This view is not an image of the war torn Iraq. It's not the hiding place of Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan with his terrorist network. These images were not even taken from an inner city of the United States. These images were taken on the California Central Coast in an average size town between Los Angeles and San Francisco. These buildings are a reminder of the San Simeon Earthquake in December of 2003. Even though these building have been condemned, There's evidence of recent inhabitance. While visiting These shacks there were shoes, torn furniture, broken windows, children's toys, and Food-4-Less bags that appear to be brand new.
Poverty is an ever increasing epidemic in the United States right now. There's no signs of it slowing down any time soon. The unemployment rate is second only to the Great Depression of the 1930's. Some of the people inhabiting these buildings are likely to be immigrants, while others may be mentally ill or just down on their luck. Complaints by the business community have increased because of the increase of pan handling in the business districts of the community. Banks as well as small stores have had an increase in robberies and the general public is feeling the effects of all these dynamics.
Not unlike the rest of the country, California is having to tighten it's budget. The worst part is that the people who need the help the most are the first ones to be short changed. The mentally ill, the physically disabled, war veterans, and the elderly have all been one of the first to be placed on the chopping block. The trend seems to be to take from those who have the least ability to speak for themselves. Often written off as drug users or bums, many of these people used to be functional members of society. Bipolar disorders, Schizophrenics, and even ware veterans with PTSD often get written off in this manner. Many essential services have been cut back or sometimes even gotten rid of all together.
Community Mental Health Clinics and Outreach Programs have definitely been hit hard by these cutbacks. Even on a state and federal level there has been tremendous cutbacks. It often appears to be a self perpetuating cycle. The people in need of food and shelter commit a crime just to get into the system, whether it be a mental institution or a county jail, these people often "throw a brick" just to get three hots and a cot. This is especially true in the colder seasons because the broken down shacks do not have heating.
America's priorities continue to be focused over seas as this epidemic continues to grow. We give food, shelter, medicine, and even education to people overseas, but do not realize what is happening right here in our own back yards. Those same resources could be used to feed, clothe, treat, and educate our own people. Never has it rang more clear than now, charity begins at home. The issue of funding has been compounded with the fact that we have a severe shortage of health care workers. Nurses, LVN's, CNA's, and even doctors are very much in need right now. Often pushed to their limits and beyond with incredible amounts of overtime, it's taking a severe toll on our health care system. Schools simply cannot produce quality health care workers fast enough to meet the increasing needs.
Medications for some of the mentally ill are astronomical in cost, sometimes costing almost $1000.00 a bottle for some of the new atypical psychotropics are but one example. Even with medical or medicare, many of the people needing these medications cannot afford the co-pays. The situation is only going to get worse as we bring our kids home from Iraq and Afghanistan. One study has suggested that for every solder that has died in Iraq or Afghanistan, there are ten more that will come back with severe injuries. That would mean tens of thousands of our sons and daughters will be in need of the already depleting services. It's time to reassess our core values and remember what is most important in this time of destitute and need, less we have to re-live the sobering and disturbing economy of the 1930's.