to give food to hungry people. It’s a place where many homeless people sleep in corners and doorways to stay relatively safe from inclement weather and street violence (excepting, of course, incidents initiated by NYPD). I’ve seen them in this place for years – except on this particular day –  just before 1,000,000 tourists were about to overrun the city for a New Year celebration.

Of course, we can’t allow the world to know how many human beings we discard here in one of the wealthiest cities on the planet. Instead of ending severe poverty, we create the illusion that it doesn’t exist anymore. That way everyone can party the night away and feel good without thinking about those less fortunate souls who exist wandering and wondering just went wrong. And, we wouldn’t want people to drop money into cups for these people – money that could go into the cash registers of retailers selling worthless items that people will throw away in the near future during a spring cleaning. That would cut into the profit margin of the local businesses. (I eventually found a homeless man that gratefully ate a sandwich and cupcake while stuffing more food in his pocket for later that day).

4) While walking across town to shop for necessities on New Year’s Eve, I was constantly bounced around like a pinball by manic tourists rushing to spend money on souvenirs and find the best place possible to view ”the ball drop.” This can have a subtle, dehumanizing effect when experienced for a prolonged period of time. I happened to be spending time in Hell’s Kitchen this particular week and it was difficult to avoid crowds. While walking a dog one afternoon I tried to throw away the poop I had scooped, but wasn’t able to. The garbage cans in the area were locked by the NYPD Bomb Squad I saw cruising the block.

Deciding to go uptown to flee the crowds and get an affordable healthy meal I discovered that most of the exits of the Times Square train station were locked and blockaded – guarded by police officers.

Wow, what a Homeland Security type of mindset that is.

They impede egress from an incredibly over-crowded subway station during a densely populated public event insuring panic would ensue (causing an increase in death and injury) if there were a terrorist incident. And this is done simply to make it easier to capture the criminals and be able to punish them. (This would make for excellent public relations and, of course, to show the masses who is in control and who needs to obey). Trade off a few more lives for a quick arrest and a guaranteed prime-time audience.

Two more facts of life in Capitalist societies: a) property is valued more than actual life and b) obedience is expected (and might be rewarded).

5) A few days after the New Year festivities had ended I noticed that the steel barricades put up for the celebration were still in place. As a matter of  fact, I saw them all over the West Side. Resources were available to put them up in a matter of hours, but apparently it takes days to take them away. Could this be another small taste of the powers that be exerting control – or hinting at the threat of exerting control – over the populace in subtle ways? (On January 10th I still see barricades that were put in place New Year’s Eve and subway exits closed for no apparent reason).

6) A quadriplegic woman I know recently came down with pneumonia and landed in Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx. That we live in a society with incredible wealth and an insane lack of morals has never been more apparent than after seeing what has transpired during her stay there.

This woman’s defenses are compromised due to her condition so she was admitted into the hospital to keep her alive. On the first day in this “hospital”, her urostomy bag overflowed twice. TWICE. Two times in one day she and her bed were saturated in urine while in a place to recover from a severe illness. Quadriplegics are more susceptible to infections than most people and she already has a pressure ulcer. This can be very dangerous for her. As a matter of fact, infections are a very common cause of death among quadriplegics. So this person was admitted to a hospital to save her life, yet was neglected to the point of possibly incurring an infection that could kill her.

This behavior is despicable and horribly irresponsible. And this is especially reprehensible considering that people in this country arrogantly believe they are civilized.

An interesting statistic about the United States: according to a study completed in 2015, more than 400,000 people are victims of preventable deaths annually in hospitals. In hospitals. In the United States.

The Lincoln Medical Center social worker, whose job is to look out for the interests of the patients, admitted that he has very little influence in the hospital. Apparently, this position has become nothing more than public relations – something to allow patients and their families to feel like hospitals aren’t merely corporate entities obsessed with the bottom line.

Actually, hospitals in N.Y. seem to be nothing more than branches of the pharmaceutical industry. Once again, I’ve witnessed a sick patient denied the right to consume organic supplements instead of the corporate tablets of toxins required by the hospital. A nurse laughed derisively at a request to see the pill bottle in order to examine the ingredients. Patients – trying to heal from an illness – are required to ingest pharmaceutical products without knowing what they are made of. It sounds like job security for employees of Big Pharma. Keep people sick and keep the profits rolling in.

It’s an obscene attack on a person’s sense of morality.

To be continued…

6 comments on “Random Observations While Living A Semi-Nomadic Existence in NYC (Part 2)

  1. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    Must read…

  2. Thanks for the reblog. Crazy stuff, huh?

  3. Yes, and very eye-opening. Well done!

  4. And yet, merely simple observations. Thank you.

  5. I think we are conditioned to regard homeless people as invisible to make it easier to pretend that poverty and homelessness don’t exist any more.

  6. Yes, we are. We’ve been conditioned more powerfully in recent decades to ignore the invisible people in society.

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